The History of Air Conditioning: How Our Ancestors Stayed Cool

We’ve all experienced the hot and humid conditions warm weather can bring with it. Without air conditioning, it’s uncomfortable in the least, and it can pose a health danger in the worst of cases. The struggle to remain cool has been ongoing for centuries. Our ancestors found the heat as irksome as we do in our modern day lives, and sought ways to remain cool.

Geothermal cooling gives way to aqueduct use

Though Willis Carrier, a 25-year-old engineer from New York, is credited with developing the first modern air-conditioning system in 1902, our cave-dwelling ancestors used the first example of geothermal cooling around 10,000 BC. The Egyptians then combated the extreme temperatures of the Nile River Valley by hanging wet reeds in the windows, cooling the breeze as it blew into their homes.

The Ancient Greeks upped the ante with their central heating and cooling systems, which used water piped in from aqueducts. The Romans then improved upon that by using support columns in their villas and bathhouses to transport heated air to warm the space.

The Chinese invent fans and the Victorians improve airflow

Around 3000 years ago, the Chinese discovered that air moving across skin is cooling, so they invented the hand-held fan to produce moving air. Even now, fans remain an integral part of air conditioning systems.

Cooling towers were used in traditional Middle Eastern building design for larger spaces. The towers caught and circulated cool breezes and drew the cool air from underground channels. The Victorians also used airflow to aid in their quest for cooler temps – they designed their homes with high ceilings and large recessed windows, which were optimal for cross ventilation.

20th Century Americans invent the air conditioner

The journey to air conditioning as we know it today started in 1848, when Dr. John Gorrie invented an ice-making machine and mechanical refrigeration becomes a possibility. And while Carrier developed that first modern air-conditioning system in 1922, it wasn’t until 1947 that low-cost air conditioners became available for the public.

Can’t take the heat? Call us!

Now thanks to the efforts of our ancestors, we’re able to stay cool and comfortable – though we’ve come a long way from digging holes in the ground and hanging wet reeds in windows! If you and your family are feeling the heat in your home, Philadelphia Gas & Electric Heating and Air Conditioning has a team of skilled HVAC technicians to help you find a solution. Call us at (215) 839-0057 to schedule that important appointment today!

What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need for My Home?

When it comes to air conditioners, one size doesn’t fit all, and bigger isn’t always better. The size air conditioner you choose will depend upon a number of factors, including the size of your living space and the age of your home.

How to Determine the Size Air Conditioner You Need

An HVAC technician can help you figure out what size air conditioner you need for your home. He or she will perform an inspection and ask you questions to help determine your home’s needs. Some of the factors to be considered are:

  • The size of your home’s living space, in total volume.
  • The area of exterior walls that are exposed to the sun.
  • How many windows you have, how old they are, their condition and how they’re oriented in relation to the sun.
  • When your home was built.
  • The amount and quality of the home’s insulation.
  • The existing ductwork and ventilation system.
  • How much shade the house gets from trees and shrubs.

Any good HVAC contractor will perform this very necessary inspection before installing a new heating and cooling system.

Why Installing the Right Size Air Conditioner Is Important

Once air conditioners are installed, they usually last for over a decade. Unfortunately, many homeowners purchase the wrong size air conditioner, either because the HVAC company didn’t provide a consultation to determine the correct size, or because the homeowner wasn’t aware of just how important size is. Units that are too big shut on and off too quickly, and units that are too small never reach the desired temperature. If the wrong air conditioner is installed, the system will encounter a variety of problems that affect the consumer in the following ways:

  • Wear and tear—If a unit has to shut on and off frequently, or has to run continuously, you’ll find that it will need repair much too early, and way too frequently. The parts will be under undue stress, which can cause various complications to the system.
  • Decreased energy efficiency—If a unit isn’t cycling properly, it’ll use energy much less efficiently. For instance, if a system is never able to shut off, it will be exerting energy continually that will then show up on your utility bill.
  • Discomfort—A system that isn’t the proper size won’t heat your home very well, and it will cause the air inside your home to never reach its optimal temperature. This can create discomfort for you or anyone else inside the home.

When it’s time to choose a new air conditioner, make sure you contact your HVAC company for a consultation. The company’s thorough inspection can give you the information you need to confidently purchase a system that is just the right size.

 

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8 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

When it’s time to replace your air conditioner or furnace, you may feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to you. By avoiding the following pitfalls, you can make a wise decision that will be worth the expense.

1. Going For the Lowest Price

Most often, a higher efficiency model can save you more money over time than will the cheapest option. With a high efficiency model, you can save about $300 per year for the 12 to 15 years your system is likely to last.

2. Getting Just One Estimate

Since every HVAC company’s fees are different, you’ll want to get more than one estimate in order to compare service contracts, permits and installation costs.

3. Buying the Wrong Size Equipment

Quite a few homeowners get the wrong size heating and air conditioning equipment, which results in high utility bills, mold buildup, damaged equipment and an inefficient system that creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

4. Ignoring SEER

The SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating lets consumers know how efficient a particular HVAC system is. Go for a SEER rating of at least 13, and ideally 16 or higher. This can cut your energy bills significantly.

5. Missing Rebates

Many manufacturers and states offer rebates to those who purchase energy efficient HVAC systems. These rebates can be significant and can sometimes be up to $1500. Ask your contractor about rebates or visit www.dsireusa.org.

6. Not Getting a Maintenance Contract

Annual maintenance is important in order to keep your HVAC system working its best. Dirt, dust and debris build up in a system over time, and when these aren’t cleaned out, your system can become less efficient. This can result in parts breaking down and an increase in your energy bill. A maintenance contract ensures your company will perform thorough maintenance every year.

7. Getting Outdated Refrigerant

Any new unit produced after 2009 is restricted from using R-22, often called Refrigerant®, due to its ozone-depleting properties. Make sure your new system uses an approved refrigerant like R-410A.

8. Not Using Professionals

Some companies use high school students to work with mechanics, but neither the mechanic nor the student specializes in the type of system being installed. When this happens, either your estimate or the installation may be delayed. In case you get a company that doesn’t follow through with the job in time, include a 5% penalty in the agreement.

If you’re looking to invest in a new heating or air conditioning system, avoid these pitfalls and make a smart purchase that will keep your home feeling comfortable.

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The Dangers of Replacing an Outdoor Unit on an Older Air Conditioning System to Save Money

When it’s time to replace the outdoor unit on your air conditioning system, you may be tempted to save money by replacing just this unit. However, the indoor and outdoor units work together, and replacing one without replacing the other can be detrimental to your system and end up costing you more money.

 

How Air Conditioners Work

Air conditioners work by removing heat from inside the home. Refrigerant flows through copper tubing as it makes its way through the system. When the refrigerant reaches the indoor evaporator coil, it absorbs heat and transfers the heat to the outdoor unit. The compressor squeezes the liquid refrigerant at the condenser, and the absorbed heat is then released outside. All these actions are performed simultaneously, and they continue until the home is sufficiently cooled.

 

The Importance of Matching Components

While it’s initially cheaper to replace just the outdoor unit, you will encounter problems with your system much more quickly. The system won’t run as smoothly and will wear down more quickly, both of which will cost additional money to fix.

It’s hard to match new and old evaporator and condenser coils for the following reasons:

  • Newer coils are more efficient than older ones. When the old and new coils are matched, it places undue pressure on the system. The system won’t be as capable of sufficiently cooling the air, which leads to higher energy consumption. It can also cause certain parts like the motor to fail.
  • Air handler/evaporator units now have new technologies that help them achieve higher SEER ratings (season energy efficiency ratio). When these units are matched with older condenser coils, they can’t reach their expected SEER.
  • Coils manufactured today have grooved surfaces, increased surface space, efficiently designed fins and enhanced tubing, all of which increase performance levels. Older coils can’t keep up with these features, so they aren’t compatible with the new coils.
  • New units have thermal expansion valves that have better control of the refrigerant and thus boost performance. The units have a hard shut-off that helps the TXV operate well. The shut-off valve is harmful to older compressors, because it limits the refrigerant’s movement to the compressor.

 

Industry Testing

Tests have been performed my manufacturers that were judged against industry standards set forth by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. These tests have determined what can go wrong when components are mismatched. The negative results included a significantly lower operational efficiency, a lower cooling capacity and an undependable HVAC system.

Instead of replacing just the outdoor unit on your older air conditioning system, replace the entire system. This will save you money, as your air conditioner will properly heat and cool your home.

Tips For Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Your Home

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which causes potentially deadly poisoning. It’s normally produced when fuel is burnt. This means that any appliance that burns fuel within the house is a potential source of this gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning results when one inhales so much of this gas that it replaces oxygen in the bloodstream.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Space heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, water heaters and gas central heating are the leading sources of carbon monoxide. The gas can leak to the atmosphere when such devices are poorly vented. Exhaust gases from a car parked in a closed garage can also produce the gas. On average, carbon monoxide poisoning results in around 40 fatalities and 300 injuries each year. However, such cases are under reported because there’s no automatic testing for carbon monoxide of people who succumb suddenly.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The initial symptoms are similar to the flu, albeit without the fever. Such include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, irregular breathing and headaches. If one has any of these symptoms and they feel better when they go outside but they reappear once they’re back indoors, they may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

What to do

If poisoning is suspected or detected, one is advised to get outside the car or building they’re presently in. You should then keep still to conserve oxygen in the blood, which recedes due to replacement by the gas. Immediate treatment is also important. At the ER, most cases are treated by administering oxygen therapy via a mask.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on each level of the home and near bedrooms. These should meet industry safety standards and also comply with local regulations for domestic installation. It’s also advisable to call a certified professional to handle HVAC systems and correct any leaks.

Appliances, vents and chimneys should also be inspected for visible rust, soot, blockage, stains and corrosion. They should also be inspected annually. When in use, they should be vented properly to allow the gas to escape from enclosures. The fireplace should also not be closed before the fire is extinguished completely.

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Should I Leave Interior Doors Open Or Closed During Heating And Cooling?

Many people think that they can simply shut the doors to their bedrooms, laundry room, home office and other interior rooms and they’ll be able to save a little money on heating and cooling bills. Unfortunately, while this practice is fairly common, the homeowner is setting in motion an inefficient and, even, dangerous situation.

Today’s HVAC systems move a great deal of air during the normal process of heating and cooling a home, and proper air flow is crucial to energy efficiency as well as personal comfort. When one or more interior doors is closed, air flow is interrupted and serious problems can arise.

For example, when a bedroom door is closed, the HVAC system will still be putting air into the room, but the air is trapped and pressure begins to build up. Of course, the air that you have paid so much to condition is then forced to find a way to escape. It will be forced back out of the house, following any escape path it can find.

Unfortunately, for every cubic foot of conditioned air that is forced out of a room, an equal amount of unconditioned air will be drawn back into the home from outdoors. The more interior doors that are closed, the more conditioned air will be forced out with more hot or cold air from outside being brought into the home. In fact, the draw of unconditioned air can increase by 300 to 900 percent depending on how many doors are closed. This not only dramatically increases utility bills, but indoor comfort decreases and health problems can occur.

As the HVAC system requires large amounts of air to replace the air that is forced out from the pressure of closed doors, outdoor air finds its way in through the easiest path. This is typically a reverse air flow from the furnace flue, fireplace flue or chimney. As this air comes into the home, it brings outdoor pollutants, increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and a greater risk of mold and mildew due to higher humidity.

So in short, we recommend keeping your doors open or only shutting them for as short of a period as possible when your HVAC unit is running.

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Four Different Air Conditioner Types

There are many air conditioner types and they are known under various names. So the average buyer does not get flustered by all those different names (some of them technical), here is a short description of the main air conditioner types used today.

The two most common air conditioner types are known as unitary conditioners and PTAC or Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners. The latter are more sophisticated versions and are typically used in commercial facilities or in large houses, whereas the unitary systems are ideal for separate rooms or smaller spaces.

Unitary systems are so called since all the refrigerant components in such units are put in one compact box. The two main types in unitary conditioners are:

1. Window air conditioners
2. Portable conditioners.

Window conditioners are among the older types of conditioners but are still widely used. They can be placed through a hole in the exterior wall, but since that generally involves additional construction work, most prefer to place it on a window. These conditioners recycle the heated air in the room and discharge fresh and cooler air inside while the exhaust vent releases the heated air on the outside.

With portable conditioners, you do not need to worry about installation and can simply put it on a convenient place on the floor. The hose vent attached from the unit to the exterior wall ejects the heat outside.

PTAC conditioners, on the other hand, use two separate units and are more commonly referred to as split or ductless air conditioners. The evaporative unit in these systems is installed inside the conditioned space, whereas the condenser unit is placed in an exterior location. The two units are connected by refrigerant tubing. These units are typically used at offices and in larger spaces.

A central air conditioning system is also an example of a PTAC unit. It is the most expensive option you have, but also the most comfortable. The units make little or no noise and are extremely energy efficient.

For any further HVAC queries and requirements of yours, please contact us and we will get back to you at the earliest.

5 Home Cooling Myths

When the temperature soars, people often go hunting for air conditioners and other ways to keep their home cool and comfortable. The following are the top 5 home cooling myths that you should be aware of:

#1: Fans Can Help Cool Down a Room

Fans do not cool down the room, instead it cools down your body by moving air over it in order to bring down your body’s temperature. Thus, there is no need to have a fan running when you’re not in the room because it isn’t going to cool it down.

#2: Bigger Air Conditioners are Better

When it comes to air conditioning, the phrase ‘the bigger the better’ does not apply. Thus, instead of upgrading your air conditioner to an even larger one, you should consider having it serviced for a better performance. Also, you might want to check around the room for leaks, cracks or gaps that allow cool conditioned air to leave the room.

#3: Air conditioners simply cool the air

This is certainly not true because apart from producing a steady flow of chilled air, air conditioners also help in reducing the humidity of the room. Some ACs can also perform the drying function in order to reduce humidity and save energy while you’re at it. In case your AC does not feature this setting then you can invest in a dehumidifier to bring down your energy bills.

#4: Crank the AC temperature down in order to cool the room more quickly

Cranking your air conditioners will not help in making the room cooler faster, in fact it will make the room frigid in case you leave it on for too long. In order to solve this problem, you should be mindful of putting the temperature back to normal once you find a comfortable temperature. This way you will not be wasting energy and increasing your energy bills.

#5: Leave on your air conditioner all day rather than adjusting the temperature

When you don’t leave your AC on for the whole day but rather adjust the temperature you will be able to save a lot of money. If you have a programmable thermostat then you might want to pre-set the temperatures depending upon the time of the day in order to reduce electricity bills.

So don’t be fooled by these myths, call us for your air conditioning requirements.

Determination Of The Qualification Of A Technician

HVAC is an important technology for any home. It is responsible for the normal lives in places where extreme temperatures are a norm. This technology has developed over time and is very complicated as it stands today. This necessitates the employment of qualified technicians to do the job perfectly.

The level of experience
The greater the length of time the technician has been working, the better he is to perform the job. It is custom in some states to have a certain level of experience in order to be licensed. This ensures that the levels of injuries or even fatalities caused by accidents brought about by inexperience are eliminated.

Recommendations
These repairs are quite common in many homes. Therefore, your friend or family member may have used a very reliable dealer before. If you can get such recommendations, the better placed you are at finding the best technician. If you do not have any referrals, you may make use of the databases online for finding a technician with the best reviews.

Check the license
If you need to determine the qualifications of technician, it is wise to check their licenses. If they do not have licenses, do not hire them. If they have the license, check where they were certified and make sure you see the company he is representing. Sometimes, the license may not be a very reliable piece of evidence because they are forged sometimes. Therefore you may countercheck the story to see if it adds up.

Be inquisitive
You may find out the technician qualifications by asking them questions. This will help you determine their suitability to the job at hand. Questions like whether there is some insurance cover covering them, ask them for references of work done or their payment schedules. People lie sometimes but it is good to try this out.

Well, it may seem easy to find a good technician for the job at hand but it may not be too much of a downhill task. It will require creative thinking to determine whether or not a technician is who he says he is. It is also better to deal with companies that have good reputation all the time. Ensure that your system is repaired by the same company all through in order to understand full what is needed.For any certified HVAC experts, please contact us.

Exciting Heating And Cooling Technology Trends

With the construction industry gradually undergoing an overhaul, related sectors are bound to feel the effect. The heating and cooling technology sector, in particular, is expected to see new trends in the forthcoming years, both in new tech and sector growth.

Smarter Systems

Technological upgrade is an ongoing trend in the repair and construction sector, more so in the HVAC industry domain. Smart technology is causing a historic shift in HVAC configuration. With many manufacturing firms embracing the trend, staying abreast with the latest developments has become more a requirement and less an option. The several leaps taken by general cooling and heating tech along with thermostat is becoming the norm in recent HVAC trade shows and events.

With better and refined technology, the new system options increase, enabling installation firms expand their services list. However, the major appeal remains with the systems. The newer HVAC units are far more efficient and need less maintenance than older HVAC systems. As technology is bound to refine and evolve with time, one can only expect more intriguing stuff in the near future.

Housing Market

The stable real estate market surge has meant growth for the HVAC industry. In fact, the housing sector is projected to grow at a swift pace, meaning equal growth in HVAC requirements. While a major chunk of the trend can be attributed to demands from new housing, restoration projects are also likely to positively impact the industry. Reconstruction efforts in both public and private industries are growing, and the larger footprint of newer technology has forced builders and contractors to erect housing with updated heating and cooling systems.

Green Projects

While the phrase ‘green technology’ is losing momentum in recent years, the move towards technology in favor of the environment is moving ahead strong. The HVAC industry is not escaping this drift; the newer systems and models reflect the positive approach the HVAC industry has taken towards the green initiative. The demand for such systems is on the rise and manufacturers are more than happy to oblige to this market trend. Lesser energy consumption translates to increased savings – a trend catching consumer attention in private and commercial sectors alike.

Call us to learn more about the latest in HVAC technology.