• Eliminate indoor hypothermia – furnace repair or furnace replace?

    If you are reading this, you may be wearing a coat, scarf, hat and mittens inside of your home.  To ward off hypothermia, you probably placed an emergency call to your HVAC contractor! Whether your furnace is on the fritz or you are just looking for one that is more energy-efficient  to heat your home, there may come a time when you have a discussion with your independent HVAC contractor on whether to repair or replace your gas furnace. The decision may not be an easy one! Unless your furnace is a hazard or damaged beyond repair, there are no hard rules in determining whether to repair or replace your furnace. However, below are a few concepts that may help:

    This Old Furnace


    According to Energystar.gov1, your older heating system may be less efficient and have an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of 56%-70%. New energy-efficient furnaces are now required to have a minimum of 80% AFUE, meaning more energy is converted into usable heat – potentially saving you money on energy bills. As a furnace ages, it may likely need repairs or more than average maintenance service. The estimated cost to keep the furnace running, as provided by your local HVAC dealer, will give you more concrete reasons to replace or repair.  However, age isn’t everything.

    Repair Cost vs. Replacement Cost


    Homeowners should decide their repair cost cutoff point. How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth it? Consumer Reports suggests that if the cost to repair your current furnace is 50% of the cost of a new furnace, you should replace it.2 For example, if your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger that is not covered by a limited warranty, the equipment replacement in addition to labor costs may exceed up to the 50% threshold.  At that point, it may be time to replace. Additionally, the long term energy bill savings of purchasing a high-efficient furnace may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  On the contrary, if the problem is an easy, relatively inexpensive fix that restores peak efficiency, a repair may be the best approach. To get a more specific, cost vs. benefit assessment, a homeowner should discuss repair vs replace costs with their local HVAC dealer.

    Save Green


    Today’s systems can have an AFUE as high as 98.5%, meaning nearly all the energy purchased is used toward heating your home. A Energy efficiency standards vary by region. To determine your minimum standard, check with your local HVAC dealer.

    New Technology Offers a Consistent Temperature


    For some homeowners, their old gas furnace operates in either 100% ON or OFF. Historically, when the indoor temperature falls, the furnace kicks on at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached. This on/off cycle means that the indoor temperatures might continuously fluctuate. Advanced technology enables your gas furnace to reduce temperature swings while quietly running more efficiently. For example, a furnace with a variable speed indoor blower motor can operate at different capacities to more accurately control the flow of heated air to your home. This energy-saving feature can save you money on utility bills compared to single stage furnaces because the system doesn’t have to run at full capacity to reach the set temperature.

    Length of home ownership


    Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new gas furnace. When determining to repair or replace your current unit, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Are you living in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years to you plan to sell your home?

    While there are a lot of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your furnace, the best source of information can come from your licensed or professional HVAC contractor.  Because these local professionals understand the details associated with your particular system, they are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance. 

    cta_stay_warm

    1Furnaces. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/furnaces

    2 Should you repair or replace that product? (2014, January). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm?loginMethod=auto
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  • What is SEER and why does it matter?

    If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, you have probably noticed that each unit comes with a SEER rating related to the unit’s energy efficiency and performance for cooling.  But what exactly is SEER, and why should it matter to you?


    Higher SEER Equals Higher Efficiency


    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use.  The higher the SEER rating, the less energy the unit will use.  Many older residential air conditioning systems in the U.S. may have SEER ratings of 10 or less. The good news for homeowners in the market for a new air conditioner or heat pump is that current high-efficiency residential equipment can boast SEER ratings of 25 or higher. Higher SEER units typically cost less to run, which can save homeowners money on energy costs.


    Before the SEER rating was adopted, cooling equipment was rated based on how much energy was used while running at full capacity in a controlled environment.  The method was similar to calculating the average fuel efficiency of a vehicle while driving it 100 mph on rollers in a climate-controlled lab. The test results would not be an accurate measurement of the vehicle’s typical efficiency.


    As a result, the SEER rating was developed in order to provide consumers with a more accurate representation of the typical energy use of an air conditioning unit or heat pump in cooling mode. The SEER rating takes into account a number of important factors:


    • Climate zones
    • Part-load efficiency
    • Energy consumption in standby mode
    • Varying load requirements

    Minimum Efficiency


    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy efficiency standards for air conditioners, heat pumps, and other HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment. In 2006, the DOE raised the minimum SEER requirement from 10 SEER to 13 SEER nationwide in an effort to promote energy savings that benefit the consumer.  In 2015, the DOE again raised the minimum SEER requirement for central air conditioners and heat pumps installed in certain regions of the U.S. (Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps) Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 in the North.


    What’s Right for You?


    Your air conditioning system may get a lot of use in warmer months. While in some areas of the country, these systems are running almost year round. For homeowners in these locations, you may want to consider an air conditioning or heat pump with an Energy Star rating to possibly save even more in energy costs. However, if you live in a more temperate area where you go much of the year without cooling; a minimum SEER rating may make the most financial sense.


    To reduce your energy costs and learn more about Goodman’s high SEER products, speak with an independent Goodman dealer in your area.


    cta_find_dealer

     

     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer.www.achrnews.com/publications

     

    Works Cited

    Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved from Appliance Standards Awareness Project: http://www.appliance-standards.org/product/central-air-conditioners-and-heat-pumps

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  • Is a high-efficiency furnace right for me?

    In North America, many homes are heated using forced-air systems. Your gas furnace, which is often located in the basement, attic, crawl space or utility closet, may use natural gas or propane as the energy source to create heat within the furnace’s heat exchanger.  Air is moved across the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the ductwork to heat the home.


    What Factors Affect Efficiency?


    Each gas furnace model has an energy efficiency rating in the form of a percent. This number is its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), or the ratio of annual heat output of the furnace compared to the amount of annual fuel energy it consumes. For example, if a furnace has an AFUE of 80%, it means 80% of the energy in the fossil fuel is being converted to heat while 20% escapes and is wasted.1


    How AFUE Can Save Me Money?


    Many older furnaces may have efficiencies of only 56 to 70% AFUE, which can cost the homeowner more to heat their home compared to a higher AFUE model. Switching to a newer, more energy-efficient gas furnace that can reach upwards of 98% AFUE means nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home. 1 As a result, the homeowner’s monthly heating bills can be reduced.


     

    Condensing Vs. Non-Condensing


    The gas furnaces available in North America can be put into two categories: condensing and non-condensing.


    • Non-Condensing Furnace: A mid-efficiency furnace (80% and 90% AFUE) vents exhaust gases out of the home, typically through the roof.
    • Condensing Furnace:A high-efficiency furnace (90% AFUE or higher) utilizes a second heat exchanger to heat the air from condensed exhaust gases in order to reach higher efficiencies. A high-efficiency condensing furnace requires specialized venting.

    Choosing a Furnace


    The initial cost of a high-efficiency condensing furnace can be more expensive than a less efficient model. According to The Department of Energy, homeowners will likely save more money on fuel bills over the life of a high AFUE product when compared to a lower AFUE or less efficient gas furnace. 1 However, when determining if a higher-efficiency furnace is cost-effective for your budget, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership to determine how long it would take to recuperate initial costs of a higher AFUE model.


    • Are you currently in your “forever home”?
    • How long to your expect your current home to fit your lifestyle?
    • Do you plan to sell your home in the near future?
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?

     


    Additionally, many states and utilities offer tax credits and other incentives to homeowners who install high-efficiency furnaces. An experienced local dealer can assist you in determining whether a higher efficiency gas furnace or a mid-efficiency model is right for your needs.


     

    To learn more about Goodman’s quality ENERGY STAR® certified furnaces, speak with a Goodman dealer in your area.



    cta_energy_star_ac
     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, the former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly news magazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com



    [1] Furnace and Boilers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers

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  • How to select a heating and cooling contractor

    Whether your home’s heating and cooling system is in need of routine maintenance, emergency repairs or a total replacement, selecting a qualified HVAC contractor is an important, yet often daunting task. To ensure you hire a qualified professional that best fits the job, there are several important steps to take.


    Do Research

     

    A little internet research can go a long way in weeding out subpar HVAC service companies. 


    • Heating and cooling manufacturers’ websites often provide an independent dealer locator with contact information and key details for contractors near your location.
    • Websites like Nextdoor and Yelp may make it easier to locate local contractors, identify recommended companies, and read customer reviews.
    • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), an organization that represents HVAC contractors, offers a searchable database of its contractor members.
    • Better Business Bureau provides accreditation and gives businesses a letter grade, from A+ to F, based on information it is able to obtain, including complaints received from the public.

    Referrals

     

    Ask neighbors, friends, and family for referrals. Referrals can give a homeowner insight as to the type of experience they can expect from a particular contractor. Similarly, you can ask contractors for customer references and contact them to gather more information. According to energystar.gov, homeowners should “ask [the references] about the contractor's installation or service performance and if the job was completed on time and within budget.”


    Read Reviews

    A quick glance at the number of review stars can often be misleading. Be sure to read the written comments and look for licensed contractors with a good reputation for value, quality and customer service.

    • Did the contractor address the problem?
    • Did the contractor provide clear details of the problem to the homeowner?
    • Did the contractor resolve disputes in a timely, thoughtful, and respectful manner?

     

    Reading reviews may provide a homeowner with insight as to a contractor’s commitment to customers’ satisfaction. Providing prompt solutions and addressing any errors is the mark of a good service company.


    What to Look For in a HVAC Contractor?


    Your state may require that HVAC contractors be licensed, bonded and insured. This information can often be found online. Once you have scheduled a service appointment, there are a few things to pay attention to:


    Communication:
      Does the technician or dispatcher stay in touch with you by phone, text, or email leading up to the service appointment? Do they communicate any schedule changes in a timely manner?


    Punctuality:
      Does the technician arrive within the specified time window?


    Appearance:
    Does the technician appear “work ready” or are they wearing a dealer
    uniform?


    Certification:
    Many technicians are certified through organizations such as NATE (North American Technician Excellence), and these patches are often displayed on their uniforms. Does your technician have any certification patches displayed on their uniform?


    Patience:
    Does the technician listen to your concerns, take time to explain their findings and answer any questions you may have?


    Thoroughness:
    Depending on the nature of the appointment (emergency vs annual inspection), a technician may perform a complete system evaluation and/or an inspection. This process can take time and should not just be a quick once-over. Upon completion, the technician should go over any concerning results.


    Documentation:
    The technician should provide written documentation of all the work done and/or provides quotes in writing.


    A good technician will be pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, courteous, patient and willing to answer your questions. Remember, they are a service company — their job is to serve you to the best of their ability. If you are not happy with something, do not be afraid to ask them to fix it.


    Value and Service Expectations


    It is important to seek the best value for your particular home’s need. If you are looking to purchase and install a new heating or cooling system (or both) from a contractor, be sure you are working with a professional or licensed HVAC contractor who is willing to provide a limited warranty for their work and products installed. Doing the job properly the first time may help eliminate the need for repeat visits, as well as ensure your system is running at peak performance.


    Many HVAC service companies offer maintenance agreements, which provide for scheduled maintenance of the HVAC system and equipment. This can be a worthwhile investment. Maintaining the efficiency of your equipment and components can help ensure peak performance and may extend the life of the system.


    Manufacturer Dealer Locator


    Most HVAC manufacturers provide tools to assist homeowners in finding an independent dealer. Goodman’s dealer locator lists independent HVAC contractors who offer professional and licensed HVAC services by location, services provided and certification. These contractors typically offer a value-focused, flexible and informative approach to heating or cooling maintenance, service or purchases.


    cta_find_dealer
     

    By Jen (Anesi) Roby, former Legislative Editor at ACHR NEWS magazine and current Chief Editor for Plumbing & Mechanical. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) NEWS is the HVACR contractor’s weekly newsmagazine and is the industry’s most trusted and utilized direct communications link to the HVACR buyer. www.achrnews.com/publications

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  • Should I repair or replace my air conditioner?

    Unless you are exercising – you do not expect to sweat inside your home. So when your air conditioning system breaks down, you want it fixed yesterday!  It’s time to call your AC contractor to get it fixed.


    But a time may come when you need to decide whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, and the decision may not be an easy one. Unless your air conditioner is damaged beyond repair, there are no hard rules in determining whether to replace or repair your system. However, below are a few concepts that may help guide your decision:


    This Old AC


    Even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly-skilled HVAC contractor, an aging air conditioner may start to show its age. If your unit is nearing its life expectancy, you may consider a replacement as an alternative to costly repairs.


    According to the Department of Energy, many older residential air conditioning systems in the U.S. have SEER ratings of 10 or less.1 Currently, the required minimum SEER rating of a residential air conditioning system differs by region, but ranges from 13 SEER to 14 SEER.


    SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit in typical day-to-day use.


    Under similar working conditions, standards dictate that higher SEER air conditioning units are more energy-efficient than lower SEER units. “Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to keep your home cool could reduce energy use for air conditioning up to 50%.” 2 Based on this logic, if your aging unit is a low SEER model that requires significant repairs, it may be beneficial for a homeowner to replace it with a more energy-efficient one.


    However, age isn’t everything when considering repairing or replacing your air condition unit.


    Repair Cost vs. Replacement Cost


     

    Air conditioning repairs come in all shapes, sizes and costs! Every repair-replace scenario is unique to the unit and the expectations of the homeowner. A professional or licensed HVAC technician can provide you with an estimate of repair cost, as well as supply equipment-specific reasons to consider a replacement unit.

    If a repair is necessary, homeowners should decide their repair cost cutoff point. How expensive does an air conditioner repair need to be before it’s worth it to upgrade to a new system? The long-term utility bill savings of purchasing a higher efficiency air condition system may outweigh the price of a series of costly repairs.  However, if your HVAC contractor provides repair estimates that come close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching new air conditioner models.

    On the contrary, if the air conditioner problem is an easy, relatively inexpensive fix that restores peak efficiency, a repair may be the best approach.


    Comfort and New Technology


     

    When deciding between an air conditioning repair or replacement, homeowners should consider if their cooling needs are being addressed by their current unit. You may ask yourself:


    1. Is my air conditioner unit loud?
    2. Do I notice inconsistent temperatures and fluctuations in my home?
    3. Is the AC cooling my house as I expect it should?
    4. Why are my energy bills higher than my neighbor’s house with similar square footage?

     


    But before you replace your current system because of cooling issues, have your HVAC contractor check for large air leaks, insufficient ducting and/or breaks in the duct seals.  There are times when the real source of a cooling problem is not a dying HVAC unit, but ineffective components of the system. 3


    Technology is changing the way we live and AC manufacturers are taking note by applying advanced mechanics to their products to increase comfort. Advanced features, such as improved motor and compressor technologies, as well as smart home automation and communication may provide homeowners with more precise temperature control, noise reduction and energy efficiency when compared to their current model.

     

    However, if you want your air conditioner to simply work the way it’s intended to, air conditioner repairs and annual maintenance may help you get the most miles out of your current unit.


    Save Green


     

    Despite SEER rating, if your air condition system is not running at peak performance, you may be spending more money on utility bills than necessary. According to the University of Kentucky Biosystems Engineering’s Builders Guide, a poorly functioning high-efficiency system may cost more to operate than a well-designed, moderate efficiency unit.  Keeping your system at peak performance and running as intended can be financially beneficial!


    However, if your HVAC technician reveals that an aging, lower SEER air condition unit may be the primary culprit of your high utility bills, you should research the cost/benefits of a installing a higher SEER replacement unit.


    SEER ratings associated cost savings can be compared to the set MPG (miles per gallon) in your car. Under the same driving conditions, your gasoline costs to drive 30 miles in a 15 MPG car will be higher than one with a 30 MPG rating. The same goes for SEER ratings. Under the same cooling conditions, a 10 SEER unit will be more expensive to do the same workload as a 14 SEER unit.


    Length of home ownership


     

    Typically, the longer you plan to live in your house, the longer you have to recover the cost of a new high-efficiency air conditioning unit. When determining to repair or replace your current AC, homeowners should evaluate their anticipated length of home ownership by asking themselves the following questions:

    • Are you living in your “forever home”?
    • How long do you expect your current home to fit your lifestyle? (Getting married, having children, etc.)
    • Would a job change force you to relocate?
    • In how many years to you plan to sell your home?
    • Will a new energy-efficient air condition help sell your home if necessary?

     

    While there are a lot of variables to examine when determining whether to repair or replace your air conditioner, the best source of information can come from your licensed or professional HVAC contractor.  Because these local professionals understand the details associated with your particular system, they are the most qualified to provide repair or replace guidance. 


    cta_stay_cool
     

     



    1Central Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: https://energy.gov/energysaver/central-air-conditioning

    2Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning

    3Heat & Cool Efficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac

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  • Simple air conditioner maintenance tips that can save you money

    U.S. homeowners spend about $29 billion a year on energy costs associated with central air conditioning. That’s a lot of money to keep cool! But when AC systems aren’t running at peak performance, the cost can go up even higher - meaning larger utility bills. But with regular maintenance, you can potentially reduce your air conditioner’s cooling emergencies and help extend the life of your system.

    Just like changing the oil on your car, your central air conditioning system requires regular maintenance to run at peak performance year after year. Some routine maintenance can be handled by homeowners. However, there are other jobs that should only be performed by a professional or licensed HVAC technician.

    Below are maintenance tips to keep in mind as you look to get the best performance possible from your air conditioner.

    DIY AC Maintenance

     

    ✓ Filters – According to Energy.gov, 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. On average, filters should be replaced every 90 days depending on where you live and how often your air conditioner operates. However, your HVAC contractor can provide the proper filter replacement schedule for your particular air conditioning unit.

    If the air condition portion of your energy bill equals $100, you may save an average of up to $15 per month just by replacing the dirty filters with clean ones!  But the real savings comes with minimizing the possible service calls for air conditioning emergencies and extending the life of your equipment!

    ✓ Exterior AC Unit - Cut back foliage and remove any debris left by nearby dryer vents, falling leaves and grass trimmings.  Anything that reduces ideal airflow can make your air condition system work harder, reduce its performance and can cost you money.

    ✓ Fins - The fins on your evaporator or condenser coils should not be bent – this can reduce or even block airflow. To fix bent fins, contact your local HVAC professional contractor or technician. Bent fins can reduce the ability of the unit to deliver the energy efficiency you expect and might lead to premature coil failure.  

    ✓Condensate Drains - Check the condensate drain from your central air conditioning system. The drain line should be located near the outside unit, leading from your AC unit’s indoor evaporator coil commonly located inside your home. The drain is typically a small PVC pipe; however some drain lines may be copper. Most likely, if you see a consistent drip on a hot day, the condensate drain is working properly. When condensate drains are clogged, the unit may not be able to properly reduce indoor humidity which can cause poor performance and loss of energy efficiency.

    ✓Thermostat Batteries
     - Homeowners should replace batteries on their thermostat as necessary. If your particular model does not have a “low battery” signal or alert, your thermostat batteries should be replaced annually or at the same time the fire/CO2 detector batteries are changed.  

    Homeowners should always consult with their professional or licensed HVAC contractor to determine equipment-specific, DIY maintenance efforts that can help you keep your air conditioning system operating at peak performance levels and help reduce energy costs.

    Contractor AC Maintenance

     

    Trained or licensed HVAC professionals are better equipped to identify any airflow problems, system leaks, coil issues or potential failure concerns. To keep your central cooling system at peak performance, homeowners should hire a HVAC contractor to perform a more detailed check-up. The ideal time for profession HVAC maintenance is pre-season, before you need to operate your central air conditioning system.

    While each contractor has their own air conditioning maintenance process, professional maintenance services may likely include the following actions:

    • Check for adequate air flow
    • Look over condenser and evaporator coils
    • Check refrigerant lines and inspect for leaks
    • Clear drain lines and pans
    • Check electrical connections
    • Check operation of blower components
    • Lubricate motors, bearings and other moving parts
    • Inspect Exterior Fan

    cta_energy_star_ac


    Works Cited

    Air Conditioning. (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy.gov: http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning

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

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  • Three good reasons to replace a gas furnace

    No one gets excited about having to replace their gas furnace. However, the idea of freezing in your home isn’t too exciting either. Despite efforts to prolong its life, there may come a time when it is better to replace your furnace rather than repair it. The decision to replace your current gas furnace often depends on one, or a combination of, age, condition, and performance. 1


    Continuous Repairs


    Perhaps you have been there!  You think your HVAC system is working well, only to have to call your professional or licensed HVAC contractor again, and again and again for repair after repair. Even with proper maintenance and the dedicated efforts of a highly skilled HVAC contractor, an aging furnace may start to show its age.


    Continuous repairs can get expensive for a homeowner. As discussed in “Eliminate Indoor Hypothermia - Furnace Repair or Furnace Replace?” you should determine your repair spending cut off point. If your repair estimate is close to your predetermined budget threshold, it may be best to start researching a new gas furnace before you experience a breakdown.


    How expensive does a furnace repair need to be before it’s not worth repairing it? If key parts fail, such as the heat exchanger or control module, or repair costs are more than 50% of the cost of a new product, it may be better to replace the unit. 2 However, you should always discuss repair vs replacement options with your HVAC technician to get a clearer assessment of the price tag of repairs and the predicted longevity of your existing gas furnace.


    Heating and Comfort


    The indoor comfort of your home and family is probably one of your highest priorities. Gas furnace systems can have a complicated arrangement of gas and electricity working together.  However, if one or more parts involved in delivering heat is damaged or not working as intended, your heating system has the potential to become a comfort hazard.


    According to the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, older furnaces that do not comply with current standard codes may pose a higher risk due to their earlier technology. “Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected, but older furnaces may not have these devices. “  3


     

    Preventive maintenance and professional inspections are important aspects of the operation of your gas furnace.  While evaluating your gas furnace, an HVAC dealer may uncover small cracks, leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires or corroded electrical contacts that can lead to furnace failure.


    Energy Efficiency


    Energy.gov estimates that heating and cooling account for up to half of a typical home’s total energy use. As a result, a homeowner should make every effort to increase the energy efficiency of their HVAC equipment.


    To determine your home's annual energy use compared to similar homes in your area, Energystar.gov provides a simple online assessment tool. Energystar.gov suggests that a score below a five means that your home’s energy use “is above average and you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills”. 4


    While there are a variety of reasons and potential fixes that can increase your energy efficiency, a licensed or professional HVAC contractor may reveal that the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of your gas furnace may be the primary cause of these excessive costs.


    An older gas furnace with an AFUE rating of 70% would mean that only 70% of its fuel is used to heat your home. The remaining 30% may escape through the chimney or exhaust. That means that up to 43% of the energy used to run your furnace may be wasted.  A high-efficiency model can offer higher AFUE ratings, potentially providing significant energy efficiency and savings on utilities.


    While every homeowner’s HVAC situation and budget is unique, SmarterHouse.org, a project of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, states that replacing a furnace with a modern high-efficiency model may be a good investment.

    cta_stay_warm


    1 Buying Tips. (n.d.). Retrieved Dec. 05, 2016, from Smarter House: http://smarterhouse.org/heating-systems/buying-tips

    2 Gas Furnace Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved from AHRI: http://www.ahrinet.org/Homeowners/Improve-Safety/Gas-Furnace-Safety.aspx

    3 Repair or Replace. (n.d.). Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm

    4 When is it Time to Replace? (n.d.). Retrieved from Energy Star: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers

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  • How does a central air conditioner work?

    The best air conditioner is the one you don’t have to think about.  It comes on the moment the indoor temperature set on the thermostat requires cooling performance, and then runs quietly and efficiently when needed.  But when it’s time to perform routine maintenance, make repairs or replace your system, it’s helpful to understand how an air conditioning system works


    Parts of a Central AC System


    To get a better sense of how your air is cooled, it helps to know a little bit about the parts that make up the air conditioning system. A typical central air conditioning system is a two-part or split system that includes:

    • The outdoor unit contains the condenser coil, compressor, electrical components and a fan.
    • The evaporator coil, which is usually installed on top of the gas furnace inside the home.
    • A series of pipes, or refrigeration lines, connecting the inside and outside equipment.
    • Refrigerant, the substance in the refrigeration lines that circulates through the indoor and outdoor unit.
    • Ducts that serve as air tunnels to the various spaces inside your home.
    • A thermostat or control system to set your desired temperature.


    The Refrigeration Cycle


    1. Using electricity as its power source, the refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the indoor unit and the outside unit.
    2. Warm air from the inside of your house is pulled into duct work by a motorized fan.
    3. The refrigerant is pumped from the exterior compressor coil to the interior evaporator coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air.
    4. This cooled air is then pushed through connecting ducts to vents throughout the home, lowering the interior temperature.
    5. The refrigeration cycle continues again, providing a consistent method to keep you cool.


    Keeping Air Clean


    It is estimated that the air you breathe inside your home is more polluted than the air outside your home. (Guide to Indoor Air Cleaners in the Home, 2014) A cooling system offers just the basics with regard to enhanced indoor air quality for you and your family. Indoor air filtration can help maintain the efficient operation of your cooling system by removing a wide range of airborne dust and reducing airborne particulates that can build up on the surface of the cooling coil.

    It is important to change your filters regularly. As filters become loaded with particulates, your system has to work harder, increasing your cooling bills. 

    cta_energy_star_ac

    Works Cited
    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

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