|By Glenn Haege. (Used by permission)|
There is a lot of truth in the old saying, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Sixty percent of the energy expended by an air conditioner is devoted to dehumidifying the air. If you want to save money on air conditioning, you have to make certain the air conditioner is running its best and help it dehumidify the air.
Clear all of the weeds that have grown around the compressor outside and spray away the fuzzies with the garden hose. If you use a regular furnace filter, change it. Cold air is heavier than hot air, so the fan works harder, longer. During the summer, furnace filters that normally last 90 days are filthy in 30 days and should be changed.
If you live in the northern part of the country and have a 1987 or older air conditioner, seriously consider changing it now. Next year, the SEER rating will go up from 11 to 13, and most of the units will use the new refrigerrant. You also will pay about $1,000 more than a current model for an air conditioner that takes up more space than present models.
Some heating and cooling contractors in this area are Aladdin Heating & Cooling, (248) 475-0667; Flame Furnace Co., (888) 234-2340); Randazzo Heating & Cooling, (877) RANDAZZO; and Williams Refrigeration, (888) 268-5445.
If your furnace is about the same age as the air conditioner, it's smart to change out the two units together. Get a two-stage unit system.
If you have not had the ductwork cleaned in the past seven years, pick up the phone and have it cleaned and sanitized now.
There are a lot of good duct cleaners. Some that I have received many good reports on include: A.1 Duct Cleaning, (800) 382-8256; Dalton Environmental, (800) 675-2298; Dusty Ducts, (734) 675-7871; Fresh Air Solutions, (800) 341-4076; Safety King, (800) 247-3828; Sanit-Air, (888) 778-7324; Sterling Environmental, (888) 992-1200; and Vent Corp., (248) 347-9300.
If you are not in southeast Michigan, you can get a list of the certified duct cleaners near you on the National Air Duct Cleaners Association Web site, www.nadca.com, or by calling (202) 737-2926.
Basements and crawl spaces often get very humid during the summer. This can be dangerous because the moisture is usually absorbed and channeled throughout the house. During a meeting with Tom Morbach, one of the owners of Sanit-Air, I learned that every home they inspect with a wet crawl space has mold in the attic. The moisture from the crawl space is absorbed into the house and travels all the way up to the attic.
This problem is so significant that Sanit-Air, (888) 778-7324, has a division that seals and dehumidifies crawl spaces. Infrared Services of Michigan, (810) 329-9033, also has created a division, Draft Stop Energy & Comfort Services, which seals and dehumidifies crawl spaces in addition to providing energy-saving duct and rim joist sealing.
If you have a musty basement, the most practical solution is a good dehumidifier. Old dehumidifiers are noisy, ineffective energy hogs. New energy-star rated dehumidifiers are much more effective, quieter and energy efficient.
Prices for good home basement dehumidifiers range from $150 to $1,750. Smart shopping is important because the price of the exact same model can vary $100 or more from store to store.
Costco has a Danby Silhouette model 58-pint dehumidifier for $150 and a 50-pint Whirlpool Basement Dehumidifier for $200 available on its Web site, www.costco.com. Home Depot has a 65-pint Maytag dehumidifier for $239 on its Web site, www.homedepot.com.
ACE hardware has a 50-pint Comfort-Aire dehumidifier for $173.
The biggest selection and most informative Web site I found on the Internet was allergybuyersclub. com, (888) 236-7231. Their top-rated Comfort-Aire Low Temperature 50 and 65-pint dehumidifiers cost $320 and $350, respectively.
All of these dehumidifiers are quiet, energy-star rated and function at temperatures as low as 42-degrees Fahrenheit.
When you dry out the basement air, you win in three different ways. The entire house feels cooler; the air conditioner does a better, more cost-efficient job; and mold and mildew growth is drastically reduced. Wring out the basement and you will brag about the result