What is a High Efficiency Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner that is highly energy efficient is good for you, your family, your home and the environment. But to understand what a high efficiency air conditioner is, you first need to understand how efficiency is rated and what the ratings can mean for you and your air conditioning.

How Is Efficiency Rated?

Just as cars come with an MPG number to indicate its efficiency, so, too, does your air conditioning system. This number is known as a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) number, and it tells you how energy efficient a certain air conditioner is on a scale of 1 to 23. Today’s air conditioners have to be manufactured with a minimum SEER of 13, so that would be the baseline number at which you’d start.

Essentially, a SEER number tells you how energy efficient a specific unit will be. For instance, an air conditioner with a SEER of 14 is higher than the minimum standard, but an air conditioner with a SEER of 20 will save you a lot more energy. One item to note: having a higher SEER number doesn’t mean that a particular AC cools better or faster; it means that it uses less energy to cool your home at a specific temperature than an AC with a lower SEER would at the same temperature.

High Efficiency Air Conditioners

High efficiency air conditioners are systems with SEER ratings between 16 and 23. They are installed just like any other air conditioning system, but they use far less energy to cool your home.

Benefits of a High Efficiency System

  • Lower utility bills – it is estimated that each SEER point can save you an average of 10% per year on your utility costs. As an example, if an air conditioner with a SEER of 16 costs you $300 per year, upgrading to an AC with a SEER of 21 would cost you $150 per year.
  • Environmentally friendly – using less energy is better for the environment and leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

Still Have Questions? Call a HVAC Professional

The best way to determine if a high efficiency air conditioner is for you is to work with a trained professional. Since 1980, Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has installed air conditioning in San Bernardino, and we can help you, too. Call us today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation specialists.

What are the Benefits of Zone Control Systems?

Anything that can make your air conditioner more energy efficient, particularly during the height of summer, is a great thing for you, your home and your air conditioner. One way to maximize both energy efficiency and personal comfort is to add a zone control system to your air conditioning. A zone control system gives you the ultimate control over how, when, and at what temperature you cool your home, including the ability to turn off cooling to rooms that aren’t being utilized. Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning has installed many zone control systems over the years, and our customers have seen first-hand the benefits of using them.

How Does a Zone Control System Work?

The first thing to understand about a zone control system is how it works. A system of motorized dampers is installed into your ductwork. Each damper is connected to, and controlled by, its own thermostat. These thermostats are wired into a control panel that manages your entire system. Zones are defined by you and can be anything from single rooms to entire floors – the choice is yours.

What Are the Benefits of Zone Control?

  • Better energy efficiency – with a zone control system, you choose which areas of your home get cooled, when they are cooled, and to what temperatures. Most people have rooms or spaces in their homes that don’t require the constant cooling of a communal space, such as a kitchen. Having the ability to reduce the amount of cooling you use converts to less energy usage – after all, if you are cooling less, you don’t need your AC to run as much.
  • Better personal comfort – with your home divided into zones, different temperatures can be set for each zone, allowing for better comfort.
  • Less wear on your system – when you cool only what you need, your air conditioner will operate less; this helps lessen the amount of wear.

Are You Ready to Get in the Zone?

A zone control system gives you a level of control over your indoor temperature and air conditioning system you just won’t see with a single thermostat. However, installation can be complex as it involves your ductwork and electrical system, so it is best to call a professional when it comes to installation. If you are ready to gain better control over your HVAC system, call Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning for professional air conditioning service in Redlands.

Why a Clogged Air Conditioning Filter Is a Problem

Earlier this this week we wrote about how important it is to rely on professionals to take care of regular annual maintenance on a central air conditioning system. However, there are a few simple maintenance tasks that you must see to yourself during the rest of the summer. The most important is to regularly change (or clean) the air conditioner’s filter. Depending on the filter and how often you run the AC, the filter will need to be swapped for a fresh one ever one to three months.

What happens if you don’t change the filter and it becomes clogged with dust, lint, and other debris? A number of unfortunate things:

Reduced energy efficiency

In the desert communities of Southern California, air conditioning bills during the summer often run high. You want to avoid paying any more than you absolutely have to, which is why you must keep an eye on the filter: clogging is the fastest way to create a sharp rise in your electrical bills. The AC will need to strain harder to draw air through a congested filter, and the system will experience a rapid drop in its energy efficiency.

Unnecessary repairs

The point of the air filter is to prevent debris coming through the return vents from entering the air conditioner’s cabinets and harming components. When the filter becomes clogged, it will start to allow dust through—the filter might even start to tear open. You could wind up needing to have motors and other parts repaired because the filter was no longer able to do its job.

Ice on the evaporator coil

The evaporator coil in the interior cabinet of an air conditioner contains cold refrigerant that absorbs heat from the air to cool it down. When the flow of warm air into the cabinet is blocked because of a clogged filter, the refrigerant will remain too cold, with the result of ice forming along the coil’s surface. The more ice that appears, the less effective the air conditioner will be at cooling down the house.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves Cathedral City, CA. Give our office a call for exceptional customer service and sign up for our regular maintenance program.

Some Late Summer Air Conditioning Tips

August is officially “Late Summer,” even though the season doesn’t official stop until the end of September and the heat in Southern California will continue for a bit after that. But as far as an air conditioner is concerned, it’s late in the season if it’s already built up quite a bit of wear and tear from a few months of steady work. In our desert climate, any home AC puts in a tremendous amount of labor starting in May, so by August the system might either face trouble with malfunctions or start to run inefficiently and raise electrical costs.

We have a few tips for helping your air conditioner during the dog days of summer. When you need the assistance of professionals for repairs or other air conditioning services in Cathedral City, CA, we are here 24 hours a day.

Keep up with air filter changes

Don’t get complacent about changing the air filter in your HVAC system on a regular basis simply because it’s the end of the summer. The air filter needs to be changed every 1 to 3 months (the stronger the filter, the less frequently it needs to be changed), and if you haven’t changed the filter yet this summer, it almost certainly needs to be done now. A clean filter means keeping bills under control and helping to prevent extra strain on motors that can lead to breakdowns and tripped circuit breakers.

Clean up the area around the exterior cabinet

Have you taken a look at the outside cabinet of the AC recently? If there are branches and leaves gathering around it, they can restrict the proper heat release from the unit, which will cause its efficiency to drop. Rocks and pebbles also create the potential for damage to components if they get inside the cabinet. Keep the area around the cabinet clear for at least a foot, and you may also want to wash down to the cabinet exterior.

Check on the thermostat

Proper thermostat control is a key part of controlling your air conditioning bills. (We recommend aiming for a setting of 78°F.) If the thermostat isn’t working properly, however, then it doesn’t matter how it’s set: the AC will operate at the wrong times and waste power. Make sure the thermostat has fresh batteries and check on the programming to see if the air conditioner is responding properly to it. If it isn’t, you may either need to repair/replace the thermostat or have the air conditioning system repaired. (It’s often difficult to tell when the thermostat or the AC is the source of a problem, so let HVAC technicians do the diagnosis.)

Never delay with repairs

Remember that the longer you wait to arrange to repair your AC when a problem crops up, the more expensive the eventual repair will be. You’ll also put the system at a higher risk of a major failure—usually when you need the air conditioner the most.

If you think your cooling costs are too high, we’ve also written up some tips for helping to lower them. Keep in mind that even though it’s late in the summer, you should never put off arranging for a complete air conditioning replacement if that’s the best way forward. After all, sudden heat waves can strike almost any time in the California deserts.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning offers air conditioning services throughout the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.

Why You Should Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance This Spring

As we move out of spring and into summer, you’re going to start using your air conditioner more and more often. That means increased stress on the system, which means a greater chance that it will develop a problem. If you want your air conditioner to make it through the summer without any major issues, the best thing to do is have some preventive maintenance conducted on it. Read on to find out why you should schedule air conditioning maintenance this spring.

Prevention vs. Cure

Everyone knows the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This applies to air conditioning repairs as well. Problems that develop in air conditioning systems are often not cheap to repair, especially if they happen to afflict a major part like the compressor. If you wait to conduct repairs until a problem presents itself, you will almost always be paying a lot more money than if you scheduled maintenance and had the problem fixed before it got out of hand.

This is especially true of spring maintenance. Problems can start forming in your air conditioning system months or even years before they begin to cause damage. Increased stress on the system tends to accelerate that process, making it more likely for problems to show up during the summer. The last thing you want is for a major problem to develop with your air conditioner right in the middle of the season when you need it the most. So, the best thing to do is to schedule preventive maintenance before summer starts.

If you haven’t scheduled spring maintenance for your air conditioning system yet this year, call Russel’s Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide air conditioning maintenance services throughout Yucaipa, CA. 

When It’s Time to Replace Your AC Rather Than Keep Repairing It

Living in the deserts of Southern California requires having the most reliable and efficient air conditioning system possible to cool down your home. A poorly-working AC will not only struggle to keep you comfortable, it will also run up enormous bills. The moment you notice that your residential air conditioner is having trouble during spring and summer weather, call professionals to repair it…

…or possibly replace it. At a certain point, this is the better option. No air conditioner lasts forever, and eventually you’ll need to schedule a new system installation. Below are some tips to tell when “replace” beats out “repair.”

The air conditioner is more than 15 years old

Most ACs today can operate for 10 to 15 years before age catches up to them and they wear down to the point where they are more likely to fail. You don’t want to have your air conditioner permanently break down on you during the sweltering heat of the summer, so if you have a system that’s over 15 years in service, it’s safer to have it replaced in spring on your own schedule—rather than arranging a replacement in the summer on an emergency schedule.

The AC needs frequent repairs

You shouldn’t need to call for air conditioning repairs more than once a year, nor should you pay more than $500 a year to keep it running. In either case, it’s a less expensive solution to replace the system and start enjoying trouble-free operation.

The air conditioner costs too much to run

During the last year or two of an AC’s lifespan, it will begin to lose it energy-efficient performance and drain more power than normal. You’ll see a rise in your bills. If repairs and maintenance can’t change this upward trend, it’s much more economical to have a new system with better energy efficiency put in.

Since 1980, Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning has offered great service in La Quinta, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities. Call us if you think it’s time to replace your air conditioning system.

Should I Replace an Air Conditioner That Uses R-22 Refrigerant?

You may have heard something about air conditioners that run on R-22 refrigerant, and realized that your home has one. What you probably heard was that R-22 is being phased out and it’s a good idea to have a new AC put in as a replacement before too long. These aren’t just rumors or hearsay: if you have an older air conditioner that uses R-22 refrigerant, we strongly urge you to arrange for an air conditioning replacement in Palm Springs, CA in the near future.

What Is R-22?

The earliest refrigerants used for air conditioners were toxic or flammable, but they were eventually replaced with safer chemical blends. R-22 (chlorodifluoromethane) was one of the most widespread, both for residential and commercial use. It became the most common type of refrigerant for both central air conditioners in homes and for window units. It replaced a number of known ozone-depleting blends such as CFC-11 and CFC-12.

Unfortunately, R-22 is still not ozone-depleting enough for the current standards, and it’s also a greenhouse gas with high global warming potential that’s more than 1800 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. For these reasons, global phaseout efforts started in the late 1990s to replace R-22 with an ozone-safe blend called R-410A, which also is a less powerful greenhouse gas.

The Phaseout in the U.S.

In accordance with the Montreal Protocol, the United States has started in earnest a complete phaseout of R-22 to be completed by 2020—right around the corner. The first three stages have already been reached:

  • 2004 – The U.S. reduces consumption of R-22 and all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 35%.
  • 2010 – All U.S. manufacturers of air conditioners no longer manufacture systems that use R22. (If your current system was installed after this, then it uses R-410A or another non-ozone-depleting blend.)
  • 2015 – The consumption of R-22 and other HCFCs reduced by 90%.
  • 2020 – Phaseout completed, with no further R-22 produced to service existing systems. Only refrigerant that has been recycled and reclaimed will be allowed to be used.

What This Means for Your AC

Air conditioning system do not “use up” refrigerant as they run, so if you have an R-22 system, you theoretically shouldn’t need to worry about having to add more refrigerant. But that theoretical part is important, because leaking refrigerant is a common problem. Right now R-22 is extremely costly to purchase because so little of it is being manufactured. And in a few years, it will be almost impossible to fix an R-22 air conditioner with a leak. We encourage you to start planning to replace your aging system—and it’s probably old enough that you’d want to replace it no matter what.

With fall coming up in a couple of months and a period of cooler weather (well, cooler for where we live), we’d recommend scheduling an air conditioning replacement service with us to install an AC that uses R-410A. There are many benefits to reap from a new system, such as increased energy efficiency and fewer worries about an AC breakdown. But knowing you’ll always be able to replace the refrigerant without worry in case of a leak is one of the best benefits.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning: We’re open 24 hours to serve the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities.

3 Common Fan Problems

Fans aren’t the biggest components in your air conditioner, but they are important to the operation of your air conditioning. There are two fans in your system: the condenser fan in the outside unit, and the blower/air handler in the inside unit. Each of these fans helps with air flow and the heat release/cooling process in your system. Problems with fans can be fairly minor, but when one malfunctions or stops working, the effects can be seen system-wide. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact problem with a fan, so it’s important to call experts when needing repair, and Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help.

Common Fan Problems

There are a few fan issues our technicians see with relative frequency:

 Motor Issues

Each fan has a motor that operates the fan array (fan, belts, etc.). Motors can burn out, lose lubrication (especially the ball bearings), or experience damage. When the motor malfunctions, or breaks down, the fan may no longer turns as it needs to; this affects air flow and the refrigerant cycle. Some motors can be repaired, but there are times when a fan motor will need replacement.

Electrical Issues

There are a number of wires surrounding the fan and its components, including the motor. Wires can fray, corrode or disconnect, voltages can become uneven – there are a number of electrical problems that can ensue. When it comes to electrical problems with any part of your air conditioner, it’s best to hire a professional for repair as wiring can be complex.

Fan Blades

Fan blades can loosen and/or bend. While a fan can run with these issues, bent or loose fan blades can damage the parts surrounding them.

Fans aren’t the hardest components to repair, but because fan issues affect both air flow and the heat release/cooling process in your system, it’s important to have any problems repaired right away. You count on your air conditioning to keep you cool, but that won’t happen with a malfunctioning system. If you are experiencing fan problems or any other issues with your AC, schedule air conditioning repairs in Palm Desert with the people you can trust: Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning.

Air Conditioning System Shopping: 3 Features to Look Out for

In a desert town like Yucaipa, air conditioning systems are the only thing standing between us and triple-digit temperatures. A sturdy AC unit can last for a long time, but sooner or later, every air conditioning unit needs to be replaced. When AC shopping in Yucaipa, you want to make sure you get the right unit to fit your needs. Here are 3 features to look out for when determining the best air conditioner for you.

  • Energy Efficiency. AC units all have a SEER (Season Energy Effectiveness Ratio) rating, determining how efficiently they cool your home. Modern AC units feature SEER ratings of 13 or above. Older ones can drop as low as 6. The higher the rating, the more it will save you on your monthly bills. An easy shortcut is to look for units with the EnergyStar label, indicating a SEER rating of 13 or higher.
  • Size. An air conditioning unit is a little like Goldilocks. If it’s too small, it won’t cool down your whole home. If it’s too large, it will cycle on and off numerous times throughout the day, increasing wear and tear and costing you more in monthly energy bills. Have a service professional evaluate your home for square footage, sun exposure, insulation and similar factors, then recommend an air conditioning unit that is just the right size for your needs.
  • Control features. Modern air conditioners feature plenty of bells and whistles that let you exercise greater control over the way air is distributed into your home. For example, you can set up a zone control system to vary the temperature in different areas throughout your home, allowing you to cool one section of the house and leave the rest alone. Or you can install a thermostat with automatic controls that will shut itself off every morning when you go to work and turn on again ten minutes before you come home. Such options help you keep energy bills in check while providing greater flexibility in how you use your air conditioning unit.

If you’re shopping for a new air conditioning system in Yucaipa and need the help of trained AC experts, call on Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning for help. We can go over all of the options with you and then schedule air conditioning installation service with your complete satisfaction in mind. In Yucaipa, air conditioning systems are an absolute necessity. Let us help you find and install the right one.

Why Is My Ductless AC Wall Unit Sagging?

You may live in one of the many homes in Southern California that uses a ductless system for its air conditioning as well as its heating. These ductless mini splits are an excellent way to provide comfort without the need for space-eating ducts that collect dust and often lose air through leaks.

But ductless air conditioning systems can run into problems as well. If you notice that one of the indoor units—the air handlers—is sagging on the wall or looks like its crooked, you might imagine something’s wrong. And you’re probably correct.

Why this is may be happening

One possibility is a poor installation job. Did you try to install the system yourself, or allow an amateur to do it? If so, the air handler was probably mounted incorrectly so it wasn’t secured to the wall. We recommend calling in a professional to look over the whole system and see if there are other troubles because of the bad original installation. We may need to replace some of the air handlers or even the outdoor unit if it was incorrectly sized.

If the ductless mini split system received a good installation from pros, the likely cause for a sagging wall unit is that there’s a leak in the condensate line. The condensate moisture from the unit has to drain outside through a line, and the line passes through a 3” hole drilled behind the unit. A leak will cause water to build up between the unit and the wall, eventually leading to the wall weakening. If this isn’t fixed, the unit will eventually rip away from the wall—and take part of the drywall with it!

To schedule effective air conditioning repair in Cathedral City, CA or the surrounding areas, contact us. We offer great customer service and we’re open 24 hours.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. We have a reputation for honesty and fairness!