Who Invented the First Air Conditioner and Other Surprising Facts

Anyone that’s ever lived in Texas knows that a functioning air conditioner is essential. Every summer we hear news reports of people having heat strokes due to the intense heat that the Dallas area brings us. Often times, these heat strokes are deadly. Your AC unit can literally be the difference between life and death. Anyone who enjoys the comforts of a cool home owes their gratitude to a few men who changed how modern society lives today.

Who Invented Air Conditioning?

Crude forms of air conditioning have been around for ages, however when Willis Carrier invented the first functioning air conditioning, it fundamentally changed how people lived. In 1902, Carrier was standing on a train platform in Pittsburgh when he realized that he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog, which would then allow him to control the moisture and humidity of the air. This invention is why we’re in the air conditioning repair business today.

The Carrier Brand went on to be a leading brand in air conditioning and made enjoying Texas summers possible. At Lex Air Conditioning Repair, we provide both commercial and residential HVAC services to property owners with AC repair needs. While Carrier invented the AC unit, we fix and install them for our customers.

Invention of Portable AC Units

Although Willis Carrier is largely credited with inventing the modern air conditioner, Frederick Jones, an African-American, invented the first portable air conditioning unit. His invention was used largely in field military hospitals keeping wounded soldiers comfortable while they recovered from injuries sustained while fighting. Jones had at least 60 patents on various inventions including refrigeration for food transport trucks.

Coining the Term “Air Conditioner”

Soon after Willis Carrier came out with his invention, a mill engineer named Stuart Cramer created a similar device that added moisture to the stale, hot air inside textile plants. He called is invention an “air conditioner” because it conditioned the air to be moist and cool. This device was installed in many mills and plants to make work environments more productive and easier to work in.

Air Conditioning Installation for Your Home or Business

If your commercial or residential property is in need of a new air conditioning unit, then let us help. Our air conditioning installation is fast and affordable for both businesses and homeowners. Don’t let the Texas heat ruin your summer, get in touch with us today!

Using AC Unit This Summer

Easy Ways to Save Money While Using Your AC Unit this Summer

Anyone who’s ever spent a summer in Texas knows how important it is to have an air conditioning unit that works. When temperatures run well into the 90s and start to stay that way, the cost of keeping your home or business cool skyrockets. Before you turn up the AC this summer, here are a few things you can do to save money and keep cool.

Save on Air Conditioning by Sealing Cracks

When you turn your AC on, you shut the windows and doors to keep the cool air in. However, if the seals around your doors or windows are old, then they probably aren’t doing their job anymore. Our local AC repair servicemen are often called to homes and businesses with owners that are upset that their cooling costs are high and want to know why. Poor insulation around door cracks is the most common culprit.

Keep the Heat Out

There are several things that can drive up the cost of air conditioning that are completely out of your control. One thing that you can control is how much sunlight you let into your home. If you want to help keep your monthly electric bill down, then close the blinds and curtains in your home. While sunlight is something we all enjoy, it really does drive up the temperature inside your home or business. When your air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard at keeping your home cool, that means less AC unit repairs for you.

Use a Ceiling Fan Instead of Central Air

If you’re thinking of turning on your central air to cool your home, try your ceiling fan first. A ceiling fan uses far less electricity than your air conditioning unit does and can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler. Even the most energy efficient units still use lots of energy to run properly. If you’re considering an air conditioner replacement to help keep your home cool, try a ceiling fan first.

Place Your Thermostat in the Right Place

The reason your air conditioning turns on is because the thermostat on your wall is reading a high temperature. If that thermostat happens to be next to a hot window or otherwise warm surface, then it’s going to kick on a lot more often regardless of how cool the rest of the home is. Have your thermostat installed in an area that doesn’t get too warm during the day.

Lex Air Helps You Save Money

If your AC unit is no longer energy efficient, it could be costing hundreds of extra dollars each year. We can replace your unit and offer tips on how to reduce your energy bill each month. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

AC Energy Saving Tips

AC Energy Saving Tips for This Earth Day

Caring for the health of our Earth should be one of our top priorities. As far as we know, there’s no other planet that can sustain human life in our solar system. One of the easiest ways to reduce our use of Earth’s natural elements is by reducing how much energy we consume. Even though technology is more advanced than ever and most air conditioning units are energy efficient, they still suck up a significant amount of resources. In honor of Earth Day, here are a few simple air conditioning unit energy saving tips to try out.

Get Your Air Conditioning Unit Serviced

Your air conditioning unit might be energy efficient already, however getting it look at can prevent future problems that cause it to use more energy. Air conditioning repair can be costly if the problem is major. Have a repairman take a look at your unit and remove any debris that may have fallen inside. Things like sticks, leaves, or even sap can affect its efficiency.

Turn Down the AC at Night

If you want to reduce the cost of running your air conditioning, a great way to do that is by setting your AC thermostat to a warmer temperature at night. While this may seem like a sacrifice, it’s a great way to reduce energy. Turn on a regular oscillating fan to supplement the lost cool air coming from your vents and remove heavy bedding in favor of thinner, less bulky fabrics. Little changes like these can make a big difference on your energy bill and for the earth’s health.

Check Your Ducts for AC Problems

The ducts that your air conditioning travels through are just as susceptible to damage as anything else in your home. Have an air conditioning repair company examine your air ducts for cracks or leaks that allow the cold air to seep out and cool down places like your attic instead of your home.

Close Your Curtains

The sun’s light can be wonderful for many things however cooling your home isn’t one of them. If you want to reduce your energy consumption, then close your curtains and blinds to keep sunlight out and reduce the inside temperature of your space. Your AC unit works hard to cool your home and when it works too hard, you end up needing home AC repairs.

Let Lex Air Care for Your Home AC Unit

We value energy efficiency and know that you do too. All of our solutions are cost-effective and energy efficient. The health of our planet and the health of your wallet are important to us. Let our HVAC repairmen take care of your air conditioning problems. Get in touch today with questions or for more information!

Dallas HVAC repair

Caring For Your Heat And Air

Have you ever suffered through a hot summer day without air conditioning? Most people would agree that the heating and air-conditioning system inside your house is an integral part of your quality of life. Without it, your family would be sleeping in front of the fireplace every night during the winter, and sweating through the hot Dallas summer months.

Regular air conditioner and furnace maintenance along with prudent owner care is something you can do to help keep your HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditions) system working properly.

Change The Filters In Your Air Conditioner

It’s good to keep in mind that if your HVAC system’s return air filter is dirty, so is everything else. Remembering to change the heating and air conditioning filter in your home is critical. A dirty air filter is a problem for several reasons including:

-Reduction of the air flow into your home’s ventilation system

-Forcing your air conditioning system to work harder, straining the parts and the system

-Increase in your energy bill because your air conditioner is being forced to work harder due to restricted air flow

-Decrease in Indoor air quality due to high levels of pollen

-Accumulation of pet dander in your home’s ventilation system being circulated throughout your home contributing to allergic reactions

If you or a family member is severely allergic to pets or pollen, think about using a HEPA air filter designed to capture more smaller particles than a normal filter. By simply making sure your filter is clean and in working order, you can increase the air quality in your home and ease the workload on your heating and air conditioning system.

Landscaping Around Your Air Conditioner

Another way to help protect your home air conditioning from needing repairs is by properly landscaping around your A/C unit outside. Your air conditioner needs air to breath and to move into your home. Although you may want to hide it for esthetic reasons with fencing or shrubbery, you don’t want to crowd the unit. Be sure that anything you plant or build to hide your unit still gives it enough space and air to keep cool and perform properly.

As the seasons change you’ll want to also make sure your outside condenser unit is free of any foliage. In the fall, dead leaves can get caught on the outside blocking airflow into the unit. In the springtime, especially after mowing your yard, be sure to check for grass, which has blown up into the sides of the unit. A gentle stream of water from your garden hose can be used to clean out not only vegetation, but also dirt from the “fins”, which can clog condenser coils.

Lex Air Can Help With HVAC Repair

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In regard to your home air conditioning and heat, changing your return air filter inside your home and keeping your outside condenser clean can help the performance and lifespan of your HVAC unit. If you do need air conditioning repair, you can call us 24 hours a day for quick responses to any emergencies you may have.

Air Conditioning Repair in Carrollton

Reasons You Need to Check Your A/C Unit Before the Summer

As spring gets underway and the temperatures begin to rise, Dallas residents are beginning to think about summer plans and keeping cool under the hot Texas sun. At Lex Air Conditioning, AC unit this summer, we always recommend that you check how it’s functioning long before it becomes necessary to use it everyday. Air conditioner repairmen are a lot more knowledgeable in this field than the average homeowner is. They’ll be able to check your home’s air quality, investigate any strange noises coming from your unit, and permanently fix or replace parts that aren’t working. If you wait to fix it or hope that it miraculously fixes itself, you’ll regret it come this June.

Long Air Conditioning Repair Wait Lists

Speaking to our previous point, by the time summer rolls around, many customers end up on a waiting list to have their AC unit repaired. We do our best to get to our customers as quickly as possible but Contact Us today to learn more about our services or schedule a repair.

Furnace Heating System

Furnace Types & Options in Dallas, TX

For much of the year, Dallas is notoriously hot. The all-time high temperature of 113 was recorded during the heat wave of 1980. Even in January, the coldest month, the average high is 57 degrees. It’s hardly snowshoe weather.

Then again, the average low in January is 37 degrees, and twice in recorded history the temperature dipped to -8. Wait, where did we put our snowshoes?

Clearly these colder temps are a job for a furnace. Maybe we don’t need heat for three-quarters of the year like they do in Montana, but even in Dallas we won’t be comfortable without some heating source.

Electric or Gas Heat?

In order to discuss furnace options available, we have to first discuss heating source. In Dallas, as in the rest of the country, a majority of homes are heated by either natural gas or electricity. But Dallas and the rest of the south skew more towards electric than most of the USA. In a few old homes, you might still find an old oil furnace or a propane tank, although these are rare. Geothermal is also rare and is a different type of heating source, although it is growing in popularity, especially in Highland Park area.

According to the US Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey, about half of Texas homes are heated with electricity and electric resistance heating is becoming even more popular. Natural gas is used to heat only about 42 percent of Texas homes. About 2 to 3 percent use propane, and a very small percentage have no heat at all.

Why is Electric Heat So Popular in Texas?

It seems counter-intuitive, that a city and state economy so reliant on natural gas production, wouldn’t have more homes running on natural gas for heat! Although the natural gas industry created Texas boom-towns over the last decade and prices for fuel remain low, installation costs are much higher than electric resistance heating.

A home builder ultimately decides what heat source your home is likely to use. Natural gas heat is popular in select neighborhoods throughout DFW, but requires multiple houses connected for it to be economical during installation. Alternatively, electric resistance heat is cheap and quick to install. This suits the population boom in DFW, as home builders are already swamped with enough projects. So the short answer is, electric heat is more cost effective for the builder and saves time during home construction, making it the most popular heat source.

Downsides of Electric Heat

Although electric heat is cheap during installation, it creates costly utility bills. Natural gas prices have historically been and will continue to be lower than the price of electricity in Texas. However, the cost of each fuel source is only one factor, electric resistance heat is also less efficient. So you pair a pricey heat source with a less efficient electric furnace, and you get high electric bills each month. Heat pumps which can be powered by electricity cut down energy use by 50%. So if you don’t have hookups for heating via natural gas, a heat pump is a cheaper and more efficient option.

Heat pumps and natural gas furnaces do cost more in repairs and maintenance, than electric resistance furnaces, although they are still cheaper than electric. Let’s break down the impact of a majority of Dallasites and Texans relying on electric furnaces for heat.

According to the US Energy Survey data from 2009, the annual electricity cost is $1,801 for each household in Texas. This is among the highest in the country. At 18 percent, air conditioning accounts for a bigger chunk of this amount than in cooler states. The 22 percent of the electricity bill that Texans spend on heating is much smaller than the national average of 41 percent. Although what is still surprising is Texans spend more on heat than on cooling. This is again due to the inefficiency of electric resistance furnaces compared to more energy efficient air conditioners.

Heat Sources in Homes Throughout DFW

In the greater Dallas metro area, the proportion of homes heated by electricity versus homes heated by natural gas varies widely. Factors driving the differences include presence or absence of natural gas lines, costs and home builder preferences. Let’s look at some towns around Dallas. These figures come from city-data.com

Addison

In Addison, a whopping 81 percent of homes heat with electricity compared to only 19 percent with utility gas. Price is probably a big driver here. Residential electricity prices average about 11 percent below the national average, while natural gas prices are about 26 percent above.

Carrollton

Electricity wins here, too, at 71 percent. Twenty-nine percent of Carrollton’s homes heat with utility gas and 1 percent use bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas. Carrollton has the same disparity in electricity and natural gas prices vs. the rest of the country as Addison.

Lewisville

Electricity 68 percent, utility gas 31 percent, bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas 1 percent. Same as above about average price differences.

Coppell

Despite the same disparity between average prices in Coppell and the rest of the US, Coppell has embraced gas heating. Fifty-two percent of homes heat with natural gas, while the other 48 percent use electricity.

The Colony

The Colony clocks in at 55 percent electricity for heat, 44 percent gas, and 1 percent bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas

Flower Mound

Flower Mound favors gas, with 73 percent of households using it for heat. Twenty-six percent use electricity and the other 1 percent use bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas.

Grapevine

Electricity predominates in Grapevine at 61 percent, compared to 39 percent utility gas and 1 percent no fuel used at all.

Frisco

Another rare win for natural gas, at 60 percent. Thirty-nine percent of Frisco households heat with electricity, and the remaining 1 percent use bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas.

Little Elm

Electricity wins with 59 percent, gas at 39 percent, and 1 percent use bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas.

Plano

Home heating fuels run neck in neck in Plano, with electricity edging out gas, 51 to 48 percent. One percent uses bottled, tank or liquefied petroleum gas.

What’s your furnace situation? If your furnace is more than 10 years old, you might quickly recoup the cost of a new furnace by getting a newer, higher-efficiency model. Wondering if your home is or could be on a natural gas line, and if that would be better? Call us at Lex Air and we’ll help you weigh your Dallas area furnace options.

Cold, Dallas

Can You Avoid Turning on the Heat in Dallas?

Both environmentalists and penny pinchers can agree that there’s a special period of time, a climatic sweet spot, when one can avoid turning on either the AC or the heat. In Dallas, except for the extra-hardy, fall and spring are the most feasible times to let your heating and cooling – and your wallet — rest. Let’s take a look at some temperature averages and some forecasts for this winter to plan our strategy.

Average Dallas Weather

We know, “average weather” never seems to happen. But let’s take a historic look at Dallas’ climate anyway.

According to Intellicast, Dallas’ average November high temperature is a comfortable 66 degrees, with a robe-and-slipper-requiring low of 47. In December, when the average low falls below 40 degrees to a chilly 39, native Texans will surely be forced to turn the heat on. If you moved here from Alaska, you’ll probably be wearing shorts and opening all your windows.

January and February also have average lows hovering around 40 degrees. But March boasts an average high of 69 degrees and a low of 49, which is probably doable without heat. The average high doesn’t climb above 80 until May.

So theoretically, based on this Intellicast information, hardy Dallas souls could avoid using both AC and heat during the months of March, April, October and November. Makes you glad you don’t live in, say, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the low only creeps above 40 degrees in the summer months.

Winter 2015-2016 Predictions

In October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its predictions for this coming winter. Prepare yourselves, fellow Texans: The NOAA says this winter will be colder and wetter than usual, all due to that infamous character, El Niño. This year, the boy is expected to have one of his strongest seasons ever, influencing climate and weather patterns.

The Live Weather Blogs website predicts Dallas will get 2.5 inches of snow this year, which is just over double the average snowfall. But not nearly as bad as 1977-78, which saw 17.6 inches. Or last year, when 5.8 inches fell!

Savings Game

Okay, so El Niño might mean turning the heat on a little more often than average Dallas temperatures would require. But you can still challenge yourself to use a little less. Here are some tips to persuade your family to minimize furnace use this winter:

  • Wondering what to get everybody for Christmas? Warm slippers. And festive house hats, colorful knit hats traditionally worn inside. Try to convince your kids that these are all the rage in Alaska or Siberia.
  • Make it a game. See who is the first person to break down and turn the heat on during the winter season. This can also be a daily game, to see how long everyone can go without touching the thermostat. The loser has to do the dishes that day.
  • Reward yourselves. Did you save on heat this winter? Environmentally minded people can send a contribution to a worthy cause. Average people can splurge on dinner. Misers can put the money in a jar and hide it under the bed.

Stay warm enough this winter, but don’t waste all your money on heating. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, it may not be very efficient. Call us today and we’ll help you determine whether upgrading to a higher efficiency furnace might be more cost effective.

Opt For Fireplace in Dallas

Should You Opt for a Fireplace in Dallas?

Seven Questions to Consider

It’s getting cooler in Dallas, especially at night with lows in November – December expected to dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But is it really the right choice for you? Ask yourself these seven questions.

Will I really use it?

People often dream of sitting in front of a cozy fire, roasting chestnuts for Christmas without considering cost of maintenance and acquiring fuel. Many home-buyers consider a fireplace a desirable attribute, or even a must. But they often wind up building a fire or two and then lapsing into fireplace indifference. Sometimes the mantel is the main attraction as a handy place for seasonal decorations and family portraits.

There’s also the TV question. The hearth was a traditional focal point for the home until the 1950s, when most families realized they’d rather watch television than flames. This brings up the awkward design question of splitting a focal point between a TV and a fireplace, an especially vexing problem if it turns out you don’t even light many fires.

Am I more about aesthetics or efficiency?

If you are still thinking about buying a home with a fireplace, what kind of fireplace will you choose? When visualizing a dream fireplace, most people imagine the traditional wood-burning type, complete with hot coals, dancing flames and sparks flying, just like our forefathers enjoyed. Delightful as a wood-burning fireplace is, this is not the most efficient heat source. Much of the warmth is sucked right out the chimney—plus it pulls warmth out of your other rooms. And the heat loss continues even after the fire is out, whether you remember to close the damper or leave it open, the damper isn’t effective at preventing a loss of warm air.

Flipping a switch and having a gas fire isn’t nearly as romantic as burning wood. But it sure is easier and more energy-efficient. Gas inserts can work in most fireplaces and are capable of heating up to 3,000 square feet of your house. This is a suitable option for people with natural gas lines running to their houses. Otherwise, you have to use propane or electric, which can lead to added charges and increased utility bills.

Do I have central heat?

If you live in one of Dallas’ older homes that has no central heating system, using a fireplace in conjunction with a built in heat exchanger might be a viable option. A heat exchanger installed into your fireplace, prevents warm air from escaping through the chimney and blows out hot air generated by a wood or gas fire. Sealing off the rooms not in use could make surviving Dallas winters without a traditional heat source possible.

Do I have a good source of wood?

Okay, you really want that wood fireplace. But you live in Dallas, not out in the country. You can’t just go chop a cord of wood whenever you need more fuel. Before you spend all that money on installing your dream fireplace, check out local wood sources. Craigslist has many local offers. HEB typically offers $5 bundles of wood in the winter throughout Dallas. A single bundle might last for 6 hours of use, so three nights at most. If you simply wanted a wood fire in Dallas every weekend for the winter, estimate a cost of $100 in wood.

Am I concerned about the environment?

Wood is natural because it comes from trees. So it must be fine to burn it, right? Actually, creosote, a by-product of burning wood, is a nasty, highly flammable goo that will quickly coat the inside of your chimney. If you don’t have your chimney cleaned regularly, you’re upping your chances of a deadly house fire. Wood fires also create outdoor and indoor air pollution. Children, elderly people and those with existing respiratory problems are especially susceptible to breathing difficulties caused by wood fires. A gas fire is a more environmentally friendly choice.

Do I like to entertain outside?

A backyard fireplace is another warm and festive option for Dallas residents. If you like to entertain at your house, the warmth and leaping flames of an outdoor fireplace will draw your guests like moths. It also considerably lengthens your backyard entertaining season.

Would I rather let somebody else deal with the fireplace?

After looking into cost, health, safety, maintenance and environmental concerns, you may feel yourself cooling to the idea of a fireplace. That’s okay. Dallas has plenty of bars and restaurants with a fireplace to warm yourself. Have a drink at the Kennedy Room, the Loon, the Mansion Bar, Three Sheets or the Veritas Wine Bar and let somebody else clean out the chimney.

Furnace Brands

Premium Vs. Budget Furnace Brands

If you’re building a new house or are considering replacing an old furnace system in your current home, you’ll face questions of budget versus premium systems. The price can vary so widely that you might wonder if a high-end system is worth the extra money, and if you’ll ever recoup those dollars. One can make a case for going the budget or the premium route. Let’s look at a few factors when weighing this potentially expensive decision. […]

Dallas Heating and Cooling Systems

Preparing Heating & Cooling Systems for Autumn in Dallas

When Does Autumn Begin in the Big D?

In 2015, Dallas residents experienced one of the warmest Septembers ever recorded. Autumn officially began on September 23rd, but for autumn weather in Dallas, the start date is much later.

Much as people doubt weather pundits in any season, this year even the weathermen admit the rest of 2015 is hard to pin down. They’re saying things like a big El Nino is in the works – unless it fails to show. The drought may or may not continue. Sea surface anomalies across the Pacific will affect temperature and precipitation.

The first truly cold day probably won’t arrive in November. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, November 2015 will see an average daily high of 59 degrees, which is two degrees above the typical month’s average. The almanac also predicts only 1.5 inches of rainfall in November, which is 1.5 inches below an average November.

Without a firm answer on 2015’s end of year weather, what is a homeowner to do?

Get prepared for shutting off your cooling system and turning on your heat when the time is right. Regardless of whether it will happen to you in November, implement these steps now and be prepared.

DIY Preparation

When it comes to your furnace, there is some preparation that can be done by a homeowner, and other prep that is best left to an HVAC professional. One of the easiest ways you can get the most mileage from your furnace is to monitor your filters, especially before turning it on for the first time.

Furnaces in Dallas sit unused for most of the year, until the end of November or beginning of December, when it finally dips to 40 degrees. Furnace filters will likely be dirtiest at the beginning of the season. Replace your filter and experience energy efficient heating, reduced risk of a fire hazard and cleaner indoor air.

Wipe down the surface of your furnace and tidy up the area directly around it. This cuts down on the chance of fire, and also makes your filters last longer.

Thermostats

In unpredictable weather, watch the thermostat like a hawk to prevent wasteful spending and overuse of your A/C and furnace.

A programmable thermostat is great when the weather is stable, but when it’s shifting rapidly you’ll need to remember to turn it up and down frequently.

Low-tech solution: A post-it note on the door to remind you. High-tech solution: Honeywell, Nest or a similar smart thermostat that is controllable from a smartphone. Forget to turn the heat down when you left home this morning? No problem. You can adjust it from the office.

Postponing A/C Maintenance is Costly

Many Dallas homeowners and businesses postpone maintenance or repairs of their central cooling systems until spring. Bad mistake.

Not only are you putting off the inevitable, but you are saving it for the start of the busy season. There could be delays and increased costs to wait until spring. Several issues could be affecting your A/C system, prolonging repairs and maintenance, even if idle throughout winter can cause further damage to system components.

What may have been a $400 repair, could easily turn into a full AC replacement.

Call in a Professional

The best way to prevent A/C and furnace repairs is to schedule regular professional tune-ups. Autumn is the perfect time in Dallas to have an HVAC professional methodically check equipment. Highlights of furnace maintenance include:

  • Inspecting the vent system for leakages or blockage
  • Checking wiring and the heat exchanger for rust and corrosion
  • Confirming pilot lights/burners are properly igniting
  • Assessing the drainage system
  • Cleaning the blower wheel if necessary
  • And much, much more!

Lex Air is happy to come and help with your autumn heating and cooling preparation. Join our roster of comfortable customers, satisfied with our service!

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