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Let's Not be a Dumping Ground for Low Efficiency Air Conditioning Systems

Let's Not Become a Dumping Ground for Low Effiency Air Conditioning Again!

Winnipeg - The wake up call has come - 13 SEER air conditioners are coming to the US. "These words are echoing around the Industry as manufacturers increase production of higher efficiency air conditioners. Yet, Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency has not made a decision to follow suit and implement the higher standard of 13 (SEER) to coincide with the US date of January 23, 2006," said Brian Baker, President of Custom Vac.

The last time the US raised the minimum efficiency from 8 SEER to 10 SEER, Canada did not follow the same timetable. We saw dumping (large shipments) of lower efficiency, lower priced, noisy equipment into the marketplace. While on the surface that it seemed to be a real deal, in hindsight the result was a drain on our natural resources and unhappy customers. "Its time that Canadian consumers educate themselves, prior to purchasing lower efficiency air conditioning equipment so they don't get sucked in again by the dumping of lower efficiency equipment into Canada by US manufacturers," said Baker.

In Manitoba, many contractors have been proactive by installing 13, 14 and 15 SEER units now for the last few years because as Baker puts it, "There is more to higher SEER than efficiency." Efficient operation is definitely something that we all want in the face of higher energy prices no matter where we live, but there are other hidden benefits of purchasing higher SEER units.

One such benefit explains Baker is, "These units use Ozone Friendly Refrigerants, are much quieter due to the larger coil surfaces, larger and specially designed fan blades that cut almost silently through the air, in some units there are two-speed compressors that are designed to better match the heat gain (load) of the home, which means that a higher amount of moisture can be removed making the home more comfortable." In a nut shell its about much more that 13 SEER and the Canadian consumer will need to remain cautious of great deals when buying air conditioning this year and next.

Mismatching Equipment

As the hot Manitoba weather arrives customers who find themselves in need of a repair or service to a unit no longer cooling should understand the impact of replacing just one component and not the entire system. Many consumers have been convinced to replace outdoor unit and leave the refrigerant lines and indoor coil.

"The net result of installing a higher SEER unit and leaving the low SEER indoor unit will result in a SEER just slightly better," said Baker. I.E. An 8 SEER unit is removed and a 13 SEER unit installed with the old cooling coil left in the furnace can result in a new SEER of 8.5, not the 13 SEER rating provided by the manufacturer.

In the case of a new 13 SEER R-410A indoor and outdoor coil being replaced, and the refrigerant lines left in place, the result will likely be a premature failure of the system because R-410A operates at much higher pressures and incompatible oils. So, while the job may cost less initially the long-term costs and inconvenience are very high.

"When replacing older air conditioning units, replace the system, the entire system," said Baker. A system consists of the indoor coil, refrigerant lines and outdoor unit.

"For customers whose refrigerant lines are built into the structure and inaccessible, there are drop-in ozone friendly refrigerants and other alternatives."

The key to getting good information is to deal with reputable HVACR contractors who have taken Industry training relating to the new refrigerants. And be cautious, just because a company has been in business of 30, 40, 50 years does not mean that they or their employees have taken the necessary training to properly install, maintain or service the new products or handle the new refrigerants.

Tips to ensure a more comfortable summer:

  1. Trim brush and shrubbery surrounding outdoor units to prevent airflow obstruction.
  2. Make sure the outdoor coil is free from grass clippings, leaves and other debris.
  3. Make sure your unit's air filter and blower are clean
  4. Keep in mind that a properly ventilated attic can reduce your systems cooling load.

It is important that homeowners educate themselves when purchasing air conditioners and explore all their options and it's important that contractors educate themselves and their employees.

Let's not become a dumping ground for low efficiency air conditioning again!

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