SEERS, EERS and Tons, Oh My!

Shopping for a new air conditioner or heat pump can seem like a daunting task with all the technical lingo and acronyms. Many variables go into choosing a new air conditioner or heat pump. Three of the most important terms to understand are SEER, EERS and Tons. So let’s start with some basic definitions. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13. In general terms, the higher the SEER the higher the efficiency. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. The EER is the ratio of the cooling capacity (in British thermal units [Btu] per hour) to the power input (in watts). The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner. So what exactly is the difference between SEER and EER? EER is a measurement of the efficiency of a cooling system when the outdoor temperature is at specific levels. SEER is used to measure the efficiency of a cooling system over an entire season. Almost all residential units are measured in SEER. EER can be measured directly, whereas, SEER is determined only by predictions, because of unpredictable weather conditions. SEER is always tested at the manufacturer’s establishment, and therefore, it is better to focus more on SEER. At the end of the day, both SEER and EER can be very useful for comparing different air conditioning units to one another, but are not the end of the road to increasing efficiency and decreasing energy costs. More importantly...

Smart Thermostats – Nest Vs. Lyric

Since the introduction of the Google Nest and the Honeywell Lyric thermostats we are beginning to see what the future of home automation may have in store for us. The Nest and Lyric are similar in design, both are round thermostats ( or Tstats ) approximately 3 inches in diameter, and both require the downloading of an app to access the full capabilities of the Tstats. However, there are some differences between the two. The Lyric’s app can be downloaded on a smart phone or tablet while the Nest app can be can be used on a smart phone, tablet or computer. Also the Nest and Lyric operate somewhat differently within the home . Let’s take a closer look at some of those differences. The Nest is a learning thermostat. You do not have to program it. You set the thermostat during the day at the temperatures you prefer and within a week it learns your preferences and begins adjusting itself. And through its auto scheduling feature it adjusts its program to your changing preferences season by season, month by month and year by year. You can make minor changes to the program and it will not affect the schedule it has already learned. It also has built in sensors which detect movement within the house. The Nest includes an auto-away feature. This feature recognizes, by lack of physical movement, when the house is empty and adjusts the temperature setting. It could do that for a single room of the house if it has not sensed any physical activity. The Nest can also be operated manually and it will still be...
What’s in your water?

What’s in your water?

Water. It is vital to sustaining life yet is something that most of us take for granted. We turn on the faucet and there it is. As long as our water doesn’t smell or taste funny we tend not to give it a second thought. Yet do you truly know what’s in your water. Whether you have municipal water or have well water, its important to know that your water is as pure as possible. Hidden dangers in your water can not only carry health risks but over time can cause extensive and costly damage to your plumbing system and the equipment and appliances that use it.   In our area hard water is a particularly common problem. Hard water contains dissolved calcium, magnesium and, in many cases, iron. Most homes have hard water, whether it is supplied by a private well or a municipality. In many cases, homeowners don’t realize they have hard water or the constant and expensive harm it causes.   Many mistake the telltale signs of hard water and blame the problems on inadequate cleaners and detergents and poor performing appliances. Or they resign themselves to the fact that these problems are simply a way of life. Dry skin and hair, bathtub ring, spots on glass and silverware, dull, dingy clothing, disappointing performance and a shortened life expectancy of water-using appliances are all problems frequently caused by hard water. Most don’t realize how much time, money and energy is spent fighting the hard water battle.   Scale is another common problem that can lead to costly repairs. As water travels through the earth, it picks...