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HVAC Q & A

What do rating numbers mean?
The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with a higher rating indicating higher-efficiency. The next two topics address this issue in greater detail.

What is a SEER?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit.  New equipment manufactured today by the manufacturers must meet at least a 13.0 SEER rating, with some manufacturers producing equipment as high as 21.0 SEER.

What does HSPF stand for?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of varying types of equipment. Air conditioning systems equipment with a heat pump function are rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient the unit.  HSPF is a ratio of BTU heat output over the heating season to watt-hours of electricity used.

What does AFUE stand for?
There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Gas furnaces are rated according to their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the unit.  Natural draft furnaces or boilers typically have an efficiency rating of about 80%.  Manufacturers, like Lennox, have developed more efficient furnaces to operate at a 98% efficiency; meaning 98% of the energy costs you are putting into your furnace are being used to heat your home, unlike natural draft furnaces that only use 80% of your energy costs.  Boiler like the Weil McLain Ultra also provide high efficiency operation topping 95% AFUE.

Should outdoor units be covered in winter?
It is not recommended. Air conditioners can accidentally turned on by someone in your home without them knowing that the outdoor unit has been covered, whereby creating potential damage to your condenser and it's internal components.  The outdoor condenser is built to withstand the environment and should not be covered.

Should a thermostat be set to “auto” or “on”?
Preferably auto. That way, the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used and the most efficient setting. However, there are advantages to using the “on” setting on your thermostat.  Air is constantly filtered through the unit’s air filter, and the constantly circulating air results in more even temperature throughout the house.

Can shrubs or flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?
Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 18 inches to the unit. This allows for plenty of room for air circulation in and out of the unit. Without this room for air circulation, the unit could overheat, resulting in a premature need for service.

If an outdoor unit needs replacing, should the indoor unit be replaced too?
It is recommended that both the indoor and outdoor equipment are replaced together, especially with the new EPA requirements to phase out R-22 refrigerant.  Currently, there are other options to replace just one of the components without the other, with the price of inefficiency and high energy costs.  That, however, is subject to change with the upgrades in building codes and National energy codes being enforced gradually, state by state.  The efficiency rating on a condenser is based on the entire system being replaced.

How do I know what size unit our house needs?
A Gregg Mechanical Corp. specialist will consider many factors before making a recommendation on the properly sized equiment for your home. Factors like the square footage of your house, the climate, the number and type of windows installed, insulation, and even the number of people living in the house are all part of the proper calculation of the air conditioning system needed for your complete comfort.

What is the difference between a split system and a package unit?
A split system uses indoor and outdoor components to provide a complete home comfort system.  A package unit or self-contained unit houses all the required coils, blowers, mechanical components and heating components needed to properly condition the space.  A package unit is typically used in commercial applications or in condominiums and apartments.

Who do I contact for air conditioning products and service?
For questions concerning new products, energy efficiency ratings, or repair and replacement services, simply call Gregg Mechanical Corp. at (718) 761-2300 – we can answer all of your heating and cooling questions.

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