- How can we improve the efficiency of an existing heating and cooling system without replacing the furnace or the air conditioner without adding more insulation?
First and foremost is MAINTENANCE. The equipment needs to be cleaned and serviced by a licensed professional at least once per year. Studies have shown that lack of proper maintenance can reduce equipment efficiency by 5-10%. In addition, most of today’s filters need to be changed a minimum of every 30 days, and don’t skimp on the filter. You should use a filter that has a high efficiency rating to help keep your air and equipment clean. After thorough cleaning, the service technician will adjust the Freon levels in your air conditioner to the manufacturer’s specifications. Keep in mind that an over charged unit is just as bad as an under charged unit when it comes to energy consumption.
A yearly tune-up of your system is your first line of defense in keeping your heat pump operating efficiently. An Advanced Air and Heat professional technician will do the following during a comprehensive tune-up:
- Inspect the indoor coils and blower for dirt and other obstructions, and clean as needed.
- Check the ducts for loose joints and leaks, and seal with metal tape or mastic sealant.
- Measure for optimum airflow to the system.
- Measure the refrigerant charge and adjust if necessary, as well as check for refrigerant leaks.
- Clean and tighten electrical connections.
- Lubricate the moving parts of the system to prevent friction.
- Tighten loose belts and check them for wear.
- Check the electrical controls to ensure heat is locked out when the thermostat is set for cooling and vice versa.
- Check and adjust the thermostat for accuracy.
Heat pump maintenance doesn’t stop at the professional tune-up. There are several important tasks you should do year-round to maintain your heat pump’s efficiency and extend its operating life.
- Check your air filter on a monthly basis and replace it when it’s dirty. A dirty filter prevents optimum airflow and makes your heat pump work harder to keep you comfortable. This in turn causes higher energy bills and more wear on the system, not to mention a reduction in your indoor air quality.
- Clean the outdoor coil unit regularly to prevent dirt from building up on the unit.
- Keep the outdoor unit free of debris, such as grass clippings and weed growth.
- Keep your supply registers clean and free of obstructions, which can hamper airflow to your system.
- We are remodeling our attic and were wondering if you had any suggestions for heating insulation?
Fiberglass batts are very good in attic walls with a minimum of R-13. If the ceiling is to be installed on rafters, there should be air space above the insulation. If there is only room for 3″ insulation in a rafter space, a foam board can be installed on the rafters before the ceiling is installed. A minimum of R-19 should be installed in the ceiling.
- We are replacing our AC unit this season; what advice can you give me?
Replacing your system is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. The reason for this is that the life expectancy of a system is around 12 years and once your system is installed you now have given the power company and/or gas company the right to send you a bill for the next 12 years. When choosing a contractor, pick a company to install the unit based on quality and customer service, not solely on price. The name brand of the equipment is not as important as the installing contractor. Another thing to keep in mind when replacing a system is that the duct system you are connecting to is sealed tight with the proper amount of return air. With the new higher efficiency units, you also have to be careful that you replace your system with the proper sized unit so you don’t end up with a house that is cool but has high humidity. Do your homework, pick quality contractors, and find someone you trust and you will have a successful installation that will bring you years of comfort and the least amount of overall cost.
- As a first time homeowner, what information should I get beforehand about any professional coming into my home?
First, get to know the company itself. If you get a good feeling when they answer the phone and when talking with them, you will be comfortable dealing with them. Ask them if the employees are uniformed and have photo IDs. If they are a local, family-owned franchisee you know they have passed rigorous national training and testing. You should be able to get a written price up front for the work to be done. When the service professional comes to your home, look for a clearly identified truck, uniform, and photo ID. Good companies use floor protectors to keep dirt and dust out of your home. Expect to pay a few dollars more for a well qualified contractor than you would for someone less desirable. The added confidence and peace of mind is well worth the small difference.
- Should I set my thermostat at a constant temperature during the summer months or should I turn it off while we are away and then turn it on when we are home? Which will save me money in the long run?
During the summer months I would recommend you set your thermostat back during the day when you are not home. However, I would not recommend that you go over your desired temperature more than five to seven degrees. Another recommendation would be that you have a programmable thermostat installed that would automatically change the setting for you once it was programmed. Our company has had people save as much as 30 percent on their utility bills just by setting the temperature back when no one is home.