Your AC: Taking the 360° View
When the summer heat arrives here in Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery (IL), we sure know it, especially when it’s escorted by high humidity. It can be uncomfortable enough outside. When we’re inside, just a few minutes without the air on can start to make our homes feel like a slow-burning oven.
If you’ve ever experienced an AC outage in the summer, you already know it’s always better to have it properly working without downtime. Here at RJ Kuhn, we help our customers keep cool all season long with the fully rounded resources they need for air comfort and quality.
You might think of our consultation and service as giving you a 360° command of your AC through:
swift and proper repair or replacement
optimal indoor humidity
Let’s look at each aspect a little bit further.
Air Conditioning: Efficiency Rating
Air conditioning efficiency is defined by how well the cooling system converts energy (electricity) into cooling power. That power is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) that are removed from the air to cool it. As a system’s efficiency rating increases, it will typically use less energy to produce the cooling power you need.
A high-efficiency system in Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery will have an AHRI (Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute) identification number and a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating.
AHRI represents more than 350 manufacturers of air conditioning, heating and commercial refrigeration equipment. It is a globally recognized certification program that tests products to ensure that homeowners are getting the quietest, most efficient performance from their cooling equipment.
The SEER rating is the ratio of a system’s cooling output during an average cooling season divided by the total energy used.
Units currently manufactured have SEER ratings that range from 13 to 26. The higher the number, the greater the system efficiency will typically be. In other words, a cooling system with a SEER 18 will usually require less energy – and cost – to operate as needed over an entire summer than one with a lower rating will.
Higher SEER ratings are often accompanied by special rebates and tax benefits. For example, a system with at least a SEER 15 can qualify for ComEd rebates starting at $250. (Your tax advisor may also be able to inform you about other available federal tax credits for Energy Star® equipment you own.)
The cooling professionals at RJ Kuhn can further inform you about systems with different SEER ratings and how they can serve your cooling requirements and energy budget. We carry, install, service and repair equipment with ratings ranging from 13 to 26 SEER.
Air Conditioning: Maintenance
Maintenance matters for AC performance and longevity. In many cases it’s also required to keep a manufacturer’s warranty active. Scheduling maintenance with RJ Kuhn at least once a year will benefit you in each of the following ways.
Prepare the system for the upcoming season. Just a few vital steps include cleaning the condenser coil for full efficiency and capacity; cleaning any remaining leaves or twigs from fall that can damage the fan or the coil; and ensuring the condenser is level after the ground has frozen in winter and then thawed in spring.
Avoid minor problems before they become system failures. If your AC is low even a few ounces of refrigerant, you’ll know it when the temperatures soar into the 90s. We’ll ensure you have the proper charge of refrigerant by making sure the operating pressures are correct. We’ll also remove any insects that may have nested in the contactor before they can cause an electrical short. We’ll likewise check the wiring for any exposed copper that could lead to a short. We’ll ensure the dual capacitor has proper output for starting up the system consistently too.
Save money. A clean, well-tuned-up AC system will operate according to the manufacturer’s stated efficiency. A dirty or neglected system likely will not and will more often lead to higher repair bills and utility costs. If a capacitor needs replacing, doing so during preventive maintenance will save you money you would otherwise spend on a diagnostic charge and replacement fee when the system is failing later.
Air Conditioning: Repair or Replace
An air conditioner is a machine with many moving, hardworking parts, so it’s inevitable that it will start to wear down over time. Being a proactive and informed AC consumer includes knowing when to repair or replace a cooling system and when not to.
If you find yourself deciding on a repair or a replacement, the following are some things to consider.
System age. How old is your air conditioner? The usual lifespan of today’s residential AC units is 12 to 15 years.
Active warranty. Are any of the system parts still covered?
Refrigerant. If there is a leak and the system still uses R-22 freon, replacing the now-discontinued refrigerant is expensive. Many of the coils for R-22 also are hard to find. In older units, leaks tend to develop in the U bends of coils, which are typically not repairable.
Living plans. How long do you intend to remain in your current home? If not much longer, sometimes an AC system repair is more economical than a full replacement in the short term. However, while a repair may make a failing unit operational, the cooling system’s condition could become an issue when it’s time to sell. A condensing unit can be a sign of how well a home has been maintained, and a potential buyer may look for concessions.
As an alert homeowner, also be aware of any cooling irregularities such as strange smells or noises, frequent on-off cycling and no cool air blowing through your vents. These are all signs that the system should be attended to promptly.
An RJ Kuhn technician can inspect it to both identify the issue and provide the solution. We will be able to determine if a repair will fix the problem or if a system replacement will make more sense than paying a lot to repair an older system. Our evaluations often save our local customers from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
If you will be installing a new cooling system, we can help you choose the right type and size of unit according to your space-cooling requirements and your budget.
Air Conditioning: Indoor Humidity
Because many of us are often mainly concerned with indoor-air temperature, it can be easy to overlook the importance of humidity levels at home.
An ideal indoor relative-humidity level in northern Illinois in summer is usually between 45% and 55%. A typical single-stage AC system will usually provide you with 60–70% relative humidity when the thermostat is at 72° and your home has reasonable insulation and a vapor barrier.
Multi-stage AC units can provide between 45% and 55% relative humidity. A multi-stage system includes a compressor with either variable or multiple speeds that create multiple capacities.
If you wish to lower the humidity at home, you can set the thermostat to a lower temperature. However, the drawback with this is that the temperature will usually drop below a comfortable level before you achieve the relative humidity that you desire.
Because they are below grade, basements will tend to have higher humidity levels as cool air – which weighs more than warm air – sinks down from the main floor. The lower space also has no noteworthy external heat load on it. This plus the fact that an HVAC system serves very little of the basement creates an ideal environment for high humidity.
The objective is to achieve a comfortable balance throughout your home, including in the basement. RJ Kuhn can install AprilAire dehumidifiers that both remove humidity from the basement and connect to your duct system to provide even more dehumidification throughout the house. These units alone can remove up to 96 pints of water from your indoor air per day without lowering your room temperatures below what is comfortable.
When You Need Complete Service Soon, Contact RJ Kuhn
From choosing the most efficient AC for your home to maintaining the right air-moisture balance, RJ Kuhn is your neighborhood source for 360° air comfort and quality. We can even help ensure that you breathe cleaner air at home! To find out more about our service and consultation for Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville or Montgomery (IL), simply give us a call at (630) 554-3336.
24-hour emergency air conditioning services are available for Oswego, Yorkville, Aurora, Naperville and Montgomery (IL).