Why is R-22 Refrigerant so Expensive for Austin Home Owners?

Why Does R-22 Really Cost So Much? R-22 is a hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and the most common refrigerant in AC systems

R-22 is a Back in the 1970’s the EPA determined that R-22 / Freon had a negative effect on the ozone layer of our atmosphere.  These effects includes:

  • Harmful UV radiation into our atmosphere,
  • Increased temperatures on earth,
  • Increased sun damage to humans
  • Links to skin cancer.

The plan to phase it out dates back to the late 1980’s, with a decrease amount of supplies allowed in the United States.  On January 1, 2020, R-22 will no longer allow to be imported or manufactured in the US.  However, one consequence of this phase-out means the cost to recharge your AC system in Austin and the rest of the country with more R-22 will continue to grow exponentially.

What Will Happen to Homeowners Without R-22?

If you find your AC blowing warm air, or ice on the refrigerant lines, do not fret as you have a few options.

  • tools for measuring AC System levels and pressureUpgrading Your AC System to a New Refrigerant, R-410A – Though this cost is more significate than an AC system repair, there are benefits to upgrading.  Systems designed for R-410A are more energy efficient and have been shown to have up to a 40% higher cooling capacity compared to R-22.  R-410A also uses synthetic oil, as compared to R-22 that uses mineral oil.  The synthetic oil allows the system to operate more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.  These new systems have longer warranties and can help lower your electric bills.

 

  • Use of Reclaimed R-22. As of today, we are still able to recharge your AC system with R-22.  Refrigerant companies are reclaiming old R-22.  Reclaiming entails filtering, drying, distillation and is chemically processed that remove impurities.  The cost associated with the reclaiming process will unfortunately keep R-22 pricing on an upward trend.  However, in a pinch, having the option to recharge your system will allow you and your family a little relief in the summer heat and get you by until it leaks out again.

 

Do not Get Stuck in the Austin Heat without Refrigerant  

Family Talking to AC TechnicianThe cost of R-22 has been increasing over the last decade.  With the phase out quickly approaching, the cost will keep rising, as R-22 will become much scarcer.  The best thing to do if you have an is have an Austin, Texas licensed HVAC contractor like A-Plus Air Conditioning & Home Solutions perform a system check to make sure the system’s pressures are good, and that there are no leaks.  If your AC unit is low on Freon, it may be a good time to consider replacement it with a new 410A system.

If your AC is not blowing cool air, or if you want to be proactive before your unit gives out, give our office in Austin a call at 512-450-1980 to schedule an appointment.  We offer fast, 7 day a week service in the Austin area. We won’t leave you in the Texas heat.

Is My Thermostat Temperature Set Too Low?

Energy Efficient Homes

The summer heat will soon be in full swing. Many of our wonderful A-Plus customers ask our AC Service Techs, “What is the BEST temperature to set my AC?” Though every situation and every homeowner is different, setting your AC to 78F degrees is a good recommended temperature for energy efficiency to help keep your electrical bills lower.

Your AC system is designed to remove the heat energy from your conditioned space.  The cool air blowing out of your register grills should have no less than an 18-degree differential from the air at the return.  If your system is blowing air less than that 18 degrees, call your favorite HVAC Company to get your unit checked out.  (SEE COUPON BELOW)

Here are some other tips to consider to help keep your energy bill low when running your AC unit in the summer heat:

  • Service your A/C unit – In Austin AC maintenance is crucial. Twice a year maintenance is recommended to make sure the unit is running efficiently and keeping your family cool during the hot Texas summer.
  • Shade your windows – Protecting your home from the direct sunlight is essential. Install Solar Screens or keep the blinds shut to prevent the room from heating up.Cute Frog BBQ Image
  • Make sure to keep all exterior doors closed – Keep an eye on small kiddos. They often forget to close doors behind them when heading outside to play.
  • Avoid cooking inside if possible– Use the outdoor grill whenever you can. The oven and stove are major sources of heat.  Plus, it’s summer time in Austin, Texas after all.  Everybody loves the backyard cookout!
  • Don’t use the clothes dryer – During the hottest part of the day. It will cause an extra draw on your energy bill and heat up your house during the day.
  • Done all these steps and still having high bills? Is your AC unit over 10 years old? Request Your FREE Energy Audit* to see what improvements can be made to you home!

Austin Energy provides rebates for energy improvement such as cooling & heating system replacements, solar screens, insulation, ductwork, and more.  As a founding member of the Powersaver program with Austin Energy 30+ years ago, we know the proper techniques to save on your energy bills. If you need AC Repairs in Austin, or you just need your annual AC maintenance, A-Plus is here for you!

 

Give our office a call at 512-450-1980 to schedule a time for your Free Austin Energy Audit*.

*Free Audits for Valid only for Austin Energy Customers who’s AC system is over 10 years of age.  Call for more details if you are interested in an Energy Audit.  There may be a small charge if your AC unit is under the age of 10, or if you are not an Austin Energy Customer.

 

Winter’s upon us – Let’s talk about home insulation

home installation basics
We’re down to the last two months of the year and although Texas isn’t exactly known for brutal winters, we can expect temperatures to drop in the next few weeks. November and December are precarious times for heating and cooling your home as cold fronts tend to come in suddenly and without much warning. You’re stuck between a hot and a cold place, so to speak. There are a few days a year where you can get away with turning your system completely off, but once outside temperatures drop dramatically, it’s time to turn the heater on. What can you do to save energy and money and still feel warm and cozy in your home? One answer is update your home insulation.

In the case of your home, the goal is to prevent the heat your air conditioning system or furnace produces to escape through cracks, openings, or porous materials; along those same lines, you also don’t want to outside cold air coming into your home through the same channels. The five main areas you’ll want to check for poor home insulation are your attic, walls, floors, basement, and crawl space.

Insulation means reducing thermal energy transfer between objects of different temperatures. It comes in various colors and materials (cellulose, cotton, rockwool, and fiberglass) and serve as a “blanket” for your home. You’ll want at least 12 inches of any of the above materials covering walls and floors throughout your house. Furthermore, you’ll want to check the R-value (or unit of thermal resistence) of your insulation: while R-19 was once deemed sufficient, R-38 is now the standard for our climate zone.

The better your home is insulated, the less work your heating and cooling system has to do. The conditioned air is contained within the home and the temperature you select stays more consistent. Quality insulation will last for decades and can drastically reduce your energy usage and cost. Investing in good insulation once will save you money for many years to come—wouldn’t it be nice to have a little extra cash for the holidays?

A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning and Home Solutions has been a trusted source of quality home insulation for the greater Austin area for close to 40 years. We pride ourselves on expert work, friendly service, and quick turnaround times. We’re a phone call away for all your air conditioning, energy management, and home repair needs. Simply call (512) 450-1980 or email hvac99@AplusAC.com.

Fall Energy Conservation Tips

Rising Energy Bill cut by a-plus
Seasons are a little more ambiguous in Texas than they are in most parts of the country, but it’s October, so for all intents and purposes, it’s fall. Though temperatures have still been in the 80s and 90s, true Texans have indeed been feeling cooler breezes and colder nights in the last week or so. Some of us may have started digging out long sleeved shirts, sweaters, and boots just in case the temps drop drastically.

Now that we are (hopefully) done with triple digits, it’s time to adjust our AC units and energy consumption patterns. As you get ready to usher in the autumn weather, read through A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions‘ fall energy conservation suggestions:

  • Turn your AC up to at least 78 degrees. Most of us like it chilly inside when it’s sweltering outside, but once it
    Fall Energy Conservation Tips
    Fall Energy Conservation Tips

    starts cooling off outside, you can save up to 8 percent per degree on your energy bill. The following tips will make this change even more effective.

  • Replace your filters: chances are there’s a bunch of dust and particles trapped in there after months of heavy summer usage. Changing filters will knock a few extra bucks off your bill and prevent a portion of the allergens and pollens that are in the air from sneaking into your home.
  • Make sure air vents aren’t being blocked by furniture, drapes, or other objects. Also, clear the vents of dust, hair, and debris for maximum efficiency.
  • Check your insulation: Seal windows, heating and cooling ducts to ensure constant interior temperatures. This could even be a fun DIY project for your family!
  • Be proactive: tune up or replace inefficient heating and cooling devices with new ones ahead of time. Should that cool front come in earlier than expected, you’ll be ready. Look for Energy Star qualified products as they’re guaranteed to run more efficiently and cut your bill.

Some of these steps are more involved than others, but that’s where we come in: A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions offers home solutions at affordable prices. We will gladly inspect and tune up your AC, radiator, and furnace, insulate your house, and advise you on the best heating and cooling options for your home. We are one quick phone call away and service the greater Austin area including Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Lakeway. Call us at 512-450-1980.

Rising Energy Bill? A-Plus can help!

Lower your energy bill with A-plus
LED Light BulbHow to keep your energy bill from going up

  1. Make sure your home has had an energy audit & has been weatherized. Homes over 15 years old may need improvements to meet today’s standards.  Even though a home may have been energy efficient when it was built, new codes may recommend new standards and the original weatherstripping, ductwork, and insulation may need upgrading because it has settled or deteriorated over time.
  2. Replace your Cooling & Heating system if it’s over 12–15 years old or has a SEER of less that 10. A new higher efficiency cooling and heating system (16+ SEER), will reduce bills similar to a buying a new car that gets 20 miles to the gallon to replace one that only gets 12 miles to the gallon.
  3. Keep your thermostat no lower than 77–78 degrees in the summer. The lower the setting, the more the air conditioner runs and the higher the electric bill.
  4. Use fluorescent or LED light bulbs. They are much more efficient and cost less to operate.
  5. Adjust the thermostat settings when not at home. Use a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature when you are home and away.
  6. Change or clean your filter on a regular basis. A clean filter lets the blower operate more freely and provide better air flow.  In addition, the air you breathe is cleaner when the filter is changed more frequently.

We can’t predict when or if the city will raise the electric rates, but you can surely plan for when they do.  But we can help you make your home more energy efficient in order to lower your electricity use and energy bill.  The less electricity you use, the less you pay!  Call A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions @ 512-450-1980, or email us at hvac99@AplusAC.com.

What does the blue Energy Star mean?

The meaning of the blue energy star

Have you ever noticed the blue Energy Star logo on your computer, appliances, or other electronic products and wondered exactly what it represents? Energy Star was created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy under the leadership of John Hoffman, a worldwide recognized innovator in energy efficiency and researcher or climate change, in 1992.

Any consumer product marked with an Energy Star uses 20-30% less electricity than the government mandated standard. The program steadily gained international recognition as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the European Union chose to adopt Energy Star standards as well.

Hoffman noticed that the many computers in his office consumed a lot of energy when they weren’t being used and began researching a way to put them into sleep or powersave mode. This simple observation was the beginning of the Energy Star labeling: at first it solely applied to computers and servers, but soon grew to include household appliances, home electronics, heating and cooling systems, lighting, even entire homes and buildings.

The Energy Star service mark’s effects have been impactful: in 2011, Energy Star is said to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 210 million metric tons or the equivalent of 41 million cars’ worth of pollution, saving over $23 billion in energy costs.

Austin is one of eight cities in the U.S. that requires commercial building owners to report an energy benchmark rating to the city government once a year: the ECAD initiative holds businesses accountable in terms of energy efficiency, sustainability, economic growth, and safety regulations.

Our team at A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning, and Home Solutions has performed countless energy benchmark audits in and around Austin—Call us pros, we don’t mind! Need an ECAD audit? Call us at (512) 450-1980.

It Pays to Have Energy Efficient Homes

Save Money with an Energy Efficient Home by A-Plus A/C of Austin

Just last week we dug out our umbrellas, waterproof jackets, and rubber boots to combat the rainy, chilly weather; this week we are basking in temperatures in the mid to high 80s and sunshine—that’s South Texas for you!

When the weather changes the way we regulate the temperature in our homes changes too. Since switching back to cooling your home, have you noticed any of the following?

  • Energy Efficient HomesHigh levels of indoor humidity
  • Your AC making a lot of noise
  • Your thermostat needs constant adjusting

If any of these apply to you and you fear your utility bills rising as a result, A-Plus Energy Management recommends a Home Performance Audit: especially if your home is older than ten years, updates to make it more energy efficient can earn you substantial rebates through Austin  Energy and tax credits through Energy Star.

We at A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning, and Home Solutions are your Austin Energy registered contractors: we will conduct the home performance energy audit, make recommendations for home improvements that lower energy use, and implement them in a quick and efficient manner.

This whole-house approach will optimize your home’s energy efficiency, protect the environment, improve your home’s health, and reduce your electricity and gas bill. Give us a call at (512) 450-1980 to schedule your Home Performance Audit today!

Austin Energy rebates reward energy efficient homes

energy efficient home by a-plus

Austin EnergyRecently, Austin Energy announced its new energy rebate program for residential homes.  Rebates are given for work that may include duct sealing or duct replacement, adding additional insulation, adding solar screens on windows that get direct sun, replacing old, inefficient AC systems with more energy efficient new ones, weatherization of the building exterior, and installing radiant barriers on a case by case basis.  Rebates are also given for properly weatherizing attic fans and installing programmable thermostats the utility department can control during peak cooling hours.  While Austin Energy does not rebate low-e windows or attic ventilation, they do recommend that these measures be installed.  They also emphasize that air flow issues be addressed to get the most out of your AC system.   To encourage homeowners to improve their air flow issues, Austin energy rebates new register grilles, replacing and resizing ducts, adding dampers to ducts, and balancing air flow amongst rooms. When purchasing a new home, Austin has passed the ECAD (Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure) ordinance to help homeowners make better home buying decisions by having an energy audit done before purchasing the home.  For existing home, A-Plus provides many audit options that may include only a visual assessment or be extensive to include other tests using a blower door, ductblaster, air balancing hood, or infrared camera.

As with all programs, rebates have to be budgeted every year.  In Austin, the new fiscal begins each October.  Since the program’s inception, Austin Energy has only had one year where it “ran out of money” but found more that year from another department.  Since 1981, the home energy conservation department has been the foundation of Austin Energy.  It has been realized that if you want most homeowners to do more than just replace their AC system, you need to incentivize the work.  While those of us in the industry realize the importance of how much energy conservation can save on electric bills, how much more comfortable a home will be, and how much healthier and cleaner the home is, it still takes rebates to encourage most homeowners to make the decision to have the work done.   If you are reading this article, and you are not from Austin, check with your utility company to see what rebates may available to you.  If you do live in the Austin area, please call A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions at 512-450-1980 or email us at hvac99@AplusAC.com to see how we can help you.