When we find ourselves in a prolonged heatwave such as we are now experiencing, we get a lot of calls with the complaint that the house isn’t getting cool enough. It may not have been that important to us in the past but in the time of coronavirus when we are all spending so much time in our homes, we really notice it. The implication is that there must be something wrong with the air conditioner. The reality is that the air conditioner is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Standard design conditions for the Greater Toronto Area require an air conditioner on a 30°C day to be able to cool a house by 7°C down to 23°C. On a 33°C day, the temperature inside the house would rise to 26°C. Since houses and air conditioners are rarely exactly matched you can sometimes get an extra degree or two out of the system. That’s it.
How can I broaden the comfort range for my home?
The obvious solution is to put in an air conditioner that is one size larger. Problem solved. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. While you might be more comfortable on those extremely hot days, the tradeoff is that you would be very uncomfortable on all the other warm days. The AC unit would easily bring the temperature down to where you want it, but it would not run long enough to remove the high humidity we experience. The result would be a cold, clammy house. Not that comfortable.
Is there a good solution?
95% of all homes have a basic single-stage air conditioner. The good news is that we have 2 stage and variable stage air conditioners that can significantly stretch the comfort range so that you can achieve the temperature you desire while maintaining good relative humidity levels in your home. These AC units are also very efficient so that you don’t pay an energy penalty. This is what I have in my own home. It does require that you have large enough ducts to handle the extra airflow required. Another solution is to add cooling to specific areas of a house such as a master bedroom or home office. This could be in the form of a portable AC unit or a wall hung ductless type air conditioner.
I am always amazed at the expense and effort people will go to create beautiful indoor living spaces and end up being uncomfortable because they didn’t fully examine the options available for their HVAC system. If you want to be more comfortable in your home, invite an AtlasCare comfort advisor in to go over your options. We pride ourselves on bringing solutions not boxes.
Roger Grochmal, P.Eng.