Spring has sprung and for Southern Nevadans that means one thing and one thing only: Make sure the air conditioning unit is working and working well as another long hot summer will be here before all the spring of spring has sprung.
Rick Lanning of Solar Systems Mechanical of Henderson believes a short conversation with a reliable heating and air conditioning contractor can alleviate the potential discomfort of your air conditioning unit going on the fritz in August when the temperature is expected to reach 112 for the ninth straight day.
"I enjoy talking with customers and discussing what is right or wrong after performing a proper air conditioning or heating diagnosis," he said. "Homeowners seldom expect someone like me to recommend a simple repair or part replacement. Instead, they expect to hear that they need a new $8,000 unit."
According to Lanning, there are several factors involved in his initial conversation.
"The age of the unit clearly drives the discussion," he explained. "That's because newer equipment is much more efficient that those units manufactured just five or six years ago. But there's another factor and that's the warranty that comes with newer equipment. Those warranties are substantially better and longer lasting than the one provided with a repair."
Lanning has a list of questions customers should consider and answer when faced with an air conditioning or heating problem:
n What is the age and current efficiency of the unit being repaired? What is its life expectancy versus a new one?
n What units are available today? How efficient are they compared to your current one and how would that new one affect the cost of your utilities?
n What is the warranty of the current unit and are any of the needed repairs covered by that warranty?
n What does the warranty cover in a new unit and would labor coverage be included or just parts?
n If repair is needed for a major component, does the replacement come with a warranty?
n Are there any federal, state or utility rebate or tax incentives to help offset the cost of new equipment?
n Is financing available for new equipment?
"When someone understands their options, whether it's getting a new unit or just making a modest repair, the right decision will be made," Lanning said.
And while we're making right decisions, let's not forget that water heater, the second single-biggest, energy-consuming appliance in the home behind the air conditioning system. Water heaters in Southern Nevada take a beating and how many of us haven't heard about a relative or neighbor coming home to a garage full of water because the water heater decided to blow after the warranty expired.
But this is 2012 and smarter and more efficient water heaters are on the market that will last even after the warranty expires.
Stephen Downer, General Electric product general manager for water products, said GeoSpring is the first hybrid electric Energy Star-qualified water heater. It should save an average consumer $325 every year on his or her utility bill while providing the same amount of hot water as traditional 50-gallon standard electric water heaters.
According to Downer, a standard electric water heater can cost an average homeowner $520 every year to operate, while the GeoSpring costs an average of $195 to operate annually, using 62 percent less electricity than a standard electric water heater.
"The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater combines energy-saving heat-pump technology with traditional electric heating systems used in most conventional water heaters that are on the market today," he explained. "This hybrid technology is designed to absorb heat in ambient air and transfer it into the water. Since this requires much less energy than the energy used to generate radiant heat, as used in conventional electric tank water heaters, the GeoSpring is more economical to operate."
Its efficiency gives it longevity. For instance, the integrated electronics on the control panel offers vacation mode. This setting lowers the water temperature to 50 degrees for the duration of a trip, and then automatically re-energizes itself on the day before the homeowner's return. It also offers more control over water temperature, allowing adjustments in one degree increments from 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Downer said about 50 percent of U.S. households use a standard electric water heater and "if 25 percent chose a GeoSpring instead of a standard 50-gallon electric water heater, more than 4 billion pounds of CO2 emissions on the U.S. grid could be avoided annually. That's equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 360,000 cars on U.S. roads. It's a powerful way consumers can help the environment."
The new water heater is priced from $1,199 and can be found at national retailers and plumbing distributors as well as local retailers and distributors.