Posted by: Cooper MechanicalTuesday, December 03, 2019
What is a SEER Number? What is an HSPF Number?
If you are shopping for a new HVAC system, you’ll encounter two acronyms and associated numbers that you may not be familiar with: SEER and HSPF. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a value that ranks a system’s efficiency in cooling. HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor, and it’s commonly understood as a comparable score for a unit’s efficiency in heating during cold weather months.
What is a SEER Number?
The SEER number is the ratio between the cooling system output in BTUs and the amount of electric energy a unit consumes in a given period. The lower the number, the more electric energy a cooling system consumes. Conversely, the higher the number, the less energy a cooling system consumes.
The SEER number listed with an HVAC system is always the maximum efficiency, which means the unit is capable of reaching that efficiency, but that it may not always operate at that ratio.
What is an HSPF Number?
The Heating Season Performance Factor, commonly referred to as HSPF, is a heat pump’s efficiency rating. According to Energy.gov, the HSPF is the “total space heating required during the heating season, expressed in BTUs, divided by the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system during the same season, expressed in watt-hours.” In essence, it’s a SEER rating for your heating in winter.
Like older AC systems, heat pumps older than 10 years likely have an HSPF number lower than 7.7, which is the current minimum. A system with an HSPF number over 9 can drastically improve efficiency and lower monthly heating costs.
SEER Matters Most in Myrtle Beach
Since we have more hot weather than cold in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we tend to work our cooling systems more than our heating systems. As a result, consumers should be more concerned with the cooling efficiency of a unit than the heating efficiency, since the system will spend a majority of its time cooling.
SEER numbers on new HVAC systems range from 13 to 20+. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit will be. While high-efficiency systems with large SEER numbers cost a premium, they can offset their costs with lower monthly cooling costs. Considering how much we rely on air-conditioning in Myrtle Beach from Spring-Fall, a high SEER rating can be worth it in the long run.
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SEER and HSPF numbers are not the only thing to consider. It’s important that your unit is properly sized for your home or business. In many ways, this is a more important consideration as a unit that is too small for your square footage often leads to mechanical problems from the strain of trying to cool too large a space.
Feeling Sticky? Causes and Solutions for Indoor Humidity Problems
Humidity Makes Warm Weather Feel Hotter (and Stickier)
Humidity can definitely make a hot day feel more miserable. And Myrtle Beach is no stranger to heat and humidity. Even the humidity charts label half of the year in coastal South Carolina as "oppressive" and "miserable." Those "muggy" conditions happen when excess moisture remains in the air. Thankfully we live in an age where adequate cooling is the norm. It's not uncommon in Myrtle Beach to hang inside on the hottest, most humid days, and venture outside for some beach fun or exercise in the late afternoon and evening.
Modern HVAC systems regulate indoor humidity, removing excess water from the air. This water leaves the house via a drain pipe. If your system is doing a good job removing moisture, cool air with feel drier inside, and you'll have that sweet relief from Myrtle Beach's muggy summer weather. If your AC isn't removing moisture well, it will first seem as though your HVAC system isn't cooling as well. You might also notice that it feels "stickier" and more humid in parts of your home.
Why Your HVAC May Not Be Removing Moisture and Lowering Humidity
There are a few reasons why your HVAC system may not be handling humidity control well. We'll break it down so you'll see the cause of the issue as well as the solution that your professional HVAC company will recommend.
Dirty, Clogged Coils: Your evaporator coil is responsible for for removing heat and humidity from the air. If your HVAC system isn't filtering particulates, dust, and debris, you'll end up with coils that are covered in grime. Dirty coils are less efficient in cooling and dehumidifying the air. The solution is a professional coil cleaning as well as regular change of all air filters. Keeping coils clean doesn't take a lot of work. A scheduled clean and service twice a year is more than enough to keep your system in shape for the heavy workout a South Carolina summer calls for.
Low Refrigerant Charge: Your AC system needs coolant, or refrigerant, to cool your air. The amount of refrigerant, or charge, is dependent upon HVAC system type, size, and ambient temperature. Too low a charge and your evaporator coil will be starved for coolant on those hot and humid days. Too much charge and you could find yourself with a flooded condenser should there be a sudden cold snap heading into fall. Chances are that an HVAC professional will check your refrigerant charge if there are complaints of indoor humidity. Adjusting the charge is a quick solution.
Incorrect Fan Speed: Higher fan speed is better, right? Not necessarily. If you move cool air into your home too quickly, you may not being getting your evaporator coil to remove enough moisture. Airflow at 400cfm (cubic feet per minute) may lower temperature indoors but not sufficiently tackle the humidity. Lowering the fan speed means airflow is slightly slower, giving the condenser adequate time to remove moisture.
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Indoor humidity is no fun. Myrtle Beach is hot and sticky enough outside. You should be comfortable in your home. In addition to the causes of indoor humidity listed above, you might also experience poor humidity control if your system is improperly sized. While dehumidifying systems and other solutions exist, it's best to investigate first to see if the problem has a simpler solution.
If you think your HVAC isn't working as it should, give us a call. Cooper Mechanical Services has been helping Grand Strand homeowners and businesses since 1989. Let our family help keep your family comfortable. Call Cooper!
Myrtle Beach vacation companies love to market Myrtle Beach as a summer beach destination, but one thing that doesn't always translate in those photos of happy families outdoors: the oppressive heat and humidity. For us lucky to call the Grand Strand home, summer sometimes feels like we just shuffle from one air-conditioned space to another until the sun has set and temperatures drop. Even if you do venture outdoors for a bit, there's solace that you'll soon be back indoors, a little reprieve from the sun until the next adventure.
Sometimes the AC isn't as refreshing as it should be though. You adjust the thermostat and stand close to a vent, but all you feel is warm air blowing on you.
If your HVAC system is on and blowing warm air, it's a signal that something needs attention. A little troubleshooting can help homeowners better communicate their problem to HVAC professionals so you can get your AC back up and running.
Basic AC Troubleshooting Before You Call
1. Check Your Expectations: Okay, this one isn't a troubleshooting task, per se, but sometimes we have unrealistic expectations for how quickly an HVAC system should cool a room. Have you given your system enough time to warm up and lower temperatures? Do you have a lot of uncovered windows? Keeping shades and blinds shut can help expedite the cooling time, so just be mindful of elements that may make cooling your space more difficult for your system.
2. Check Your Filters:Clogged filters limit airflow and cause your AC system to work twice as hard to cool your home. If airflow is weak out of vents, change your filters and test it again.
3. Check Your Thermostat: One simple solution to the warm air problem is checking the thermostat to make sure it is set to "Cool" or "Auto." If your thermostat is in "Fan" mode, it is just circulating air without cooling it. Additionally, it's possible that your thermostat could have slipped into a programmable pre-set that doesn't reach your comfort level or the times when you want AC.
4. Check Your Outdoor Condenser Unit: Do a visual and auditory inspection of your HVAC unit beside your home. Is it free of grass, leaves and debris? Clogged or dirty coils can impact performance. Does running unit sound normal? Note strange sounds and noises that are out of the ordinary.
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If you've performed the tasks above and your HVAC system still isn't cooling, give us a call. You'll have done some basic troubleshooting, and your answers will help us with diagnosing the issue before we even get to your door.
A "smart thermostat" is a relatively new term to describe programmable thermostats in the internet age. These products gain their "smart" modifier through wifi capability and app-based controls. Wifi-enabled programmable thermostats offer increased functionality, simplified design, and energy saving controls. One setting that is new to these thermostats is "Recovery Mode." Recovery mode is an energy-saving preset that slowly transitions your HVAC unit from a standby mode to full-power heating or cooling.
Thermostat Recovery Mode Saves Energy and Money
Imagine being woken from sleep, jumping out of bed, and running to work at full-speed. This type of 0-to-60 is energy draining and taxing. The healthier option is a slower start and a gradual build-up to heavy exertion. This is what recovery mode does for your HVAC system.
Recovery mode is best used for programmed settings when immediate cooling or heating isn't as important. If you walk into a hot and humid home, your impulse is to get the indoor air to a comfortable setting quickly. However, if you program your thermostat to keep your home at a more economical setting while you are at work or school and to resume your normal comfort level for your return, recovery mode is quite helpful.
Now if you see "Recovery Mode" on your thermostat or app, you'll know why!
Cooper Mechanical Services for Smart Savings
Advancements in HVAC technologies is better for the environment and your wallet. Cooper Mechanical Services is Myrtle Beach's solution for the latest in energy saving comfort. We can also help you take advantage of energy efficiency tax credits! If you are looking to upgrade or replace your home or businesses HVAC system, call Cooper today.