Signs Your Central Air Conditioning Needs Replacing

There is no doubt that a central air conditioning system is a large investment, however, like every appliance in your home, your central air conditioning system has a lifespan.  When the temperature hits the high 90s, there is no price tag for having an energy-efficient, reliable, central air conditioning system to provide you and your family with optimal comfort!   Not only does your air conditioning system keep your house cool, it is designed to reduce the humidity level that comes with the summer heat.  Although regular maintenance prolongs the life of your cooling system, there is a point where your system may not be functioning properly and will not keep your home comfortable during the hottest days of the summer.

Here are a few signs that may indicate it could be time for a new central air conditioning system:

  • Age of Your System - The average lifespan of a central air conditioning system is 10-15 years.  If your system falls into this category, you may want to consider replacing it instead of repairing it as an older unit can increase energy costs.  A new energy-efficient system can save you anywhere from 20-50% on your energy bills!  In addition, older systems use R22 freon refrigerant which is being phased out to meet environmental protection regulations.  Therefore, it is more expensive and will continually be more difficult to find.  New systems use  eco-friendly refrigerant along with the benefits of increasing the value of your home and improving your home's indoor air quality.
  • Costly Repairs - As your central air conditioning system ages, you may experience more frequent and costly repairs.  You may also notice that your utility bills are increasing, while the use of your system hasn't changed.  These are signs that it may be time to replace your system.
  • Excessive Noise - If your air conditioning system is becoming loud and noisy, it may be an indication that your duct system is not compatible with your cooling system - your duct system may not be large enough for your home.  If this is the case, your air conditioning system can not work properly.  The noise may also mean that an indoor coil is clogged.
  • Increase in Indoor Humidity - Air conditioning systems are supposed to remove the humidity from the air to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the home.  If your air conditioning system is not working properly or you have issues with your ductwork, you may experience a rise in the humidity inside your home.  It may make more sense to install a new system than to pay for these repair costs.
  • Increase in Dust - Your central air conditioning system is designed to filter out dust or other harmful particles in your home.  The persistence of excessive dust in your home may indicate leaks in your ductwork.  These leaks compromise the efficiency of your air conditioning system and increase costs to operate.

These signs may indicate you want to start thinking about a new central air conditioning system.  A new air conditioning system is an investment, but it can save you on costly repairs, lower utility bills, and increase the value of your home.  Wackenhut is here to help with energy experts that will work with you to help you choose the best cooling system for your home.  Contact us today at 215.343.2222 to discuss your options so you can relax this summer knowing your system is installed correctly and will operate at peak efficiency, saving you money and keeping you cool!

New Water Heater Regulations Are Coming

Changes are coming in April that will make water heaters more energy efficient, but may create some difficulties for homeowners.

 

You probably wouldn't know that the standard storage tank water heater needs a makeover? But that’s what’s coming April 16, 2015. This change could limit which water heaters are available for you to choose from, and increase the cost.

According to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, water heaters manufactured after April 16, 2015, must meet new energy requirements. This is for all gas, propane, oil and electric water heaters. But this win for conserving energy and reducing emissions will not come easy.

Goodbye to the old

Improving energy conservation is better for the environment and benefits all of us in the long run. And a more efficient use of energy can reduce utility costs for the average home owner.

All the ways that future water heaters will change are still unknown, but manufacturers say there are some things we should be aware of as the deadline approaches. After April 16, only water heaters that meet the new NAECA standard will be manufactured. This doesn’t mean that non-conforming water heaters can’t be sold or installed, but once the old stock is gone, it’s gone.

After the deadline, if you want a water heater that meets the new standards you should specify this to ensure you don’t receive one of the older models.

Expect the unexpected

There is no doubt these water heaters are going to improve efficiency, however it will come with price.

Size

Some models will no longer be built, so there will be fewer options when it comes to size and specific products.

As an example, a standard 50-gallon gas water heater from one manufacturer will increase in diameter as much as two inches. Not a big deal where there is plenty of clearance … but we’ve run into plenty of water heater installations where there isn’t even half an inch to play with.

If your water heater is in a narrow closet or other space with no room to spare, this could make a big difference.

That access through a tight opening; a spot squeezed between the furnace and the garage wall; the enclosure with zero clearance to three sides of the tank … in all of these situations, a minor increase in the size of the water heater could dramatically affect whether a replacement would fit, or need to be completely relocated.

Manufacturing cost

Another added cost will come from manufacturing to the new standards. We may see various water heaters equipped with additional energy-saving technology. This could be anything from more insulation to an electronic ignition system that replaces a conventional standing pilot on gas models.

Gas water heaters over 55 gallons will need to incorporate condensing technology to meet the new requirements. For electric water heaters over 55 gallons, it may mean a heat pump water heater to gain the required EF (Energy Factor) rating. One manufacturer we work with has told us to expect these changes to increase production costs from 10 to 30 percent.

Manufacturers are doing their best to produce products that can directly replace the old models and still meet the new standards. However, some water heaters will not be a standard “drop-in” replacement and will require additional work to install.

Get it right the first time

Need a new water heater? When ordering a replacement, one way to help keep costs down is to have as much accurate information available as possible.

Typically the facts that will help you to get the right water heater the first time are:

● Width and height of tank.

● Any access restrictions.

● Height of water connections coming out of the wall.

● Type of venting: Does it go through the side wall? Is it plastic or metal?

● Brand and model number; the capacity in gallons; and BTUs (for gas or propane).

Be prepared for water heater changes

What should you do to prepare for these changes?

● If you have a tank located in a tight space,  you probably will need to downsize the tank or relocate the water heater to replace it with a more bulky higher-efficiency model.

If you have an older water heater, consider replacing it now with a model of the same size and capacity while they’re still available. This would buy you time before replacing the tank with one that meets the new requirements.

Perhaps by then there will be a product that meets the new efficiency standards, as well as your capacity and space requirements.

● Water heaters are becoming more technically advanced. You may have installed one in the past, but the new changes may require different installation for safe and proper operation.

● Water heaters over 55 gallons that meet the new standards probably will cost more than an older model of the same size. This is another reason to consider a replacement while the product is still available.

There may be ways to get the hot water you need with a smaller tank. It could be worth consulting a professional plumber before making an emergency replacement. 

Recent Cold Weather Creates Record Energy Use

PECO is urging area residents to conserve energy, announcing Monday that the utility is setting records for the use of natural gas.

“Last week’s bitterly cold temperatures caused customer demand for natural gas to soar to record-breaking levels,” PECO officials said.

On Feb. 15, customer demand for natural gas totaled 777,456 thousand cubic feet, and demand Thursday reached 766,365, which surpassed the previous all-time winter daily total of 759,660 set during the polar vortex on Jan. 7, 2014, according to the utility.

“Our customers depend on us to provide the energy they need, when they need it most, especially during times of extreme conditions,” said Craig Adams, PECO president and CEO. “Our electric and natural gas systems continue to perform well and our ongoing investments in our system help maintain this reliable performance.”

Already, February is shaping up to be one of the top five coldest on record in the Philadelphia area, says the National Weather Service. And March will come in like a polar bear, as the frosty pattern isn’t expected to change for at least the next two weeks.

After a low that’s expected to dip to 5 degrees in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning — the record low is 2 degrees set in 1889 — Tuesday’s high won’t get out of the 20s. But winds will be light so wind chills won’t be a factor.

In Allentown, the record low of 4 degrees set in 1948 may be broken early as temperatures were expected to drop as low as 5 below zero, said Jim Bunker, observation program leader at the National Weather Service’s office in Westampton, New Jersey. The high Tuesday won’t leave the teens in the Lehigh Valley.

Bunker said the cold weather isn’t expected to lift “at least through the first week of March unfortunately.”

During the cold, PECO urges residents to take the following measures to save money and to ensure the safe use of home heating systems:

  • Do not cover heating ducts with drapes or furniture that can block the airflow and possibly cause a fire
  • Keep heating vents clean with a vacuum or broom
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors, and seal up any openings with weather stripping or even a rolled-up blanket. A drafty house lets warm air escape and is much more costly to keep warm
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight. Open curtains and drapes during the day to let the sun warm your home and close them at night for insulation
  • Keep the fireplace damper closed tightly when not in use
  • Use ceiling fans so the warm air that has risen can be redistributed around the room
  • Close off unoccupied rooms and regulate individual room temperatures by adjusting the registers. Adjust room registers so warm air flows across the floor and rises naturally
  • Keep your thermostat set at a constant, comfortable level, usually 68 to 70 degrees
  • Remember to turn off unnecessary lights and other electronics

To find more ways to save energy and money visit www.peco.com/SmartIdeas

Article Credit: Peg Quann Staff Writer, The Intellingencer