HVAC Disaster Planning – Using Generators for Powering Air Conditioning and Heating Systems when the Power Goes Out

Have you ever considered what you would do to keep your heating and air conditioning systems running, if there was an extended power outage in your area during the peak summer heat or freezing winter? The answer to this question could be especially important for people with respiratory problems or the elderly population that is less capable of handling extreme heat or cold in their homes.

“For anyone that has lived in the San Diego area for more than 30 years, it’s clear that our local climate has been experiencing more days with record highs during the summer, and longer periods of cold during the winter,” said San Diego air conditioning and heating expert Gabriel Carini. “We’re still blessed with a overall beautiful climate in San Diego, but in some areas of the county, the extreme heat can be a real problem if air conditioning is unavailable for extended periods of time.”

Carini noted that heating systems are also working overtime this winter. “People are actually more tolerant of the really hots days without air conditioning, than they are with very cold days without heating.”

The extreme temperatures that occur during cold spells and heat waves may raise the risk of heart-related deaths, according to an Australian study at the School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

The study, led by Cunrui Huang, for the first time looks at the link between daily average temperature and “years of life lost” due to cardiovascular diseases. Huang and colleagues write about their findings in the current issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

“Various studies have shown that exposure to extreme temperatures stresses the cardiovascular system in different ways: it changes blood thickness, blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels, for example. When they compared the two groups of data, the researchers found risk of premature death due to cardiovascular disease went up more when extreme heat lasted for two or more days.

“This might be because people become exhausted due to the sustained strain on their cardiovascular systems without relief, or health systems become overstretched and ambulances take longer to reach emergency cases, says co-author and associate professor of biostatistics at QUT, Adrian G. Barnett.

So what kind of tactics should people consider to make sure their heating and air conditioning systems continue to run in emergencies or disasters?

“People have lots of questions about generators for their home or business, including where they can run a generator, what size they need to buy and how to connect it to the house’s power supply,” said Carini. “The size of the unit depends on the sum of the electrical loads that you need to power simultaneously. This is measured in watts. Add up all the loads you want to run simultaneously, and then figure out which electrical items in your home require the most electricity to start their motors. Large items like air conditioners tend to use a lot of power when they start up—two or three times the power they use while they’re running normally.

How do you decide which of your household loads to protect with a backup generator? “Pat Porzio is a mechanical engineer, plumber and an electrician, and installs generators for a living. He’s HVAC manager for Russo Brothers Plumbing in East Hanover, N.J. Here are the circuits he typically powers:

1. First-floor bathroom
2. A couple of lighting circuits
3. Refrigerator
4. Furnace
5. Air Conditioning
6. Garage door opener
7. Well pump

Other loads to consider are a sump pump, a sewage ejector pump or a circuit into which you can plug a window air conditioner.

Read more: Home Generator 101 – How to Power On When the Power Goes Out – Popular Mechanics
For more information, contact Carini Heating and Air Conditioning, info@cariniair.com; 619-843-0997

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