Your HVAC FAQs, Answered
Are you navigating through HVAC concerns? Our FAQ page comprehensively answers all your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning questions. Let us guide you to the best solutions and services.
- What is the average life expectancy of equipment?
- Can I replace the outdoor unit with an older system to save money?
- Will a bigger-sized system perform better?
- Why is a system with matched components so important?
- Why should I switch to a high-efficiency air filter?
- How often should I change my air filter?
- Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?
- Why should I purchase a service agreement?
- How can I reduce allergens and improve the air quality in my home?
- I am concerned about mold growth. What should I do?
- What is duct cleaning?
- What do SEER, AFUE, and HSPF ratings mean to me?
- How can I reduce my energy costs?
- Why should I buy ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment?
- What is a heat pump?
- What is a Hybrid Heat Dual Fuel system?
- What are the advantages of equipment with variable-speed fans?
- How does 2-stage cooling or heating work?
- What temperature should I set my thermostat?
- My system doesn’t work well in several rooms; what do I do?
- Is R-22, as a refrigerant, being discontinued?
- My AC is very loud when I entertain outside; what can I do?
- Can carbon monoxide build up in my home?
What is the average life expectancy of equipment?
Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. As your equipment gets older, its efficiency can decrease dramatically. You may notice that it gets noisier and needs repairs more often. When a unit shows its age, you have two choices: You can overhaul or replace the system. Because heating and cooling technologies improve over time, a new system designed with more unique, energy-efficient equipment makes sense, especially if your system is ten years old. We can estimate the cost of a new system and a payback schedule showing you how more unique technology will pay you back in lower energy usage.
Can I replace the outdoor unit with an older system to save money?
No. Replacing only the outdoor unit will lower the efficiency of the team. You can lose up to 15 percent of the unit’s efficiency! Even worse, your system may fail sooner than usual, and most manufacturers’ warranties will be voided. It would always help to replace the indoor cooling coil with the outdoor unit.
Will a bigger-sized system perform better?
No. You don’t want your air conditioner to be too big. Air conditioners control the comfort level in your home by cooling the air and removing humidity. An oversized air conditioner will cool your home faster but uses more energy and does not remove humidity adequately. A unit that is too big for your home will have short-run cycles. Cooling the air may take a short time, but the unit shuts off before enough air blows across the indoor coil, where moisture condenses into water and drains from your system. Too much humidity in the air can lead to mold and mildew problems. These short-run cycles also mean your system starts and stops more often, which uses more energy and causes a lot of wear and tear. An air conditioner operates more efficiently during long-run cycles. The same holds with heating systems. An oversized furnace will warm the house quicker but uses more fuel and causes more significant temperature swings.
Why is a system with matched components so important?
A matched system is essential for a variety of reasons. One is comfort. When all your components are correctly sized for your home, you can control exactly how much heating or cooling you need so you can relax. Also, a properly sized matched system enables every component to perform as designed, meaning proper cycle times are maintained, humidity is controlled, and system sound is minimized. Another reason matched systems are critical is efficiency. Most systems people buy are too large for their homes, which uses more energy than needed for your home. A matched system outlined by a dealer who has completed a load calculation for your home provides just the right amount of heating and cooling you need, so you get the most value for your utility dollar.
Why should I switch to a high-efficiency air filter?
Proper air filtration is just as crucial to the health of your heating and cooling system as it is to your family’s health. Without proper filtration, dust and dirt can build up on your system, which impacts operation and efficiency. A high-efficiency filter will remove more dust, dirt, pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. Consider a high-efficiency filter if you suffer from allergies or other respiratory problems. No matter what type of filter you have – make sure you change it regularly.
How often should I change my air filter?
At the risk of telling you something you’re tired of hearing, replace the air filter in your furnace regularly. Dirty air filters reduce the amount of air flowing through a system and make the furnace work harder to maintain the temperature. How often you change the filter depends on the type of filter you use, if you have pets, and the size of your equipment. Please call us, and we can provide you with proper guidance.
Should I have my furnace and air conditioner serviced every year?
Yes. Maintaining your system will lower energy and repair costs, prevent breakdowns, and prolong the life of your equipment. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.
Why should I purchase a service agreement?
Without warranty coverage, a breakdown can mean significant parts, labor, or both expenses. However, you avoid that unexpected significant expense with one of our service agreements. While no warranty can guard against every possible problem, we can explain the range of protection our service agreements afford.
How can I reduce allergens and improve the air quality in my home?
With a high-efficiency air cleaner, you can remove up to 99 percent of the pollen and spores that find their way into the home. There is also a significant reduction in household dust, dirt, smoke, and other air pollutants. Your indoor air will become cleaner and fresher while reducing the allergens and dust circulating throughout the house. A whole-house humidifier can relieve the irritating discomfort of dry indoor air. The humidifier reduces itchy skin, scratchy throats, static electricity, and damage to your furnishings and woodwork. Since humid air feels warmer than dry air, you do not have to set the thermostat as high to feel the comfort you want. A lower thermostat setting will reduce the costs of your energy bill. We offer a complete line of indoor air quality products to meet your needs. Click here to see our complete offering.
I am concerned about mold growth. What should I do?
When humid air passes over chilled cooling coils, water condenses and drips through the rings into a collection pan, continuously draining. Problems with these systems may occur when this water collects and becomes stagnant when it becomes blocked, either on the coils or in the drip pan. The pan will grow mold that can quickly infect your home with dangerous mold spores. Problems also exist when the HVAC ducting contains microscopic mold spores that continually present and blow contaminants around the home or office, often caused by mold in other parts of your home. You can do three things to prevent mold growth in your system:
- Preventative maintenance will ensure that the collection pan under the indoor coil stays clean and
- Install ultraviolet lights next to the cooling coils to kill mold or bacteria growing on the
coils or collection pan. Click here to view the UV lights we offer.
- Keep your ductwork clean by using our duct cleaning service and a high-efficiency filtration
system to keep your entire HVAC system clean.
What is duct cleaning?
Duct cleaning refers to cleaning the various heating and cooling components of forced air systems, including the supply. It returns air ducts and registers, grilles and diffusers, heat exchangers, heating and cooling coils, fan motor and fan housing, and tire handling unit housing.
What do SEER, AFUE, and HSPF ratings mean to me?
SEER, AFUE, and HSPF are all measures of energy efficiency. Air conditioners may look similar, but their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) can vary widely. Higher SEER numbers save more money spent on electricity. A 13 SEER air conditioner, the EPA” current minimum standard, “uses 23 percent less energy than a 10 SEER unit (EPA standard up until Jan. 2006). Even though 13 SEER is the minimum efficiency available, we currently offer a line of air conditioners that start at 13 SEER and go up to 20 SEER. Higher SEER air conditioners can significantly reduce your electric bill depending on your average usage. Heat pumps have SEER ratings like air conditioners and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings for measuring heating efficiency. Higher HSPF ratings mean more significant energy savings. The HSPF scale range is 7.5 to 9.0. Today’s new high-efficiency furnaces can save up to 50 percent operating costs over a ten-year-old furnace. Many 1990 and earlier model furnaces have Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 65 percent or less. Today’s minimum AFUE-rated furnace that can be sold in the United States is 80 percent. Our product offering starts at 80 percent AFUE and goes to a very efficient 96.6 percent AFUE rating. Higher AFUE-rated furnaces can significantly reduce your gas bill depending on your average usage.
How can I reduce my energy costs?
- Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Air Conditioner – Swapping your old, inefficient air
conditioning system for a highly efficient one can cut electricity bills by one-third. Please consult one of
our professional technicians to ensure your system is the right size for your home and you aren’t
over- or under-cooling for your space needs.
- Turn up the Temperature – To save electricity during the summer, set the temperature above
Twenty-five degrees, as every degree below this, will add three to five percent to your energy bill.
- Install Ceiling Fans – Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fans. In the summer,
the blades should operate counter-clockwise to create a friendly, gentle wind.
- Have Annual Maintenance Performed – Having annual maintenance performed on your air
conditioner by a licensed technician will help ensure it operates at its peak efficiency and catches
any potential breakdowns before they occur.
- Don’t Block Vents in Well-Used Rooms – Keep your supply and return air vents free of
objects like blinds, carpets, or furniture so your air conditioner can operate efficiently and there
is even excellent air distribution.
- Close Vents in Less-Used Rooms – By closing the vents, you won’t be spending money cooling
rooms that are used less.
- Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Furnace – New high-efficiency furnaces use up to 50 percent
less fuel than an older system. It can save up to 25 percent of your home heating costs in one
year, and within a few years, you’ll have recovered the initial cost of replacing/upgrading your
furnace. Choosing a model with an energy-efficient motor can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy
needed to operate a fan motor continuously. Let us show you the advantages of replacing your old
- Have Annual Maintenance Performed – Having an annual maintenance performed on your furnace
by a licensed technician will help ensure it operates at its peak efficiency and catches any
potential breakdowns before they occur.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat – A programmable thermostat lets you control your
home’s temperature when you’re away or asleep. For every one degree, you lower your thermostat for
seven hours per day, you save one percent on your heating bill.
- Don’t Block Vents in Well-Used Rooms – Keep your supply and return air vents free of
objects like blinds, carpets, or furniture so your furnace can operate efficiently, and there is even
- Close Vents in Less-Used Rooms – By closing the vents, you won’t be spending money heating
rooms that are used less.
- Install Ceiling Fans – Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fans. In the winter,
the blades should operate in a clockwise direction, helping to push the warm air from the ceiling
down into the room.
Why should I buy ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment?
The average home spends about $1,900 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling account for as much as half of a home’s energy use. The EPA provides important recommendations for energy-efficient equipment, including proper sizing, quality installation and maintenance, and other home improvement considerations to help you get the most out of the heating and cooling products you purchase, save energy, and save as much as 20 percent annually on your total energy costs. ENERGY STAR-qualified products prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
What is a heat pump?
Heat pumps are an excellent solution for your home comfort system because they work to provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps have SEER ratings like air conditioners and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings for measuring heating efficiency. Higher SEER and HSPF ratings mean more significant energy savings. Heat pumps are a very efficient alternative to electric heat. A heat pump works the same as an air conditioner in the summer, but it runs in reverse to heat your home in the winter. The system will be matched with a backup heating source for those frigid winter days, most often electric heat.
What is a Hybrid Heat Dual Fuel system?
With a traditional heating and cooling system, you had to use less if you wanted to save more. But a Hybrid Heat system combines the benefits of intelligent control for gas and electric heating to create an intuitive design that can react to changing conditions. No matter what the temperature is outside, a Hybrid Heat system will automatically select the most efficient fuel source for your home, which means you’ll stay warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and save money all year. To design a Hybrid Heat system for your home, we professionally match one of our heat pump units with a natural gas furnace. Contact us to see how much energy you can save over your existing system.
What are the advantages of equipment with variable-speed fans?
Variable-speed fans operate on a simple principle: they can spin at different speeds depending on your home’s heating and cooling needs. Usually, they work at lower rates, delivering a steady, reliable stream of warm or cool air to your home. This helps control humidity levels, utility costs, and system noise. When conditions become more extreme, the fan speed increases so that the system can meet increased demand, guaranteeing that your comfort needs will be completed on even the hottest days or coldest nights.
How does 2-stage cooling or heating work?
2-stage cooling is a method that can better manage your home’s cooling while outdoor temperatures change. It can also better maximize indoor comfort and energy efficiency. 2-stage cooling systems are typically the most energy-efficient systems out there. 2-stage cooling can be done by having one unit with two compressors, one small and one large. The small one is typically capable of putting out about 50 percent of the capacity of the larger one.
The second way to have 2-stage cooling is to have a single scroll unloading compressor. This compressor can unload its capacity to about 66 percent of maximum power. Both these methods of getting 2-stage cooling allow the unit to run at a lower stage when the high step is not needed. By doing this, energy is saved.
2-stage heating has the same principle as 2-stage cooling. It allows the unit to adjust itself based on the amount of heating that is necessary. 2-stage heating is an excellent way to save on heating costs. A heat pump system would have two different-sized compressors, small and large. The compressor used at a given time would depend upon the need. If only a tiny amount of heating is necessary, the smaller compressor would be used to save energy. The large compressor would only be used when a large amount of heating was needed. A gas furnace that is 2-stage has a modulating gas valve that regulates gas flow depending upon the need.
What temperature should I set my thermostat?
Standard cooling settings are 75 degrees – 80 degrees. Normal heating settings are 68 degrees- 72 degrees. You should always set your thermostat to the highest possible setting that is comfortable for you in the summer and the lowest comfortable setting in the winter. Setting your thermostat in this way will maximize your energy savings. On average, every one degree of temperature change is equal to about 10 percent energy savings. For example, changing your thermostat setting from 75 degrees to 76 degrees in the summer could save about 10 percent of your cooling costs.
My system doesn’t work well in several rooms; what do I do?
This can occur for many reasons: uneven solar heat load through windows, an undersized system, an improperly balanced or clogged system, or a single system serving a two-story home with no zoning control. Each situation is different, usually requiring an onsite analysis with problem-specific recommendations. Please call to arrange for us to see your home.
Is R-22, as a refrigerant, being discontinued?
A significant change just around the corner is the phase-out of R-22. As of January 2010, the refrigerant R-22 will not be allowed to manufacture new equipment. R-22 has been used as the “standard” refrigerant for many years but is harmful to our planet by our government.
All new air conditioners and heat pumps must use “environmentally sound” refrigerants, such as Puron® (R-410A). R-22 is the most widely used refrigerant in residential homes today. However, per the Montreal Protocol, caps have been established to eliminate the production of R-22.
In 2004, there was a 35% percent reduction; in 2010, there was a 65% reduction; in 2015, a 90 percent reduction; and finally, in 2020, a 99.5 percent reduction in the production of R-22. This means that during these high-demand reductions, the price of each pound of refrigerant could skyrocket. If you are considering replacing your existing air conditioning equipment, most higher efficiency products have already switched to R-410A, the more “environmentally sound” refrigerant.
My AC is very loud when I entertain outside; what can I do?
A difference of six decibels (between 72 dB and 78 dB) is technically a four-fold increase in compressor sound when rating air conditioners or heat pump units. However, it takes a difference of 10 decibels to double the loudness. It is also noted that it takes approximately three decibels for the average human ear to discern any loudness difference. Great strides have been made in reducing the operating sound level of equipment. We will happily show you the difference in good ratings with our product line.
Can carbon monoxide build up in my home?
Yes. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional Carbon Monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Where does it come from? When carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene, or wood burn, they produce gases. When fuel combustion or burning isn’t complete, carbon monoxide enters the air.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises that carbon monoxide detectors are the only way to alert yourself to toxic gas in your home. If you wake in the night with a headache — especially if another family member complains of a headache or is difficult to arouse — get out of the house fast and seek medical help. We recommend carbon monoxide detectors be installed in your home!