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5 Money-Saving Tips for Your AC: An Interview with Justin Zocchi of Race City Heating & Air, LLC

By Justin Zocchi

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We specialize in Residential Heating, Air Conditioning and Indoor Air Quality Installation, Repair and Replacement.

What is something that most homeowners don't know about their air conditioning system and energy use that they should know?

A traditional Air Conditioner doesn't cool! It absorbs heat from the air at the indoor coil and displaces the heat to outside the home via refrigerant and fans. Airflow restrictions at the coils can cause your system to run up to 30% less efficient.

Can you briefly explain what some of the most common AC mistakes are?

Mulch and pine needles. Many landscapers like to bury the outdoor units slightly in mulch or other decorative material. This can cause your system to run inefficiently and can cause corrosion in the coil.

What are some of the basic steps to properly sizing, designing and installing air conditioning?

Basic steps would be measuring the space. Measuring the windows, type, material, direction and exposure. Windows can cause heat gain from sunlight and heat loss. Duct location and insulating values are important. Ducts in an attic during summer time can be in a 140 degree environment, this should be taken into consideration vs duct in a crawl space. Noting rooms over garages or that have exterior walls, floor or ceilings. These rooms tend to need extra airflow and cooling BTU's. Square footage is important, but a 400 square foot room in the center of the house would need less BTU's of cooling than a 400 sq. ft. room over a garage with 2 exterior walls and 6 windows. ( I always get a kick out of the "old timers" that have a set number for sq. footage they use per ton, every home is different). The best way to do this is a complete load calculation. This is calculation all the R and U values of the home, its' materials and design, its design temperature (climate) from there you can properly size the HVAC system. This all varies by region as some have humidity and some don't. Some regions get below zero and some don't, some go above 100 degrees, some don't. All of this needs to be taken into consideration. We use a software program to help us in this.

Ideally, how often should an AC system be maintained and what does that involve?

An AC system should be maintained annually. This involves cleaning the condensate drain and treating with an algaecide. Chemically cleaning coils to allow for good heat transfer. Checking motors and bearing and oil them if applicable. Checking contacts, controls, wiring, sensors and measuring the refrigerant charge via superheat or subcooling. Observing the temperature difference of the supply and returns. Checking Capacitors and start assist components as they tend to get weak over time. Checking the overall operation of the cooling system.

What advice would you give to people who want to make their AC unit more energy efficient?

Replace Air filters every 30-90 days (unless you have a 5" Filter). Use a pleated type filter. Stay away from the higher priced filters! They filter tiny particulates, but this comes at a cost. They restrict airflow and this causes your system to work harder. I recommend the least expensive pleated filters you can find ($9 for a 3 pack).

Keep the outdoor unit free of bushes, vegetation and ground cover materials. Keep the outdoor coil clean and allow for good airflow. This is how your air conditioner works, by absorbing heat from in the home to the outside. As the coil gets dusty or dirty it acts as an insulator and doesn't allow for good heat transfer. This raises the pressures, takes more power to pump the refrigerants' higher pressure and in some cases it can run the pressures so high it can cause the system to leak. A plugged coil can make your system up to 30% less efficient.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

Race City Heating & Air
P.O. Box 1344
Mooresville, NC 28115

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