Air Conditioning

How does an air conditioner work?

An air conditioner seems as if it cools your home's air, but it actually makes your home less warm by removing heat from the indoor air and transferring that heat to the outdoor air. Heat is extracted from the home by passing indoor air across a refrigerant coil in the indoor unit. Refrigerant lines then carry the heat to the outdoor unit, where it is released into the outside air. The cooling cycle continues until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat setting.

What do all those air conditioner and heat pump ratings mean?

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a system for rating the efficiency of cooling equipment. The higher the SEER rating, the less your unit will cost to operate.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is a measurement similar to SEER, but it measures the efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump.

What is two-stage cooling?

Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner or heat pump has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-cooling demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.

Longer cooling cycles also translate to quieter, more efficient operation and enhanced humidity control. Compared to a single-stage unit, a two-stage air conditioner or heat pump can remove twice as much moisture from the air. This is important because when moisture levels are high, there's a higher potential for mold and other pollutant problems.

What size equipment do I need for my home?

The only reliable way to determine the size that best matches the needs of your home is to have a trusted Elite Air associate perform a load calculation, which takes into account the square footage of your house, the insulation value of your windows, the amount of insulation in your walls and roof and many other factors.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable.

During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses—the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home.

Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there's not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

Also, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump's ability to operate as efficiently as the gas furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

Why should I zone my house?

A zoning system is designed for the many ways you use your home. Maybe you're caught up in family "thermostat wars?" Or perhaps you have unoccupied areas that do not need conditioning? A Lennox® zoning system allows you to divide your home into separate areas, giving you the comfort and control you've always wanted.

The main benefits of residential zoning are:

Comfort – Zoning meets the specific temperature and airflow requirements of one area, without affecting other areas.

Efficiency – A properly designed zoning system can save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year.

Control – Zoning divides the home into different areas and comfort into different levels, giving you more choices and control than ever before.

Quiet Performance – When integrated with variable speed and/or two-stage HVAC systems, zoning allows your heating and cooling equipment to deliver peak performance and efficiency without continually operating at peak capacity. Lower speeds mean lower sound levels.

How can I confirm the model and serial numbers for my cooling system?

The model and serial numbers for your cooling system can be found on the nameplate or sticker, located near the service panel. The nomenclature sticker should have a white background with black letters.

Why is my system freezing up?

There are several factors that can cause system freezing. Most need to be corrected by Elite Air Inc.

One thing you can do to prevent or correct this problem is to make sure the filter is clean or replaced. You can check to see if airflow is restricted.

Dirty filter – After replacing or cleaning the filter, you can speed up the thawing process by turning the system off and turning on the fan. If you have a heat pump system, you can try turning the system to heating mode until the ice has melted. After the ice has melted, switch the system settings back to normal. If the system refreezes, contact your local Lennox Dealer to correct the problem.

Low refrigerant – In some cases, freezing is caused by a leak in the refrigerant lines. Weak solder joints, friction from piping rubbing or vibrating against an object, open valves or loose fittings are all factors that can cause leaks. When determining whether to have the system repaired or replaced, the age of the system and the nature and location of the leak are important considerations.

Dirty evaporator coil – Over time, the evaporator coil will become dirty. When this happens, you will begin to lose airflow, slowly enough that you probably would not realize it until it freezes up or cooling performance is compromised. At this point, you will need to contact your local Lennox Dealer to correct the problem.

Defective blower motor or relay – A blower motor not running at the proper speed or not running at all is another factor that can cause freezing. Motor operation may be intermittent, starting at full speed and slowing down after it heats up. Or, a relay could cause it to start one time and not the next. In either case, you will need to contact your local Lennox Dealer to correct the problem.

When replacing an outdoor unit of an air conditioner or heat pump, should the indoor unit also be replaced?

The answer is most likely YES, but this is mainly due to four main reasons:

  • Matched system design – All outdoor cooling units are specifically designed to work with matched indoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. Air conditioner and heat pumps may "work" with other indoor units, but the result is a definite compromise in overall system performance.

  • Design advances – In recent years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances—especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.

  • Higher cooling and heating efficiency – The cooling and/or heating efficiency rating assigned to a given air conditioner or heat pump is based on matched system performance. While you may gain higher efficiency by replacing only the outdoor unit, the efficiency levels (and savings) will not be as high as with a matched system.

  • Equipment age – If an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit is 10 years old and needs to be replaced, the indoor unit is just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won't have to replace the indoor unit in a short time—you'll have years of service from both units.

A new unit also gives you a new product warranty. Replacing the indoor unit at the same time as the outdoor unit gives you added peace of mind, knowing the new warranty covers the entire system.

Cost savings – At first, replacing only an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit may appear to be a bargain. That is, until you consider the lower efficiency, decreased reliability and high cost of ownership associated with single-unit replacement. It may cost more to replace an entire system, but this gives you more efficiency, reliability and comfort.

 What can you tell me about air conditioning refrigerants?

Refrigerants are what make air conditioning possible. Contained within the coils of an air conditioning system, these agents make it possible to cool and dehumidify indoor air. Today, there are several types of refrigerants used in air-conditioning systems. The most common is R22, which will be phased out over the coming years in response to international environmental concerns. Though the transition away from R22 is just beginning, Lennox is one step ahead with a full line of products that use a more responsible, chlorine-free refrigerant.

Should I be concerned about new energy-efficiency standards?

Heating and cooling your home can represent as much as 44% of your utility bill. With high efficiency ratings and innovative, industry-leading technology, Trane comfort systems can go a long way toward reducing these costs.

How can I control energy costs?

When selecting a new system, pay close attention to the SEER rating of the air conditioner and AFUE of the furnace. The higher the SEER or AFUE, the higher the savings.

Beyond efficiency ratings, other factors to consider are:

  • Maintenance – You can ensure your system operates at peak performance by scheduling annual maintenance checks.

  • Zoning – A zoning system can drastically lower your heating and cooling costs. With zoning, you no longer have to pay to heat or cool areas of your home that are rarely used.

  • Programmable Thermostats According to the Department of Energy, a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating costs by up to 35% and cooling costs by up to 25%.

For more energy-saving solutions, please call us.

What is two-stage cooling?

Two-stage cooling means the air conditioner or heat pump has a compressor with two levels of operation: high for hot summer days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-cooling demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and produces more even temperatures.

Longer cooling cycles also translate to quieter, more efficient operation and enhanced humidity control. Compared to a single-stage unit, a two-stage air conditioner or heat pump can remove twice as much moisture from the air. This is important because when moisture levels are high, there's a higher potential for mold and other pollutant problems.