Welcome to Summer

Posted by Ben Thompson on 07.9.10

Today it is more than 90 degrees outside, and the funny thing about when it is this hot is that you all get really grumpy.  Thankfully, by the time you read this it will be 10 degrees cooler, and hopefully we all will be a little more rational because the message I have for you today is a bit counter-intuitive.  Here's the message: A properly designed house could have intentionally been DESIGNED to not be comfortable on days like today.  What a shocking statement, can you believe that I said such a thing?  I am a huge comfort snob yet I have modified my own expectations.

Here is why I am willing to be uncomfortable 10 days out of the year.  It's all about efficiency.  Most of our cooling systems are drastically over-sized.  What that means is the equipment kicks on and quickly returns our homes to our desired 70 degrees.  They short cycle on and off through out the day as needed.  Homes with over-sized equipment are often cold and clammy. 

Cooling equipment is designed to cool and also remove humidity from the air.  Moist air needs to be colder than dry air to feel comfortable.  If you have visited the both Southwest and the Southeast regions of the United States you know the difference between dry and humid air. To remove humidity we want our air conditioning system to have longer running cycles.

I want the run cycles of the equipment to look like the Appalachian mountains, not the Rocky mountains.  I don't want sports car speed; I want sedan-like efficiency.  I want to be happy 29 days a month and mildly disappointed on that one day a month I smash the pedal to the floor mat.  After all, a car can be sexy, but it would be wildly inappropriate if there were anything remotely sexy about HVAC.

If you're hot on a day like today, just remember that this will pass in a matter of days.  When it's time to upgrade your HVAC equipment do not get talked into larger equipment.  It is more expensive up front, and the short cycling can cause it to break more frequently than properly sized equipment.  Demand that guys like me make a scientific case for the things we specify into your home.

The path to both resource efficiency and comfort is to 1st change the energy load required to keep your home comfortable and then use the highest performing equipment you can afford [that is properly sized to your home].  I can help you walk down this path as far as you'd like to travel.

Topics: On the Radio, Care & Maintenance