Monthly Archives: June 2015

How to Protect Your HVAC System During a Major Storm

This past week the Kalamazoo area was hit with a major wind and thunderstorm with a tornado in the area. The first step in protecting your HVAC system during a storm is to protect your HVAC system before a storm. Typically, you know when a storm is coming, particularly if it’s a really bad one that could do a lot of damage. Lately in Southwestern Michigan, it seems like we’ve been having a couple of storms a week. Rain, wind, hail, and lightening are all factors that can damage your unit. Protect your unit this summer by following these tips:

  1. Prevent Against Flood Damage. Make sure that when your HVAC unit is installed, it is installed on a higher level, particularly if your area is prone to flooding (You can learn about floodwater heights in your area from the city’s building commission and in some cases online). If your HVAC unit is installed below the flood line, we can provide information about how to raise it. One more precaution to take is to make sure you have a sump pump installed which will automatically pump water out when the water reaches a certain level.
  2. Keep Your Yard Clean from Debris. One of the top two offenders of HVAC damage during a storm is debris that flies around in the strong winds (the other is hail). While you cannot protect your HVAC from something that may fly in from your neighbor’s yard, you can make sure the area around your HVAC unit is kept tidy. Prior to a storm, take your patio furniture inside to avoid hitting your HVAC (or creating other damage either to the furniture or house). Pick up the sticks and branches in your yard and make sure to check for dead branches in the trees that may easily come loose in the storm (and that may damage more than just your HVAC!)
  3. Do Not Use Your Unit During the Storm. Avoid electrical power surges (which can create massive damage in just a second) by turning off all heat and air conditioning at the thermostat. But even better yet is to switch off the circuit breaker that controls the units until after the storm is over.
  4. Cover and Secure the System. Make sure the HVAC system is anchored properly and consider covering the unit with a strong canvas tarp. You can also place hail guards over the more delicate parts of the unit.
  5. Inspect the Unit Before Turning it Back On. After the storm is over, go outside and inspect your unit before moving forward. Do not touch the unit if there are power lines down or near it. Make sure to clear out any debris, check for water around the unit, remove the cover, and change the air filter.

If after a storm you do notice that your equipment has been damaged, please give us a call rather than risking injury to yourself or risking further damage to the unit. We’ve earned a reputation in the Kalamazoo area for doing the job right the first time, so you can rely on us to quickly get your unit operational again.

Figuring Your Best Cooling Options by the Numbers

Bryant Air ConditioningWhat are you looking for in an air conditioner? Certainly you’re looking for an air conditioner big enough to cool your home efficiently, yet still economical enough to fit within your budget. So the first thing you should look for are the numbers.

Take a typical two-story home with interior space of 3,000 square feet.The cooling capacity for air conditioners is measured in tons. One ton is equal to the amount of energy to melt a one-ton block of ice in 24 hours. In our climate for Southwest Michigan, house inspectors roughly estimate that it takes 700 to 1,000 square feet per ton cooling capacity to be adequate. So if you’re the owner of this typical home, you’re looking for a central air conditioner of approximately 3 to 4.3 tons cooling capacity.

That’s a starting point, giving you a range of air conditioners that can adequately cool your home. The next number to look at is an air conditioner’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER number. The higher the SEER number, the higher the efficiency. As of 2006, a federal mandate required all new central air conditioning equipment be rated at least SEER-13, but current air conditioners can rate as high as 18, and some reach the low 20s.

Consumers Energy has an online tool that can help you translate that rating into an estimated annual cost for running your air conditioner. It’s based on the likely amount you would use your air conditioning during the cooling season for this region. You enter in the square footage of your home, the current cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) that you can find on your energy bill, and the SEER ratings of the models you’re considering.

Going back to our typical home with an electric rate of $0.13/kWh, purchasing a system with a SEER 13 rating will cost you $354 annually to run. If you choose an air conditioner with a SEER-16 rating, available in most of the central air conditioners Metzger’s Heating & Cooling offers from Bryant, the yearly cost estimate is $288.

If you choose an air conditioner with a SEER-21 rating, available in Bryant’s top model of its Evolution line, the cost is $219. That’s a savings of $135, or a savings of $1,350 over 10 years.

These numbers however, only get you into the ballpark. No one lives in a “typical” home. Even if your home has the same square footage, you also have to consider the energy efficiency of your home, including the amount of insulation you have, possible air leaks around windows and doors, and other conditions that affect energy use. Information on having a home energy audit done for your home is available through your power utility company, including eligibility for rebates when you improve your home’s energy efficiency.

The cost of a new air conditioner is the final factor, but can often be the deciding one. If you look at not just the purchase cost, however, but the use cost and additional savings you can realize if you improve your home’s energy efficiency, a high-efficiency central air conditioners may indeed be the best buy. Contact us at Metzger’s Heating & Cooling today before the hot weather arrives in the Kalamazoo region. Let us help you determine the best cooling choices for your home.