June 2011

HVAC

Author: Lance Hanlin | Photographer: Illustration by Matt Anderson

HOW IT WORKS
On the cooling side, the unit draws warm interior air into the system through a series of air return ducts. The air is then moved over a series of refrigerated coils. As the air moves over the coils, the heat in the air is transferred to the refrigerant in the coils. A fan or blower sends the cooled air back to the interior of the building through a series of ducts. The heating side typically relies on a furnace or heat pump to provide warm air through the same ventilation system. To simplify, the system can make hot air cold and cold air hot.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE
The HVAC system uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. On average, 44 percent of your utility bill goes toward heating and cooling. For the past 30 years, manufacturers of HVAC equipment have made the system more efficient to help battle rising energy costs. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has also imposed tighter restrictions in recent years in an effort to help save the planet. You can save yourself some money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your HVAC equipment.

PICKING THE RIGHT ONE
The size of your HVAC unit varies based on the size of the space you’re trying to heat and cool. A unit sized too small will constantly run and may never reach the desired temperature. A unit that’s too large will start and stop frequently. The short-cycle causes unnecessary wear and tear on the unit and shortens its lifespan. Figure out the square footage of space you need to heat and cool by measuring the room’s length and width. Multiply the numbers to get square footage, then consult with a professional.

SAVING MONEY
Almost all HVAC brands offer manufacturer rebates. To save even more, request written estimates from at least three contractors. Let them know you’re getting multiple bids so they will quote you their best price. Like the cost of a house or car, price is negotiable.

Timing is also important. HVAC contractors are busiest when the weather is hottest. You’ll probably find a better deal in the off-season when business is slow. Once you settle on a contractor, ask about government tax credits and utility company rebates. The federal government is offering an energy efficiency tax credit and some utility companies are rewarding the purchase of energy-efficient products with rebates. There’s no word on how long the credit and rebates will last, so act soon.

WHEN TO REPLACE YOUR UNIT
The salt in our air isn’t kind to HVAC units. Has yours been around for a decade or longer? If so, you may want to consider replacing it. Most warranties last from five to 10 years. After that, the cost of repairs could soon be greater than the unit’s value.

Using your car as an example, is it really worth spending $4,000 on a transmission when the value of the 10-year-old vehicle is $5,000?

Fact is, older systems are not as efficient. You could save 50 percent or more in utility costs with a system upgrade. Over time, coils get dusty, the refrigerant level may fall and drain lines may get plugged. Maximize your unit’s durability with an occasional tune-up.

Doing so will make our upcoming Dog Months a bit more manageable. It also means you’ll have less to complain about when that payback phone call from your friend inevitably comes.

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Illustration by Matt Anderson

COVERT AIRE
843. 706. 5090
www.covertaire.com
Choose Covert Aire to enjoy the benefits of 24/7 service, senior citizen discounts, and no overtime charges. Their commitment to low prices and indoor air quality are sure to leave you impressed. Suffer no longer from unnecessary allergies and respiratory problems caused by a poorly functioning air-conditioner. They install any brand of air-conditioner in your house based on your needs. Trane, Amana, Tappan, Carrier, Frigidaire, Westinghouse and American Standard are just some of the brands they work with. The experienced professionals at Covert Aire have been in the air-conditioning installation business for more than 22 years.

E.A.C. HEATING & AIR
843-681-3999
www.eacair.com
EAC Heating & Air specializes in residential replacement, new custom home system design, indoor air quality, “Priority Customer” maintenance, flat-rate service and peace of mind through quality of care.  Their mission is to be the most trusted provider of HVAC products and services in the area and their focus is to create exceptional customer satisfaction through employees’ commitment to superior workmanship and selection of products and services.  E.A.C. Heating & Air is locally owned and operated by Martin Jones, Pat Epperson and Patrick Epperson, Jr.. 

EPPERSON SERVICE EXPERTS
843.681.9292
www.serviceexperts.com
No one takes care of Hilton Head’s HVAC repair needs like Epperson Service Experts. They  offer NATE-certified heating technicians to service ALL makes and models of HVAC equipment, such as Lennox, Rheem, Trane, Carrier and York to name just a few. Trained HVAC specialists are available to service all of your  installation and maintenance needs and Epperson offers  HVAC service plans to make sure that your heating and cooling equipment run smoothly, all year long. They also specialize in other home services such as attic insulation services. Epperson is an official ENERGY STAR® Retail Partner, proudly providing the highest level of comfort and utility savings via a selection of ENERGY STAR rated central heating and air conditioning systems.

FOSKEY HEATING & AIR
843. 681. HEAT (4328)
www.foskeyheatingandair.com
When the time comes to install a new HVAC system, Foskey Heating and Air, the area’s exclusive Maytag dealer, sets the standard for quality and affordability. “I fix everybody else’s, but I install ours,” said Michael Foskey (owner), citing the many advantages of the Maytag brand, including the highest SEER rating (24.5) and the best warranty in the industry (12 years parts and labor on select series). Even the lowest-priced model carries the 12-year parts warranty, which also applies to accessories and add-ons such as upgraded HEPA filters, air purifiers or a Maytag thermostat, when installed with a Maytag system.

HOWELL-CHASE
843.785.3748
www.howellchase.com
Howell-Chase has built their reputation on the things that most matter to customers. They offer the best and most reliable national brands; respond immediately to your call with the utmost professionalism. Knowledgeable technicians advise the ideal solution for your home, whether it’s a simple repair or a new unit. Howell- Chase prides themselves on offering the best Equipment, Installation and Service in the industry today, by NATE Certified Technicians.

SUPERIOR HEATING AND AIR
843-682-2665
www.superiorairinc.com
Superior Heating and Air has been installing HVAC systems in Hilton Head and Bluffton since 1999. They are fully licensed and insured up to and over the cost of the home they are working in. Superior Heating & Air is affiliated with Customer Care; a third party that surveys all of their customers after the work is completed. Even with an impressive score, their motto is: “97% Customer Satisfaction and we are still not satisfied!” The service department is open 24/ 7 and they employ the finest technicians, some of them NATE certified. All work done by Superior Heating & Air comes with their 117% guarantee. If you are not satisfied with their services and feel you shouldn’t pay, then they will refund 117% of your investment. (On replacement installs they honor the same guarantee but will ask for the equipment back).

  1. The facts of this article are basically true, but there is so much more. The HVAC system is the single most important component in both residential and commercial construction and contributes greatly to the moisture, indoor air quality and comfort levels within … it should not be taken lightly. In our climate zone with its high humidity, ventilation (moisture control) is at least as important as heating and cooling.
    To calculate size based upon square footage is archaic and unacceptable. Proper system sizing requires a Manual J load calculation (2006 IECC) plus Manual D & S duct design and sizing (2009 IECC) by law. Many states, Georgia included, require actual field testing of duct leakage testing also. Too frequently, our HVAC guys rely on antiquated, rule-of-thumb square footage calculations that may allow them free time at night and on weekends, but consequently shorten the life of the units and create severe moisture problems that later allow them to upsell to a whole house dehumidification system at an additional $5000. Few get it right. Their own organization, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) estimates that the average system installed in the US is is 50% to 100% oversized.
    I urge all faced with HVAC concerns to first access the US Department of Energy website, specifically Energy Star, to gain valuable information on the proper way to calculate load and determine capacity. Square footage, volume, orientation, fenestration, U-Values, Solar Heat Gain coefficients, air leakage, insulation R-values, square footage of the building envelope, design temperatures, reference cities and more, factor into system sizing and design. Load calcs on a room to room basis are strongly encouraged. It is the single most important component in your home … you have to live there and pay the bills … don’t leave it all up to your builder or single vendor contractor.


    — Paul McGovern    Jun 1, 03:33 pm   

  2. The facts of this article are basically true, but there is so much more. The HVAC system is the single most important component in both residential and commercial construction and contributes greatly to the moisture, indoor air quality and comfort levels within … it should not be taken lightly. In our climate zone with its high humidity, ventilation (moisture control) is at least as important as heating and cooling.
    To calculate size based upon square footage is archaic and unacceptable. Proper system sizing requires a Manual J load calculation (2006 IECC) plus Manual D & S duct design and sizing (2009 IECC) by law. Many states, Georgia included, require actual field testing of duct leakage also. Too frequently, our HVAC guys rely on antiquated, rule-of-thumb square footage calculations that may allow them free time at night and on weekends, but consequently shorten the life of the units and create severe moisture problems that later allow them to upsell to a whole house dehumidification system at an additional $5000. Few get it right. Their own organization, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) estimates that the average system installed in the US is is 50% to 100% oversized.
    I urge all faced with HVAC concerns to first access the US Department of Energy website, specifically Energy Star, to gain valuable information on the proper way to calculate load and determine capacity. Square footage, volume, orientation, fenestration, U-Values, Solar Heat Gain coefficients, air leakage, insulation R-values, square footage of the building envelope, design temperatures, reference cities and more, factor into system sizing and design. Load calcs on a room to room basis are strongly encouraged. It is the single most important component in your home … you have to live there and pay the bills … don’t leave it all up to your builder or single vendor contractor.


    — Paul McGovern    Jun 1, 04:00 pm   

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