Choosing the Right Programmable Thermostat for the Southern Arizona Heat

There are a whole lot of things to love about living in Southern Arizona, but no matter how much you sell the perfect Phoenix life to your friends who live out of state, one thing that non-locals can’t wrap their heads around is how we can live in such a hot climate. As I’ve explained to many visitors before they come visit: one, it’s a dry heat (our favorite motto), and two, every place you go has air conditioning.

Air conditioning, that phenomenal modern invention, is what allows us to live comfortably in this desert environment, and honestly, what would life be like without it? The answer: we don’t want to know!

One of the smallest improvements that you can make to your normal air conditioning system that can pay off handsomely is replacing your outdated thermostat and installing a programmable one. Not only will a programmable thermostat allow you to have much better control over your home’s temperatures, it will also help reduce your homes’ energy bills.

If you’re already sold on upgrading to a programmable thermostat, you still have a big decision to make when it comes to choosing the right thermostat for your home. The kind of thermostat that you choose will depend on a few factors. When considering which type you might need, think about:

  • Flexibility of options
  • System requirements
  • Individual room vs whole home needs
  • Voltage
  • Remote access
  • Home integration

Though there are a few additional factors that go into selecting a thermostat, there are three basic types of programmable thermostats to choose from. Each has their own advantages, and you should speak with an HVAC specialist before selecting one for your home.

Programmable

Though it may be hitting triple digits by mid-day, most mornings and nights are still fairly chilly. Programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set multiple temperatures for different times of the day, which makes your home perfectly comfortable no matter the hour.

Programmable thermostats are the best way to keep your energy costs down since you can be sure that your A/C will only be on when it needs to and at a temperature that suits you.

Wi-Fi or Remote Programmable

Wouldn’t it be nice if, after a long weekend of camping with your family, you could tell your home’s air conditioner to turn on exactly 30 minutes before you arrive home so that the house is cool when you walk through the door? That’s exactly what a remote programmable thermostat does.

Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats allow users to have control over their home’s temperature from anywhere by monitoring and adjusting it with their phone, tablet, or computer. The modern standard, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats are making their way into thousands of homes a year.

Learning

There are modern thermostats, and there are modern thermostats. Learning thermostats, like Wi-Fi thermostats, make it easy for homeowners to set their temperatures remotely, but more importantly, they are interactive, and “learn” your home’s preferences, when you’re away, and can be integrated into your home’s electronic systems.

Popular models of learning thermostats include the Ecobee 3, Honeywell Lyric, and the most popular model, the Nest thermostat.

Spring is Here! Time to Spring Clean Your Home’s Air Quality

Springtime is here again, and that means that it is time for the great annual Spring Cleaning! We all want our homes to smell of fresh, clean spring air, especially at this time of year, and we can all do without the dust buildup that comes along with Phoenix-area living. Spring cleaning allows us to dig down deep and clean everything thoroughly, to get rid of the things we no longer need, and restore our homes to optimal health and happiness (at least once a year!)

With so many items on your list to tackle for spring cleaning, it can be difficult to figure out where to start the process of getting your home or office back to sparkling clean. While many online magazines, blogs, and tips sites will recommend a myriad of places to begin your spring cleaning home makeover, what they won’t tell you is that before you clean the surfaces of your home, you should turn your attention to the one item in your house that can make your home healthier, cleaner, and of course, cooler: your air conditioner.

Before you fold, store, scrub, dust, and vacuum your home to back to cleanliness, read up on why it is important to tackle the quality of your home’s air first.

Air quality affects us every day, whether we realize it or not. Without regular care and maintenance, your air conditioner can contribute to the poor air quality of your home. In turn, that contaminated air puts your family at unnecessary risk for environmentally-related breathing conditions and illnesses. Instead of making your home immaculate only to pollute it with unclean air, start your spring cleaning projects and to-do lists with a professional tune-up, maintenance inspection, and cleaning from your local air conditioning repair and maintenance service (we know a great one)!

There are ways that you yourself can take great care of your A/C unit, like sprucing it up before it becomes your most-relied upon item in your home this spring and summer. As a part of regular air quality maintenance, homeowners need to keep their air filters clean (by changing them no less than four times a year, but ideally monthly), wiping down air intake vent slats, and prevent dust, animal fur, and debris from getting into the air conditioning system with regular floor sweeping and mopping.

Beyond those small ways to keep your air conditioner from circulating unhealthy air throughout your home, the best thing that you do to keep your A/C in great condition is to schedule a maintenance and tune-up with an HVAC specialist.

Professional technicians will be able to perform a number of maintenance inspections and operations that will keep your air conditioner in premium shape through the long spring and summer months. Not only will your unit be inspected by a professional who is able to troubleshoot and diagnose small problems before they become larger issues that threaten your system and lead to your A/C failing when you need it most, but they safely clean your unit from the inside out.

By inspecting your unit’s wires, cables, plugs, and parts, cleaning evaporator coils, and tuning up the unit from top to bottom, you can rest assured that your home’s air is as clean, healthy, and cool as you want it to be before you transform your home into its spring best.

Be nice to your unit! Easy Do-it-Yourself HVAC Maintenance Tips

We all do it, no matter how often we are reminded not to. For a myriad of reasons, from cost to lack of time, homeowners wait until after something breaks before they call a professional to their home to tackle a repair. While this approach may make sense for some major home appliances like your refrigerator, when it comes to your HVAC system, it is a grave misstep.

HVAC systems control heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in your home (thus the acronym HVAC), and it is a critical part of your home’s year-round comfort. We rely on these systems throughout the entire year, and when a component fails or breaks down, it can throw your whole home into upheaval. Not only does your schedule, comfort, and lifestyle become affected by a malfunctioning unit, but it can cost you financially as well.

Regular HVAC maintenance is not only good for your home and wallet, but it is also the smart way to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC unit, and extending its life in the process.

There are several times each year that you should be maintaining your HVAC unit, and those are: immediately, monthly, seasonally, and annually. By breaking down your HVAC maintenance into several times throughout the year, you can be certain that your HVAC system is running perfectly so you can depend on it to work when you need it most.

Immediately

Immediate maintenance includes things like ensuring that you have a clean and properly sized and pleated air filter inside of your A/C unit and keeping your outdoor unit free of debris and leave build-up that can become lodged inside of the unit or interfere with the fan.

Monthly

Every month, perform a visual inspection of your refrigerant lines and look for signs of leaks or damage. If you see something out of the ordinary, contact an HVAC maintenance specialist to make any necessary repairs.

Seasonally

Air filters do an incredible job of keeping your HVAC unit clean and keeping unwanted particles, dust, pollens, and other unwanted debris from entering your air conditioning system, but they need to be changed at least every 90 days. For optimum air quality, it is recommended that air filters are changed monthly.

Annually

It is a good idea to inspect the area around your HVAC unit and ensure that the ground is level and that there are no indications of the ground sinking or sloping in any way. To prevent algae and debris build-up in the condensate drain line, pour a mix of 1 cup bleach to 3 cups of water down the tube.

Renewing your HVAC maintenance program is an essential part of ensuring your system is running perfectly all year long, so be sure to mark your calendars so you can stay on top of your maintenance program renewal. A regular maintenance inspection protects your HVAC unit by preventing small issues from becoming big (and expensive) headaches down the line.

When an air conditioning and heating specialist performs a routine maintenance check, they will tune up your unit, inspect and clean various, integral parts of the HVAC system to catch small problems, from leaks to wear to build-up, which, if not caught early, can lead to costly repairs and even system failure down the line.

Choosing the right size Air Conditioning System

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCThe time has come for you to upgrade, replace or just generally install a new air conditioning system. Great! Get ready for lower electricity bills in your future with a more efficient unit! A question that we regularly get pertaining installing a new system is “what size system should I get?” This is a very important question. If your new system is too small for your home, the system will continually run to keep up; resulting in high electric bills and may not be even able to cool your home at all. On the flipside, if you get a unit that is too large it will cool your home too quickly. AC systems are designed to run for periods of time, not in short bursts. Your AC system can short cycle and cause damage if it is too big for the home.

A few different factors can go into making this important decision. What is the square footage of your house? When was your house built? Do you own a single story or two-story home? How well is your home insulated? These are all important questions to have answered. At Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, we can come out to your home and provide a free estimate for the right system for you. If you are thinking about replacing your air conditioning system, give us a call today!

Ductwork – The Forgotten Air Conditioning System Component

Written by:
Mitch Apalategui

on
June 2, 2014

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLC
Ductwork – The Forgotten Air Conditioning System Component

Of all of the appliances in your home it’s a safe bet that when it’s working properly, your air conditioning system does not get too much attention. Besides the outdoor portion of your system, a big reason for this is because the air conditioning system is mostly hidden in your attic, walls, etc. A major component and often-overlooked portion of your air conditioning system is the ductwork that shuttles air around your home keeping you comfortable.

It is important to make sure your ductwork is in good condition. If your ductwork has started to deteriorate or crack and develop leaks, it can lead to efficiency issues. Some rooms of your home may get proper air flow while others do not, and your air conditioning system will work overtime to try to get areas cool when all it is doing is cooling down your attic and wasting your hard earned money. Leaky ductwork can also pull particles from the attic, creating excess dust in your home.

Getting up in your attic and inspecting the ductwork on your own, especially during the summer months, is not for everyone. As part of our Sharp Air Maintenance Program, we will inspect your ductwork during our two scheduled maintenance visits to ensure that your system is operating at its peak efficiency. So stay out of the attic, and let the professionals at Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating take care of your air conditioning needs today!

4 Tips to Get Your AC Ready to Tackle the Summer Heat

When it’s still chilly outside, it’s hard to think about the summertime heat as being just around the corner. But, as Arizonans know all too well, summer will be here before we know it.

On the first hot day of the year, you expect to turn your thermostat down and have your AC unit fill your home with cooling air. Before that can happen, however, your unit needs to be in prime working condition to reliably deliver the clean, cold air whenever you need it. Don’t wait until the summer hits to get your system in working order.

With just a little bit of time and attention, you can ensure that your air conditioning unit is ready to operate at peak performance throughout the summer months and that it won’t quit on you when it matters most.

These four important tips can help make you a home AC maintenance pro, saving you time, money, and headaches this summer.

  1. Keep it Clean
    The dirtier your filter is, the harder your AC will have to work to generate cool temperatures for your home. More importantly, your air conditioner’s filter is what catches all the dust and debris, preventing it from going into your system and your lungs. Without regular maintenance, that dust and debris build until the filter is incapable of holding anymore, leading to the unclean air blowing through your ducts and into your home.Changing or cleaning your air conditioner’s filter on a monthly basis is the simplest and most efficient way to care for your system. Whether you have a model that uses disposable filters, or a reusable one which can be cleaned with water and elbow grease, it is vital that you clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter regularly to maintain a healthy home and a working unit.
  2. Check Your Ducts
    Though we seldom need to think about our ducts, they need some seasonal TLC too to keep your summertime cooling system is working properly. While it is important to have the interior ductwork cleaned and inspected by a professional, there are some parts of your ducts that you can maintain all on your own.Duct registers should be removed, inspected, and cleaned every season, but it is particularly vital to do this type of maintenance before summer hits. When you dust your registers, be on the lookout for signs of water damage. Ductwork can be a breeding ground for mold and fungi, so if you see any signs of condensation accumulation in or around your AC registers, call a professional to inspect your unit and correct the problem in the months before you need your air conditioner.
  3. Clear the Outdoor Unit
    Just before the winter weather hits, Arizonans can count on monsoon season to kick outdoor weed growth into high gear. Though we do a great job of maintaining our yards and other outdoor areas, one item that often goes overlooked for weed maintenance is your outdoor air conditioning unit.Weeds and other debris can build up around your outdoor condenser and clog your unit, causing damage in the process. Unfortunately, it can be too easy to forget about your outdoor unit when winter is in full swing, but now is this time of year is the best time tackle the job.

    With your thermostat switched off, head outside and clear away any plants and debris. After clearing away debris, use a clean cloth to gently clean the coil and the fins, careful not to bend or damage them. Keeping your outdoor unit clean will help your air conditioner’s overall efficiency and can prevent summertime damage.

  4. Get a Professional Tune-Up
    A professional tune-up and inspection of your system will provide you with peace of mind knowing that your unit is in tip-top shape and will perform flawlessly in the summertime. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces in your AC unit, and a professional technician has the tools and know-how to maintain your system and fix any malfunctions on the spot.Having a professional technician perform a tune-up also means that their years of experience can spot problems before they arise, as so often happens during the summer months when your unit is working its hardest to cool off your home.

    Catching a problem early on can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it is smart to invest in maintaining your unit and instead of paying thousands of dollars to replace it.

Five Signs Your Home’s Air Needs Cleaning

For those of us in Arizona, central air is an extremely common (and very necessary) home addition that keeps us cool and comfortable all year long, no matter how hot it gets outside. Central air runs through your home through a series of ducts that are tucked away inside walls and through ceilings, and they circulate air throughout every square inch of your house.

Obviously, you want the air that your family breathes to be the highest quality available, but that’s not always the kind of air that is blowing through your home. Breathing clean, fresh air may be something that you don’t consider all too often, but when the air quality of your home turns from pristine to downright dirty, it can be a lot more dangerous than you think.

While reduced air quality may not be at the forefront of your mind, if you have children in your home or a member of your family suffers from allergies or asthma, the quality of your home’s air can play a vital role in the development of preventable illnesses and breathing issues.

If you think your home’s air quality can stand to be improved, it may be time to consider that your ducts or your air conditioning unit might be the problem.

Be on the lookout for these five common signs and symptoms if you suspect that ducts or your AC may be causing your home’s poor air quality, and breathe easy knowing that you can do something to change the condition of the air your home’s HVAC unit provides.

  1. Dust and Debris BuildupYes, living in the Arizona desert means dealing with some blowing dust and debris inside your home, but if you have noticed an unprecedented buildup of dust in your home, your AC unit may be trapping and circulating too much dust.When you turn on your air conditioning unit, do you notice a puff of dust from your vents? If so, it may be time for a cleaning.
  2. Uneven Airflow from Room to RoomIf you have noticed that some rooms in your home are no longer receiving the same level of air output that they originally had, you may have a blockage. If every vent is fully open, but the vents continue to blow a reduced amount of air, there could be a clogged duct in need of a professional cleaning.
  3. Buildup on Your InletsYour air intake inlets pull in fresh air, push it through your air filter, and that air circulates through your home. Inspect your inlets for a dust and pet hair, and if you see an uncommon amount of buildup on your intakes or a blockage inside the air conditioning unit, a full cleaning of the unit and/or ducts can restore your vents to tip-top shape.
  4. Everyone is Suddenly SufferingIf you have noticed that members of your family have suddenly developed increased asthma symptoms, runny noses, congestion, and out of season allergies, there is a chance that your air quality is to blame. Molds, fungi, and dust are all responsible for decreased air quality, and breathing those dangerous microbes can lead to much more severe illnesses like sinus problems and respiratory infections.An air conditioning unit inspection can help you discover the source of your family’s health issues, so do not hesitate to have your heating and cooling system checked for signs of mold.
  5. Noises Appear
    When your air conditioner kicks on and air begins to blow, do you hear any whistling, screeching, or banging noises along with the normal operating hum of your motor? If so, you may have a blockage in your duct or a larger issue in your air conditioning unit.When insulation falls inside your ducts, it can act as both a barrier for airflow and a sponge upon which dust, dirt, and debris attaches. While some duct blockages can be seen from inlets and vents, others may be hiding in your walls or ceilings.If your air conditioning unit is making noises, a professional technician can diagnose the problem and repair it to make sure that a small clanging sound doesn’t result in complete system shut down.If you are still unsure if it is your duct or your air conditioning unit, give us a call today. Our team of expert technicians will be there to help pinpoint the problem with your system and get you breathing fresh, clean air again quickly.

Benefits of hiring an AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY

Written by:
Mitch Apalategui
on
May 21, 2014

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCThere are many companies that are “Jack of all Trades” business models. They may take care of your air conditioning, plumbing, and many other issues. Admittedly, this can be convenient for the customer. It makes life easy when you can hire one company to take care of all of your needs. What you will often find though, is that the old saying very often rings true.

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

With the amount of technology and skill now required for everything, including your air conditioning system, we believe that having a trained technician to handle you air conditioning needs can make sure your repair or installation is done right, the first time. This saves you time and can save you money, knowing that the job was done correctly the first time instead of having multiple calls for the same issue.

A misconception of the word “specialization” is that it also means more expensive. At Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, this could not be further from the truth. You will find that our prices are among the most competitive in the Valley, while not compromising on quality. Give us a call and let us show you the benefit of specialization at an affordable price!

Check those Air Filters!

Sharp Air Conditioning & Heating, LLCSharp Air Conditioning & Heating recommends that you check your filter about once a month. It’s a very simple procedure and replacement filters are very reasonable. If you have any more questions please contact us and we’d be happy to send out one of our certified technicians to walk you through the process, as well as let you know about our Sharp Maintenance Program that provides you with a years supply of air filters as part of the program!

Clogged filters can result in the following:

  • Blower Motor Failure – If you have a clogged air filter, then your motor continues to work ever harder until it overheats or possibly fails. Your blower motor pushes your heated or cooled air through the ducts in your home. If the filter is clogged this becomes more challenging for your motor.
  • Compressor Failure – Clogged and dirty air filters greatly reduce airflow through your AC system. This reduction of airflow can cause ice to build up on your indoor coil and lead to compressor failure. Make sure you are changing your air filters to avoid one of the most costly repairs in the HVAC industry; compressor replacement.
  • Short-cycling – One very common problem related to a clogged air filter is called short-cycling. This basically means that your furnace/AC unit will turn off and on very frequently. When it can’t complete an entire heating or cooling cycle it causes your unit to work very inefficiently. Inefficient operation of course results in added costs and a shorter life span of your unit.

It’s a perfect time to check your air filters. Of course we think it’s important to check your filters regularly, but alas not everyone in the Phoenix area remembers to do so. Your filter stands between the dust and debris of the valley and the fragile components of your heating and air conditioning units. If your unit starts to get clogged up with dust you run the risk of poor heating, reduced efficiency and even premature failure. It’s not a particularly difficult task, but very important; take the time to change your filters.

10 Plants That Improve Indoor Air Quality: Part One

It’s an unfortunate truth that we seldom think about the air circulating through our homes every day and how important it is to your family to have that air be as healthy as possible. Once you experience the benefits of professionally clean indoor air quality, however, you will wonder how you ever lived without the sweet, sweet smell and health benefits of pristine air in your home.

As indoor air quality professionals, we know how first-hand important it is to create a home atmosphere that promotes healthy breathing. Some studies show that many homes have air which can be upwards of five times more polluted than the air outside.

There are many great products that can be used to create ideal indoor air, including premium air filters to air purifiers that work in tandem with your HVAC unit. While we at Sharp Air Conditioning and Heating are always here to help you choose the right indoor air quality solutions for your home and family, there is one thing we recommend to make a big difference to your home’s air quality – houseplants.

Through a process called phytoremediation, indoor and outdoor plants and trees absorb compounds from the air that can be dangerous for humans. By absorbing pollutants and gases into their leaves and roots, plants help us all breathe better. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from breathing conditions like asthma and allergy sufferers.

If you are considering adding plants to your home to create a healthier home environment, these 10 houseplants are a great choice.

1. Spider Plant

It may sound creepy, but the spider plant is an excellent choice for your home. Spider plants are easy to care for and they grow very well with little effort. Not only do they add a spider leg-style burst of green to your space, but they also remove xylene and formaldehyde particulates from the air.

2. English Ivy

Said to be the most air purifying of the houseplants, English Ivy is a gorgeous plant that compliments any home space, modern or classical, with ease. English Ivy is noted for its ability to remove multiple compounds and pollutants from the air as well as pesticides and fecal matter, which is very useful if you have a pet in the house. Just be sure to keep these growing out of your animal’s reach – they are poisonous if consumed.

3. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palm is a tall indoor grass that not only looks great but packs a punch when it comes to air purification. Bamboo is pet-friendly, and it is their size that makes them such rock stars at filtering out formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and benzene. Bamboo palms can grow as tall as 12 feet indoors. They are also a natural humidifier if kept well-watered!

4. Peace Lily

Did you know that your home products, including your furniture and electronics, can generate indoor pollutants? Lucky for you, the beautiful peace lily is ready, willing, and able to help rid your home of those harmful contaminants. The peace lily is one of NASA’s most prized plants that they bring on space missions because it is a great air cleaner and delivers lots of fresh oxygen to your home (or space shuttle).

Check back in for Part Two of our blog to discover more great plants to help keep your home’s air quality perfect all year long!