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If your air conditioning system is 10 years old or more, you can bet it is wasting a lot of energy and costing you a lot of money. Ten or fifteen years ago, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rate (SEER) of the best available air conditioner was around 6 to 8, which is less than half of today's high efficiency models with a SEER of 19 to 20. SEER is the measurement of how much energy and money spent to run the air conditioner is actually being converted into cold air. Older models also lose some of the SEER as they age. A model that was originally operated at 6 to 8 SEER, after many years, may be operating at SEERs as low as 6 or 4. Efficiency Air Conditioning You know it gets so hot down here in the south and we need to be able to cool our houses to make them comfortable. In fact, that is really the point of a house: to make a comfortable environment for people to live. We can spend a lot on air conditioning, or a little on air conditioning with the cost of running it. We can make our houses more or less comfortable depending on the equipment that we use. First, we are going to talk about low efficiency air conditioning. Equipment Maintenance As you can see it has a lot of rust over time from water just the dirt sitting on top of the night. Like you said your air flows through here across this cold coil and blows through the plenum to the rest of the house and that is what creates your cold air and your air conditioning in the home. It is really no wonder you are running your entire air supply through this really dirty infested environment constantly, that these people obviously haven't had this service in some time. Brand New AC Unit With a lot of new units our customers they will even tell us you know I can't even hear. They have to go outside and check when they first get them they even see if they are running because they just don't believe it can be that quiet. Read Full Video Transcript Below: Larry Janesky: Hey, I'm Larry Janesky from Dr. Energy Saver. Kelly Lafler: And I'm Kelly Lafler from Dr. Energy Saver in the Orlando, Florida area. Larry Janesky: We are here in this southern climate to talk about something that is incredibly important for homeowners and that is air conditioning. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: You know it gets so hot down here in the south and we need to be able to cool our houses to make them comfortable. In fact, that is really the point of a house: to make a comfortable environment for people to live. We can spend a lot on air conditioning, or a little on air conditioning with the cost of running it. We can make our houses more or less comfortable depending on the equipment that we use. First, we are going to talk about low efficiency air conditioning. Kelly what do we have? Kelly Lafler: What we have here is a 17-year-old carrier unit. A 3 ton system as you can see it has been sitting here for quite awhile. You can see all that oxidation and we have palm tree even that is growing up behind the unit which really helps. It doesn't help it much; it pushes it out of the back of a pad. Larry Janesky: Okay. Kelly Lafler: You can see down here along the edges how this has been moved side ways and then we have directions sitting right now good 3 inches off the pad. Larry Janesky: Right so this is 17-years-old? Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: Now what does that tell us that it is 17-years-old, what do we know right off the bat? Kelly Lafler: Well what we know right off the bat is we are dealing with a lower efficiency unit and as most people may not understand even though they may have a 6 or 8 SEER unit over time. These units actually lose efficiency. It could be operating at a 6 or 4 SEER at this point in time. Larry Janesky: Okay, now when we say SEER, we mean that is SEER, what does that mean? Kelly Lafler: What that is, is your Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and that tells you basically how efficient your unit is running. The less efficient it runs, the more energy it costs to run the unit. By looking at this you could see these homes typically are going spend a lot more money on air conditioning than a newer home or newer unit on a home. Larry Janesky: Okay so when we say how efficient it is, doesn't that mean how efficient it is at turning electricity and I am going to call that dollars okay because we pay for electricity. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: How efficient is it at turning dollars into cold air. Kelly Lafler: Right. Yes. Larry Janesky: Okay so the SEER rating on this when it was new might have been you said 6? Kelly Lafler: Probably a 6 or 8 SEER unit at most. Larry Janesky: Okay and now it is old it is running at Kelly Lafler: Probably a 4 to 6 SEERs what we are running at because Larry Janesky: All right so that the state of the art today, what is the highest SEER rating that we can get in a brand new unit? Kelly Lafler: The highest SEER rating you get on a brand new unit is around 19 or 20 SEER. Larry Janesky: So, 19 or 20 SEER and this thing is running at 4 well that is a big reason to upgrade isn't it? Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: All right. So, Kelly ultimately the heat from the house is escaping out of the air conditioning through these little fins, or I call it a radiator. People understand what that is and so the heat is coming off of here, right? Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: And then if we have vines, weeds, leaves and stuff growing up around here, then what happens? Kelly Lafler: Well, what happens is, just like you said, car radiator, as you block air flow it builds up heat. It causes the unit to malfunction, and work harder. It takes more dollars to make that cold air as we said earlier. Larry Janesky: Right, okay. What do we got? On this side, we have two refrigerant lines coming here, tell us about these? Kelly Lafler: Well, what you have here is, you have your two first lines, your liquid line and your suction line and with this as you can see over time the insulation is broken down from all of the hot and humid air. It no longer has that insulating factor that it had once. Larry Janesky: So this is the cold line. Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: And so we are making a refrigerant cold, we are sending it inside to another radiator that we have a blower blowing over the cold coil and then sending cold air to the house, but this has no insulation whatsoever. Kelly Lafler: Correct you can see it is broken in a number of spots on its way in. Larry Janesky: Yeah. Kelly Lafler: And even with the parts that do, this is now as effective as it once was all of the outside covering as you can see is peeling away. It is dry rotting on top of it. Larry Janesky: Okay, so this is another place where we are losing efficiency. Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: Okay, so Kelly here we have a 17-year-old evaporator coil and blower and what do you see here. Kelly Lafler: What you see here is just how dirty the inside of this unit is from not being maintained. Larry Janesky: It is terrible. I mean look at this. Oh my gosh, you see dirt, this is just black with dirt. This is just where your air supply that you are breathing is running through here. Kelly Lafler: Correct. As you can see it has a lot of rust over time from water just the dirt sitting on top of the night. Like you said your air flows through here across this cold coil and blows through the plenum to the rest of the house and that is what creates your cold air and your air conditioning in the home. Larry Janesky: And you see, even on the wires you got organic growth and on the insulation on the inside of the cabinet organic growth and do these people have allergies? Kelly Lafler: Yes, they do. The one daughter has pretty bad allergies and so does the father. Larry Janesky: Yeah, so you know it is really no wonder you are running your entire air supply through this really dirty infested environment constantly, that these people obviously haven't had this service in some time. Kelly Lafler: No, you could tell if it is serviced. We will come in. We will clean the coils. You would not have this build up just across it. The contractors would not have the corrosion that you can see along the wire because we would have replaced that. Larry Janesky: So yeah, they need to have your company start a service program. Kelly Lafler: Yes, they do. Larry Janesky: Yeah. Okay, so any age air conditioner needs to be maintained right? Kelly Lafler: Yes, we recommend at least once a year from the time it started especially if you have extended warranties these days the manufacturers require, manual maintenance to keep them up working at peak performance. Larry Janesky: Okay, let's take a look at the some of the supply grills and see if they are dirty. Kelly Lafler: Okay. Larry Janesky: Now Kelly we have our return box here and we have this essential return, but I see a lot of dirt on here. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: Oh my gosh, that is just terrible. Kelly Lafler: That is where all the air in home is being pulled through, and as you can see there is just a large build up of dirt and dust and other items that again, you hope your filter will catch all but it won't. Larry Janesky: So, in this case we are sucking return air from really close to the floor. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Where we could have a lot of dust and so forth sucking it right in for the air conditioner. We have duct work in the attic. If there is a leakage in the ducts in the attic, we can add dirt in that way and so all the more reason to have the system maintained on a regular basis. Kelly Lafler: Yes it is very important. Larry Janesky: Dirt is the number one enemy of air conditioning isn't it? Kelly Lafler: It is. Again, it could clog up many items. You know you have your standard filters there and they can only catch so much, and when it gets through remember it gets in to your air conditioning system. It gets into that coil as we saw previously. Larry Janesky: Which has very small slits in between the radiator things as we say? Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Very small spaces that can clog with dirt. Kelly Lafler: Right, and again like you say, it is like a radiator, if you clog it up and you do not maintain it just makes the unit work that much harder some much for less efficient. Larry Janesky: All right, well let's take a look at some well maintained high efficiency equipment show the difference. Kelly Lafler: Sounds good, sounds good. As you can see here this grill you can see all the dirt around it. This is the daughter's room, she has all the allergies and these are some of the causes you know you have got all this dust and allergens. They could really use a duct cleaning as well as a new air conditioning unit. Larry Janesky: You know people with asthma and allergies go to the doctor. The allergist and they get prescriptions and take drugs and try to come down the symptoms and yet the cause. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Right in their house. Kelly Lafler: You are correct. Larry Janesky: Not good. All right, now Kelly you are not only Dr. Energy Saver, but you are in the air conditioning business and how long have you have been doing that? Kelly Lafler: Well Munn's Air Conditioning and Heating has been a business now for 47 years. It is a family owned. We are third generation. Larry Janesky: So, you know a thing or two. Kelly Lafler: Yes sir, yes sir. Larry Janesky: By air conditioning here in Florida right. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: All right so here it is this thing sure is pretty. Kelly Lafler: It is a nice big unit isn't it. Larry Janesky: All right, so first thing I noticed is, this high efficiency air conditioning is tall. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Tell us why? Kelly Lafler: The reason being is you have a much larger coil, which is that radiator we spoke about earlier. It gives it a larger surface for letting that air escape. Larry Janesky: Okay. Kelly Lafler: Also you have inside two compressors. It is a two-stage unit for more efficiency. Larry Janesky: Okay. So we have a bigger hot surface area to let the there is a fan in here that sucks air through this unit here to let the heat escape, right? Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: And then you said two compressors, a two stage unit. Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: And tell us what that means. Kelly Lafler: What it does, is it allows, the air conditioner to run at 70% of its total capacity when it is not required to run full out. So, what happens is you can take a 4 ton unit like this and it will run in roughly a 3 ton. Larry Janesky: Okay so when we say tons we mean 12,000 BTU? Kelly Lafler: What we mean is every ton is 12,000 BTU so you are roughly 48,000 BTU's for a 4 ton unit that required, but when you are heating and cooling your house it doesn't always require it to run on the high stage to bring the temperatures down. Larry Janesky: So, if it is not real hot outside it is just a little warm outside. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: All right, so we are not running full out, we are just running on low fuel economy so to speak. Kelly Lafler: Yes, yeah. Larry Janesky: Okay, all right, so when it is really hot out both compressors will kick in. Kelly Lafler: Yes sir. Larry Janesky: All right and what else about this unit? Kelly Lafler: You will notice also on this unit it's very quiet, you will not hear these units running most of the time. Larry Janesky: So it is not the Eeeeng! That side. Kelly Lafler: None of that. With this unit a lot of our customers they will even tell us you know I can't even hear. They have to go outside and check when they first get them they even see if they are running because they just don't believe it can be that quiet. Larry Janesky: Beautiful. I understand all heat pumps are air conditioners but not all air conditioners are heat pumps, is that right? Kelly Lafler: That is correct. Larry Janesky: And this one is? Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: So, what does a heat pump do? Kelly Lafler: What a heat pump does is it, also, cools your house, but will heat your house in the cold season. Larry Janesky: Okay so in the summer we are taking heat from the inside the house and the heat is coming off of this and we are moving it outside so we can have cool air inside. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: And then in the winter it is just reversing. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Right, we are taking heat from outside and moving it inside. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: All right so it has to have a reversing valve. Kelly Lafler: Yes, it has a reversing valve in here, which takes it and turns everything in the opposite direction and in doing so it takes that cold like you said, the Freon from before. It goes inside a cold line. It then reverses and takes the heat off the compressors and puts that inside to the coil and allows it to blow that warm air in throughout your house. Larry Janesky:So we get heating and air conditioning. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: Forward and reverse. All right so here we are inside with this high efficiency air conditioning system heat pump, right? Kelly Lafler: Yes Larry Janesky: And we have our blower here. Kelly Lafler: Yes Larry Janesky: and evaporator coil, or cold coil here. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: You have an electronic air cleaner. Kelly Lafler: Yes, we do. Larry Janesky: We have in Florida you use wood return plenums or return box as you call it and we have our supply going at the top and our return coming back here. Kelly Lafler: Yes we do. Larry Janesky: All right, so let's take a look at what is inside. That looks a lot cleaner than the last one. Kelly Lafler: Yes it does. This one gets maintained at least once a year. Larry Janesky: My lungs are feeling better already actually. Kelly Lafler: There we go. Larry Janesky: So one thing I noticed right of the bat is that this evaporator coil the cold coil is "A" shape. Kelly Lafler: Correct that is an "A" coil and this one. Larry Janesky: All right and what is the advantage of having a "A" shape instead of just one slab? Kelly Lafler: Well, it gives you two sides for the air to flow across. It helps with pulling moisture out of the air by having the two sides for the air to go across rather than just the one. Larry Janesky: And there is more cold surface for the air to contact. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: To get cold just like there is more air surface outside for the heat to escape. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: So, we have got to match the interior evaporator coil with the condenser coil outside, right? Kelly Lafler: Yes we do. Larry Janesky: Okay so, and then we have a variable speed blower here. Kelly Lafler: Yes, yes. This is a variable speed unit. What this allows you to do is for humidity control. It can lower the speed of the airs that draws it across the coil to draw more air out of it, out of the more water out of the air. Larry Janesky: All right so in order to get water out of the air we have to cool the air. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky:And we have what is called residence time, right. How much time is the warm humid air in contact with cold surfaces and the longer the amount of time that is in contact with it the more water it is going to condense on those coils. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: All right so and a variable speed motor also will just run if you only need a little bit of cool air if it is not so hot out, right? Or run in the lowest speed? Kelly Lafler: Correct, they will run in a lower speed. Larry Janesky: Okay. Kelly Lafler: It pushes like you say less CFM's to the house providing you only what is required to cool the home instead of just an on and off. Larry Janesky: Right, so if we didn't have a variable speed motor, when the air conditioning came on it would go "pffffff" and then it stops. Kelly Lafler: That is it. Larry Janesky: And with the variable speed it ramps up slowly. Kelly Lafler: Yes it does. Larry Janesky: And then comes down slowly getting all the cool air out of the duct work. Kelly Lafler: That is exactly what it does. Larry Janesky: Okay so then our experience in the house is less drafts and more comfort for us. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: All right so how about this electronic air cleaner? Kelly Lafler: What this does is it provides you with a couple of things. It provides you with better filtration and a standard you know through the wall return, but it is 4 inches thick so it has much more contact surface for particles to go through. Larry Janesky: Okay. Kelly Lafler: So, that if it doesn't get in on the first pass, it has more room to get through. Also it's electronic, it has a thin wire that runs across here, electronically charged and helps capture viruses and other things through there and over time by sitting on electronically charged wire it will actually kill them. So, that you don't pass through these allergens and colds and viruses and things through the house to others. This helps keep you a little bit healthier. Larry Janesky: Very good and so here is our return trunk. A return plenum and then we are cleaning the air before it goes through the evaporator coil so that we don't get dirt clogging up all these little fins here. Kelly Lafler: Right. Larry Janesky: So, the key is keep it clean and well how many SEERs this unit? Kelly Lafler: This unit should be about a 17 SEER unit. Larry Janesky: 17 SEER and it is several years old. Kelly Lafler: This unit seems about 2-years-old Larry Janesky: Okay. Kelly Lafler: It has been running for a few years. You can see, like any unit, you have water so you're going to have a little bit of rust and things across the metal. You can't help that. Larry Janesky: Right, but I don't see any dirt. Kelly Lafler: No sir. Larry Janesky: Well maintained. Kelly Lafler: Yes, sir. Larry Janesky: So, you know Kelly this is something that is important for people to know is that the cost of air conditioning our house is kind of like an iceberg. Kelly Lafler: Yes. Larry Janesky: And the part above the water line. We all know that only 10% of the iceberg is above the water line and that is the cost of the equipment itself. Kelly Lafler: Right. Larry Janesky: And the whole big part below the water line is the amount of electricity that we are using through this equipment over the life of the equipment. Kelly Lafler: That is correct. Larry Janesky: So, with high efficiency equipment we can cut the R cost over the long term of that big part below the water line, if we just spend a little bit more on equipment when we are buying air conditioning. Kelly Lafler: Yes, it is very beneficial to do that like you say, over time it is an up front cost, but over time with variable speeds at two stages you will cut the bottom of that iceberg in half. Larry Janesky: Yes and especially compared to the low efficiency one we just looked at. Kelly Lafler: Yes, yes. Larry Janesky: Boy, so if you are shopping around for air conditioning or heating for that matter and we are going to take the lowest bidder. We are going to get the lowest price you know. We are going to get a low efficiency unit and we are going to just continue to have higher monthly bills as a result. Kelly Lafler: Correct. Larry Janesky: So, it is not wise to look for the lowest price when you are shopping for air conditioning and heating. Spend more, get the very highest efficiency that you can get in heating or air conditioning and you will save money in the long run. Kelly Lafler: You will. Larry Janesky: And actually, sometimes it's not so long a run. Kelly Lafler: It just varies depending on a first state unit of the higher efficiency the more you will save so it takes less time to pay it back. Larry Janesky: Well Kelly, I think it has been fascinating looking at the actual equipment between low efficiency and poorly maintained equipment compared to high efficiency equipment. I appreciate it and wish your best of luck here in Florida. Kelly Lafler: Thank you sir. Dr. Energy Saver Contact us for a home energy evaluation and written estimate. Watch the full video on The Difference Between Low and High Efficiency Air Conditioners and learn more about hvac systems

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