Making the Switch to Ductless Air Conditioning

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningSpring is an excellent season to have a new air conditioning system installed for your home. If your current AC is more than 15 years old, it’s time to arrange for an air conditioning replacement in La Quinta, CA or the surrounding areas. It’s easy to have our professionals replace your current cooling system with a similar type—although the new system will probably have superior energy efficiency and more features. Fifteen years is a long time when it comes to advancing technology, and you’ll enjoy all-around better air conditioning with a new system.

However, you can also choose to have a different type of air conditioning system installed, such as a heat pump or a ductless mini split. We’re going to look at ductless air conditioning a bit closer today to see when it makes sense to switch from standard ducts to ductless.

What Ductless Air Conditioning Can Offer You

You may have already seen a ductless mini split system in operation: an air handler mounted up on a wall in a business or a home that sends cooled air directly into the space. These air handlers attach through power and refrigerant lines to an outdoor unit, and the outdoor unit can power up to four different air handlers placed around a residential or commercial space.

Using multiple air handlers rather than a single one that attaches to ducts removes the needs for ducts entirely, and can provide a number of benefits, such as improved energy efficiency. Ductwork is prone to developing leaks, which can result in a loss of up to 30% of the conditioned air inside it. A ductless system eliminates this waste possibility entirely, and further helps reduce bills because mini air handlers use much smaller motors than a single large air handler straining to send air through long lengths of ducts. Ductless mini splits also allow for zone control cooling, since each air handler can be manipulated independently of the others.

When Ductless Air Conditioning Is a Good Idea

But if your home already has an extensive set of ducts, going with a ductless cooling system can be redundant. It’s often easier to stick with a ducted system and make use of the existing ventilation network. But there are times when ductless is a better option:

  • If you are thinking about doing extensive restoration to your home, going ductless means you can freely renovate without consideration of the ductwork in place. The ducts can be easily removed.
  • For add-on rooms, ductless mini splits are a great option. You can provide cooling to the new rooms without making extensive changes to the rest of the HVAC system.
  • For a household with allergy and asthma problems, ductless is an excellent way to reduce the amount of particles blown around the air. Ducts are a significant source of dust and debris build-up.
  • You are planning to build a new house. Ductless is often the best way to go when starting from scratch.

To have all your questions answered about air conditioning replacement in general and ductless mini splits specifically, you only have to speak to one of our knowledgeable staff members.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning provides air conditioning services to the Inland Empire and Desert Communities. For exceptional customer service, please give our office a call.

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.

An HVAC Maintenance Plan for Business: Is It Really Worth It?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningWhat’s a nightmare scenario you can imagine for your company during regular business hours? You can probably think of a few—and don’t want to—but here’s a particular one we want to draw your attention to: an AC failure on a 100°+ day. We get plenty of roasting hot summer days here, and whether you run a restaurant, a retail store, or an office space, a loss of cooling can mean a complete work shutdown.

Almost as bad as a loss of cooling when your business needs it the most is the fear that this will happen. If you don’t trust your AC to make it through the summer, you’ll be on the edge all the time. For these reasons alone, an HVAC maintenance program from commercial specialists is worth the cost. Maintenance is essential for heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment, usually twice a year but sometimes more depending on the equipment. It’s true for homes, and it’s doubly true for commercial buildings, where much more is riding on the HVAC working right than just unhappy and uncomfortable family members.

The Main Benefits of Commercial HVAC Maintenance

We put together a bullet-point list to show you why a professional HVAC maintenance plan is not only worth it, it’s essential!

  • Stop heating and cooling emergencies: Here in the deserts of Southern California, you’re likely to run into a heating emergency without proper maintenance. You never want an AC to fail when the temperature is above 80°F, let alone the 100°F temperatures we often have. But a heating emergency is possible as well during the cooler winter months. Maintenance is designed to head off problems before they become problems, identify places where repairs need to be done, and cleaning and tuning-up the system for mostly problem-free performance through the seasons.
  • Lower repair costs: We can prevent 85% of the repairs your HVAC equipment may need over its lifetime through regular maintenance. That not only saves you money, it saves you inconveniences.
  • Better energy efficiency: Through a maintenance plan for your business, you can expect the equipment to work at its best and not unnecessarily drain money through poor performance.
  • Extended equipment life: It’s costly to replace a commercial heating or cooling system. You will eventually need to, but maintenance can more than double the service life of heating and AC equipment.
  • Peace of mind: This is the best benefit of all. With a commercial HVAC maintenance plan, you have one less thing to worry about and can concentrate on other parts of your business.

To set up commercial HVAC maintenance plans for a Palm Springs, CA business, or a business anywhere else in the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities, we’re the local contractor to turn to. We have more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry, and we offer extensive service for commercial HVAC systems, including cooling towers, packaged units, and rooftop units. Place your maintenance needs in our hands, and we’ll help make your company a success each day with a well-working heating, cooling, and ventilation system.

For exceptional customer service, please get in touch with our officeRussell’s Heating & Air Conditioning!

Why Does My Heating System Smell Funny?

One of the early warning signs that a heating system needs professionals to repair it is when strange, often unpleasant smells start to come from the vents. The smell of rotten eggs, burning wires, and mold can all point to major problems. There are some odors that are only minor issues, but when you have any doubts, don’t try to fix the problem yourself! Just call our repair skilled and honest professionals to take care of the heating repairs necessary.

Some warning odors from your home’s heating system

  • Musty, moldy smells: This probably means that the air filter of the furnace or heat pump has mold developing inside it. Change out of the filter or clean it, and keep doing this once a month. If the problem persists, you may have mold developing within the ventilation system or the furnace itself, and this will require professionals. You might also have trouble with air leaks in the ducts that are allowing moldy air inside. Technicians can seal the ducts to solve this problem.
  • Rotten egg smell: The odor of rotten eggs comes from an additive put into natural gas to make it easier to detect in case of a leak. When you perceive this foul smell from your gas furnace, shut the system down, open up doors and windows for ventilation, and then call on professionals to resolve the trouble safely.
  • Burning: An acrid smell like burning wires or plastic usually means that a motor or other component inside the system is overheating. This needs to be attended to quickly to replace the part (and find out why the overheating is occurring) or else other parts of the heater will be affected, possibly causing an expensive breakdown.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves Banning, CA and the rest of the Inland Empire and Desert Communities. If you’re a first-time customer, right now we’re offering 15% off service. Call for more information or to book an appointment.

Cooling Down Weather—Is Your Home Insulation In Good Shape?

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningThis has been a hot October. Air conditioners put in serious overtime deep into fall to handle the major heat waves we’ve experienced. But we’re finally getting a break, with temperatures set to drop into the high 70s. For people in other parts of the country, it may sound bizarre to hear us call this cooling down, but life is different in the Southern California deserts.

Whatever else the temperatures are like in other places, you need to be focused on your heating and cooling needs. We’ve already discussed the need for heating maintenance (yes, even here, it’s important). Today we want to address another part of your house that may need improvement to help handle the change in seasons: the insulation.

Insulation and Making Sure Your Heater Has to Do Little Work

The job of insulation in a home is to slow down the movement of heat from one place to another. During cooler days, this means trapping as much heat inside your home as possible. In general, your home is warmer than the outdoors during colder weather: the heat created by human bodies, appliances, and lights all generate warmth. This warmth will rapidly escape to the outside if the insulation around the home is insufficient. When the house loses heat, you’ll feel a draft, and you may have to turn on the heating system to replace the lost heat.

If you have effective insulation, however, you can often enjoy the right warm comfort inside your house on cool days without needing to turn the heating system on. This is one of the big advantages of living in a warm climate: on most winter days, you’ll have sufficient warmth trapped inside the house that you don’t need any additional help from a heating system.

Unfortunately, older homes often have inferior insulation with the incorrect R-values (a rating of how well the insulation stops heat movement of), leading to bad drafts during the winter and having to put more energy into running the heating system. This poor insulation isn’t good during our long summers, either, since it allows heat to rapidly enter the home and put more strain on the AC. If your house is drafty, it’s time to do something about it! Arrange for new insulation with our experts.

Duct Insulation

Ensuring the ducts in a home have proper insulation is also important. The escape of heat through duct walls can account for a significant loss of warmth in your home when you do need to run the heater. Insulating the ducts is beneficial for the air conditioning system as well, stopping heat from raising the temperature of the cooled air. You’re probably going to be using the AC again soon during a surprise heat wave, so having your ducts effectively insulated is important no matter the time of year.

If you are looking for a service to install new insulation in Cathedral City, CA, contact us. We also offer ductwork insulation to help make your HVAC system as efficient as possible.

Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. We’re open 24 hours to see to your needs.

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.

Advantages to Installing a Package Unit for Heating

Here in Redlands, heating services often have to handle package units, which combine traditional heaters with air conditioning systems. Heat pumps – which function as heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer – and similar systems make a lot of sense in desert communities like ours. If you’re looking at installing a new heating system, you might want to consider some version of a package unit. Here are some advantages to installing a package unit for heating:

  • It’s efficient. Heat pumps are prized for their ability to warm and cool the air while using much less energy (and costing much less money in monthly bills) than gas furnaces. That efficiency drops when the temperature goes below 40 degrees, but that’s not a huge concern in towns like Redlands, and if it is, you can include a smaller electric furnace as part of your package unit to make up the difference. Even then, the monthly cost of running the system is less than you might pay with a more traditional system.
  •  It’s space friendly. Package units don’t need a lot of extra space: combining everything into one box that can be easily placed in an appropriate nook or out-of-the-way spot such as an attic. That frees up space for additional storage, which both private homes and businesses can always use more of.
  • It improves the resale value of your home. Once it’s installed, a package system makes your home more attractive to buyers adding to its resale value. Depending on the circumstances, it make even be enough to offset the cost of installation.

The advantages to installing a package unit for heating are numerous, but it still entails an up-front investment, which means you need to consider your options carefully. The Redlands, CA heating service technicians at Russell’s Heating and Air Conditioning can provide solid advice on the kind of system that works best for your home. When you’re ready, we’ll perform the installation with professionalism and care. We’re dedicated to your complete satisfaction in all aspects of the operation. Call us today to schedule an appointment, and let us show you what we can do!

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4thcenturies, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

Here’s wishing you and your loved one a Happy Valentine’s Day!