Archive for January, 2012

Spring is around the corner

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Winters are short in Florida; so many escape the harsher northern climates to enjoy our subtropical weather. With spring around the corner, it isn’t too early to start preparing for the season that accompanies it for so many: allergy season!

In just a few short weeks, pollen will be flying through our air. Hay fever, sinus infections, and many other ailments will plague the sensitive. Make your home more than the comfort zone; you can make it an allergy-free sanctuary.

Indoor air quality is a science. Bayonet employs sophisticated testing equipment that will pinpoint exactly was problems are plaguing your home’s air so we can target a specific solution. There are many different indoor air quality products that will target a few problem areas, but many homes don’t need all of the products to improve the air because it is typically a specific problem thats dragging the quality of the air you breathe down. Some of the available solutions are filtration, uv lights, duct cleaning, and humidity control.

Filtration can happen as simply as changing the filter in your return grill or at your unit. The simple, store-bought replacement filters that are an inch in thickness are among the least effective at removing airborne particulate. The reason for this is simple: to be effective, they would not allow enough air to get through them and it would result in a restriction that could freeze up your air handler. That’s not good! Most filters are placed in the return air grill and they’re quite a distance from the air handler. The motor just can pull air through the very effective filters, which nullifies their usefulness. The best and most effective filtration solutions are installed at the air handler. There are 5-inch media filters, electronic air cleaners, and PCO units that are all quite effective (for more specifics, check back in two weeks when we explore the pros and cons of each type of filter) and require little maintenance.

UV lights are installed at the coil to keep microbes and organisms from growing in that cold, damp environment. They don’t do much for the air quality. They can, when installed in the air stream, work with a filtration system to reduce the presence of organisms in the airstream, but they are truly most effective in the coil. Alone, they do not make significant improvements to air quality.

Residual dust and even dander can reside in your duct system. If your home is older than 10 years, has been previously lived in by pet owners, or seems dusty on a frequent basis, you might need a duct cleaning. Beware when shopping, cheaper is definitely not better when duct cleaning is concerned! There are many ways to clean a duct system. Some companies spray sanitize the ducts. So they aren’t really removing any particulates, they’re just cleaning them. That’s the cheap special, usually, and it is ineffective. Other companies use a beater brush, which is less than optimal and may damage duct systems but is better than the spray sanitizers. Bayonet uses a HEPA-sealed system that uses air to loosen debris and does a thorough job every time. It takes the better part of a day on most homes, but truly removes everything that’s inside your ducts! If you’ve tried everything else, this may help; don’t forget you can also have your air tested with us. Request to learn about Air Advice when you call.

An important part of quality indoor air that is often overlooked is the humidity level inside the home. Too dry and your nasal passages suffer. Too humid and it provides an environment that allows molds and mildew to form and dust mites to proliferate. Yuck! So what’s perfect? For humans, 55 percent humidity is optimal. Aim for that. If your system isn’t keeping up, don’t fret, Call Bayonet and we’ll help you find a solution.

Continue Reading

Refrigerant Prices DOUBLE This Week! Thanks, D.C.!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Consumers: brace yourselves. So many people have put off replacing those older R-22 or Freon-based systems because R22 has always been readily available.

Thanks to more ineffective legislation out of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., we have been hit with an overnight increase that DOUBLES OUR COST of refrigerant. It’s no secret that the phase out has been coming, but almost no one expected the price to skyrocket at a time when it will hit the most strapped consumers so hard.

It’s important to note that companies have no choice but to pass the price of the refrigerant onto consumers. It’s hard to believe that the EPA is enforcing the refrigerant phase out at a time when things are already very tight for so many.

So. next time you call an HVAC company expecting to “top off” your leaky system, or if you’d happen to need a coil or compressor change, take a deep breath an prepare for a huge shock when you get the price estimate! You will be in for a surprise!

Here’s an excerpt from the HVAC NEWS:

On Jan. 1, 2010, a mandated reduction in the manufacturing of virgin R-22 went from 65 percent of the 1999 baseline year to 25 percent. A gradual yearly phase down was expected to continue until the spigot was totally shut off in 2030.

That ruling allocated 90 million pounds of R-22 for 2012. In this latest proposed rule, the EPA may reduce the quantity available for production and import in 2012 to as low as 55 million pounds.

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until Feb. 3, but may not issue a final ruling until summer.

Even when production and importation resumes, manufacturers may be more cautious in how much HCFC comes into the distribution channels while awaiting final numbers from EPA.

Publication date: 01/23/2012,  The News

Comment: That ruling allocated 90 million pounds of R-22 for 2012. In this latest proposed rule, the EPA may reduce the quantity available for production and import in 2012 to as low as 55 million pounds.

Continue Reading

Tankless or Tank? That is today’s question!

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Calls come in everyday with people enamored with the idea of installing a tankless water heater in their home. The idea of not heating water unless you’re using hot water–and the idea of not running out of hot water or wait for the tank to refill with hot water–is rather alluring. It’s especially interesting when you add electricity savings to the equation.

There are definite upsides, but the are some downsides too.

You see, the great savings is only realized when a gas-powered tankless water heater is installed. Sorry if this is bad news for your application! The electric tankless water heaters use a great deal of electricity. Here’s something few people consider: an electric tankless won’t ever run out of hot water. Your electric meter will just keep spinning, and spinning, and spinning as that teenager takes her 2-hour shower. Heaven for her, but for your electric bill: not so much!

Additionally, you have to be careful about the amount of power running to your home. Make sure to have a professional check the available breakers and the service coming into your home against the requirements of the tankless heater. You might find that an electric tankless just doesn’t make sense.

If you already have natural gas service, a tankless may be just the ticket! If you don’t, there are ways to make a tankless work, such as propane. The major manufacturers like Rinnai make tankless water heaters in propane and natural gas and many gas companies even provide leasing options.

Both tankless propane and natural gas are great performers, use very little electricity and require the installation of a combustion air vent. They will use up gas or propane, but it should be kinder to your pocketbook than the conventional electric appliance would be!

If you’re interested in a tankless water heater, don’t sweat, call the professionals at Bayonet and get a solid estimate on the installation today.

Continue Reading

What’s the buzz on two-speed systems?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

They’re among the latest and greatest in heat pump technology, and they’re super efficient. The only higher rated systems are geothermal, rotary compressor, and solar systems. Many Lennox two-speed systems are solar ready.

So how do two-speed systems work? It’s a matter of a the compressor really. Two-speed systems typically have a two-stage or true-variable compressor in the outdoor unit. They’re best paired with a variable speed air handler and are great in zoned applications.

When the thermostat calls for cooling or heating and is within three degrees of the set point, the compressor ramps on in low speed. So a five-ton compressor acts like a 2.5 ton, drawing less amps and using less power. It will cool or heat the area more slowly but the byproduct of that is greater humidity control and more efficient operation. The only time the compressor is at full speed is during very high demand times, such as if the unit was shut off or if there is a larger number of people than normal in the room.

Typically, you can expect to see two-speed systems achieving 16 SEER and higher efficiency ratings. Many manufacturers add communicating features, fancy thermostats, and much of their own terminology to these two-speed systems. They’re a step above standard and typically come with a 10-year parts warranty directly from the manufacturer. If yours does not, make sure you double check this fact our and do your due diligence when selecting a contractor.

Two-speed systems are sophisticated and required adequate airflow for proper operation. If the static pressure in your duct system is too high or you don’t have multiple returns in your home, you may need to augment your duct system for proper system function.

When getting your home sized for a potential installation of a two-speed system, it is imperative that the contractor run a heat load of your home. Most two-speed systems come in whole sizes only. If you have a 3.5-ton unit right now, you will have to go up to a four-ton or down to a three-ton unit. How do you know which is best? For us, the best answer lies in education. You have to make an educated decision based on the btus your home requires to heat and cool it. This can only be determined by a trained professional performing a heat load calculation. It’s a free service we extend on all of our estimates, so don’t fret call Bayonet and we will help you. If you’re not local to the Tampa area, make sure you request that the contractor perform one during the estimate and confirm prior to making the appointment what the fees are–if any–for this service. Every system has a maximum btu output and your home may have had alterations to it over time, changing the required btus for the home as well. For example, many homeowners tint their windows, add insulation, install patios and upgrade the windows to double pane, low-e windows, which all have an effect on the btus required to heat and cool your home.

When selecting an AC unit, bigger isn’t always better! Don’t just assume that you want to go up in size, as super sizing can lead to super problems! Short cycling can increase the humidity levels in your home and mke if feel like a dank cave instead of a comfortable abode. If you choose to go bigger, know that your duct system will almost always need alterations too. Be very cautious of the contractor you’re using if they tell you otherwise. Most homes built before 2007 are running with undersized returns to begin with, so if you’re installing a larger system, count on duct improvements as well.

Besides bringing about a more comfortable home climate, two-speed systems are often much quieter than their single-speed counterparts. Most of that quietness is due to the low-speed operation and improved insulation and sound deadeners inside the cabinet. Inquire as to available rebates and incentives when inquiring as well, as these systems frequently have some immediate savings you can count on–even from your power company!

As always, don’t sweat, call Bayonet if you have further questions. From our homepage, you can always click the “Ask An Expert” graphic and one of our resident experts in their field will answer your question in 24 hours—or less!

Continue Reading

Raising The Efficiency on Water Heating

Monday, January 9th, 2012

When focusing on making your home more energy efficient, savvy homeowners take aim at their air conditioning unit first. That’s a smart thing to do. But what appliance should be next in line for improvement? You guessed it: your water heater.

Most homeowners in the Tampa area have a standard electric water heater with 40, 50, or 80 gallon capacity depending on the size of the home. Some homeowners are option for the tankless style water heaters. Check back on the 23rd of January for lots of information on those units.

For now, let’s discuss efficiency of those standard, tried-and-true electric, tank style water heaters. Simply put, there’s no way to make them super efficient, but you can help make the one you have work to its fullest potential. First, make sure your anode rod is not disintegrated and if it is replace it with a new one. This keeps the metal parts from corroding over time and extends the longevity of the water heater. Next, ask yourself this question: when was the last time the water heater was drained and cleared of sediment? Most homeowners answer that question with: “that needs to be done?” Yes, it does! Our Florida water is hard, which means it contains lots of minerals; minerals that build up in your tank and collect on the heating elements making the heater work harder to bring your water to an acceptable temperature.

If you’re an MVP member with Bayonet, this is a routine maintenance job that is included as part of the annual plumbing inspection. If you’ve never had it done, give your water heater some attention soon! Your wallet will thank you when you pay your next power bill.

If your water heater has reached the end of its life span and you’re shopping for a new one, heat pump water heaters are the most efficient available in a standard tank-style heater. They employ a small compressor that blows cool air out of the top of the unit, and the waste energy actually heats the water. It’s a great side benefit, as most water heaters are in garages and everyone in the garage benefits from a little cool down!

As a GE factory authorized dealer, we’re big fans of the GE heat pump water heater. It’s 10-year parts warranty shows consumers how much GE believes in it. It only comes in a 50 gallon tall model presently.

If you’ve recently replaced a tank style heater and didn’t know about this technology, you can still employ it thanks to the retro-fitted Air Tap, which converts the standard electric water heater into a heat pump with relative ease. We tested the Air Tap by installing it in an employee’s barn. She gets plenty of hot water, even on very cold days, and never even hooked the power up to the water heater. The beauty of the Air Tap–and all heat pump water heaters, for that matter–is how very little energy they use to heat water!

If you’re upgrading appliances this year, the water heater is a great place to focus!

Continue Reading

Is Your Heat Pump Smoking!?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

“Yes, I think I have an emergency,” a customer says.

“What seems to be the problem?” says the technician.

“My outdoor unit is smoking,” says the customer. “There is steam or smoke coming from the top of the unit! Is it going to explode?”

No, it isn’t! It’s January in Florida and the mercury plunged overnight. When weather extremes hit us, some comfort systems struggle to keep up with demand. In this area, many homeowners have opted for the ultra efficient heat pump technology. It provides energy-efficient cooling and heating and is a great option for a comfort system.

Many times, we receive calls from customers just like the example above who are concerned about steam coming from the top of their heat pump when it is really cold outside. That’s really part of normal operation of a heat pump system.

Heat pumps work by extracting heat out of the air and exchanging it to alter the temperature of the conditioned space. Sounds simple, right? Well, it works well until the outdoor temperature drops to near freezing. When that happens, the unit outside can actually freeze! The engineers behind AC systems have figured that out too: they invented a defrost mode for the unit.

To explain it very simply, the unit actually reverses the cycle and turns the air conditioning on for a few minutes to defrost the outdoor unit. Inside, you shouldn’t feel it; in fact, you should stay nice and cozy thanks to your auxiliary strip heater inside the air handling unit. It powers up and offsets the cold air so you and your family stay warm.

Meanwhile, the defrost cycle completes and the outdoor unit becomes a heat pump again, but during the cycle, if you happen to be standing outside, your unit might steam a little! It’s perfectly normal in these conditions.

Do you have any specific questions? Click on our ask an expert link and send us your questions. We will always send a response within 24 hours.

Don’t sweat! Call Bayonet!

Continue Reading