Advice From the Pros

Creating Comfort Through Humidity Control

It is not often thought about as obviously as temperature control, but humidity is one of the most important aspects to creating a comfortable indoor space. Commercial buildings, especially, should focus on maximizing customer comfort. This is perhaps truer in dining spaces than anywhere else.

If a building HVAC system isn’t recirculating the air like it should, customers will notice. Cooking produces heat and humidity, and so does dishwashing. Just ask anyone who has ever worked in the back of the house! Without a robust HVAC system in place, customers will feel the increased humidity and temperature in the restaurant. They’ll notice sweating windows, potentially feel moisture at their dining table, even see it dripping from ceiling supply air diffusers. For restaurants in high humidity regions, this can become alarming as it can frequently lead to mold growth.

With so many variables impacting humidity in restaurants and kitchens, a building automation system (BAS) can help you maintain best practice humidity levels based on The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations.

Today, roughly 30 percent of restaurants and retail buildings are managed using some type of remote capability. By switching from more manual ‘in-person and on-site’ traditional thermostat, facility managers are saving up to 15 percent or more in operating costs by avoiding service truck rolls and utility costs by simply remotely managing temperature setpoints and occupancy schedules.

While the cost of a fully-featured building automation solution may be outside most budgets, there are lower cost building automation solutions. For instance, Trane offers Nexia, an easily installed, cost-effective building automation solution.

As customers become more educated on the indoor air spaces they visit, delaying maintenance and service could cost a restaurant a repeat visit.

If you aren’t sure whether your building humidity levels are correct – let us help. Our experts understand the unique applications for restaurants and kitchens and can help you achieve your IAQ goals using the most cost-effective solutions. Especially if you’re reopening, take the time to schedule a visit by the experienced heating and air conditioning experts from Gentry. We can help you optimize your space and keep those valuable customers happy.

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What Are the Best Settings for My Programmable Thermostat?

For most people, a thermostat is simply a box on the wall that they visit to turn up temperatures when they’re too cold. But if you have a programmable thermostat and that’s all you’re using it for, you’re missing out on an easy way to save 10 percent or more on your electric bill.

According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, nine out of ten Americans say they’ve rarely (or never) programmed their thermostat because they don’t know how to use it – which is a shame, considering how easy today’s thermostats are easy to learn and operate.

If you don’t have one, installing a programmable thermostat is a smart move: if you use it correctly, it could pay for itself in energy savings alone the first year you own it – not to mention the wear and tear you’re avoiding on your furnace or boiler.

Here are tips to program your thermostat:

Find out what kind of thermostat you have

If you already own a thermostat, first determine if it is a programmable model or simply one you have to adjust manually. If it is a programmable thermostat, it’s helpful to know what kind of flexibility your model offers. Programmable thermostats feature different “modes”, depending on the model you own.

Program your thermostat to match your lifestyle

No matter which of these options you own, you will want to customize your thermostat so it works with the way you live. The settings you can control on most programmable thermostats include:

Wake time, Sleep time, Leave time, and Return time

Each thermostat operates a little differently, so you will want to spend a little time studying the owner’s manual to adjust these settings; considering the potential savings, it’s worth the time and effort.

Use sensible settings

The U.S Department of Energy suggests the following settings for the best balance of comfort and savings:

Heating season:

When you’re home and awake, set the thermostat for 68°F.

Lower temperatures by 7-10° for the hours you’re asleep or out of the house.

Cooling season:

When you’re home and awake, program air conditioning to 78°F.

Program the AC to shut off during the hours you’re out of the house.

In general, program heat or A/C to shut off 20-30 minutes before you leave home; return them to normal comfort levels 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.

Program reductions in heating or cooling to begin 60 minutes before you go to sleep; return them to normal comfort levels 30 minutes before you awaken.

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Common AC Problems to Be Aware of

With some recent temperatures in the mid and high 80’s, it’s that time again, when the temperatures rise and the air conditioner kicks back on.

We live and work in the North Texas area too, so we get it. A working air conditioner is a top priority. We want to tell you about five common AC problems so that when you’re testing your system out now before the heat of summer arrives:

Low Refrigerant
If your air conditioner sounds and runs okay, but just isn’t sending cold air into the room, this likely means you are low on refrigerant or coolant. The low refrigerant also means your air conditioner is not pulling out heat and humidity from your home.

This can be caused by a leak or multiple leaks that need to be found by an HVAC expert. It can also trigger your coils to freeze, so don’t wait to get it checked.

Thermostat Issues
Advancements in technology have made it possible for you to set the temperature on an appliance, and that simple action sends a message to the right components of the AC that then work to produce air at the temperature you desire. Technology is not a perfect thing, however. Sometimes the thermostat can malfunction. You can get our HVAC technicians to recalibrate your thermostat in no time.

Fans Not Blowing
The fans are what help your system get the hot air out and the cold air in. If the fan motors are not working, your air conditioner will turn on, but you won’t feel any air coming out of it. Other causes for motor malfunction include dirt and debris buildup, being too dry and in need of lubrication, and worn belts.

These are relatively easy fixes for a trained HVAC repair technician. Whatever you do, don’t wait to call for help. This small problem can quickly turn into a big problem if left untreated.

Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
You turn on your air conditioner, and the power goes off in your home. You go to your breaker box and reset the tripped breakers. You turn on your air conditioner, and the power goes off in your home. You reset the tripped breakers. You can see the pattern here, and yes, it is frustrating.

There are several reasons why your circuit breaker keeps tripping when you turn on the AC. One, if your switch is old, weak, or both, it may need to be replaced. Two, your compressor may not be adequately grounded. You may also have a problem with your condenser and capacitor.

Instead of trying to figure out all these HVAC issues on your own, call Gentry and let us investigate what is going on with your AC.

Weird Sounds and Strange Smells
Your air conditioner is a hard-working machine. But it is not supposed to make clinks, clangs, bangs, or screeches. It’s also not supposed to smell.

Call us quickly if these issues arise. Your air conditioner could be working so hard that the electrical components are overheating, creating a foul odor. Or, a part may have come loose, causing strange noises. Both odors and noises could be caused by debris buildup or something obstructing parts of the AC.

Let us experts resolve your issue. You want to make sure your AC is in top condition with the hottest part of the year just around the corner!

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