Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?
You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.
How do I select the right heating/cooling system?
First, make sure the unit is properly sized. We will provide a load calculation for your home. Also ask our technician to provide an energy analysis to determine operating cost. Next, consider any comfort issues in the home. Some products can reduce air stratification and uneven temperatures from room to room. If you have allergies, an indoor unit with an ECM motor will allow you to circulate the air in your home continuously while filtering the air for about the same cost as operating a standard light bulb. Finally, know your budget parameters and the efficiency of the system being proposed. Does the system offer a payback? In other words, will the monthly savings over time offset the cost of the new unit or efficiency option being considered?
What is involved in replacing an old system?
Aside from the placement of the new equipment, our technician will inspect several items and make a determination of whether or not these items need to be supplied or replaced. Some of the items include: ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil.
What is involved in installing a new system?
If a system is being added to the home for the first time, most of the items noted in the previous question and answer may be required to install the new system. Besides the equipment, the most significant component is ductwork. The ductwork can be either metal or fiberglass ductwork. The ductwork needs to be properly sized to deliver the right amount of air to each room. The ductwork consists of supply and return ductwork. The supply duct is attached to the outlet of the furnace or air handler and delivers air to individual zones in your home. We will determine the size of the ductwork going into a space by the amount of air that needs to be delivered to the space.
How long can I expect a new system to last?
If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less) and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.
What are some preventative maintenance things I should be aware of?
With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need a yearly professional tune-up. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace or boiler itself.
Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.
Should I get my air ducts cleaned?
Cleaning your air ducts may be beneficial in improving your indoor air quality. A premium whole house duct cleaning will help decrease the spread of contaminates in your home. If your home was recently built cleaning the ductwork can get rid of drywall dust, sawdust and other debris from the construction process.
How important is adding humidity to my home?
As we heat our homes, the air has a tendency to dry out. This dry air can damage the woodwork and furniture you have in your home as well as zap the moisture from our skin. Dry air even makes you feel cooler because your body senses heat as a combination of temperature and humidity.
Adding humidity to offset this drying process will improve your comfort as well as preserve the woodwork in your home. As an added benefit, you may actually be able to lower your thermostat a couple of degrees. You will not only feel warmer but you may actually lower your heating bill!
Should I schedule an annual maintenance inspection for my heating and cooling system
One of the reasons to have bi-annual maintenance inspections (Spring & Fall) for your heating and cooling system is to insure that it is performing at maximum efficiency, which directly affects your monthly utility bills. You also want to make sure your equipment is functioning correctly and catch any problems before they become major expenses.
Regular maintenance will pay for itself in lower repair costs. Lastly, you want to make sure that your heating and cooling system is functioning properly to avoid any problems that could lead to danger to your home or family, i.e. loose electrical connections or holes in your system’s heat exchanger that could leak carbon monoxide.
How important is an air filter in my heating and cooling system?
It’s a fact: the trapped air we breathe in our homes can be loaded with dust, pollen, plant spores, and other pollutant particles. In many cases, it’s worse than the air outside.
How big of a furnace or air conditioner do I need for my home?
The only way to size a furnace or air conditioner for your home is to do a heat load calculation. The capacity needed is based upon how quickly your home gains or loses heat, not by square footage alone.
What is a SEER Rating
SEER stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. Basically it tells you how efficiently it converts electricity to cooling comfort. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the system. By federal law all units must be a 10 SEER or higher.
What is a AFUE rating
AFUE stands for “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency”. This rating tells you how much of your heating dollars are converted to heat energy put into your home and how much is lost up the flue pipe. Most older furnaces are 50% to 60% efficient. That means that for every dollar you spend for gas from your utility company, $.40 to $.50 cents are being sent up the flue pipe to the outdoors. Federal law mandates that all furnaces being produced today be at least 80% efficient.
There are several different sizes of furnaces up to 96% efficient. Which means that for every dollar you spend on gas from the utility company $.96 is converted to heat your home and only $.04 is sent out the flue pipe.
My HVAC system is new do they need to be cleaned?
Yes!! Even though your system is new, it still needs to have annual maintenance performed. This will help keep the warranty in effect. Most all equipment manufactures state in the terms of their warranty that annual maintenance must be performed by a qualified technician. Keeping your system maintained will give you assurance that it is operating at peak efficiency and safety.
Does my indoor air quality matter?
We spend 90% of our time every day indoors. Plus, today’s efficient, airtight homes are excellent at conserving energy, but that also makes them better at trapping potentially irritating particles inside the home. With the rising number of people who suffer from allergies and asthma, indoor air quality has become more and more important to our general health and well-being.
How can we assure that our furnace is operating and safe?
The best thing to do is schedule maintenance before the heating season is in full swing. But, if you’re not ready for that, there are a few steps you can take:
- Before you do anything, inspect your unit to make sure nothing flammable has been store next to the furnace over the summer.
- Be sure to run your heater before you need it to eliminate the chance it won’t work on the first cold night you need it.
- Dirty air filters restrict air flow and reduce efficiency – sometimes even damaging your unit. Change the filters regularly.
- Check all access panels to be sure they are secure, with screws in place.
When I turned on my furnace, it smelled bad. Is it Carbon Monoxide? Should I be worried?
It is normal to notice an odor because dust collects on the heat exchanger over the summer, and when you turn on the furnace, it is burning that dust off. When you run the furnace for he first time, you can open your windows to air out the odor. Carbon monoxide is odorless so you have nothing to be worried about there. It is always a god idea to use a good carbon monoxide detector to assure your safety. To be certain your furnace is running clean and safe, it’s always a good idea to schedule maintenance before the heating season kicks into full gear.
How can a programmable thermostat lower my energy costs?
Programmable thermostats allow you to customize your temperature settings based on your needs and lifestyle. With programmable thermostats, you can create custom schedules so your home is comfortable when you need it to be. When you’re not running your heating or cooling system excessively, the energy savings are enormous.
Why should I have my system regularly maintained?
Regular maintenance is vital to the performance and lifespan of your heating or cooling system.
Benefits of regular maintenance include:
- Help system perform efficiently and cut down on high energy costs
- Prolong the life-span of the equipment Help eliminate the risk of unexpected and costly repairs
- Maintain manufacturer’s warranty
- Assure system is running without risk to your health or safety
How can zoning improve my comfort?
By zoning your home, you have more control over different areas of your home without the need to regularly adjust the thermostat to reach a desired level of comfort. Rooms inside your home that are traditionally warmer than others are easy to control without placing extra strain on your HVAC system.
What is zoning?
Zoning makes your home more comfortable and helps you save on energy costs. Using multiple thermostats, your home is divided into independent zones. The climate of each zone is then independently controlled depending on your desired level of comfort. Common examples of zoning include separating the upstairs climate from the downstairs in a two-story home, or establishing a special zone for sleeping and living areas.