Air Conditioning Options With A Rochester Plumber

Heating and Cooling:

Principles of Heat Transfer

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Heat transfer is completed in three different ways: conduction, radiation, and convection. These are principles you probably learned about in high school physics: Remember, heat is a form energy! Your local Rochester plumber can play a critical role in making your home more energy efficient.

Conduction transfers heat energy through a solid material, like a warm pan on a stove. On hot summer days, heat conducts into your home through all outdoor surfaces like your roof, walls, and windows. This is why it may be critical to complete an energy audit. Heat-reflecting roofs, insulation, and energy efficient windows will help to reduce unwanted heat transfer.

Radiation is heat traveling as waves, like visible and non-visible light. Sunlight provides ultraviolet radiation, one of the higher energy forms of radiation, raising temperatures quickly. Longer wavelength (lower energy), non-visible infrared radiation can carry heat directly from warm objects to cooler objects. Infrared radiation transfers heat from a hot pan throughout the room. Older, less efficient windows allow infrared radiation to enter your home from warm objects outdoors. Even shades on windows can help block this heat transfer. Newer windows have special coatings that block infrared radiation.

Convection is a way in which heat moves through a physical space, typically via air flow. Think of it as con”vection” moving heat by a “vector” of air movement. Hot air naturally rises, carrying heat away from objects in your home, leading to circulation. As the hot air moves past your skin, your body loses less heat to the surroundings, giving you the sensation of warmth.

Your local Rochester plumber can advise you on tips and tricks for saving energy to increase your home’s heating and cooling efficiency.

 

Cooling Your Body

Your body cools down via three methods: convection, radiation, and perspiration. Proper ventilation enhances each. You can also cool your body via conduction – using a special mattress or car seat designed as such. But this is generally impractical as a cooling system for your home.

Convection is heat transfer that occurs when circulating air moves heat away from your body. If the surrounding air is cooler than your skin, you skin “gives” away its heat as physics tries to achieve an equilibrium. The warmed air will then rise, cooler air circulates in to replace it and absorb more of your body’s warmth. The more often or faster this convecting air moves, the cooler you feel. This is why windy days come with a “wind chill.” The moving air “steals” more of your heat than static air. This is also why you open your windows on moderate days, allowing circulation to take away the heat that was conducted into your home.

Radiation occurs when heat radiates across the space between you and the objects in your home. If objects are warmer than you are, heat will travel toward you. Removing heat through ventilation reduces the temperature of the ceiling, walls, and furnishings. The cooler your surroundings, the more you will radiate heat to the objects, rather than the other way around.

Perspiration can be uncomfortable because people do not like feeling wet. However, during hot weather and intense physical exercise, perspiration is the body’s brilliant cooling mechanism. Your body produces a water solution to adhere to your skin. Due to the properties of water, when it becomes warm, it can either boil or evaporate. Your body doesn’t boil the perspiration, but it does transfer heat from your skin to the water. Then physics takes over again and tries to reach an equilibrium, forcing the water to evaporate, and taking your heat with it. If a breeze (ventilation – convection) passes over your skin, that water evaporates even more quickly, cooling you down faster! This is once again the brilliance of physics, and involves the water solution reaching equilibrium with its surroundings, specifically vapor pressure.

Air Conditioning: How A Rochester Plumber Can Help

You know AC season is in the summer! Air conditioning is a method of removing heat and moisture from a physical space, ultimately resulting in the comfort of the occupants. Whether it be for a business or a home, you’ll want air conditioning during the Rochester MN summer. Of course, you know and use air conditioning to improve the comfort of your living spaces. But air conditioning is also frequently used to cool and dehumidify rooms filled with heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer serverspower amplifiers, and to display and store some delicate products, such as artwork. It is critical to keep the temperature and humidity at appropriate levels for electronics to work properly and to store valuable items.

Air conditioners have multiple working components. A fan is used to move cooler air throughout a space, like a living room or car. There are air conditioners that can be carried by an adult, able to cool a small bedroom. Then there are massive, industrial units installed on the roof that can cool an entire office building. Cooling may occur most likely through refrigeration cycle, but could also be carried out via evaporation or free cooling. Desiccants can also be a key component to air conditioning systems, aiding in the dehumidifying process. Some AC systems have pipes under the ground to store or reject heat. If you need air conditioning installation or repair, our local Rochester plumbers and AC specialists can advise you on the best choice.

You have probably heard of HVAC, which is comprised of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. According to the US Energy Information Administration, over 87% of American households have AC installed in their homes. In 2018 the United Nations called for the technology to be made more sustainable to mitigate climate change. Thus, a move to more sustainable solutions should be top of mind when considering an air conditioning system.

If you have questions or an emergency with your HVAC system, be sure to touch base with us to get prompt and quality service by a Rochester plumber.

Alternatives to Air Conditioners: Ask your Rochester Plumber

Did you know that a whole house fan can keep your home cool in most weather, without an air conditioner? Combined with ceiling and circulating fans, even summer days can be tolerable. To maximize the cooling effect, the ducts of your central heating and cooling system could be modified to provide whole house cooling.

How Do Whole House Fans Work?

The whole house fan circulates air by drawing air in from open windows then expelling it through the attic and roof. An added benefit is increased attic ventilation, in addition to whole house cooling. Houses should experience an air change rate of 3-6 per hour. The air-change rate varies with climate, floor plan, and preferred temperature levels. Check with your local Rochester contractor to determine if whole house cooling is appropriate for your home.

Installing and Using a Whole House Fan

Installing a whole house fan is a challenging task. It is probably best left to the professional. The experienced contractor will take measurements of your attic and install your dedicated circuit wiring and, if needed, your new attic vents.

The air needs to be exhausted through attic ventilation, which likely needs to be increased. The normal area of attic vents needs to be increased two- to four-fold, about one square foot of net free area for every 750 cubic feet per minute of fan capacity. This takes into account the resistance offered by its louvers and insect screens. More vent area equals better fan performance.

You will want to make sure the whole house fan has a tight-sealing winter cover. While you’re at it, make sure all doors and windows are sealed well for optimal efficiency.

When operating a whole house fan, you’ll want to have windows open throughout the house. This prevents concentrated, powerful suction at one location. If your home is lacking ventilation, the fans can bring in harmful chemicals, like carbon monoxide, into your living space via a backdraft from other appliances.

Drawbacks of Whole House Fans

Making sure your whole house fan is properly installed is the best way to reduce drawbacks of whole house fans. If not, they can be noisy. Whole house fans installed by a local Rochester contractor should include rubber or felt gaskets to dampen the noise. If noise is a problem, a multi-speed fan can be set to run on lower speed. The large fan at low speed will invariably produce less noise than a small fan at high speed operations.

Using Your Duct System as a Whole House Fan

If you have a central heating and air conditioning system, you may be able to use the ducts as whole house ventilation. An intake duct is required, which pulls air into an attic-mounted system that directs the air into the central duct system. A damper controls the exhaust air from the home into the attic. Ask your local contractor if installing the intake duct is worth it for your home.

Circulating fans:

You are probably most familiar with circulating fans, as we see them in many living spaces. Ceiling fans, floor and table fans, and mounted fans are all circulating fans. These fans create a wind chill effect that will make you more comfortable in your home, even if it’s also cooled by natural ventilation or air conditioning.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans work by creating a draft, and are largely considered the most effective type of circulating fan. Quick tip! If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will save energy, allowing you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F whilst keeping the same comfort. Oftentimes a ceiling fan can eliminate air conditioning use altogether, especially in temperate weather. We advise that you install a ceiling fan in each occupied room. Another quick tip! Turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room; fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect. The temperature of the room does not actually drop, just the perception. Review how our bodies lose heat (aka cool off) here.

Ceiling fans are effective in rooms at least eight feet high, and work best when they are in the center of the room. The blades should be at least 10 inches below the ceiling to provide proper draft creation.

As you’d expect, larger ceiling fans move more air than smaller fans. Fans 36- or 44-inches in diameter are adequate for cooling up to 225 square foot rooms. Large fans should be used in larger rooms. For rooms longer than 18 feet, multiple fans will produce the best cooling results. Larger blades provide comparably better cooling than smaller blades at the same velocity. This is an important consideration if there are loose papers about, or if the esthetics of the room are a concern.

To choose your ceiling fan, it is often better to opt for the more expensive option, unfortunately. Typically, more expensive fans are built better, offering quieter operation and trouble-free service. To make your pick, check the noise ratings and listen to a demo, if possible. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label, as this indicates 20% more efficient air movement, on average, compared to standard models.

Window Fans

Window fans can provide surprising cooling results using little energy. Position your fan in windows on the downward wind side of the house, with the fan pointed outward to expel the hot air from your home. For best cooling, close and seal the windows close to the fan and open windows in rooms far from the fan, on the windward side of the home. This creates a vacuum effect, pushing a draft through your whole home. The intake air is best received from a shaded outdoor area, if possible.

In multi-level houses, the fan should be located on the upper level and the open windows should be located on a lower level. This allows cold air to enter the home and push out the hot air that rises to the top level. If impractical, you may choose to ventilate each level of your house, independently with separate fans. It could also be beneficial to place window fans in each bedroom to push out hot air and properly ventilate each resident’s sleeping space.

Consult your Rochester plumber for ventilation options:

Ventilation relies on wind and the chimney effect, which is the property of air that makes warm air rise. Open windows for natural ventilation. This works well in climates with cool nights and regular breezes. The wind naturally ventilates your home by entering and leaving through windows. When wind blows against your home, air is forced into your windows on the side facing into the wind, and the vacuum effect tends to draw air out of windows on the leeward side. Seaside buildings are designed to take advantage of cooling ocean breezes with their esthetically pleasing sea-facing windows. For drier climates, natural ventilation involves avoiding heat buildup during the day and ventilating at night.

The chimney effect uses convection to pull air into the lower level, pushing warm air up and out the upper level windows. The effect works best in open-air designs with cathedral ceilings and operable windows located near the top of the house, like skylights.

Landscaping can enhance or detract from natural ventilation. Designing the house with a windbreak (fences, hedges, rows of trees) can amplify or block typical wind direction. A windbreak can force air either into or away from nearby windows.

So next time you need help with heating or cooling, find a Plumber in Rochester MN for a breakdown of what’s best for you.