• What You Should Know about Carbon Monoxide

    learn about carbon monoxide


    It's instinct! When cold weather arrives, homeowners run to their thermostat or control system to switch on the heat. But they rarely consider the condition of their gas furnace, its exhaust system, and how it might affect their home comfort.

    Let’s Vent

    Overall, new homes can be more energy efficient than homes built as recently as the early 2000’s.1 Innovative insulation options, sealing of air gaps and other factors can create a more energy efficient home. But when fossil fuels are burned in a gas furnace, exhaust gases are produced. One of these gases is carbon monoxide.

    Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, practically odorless, and tasteless gas or liquid.2

    Exhaust gases must be vented away from indoor spaces so the occupants don’t breathe them in. But as homes become more air tight, there are not as many pathways for these gases to escape. To be sure the gas furnace components and exhaust system are working properly; the furnace should be routinely inspected by a licensed or professional HVAC contractor.

    The Facts

    • Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.3
    • Carbon monoxide is responsible for more than 20,000 visits the emergency room, and more than 4,000 hospitalizations.3
    • Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include a headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.3

    Prevent Carbon Monoxide Buildup

    In a properly functioning gas furnace, carbon monoxide gas is vented outside the home.

    When fossil fuels are burned in your home, it is important that the exhaust gases be vented to a properly sized flue or venting system that can eliminate them from indoor spaces. Gas furnaces are not the only source of carbon monoxide. “Carbon monoxide can be generated any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces.”4

    The Center for Disease Control offers the following HVAC-related tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.
    1. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector and replace batteries often.  The CDC suggests replacing your carbon monoxide detector every five years.5
    2. Hire a professional or licensed technician. Any gas, oil, or coal burning appliances, including your heating system, water heater, or fireplace should be routinely inspected by a qualified technician.5
    3. Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.5
    4. Have your chimney inspected or cleaned every year. Blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide to build up inside your home.5
    5. Do not block, close or patch a vent pipe. Only a professional or licensed technician should evaluate and determine appropriate venting. Be aware of heavy snowfall that may block venting on roof or side wall.5

    Carbon Monoxide Detection

    “Half of all unintentional CO poisoning deaths could be prevented with the use of CO alarms.”6

    A functioning carbon monoxide detector can be a life saver if the gas is reaching the interior living spaces. However, the detector should only be used as a backup to properly maintaining your fuel burning appliances. The EPA has the following suggestions regarding carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor or on the ceiling.6
    • Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance.6
    • Each floor needs a separate detector.6
    • Place a detector near the sleeping area and make certain the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.6
    • Regularly test and replace batteries.6


    1 Department of Energy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Top 4 Energy Department Inventions Saving You Energy & Money at Home: https://energy.gov/articles/top-4-energy-department-inventions-saving-you-energy-money-home
    2,4  What is Carbon Monoxide? (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://iaq.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212106787-What-is-Carbon-Monoxide-
    3,5 Carbon Monoxide. (n.d.). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm
    6 Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/pcmp_english_100-f-09-001.pdf
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  • Why do Air Filters and MERV Ratings Matter?

    What's in your air filter?

    You vacuum, sweep, dust, and even give your pet a bath, but your air filter may still become coated with “stuff” that has been floating around the conditioned air.  Your air filters may reveal a dirty little secret - the air you breathe may not be as fresh as you think!

    Where are the Indoor Particulates?


    “Particulates” is the fancy word for the “stuff” found floating in the ductwork your home. This is the “stuff” that is captured in your HVAC filter. According to the EPA1, a basic air filter with a low Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (commonly known as MERV) may capture some of your home’s airborne particulates including, but not limited to:

    • Dust
    • Pollen
    • Animal dander
    • Larger particles that contain dust mite and cockroach allergens

    Air filters are crucial to the proper operation of an HVAC system because they are intended to minimize the number of particulates landing on fan motors and heating or cooling coils. Routinely replacing the air filter as directed by the manufacturer’s guidelines can protect your HVAC equipment and may help your HVAC system from losing efficiency over time! A clogged air filter can increase your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%.2

    What’s MERV got to do with it?


    MERV is not the guy you met at the gym! MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) is number value that distinguishes the filtration ability of air filters installed in your HVAC system.3 The MERV numbering system can range from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV number, the better the filter may be at trapping particulates. This means that fewer particles and airborne contaminants can pass through a high MERV filter to your HVAC equipment.


    Residential furnaces and air conditioners commonly use 1 to 4 MERV rated filters. The EPA says that basic mechanical air filters may not be very good at completely removing particulates.4 However, these filters may stop some larger particles from passing through to the HVAC equipment.


    If the MERV rating if higher, there is a better chance of trapping “bacteria, some spores, a significant fraction of cat and dog allergens, and a small portion of dust mite allergens.”5 The EPA suggests that filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 13 can be as nearly as effective as true HEPA filters.


    However, some residential HVAC systems may not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate higher efficiency filters. Therefore, talk with your technician about your HVAC manufacturer’s recommended filter type before upgrading to higher MERV filters. Installing true HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters in an existing home HVAC system typically requires professional modification of the system.


    If you are concerned with indoor pollutants, discuss possible solutions and products with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

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    1, 2 Guide to Indoor Air Cleaners in the Home. (2014, July). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-07/documents/aircleaners.pdf

    3 What Are MERV Ratings and How Do They Work? (n.d.). Retrieved from Air Purifier Guide: http://www.airpurifierguide.org/faq/merv-ratings

    4 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). (n.d.). Retrieved from EPA: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/residential-air-cleaners-second-edition-summary-available-information#summary

    5 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner

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  • How Humidity and Dry Air May Impact Your Indoor, “Just Right” Comfort?

    Dry air or humidity levels may contribute to indoor comfort

    In the popular children’s story, Goldilocks quickly realized that too hot or too cold is not a good thing. Most people appreciate when temperatures, especially indoor temperatures, are “just right.” Humidity control of your home’s indoor air is essential to ensuring that the temperature you set on the thermostat or control system is ‘just right’ for you and your family.

    When it comes to humidity, the Department of Energy suggests that your air conditioner or heat pump may make an indoor space more comfortable in hot, humid climates. While the main job of the air conditioner or heat pump is to condition the air to a set temperature, these comfort-creating pieces of equipment may lower the indoor humidity level as a by-product of the cooling process. However, if the indoor humidity level remains high, you could still feel uncomfortably damp despite a cooler temperature.1

    Relative Humidity


    The temperature you feel has a lot to do with how much moisture, or water vapor, is in the air. Think back to Goldilocks’ porridge (a fancy name for oatmeal!).  If there is a small amount of porridge in the bowl, you can add more. But if the bowl is full of porridge, there is a good chance it will spill over the side. The same is true of water vapor in the air. The more water vapor in the air, the less room there is for more to be added.  If the air is filled with water vapor, it drops out in the form of rain, sleet or snow. The percentage of water vapor in the air, compared to how much it could hold without dropping out at a specific temperature is the relative humidity.2

    The Good and Bad of Evaporation!


    When moisture evaporates from our skin, it has a cooling effect. Scientists tell us that evaporation rates increase when the relative humidity decreases.3 That means, when all other conditions are identical,  dry air absorbs moisture faster than humid air. Why?  Because there is room for more water vapor!

    Indoor air with higher humidity has an increased amount of water vapor. As a result, sweat may not evaporate from our skin as quickly as it would with a lower humidity level. This phenomenon may make us feel hotter than the actual temperature because evaporation is slowed. According to the Missouri Department of Energy, most people will feel cooler in a room at 75°F and a relative humidity between 50% and 55% than in a room at the same temperature with a higher relative humidity.4

    While high indoor humidity may make you feel uncomfortable, air with low humidity level can impact your comfort as well.  While there are many variables involved (including air pressure, temperature, and wind speed, etc.) evaporation rates tend to increase with low humidity levels. When evaporation increases, the dry air may leave our skin and other parts of the body that require moisture, feeling dry and parched.5  Proper humidity levels keep you, your furniture and your home from drying out.

    The “Just Right” Feeling


    Depending on the season and the geographical location of your home, your indoor spaces may be prone to high or low indoor humidity levels. But despite site-specific variables, every person has unique preferences on their ideal specific humidity and temperature settings required to get that “just right” feeling.


    The idea of indoor humidity control sparked one of the first uses of air conditioning in the southern U.S. (link to ice, physics article) Stuart W. Cramer installed the first air conditioning system in North Carolina in order to create “ideal” humidity levels at his cotton mills. However, conventional heat pumps and air conditioners are not meant to control both temperature and humidity independently.6 Dehumidification just happens to be an incidental by-product of the refrigeration cycle!


    During the refrigeration cycle, warm air comes in contact with the cold evaporator coil in your air conditioner or heat pump. When this happens, some moisture may be condensed out of the air making your home feel less humid. Any moisture collected by the coil goes to a drain and sent outside, away from your home.


    But if your home’s air conditioner or heat pump is oversized for your space, it may not be removing as much moisture as a properly sized and matched unit. A unit that is too large for your home may cool your indoor space quickly, but cycle off before providing the incidental dehumidification. 


    A licensed professional HVAC dealer may suggest a separate or additional dehumidifier, which can reduce the relative humidity in your home to a comfortable level.  A dehumidifier may:

    • Reduce the cold, clammy feeling that comes from lowering the temperature on your thermostat in order to reduce the humidity level in your home7
    • Help create an environment where dust mites can’t easily survive (when air is maintained below 50% relative humidity*)7
    • Helps protect your hardwood flooring from warping when set to maintain the relative humidity in the range recommended by the hardwood flooring manufacturer7


    If you feel the humidity level is too high for your indoor spaces, your licensed or professional HVAC dealer can inspect your system and provide solutions that can create that “just right” feeling in your home.


    1 Department of Energy. Energy Saver - Dehumidifying Heat Pipes. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/dehumidifying-heat-pipes. 2017 4 May.

    2 University of Illinois Extension. Treehouse Weather Kids. n.d. https://extension.illinois.edu/treehouse/clouds.cfm?Slide=2. 4 2017 May.

    3, 4 Dougherty, Elizabeth. MIT School of Engineering. 10 May 2011. https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-do-we-sweat-more-in-high-humidity/. 2017 4 May.

    5 Energy Star. Common Home Problems and Solutions: Dry Air. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_solutions.hm_improvement_dryair. 2017 4 May.

    6 American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Top Ten Things About Air Conditioning. n.d. https://www.ashrae.org/resources--publications/free-resources/top-ten-things-about-air-conditioning#10. 4 May 2017.

    7 Clean Comfort Indoor Air Essentials. Dehumidifiers. n.d. http://www.cleancomfort.com/#humiditycontrol. 4 May 2017.

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  • How Smart is Your Thermostat?

    smart thermostats and comfort

    Once upon a time, homeowners like you had to adjust their indoor temperatures by opening windows or fueling fires. Luckily, in 1883 a Wisconsin professor grew tired of having a cold classroom. The professor found himself continuously searching for the janitor in charge of the basement furnace who was responsible for adjusting dampers. As a result, the professor, Warren Johnson, invented the first thermostat.


    The Basic Thermostat


    Today, it’s hard to imagine a modern home without a device to set the desired indoor temperature. The basic thermostat, which has been a staple in home construction for a few decades, is designed to turn on the central heating and cooling system at one temperature and off at another. There are three basic operations that even the simplest thermostat has:

    • A HEAT, COOL and OFF switch
    • An ON or AUTO fan switch
    • A means to increase or decrease the temperature settings


    While these options provide functionality to your heating and cooling system, additional options may be required depending on your specific HVAC scenario. For example, a thermostat for a heat pump may include an option for auxiliary heat. The auxiliary heat switch activates the air handler’s (the most common inside component of a heat pump system) heat strips to turn on to supplement the output. 


    The Programmable Thermostat


    With the entry of the programmable thermostat, the sophistication level of indoor temperature control was elevated. Some of the early programmable thermostats could be difficult to program. The newer ones of today are more intuitive and simpler to operate by comparison. By pre-programming temperature settings that align with lifestyles and preferences, homeowners can create an environment that makes their family most comfortable and potentially save money in the process. A programmable thermostat or control system can save you as much as $180 every year in energy costs when properly programmed.1

    If you need assistance with determining set points times and temperatures, ENERGY STAR® suggests the following:2 

    Programmable thermostat recommendations 

    The Smart Thermostat or Control System


    But as today’s consumers are increasingly looking for ways to connect their lives and homes, intelligent heating and cooling devices are becoming more commonly accepted. Enter the smart thermostat or control system; a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance.3


    In late 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever ENERGY STAR® specification for smart thermostats. “The challenge in identifying household thermostats that save energy is accounting for how an individual or family ultimately sets the temperature.”4 “Anyone who cares about energy savings but is too busy to think about their heating and cooling use can be assured that these products have shown they help other busy families,” said Abi Daken, program manager for ENERGY STAR® HVAC products.5


    When integrated with popular consumer electronics, homeowners now have the option of even more sophisticated indoor temperature control than with previous traditional or basic programmable thermostats. For example, both the Amazon Echo and Google Home integrate with the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort App to provide advanced inter-connectivity and voice control ability.


    Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker that uses Alexa Voice Assistant to control devices in your home.

    • The Amazon Echo allows direct control of certain smart thermostats or control systems, taking your home comfort to the next level.
    • Homeowners can install the Alexa App on their smart home device. Once installed, you can search for the “skills” list for your particular smart thermostat. Amazon Alexa puts you in command of your home through voice controls that can be used with individual smart thermostats or group names. Here are a two examples of the commands you can use to operate your thermostat hands-free:
      • The family cooking session was too hot. Ask Alexa to cool down the room. Command: “Alexa, lower the temperature by 3 degrees.”
      • Too chilly for your guests? Alexa can make it warmer. Say: “Alexa, raise the temperature by 2 degrees.”


    Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant.

    • Homeowners can control their smart thermostat control system hands-free, receive important notifications and automate their home to react to your unique preferences.
    • Simply install the Google Home app onto your smartphone and link your smart thermostat in a few easy steps.
    • A simple voice command like "Ok Google, set the temperature to 72 degrees" can provide automated home comfort.


    Even without these dedicated smart devices, homeowners may be able to control certain smart thermostats or control systems directly through a smartphone and/or tablet app. When a compatible smart thermostat or control system is installed, a coordinating App may be able to remotely monitor and manage home comfort, and possibly energy use anytime, anywhere.


    In the near future, a thermostat or control system mounted on a home’s wall may not even be necessary. The dawn of a home without a thermostat or control system may be just around the corner.


    Affordable Goodman Products

    1 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.

    2 "A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling." August 2009. Energy Star. <https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf>.

    3 ENERGY STAR®. Certified Products. 2017. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/smart_thermostats. 27 March 2017.

    4, 5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ENERGY STAR® Ends the Thermostat Wars by Introducing FIrst-Ever Smart Thermostat Specification. 1 March 2017. <https://www.energystar.gov/about/content/energy_star_ends_thermostat_wars_introducing_first_ever_smart_thermostat_specification>.

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  • Why Does my Neighbor's Air Conditioner Sound Loud?

    Loud AC

    As they say, silence in golden! However, there is something special about the sounds of children playing, birds chirping in the trees and the soft hum of an air conditioner in the warm summer months.  But if you have recently upgraded your air conditioner and are enjoying the benefits of a quieter operation, you may notice some new sounds that weren’t so obvious before — especially the sound of your neighbor’s air conditioner!

    The Sound of Indoor Comfort


    When you are in a library, even a whisper can seem loud. If your air conditioner was upgraded from a single-stage, inefficient unit to a two-stage or variable speed, high efficiency system, you might be enjoying a quieter outdoor environment, but you may be more aware of other surrounding sounds! Simply stated, your new energy efficient system has operational noise levels lower than the old inefficient heating and cooling system you replaced. The noise from your old unit covered up the noise from your neighbors system. When your unit’s noise is reduced, suddenly it may seem like the neighbor’s unit got louder but that may not be accurate.

    When an air conditioning system turns ON and OFF, it creates sound. If the thermostat or control system detects that it is too hot indoors, a single-stage air conditioning system will turn on at full power and move cooled, conditioned air at one consistent speed until the thermostat setting was /is satisfied. When the indoor temperature reached the setting, then the whole system shuts down just as quickly as it started.

    A two-stage air conditioning system is designed to operate lower and higher speed options, minimizing the effect of full ON  or  OFF cycling compared to single speed units. Two-speed and variable speed systems do tend to run longer because they were engineered to maintain consistent indoor comfort at the lower speed. This may also reduce the ON/OFF noise when compared to a single stage unit because it cycles less often.  

    A variable speed unit can adjust output levels at various speeds depending on the thermostat or control system settings. These systems tend to run for longer periods but at a lower capacity to maintain indoor comfort.  

    Listen Up!


    A sporadic  ON/OFF cycle may catch your attention, but when an air conditioner’s soft hum amplifies into something else, neighbors may start to take notice. Air conditioning components are designed and engineered to contribute to the efficient transfer of heat and movement of cool, conditioned air. As a result, there are lots of sound-producing moving parts! Yet, when a component’s intended function is compromised, an air conditioner’s hum may turn into a buzzing roar, rattle or screech.  If there is a significant change in sounds, it may be a signal to contact a licensed professional HVAC dealer for an inspection. 


    There are certain noises that are the result of a particular action. If you bang two pots together, you will get a clanging sound.  In an air conditioner, a rattling sound may indicate that the fan blade may need an adjustment or be cleaned of debris. Changes in the particular sound coming from an air conditioner may indicate:

    • Loose parts, bearings or motor components
    • Dirt or debris is interfering with proper operation
    • A particular part is out of balance
    • Bearings need lubrication
    • Piping to the inside is rubbing against an object
    • Coils need to be cleaned
    • Air filter needs to be changed
    • An issue with the compressor

    Measures in Maintenance


    Notating new sounds may assist an HVAC dealer with determining the probable cause and a potential fix. Regular maintenance performed by a licensed professional HVAC dealer may ward off noise-inducing malfunctions, potentially reduce the cooling emergencies and help extend the life of your system. While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may include the inspection of sound producing elements as well as:

    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Inspect refrigerant lines
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Inspect exterior fan and lubricate moving parts
    • Check and tighten and loose electrical connections
    • Inspect system controls
    • Replace parts that are showing wear and tear

    Resounding Air


    If unusual noises are coming from the air registers (the vents where the conditioned air is blown into a room), ductwork should be inspected. Loose or ill-fitting ducts, as well as debris in the ductwork, may reverberate or echo sounds through the registers into living spaces.

    An air condition system is intentionally sized and installed to move a specific amount of air. When unusual sounds come from the register, it may indicate a pressure imbalance between the air drawn into the system and cooled, conditioned air flowing into the indoor spaces. If the air filter or supply vents are blocked, intake duct work is impaired or too many registers are closed off, the pressure and the speed of the air may change from intended set up, possibly increasing the sound level.  A professional licensed HVAC dealer can inspect the air conditioning system to determine if proper air flow is being compromised.  


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  • Why Is My Utility Bill Increasing?

    Increasing Utility Bill?

    You know it’s coming — that dreaded utility bill every month!

    You have tried to keep your budget in check, but you also want the temperature to be comfortable in your home! Deep in your soul, are you wondering if the source of your high utility bill is your inefficient heating or cooling equipment? Why do you feel guilty every time you adjust the temperature on your thermostat or control system? Let’s do some soul searching!

    Age and Maintenance


    As you may have heard, some things get better with age — wine, jeans, and maybe you! The good news is that properly installed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment is designed to perform the job it was intended for:  to heat and cool your home for many, many comfortable years.


    However, just like you, HVAC equipment may lose efficiency over time if not appropriately maintained. Routine maintenance can play a big part in maximizing the longevity and maintaining the energy-efficient performance your equipment. It’s as important as going to the dentist! Take care of what’s important, and it should take care of you.


    Over time, lapses in annual maintenance may impact the delicate balancing act between HVAC equipment, air flow, and mechanics. If one or more components are not functioning as designed, the entire system may be affected and impact longevity and efficiency. Routine maintenance may extend the life of your HVAC equipment and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time.1

    Operating Costs


    If your HVAC equipment was installed in 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers had just won their fifth Super Bowl, and average residential, retail price for electricity was 10.40¢ per Kilowatt hour.2  As long as you were a Pittsburgh fan and your HVAC equipment was installed properly, life may have been pretty good in your house!


    But in 2016 the average residential electricity price per Kilowatt hour was 12.55¢, and it doesn’t look like electricity is getting any cheaper.3 The Energy Information Administration forecasts the July 2018 price to be near 13.33¢ per Kilowatt hour4, which may impact your utility bill even more! 


    Fortunately, technology improvements have resulted in higher energy efficiency ratings for new indoor comfort systems. Yet, unless you implement these advancements, alter your electricity usage, or make an effort to increase your home’s insulation or R-value, your utility costs may have risen nearly 21% in 10 years.

    Efficiency Standards and Features


    You may think that you are saving money by putting off the installation of new heating or cooling equipment, but it may be costing you more than you think. Today’s high-efficiency systems may dramatically reduce energy usage, thereby lowering your monthly cooling bills.


    Since 2006, the minimum energy efficiency standards of HVAC equipment, such as SEER, Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) numbers have been on an upward trajectory, providing homeowners with greater options of energy efficient heating and cooling systems. It’s increasingly common to see residential HVAC equipment such as air conditioner and heat pumps reaching 18 SEER, 9.5 HSPF performance, and natural gas furnaces with efficiency ratings up to 98% AFUE.


    Energy-efficient features, such as variable speed fans, variable speed compressors, and heat exchanger technology have also ushered in a new era of HVAC equipment. Not only do these features offer the benefits of increased energy efficiency when compared to some older or base models, but they may also help keep your budget in check and greatly improve your overall comfort level in your home.


    But high-efficient HVAC equipment with innovative technology is only one piece of the puzzle. If other key energy-efficient solutions are ignored, your energy bills may still be higher than you would like. Additional factors that can influence heating and cooling efficiency levels include, but are not limited to:

    • Local climate
    • Thermostat or control system settings
    • Ductwork
    • Installation and maintenance schedule
    • Insulation and construction methods
    • Windows and doors


    If you are curious how your indoor heating and cooling equipment may be affecting your monthly utility bill or want to learn ways to improve efficiency, talk to your local professional licensed HVAC dealer. 

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    1 Maintaining your Air Conditioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/maintaining-your-air-conditioner
    2,3 U.S. EIA. (2017, May). Monthly Energy Review, Average Retail Prices of Electricity. Retrieved from U.S. Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec9_11.pdf

    4 Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved from US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/electricity.cfm


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  • A Great Reason Why Your Air Conditioner Might Be Running All Day!

    Good Reasons Why an AC Runs All Day

    When you think of “slow and steady”, you don’t often think of air conditioners – especially when it’s hotter than blazes outside.  You’re likely looking for quick and fast indoor relief.  Select air conditioners and heat pumps offer a new technology that can help reduce indoor temperatures at 100% capacity, but also feature a “slow and steady” option. This option may actually help improve your home’s indoor comfort level while reducing energy consumption! So when it comes to home cooling – a slow and steady option may win the race on energy-efficient, refreshingly cool indoor comfort!

    The Start vs Slow and Steady


    Electricity usage usually surges each time an HVAC system turns on. The more often it has to turn ON, the more electricity it uses.

    You may be thinking, “The more often my air conditioner runs, the more energy it will consume and the higher my utility bills will be.” But according to a study by the Department of Energy, “Operating fan motors or compressors at lower speeds for longer periods of time can lead to reduced total energy consumption.”1

    This is why air conditioners or heat pumps with compressors that can run at lower speeds for a longer period of time may actually use less energy than equipment with only one, 100% speed option. These energy-efficient compressors may increase the length of the unit’s run time, but they consume less electricity compared to units that only offer ON/OFF cycling! Slow and steady cooling may help you save on your cooling energy costs!



    An air conditioner or heat pump’s compressor creates the cooling capacity for the system and can come in single-stage, two-stage or variable-speed options. Each of these compressors offers the ability to run at 100% capacity when demand requires it.

    Traditionally, base model compressors are single-stage, which means the compressor runs full ON or is OFF.  With these models, your cooling system turns ON at 100% capacity and then OFF until your thermostat or control system reaches the temperature setting you have selected. 


    For example, if your single-stage unit has a 3-ton capacity (measured in capacity, not weight), it will use all 3-tons or 100% capacity to cool your indoor space. The unit will cycle ON and OFF as many times as necessary to meet your indoor temperature request!

    Two-stage compressors offer two capacity options. It’s like having two units built into one — a low capacity one to handle a smaller demand and a larger one to meet heavier demands. If conditions exist that 100% capacity is not required, a two-stage compressor can operate at the lower speed, offering part-capacity to reach your desired indoor temperature.


    While this may mean that your unit’s ON cycle time will be lengthened, the power needed to support the lower speed would be reduced compared to a simple, single-speed system.


    Variable Speed: Variable speed compressor technology allows the unit to run at the speed that best meets your comfort needs coupled with energy-efficient operation. A variable speed air conditioner or heat pump is designed and engineered specifically to provide the output needed at the lowest consumption of power.   


    Just like a car’s various gears, variable speed compressors can operate at various levels of output depending on the conditions. Systems with variable speed technology may run at full capacity on hot summer days or reduced capacity for milder days. It is a great energy-efficient option when compared to a single-speed unit.


    Once the indoor temperature you set on the thermostat or control system is achieved, the variable speed unit will strive to operate at the lowest speed possible to deliver consistent, energy-efficient comfort in your home.


    Because a variable speed air conditioner or heat pump can adjust capacity for demand, it may run longer than a single-stage unit under the same conditions. However, as the Department of Energy suggests, operating the compressor at lower speeds for a longer duration may reduce the total energy consumption required to cool your indoor spaces of your home without a loss of the unit’s ability to cool your home.

    Added Benefits of Extended Run Times


    A two-stage or variable speed system may run longer than your traditional single speed HVAC system, but at a level that requires less energy. But in addition to energy savings, this slow and steady operation offers some additional comfort benefits when compared to a single-speed unit:


    Extended Dehumidification Process – Heat pumps and air conditioners use the refrigeration cycle process to cool your home.  During this process, moisture, in the form of humidity, is removed from the indoor air in your home. Longer run times create the opportunity for more indoor air to be dehumidified. This may improve the balance between temperature and humidity, providing you with more comfortable interior air.


    Consistent Indoor Comfort – Two-stage and variable-speed technology may minimize the temperature swings often found with single-stage equipment. Rather than shutting down until your thermostat or control system recognizes the need for cooler indoor air, the optional run speeds prolong the set temperature of your spaces. This allows for a more steady and consistent comfort in your home when compared to the temperature fluctuations that can be associated with a single-stage compressor.


    Air Filtering – The extended run time afforded by two-stage or variable speed units may increase the amount of time for the air to circulate and interact with filters or additional air quality system components. However, as with traditional systems, it is important to change out your air filters and indoor air quality essentials according to your HVAC dealer or manufacturer’s recommendations.


    While extended run times can be beneficial with a two-stage or variable speed unit, single-stage air conditioners should cycle ON and OFF as demand requires. If you find that your single-stage air conditioner or heat pump is experiencing extended run times in comparison to normal operation, it may be a signal to contact your local licensed professional HVAC dealer for a system evaluation. 

    Goodman® AC & Heat Pumps

    1 Navigant Consulting, I. (2013, December). US Department of Energy. Retrieved from Energy Savings Potential and Opportunitys for High-Efficiency Electric Motors in Residental and Commercial Equipment: https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/02/f8/Motor%20Energy%20Savings%20Potential%20Report%202013-12-4.pdf

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  • 10 Common Air Conditioner Myths – BUSTED!

    air conditioner myths

    1. MYTH:
    The bigger the air conditioner, the better it will cool my house.

    BUSTED: Oversize units may create bursts of cold air, tricking thermostats or control systems into shutting off the system before the entire house reaches the desired temperature. This “cycling” may end up causing excess wear and tear on the unit, affecting your indoor comfort level, and influencing your overall energy costs.

    When an air conditioner is sized and installed properly by a professional HVAC technician, it will cycle on and off at various intervals to maintain the temperature setting on the thermostat or control system. It is not unusual for an air conditioner to operate using long on and off cycles. In fact, this is preferred for energy efficient performance and humidity removal. When a unit is not properly sized and installed, the unit may cycle on and off quickly and quite frequently. This situation may not allow the unit to operate as efficiently as it was designed and indoor comfort is risked because the unit cannot remove enough humidity. While a bigger unit may seem to offer powerful cooling performance, a unit sized properly is the best option for long term durability and comfort.

    2. MYTH: Setting a thermostat or control system to an extreme cold temperature will cool the house faster! 

    BUSTED: If the indoor temperature us 78 degrees, setting your thermostat to 40 degrees, for example, will not cool your house any faster than setting it at 70 degrees. Most HVAC systems’ airflow cools at a set point.  Once the system starts, it will reach the designated temperature sometime thereafter.1 Temperature settings on a thermostat or control system do not equate to the speed of cooling.

    3. MYTH: Price should be the deciding factor when purchasing an air conditioner!

    BUSTED: There are many factors to consider when you are in the process of purchasing and installing an air conditioner. Be certain to make your selection and choice based upon your specific comfort needs, budget, and anticipated length of time you will be in your current home.

    Enhanced energy savings can result in real, tangible returns when you invest in a high-efficiency system, especially when compared to your old unit or today’s base-efficiency models. Labor costs can vary depending on the complexity of the installation, the quality of your existing duct work and any regulations that may influence how much a new energy efficient fully installed cooling system will cost.

    4. MYTH: Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house!

    BUSTED: It may seem like a money-saving option, but turning off your HVAC system when you leave the house may create problems that lead to additional expenses. Your air conditioner plays an important role in humidity management, a key component in minimizing indoor air quality issues. Additionally, if temperatures become extreme during your absence, it may take your system a long time to restore a comfortable temperature upon your return.

    5. MYTH: The location of a thermostat location isn’t important.

    BUSTED: The location of your thermostat can affect your HVAC system’s performance and efficiency. A thermostat or control system should be installed on an interior wall of your home. This limits its exposure to direct sunlight, drafts, doorway, skylights and windows.2

    6. MYTH: Closing vents to select rooms in your home will save you money.


    BUSTED: A properly installed HVAC system should be sized and balanced according to the specific amount of air to be circulated in a home. However, when you close vents, you may throw off the balance of the system or change the way air is distributed resulting in temperatures that make the rest of the house uncomfortable.3


    Before closing vents, discuss concerns with your licensed or professional HVAC dealer. Since each HVAC system set up is site specific, a dealer should be able to help you decide whether certain vents can be closed to reduce the amount of space in your home that is being cooled.


    7. MYTH: Maintenance plans have no effect on an air conditioner’s efficiency.


    BUSTED: Professional licensed HVAC dealers are equipped to identify airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential concerns. To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, homeowners should schedule routine maintenance for detailed check-ups. Air conditioner maintenance may prevent minor issues from turning into expensive major problems over time and possibly extend the life of your HVAC equipment.


    8. MYTH: The air conditioning unit needs new refrigerant every year.


    BUSTED: Refrigerant charge, which directly affects the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner, should exactly match the manufacturer's specification.4 Refrigerant should not be undercharged nor overcharged.

    Today, there are two basic types of refrigerant. R-22 is currently being phased out of use. This chlorine containing refrigerant was a very  common refrigerant for many years. R-410A is the refrigerant that is used in all new air conditioner units.  It’s chlorine free and supports higher levels of heat transfer that help the energy efficiency level of the unit. You cannot mix one refrigerant into a unit that uses the other refrigerant. Ask your professional licensed HVAC dealer for help regarding the refrigerant in your central air conditioner.

    9. MYTH: Purchasing an energy-efficient air conditioner will not save you in energy costs.

    BUSTED: High SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) air conditioners typically cost less to run than their lower SEER counterparts under the same conditions. However, there are multiple variables that play into the energy costs associated with air conditioning use. Correct equipment sizing, sealed ducts, filter cleanliness and your home’s energy efficiency contributes to the overall expense of cooling your home.

    A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is not installed properly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!5  “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.5  

    10. MYTH: I dust and vacuum my house, so I don’t need to change my air filters.

    BUSTED: According to the Department of Energy, replacing a clogged filter with a clean one can help lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by up to 15%. Dirty filters block airflow and can reduce a system's efficiency and performance significantly. Depending on the filter purchased,  filters should be replaced every 30-90 days.  Check your filter’s instructions for recommended replacement dates.  Also, depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates can affect how often you should replace your filters. Your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.6

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    1 ENERGY STAR. Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats. n.d. https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/programmable_thermostats/proper_use_guidelines. 27 March 2017.

    2 Thermostats. n.d. <https://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats>.

    3 ENERGY STAR. Does it help to close vents in rooms not being used during the day? n.d. https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211439388-Does-it-help-to-close-vents-in-rooms-not-being-used-during-the-day-. 28 March 2017.

    4 Department of Energy. Common Air Conditioner Problems. n.d. https://energy.gov/energysaver/common-air-conditioner-problems. 28 March 2017.

    5 Domanski, Piotr A, Hugh I. Henderson and W. Vance Payne. "Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance." October 2014. <http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf>.

    6 Energy Saver 101: Home Cooling. n.d. https://energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-cooling.

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