When it comes to myths about your HVAC system we are the experts at busting them! We all fall for falsehoods from time to time. There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to maintaining healthy cooling system, increasing comfort, improving indoor air quality, and saving money and energy. It is time you know the truth about air conditioning and cooling!
Don’t be misled by misinformation about your home! We are going to investigate and bust the most common cooling myths!
Top 12 Cooling Myths
Myth #1: Fans lower the temperature of a room
No fan by itself cools down a space. The temperature of a room with moving air is about the same as one with still air — in fact, the fan’s motor may increase the temperature a bit. A fan cools people down by speeding up evaporative cooling and exchanging warm air for cooler air (convective cooling). As air moves across a surface like skin, it aids the evaporation of perspiration, creating a cooling effect for anyone exposed to the breeze. If the air isn’t hitting anyone’s skin, it’s not cooling down anything. Remember to turn off fans whenever you leave a room.
Fans can reduce energy costs, but only if you simultaneously turn off the AC or raise the thermostat. According to the EPA, a ceiling fan allows you to raise the temperature about 4°F with no change in comfort. Since fans only cost a few cents per hour to run, you can potentially save a lot of money on your air conditioning bill.
Myth #2: Fans are only used for cooling
While ceilings fans are a great way to cool off during the summer heat, they can also be utilized in cold weather. Switch the direction of the fan so that it runs clockwise. It will force cool air up and warm air down, sending the heat near the ceiling down to the bottom. In order to change the direction of your ceiling fan, make sure it is turned off and then switch the little black switch on the side of the fixture’s base.
Fans are an integral part of HVAC and ventilation systems, helping to draw in and distribute air throughout a space. They are also used for cooling down machinery, extracting fumes, aiding fires, and more.
Myth #3: Closing vents in unused rooms will save you money and energy
Most supply vents come with a lever that allows you to tilt the louvers (slats) behind the grill. It might make sense to assume that they are there to open and close the vents, but this is not the case. You can use them to help direct airflow, but they should never be fully closed.
Several complications can arise from closing vents, including duct leakage from excess pressure, mold and mildew from a lack of airflow, and increased energy use. We recommend leaving all vents open and unblocked, allowing the air to circulate properly.
It is a myth that you can block air vents and registers to save money and control temperatures in different rooms. One way to get the convenience and energy-saving benefits of HVAC zones in the home is to invest in a motor-driven zone damper.
Instead of blocking vents and registers, speak with an expert at Bell Brothers to solve your comfort problems, such as uneven temperatures.
Myth #4: Air conditioners are only used for cooling purposes
Willis Carrier invented the basics of modern air conditioning in 1902 to solve a moisture problem at Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. On humid days, the paper would change size and cause printing problems. Carrier’s job was to find a way to control the humidity levels within certain limits. He figured out a way to lower the temperature of pipe coils below the dew point of the air so that water vapor condenses on the coil.
Using the same principles as Carrier’s original design, modern AC systems dehumidify the air by condensing its moisture on cold evaporator coils. The condensate then drips down to a drain pan below where it gets sent outdoors via a pipe.
In addition to the main jobs of lowering humidity and temperature, air conditioners also improve indoor air quality by filtering airborne particulates out of the home. Check your air filter right now and you will see all the contaminants that used to be floating around your living space.
Clean air is essential to a long and healthy life, especially for those with respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma. To maintain healthy indoor air quality, it’s important to schedule professional AC maintenance every year as well as replace air filters every 30-90 days.
Myth #5: You can turn down the thermostat really low for faster cooling
After a long time away from home, your house may feel warm and stuffy. It makes sense that you would want to return it to a cool, comfortable temperature as soon as possible, but lowering the thermostat below where you need it won’t accelerate the cooling process.
When you set the temperature on your thermostat, the air conditioning system turns on and begins to cool your home at a consistent rate. Turning your thermostat down 15 degrees won’t cool your home any faster than turning it down by 2 degrees. It will simply run for longer, until the indoor temperature reaches the thermostat setting.
Many homeowners end up running their air conditioners for longer than necessary because they simply want to cool the home faster. If you forget to raise the thermostat back up to normal levels, this can lead to high energy bills, discomfort, and more mechanical breakdowns.
Myth #6: It’s more efficient to maintain a steady temperature all day than to raise and lower the thermostat
It is a myth that you can save money by maintaining the same temperature in your home all day long. It takes less energy to bring your home back down to 78 degrees than to keep it at that temperature all day. A programmable thermostat will allow you to set your AC to turn on thirty minutes before your come home or wake up so you don’t have to wait for the temperature to adjust.
Use a programmable thermostat to maximize air conditioning efficiency, but remember to actually use it. Many people buy a programmable thermostat only to use it as if it is a manual one. For maximum savings, we recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher while at home and about 6 degrees higher while you are away.
Myth #7: You don’t need to clean your outdoor unit
If you’ve ever walked past an outdoor AC unit while it’s running, it’s hot! That’s because cold refrigerant absorbs heat from the inside environment and dumps it outside via your condenser coils. When the coils are dirty and airflow is blocked, the unit will work harder and longer, increasing your energy bills and shortening the lifespan of the unit.
For the most efficient heat transfer, the outdoor coils should be clean and unblocked. Just as a clogged filter compromises airflow to the indoor evaporator coils, a dirty and crowded outdoor unit cuts off necessary air to the condenser coils.
During fall and winter it is important to minimize your outdoor unit’s exposure to dirt and debris, such as grass clippings and falling leaves. Hardscaping around your outdoor unit will aid in keeping it clean.
The best time to clean your condenser unit is early spring, before the cooling season begins. Included in your 30 point tune-up is a full condenser coil cleaning. During the rest of the year, however, it’s a good idea to supplement this with some cleaning of your own.
Clear way the area and trim back any shrubbery that may have encroached on the unit. Maintain a minimum 24-inch clearance and allow plenty of room for your HVAC technician to access all sides of the unit. You can also use your garden hose to wash away dirt and smaller pieces of debris, just make sure the unit is turned off at the power source first. And be careful not to bend any of the condenser fins. If you have any doubts, contact Bell Brothers.
Myth #8: A larger air conditioning unit is more effective
HVAC systems need to be sized properly in order to effectively cool your home. Oversized air conditioners cost more and only run for short periods of time. Properly sized units run for longer, allowing time for water to condense and drain to the outside.
Additionally, the more your air conditioner starts up and shuts down, the quicker it will develop problems. If your HVAC installer doesn’t properly size your replacement unit, you can expect to repair it more often and replace it sooner.
If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, ask your HVAC contractor how they plan on sizing the replacement unit. There’s a lot more to HVAC sizing than square footage. Learn more about why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to HVAC.
Myth #9: Annual air conditioning maintenance is unnecessary
Schedule annual air conditioning maintenance with a professional every year in the spring! Air conditioning maintenance is necessary if you want to increase energy efficiency, maintain manufacturer warranties, prevent costly breakdowns, and improve comfort and indoor air quality.
Professional HVAC maintenance easily pays for itself. Make sure you receive the best air conditioning maintenance in the Sacramento area by calling Bell Brothers. We are currently offering a 30-Point Precision Tune-Up Special! If you aren’t satisfied with our service, the service is free.
Myth #10: Your air conditioner can cause colds
Despite the heat of summer, many people travel with sweaters, blankets, and jackets to stay warm. Air conditioning provides relief from heat, but the sudden drop in temperature leaves many with shivers and goose bumps. In addition to the dramatic temperature shifts, some people believe that air conditioners can cause colds by circulating bacteria and viruses in enclosed spaces.
So, do air conditioners cause colds? The answer is complicated, putting this myth in the plausible category. There is some evidence suggesting that air conditioned environments may contribute to colds, but it depends on a variety of factors, such as air filtration, insulation, humidity levels, and environmental exposures.
A cold is caused by a tiny living thing called a virus. The virus enters your body through your eyes, nose, or mouth. It gets spread by carriers of the virus when they cough, sneeze, talk, or make physical contact with someone or a shared object.
Unfortunately, there are ways that an air conditioning system can make you more susceptible to colds and other ailments. A dirty and poorly maintained HVAC system can increase your exposure to microbiological agents of various kinds. For instance, if condensate isn’t properly draining, mold can develop and get distributed throughout the living space.
There are ways to use HVAC systems in the fight against allergies, illness, and other problems associated with poor indoor air quality. Air purifiers, UV lights, and improved filtration are just some of the methods for preventing the spread of airborne pathogens.
Myth #11: Duct tape is a good solution for sealing duct leaks
You may be surprised to hear this, but duct tape is not made for air ducts. Beginning in the early 1900s, duct tape was called “duck” tape because it was originally made from cotton duck cloth with a layer of applied adhesive. The modern version of duct tape was invented by Johnson & Johnson to help WWII soldiers keep moisture out of their ammunition boxes. The tape was extremely popular and soon adapted for a wide variety of uses. Although commonly used to wrap air ducts and remarketed as “duct” tape in the 1950s, duct tape is actually a bad choice when it comes to sealing air ducts.
Duct tape delaminates and falls apart quickly when used on HVAC ducts. It can even catch fire and produce toxic smoke. In fact, the state of California and many building codes prohibit the use of duct tape on HVAC ductwork.
What you want to use instead is heat-resistant foil tape (not cloth). While sometimes referred to as “duct tapes,” in order to differentiate themselves, they are called HVAC foil tape or aluminum foil tape. Another good option is mastic sealant, which is applied like paint over duct seams and connections.
Myth #12: Air filters can last a long time
Most homeowners wait too long before changing or cleaning their air filter. Using a dirty air filter reduces airflow, forcing your air conditioner to work much harder. This can cause your air conditioner to breakdown, freeze up, or cause a serious mechanical issue. Dirty filters also introduce more dust and debris into the air, making breathing and cleaning more difficult.
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean your air filters. Set reminders to check the status of your air filter every 30 days. Never wait longer than 3 months to clean or change the filter.
The most important task as a homeowner is to routinely replace or clean your air filters to ensure your air conditioner is working efficiently.
Expert Tip: Set reminders to check the status of your air filter every 30 days. Do not wait longer than 3 months to clean or change the filter.
Get your air conditioner maintained, your filter replaced, and all your cooling questions answered with comprehensive air conditioning maintenance from Bell Brothers.
Need some HVAC information fact-checked? At Bell Brothers, we’re happy to answer all of your questions about heating, ventilation, air conditioning, insulation, plumbing, and windows. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.