Hoss Magazine – Cold Comfort – How will you cool your home this summer?
March 11, 2014
Here’s the lowdown on the latest air conditioning options…
By Sarah B. Hood of Hoss Magazine and Peter Wagner of Hogg Heating and Air Conditioning
Recent technological improvements have made heating and lighting much more energy efficient. But can the same be said for home cooling?
“I would say that the changes in air conditioning mirror the changes in heating, in that most of the improvement in heating has come in improved fuel efficiency,” says Peter Wagner, general manager of Hogg Heating and Air Conditioning. Somewhat ironically, he adds: ‘We’re so good at it that any incremental improvement has increasingly small impact on the carbon emissions.”
One of the most important innovations is the two-stage air conditioner, which “comes on at 60 per cent to 70 per cent of its total potential output” in order to regulate temperature, Wagner says. “If the thermostat isn’t satisfied after a certain time, then the air conditioner knows to ramp up to the second stage,” using more energy, but only when it’s needed for an extra cooling push.
Window-mounted air conditioners are still available. They cost as little as $100 and can be installed quickly, but they are the least efficient of cooling systems and they leave the homeowner at the mercy of rising electricity costs. These are most suitable for someone who only intends to use a cooling system on especially warm nights, when electricity costs are lower. “The technology has gone from what’s known as ‘window rattlers’ to central air, where there’s a coil placed in the forced air stream and we chill all the air that’s being circulated through the ductwork,” says Wagner.
Homes that are already fitted with hot-water radiators are candidates for “ductless split” air conditioning. “That’s one area where the technology has improved what we have now,” he says. In this case, the installers will mount an appliance that’s a few inches high and a couple of feet long on the outside of the house to blow cool air into the space.
The most efficient technique is also the most expensive, with a log payback time and a very large space requirement: ground source heat pumps, which transfer heat and cold from the underground into the home. These are only suitable for locations with no access to natural gas, a relatively large building envelope and “enough land to lay pipes horizontally – generally in excess of a couple of acres,” Wagner explains.
The good news for new home builders and those on a budget? “We say the best kind of air conditioning is intelligent design,” says Wagner. This means looking at some of the common sense measures for cooling the home: insulation, shade trees, roof overhangs and awnings, and window placement.
If you insist on having windows with a south and/or west exposure, make sure there’s an overhang so that the sun isn’t beating right on the window, Wagner advises. Also helpful are triple-paned glass, windows that open, and louvered shutters, blinds or light coloured curtains.
Finally, Wagner advises: “If you get an annual tune-up, you can generally cut your maintenance costs in half.”
If you have any questions, concerns or require additional information please feel free to comment below or contact us at any of the sources provided. firstname.lastname@example.org, 519.579.5330, Twitter @HoggMechanical, Facebook Hogg Heating & Air Conditioning
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