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How China's air conditioning use might affect you

How China's air conditioning use might affect you

You’ve probably never devoted a lot of thought to how your air conditioning use affects the rest of the world. So why should China’s newfound love of air conditioning bother you? The rapid adoption of climate control technologies in China and elsewhere may have a major impact on the world in the coming decades.

Air conditioning in the United States consumes more electricity than anywhere else – 616 TWh annually to be exact. In terms of the number of installed units, however, China far exceeds the US. As of 2016, China had 569 million installed AC units, compared to 374 million units in the US. Unlike the US market for AC (which is stable), the Chinese market for climate control is hot, hot, hot! As consumers in the country install more units, the demand for electricity will rise significantly. China will soon overtake the US in terms of its AC energy demands.

Globally, air conditioning consumes about 10% of all electricity produced today. Global electricity production will have to increase to meet the demand for air conditioning in emerging markets.

How you can help reduce electricity demand for air conditioning

So what does this all mean for us? In short, current methods of electricity production tend to increase atmospheric CO2 levels. To offset the growing demand for electricity, both power production and power consumption must become much more efficient.

One recommendation by the International Energy Agency is to encourage the installation of more energy-efficient air conditioning units. One reason the US currently consumes more energy on air conditioning is the large number of inefficient units still in service. Reducing the number of low-efficiency units in operation will reduce energy consumption, along with the need to produce more electricity.

Today’s high-efficiency air conditioning units offer a lot of environmental benefits. New AC units use more environmentally friendly refrigerants, take up less space, use less electricity and operate more quietly. Lower electricity usage means lower operating costs without sacrificing comfort.

Currently MassSave is offering a rebate of between $250-$500 on new central air conditioning and heat pump installations. The amount of the rebate depends upon the efficiency of the new equipment. You can qualify for a rebate of up to a $1,000 if you retire a working unit manufactured before 2007.

It’s not too late to take advantage of these exceptional incentives to install or replace your AC unit. Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for more information on these great rebate options.

Photo Credit: Darren Poon, via Flickr

Dehumidifying your whole house

Dehumidifying your whole house

Humidity plays a major role in the comfort of your space. Not enough humidity can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and a constant “cold” feeling. Too much humidity can lead to air quality problems, promote mold growth and leave you feeling sticky.

The ideal humidity for indoor air is 50%. At 50% humidity, the air can still absorb moisture and heat, but it doesn’t leave you feeling cold and clammy, or hot and sticky. Most homeowners don’t attempt to control the humidity in their homes. Unfortunately, that can end up costing you more money, both in the summer and winter, in heating and cooling costs.

You’re much more likely to encounter high humidity in the warmer months. Unfortunately for Boston, the average daily relative humidity hovers between 62% and 72% year-round. That means the relative humidity, left to itself, never quite gets to the ideal 50% mark. Elevated humidity makes it harder to cool down. Even conditioned air can feel “clammy” or moist.

A whole house dehumidifier can reduce your energy costs

A whole house dehumidifier can help reduce the humidity levels in your home. By drying out the air, you can control mold and mildew growth, and spend less on heating and cooling costs. You’ll feel comfortable, even at higher temperatures in the summer, and lower temperatures in the winter.

It’s easy to notice the humidity in a basement, where the temperatures may be cooler. You may not realize, however, that high humidity affects the above-grade levels of your home, too. Your furniture, carpets, bedding – even the walls! – absorb moisture from the air. They’ll discharge the moisture when the humidity level drops, but this cycle can take its toll on your home. Constantly changing humidity levels can damage the paint on your walls, and promote deterioration.

A whole-house dehumidifier can be integrated into your central air conditioning system. By working with your AC unit, the dehumidifier can actually reduce your air conditioning costs and make your home feel more comfortable. A dehumidifier can also work independently if your home does not have a ducted AC system. Centralized dehumidifiers can remove as much as 16-25 gallons of moisture from your home each day. They’re ideal for homes that have a consistent problem with moisture.

One key to reducing the humidity in your home is to reduce the amount of outside air that enters it. Sealing windows, doors and other places where air enters can improve the comfort of your home. It will also lower your heating and cooling costs year-round. Insulating your home can also help prevent outside air from entering your home.

If you’d like more information about a whole house dehumidifier, give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to explain your options for controlling the humidity in your home.

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson, via Flickr

Yes, you can lower your cooling costs!

Yes, you can lower your cooling costs!

Budgeting for electricity can be difficult. Statistically speaking, the lower your household income is, the more you’ll spend on electricity and other utility costs. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it’s not. People with lower household incomes are more likely to hang onto older, less efficient appliances. They’re also more likely to purchase less efficient new appliances. While this strategy lowers your one-time costs, it commits you to spending more on operating costs over the life of the appliance.

Heating, cooling and refrigeration are the three biggest utility consumers in your home. Window air conditioners are among the worst offenders. In a hot month, a window air conditioner can increase your cooling costs by 30%-40%. Two window air conditioners can nearly double your electric bill!

Cooling costs don’t have to break the budget

How can you lower your cooling costs without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips:

Use your window air conditioner wisely. Set limits for using your window air conditioner. Wait until later in the evening to turn on an air conditioner in your bedroom, and turn it off during the day. Use air conditioning overnight only when the low temperature doesn’t drop below 70°F or when the relative humidity is very high.

Use a fan! Residential air conditioners can consume 3.5KW per hour, and a window air conditioner can consume 500-1,500 W per hour. A ceiling fan or a window fan, on the other hand, consume less than 100 W. Some fans may use as little as 15 W. Economically, it makes more sense to use fans under certain conditions. If the nighttime temperatures drop into the 60’s and the humidity is not high, using a fan to draw in cool nighttime air can reduce your cooling costs noticeably. There are a few caveats, however.
If the humidity is high, a fan isn’t going to help much. Wet air isn’t as good at taking heat away from your skin. Worse, your carpets, flooring, walls and furniture will absorb water from the air. This could exacerbate mold and mildew problems, and it won’t feel very good. In soggy conditions, use your cooling system!
Turn the fan off when you’re not around. If you’re not home, leaving a fan on is pointless, unless you’re trying to air something out. Moving air feels good on your skin, but if you’re not at home, the fan is just moving warm air! Turn the fan off when you leave to reduce your cooling costs.

Manage humidity for cool comfort

Use a dehumidifier. Dry air absorbs water. As the humidity rises, the air becomes harder to move, and is less able to cool you down. Showering and cooking can add 3 gallons or more of water to the air in your home daily. Drying out the air again will make you feel cooler. In part, this is what air conditioning does. You can get a similar (but not the same) result by using a dehumidifier. A whole-house dehumidifier will help keep the humidity levels in your home in the comfort zone. You’ll feel better, and your air conditioning will work more efficiently, reducing your cooling costs.

Opt for more efficient appliances. If you must replace your heating and cooling system, choose the most efficient system you can afford. The more efficient your system is, the more money it will save in operating costs over its lifetime. If you buy a lower-cost, low-efficiency system, you’ve committed yourself to higher cooling costs over the long haul.

Consider a high-efficiency, ductless heating and cooling system. A ductless heating and cooling system can operate at a much higher efficiency than conventional air conditioners do. As an added bonus, you can use the system to heat your home, or supplement your heat during the winter. By reducing the use of more expensive heating systems, you can stay comfortable and save money year-round.

If you’d like more information about lowering your cooling costs, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We can offer a range of options that will fit your budget and reduce your cooling costs!

Photo Credit: Victor, via Flickr

Climate action: replacing your air conditioner

The next time you wonder whether climate action can be successful, consider this: the Antarctic Ozone Hole, which spurred dozens of countries into action, would have been 40% larger than it is today had no concrete action been taken. Instead, scientists predict that the Earth’s ozone layer will recover to 1980 levels by the year 2050, if countries continue to deliver on steps they promised to take in a treaty signed in 1987.

The treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol, was ultimately adopted by all UN members, and required signatories to take specific steps to reduce ozone depletion near the Earth’s poles. Scientists now say that had the Montreal Protocol not been adopted, a second ozone hole would have opened above the Arctic region, and would have impacted Northern Europe.

So how does the Montreal Protocol impact us? The plan requires countries to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC). By 2030, most ozone-depleting CFCs and HCFCs will be eliminated. For consumers, initially that means changes to refrigerants and solvents and fire suppression systems. Currently, new air conditioners and dehumidifiers use HCFCs as a transitional step away from CFCs. By 2030, HCFCs will be eliminated as well.

If you have an older air conditioner, refrigerator or dehumidifier, chances are that it uses a popular refrigerant known as R-22. You can still get new R-22 refrigerant for use in existing equipment, but manufacturers will no longer be allowed to make new R-22 after 2019. In 2020, R-22 will still be available, but only as a recycled material. Newly manufactured AC systems and dehumidifiers must use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant like R-410A, which is also scheduled to be eliminated by 2030.

The upshot of this is that the clock is ticking on your ability to recharge your old air conditioner. In just 4 years, you will not be able to get new R-22 at all. In the mean time, the cost of R-22 will rise significantly as manufacturers drop out of the R-22 marketplace. The questions for homeowners pile up.

• Do you replace a working air conditioning system now, or do you wait, knowing that you’ll pay more to acquire refrigerant for your older AC system?

• Do you replace a working air conditioner now to avoid the potentially higher cost of replacing/repairing your system in four years?

• Do you replace a working air conditioner now to take advantage of reduced operating costs?

• Do you replace a working air conditioner with one that’s more environmentally friendly?

These aren’t easy questions to answer. The life expectancy of an air conditioning system is between 8 and 15 years. The Montreal Protocol is expected to influence the air conditioning industry at least through 2030, and perhaps beyond. Putting off replacement of your existing AC system may mean that you don’t get full value from the replacement system, especially if climate action requirements change in the future.

Replacing your air conditioning system – even a working one – may make financial sense if your new system operates more efficiently than your current system does. In addition to the benefit of lower operating costs, you can also enjoy lower maintenance costs and contribute to improving the environment at the same time. At the moment, you can take advantage of some excellent rebates on efficient air conditioners and heat pumps.

If you would like more information about new or replacement air conditioning systems, or would like us to evaluate your current central air conditioner, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can assess your current air conditioner, perform maintenance or recommend replacement options that can lower your cooling costs and help you take advantage of rebates and credits.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Available for Boston Residents

Last month, Governor Deval Patrick announced a new residential clean energy grant available to all Massachusetts residents that will allow homeowners to save on the purchase and installation of renewable heating and cooling technologies. The $875,000 grant program will enable homeowners to claim rebates of as much as $10,000 when they upgrade their home heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems using qualified equipment.

To take advantage of the grant program, homeowners must install high-efficiency, inverter-driven air or ground-source heat pumps. High efficiency heat pumps can put out three heating or cooling energy units for each unit of electricity they consume. When used as a replacement for conventional electric, oil, or propane-based heating and cooling systems, heat pumps can reduce operational costs by as much as 50%.

The grant program is part of a larger effort by the Patrick administration to reduce heating and cooling costs for state residents, reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state, and create jobs in clean energy industries.

Currently, three manufacturers – Daikin, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi – offer air-source heat pump models that qualify for the grant program. Air source heat pump installations can qualify for rebates of up to $6,250 per applicant. Both central and mini-split heat pump technologies qualify for the program.

Installation of a qualifying ground-source heat pump may allow residents to claim a rebate of as much as $10,000. For ground-source heat pump installations, applicants should work directly with a qualified installer to ensure that their purchase meets the program’s selection and installation requirements.

Applications for rebates will be accepted until August 31, 2014 on a first-come, first-served basis, or until funding for the program is exhausted. Applicants must work with their installers to claim this rebate. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is certified to install qualifying Fujitsu and Mitsubishi products. If you would like more information about this program, qualifying products or other products that are designed to save on your heating and cooling costs, please contact us at (617) 288-2911 to set up a consultation.

EPA Warns About Dangerous R-22 Substitutes for Air Conditioning

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a warning to homeowners, propane manufacturers, home improvement contractors and air conditioning technicians regarding the unapproved use of propane as a substitute for R-22 refrigerant, used in older model air conditioning units. The United States is phasing out the use of R-22 refrigerant as part of an international treaty agreement to reduce the effects of climate change.

The EPA is investigating claims of injuries and explosions resulting from the unauthorized substitution of propane to recharge air conditioning units. As a substitute refrigerant, propane is marketed as R-290, 22a, 22-A, R-22a, HC-22a, and CARE 40. Residential and commercial R-22 air conditioning units are not fitted to handle propane as a refrigerant, and the use of propane in these units poses a serious safety risk, especially to homeowners and air conditioning technicians.

Propane is authorized for use as a substitute refrigerant in certain commercial freezers and refrigerators, but the EPA has never authorized its use in air conditioners of any kind. Homeowners are cautioned to avoid using propane with any appliance that is not specifically labeled as propane-ready.

The temptation to use a “substitute” refrigerant for R-22 is high, since R-22 is being phased out, its cost is rising and the supply of R-22 is dwindling. As tempting as it may be, there’s no good reason to compromise the safety of your family to save a few dollars. If you have an older air conditioning unit that requires a recharge, new R-22 is still available and will be produced through 2020 for servicing purposes. After 2020, new R-22 will not be produced, and only reclaimed, recycled R-22 will be available for servicing.

The older your air conditioning unit is, the less efficient it is. Over time, inefficient units become even less efficient. Newly produced units are much more efficient to operate, use more ecologically friendly refrigerants and may even be eligible for tax credits and interest-free financing options.

At Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, we use only the refrigerants that are recommended for your air conditioning units during servicing. If you would like more information about air conditioning, air conditioning maintenance or would like us to safely recharge your R-22 air conditioning unit, please call us at (617) 288-2911 to set up an appointment.

Lower Electric Bills In Boston This Summer?

If you’re looking for ways to lower your electric bills this year, you might not have to do very much. That’s because a new analysis by the US Department of Energy suggests that consumers will pay modestly less for electricity in Boston this summer. Long-term weather forecasts suggest that this summer will be much milder than 2012, resulting in a drop in demand for electricity of about 2.5%.

Even with this rosy prediction, it’s never a bad time to look for ways to conserve energy, reduce consumption and keep your air conditioner in great shape. If your home has an older air conditioner, installing high-efficiency air conditioners can help reduce your electric bill for years to come, as can performing regular maintenance on a high-efficiency unit you may already have installed.

Simple things like clogged filters and dirty condenser coils can reduce the efficiency of a unit by as much as 10% per season. Deferring maintenance on an air conditioner may actually cost you more money (in the form of higher operational costs and increased need for service calls) than the annual maintenance does! In many cases, simple tasks like changing the air filter monthly and cleaning the condenser coils can be done without calling a service professional in.

You may want to seek help if your air conditioner runs but doesn’t cool the air in your home, or if the unit leaks fluid of any kind. Likewise, if your evaporator unit frosts when you turn it on, you’ll want to call in a licensed air conditioning repair professional for assistance. Keep in mind that a small amount of frosting on your air conditioning unit is normal. Icing or heavy frosting is not!

Here’s something that won’t save any money on your electric bill, but it may save you the expense of a service call, or the trouble of cleaning up a big mess! Keeping your condensate drain clear is well worth the (minimal) effort this task takes.

Condensed water drains from the indoor evaporator unit to a floor drain. sump well or to the exterior of the home. If this drain becomes clogged, the condensed water can flood the area around the evaporator and potentially cause water damage and a nasty mess inside the home.

The primary cause of clogging in a condensate drain is organic material (algae) that grows inside the drain. This is a natural process, and clearing the condensate drain is all that’s required to address the problem. You can clear the drain using a wet-dry vacuum and a special attachment that sits between the wet-dry vacuum and the condensate drain. With the attachment in place, turn on the wet-dry vac and let it run for a few minutes. When you’re finished, your drain line should be empty and clog-free, while your wet-dry vacuum should be full of algae water that can be discarded.

To maintain your condensate drain and potentially avoid clogs altogether, you can add an enzymatic drain cleaning product like Bio-Clean to the drain pipe. (Don’t add a harsh chemical drain cleaner that contains lye or similar acids!) The enzymes in Bio-Clean will attack the organic material in the drain and keep it free from growth and organic build-up.

If you would like assistance with air conditioner maintenance or information about high-efficiency air conditioning, including financing options, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can provide both scheduled and emergency service for air conditioning throughout Boston.

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Own property in Boston? Water usage disclosure may be required

Last month, Boston became the eighth US city to require property owners to disclose energy and water usage. The regulations apply only to medium- and large-sized properties. The City Council passed the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance on May 8. Following the passage of the ordinance, the City of Boston reported its 2012 energy usage data on May 15.

Commercial buildings with a gross area of 50,000 square feet must begin disclosing energy and water usage in 2014. Multi-family properties with 50 or more units must begin disclosing usage data to the City of Boston in 2015. Commercial units with 35,000 square feet of space or more will be required to report usage data starting in 2016. Residential buildings with more than 35 units will be required to report usage data starting in 2017.

The reporting requirements are part of Boston’s Climate Action Plan. The goal of this plan is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Boston by 25 percent by the year 2020. According to figures released by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s office, buildings currently account for 70% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Private homeowners are not required to participate, but you can begin reducing your energy and water consumption right now! Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can help in a number of ways. Replacing old, inefficient heating and cooling equipment makes a major difference in energy consumption, and the production of greenhouse gases! Older equipment is not at all energy efficient. Currently, we can help you take advantage of rebate programs through National Grid designed to reduce the cost of replacing working boilers that are 30 years old or more.

Mass Save offers 0% interest financing on many heating and cooling upgrades that will enable homeowners to swap low-efficiency units with high-efficiency replacement models. A side benefit of high efficiency units is that they cost less to operate, so you can start taking advantage of lower heating and cooling bills right away!

You can also claim federal tax credits to replace inefficient working or non-working water heating systems. These credits were initially offered in 2012, but have been extended through 2013.

All of these programs have different rules, and some programs require an audit as part of the process of filing a rebate request. We would be happy to discuss all available programs, and help you take advantage of these excellent money-saving and energy-saving opportunities. We can also inspect and diagnose leaks in your water system, and recommend or install water-saving appliances and fixtures for your home.

Contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 for a consultation with a licensed plumber. Visit Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook!

High Heat In Boston Reminder of Summer Dangers

Last week’s high heat in Boston provides a reminder of the dangers that summer can bring. Cooler temperatures this week means a reduced need for air conditioning, and also provides the opportunity to do scheduled maintenance and repairs on units that may not be working at peak efficiency.

For some people, air conditioning is more than a convenience; at extreme temperatures, it can be a necessity! In many cases, heat-related illnesses occur outdoors and come on suddenly, but they can also occur indoors or when a person moves from a cool, indoor space to a hot, outdoor environment. Children and elderly persons are exceptionally vulnerable, as are people who work outside during the summer. High heat brings along several dangers that people ought to know about, including heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat cramps occur as the result of extreme physical exertion in high temperatures. These painful muscle spasms typically occur in a person’s arms, legs and abdomen. Someone suffering from heat cramps may also sweat profusely and become extremely thirsty. Heat cramps usually precede a more dangerous condition called heat exhaustion. Persons suffering from heat cramps should be moved immediately to a cool location, and given fluids, salty foods and/or sports drinks.

Excessive heat can also cause fainting among people who are not acclimated to the temperature. Fainting may also occur among people who stand out in the sun for long periods of time. For the outside observer, it is difficult to tell the difference between a fainting episode caused by excessive heat and heat stroke. A person who faints as a result of the heat requires immediate medical attention. The person, whether conscious or not, should be moved to a cool location immediately and cooled by any method available, including immersion in cool or cold water, if the victim can be managed safely. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number for medical assistance immediately.

Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke and requires immediate medical treatment. It is a serious medical emergency! Signs of heat stroke include profuse or excessive sweating; skin that is cool and clammy to the touch and pale in appearance; weakness and fatigue; dizziness, nausea and vomiting; a weak rapid pulse and mild neurological symptoms like headaches, confusion, poor decision-making, and anxiety. If untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke, which can cause death.

To provide initial treatment for heat exhaustion, move the victim to a cool place immediately. Remove clothing to expose bare skin. Cool the victim by soaking or spraying them with water, immersing them in water if possible, or applying wet cloths to their skin. Provide water or sports drinks to replace body fluids lost to sweating, and call 9-1-1. A person suffering from heat exhaustion should be evaluated by and treated by medical personnel.

The most serious heat-related condition is called heat stroke. Heat stroke can affect anyone and can result in death. When heat stroke occurs, a person’s body can no longer regulate its internal temperature, and the person stops sweating. The inability to sweat allows the victim’s body’s temperature to rise dangerously high.

Heat stroke is likely if a person’s body temperature rises above 104° and the person displays symptoms of heat exhaustion. In addition, a heat stroke victim may become aggressive, irrational, psychotic, violent or incoherent. The victim’s skin will be hot to the touch and the person may appear flushed. In the later stages of heat stroke, the victim will lose consciousness, and internal organs may begin to fail.

If you suspect heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Move the victim to a cooler location and immerse the person in cold water, or spray the entire body with water, if you are outside and a hose is available. Apply ice to the skin, if ice is available. Hydrate the victim if the victim is conscious or regains consciousness during initial treatment. A person who has suffered heat stroke must be taken to a medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.

High heat can be extremely dangerous. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating offers 24/7 heating and cooling services, and can often repair non-functional air conditioning units in a single trip. Call us at (617) 288-2911 anytime to schedule an appointment or request an emergency repair.

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How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

With the temperatures nearing record heights this summer in Boston, air conditioning is on a lot of minds these days. I thought it would be valuable to take some time to explain how an air conditioner works. Knowing what your air conditioner is doing can help you take better care of it, and spot potential problems when they arise.

An air conditioner (whether it’s portable or stationary) has three major subsystems: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator. All three systems need to be working well in order to provide cool relief from the summer heat. In addition to the major subsystems, an air conditioner has a refrigerant (also called a coolant) chemical that assists with the transfer of heat from the air inside your home to the air outside your home.

For the purpose of this blog, I’ll assume that we’re talking about a central air conditioner unit. Window units work in much the same way, except that window units have all of the subsystems in one package, so they must also handle the cool air distribution.
In a central air setup, the compressor and condenser usually remain outside the home, while the evaporator is located in or near the furnace, assuming that you have a gas/forced-air furnace. If you have a heat pump, your evaporator may be tied into or located near the air handler instead. In either case, the furnace or the air handler will perform the same function – distributing cooled air around the house.

The refrigerant flows around the air conditioning system and transfers heat to itself or to the outside air. Refrigerant is special because it can either be in gaseous form or liquid form, depending upon where it is in the cooling cycle.

The whole cooling process depends upon the unit’s ability to remove moisture from air. Hot air can carry a lot of moisture, but cool air can’t. If you remove the moisture from hot air, you get the side benefit of reducing the air’s temperature. Air conditioners (and refrigerators) remove moisture from the air by using a cold refrigerant to force the moisture in heated air to condense, and then evaporating the condensate.

At the beginning of the cycle, the refrigerant is gaseous. It is cool and under low pressure. The compressor compacts the gaseous molecules of the refrigerant together, placing them under higher pressure, which also raises the refrigerant’s temperature. The system then sends the refrigerant – which is now hot and under a lot of pressure – off to the condenser.

At this point, you have two things you don’t want: heat and gas. You really want the refrigerant to be cool and liquid. The condenser’s job is to get rid of the heat in the refrigerant while converting it to a liquid state. Because you’re working with twho things you don’t want, the condenser does it’s job outside!

The condenser is covered with many thin, metal fins, which help the heat dissipate from the refrigerant. A fan blows the heated air across the condenser coils. The fins increase the surface area of the condenser and give the heat more opportunity to get rid of heat. The refrigerant lets go of its heat and converts to a cool, high-pressure liquid. This cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the evaporator through a very small-diameter hole, which helps it retain its liquid state.

The high-pressure liquid travels through the narrow channel to the evaporator. An expansion valve regulates the refrigerant’s trip to the evaporator. Once the refrigerant arrives, the pressure drops and it converts back to a gas. When a liquid converts to a gas, it absorbs heat. Some compounds are better at doing this than others, and refrigerants happen to be very good at absorbing heat while they convert back to their gaseous states. They also readily enter their gaseous states at relatively low temperatures.

As the hot air from the house hits the evaporator, the refrigerant inside begins to absorb heat and collect moisture out of the air. Like the condenser, the evaporator is also covered with thin metal fins, and uses a fan to help with the transfer of freshly cooled air from the system to the living space.

The refrigerant – once again in its gaseous, low-pressure state – is sent back to the compressor to start the process over again.

If you’re having trouble with your air conditioner, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We work with all major brands of central air conditioners and can help you keep your system operating efficiently!
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