Important Air Conditioning Concerns Regarding Health and Safety

Your air conditioner is an important component of residential comfort, but it can also contribute to keeping you healthy and free from disease. Air conditioning health and safety involves preventing the material that can grow inside an air conditioner from entering your living environment. It can also mean preventing the potential spread of disease-causing microorganisms. Here are some points to consider when evaluating air conditioning concerns regarding health and safety.

Regular Preventive Maintenance is Crucial

air filter

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Regular preventive maintenance contributes to improving your indoor air quality and preventing the spread of microorganisms that may have grown inside the equipment.

  • Air filters: Air filters are intended to capture particles of dust, pollen, mold, and other particulates as they circulate through the AC system. Dirty filters cannot effectively remove material from the air and can potentially release material that has already been captured. By regularly changing filters, you ensure a fresh, clean environment where these particulates can easily be trapped and held as air moves through the filter.
  • Cleaning: During a maintenance appointment, your HVAC tech should also clean the system to remove any dirt, mold, or other accumulations of material. This ensures there is no chance that these substances can come loose and be blown into your home’s interior along with the cool air from your AC.

Potential AC-Related Health Problems

  • Respiratory irritation: Particulates in the air can cause various types of respiratory irritation, potentially causing coughs, asthma attacks, or allergic reactions. Maintaining clean filters will significantly reduce this potential problem.
  • Infectious diseases: It is possible that infectious diseases could be transferred by AC systems. Legionnaire’s Disease, for example, a form of flu, has been found in cooling systems. Be cautious, however, when attributing any disease or health problem to the air conditioning system. Talk to your doctor for professional help determining the origin of any health issues.

Conditioned Air has been serving the residential cooling needs of customers in southwest Florida for more than 53 years. Contact us today for more information on air conditioning health and safety and how keeping your air conditioner well maintained can contribute to improved health and comfort.

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3 Types of Refrigerants Used in Our Air Conditioning Systems

Refrigerants are substances used in air conditioning systems to provide transfer of heat. Different types of home cooling systems require different types of refrigerants. In addition, government regulations and standards are changing regarding once-common refrigerants used in air conditioning equipment. Here is a brief overview of the use of refrigerants, with information on three of the most common types of refrigerants used in air conditioning systems.

How Refrigerants Work

Refrigerants are chemical substances that circulate through an air conditioning system. Forced-air systems and heat pumps use refrigerants to capture, move, and release heat. In air conditioners and standard heat pumps, refrigerant starts out as liquid, then is evaporated into a gaseous state. This process causes the refrigerant to capture heat. The gas is moved through the cooling system to a condenser, which causes the gas to return to its liquid form and release the heat it contains. When providing cooling, the refrigerant takes heat out of your home; when heating, it brings in heat captured from the air around the system’s outside unit.

Three Types of Refrigerants

air conditioning refrigerant

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  1. Freon: Freon was once a very common type of refrigerant used in air conditioners, but it is being phased out in favor of more environmentally friendly refrigerants. Newer refrigerants provide the same heat-transfer qualities but are less likely to cause environmental harm. The most common of these today is R-410A.
  2. Water: Simple water can act as a refrigerant in geothermal heat pump systems that capture and release heat in the ground outside your home. Sometimes this water is mixed with an antifreeze to make it work better.
  3. Sulfur dioxide and ammonia: These substances are highly toxic and are no longer used in air conditioning systems. Along with air, these chemicals were commonly used in the earliest air conditioning equipment. When more efficient and less harmful refrigerants were developed, they were no longer used.

Let Conditioned Air help you make the best-informed decisions on cooling equipment and refrigerant usage as refrigerant standards and requirements continue to evolve. Contact us today for more information on the types of refrigerants used in air conditioning systems and for expert assistance finding the refrigerant you need.

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What are the Benefits of Owning an Energy Star Home?

The Energy Star program is well known as a source of reliable energy efficiency certifications for household appliances and equipment. The program also works on a much larger scale, providing certification for entire homes. Here are some of the benefits of owning an Energy Star home.

energy star home

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  • High-efficiency heating and cooling: An Energy Star home will use certified high-efficiency HVAC equipment for heating and cooling. Certified furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps provide outstanding home comfort at a much lower cost. Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating, or AFUE, ratings for furnaces. High-efficiency air conditioners will have high SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, numbers. Heat pumps will have high SEER numbers covering the cooling functions and high HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, ratings governing the heating functions.
  • Plenty of insulation: An Energy Star home will have plenty of insulation to keep warm air out in the summer and in during the winter. There should be adequate insulation in the home’s walls, ceiling, floors, and basement. Attics should get particular attention, especially since they can get extremely hot in the summer without proper insulation. Insulation effectiveness is measured in R-value.
  • Few air and energy leaks: An Energy Star home will be sealed as tightly as possible, eliminating air leaks that allow conditioned air to escape and seasonal air to get inside. Gaps, holes, and other openings should be caulked or otherwise sealed. HVAC ductwork should fit tightly together at each section and should be sealed with mastic or metal tape at each connection.
  • Efficient windows: High-efficiency windows are manufactured to prevent air leaks around the frames. The window glass will have special coatings to keep out sunshine and heat. They may also be manufactured with low-e glass or double-pane insulated glass to increase energy efficiency.

Conditioned Air is a top-quality choice for energy-efficient air conditioning renovations, installations, and upgrades in Naples and the neighboring communities in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on the benefits of an Energy Star home and for the professional services and equipment you need to make your home into as energy efficient as possible.

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Wonderful Advantages of Fiberglass Air Duct Insulation

All of the conditioned air from your heating and cooling systems travels through the ductwork on its way to various rooms throughout your house. For this reason, the air ducts are particularly vulnerable to loss of air and energy that can waste money by driving your indoor comfort bills higher than necessary. Fiberglass air duct insulation can prevent significant amounts of energy loss while providing other notable benefits.

energy conservation

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Here are some of the advantages of fiberglass air duct insulation:

  • Energy conservation: Fiberglass duct insulation is typically available as duct board, duct wrap, and duct liner. Ducts are usually made of relatively thin metal, and by applying the appropriate type of insulation to your HVAC ductwork, you’ll prevent the loss of energy through the metal. In other words, cool air will be less likely to warm and warm air will be less likely to cool off up as it travels through the ducts. This will conserve significant amounts of energy.
  • Monetary savings: When you save energy in your HVAC system, you also save money. If conditioned air in the ductwork isn’t affected by energy loss, there will be no need for your heating or cooling system to work harder to compensate for that loss. You’ll save money on your monthly bills and on potential HVAC system repairs.
  • Improved indoor comfort: Applying fiberglass insulation to your ductwork ensures that heated and cooled air will arrive inside your home at nearly the same temperature it was when it was produced by the HVAC equipment. This contributes to better indoor comfort and more consistent heating and cooling.
  • Noise reduction: Ductwork can sometimes produce noise as conditioned air travels through it. Sounds from HVAC equipment such as fans or even human-produced noises from other rooms can also travel through the ducts. Fiberglass insulation helps reduce these noises.

Conditioned Air serves residential heating and cooling clients in the communities of Naples and elsewhere in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on the advantages of fiberglass air duct insulation and for help finding and installing the duct insulation that you need for your home.

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How to Check Your Windows and Doors for Troublesome Air Leaks

Air leaks around the doors and windows in your home can be the source of a tremendous loss of heated or cooled air. Finding and sealing these leaks is a prime goal of improving your home’s seal and boosting its energy efficiency.

detect air leaks within your home

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Here are some effective suggestions on how to detect air leaks within your home:

  • Visually inspect doors and windows: Carefully check around doors and windows for visual evidence of gaps, cracks, holes, or other openings where conditioned indoor air could escape. Check around window panes and ensure that caulking or glazing is intact and that the glass panes are not loose.
  • Feel for drafts: Hold your hand up to the edges of window and door frames, to glass panes, and to other areas where leaks could occur. If you feel cold air in the winter or warm air coming in during the summer, there is an air leak that should be fixed.
  • Use smoke: Some air leaks are hard to detect. A smoke test can pinpoint these leaks with great accuracy. Make sure that your home is closed off and that there are no ventilation fans running. Light an incense stick and hold the smoking end up to various points on your window. If the thin stream of smoke rising from the stick wavers or is otherwise disrupted when over certain parts of the window or door, it indicates an air leak.
  • Have a professional energy audit done: A professional energy audit can accurately locate even the most difficult-to-find air leaks using techniques such as thermal testing, infrared scanning, and infiltrometer, or blower door tests. The energy audit will not only reveal the location of air leaks, it will also show you where you can improve the overall airtightness and energy efficiency of your home.

Residential heating and cooling customers in Naples and southwest Florida can count on Conditioned Air for professional HVAC sales, installation, maintenance, and repair. \Contact us for more information on how to detect air leaks within your home and what to do to seal these leaks and prevent the loss of air and energy.

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5 Common Myths Regarding Attic Ventilation

Southwest Florida’s humidity and frequent high winds pose some special concerns when it comes to designing ventilation for the attic. If you’re looking to optimize the airflow in your attic, start by avoiding these common myths regarding attic ventilation

myths regarding attic ventilation

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Myth: The existing ventilation is enough.
Fact: It’s easy to assume the experts who designed and built your home chose the best attic ventilation possible. In reality, though, there’s a chance the builders only installed enough ventilation to meet local codes. They may not have even been aware of the complexities involved in attic ventilation design, so they took their best guess.

Myth: More airflow is better.
Fact: While your attic needs enough airflow to prevent heat and moisture buildup, too much air can actually cause moisture problems. Excessive ventilation also lets in large amounts of air during high winds, putting the roof at risk for damage. The typical attic with no vapor barrier requires 1 sq. ft. of ventilation per 150 sq. ft. of attic floor space. An attic with a vapor barrier needs less.

Myth: Roof vents are designed to release heat.
Fact: While attic ventilation does somewhat reduce heat buildup, this isn’t its sole purpose. More importantly, this ventilation is meant to release humidity that would otherwise accumulate, causing moisture damage and encouraging mold.

Myth: Attic ventilation wastes warmth in winter.
Your attic should be insulated well enough to keep heat from your rooms from leaking into the attic. This saves energy and prevents the buildup of moisture that would occur due to condensation caused by warm air entering the cold attic. With good attic insulation, attic ventilation can’t sap warm air from the house.

Myth: Every attic design has one best ventilation method.
All the research that’s been done in attempt to ascertain ideal ventilation options has provided useful guidelines, but no hard-and-fast rules. Every attic is different, so it takes a knowledgeable, experienced professional to assess an attic’s needs and select the most effective ventilation design.

For more guidance on avoiding common myths regarding attic ventilation, contact us at Conditioned Air today. 

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How a Proper HVAC System can Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency

Maintaining an energy efficient home means not only better indoor comfort but also less energy consumption and lower operating costs. Your residential HVAC system makes an important contribution to the efficiency of your residential space.

Here are some suggestions on how to improve home energy efficiency with an HVAC system:

air filter

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  • Maintain efficiency of the HVAC equipment: Heating and cooling costs can consume a significant portion of a household’s yearly budget. If you have a high-efficiency HVAC system, make sure the equipment is properly maintained and kept in good repair so that it continues to operate at its highest level of efficiency and effectiveness. This includes at least annual preventive maintenance tune-ups from an HVAC professional.
  • Change air filters: Keep clean air filters in your heating and cooling equipment to ensure better indoor air quality and improved HVAC system performance. Dirty filters restrict air flow, which can reduce operating efficiency and eventually cause malfunctions or breakdowns.
  • Sustain dehumidification: Part of the function of your cooling system is dehumidification, which is the removal of excess moisture from your indoor air. When humidity levels are high, your indoor spaces feel less comfortable and it’s more difficult for you to feel the results of heating and cooling. Keep indoor humidity at about 50 percent and you shouldn’t have to turn up your HVAC system to compensate.
  • Get properly sized HVAC equipment: If adding or replacing an HVAC system, make sure you get the right size for your needs. Size refers to the system’s ability to produce heating and cooling. Too small and it won’t heat or cool properly; too large and it will waste energy and produce too much heating and cooling. Have a load calculation performed that evaluates your home’s physical and thermal characteristics. With the results of a load calculation, you and your HVAC pro can find the right sized system for your needs.

Conditioned Air is a provider of top-quality heating and cooling services to HVAC customers in Naples and elsewhere in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on how to improve home energy efficiency with an HVAC system.

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Go Green With Your Air Conditioning This Summer

Keeping your home cool in the summer can take a considerable bite out of a household budget, especially in areas where temperatures get high and stay that way. Here are some eco-friendly air conditioning tips you can use to “go green” with your cooling this year to reduce both energy usage and monthly costs:

windows with curtains

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  • Reduce excess heat gain: When heat is added to your indoor environment, your air conditioner will have to work harder to compensate for it. Use drapes and curtains to keep sunlight out of your home, especially during the height of the day. Install awnings or other shading devices to keep sunlight from your windows. Avoid using heat-generating appliances and devices during the day, including cooking stoves and ovens, clothes washers, and clothes dryers.
  • Reduce indoor humidity: Moisture and humidity in the air reduces your body’s ability to cool itself through the evaporation of perspiration. Take steps to reduce indoor humidity. Seal any openings that could let humid outdoor air into your home (while also letting cool indoor air escape). Use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity. A room-size model will work in a small space, while a whole-house dehumidifier will significantly cut humidity everywhere in your home.
  • Install a ceiling fan: Use a ceiling fan to produce breezes that help keep you cool. Direct the air currents downward. When they contact your body, they will reduce your body temperature. The air will also help disperse and re-circulate cool air that has accumulated near the floor.

Conditioned Air serves the residential cooling needs of customers in Naples and the surrounding communities in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more eco-friendly air conditioning tips and for professional services that can help improve your air conditioner’s efficiency and effectiveness.

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Summer Energy Efficient Improvements Your Home’s Needs

Boosting the energy efficiency of your home will pay off in reduced monthly energy costs. Here are some energy efficient improvements for this summer.

programmable thermostat2

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  • Install a programmable thermostat: If you have an older mercury switch thermostat, it’s time to upgrade to an electronic programmable thermostat. Programmable models give you several effective options for saving energy and improving the performance of your HVAC system. Set points, for example, can automatically reduce cooling during the day when no one is home to need it, then turn cooling up in time for your home to be cool and comfortable when everyone returns after work or school.
  • Find and seal air leaks: Air leaks in the structure of your home can account for a substantial loss of both energy and money. Find and seal holes, cracks, gaps, and other openings that can let cool air out and hot air in. Make sure to check the ductwork in your HVAC system for leaks. Make sure all sections of ductwork are in good condition and fit tightly together. Duct connections should also be sealed with mastic or metal tape.
  • Change HVAC system air filters: The air filters in your cooling system help remove particulates from your indoor air. They are also an important component of system performance and efficiency. Check filters monthly and change them when they get dirty.
  • Call for preventive maintenance: A preventive maintenance check-up by your HVAC professional will boost system efficiency and performance significantly. Regular maintenance also helps extend the life of your air conditioner or heat pump. Schedule a maintenance visit by late spring or early summer.
  • Install ceiling fans: Put in ceiling fans and set them to direct air currents downward into your home. This air flow will help keep you cool and circulate conditioned air from your cooling system.

With more than 53 years of professional experience in the HVAC industry, Conditioned Air provides the expert services needed by heating, cooling, and indoor air quality customers in the Naples and southwest Florida areas. Contact us today for more information on energy efficient home improvements for the summer.

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Headed out on a Vacation? Save Energy While You’re Away

Heading out for summer vacation can be an exciting time for every member of your family. However, one thing you don’t want to have to worry about during vacation time is whether or not your energy bills are being unnecessarily increased by wasting energy at home. Here are some practical tips for how to save energy during summer vacation so you can enjoy your time away.

energy savings

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  • Use your programmable thermostat: Use your programmable thermostat and its pre-programmed set points to reduce the operation of your cooling system while you’re away. The thermostat can be set to provide a small amount cooling during the day so that the interior of your home doesn’t get too hot. It can automatically shut cooling down even more at night while you’re away.
  • Unplug energy-using appliances and devices: Before leaving for vacation, make sure to unplug appliances and devices that use standby energy. These can include computers, microwave ovens, stoves, televisions, and entertainment systems. Simply shutting them off will not be enough since they use small amounts of energy to maintain clocks, internal settings, and other features even when turned off. Unplug them completely or plug them all into a power strip that can be switched off when you leave.
  • Turn down the water heater: While you’re away on vacation, you won’t need hot water at home, so turning down the temperature settings on the water heater makes sense. Set the thermostat at well below the usual level or, if you are going to be gone for an extended period, shut the water heater off completely.
  • Close window blinds and curtains: Partially closing window blinds and curtains will help reduce sunshine getting into your home and increasing indoor temperatures. This will help keep the inside of your home cooler and prevent your air conditioner or heat pump from switching on unnecessarily.

For more than 53 years, Conditioned Air has been providing expert heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services to customers in Naples and throughout the surrounding communities in southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on how to save energy during summer vacation.

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  • About Theo

    Theo Etzel has been President and CEO of Conditioned Air Corporation of Naples, Inc. in SW Florida since 1995. Theo’s background is in economics and business development and he is also a writer on business management topics and sits on the editorial advisory board of HVACR Business Magazine. Theo enjoys mentoring other small business leaders in growing and improving their businesses.
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