The level of commenting here is something I value. Yesterday in the midst of discussing “You Bring Out the Boring White Guy in Me” by Jim Daniels, things took a turn towards preparing your air-conditioner for the coming (seasonal) global warming to make sure you don’t burn up trying to cool out…..
ghostsniper [somewhere in the East]
I had an uncooked Spam sando for lunch with a little mustard. And a navel orange. They was good.
I set right there in the yard, in the sun, soakin up that vitamin D while the mutt laid there staring at a cicada shell attached to a dandelion. couple butterflies fluttered by and a chipmunk sat over there hunched on his back feets, I threw a piece of bread but it wasn’t enough to pique it’s interest. Then I stretched the hose out in the yard and cut about a foot out of it where it got kinked in years past and always kinks when it’s used, and screwed in 2 new ends. voila’ fixed! Now it’s time for a nap…but I think I’ll walk down to the creek out back first. Maybe there’ll be some deers down there again. 86 degrees. That just too dam warm. Might have to turn the AC on by next week.
[AC? Did someone say AC?]
Gordon Scott [Somewhere in Arizona]
Wow, 86 degrees, eh? I have discovered the truth about living in Arizona, and that truth is, it gets really hot here. 86 degree days are soon to be wistful memories, now that it typically gets to 100. And 115 is coming.
I discovered what folks like about their electric bills. Mine is $128, and really only 2/3 of a month. And power is inexpensive here, about 7.5 cents per kWh. Except, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., on weekdays, when the price goes to 35 cents per kWh. It is easy to spend more in those three hours than in the other 21. And Salt River Project, which is not a band name but the company that supplies my power and water, will break down your usage for you.
So, I am buying a thermostat which will ensure that my air conditioner will not switch on during that peak time. SRP even tells you to set your programmable thermostat to pre-cool in the three hours before, three degrees lower than your comfort level. And in truth, I should rarely be home during those hours anyway.
But it’s a dry heat! And it is. They sell these VW-sized evaporative coolers that people set up outside, to get a cool breeze blowing on them. I’d install one on the house, but it’s a 1970s trailer, and one has to be very careful about the walls, as they are thin.
Ya know Gordon that if your AC is off for a long period of time when you turn it back on it will run for a long time to catch up. You can thank the thermal bridging, and other things, in the exterior envelope for that.
Let’s say you live in a home that has 2×4 stud walls, plywood exterior structural sheathing, and drywall interior sheathing, and some sort of insulation in the stud cavities. Where the ext plywood connects to the studs and then to the drywall, that is a thermal bridge and it transfers the outside heat directly into the interior space. You can feel this thermal bridging with your hand on the interior walls.
Your best bet is to keep the AC on all the time at a temp you can live with. Keep all ceiling fans on all the time. Block as much radiant heat through the exterior envelope as possible (windows, doors, etc.). And have an expert ensure that the unit is performing as it should. The only variation in this is if there is a substantial exterior heat drop during the night.
There are several things you can do to change this dynamic to your advantage but they are all best, and more affordable if the home is under design or construction as it is much more expensive to existing homes. Consult local experts.
Thank you, Ghost. I am always up for good advice.
It is a 1976-made trailer, single wide 14 x 60. I’m pretty sure the outside walls are 2×4 framed, but the interior walls are odd in so many ways. Some walls are 2×2 framed. This means one has to buy special outlets and switches, as ordinary ones are too deep. Interior doors are 1″, meaning one must buy special doorknobs.
But some walls are nothing more than that 1970s wood paneling around a frame, with nothing behind the paneling. There’s a wall in the living room that has the 2×2 studs exposed with some sort of panel between them. I don’t think there’s any Sheetrock. The exterior is metal.
The windows are single-pane sliding, screwed to the exterior. One-half of the window has a screen. I am told that I should make a frame for the other half, and use this special light-blocking screen material for both. Even though the three windows that get serious sunlight are completely blocked by white mini-blinds, the power of the sun gets through.
I was home today because I engaged a contractor to look at the combo heating/cooling system, and explain it to me. I’m not familiar with these at all; I don’t even know where the filter is. There must have been an older system, as there are ceiling vents in all the rooms. The current airflow comes through the floor vents.
Sadly the contractor did not show or call.
I made the mistake of clicking through on a solar panel ad. It was amazing. Three seconds after I finished entering my information my phone rang. It was the first of three calls from the same referral service. But it turns out they mostly don’t want to do trailers, which cuts out at least a third of the housing here. Some contractors will if it’s off the wheels and affixed to the ground, and you own the lot. Those don’t apply to me, so no one wants to sell me $20,000 of subsidized Chinese solar panels.
Gordon, you NEED to find the AC filter and change it out ASAP. Don’t delay, this is dangerous. 1/4 of all *residential fires* in Florida come from blocked AC intakes with clogged filters. We change ours every 3 months.
Find your AC unit inside the trailer. Figure out how to remove the panel(s) on the front. After the panels are removed, look along the inside of the sides of the unit for anything that looks like a filter. It should slide right out. Turn the AC off and try to vacuum where the filter was located on the unit. If the filter has not been changed for a while there is most likely some dust and debris build up around the area. Take the old filter to the big box and buy several of them to have on hand. Install filter and reverse the steps above. You should notice a marked improvement in performance.
The windows. While at the big box buy a roll of “mirrored” window tint and cut and apply it to the windows. Go slow if you haven’t done it before. Clean the glass and the frames. Measure and cut the tint. Wet the glass with soapy water. apply the tint, use a small squeegee to squeeze all the water out. Clean up all the excess water. The mirrors will reflect the sun and UV and the tint will cool the interior. You can also get some inexpensive black curtains at the Dollar Store.
Next week will be hotter than this week and if you do the above this week you should be more comfortable and less broke from AC costs next week.
** When the AC filter is blocked the fan motors must work harder to keep up with the signal the thermostat is sending. The motors will have to run longer to compensate. If the motors are old this is even more dangerous. Hot motors spontaneously catch fire and can blow flames through the ductwork catching the whole place on fire. In newer AC units there are sensors installed that can tell if this is the problem and shut the whole thing down. The typical homeowner has no idea what happened. They just know the little digital box on the wall doesn’t make the house cool and everything is turning 900 degrees right now! The AC techs love this stuff and have you at the disadvantage. Instead of resetting the tripped solenoid, they are going to sell you a $600 fan motor + $300 in labor. They will send your old working fan motor back to the manufacturer and collect a fat “core charge” for it. WIN-WIN! YaY!!!!
Now, where do I send my consultation invoice to? Just kidding. lol
Ghost, does the mirror tint go on the inside?
After looking at the outside unit, I could not find a logical location for the filter. But I did find one under the air return grate. It is that stiff black plastic mesh stuff, and it’s really dirty. I shall go visit the large orange store for a replacement….
[Later] ….Filter issues resolved!
Gordon, yes, the tinted film always goes on the inside.
If you have a “split package” AC system the outside part is the compressor and there is nothing for it to filter. A split package consists of 2 separate units, the outside unit is the compressor and the inside unit is the condenser. The condenser is the part that actually circulates the air through the ductwork.
The ductwork has 2 systems, the Supply, and the Return. The Supply is the cold air you feel coming out of the smaller ducts in each room. In most places under say, 2000 square feet living area, there will be 1 Return air duct or register and it is usually bigger than the other ducts.
The Return ducts and register pull the air from the space and cycle it back through the system before sending it back out into the space via the Supply ducts. In typical residential applications, the return air filter is behind the Return air register or grill. In a trailer, I will assume this register or grill is located close to the floor. As far as the black mesh, that sounds like somebody’s make-shift idea on how to get buy if they didn’t have a real filter. Dunno. Anyway, I hope you get it all squared away. With summer coming and prices rising it’s only prudent to find every way possible to cut costs.