Monthly Archives: April 2011

Springtime Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Article provided by AHRI

Spring is the perfect time for homeowners to check and prepare their cooling equipment, making sure it operates at maximum efficiency before we reach the hot summer months. AHRI offers the following tips to help save you money on your cooling costs this summer.

  • Check your air filter and replace if it is dirty, or according to your manufacturer’s recommendation. This will keep dust from collecting on the evaporator coil fins, and can also cut your energy use
    by 5-15 percent! Make sure the power to your furnace is turned off before removing the filter, and reposition the new one according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure to clear away all yard debris from your condensing unit- the large metal box outside next to your home. Leaves, weeds, plants, and lawn clippings can collect and block the airflow through the
    unit, reducing its efficiency. Also, occasionally clean the unit by spraying it with a water hose.
  • Check to make sure indoor air conditioning vents are not blocked by furniture.
  • Closing off and closing the vents in unused rooms can help; though adding zone controls to automatically set back the temperature in these unused rooms can cut cooling costs as much as 20 percent.
  • Set the fan on high speed except in very humid weather. If you set the fan to low in humid weather, you will get less cooling, but the air circulation will make it feel cooler.

AHRI also suggests hiring a professional to service your air conditioner who will be able to find and fix problems in the system. Be aware that not all service technicians are trained equally; look for a technician certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE-certified technicians can be found online at www.natex.org. Be sure to insist that the technician:

  • Check for the correct amount of refrigerant and test for refrigerant leaks.
  • Capture any refrigerant that needs to be evacuated from the system.
  • Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems.
  • Measure airflow through the evaporator coil.
  • Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
  • Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating and cooling systems cannot operate at the same time.
  • Inspect electrical terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary.
  • Check belts and oil motors for tightness and wear.

Steve Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, advises, “Heating and cooling is the single biggest energy consumer in a home, and accounts for about 40 percent of all the energy used by homeowners.” He also says central air conditioning units should last at least 12 to 15 years with proper maintenance, and that regular service will keep the system running smoothly. Making sure your system is running at its highest efficiency will help keep you cool
this summer and save on energy costs.

 

To read the full article, click here.

Cause and Effect

This article is provided by Matt Michel.

Our Shetland Sheepdog, Humphrey Bogart, likes to herd things and to protect the house. It's instinctive. Unfortunately for Humphrey, we don't keep sheep or cattle in our backyard and the squirrels and rabbits have learned to keep their distance. So what's a Sheltie to do? Chase aircraft!

We live north of DFW Airport and can easily see planes flying over our house on final approach. Humphrey can see them too. He doesn't like them.

Humphrey used to leap into the air trying to catch the planes, but never got close. Now, he just barks at them until they leave. As far as Humphrey's concerned, he's chasing the planes away. He knows it's
happening because every time he barks at one, it goes away.

Humphrey associates his barking with the plane's leaving and concludes one causes the other. In a way, he's right. The plane shows up and Humphrey barks until it leaves.

Getting cause and effect wrong is all too common. Service callbacks increase. Is this the result of a lack of training, poorly designed incentives, bad products, or something else? It could be anything. The mistake is to note a correlation and draw a conclusion without understanding the relationships.

In another example, a business owner hears from the media about the poor state of the economy. Nervous, he reduces expenses, cutting marketing and delaying business investment. Sure enough, business falls off, but the slide is more a result of the owner's actions than the economy.

A competitor fills the void left by the first owner by increasing marketing and investing in growth. He figures the economy might make growth more difficult, so he needs to put forth more effort.

In any economy, companies prosper and fail. This suggests the economy may not be as important as the actions of the owner.

Shelties can't tell the difference between correlation and cause and effect. You can. Where have you noticed a correlation that's mistaken for cause and effect?

(C) 2011 Matt Michel