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Spring 2013

How you can save money by going with a higher–efficiency AC unit

Spring is here and summer is fast approaching. As you begin to tune up your AC unit to get it ready for the heat, you may also consider upgrading. The cost–effectiveness and energy efficiency of your total cooling system depends upon a lot of factors: ductwork, insulation, the layout of your home and property, including even such things as which part of your house endures the sun’s rays the longest. But, your savings in large part comes down to how efficient your air conditioning unit is.

The SEER rating is a number given to every manufactured AC system available on the market. The higher the rating, the higher the efficiency. Upgrading to an AC unit with a high SEER rating may save you money in the long run.

One of the most high–efficiency units on the market today is known as the ductless mini split air conditioner. As its name suggests, it uses no ductwork. Like central systems that use forced air through ductwork, mini splits have two primary parts: an outdoor compressor/condenser and the individual units that act as an indoor air handler. They are connected by a conduit that is installed behind the walls. They are not only known for their high–efficiency, but also for their small size and flexibility. By controlling your cooling through the use of zones, you can customize your living spaces; each zone has its own thermostat. They are also often easier to install than other conventional systems because they generally require only a 3–inch hole for the conduit. This can be especially useful when retrofitting older systems, or deciding about whether or not to install ductwork.

But even if you’d like to stick to conventional central air, there are many upgrade options. You can, for example, choose to replace only the outdoor compressor; although you should keep in mind that your system needs to be matched by an AC professional. Proper sizing and installation are also key aspects of upgrading to a high–efficiency system.

Whatever your reason of upgrading: whether to save money, help reduce your carbon footprint, or because you want better performance, your local professional technician can help you make the right decision.

How does your water taste? A water treatment system can help.

Does your water taste or smell strange? Or are you concerned about the effects of hard water on your plumbing system? Water treatment offers many solutions for filtering and chemically altering your home water supply in order to rid of contaminants and excessively high mineral content. Many different types of water treatment systems are now available for homeowners, as well as many different devices for implementing those treatment processes. Your local water treatment professional can help advise you on the most suitable option.

Hard water is the most common water issue for Americans. Over 85% of homes have large amounts of calcium and magnesium, as well as other trace minerals in their fresh water supply, which dissolves mineral content from the surrounding soil and rock. When hard water precipitates, you get what’s known as scale, which builds up on pipes, water heaters, tea kettles and coffee machines. Another indication is a lack of soap suds during washing since hard water reduces soap’s ability to lather.

To begin with, three of the most common treatment styles for home water systems are water filtering, water softening, and reverse osmosis.

  • Water filtration. This physical process involves the capture of contaminants on a porous and adsorbent surface. Carbon filtration is one of the most common materials for filtration.
  • Water softening. This technique is mainly used to soften the hardness of water through the use of sodium. By exchanging sodium ions for calcium and magnesium ions, water softening produces a more desirable water for drinking. Hard water passes through a tank full of plastic beads charged with positive sodium ions, and the ionic switching occurs.
  • Reverse Osmosis. Best known for its ability to remove the salt from seawater, reverse osmosis cleans contaminated water by modifying a natural biophysical process: osmosis. Osmosis means the selective transfer of water from one side of a membrane to another. A reverse osmosis system creates pressure that forces contaminated water through a membrane, and because contaminants have different chemical composition than water, they are left behind. The result is clean drinking water. The complete water treatment system involves several different pre–filters, but it is a great solution for homes that have serious water contamination.

If your home water supply is contaminated, or if your hard water is becoming a nuisance, consult with a water treatment professional to find out what you can do to improve the quality of the water.