Frequently Asked Questions
- How are the sizing capacities of heating and cooling systems measured?
Heating systems for home installations are measured by BTUs. The BTU ratings can differ between brand names and product lines, so it is important to take into consideration the home square footage when determining the correct size of furnace. Cooling systems are sized according to their tonnage. One (1) ton equals 12,000 BTU/H. Residential systems can range from 1 to 5 tons.
- What size HVAC system should I have?
Contrary to popular belief there, is no rule of thumb for sizing a system to a home. Depending upon the construction of your home, one (1) ton of air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet of home. The only way to insure the size of the system you purchase will be large enough to cool your home, but not any larger than you need, is to have your home’s individual heating and cooling needs evaluated by a licensed professional.
- How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating, or AFUE, tells you how much heat the furnace will produce compared to the amount of energy required to produce the heat. For example, if a furnace is rated at 85 percent AFUE, 15 percent of the energy used is lost, and 85 percent actually becomes heat. Heating system efficiencies can range from 80% efficiency to 98.7% efficiency, depending on manufacturer brand names and their product lines. The S.E.E.R. (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) is the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity. For example, a 3-ton unit may have a S.E.E.R. efficiency rating of 13, 14, or 15. The higher the S.E.E.R. the more efficient the system will be. The S.E.E.R. rating of any given unit can range anywhere from 13 to 17.
- How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?
The most important thing you can do is clean and replace your filters frequently. Also, a system heats and cools more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration. Finally, shades, drapes, shutters, or screens should be installed on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight.
- Is a system with more capacity better?
No. A larger system with more capacity delivers less comfort and costs more to operate. An air conditioner is at its least efficient when first turning on. A system with too much capacity will run in numerous short cycles, turning on and off repeatedly, therefore causing it to be less efficient. Also keep in mind that an air conditioner only removes humidity when it’s running, so a system with shorter run cycles doesn’t remove humidity from the air very well.
- How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle?
There is no exact answer for how long your system should run during each cycle. The average air conditioner is sized to remove the heat from your home as fast as it comes in, on a 90° day. Therefore, ideally, on a 90° day the system should be able to keep up with the incoming heat, but not gain on it and be able to turn off. The cooler it is below 90°, the more the system will cycle on and off.
- Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?
Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. Usually a system that is too small to cool the home is more economical to run but delivers less comfort. Even though it runs nonstop, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off. As a rule of thumb, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one cycling on and off.
- What air temperature should my air conditioner produce?
The air temperature your system produces depends on the temperature of the air going into the system. Generally, the air produced should be 18°-20° below what enters the system. So if the air entering the system is 80°, the air exiting should be about 60°-62°. However, that only works on a system that has been running at least 15 minutes on a warm, dry day with a home that is about 80° inside. On a mild day, with an indoor temperature in the low 70’s, or during humid conditions, the air coming out may only be 15°-17° cooler than what enters.
- What temperature should I set my thermostat?
Obviously the time of year becomes a big factor for desired temperature settings. In the summer months the humidity levels elevate and causes us to adjust our thermostats to a desired comfort level. The less degree difference change from outdoor temperature to indoor temperature is obviously the economical way, but personal preference seems to be more of a concern than the ease of operation of an air conditioner. If the temperature is set back more than 5°; this will cause the air conditioner to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.
- What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?
Different programmable thermostats offer many different features. However, because they are electronic, they are all more accurate and efficient than thermostats that contain mercury. With programmable thermostats you can control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat. Because everything is automatic, you will never forget to change the setting on your own.
- How often should I replace my filters?
For optimum efficiency and filtration, we recommend that you replace your disposable filters at least once a month. Merv10, Merv11 and Merv16 should be checked at 6 months of operation for those with pet dander or high dust and pollen issues. If replacement is not warranted at that time, then replace them yearly. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned once a month.
- What maintenance is required on my furnace & air conditioner?
The most important maintenance you can do is to change your furnace filters regularly. Furnaces should have yearly maintenance done in the fall of the year before the cold temperatures arrive for the season. The heat exchanger, blower motors, wiring, switches, belts, filters, temperature rise (just to name a few) should be inspected an overall cleaning should be done each year. Keeping your furnace in peak performance condition no only extends the life of the furnace, it maintains warranty status and provides you with overall security and safety assurance. Air conditioners need to be kept clear of debris, clutter; weeds or landscaping that can grow too close and reduce the airflow to air conditioner. Also, keep pets away from the unit because pet urine can cause expensive damage. Use caution with a weed trimmer around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring. Any additional maintenance should only be performed by qualified personnel.
- How often should I have maintenance done on my furnace and air conditioner?
You should have maintenance done on your furnace each Fall and your air conditioner each Spring. This not only ensures maximum efficiency, it enables us to foresee any possible problems that may occur in the near future. Our Planned Service Agreement is specifically designed to keep your HVAC system running at its peak efficiency year-round.
- Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service on my air conditioner?
Yes. Check and make sure that the furnace filter is clean. Service calls can sometimes be avoid by changing a dirty furnace filter.
- How much does a new replacement system cost?
There are several factors to take into account when determining replacement costs. Makes and models, efficiency ratings, customer needs, and square footage of your home are all things to take into consideration when selecting an ideal replacement system. In-house estimates are free.
- Are there any air conditioning systems that are safe for the environment?
Yes. Several manufactures have developed new systems that contain the environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant.
- Do electronic air cleaners really work?
Yes, they can actually play a big part in your complete home comfort. We have a variety of whole-house filtration devices. Some electronic air cleaners can even remove dust particles and pollen as small as .10 micron.
- Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?
No. Closing the registers will decrease the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and doors in certain rooms, you disrupt the airflow and cause your air conditioning system to work harder to distribute air to other areas of your home. Your system will work harder, to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.
- Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling?
When cool outdoor air enters a home it tends to dry out as it warms up, which increases the static electricity in the home and causes sinus problems. Adding a humidifier with help to add moisture back into the air and limit sinus problems. In the summer, even with outdoor relative humidity hovering around the single digits, the humidity in your home tends to be around 40%. The average comfort range for relative humidity in a home is from 35 to 45%.