AC Then & Now: How Air Conditioning Has Changed

GettyImagesInstalling home air conditioning is nothing new. In fact, the first private home to have air conditioning installed was built in 1914. At first, it was a luxury only easily afforded by the wealthy. It wasn’t until 1945, when a less expensive, compact window air conditioner was developed, that more people had access to home cooling. But in the years that followed this invention, leaps and bounds in air conditioning technology were made, and soon, central air became more accessible to the general public.

Air conditioning installation in new home builds became much more common, and by the late 1960s, most of the new homes built had central air conditioning. According to the Department of Energy, today, nearly 100 million homes in America, or 87 percent of households, have air conditioning. With so many Americans relying on cooling – and the detrimental effects that refrigerants in the past could have on the environment – many manufacturers took the responsibility to create better, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly AC.

Changes in refrigerants and efficiency make modern systems better for consumers and for the planet.

For many years, the effect of early refrigerants on the environment was not known. But as time passed, it became more and more clear that refrigerants were causing depletion of the ozone layer and were contributing to the greenhouse effect. Manufacturers sought a safer type of refrigerant, and in 1996, air conditioning systems using the refrigerant R-410A, came out on the market. This refrigerant differed from its precursor, R-22, in that it doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion, and functions at a much higher efficiency. That means air conditioning systems that use this type of refrigerant are more efficient, saving energy.

The Department of Energy explains that with new standards in place, modern air conditioning systems use about 50 percent less energy than they did in 1990. Because of this, homeowners can enjoy better comfort, all while saving energy – and, ultimately, money on their utility bills. And, many manufacturers and utility companies recognize the benefits of installing a new, more efficient system. As a result, they offer homeowners rebates and incentives for installing new, efficient, environmentally sound air conditioning.

Modern technology has helped make air conditioning more sustainable than ever.

In addition, new types of air conditioning systems were being developed with a focus on overall improved efficiency. One type of system, ductless air conditioning, was created for homes where ductwork wasn’t available. Replacing less-efficient window air conditioning, ductless systems are highly efficient and easily controlled. For homeowners, that means greater efficiency. With ductless, it’s much simpler to create a zoned system that keeps spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter – all while increasing efficiency and comfort levels.

And, heat pumps are becoming more and more of an option for homeowners, as new technology has created heat pumps that operate in much colder temperatures than their predecessors. Because heat pumps cool (or heat) spaces by moving heated air rather than generating it, these systems are extremely efficient. The Department of Energy offers that heat pump systems can reduce energy use by 30-60 percent, in addition to controlling humidity and providing durability and reliability. And, today’s cold climate heat pumps can operate even when outdoor temperatures dip to -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it time to replace your old, inefficient air conditioning? T. F. O’Brien can help.

At T.F. O’Brien, we’ve made it our priority to stay on top of modern trends and better, more sustainable technology when it comes to comfort equipment. We provide our customers with the very best, most efficient systems available on the market today. We’ll work with you to ensure that the system installed in your home not only keeps you comfortable, but helps you enjoy maximum energy efficiency as well. To schedule an appointment with us, simply call us at 516.488.1800, and one of our comfort specialists will be glad to talk with you about today’s many efficient, effective home-cooling options.

Keep Your Home Comfortable And Efficient With Ductless

More and more people are choosing ductless cooling and heating for their homes. People are finding that ductless systems are a great choice for spaces where ductwork is either impossible or impractical. Homes with radiant or baseboard heating, or converted spaces like attics, garages, finished basements and additions, can all benefit from a ductless system. Not to mention, many homeowners are seeing the real benefit of ductless cooling and heating – improved energy efficiency coupled with better comfort.

That’s because ductless systems use a heat pump system – they don’t typically burn fuel, but transfer hot air instead. By doing this, some ductless configurations are able to keep your home cool as a cucumber in the summer, while providing cozy warmth in the winter months. Even if you have a furnace and air conditioning system throughout most of your home, choosing ductless for areas that don’t have access to ductwork – like a finished basement, converted garage, or new addition – helps balance out the temperature of your home, leading to better efficiency.

How can a ductless system help lead to better overall efficiency?

People who have rooms that aren’t a part of their ductwork system usually have three choices – either close those rooms off during part of the year, rely on window AC and space heaters, or open the room up and hope their heating and AC system spreads conditioned air to those spaces. While closing the room off doesn’t necessarily cause issues with energy usage, it kind of defeats the purpose of adding that additional space to begin with.

Window AC and space heaters are both notorious for using a lot of energy, and they aren’t necessarily going to give you the greatest level of comfort for the additional energy cost. And, keeping the room open is going to either lower or raise the overall temperature of your home – making your comfort system work harder and causing energy costs to rise. The beauty of a ductless system is that it helps to balance out those cold or hot spots – leaving you with a more efficient, more comfortable home.

And, ductless cooling and heating provides a whole host of additional benefits as well.

  • No need for additional ductwork. This means you can avoid inconvenient home remodeling and the costs associated with it.
  • Comfort all year long. Depending on the configuration you choose, you can get ductless systems that provide both cooling and heating in one convenient unit.
  • Design that works with your décor. You won’t have to worry about your windows being blocked by a bulky AC unit or tripping over a space heater, because ductless systems mount on your wall or ceiling. 
  • Whisper-quiet operation. Again, window units can be very noisy and space heaters often make a buzzing noise that’s super annoying. You’ll love the peace and quiet ductless offers.
  • Remote control comfort. Generally speaking, a hand-held remote easily controls your ductless system. This means better comfort is literally at your fingertips.

T.F. O’Brien can help you get the ductless system you need.

If you’d like to learn more about the advantages of choosing a ductless to help cool your home this summer – and warm it once winter arrives – all you need to do is contact us at 516-488-1800. One of our comfort specialists will be happy to explain the benefits of a ductless system to you, and help you discover if it’s the right choice for your home.

How A Heat Pump System Can Help You Keep Your Cool This Summer

Many people are exploring ways that they can keep their homes comfortable year-round, all while reducing their carbon footprint. Your home comfort systems account for a good percentage of your home’s overall energy usage. It only makes sense that when it comes time to replace your equipment, you choose a system that not only provides excellent home comfort, but also minimizes energy use. For that reason, more and more people are turning to heat pump systems for home comfort.

You may wonder what a heat pump system is. Or, you may have heard about them, but learned that they don’t work well in cooler climates. You should know, today’s heat pump systems are manufactured to operate in colder temperatures. As a result, even Long Islanders can benefit from one. To understand how a heat pump system keeps your home comfortable in all temperatures, you first need to know how they work.

How Heat Pumps Operate

While there are many different styles of heat pumps to choose from for your Long Island, NY home, most commonly people install a split system. This simply means some of the components of the heat pump are inside your home, and some are outside. Regardless of their configuration, heat pumps work by transferring hot air as opposed to burning fuel inside your home, leading to higher energy efficiency. They’re designed to provide your home with the appropriate levels of heating and cooling, at a price that works within your budget.

Here are a few of the benefits a heat pump system can provide:

  • High efficiency
  • Year round comfort (heat in the winter, cooling in the summer)
  • Dehumidification of indoor air
  • Can be used to complement a traditional furnace, improving home efficiency
  • Uses an environmentally friendly, non-ozone depleting refrigerant
  • Often, tax credits and incentives are available for heat pump systems

Choose T.F. O’Brien for your heat pump installation.

If you’d like to learn more about the advantages of choosing a heat pump to help cool your home this summer – and warm it once winter arrives – all you need to do is contact us at 516-488-1800. One of our comfort specialists will be happy to explain the benefits of a heat pump system to you, and help you discover if it’s the right choice for your home.

5 Reasons Why You Need AC Maintenance

Concerned about keeping your cooling system in the best possible condition? No worries – annual maintenance can help! According to the Department of Energy, not getting system maintenance can lead to inefficiency and a steady decline in equipment performance. Keeping your heating and cooling equipment well maintained is crucial; T.F. O’Brien’s professional trained HVAC service technicians can help.

Still not sure annual cooling system maintenance is what you need? Here are five benefits that your AC system will enjoy:

  1. Less worry about the safety of your AC system. Much like taking your vehicle for an annual tune-up, our technicians will inspect your cooling system and equipment. They’ll check for refrigerant leaks and make sure electrical components are in good working order, so you can count on your system’s safety.
  2. You’ll avoid an HVAC system breakdown at the worst possible time. Maintenance keeps your AC system clean, and takes care of minor problems and repairs. Lack of cleaning and tune-up can, unfortunately, lead to a breakdown at the most inopportune time. That’s when we’re at our busiest, too, so finding immediate service can be a frustrating challenge.
  3. You won’t void your system warranty. Many manufacturers require that your cooling system is regularly maintained in order to keep the warranty intact. Not getting the maintenance you need could mean you’ll be stuck with a major breakdown – and costly repairs that your warranty will no longer cover.
  4. You’ll save money on cooling. When you call for maintenance, part of the service includes cleaning of your system. That’s important, because when an AC system is dirty it works harder, and much less efficiently – taking more money from your wallet when it comes time to pay utility bills.
  5. Your whole family will breathe easier. Changing the air filter is an important part of AC maintenance. When your system circulates air through a dirty filter, those particles make their way into the air you and your family breathe. Getting the seasonal maintenance your system needs keeps indoor air free of mold, pollen and dust.

To take advantage of all of these great benefits, and have a qualified HVAC service technician inspect your system – call T.F. O’Brien today. We look forward to helping you with your annual maintenance needs.

Spring Into Ductless

Spring is a great time for home improvements. If you’ve been considering adding to your space – but you’re not sure how to manage heating and cooling this new or converted area of your home – you might want to consider ductless. Ductless offers both heating and cooling, so you’ll get year-round comfort, without having to connect to your existing ductwork system or adding new ductwork. Additions, converted garages and attics, and finished basements can become spaces your family can enjoy all year long!

The beauty of ductless heating and cooling is that it can help keep those areas comfortable; winter, spring, summer and fall. It both effectively heats and cools your home, making it perfect for year-round use. Not to mention, by keeping a consistent climate throughout your home, your main heating and cooling systems won’t have to work as hard, and will operate more efficiently, too.

By choosing ductless this spring, you’ll enjoy many additional benefits.

Of course, a ductless system will make those areas of your home without ductwork more comfortable. That just goes without saying! But, you should know that there are other advantages to ductless as well:

  • Ductless heating and cooling is efficient. Because they use advanced heat pump technology, ductless systems offer high efficiency, making them an extremely cost-effective choice for your space.
  • Ductless systems are quiet. These systems are made to operate so that they don’t disturb homeowners with noisy operation. Unlike space heaters, which can emit a buzzing noise, or the loud sounds window AC units often make, ductless is whisper-quiet, so you’re able to better enjoy the comfort.
  • Heating and cooling with ductless can help with air quality. Ductless systems are made to filter the conditioned air they push out into your living space. They trap many of the particles that can get circulated through the air, helping create a cleaner environment with fewer allergens.
  • Ductless systems are non-obtrusive. Having your ductless system installed requires very little construction work, and you won’t have to worry about the cost and mess that comes with adding ductwork to your home. And, ductless systems are made to blend in seamlessly with virtually any home décor.

Make your converted space or addition one the whole family loves this spring – choose ductless heating and cooling to make it a welcoming area year round. At T.F. O’Brien, we’re happy to help you get the ductless system you need for your home.

How Do I Know If I Need Furnace Services for My Long Island Home?

Winter has been brutal this year, the snowy, cold weather seemingly endless. Many people have relied on their furnaces more than usual this year. That has meant that their furnaces are working overtime – and sometimes that can lead to mechanical issues, especially if the furnace hasn’t received the regular maintenance it needs. It can be a little difficult to know if you need furnace services for your Long Island home, and who’s qualified to get you the help you need.

Clearly, if you notice anything like strange odors or unusual noises like banging or grinding coming from your furnace, call us right away because those point to serious concerns. We’re sharing a few more general concerns that can point to the need for furnace services below, courtesy of ENERGY STAR.

Five Signs That You Need Furnace Services

Rising Energy Bills

This can be a tough one to recognize, especially if you’ve been running your furnace more than usual. But, if your energy bills have increased dramatically, or if you notice a spike in cost from the beginning of the season to now, you could have some mechanical concerns happening. A marked increase in energy costs that can’t be accounted for by rising prices and/or usage could indicate your equipment isn’t operating as efficiently and effectively as it should, and should probably be checked out.

Hot or Cold Spots

If some of your rooms are way too warm, but others seem chilly, this could mean your equipment is operating improperly. It could also point to other problems in your home, like ductwork concerns or poor insulation. When you call T.F. O’Brien, we’ll help you get to the root of the hot/cold spot problem.

Air Quality Problems

If you’ve noticed an increase of dust and air particles over the course of winter, it could be a sign of concern for your heating system. While it could indicate that you have leaky ductwork in areas like attics, crawl spaces or basement, there could be another problem that’s far simpler to solve. Poor indoor air quality is often a sign of a dirty filter – and that can be easily remedied. It is generally recommended that equipment filters be changed monthly during times of heavy use. You can either DIY, or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Unusual Dryness

Sometimes when furnace services are needed, homeowners will notice that their homes are unusually dry. Some indicators of overly dry air include itchy skin, nasal dryness, respiratory issues, creaking woodwork and furniture, and static cling. If you’re noticing a combination of these factors happening in your home, it could point to poor equipment operation, inadequately sized equipment, or ductwork concerns. 

Older Equipment

It’s just a fact – the older your furnace is, the harder it has to work to heat your home and the less efficient it is. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, it could be time to start thinking about a replacement, especially if you’ve been paying a lot for repairs or your energy bills are exorbitant. Hint: you can prolong the life of your furnace by getting annual maintenance.

You can count on T.F. O’Brien if you need furnace services for your Long Island home.

Just give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we’ll be more than happy to help you get the furnace services you need.

7 Reasons You Need Annual HVAC System Maintenance

HVAC Technician Inspects Heating and Cooling SystemConcerned about keeping your heating and cooling system in the best possible condition? No worries – annual maintenance can help! According to the Department of Energy, not getting system maintenance can lead to inefficiency and a steady decline in equipment performance.

 

Keeping your heating and cooling equipment well-maintained is crucial; T.F. O’Brien’s professional trained HVAC service technicians can help.

Still not sure annual HVAC system maintenance is what you need? Here are seven benefits that both your heating and cooling systems will enjoy:

1. Less worry about the safety of your HVAC system. 

Much like taking your vehicle for an annual tune-up, our technicians will inspect your entire HVAC system and equipment. They’ll check heating systems for issues like carbon monoxide, and cooling systems for refrigerant leaks. They’ll make sure electrical components are in good working order, so you can count on your system’s safety.

2. You’ll avoid an HVAC system breakdown at the worst possible time.

Maintenance keeps your heating and cooling system clean, and takes care of minor problems and repairs. Lack of cleaning and tune-up can, unfortunately, lead to a breakdown at the most inopportune time – either the coldest of winter nights, or a scorching summer day. That’s when we’re at our busiest, too, so finding immediate service can be a frustrating challenge.

3. You won’t void your HVAC system warranty.

Many manufacturers require that your heating and cooling system is regularly maintained in order to keep the warranty intact. Not getting the maintenance you need can mean you’ll be stuck with a major breakdown – and costly repairs that your warranty will no longer cover.

4. You’ll stay more comfortable all year-round.

Your home’s HVAC system needs to be at peak performance in order to keep your home toasty warm during the colder months, and cool and comfortable in the summer. With annual maintenance, you can count on better airflow. Not to mention, repairs or replacements can be made to any components not in proper working order

5. Your HVAC system will enjoy a longer life. 

When you make sure that your heating and cooling systems are properly maintained, you’re helping to ensure that they run better. Maintenance ensures a cleaned and lubricated system. It frees it of the gunk and buildup that can cause your system to run poorly. And, small issues are found and repaired easily before they cause premature system failure.

6. You’ll save money on heating and cooling. 

When you call for maintenance, part of the service includes cleaning of your system. That’s important, because when a heating or cooling system is dirty it works harder, and much less efficiently – taking more money from your wallet when it comes time to pay utility bills.

7. Your whole family will breathe easier. 

Changing the air filter is an important part of HVAC maintenance. When your system circulates air through a dirty filter, those particles make their way into the air you and your family breathe. Getting the seasonal maintenance your system needs keeps indoor air free of mold, pollen and dust.

To take advantage of all of these great benefits, and have a qualified HVAC service technician inspect your system – call T.F. O’Brien today. We look forward to helping you with your annual maintenance needs – just give our service department a call at 516-488-1800 Monday through Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm, and we’ll be happy to assist you! You can also Schedule your HVAC System Maintenance by clicking here.

 

Made for Each Other: Ductless & Converted Spaces

Many times, homeowners decide to add to their home’s space, whether by building an addition or remodeling parts of their home that may not have been ideal living areas before. Unfortunately, often these areas don’t have access to the home’s ductwork, and adding it may be impractical or impossible. How can you get these areas of your home the climate control they need? You should know, ductless and converted spaces are made for each other!

If you’ve added to your home, or if you’ve converted a garage, attic or basement into an area for you and your family to enjoy, ductless heating and cooling can help keep that area comfortable. It both effectively heats and cools your home, so it’s perfect for year-round use. Not to mention, by keeping a consistent climate throughout your home, your main heating and cooling systems will operate more efficiently, too.

There are several benefits to installing ductless in your converted spaces.

While it goes without saying that a ductless system will make those areas of your home without ductwork more comfortable, you should know that there are other advantages to ductless as well.

  • Ductless heating and cooling is efficient. Because they use advanced heat pump technology, ductless systems offer high efficiency. As a result, they’re an extremely cost-effective choice for your space.
  • Ductless systems are quiet. These systems are made to operate so that they don’t disturb homeowners with noisy operation. Space heaters can emit a buzzing noise, and  window AC units are often loud. Conversely, ductless is whisper-quiet, so you’re able to better enjoy the comfort.
  • Heating and cooling with ductless can help with air quality. Ductless systems are made to filter the conditioned air they push out into your living space. They trap many of the particles that can get circulated through the air. As a result, ductless creates a cleaner environment with fewer allergens.
  • Ductless systems are non-obtrusive. Having your ductless system installed requires very little construction work, and you won’t have to worry about the cost and mess that comes with adding ductwork to your home. And, ductless systems are made to blend in seamlessly with virtually any home décor.

Make your converted space or addition one the whole family falls in love with this February – choose ductless heating and cooling to make it a welcoming area year round. At T.F. O’Brien, we’re happy to help you get the ductless system you need for your home. Just give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we’ll see if ductless is the perfect match for you!

Show Your Furnace the Love This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about hearts and flowers, so adding your home’s furnace into the equation might not exactly seem like the most romantic thing to do. But did you know that if you show your furnace a little love by getting it the maintenance it needs, it’ll save you money? And that’s extra money you can spend on special gifts for your Valentine!

 

Here are five ways maintenance gives your furnace the love it needs:

  • Annual maintenance helps your furnace operate more efficiently. Maintenance helps to free your furnace of dirt and debris buildup, and keeps all the moving parts well lubricated so that it runs, quite literally, like a well-oiled machine. And when it operates more efficiently, you’ll likely save money on your utility bills.
  • Maintenance can keep the need for repairs at bay. It helps catch small problems before they become larger, much more expensive issues. That’s because qualified technicians are analyzing your system on an annual basis, and can easily spot any concerns that might become bigger problems for you down the road.
  • A well-maintained furnace is a longer-lived furnace. As mentioned above, annual maintenance helps find potential problems and allows you to take care of them right away. And, maintenance keeps your furnace clean and operating efficiently, which can add to its lifespan.
  • Preventive maintenance keeps your warranty intact. You might not realize this, but chances are if you read the fine print on your equipment warranty, you’ll see that annual maintenance is required. Most manufacturers view annual maintenance as a reasonable measure the homeowner can take to keep equipment running smoothly. And, not getting maintenance may void your warranty.
  • The air in your home stays cleaner, too. One of the best ways you can help maintain your furnace is by cleaning or changing the filter when it becomes dirty. The air that flows through the filter into your home will contain fewer contaminants as a result. Not only will you breathe easier, but also your furnace will operate better when it doesn’t have to force air through a dirty filter. We’ll clean or change your filter during your annual maintenance, but ideally you should change it monthly during times of high usage.

Getting annual maintenance from T.F. O’Brien is easy.

At T.F. O’Brien, we love providing our customers with the services they need to keep their furnaces running effectively and efficiently all year long. And, showing your furnace the love it needs this winter is easy when you work with us. All you need to do is call us at 516.488.1800, or request an appointment online, and we’ll be more than happy to schedule your maintenance appointment with you.