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HVAC Solutions for Tiny Homes

How Do I Heat & Cool My Tiny Home?

Tiny Homes HVAC OptionsIf you have been paying attention in the greater San Diego area, you may have noticed the uptake of a global trend: tiny homes. We love the tiny house trend and we’re happy to see tiny homes in San Diego because they’re energy efficient & sustainable and because they challenge the status quo and that’s what we’re all about. In their efforts to maintain a lifestyle that is both energy conscious and affordable, many tiny home owners and builders will find themselves with questions:

How can I cool my tiny home?
Which HVAC system is best on such a small scale?
What is the HVAC load calculation for my tiny house?

 

HVAC for small spaces is completely different than a typical home or commercial location. However, fear not – maintaining your thermal comfort index in a tiny home is easy, affordable, and eco-friendly. Here are the major tiny home HVAC solutions you have to consider:

 

Passive Cooling / Passive Heating

 

Passive cooling and passive heating refer to ventilation which is not motivated or generated by an electrical fixture, with ductwork and other technologies. Passive heating or cooling would not require a thermostat or other active controls. Tiny home builders in California may prefer this avenue because they may not be required to make modifications to suit the system, or the modifications will be minimal. For the homeowner, these solutions are often less expensive but can also be less effective. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Windows
    In a tiny home, you’re not cooling a massive space and you can probably achieve a decent cross-breeze just by opening cross-home windows and letting freshness in. The trouble starts when the heat or humidity – especially here in the hot San Diego weather – end up inside your home with no recourse for removal. Also, this doesn’t work as well to heat the home later in the winter.
  • Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans can manage to cool or somewhat “heat” your tiny house. While they do not generate their own temperature air, they do effectively circulate cool air and generate a breeze. In the winter, you can turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction and it will push warm air that has risen to the rafters of your home downward into your living space for an effect of warmth. The drawbacks to ceiling fans include that they are a threat to air quality if not cleaned well and often, they do not generate temperate air so you’re still working, essentially, with the temperature given in the home, and they can sometimes make a small room feel smaller.
  • Floor Fans/Window Fans
    If you are willing to part with the space in your tiny home, a floor fan will make you feel cooler by drawing a draft across your skin. Whether you insert one in a window to draw warm air out from your home or stand one in the room and let it oscillate you will find an increase in comfort. However, these fans struggle to warm up a room and in the warmest of conditions, will struggle to cool it to comfortable levels also.
  • Roof Vents/Attic Fans
    These are a little pricier than the options listed above because they do require a hole to be cut in your roof. One potential drawback to this is that if the unit is not sealed well, moisture leakage can become imminent. That said, these units can warm or cool your tiny home and will provide an increase in ventilation which will increase your comfort. If the weather is hot and heavy, however, this solution will feel uncomfortable.

 Air Conditioner Options for Tiny Houses

Active Cooling / Active Heating

Simply put, when we refer to active cooling or active heating, we are referring to air conditioning units. These will require some type of controls, either by thermostat or on the unit itself. While all of the following examples would require some installation for your tiny house, they are all effective. There are many active air conditioning systems that are highly energy efficient as well. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Window AC Unit
    Say what you will about the aesthetic of a window air conditioner, this solution will work for your tiny home. Of the active cooling solutions here, this is the most affordable and the easiest to install yourself. That said, if your tiny home only has 1-3 windows, as most do, it may feel foreboding to eliminate one by stuffing it with one of these bad boys.

All of the following active cooling systems will require an HVAC technician for installation and maintenance.

  • PTAC
    The term PTAC, which stands for Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner, may not sound familiar but if you’ve stayed in an economy hotel room, you’ve likely used one. This will take up precious wall space in your home but it will effectually heat and cool your space with ease and in 2016, these come in highly energy efficient AC models.
  • RV-Style Roof Unit
    This is another solution, commonly used in RVs, which will both cool your tiny home and heat your tiny home. It is installed into your roof so it takes up less living space. However, if your roof operates at a slant greater than 15 degrees, you will find that this unit shuts down easily. Flat-roof tiny homes will love this option.
  • Mini Split System
    A common mini-me to the traditional air conditioning system, the Mini Split is such that your home will have an interior ventilation unit and an outdoor cooling unit, similar to your large home counterparts. The difference is in the size alone as the Mini system will use a compact air conditioner. To calculate your tiny home’s BTU, follow the same BTU calculation instructions as with a larger home, subbing in your actual square footage and accounting for any outlying factors such as multiple occupants, the probable use of a kitchen, and accounting for sun vs. shade.
    Shop Compact AC Units

 

{Builders: Are you curious about how to design and engineer an HVAC system in a tiny home from scratch? We’re happy to partner with you, too!}

 

If you’re looking to cut down on your tiny home costs and still heat and cool your space with ease, no worries! There are many passive and active HVAC solutions available for your tiny house. For more information or to request an estimate on HVAC services for your tiny home in San Diego or the surrounding area, contact Airmaxx today! We’re happy to help.

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How to Set Your Thermostat When You Go on Vacation

Thermostat Vacation

Thermostat Settings to Know for Your Upcoming Vacation

Summer is here and as the temperatures rise vacation plans are being set. On this much needed break, the last thing you want to worry about is your energy bill. Time for some thermostat 101 – On the top of the list of summer thermostat questions is, “Where should I set my thermostat when on vacation?” The answer may not be quite as simple as you think.

Where to set your thermostat when away

Conventional knowledge would say that if you are away from your house, that you should just shut your system off to save money. This is not always the case. Experts now agree that the ideal temperature for your thermostat settings for summer vacations is 4 degrees above your average settings, to help save some money while preventing your home from getting too hot. When you leave your system on, it avoids the inevitable cooling process that can end up costing you more money than you saved by shutting the system off. A buildup of heat and humidity can also cause serious damage to wood and wall compounds over time. Keeping your air on will also be much more comfortable for your pets or friends or neighbors that may stop by to help deliver mail or check on your home while you are away.

Here are a few thermostat in summer situations in which it is advantageous to leave your thermostat off while on vacation:

  • Your trip is at least one week or longer in duration (the longer the trip the more likely you are to save money by shutting off your system).
  • The local weather is going to be mild such that it would not drastically raise the temperature of your home.
  • Your home’s temperature efficiency is high enough that your home’s flux in temperature would not require a massive cool down process.

How to program your Nest thermostat when not home

It is recommended to program your Nest auto-away settings to the same 4 degree difference. However, for longer trips, you will want to utilize the manual away settings instead of the auto-away settings. The manual away setting will ensure that your system will not kick on until you manually say so. This will prevent the system from starting if it detects a neighbor or friend that is just bringing in your mail and checking on your house.

Airmaxx has your thermostat temperature summer solution

Whether you are looking to stay cool or save money, it’s all about making the smartest decisions with your thermostat. Nothing is smarter than the CARRIER COR Smart Thermostats that are designed to keep your family comfortable and your bank account full. With full Wi-Fi capabilities, you can control this thermostat from any mobile device through a convenient app, and best of all, it has its own vacation mode settings for optimal savings while you are away. Airmaxx also carries many programmable thermostats to help stretch your dollar and maximize your summer fun!

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Beat the Heat! 10 Tips for Staying Cool This Summer

Stay Cool in Summer

Happy Summer, San Diego! At Airmaxx, we are bona fide lovers of all things summer and we LOVE the heat. However, we are also the Experts of Cool and we know that in Southern California things can get pretty sweaty. For your relief, we have published a list of the best ways to stay cool in the summer. All of our solutions are meant to be easy, fun ways to cool off and stay safe this summer. Add your own in the comments!

  • Chill Out, Literally!
    The sun might be sweltering, but your body can and should regulate its own temperatures. Working up a reasonable amount of sweat will help your body to cool down. However, be careful not to overexert! When we get high heat index warnings, it might be better to stay inside and enjoy the AC!
  • Cozy Up to Cotton Sheets
    Silk and other fabrics can trap heat! Instead, choose cotton to stay cool while sleeping.
  • ‘Treat Yo Self’
    Make some DIY cool summer treats. Real Simple put out a phenomenal set of “Homemade Popsicles” recipes that will keep you cool as a cucumber, or a raspberry, or a peach…
  • Make a DIY Water Blob
    Have you seen these? Whether you’re a first-time homeowner who wants to party with your friends or parents looking for cool summer ideas for kids, a DIY Water Blob is exactly what you need. The instructions on this site are super easy to follow!
  • Take a Dip
    If you’re ready for more full-on contact with the water, don’t forget the obvious option – head to your local pool (or crash a friend’s), take the fam to the lake for the day, or if you’re in sunny San Diego like us, the beach can’t be beat! You can cool off this summer by dipping in the water any time!
  • Enjoy a Cool Cruise
    Hop in the car, roll down all of the windows (or run the air conditioning), and turn up your favorite tunes! We LOVE this set of perfect playlists for cruising.
  • Get Cookin’…
    …outside that is. Don’t heat the whole house by using the oven or stovetop. We love a good cookout here at Airmaxx Heating & Air Conditioning. If you’re ready to perfect your burgers and dogs this year, check out these Grilling Recipes from Bon Appetit! How to drink more water
  • Hydrate!
    Drink enough water. We can’t stress this enough. A body that is hydrated can regulate its own temperatures, not unlike your air conditioner.

  • Limit Your Sun
    A sunburn is the quickest way to ruin your summer fun! Be sure to take precautions with SPF but remember – time in the shade is necessary, too! Too much sun can harm your eyes and dry you out, even with SPF! Sometimes, it’s better to take a day off and enjoy the indoors!

  • Staycation
    Sometimes, let’s face it, the summer just gets too dang hot! On those days, stay at home, grab some movies, and enjoy your top performing, energy efficient air conditioner guilt-free. Does you need an AC tuneup? Contact Airmaxx to invite one of our expert HVAC contractors in San Diego or El Cajon to your home for a quick fix!

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Avoid These Important Mistakes When Buying Your New AC or Furnace

When you’re in the market for a new AC or furnace for your home, you have two choices: take the first estimate that sounds decent or take a little time to learn from what others have done wrong. This is a major purchase that will impact your energy bills, your home’s efficiency, and your comfort every day. Don’t take the first offer. Do your homework starting by learning from these common mistakes.

Settling for a Deal that Sounds too Good to Be True

It’s a good general rule for all things in life: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a contractor or installer offers you a fantastic deal on a new AC or furnace, read the fine print. Check on their references and reviews. A deep discount could signal shortcuts and shoddy workmanship.

Not Understanding what You Need for Your Home

Not all models are the same and not all AC and furnace units are right for your home. Make sure you understand, and that your installer double checks for you, that you have a unit that is the right size and type to heat or cool your home effectively and efficiently. Choosing the wrong size can lead to damage, higher energy bills, and even mold in your ducts.

Ignoring Efficiency Technology

A new unit that runs efficiently is probably going to cost more money, but don’t let this put you off. Check out the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating for any new unit before you buy it. The higher the number, the more efficient it is, and the more money you will save each month. The highest efficiency unit can save you up to half on your monthly energy bill.

Forgetting about Rebates

Another good reason choose the high-efficiency models? Many come with rebates that are worth significant cash back. Several states and manufacturers offer rebates to encourage consumers to buy energy-saving AC and furnace units. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of these savings.

Not Checking out References and Reviews

We know that you have options when it comes to HVAC installers, which is why we strive to provide only the best service. You can’t count on this from everyone, which is why it is a mistake to not investigate before committing to an HVAC contractor. Ask us for references and read customer reviews to get an idea for the quality of service we offer.

Getting a new AC or furnace is a big deal and a big expense, so don’t rush the process. Avoid these mistakes, do your research, and you will be happy for years with your new unit.

Keep following the AirMaxx Heating and Air Conditioning blog for more information to help you make smart HVAC choices.