Maximizing Indoor Comfort with Your HVAC System This Winter

The winter heating season is now upon us.  In the northeast, wintertime temperatures can get pretty low and result in relatively high heating costs.  When the outdoor temperature is below freezing, you need to keep your house or business warm to stay comfortable but also to protect your building from frozen pipes which can cause devastating damage. Here’s how you can maximize indoor comfort with your HVAC system this winter.

Set yourself up for success this winter

winter

First thing’s first, make sure your system is ready for the winter.  Whatever type of system you have — whether it is a hot water baseboard system, an air source heat pump or packaged rooftop units — you need to make sure the system is maintained so that it can perform when those temperatures drop.  Some simple things end users can do themselves include checking filters at indoor units, and checking to make sure any outdoor condensing unit heat pumps are clear of debris.

For forced-air systems, dirty/clogged filters are a very common and very avoidable problem that can cause some serious issues. For example, an air source heat pump trying to produce heating with clogged filters will not only struggle to deliver the heated air into the space but the refrigeration system itself will be unable to condense the hot gas refrigerant to liquid which is needed for the outdoor unit to produce hot gas again. Over time, this can cause damage to the system all while underperforming and running up energy bills. With the recent push for high level MERV filters, many people may not realize that these filters will clog more rapidly than standard MERV-8 or lower style filters and need to be changed more frequently.  

Other maintenance items in the system should still be checked but should be done by a professional.  This includes checking that gas trains are clean on gas fired equipment, that burners and oil filters are clear on oil fired units and on water-based systems that trim devices like expansion tanks, make up water valves and bleed valves are all in good working order. 

It’s recommended that a professional look at these items because if there is a failure on one of these, the risks of a broken valve failing to close or water levels dropping dangerously low are too great to not have a professional handle.  A properly maintained system will pay dividends on energy usage, performance as well as extending the life of the equipment itself.

Programmable thermostats are a must when preparing for the winter

Years ago, the typical thermostat found in a home was a “Yo-Yo” type thermostat that operated with a manual dial that used a bi-metal strip to engage or disengage a system based on setpoint. While this type of method is great for its simplicity, it lacks any ability to program the system to run at certain setpoints at certain times. 

Without the ability to program the system, this means the building is either running hotter or colder than it should when you are not there.  Different people feel comfortable at different temperatures. There is no one set temperature that satisfies everybody. Generally speaking, a heating setpoint temperature should be anywhere between 66-70F to balance both comfort and energy consumption. 

Another important consideration is the setpoint temperature when the home, business, facility is not in use.  Many people tend to use a setback temperature very low (Like 50F-55F) for these times. While this may be perfectly fine for some systems and buildings, it may not be desirable for all. One must consider several factors when determining the right setback temperature. Factors including the system type and how fast the heat will be delivered to the space, the condition of the building and how leaky it is for outside air infiltration and what type of outside temperatures you may be facing. 

Let’s take a radiant heating system for example. This type of system does an amazing job at providing steady, efficient comfortable heat. This type of system also takes a long time to heat up the flooring it is serving. The same heavy mass (floor tile, concrete, etc) that has a benefit of slowly dissipating heat also has the same effect when applying heat. 

If the setback temperature on a radiant system is dropped to say 55F for an entire day while the outdoor temperature drops below freezing in a loosely constructed building (high infiltration), the space temperature will gradually drop throughout the day and when its time to bring the radiant heating back on, it may take several hours longer than desired to bring the space temperature up to a comfortable level.  For systems with a slow recovery time a setback temperature above 60F may be more appropriate.  Additionally, if extremely cold temperatures and high winds are expected, it may be advisable to keep setback temperatures relatively high, especially on leaky structures to avoid the possibility of water pipes freezing.  

Dry air in the winter

Most people are very aware that the winter time dries out the air.  This is evident as our skin begins to feel itchy due to the dry air.  The air becomes dry in the winter as there is less moisture in the air and most of us are not fortunate enough to have a humidification system in our homes or offices. 

If we did, however, another important maintenance item would be the canisters of electro-steam humidifiers. These can become fouled up over time with exposure to minerals in the water and need to be either cleaned or replaced. Depending on their location, these should also be inspected to make sure they are working properly and that the ductwork they are serving is not collecting any water which carries the risk of mold growth. Humidistat setpoints for humidifier systems generally range in the 40-45% RH setpoints for the winter but this may need to be higher or lower depending on what is inside the home or business.

Maximize your indoor comfort this winter with Klima

At Klima, we are your partners in climate control. As the leading provider of HVAC equipment — from Variable Refrigerant Flow, Custom Air Handling Units, Package Rooftop Units and Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems — we work with our clients to ensure maximum indoor comfort, especially as winter approaches.

To learn more about our services, please visit our website and contact us today for more!

HVAC Training: What to Consider as a Young Upstart

Right now in 2023, there is a huge demand for professionals in the HVAC industry — and therefore a need for HVAC training. There are a lot of factors creating an increased demand for various types of HVAC needs. Across the landscape there is a lot of pent up demand for construction, some of which may stem from people’s resistance to buying new buildings with interest rates at historically high levels. 

There are major trends like electrification, increased ventilation requirements, higher efficiency standards and alternative energy all pushing for new HVAC systems and strategies. With HVAC systems typically making up around 40% of a building’s energy consumption, improvements to the HVAC systems can be low hanging fruit in a path to increased efficiency. Presently, there is a generation of HVAC professionals reaching the twilight of their career and a deficit of newcomers to meet this increased demand. So the time is right for someone to enter the HVAC field.

The 3 main types of companies in the industry

hvac training

There are 3 main paths for working in the HVAC industry. These are:

  1. Engineering consulting
  2. Mechanical sub-contracting
  3. Equipment manufacturing/sales. 

People from various backgrounds come into the HVAC industry and generally the best preparation for any of these career paths in HVAC is to have a bachelors of science in a technical field. Engineering is preferred but not an absolute requirement. 

One educational path to highlight here are HVAC technical schools, which provide HVAC training on basics of refrigeration and electrical systems. These are usually taken by people entering the mechanical contractor field, but the honest truth is that these courses should be taken by HVAC professionals of ALL pathways to get a basic foundation on how systems generally work. 

Luckily, today we have the benefit of YouTube and other resources at our fingertips. If someone is motivated enough, they can simply find the bulk of this material online. Of course, this is not as effective as being taught in a real-life classroom, but it’s better than not knowing the material at all.

Internships for students who need HVAC training

For those young people who are yet to enter the workforce and still in school, internships in nearly any business of the three industry types would be recommended. An internship is a low-pressure way to get exposure to the industry, learn some of the jargon and test out the work environment of a company with the possibility of full time employment after graduation.

Self-starters get ahead

As a young professional starting out in the HVAC field, the best thing you can do is to learn everything you can pertaining to your area of interest. For example, if you want to be a consulting engineer in HVAC, you will want to learn all of the basic principles of fans; fan curves, fan selection, troubleshooting air distribution issues, etc.

Resources for these can be found all over, which is great but can also be problematic. YouTube and other places on the internet have material, but one must be careful to learn from a reliable source. The best webinars, YouTube videos and articles come from agencies like ASHRAE, AMCA and other not-for-profit organizations. Next behind that are manufacturers who offer webinars, lunch-and-learns, and other resources. 

Start with the absolute basics to gain a solid foundation so the more complicated topics are not overwhelming. Employers will provide some pertinent HVAC training, but this will typically be limited to things related to the tasks they assign. The young professional who goes through the effort to find the resources to learn on their own will quickly get ahead in their career. Joining industry groups like ASHRAE is an easy way to not only access educational resources but also to meet other people in the industry.

Find a Mentor

Whether someone works at a mechanical contractor or a manufacturer’s rep firm, there is usually a seasoned person with a lot of experience willing to teach the younger generation — a necessity when it comes to HVAC training. More effective/useful knowledge is passed down this way than any textbook or webinar will ever provide. 

A mentor should be someone who is willing to provide informal guidance on various topics and be a trusted advisor. This is someone who can fill in the gaps to answer questions that come up from learning the basics and beyond. Some of their wisdom will be from painful mistakes they have made in their career and they are willing to share those insights and advice.

Further HVAC training education

One lesson to be learned in the HVAC industry is that the most successful people in this industry tend to be those who can combine the technical aspects of systems with business in some way. For example, if someone can understand the technical challenges of a chilled water plant, but also negotiate very well with clients they might have a bright future in the manufacturers rep world. 

Depending on what the future aspirations might be, one may find themselves taking graduate studies. One recommended graduate program would be finance. Having a master’s degree in finance provides the HVAC professional with insights into how businesses are run. This is especially critical for someone who hopes to one day go out on their own and have their own business. Understanding financial fundamentals like how to read a balance sheet and how businesses successfully manage money can make the difference between a business that survives and one that dies after a few years.

It’s not all about what you know when it comes to HVAC training

Having technical know-how is very important in the HVAC industry, but how useful is this knowledge if nobody knows you have it? Having the right networking connections in any business is vital. These connections are what may bring a new job opportunity, a new partnership opportunity or the next client for your new business. Understanding how to connect with people is a critical skill that any serious professional needs to master if they want to see substantial success.

Every contractor needs to sell their services to a client, every consulting engineer needs to work well with an architect on a project, and every equipment vendor needs to be able to work with everyone to make sure the equipment they sell successfully goes into a project. Some people have a natural ability to work well with others and some people have trouble with this. For many engineers, this may be particularly challenging. 

Those who struggle with interpersonal skills should look at enrolling in some courses like the Dale Carnegie training course. Courses like this teach people presentation skills, people skills and help with improving your ability to sell and deal with customer service. These soft skills are absolutely crucial to someone in the professional environment of any industry.

To learn more, please visit Klima’s website and contact us to jumpstart your career today!

Ductless Mini Splits: What Do I Need to Know?

Ductless mini splits are an efficient way to heat and cool many homes and even certain commercial and multi-unit housing applications. They can be an effective replacement to conventional HVAC systems. Since its first introduction decades ago in Asia, mini splits have made innovative and technological changes to become an ideal solution in today’s market and growing in popularity for good reason. 

Ductless mini splits are composed of two primary components – an outdoor condensing unit, which contains a compressor and one or more indoor air handlers (the evaporators).  A conduit that houses the power cable, refrigerant liquid and suction tubing link the outdoor and indoor unit(s). All indoor units are powered by the outdoor unit single phase power. These systems require 208V/1 phase electrical power although there are some smaller 115V systems available with certain brands.

ductless mini-splits

Analyzing the Benefits of Ductless Mini Splits

Cost Savings

Overall cost savings could arguably be the top reason people research and choose ductless mini splits. Ductless mini splits have some of the highest energy efficiencies in the industry. They use less energy, lowering monthly utility costs for a quicker payback. The upfront cost of installation is also typically lower than traditional systems. Precise customizable temperature settings in each individual zone create not only personalized comfort in all rooms, but also savings whether occupied or unoccupied. There are also a wide range of Energy Star rated mini splits that qualify for rebates and incentives.  

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency and high performance are added benefits of ductless mini splits. Inverter variable speed compressor technology uses less energy and is measurably quieter than conventional systems. Unlike conventional systems that cycle on and off, an inverter compressor ramps up or down to match the capacity needed to maintain comfort levels within the conditioned zone(s). 

Additionally, this greatly enhances the ability to efficiently dehumidify and increase air quality by running the fan longer. Ductless mini splits eliminate efficiency losses in ductwork due to leaks and conduction as well as the need to consume more energy to make up for the efficiency losses. There are models offered by some manufacturers that perform in extreme weather conditions as a reliable primary heat source. The shift to using electricity rather than burning fossil fuels like gas and oil reduces the carbon footprint, making these systems more environmentally friendly.

Ductless Mini Splits Are Easy to Install

Ductless mini splits offer design flexibility and easy installation. It can be both ducted and ductless in single and multi-zone configurations to meet the design needs. Ductless mini splits can be used in new construction or upgrade/retrofit an old furnace or heat pump system using the existing duct. It can be added to a home or business that currently does not have air conditioning or heating as the installation is much less invasive. A ductless mini split installation requires only a 3-inch hole drilled in the wall. Hence, they require little to no ductwork and often take less time to install than conventional HVAC systems. Ductless mini splits can supplement an existing system to provide additional comfort and control on room additions or remodeling projects. Smaller indoor and outdoor units ensure space-saving convenience. Moreover, models with long refrigerant piping capability can increase the distance between the indoor and outdoor units, allowing for extra design and installation flexibility.

Are There Any Downsides to Ductless Mini Splits?

While mini splits produce a significant number of benefits and value, there are limitations that need to be considered. All ductless mini splits have piping length and elevation limitations that cannot be exceeded. Typically, the largest multi zone mini split can have up to eight connected indoor units. With that many indoor units, there may be a requirement for branch distribution boxes that need to be installed indoors. Most mini split systems are only available up to 5 tons. The life expectancy of a ductless mini split is anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Finding a Qualified Installer

Proper installation and accurate load calculations for system sizing are crucial to the potential cost savings and performance of any ductless mini split.  Finding a qualified installer and asking the right questions are a must in deciding between potential contractors. Asking how the sizing of the mini split system is determined can help qualify the experience and knowledge level of the installer as well as the amount of utility savings. If not sized correctly, it can lead to a series of ongoing issues and problems. To qualify for local energy rebates and state or government incentives and tax credits, an installer must be EPA certified and approved by certain local energy partnership programs. Knowing this information prior to installation is very important. 

Another question to ask a potential installer is if they are certified by the equipment manufacturer they intend to install. Installers are typically required to complete training classes and be certified by the manufacturer to qualify for extended warranties and install their equipment. Make sure to ask for the installer’s certificates from the manufacturer to see how current they are.  Inquire about the product warranty and the warranty process. The length of the warranty speaks volumes for the quality of the product itself. Depending on the manufacturer, warranties can range anywhere from 5 years and upwards to 12 years when registered by an approved and certified installer. 

While many homes have conventional HVAC systems, that is not the only type available in today’s market. Ductless mini splits provide a variety of benefits and values. It is an excellent, efficient, and innovative technology that can transform your home or light commercial application. Ductless mini splits are a good investment with exceptional year-round comfort and can be the ideal solution for both heating and cooling.

Klima Can Help with All Your Ductless Mini Splits Needs

At Klima, we offer innovative and integrated HVAC solutions for all your needs. If you’re looking for help regarding ductless mini splits and installation, please contact your Klima Sales representative for pricing and availability at this link. To learn more about our work and how we can help, please visit our website and request a quote by clicking the button at the top right corner today!