Spring is just around the corner…
Are you ready for the warmer weather? We sure are! Spring may be a few weeks away, but we’re already thinking about gardening, warm weather and sunny days. What’s your favorite part of the spring season?
As temperatures rise, you want to make sure your air conditioner is in good shape. Schedule spring preventative maintenance to ensure proper cooling system operation. A contractor can catch minor issues before they become big problems.
But, your air conditioner is only one piece (albeit the biggest piece) of the cooling equation. You also want to keep your thermostat in mind.
The Department of Energy recommends a thermostat setting of 78°F during the summer. You are likely to save more money on cooling at this temperature. But, you want to make sure you make the transition at the right time. Drastic temperature swings can raise bills and decrease performance.
During your maintenance appointment, ask your contractor about your thermostat options. You can choose to go with anything from an analog thermostat with a dial to a smart, Wi-Fi-enabled model. Programmable thermostats fall somewhere in the middle. With a programmable model, you can set the temperature based on your schedule. Your thermostat does the thinking for you. It makes airflow adjustments based on when you’re home and when you’re out of the house. This way, you are using the right amount of energy to cool your home at any given time.
Dramatic temperature swings are not good for your home comfort or wallet. But, small adjustments made by your thermostat can make a positive impact. Make sure you ask your contractor about your money-saving thermostat options.
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Do you know how much the furnace has changed over the years?
Home heating has been around for a while. It started with simple wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to today’s high-efficiency, natural gas-powered furnaces. As the years have gone by, heating technology has improved more and more. This means the furnace sitting in your basement could be extremely out-of-date if it is an older model – running inefficiently and not giving you the home comfort you’re paying for.
Efficiency isn’t even the biggest difference between new furnaces and older models. Not only are today’s furnaces held to a higher standard efficiency-wise, they contain comfort-enhancing technology that can make your home more comfortable, and do so quietly.
Here are some technology improvements that make today’s furnace’s outstanding.
Variable-speed technology. Many of today’s gas furnaces, particularly high-efficiency models, contain variable-speed blower motors. A variable-speed model can do just what the name implies – vary the speed at which the air is blown throughout your home to exactly meet your comfort demands. This leads to a better mix of air, reducing hot and cold spots.
Multiple stages of operation. Traditional furnaces have two stages, 100% capacity and off. Furnaces that can operate in multiple stages can vary firing capacity to more directly meet your homes comfort demands at a given time. This help you save money and can lead to better home comfort.
Blower delay. Want to make sure you aren’t treated to a blast of cold air as soon as your furnace kicks on? Invest in a model that features a blower delay. This assures that your ducts are warm by the time air starts moving through them.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Make sure you ask your contractor about the comfort features in addition to efficiency when you’re buying your next furnace.
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There’s more to a condensing furnace than just high efficiency.
Are you in the market for a new gas furnace? There are so many different models to consider! Make sure to keep in mind your high-efficiency, condensing furnace options. High efficiency does offer some pretty obvious perks, but there are other benefits to upgrading to a condensing model.
So, what about these efficiency perks? Furnaces have long lifespans. In fact, the average lifespan of a furnace hovers around 20 years! However, although your furnace may still be kicking after all these years, it could be operating poorly. If you have an older furnace in your home, it may have only been rated at 60% AFUE or 70% AFUE when it was first installed. As furnaces get older and older, they can lose some of their original efficiency through normal wear and tear. A condensing furnace upgrade can significantly cut your utility bill spending.
Here are some other perks of condensing furnaces.
- High-efficiency furnace qualify for better rebates. Not only are you going to be saving money on high-efficiency operation from month to month, but you could get some money shaved off of overhead costs by looking into manufacturer rebates and local utility rebates too.
- Better air distribution. Because a condensing furnace typically runs longer at a lower capacity than a traditional, non-condensing gas furnace, your home can experience more even temperatures and increased comfort.
- Variable-speed blowers for increased comfort at all times of the day. Some high-efficiency, condensing gas furnaces also contain variable-speed blower motors. These components can adjust airflow to meet the real-time heating needs of your home.
If you are in the replacement market, make sure you look into your condensing furnace options. You may be surprised at the amount of efficiency you can afford. Start your search for a high-efficiency furnace by scheduling a consultation with your local heating contractor.
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Are you gifting yourself a high-efficiency furnace in 2018?
The best way to increase comfort while decreasing utility bill expenses is to make an upgrade to your heating and cooling system.
That being said, the process of buying a new HVAC system can feel a bit daunting. After all, they are not an everyday purchase. Since we are currently in the throes of the heating season, we’re going to talk about gas furnaces right now. Here are some things you would be wise to keep n mind while searching for the right furnace for your home.
- Efficiency. If you want a snapshot into the performance benefits of the new unit you’re buying – consider the efficiency rating. Furnace efficiency is measured with a percentage called the “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency” or “AFUE”. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the equipment. For example, a 96% AFUE gas furnace will convert 96% of the fuel you put into it into useful heating power for your home. Furnaces over 90% AFUE are considered “condensing” models.
- Sizing. Did you know why it is so important for your contractor to come over to your house before giving you a quote for a new system? Your home is unique – you are going to have certain requirements that don’t necessarily fit into a predetermined package. Sizing is one of those factors that is going to be specific to your home. Different sized homes need different sized equipment; however, square footage is not the only factor that determines the size of your heating equipment. Your contractor will take into account your home’s insulation, the number of rooms you have, your windows and more.
- Rebates and Financing. Afraid that you can’t afford the efficiency you want? Make sure to ask your contractor about current promotions and financing options. For example, a manufacturer rebate could bring the price of a high-efficiency furnace down to a point that is within your budget.
- IAQ Additions. Your heating and air conditioning equipment is your first, and main, line of defense against poor indoor air quality. Don’t forget to ask your contractor about IAQ additions (such as whole-home humidifiers, UV light systems or air cleaners).
- Maintenance Agreements. Annual maintenance is the best way to make sure your new equipment runs smoothly year after year. In fact, many manufacturers require maintenance as part of the warranty. A great way to make sure you never miss a maintenance appointment is to ask your contractor about a maintenance agreement. This way, you will be sure to get your cooling equipment checked every spring and your heating equipment checked every fall.
- Paperwork. Make sure you keep all of the paperwork that came with your equipment and was given to you buy your contractor. This way you are covered for the future should anything happen.
- Warranty. Is it your responsibility to register your warranty? Does your contractor take care of it? Make sure you ask your contractor about who registers your equipment for warranty coverage. Most manufacturers have an “out-of-the-box” warranty and a longer warranty that goes into effect after a piece of equipment is registered.
Ultimately, the most important thing you are going to do is choose the right contractor for the job. It is worth your time to research your local contractors. Here are a few red flags to look for when you are searching for a contractor.
- Quotes over the phone
- Little to no presence on the web
- No credible recommendations
- Gives you a quote before visiting your home
Need a good starting off point? Visit the Maytag local contractor finder.
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It’s beginning to look a lot like…
WINTER! That frightful winter weather has crept into many areas of the country already. While some homeowners are blessed with mild winters, others need to prepare for subzero temperatures and snow.
We’re not talking about temperatures in the 40s…we’re talking about temperatures that hurt your face as soon as you step outside. Here are some things you should have on your mind before, during and after an extreme cold front roll in…
- Be prepared for chillier indoor temperatures. There is only so much your furnace is going to be able to do to keep your home warm. There will come a point when even the best furnace is going to struggle to keep up with demand. Break out the sweaters and blankets, and drink a cup of hot cocoa.
- Don’t crank the heat. As mentioned above, it may feel like your home just can’t get warm enough. Resist the temptation to blast the heat. All you’ll achieve is a higher utility bill.
- Don’t be afraid to turn the thermostat down a degree or two. If your furnace is constantly running trying to reach the temperature you have your thermostat set to, consider a lower temperature setting. This way, your gas furnace will turn off sooner – saving money on utility bills and reducing wear and tear on your unit.
- Consider weather stripping around your windows and doors. Drafts during extremely cold weather may also be making your home feel like the inside of an igloo. You can pick up weather stripping at your local hardware store to help combat these drafts.
- Make sure your outside vents are clear. Do you know where your gas furnace vents the byproducts of combustion? Make sure your vent is clear from snow and winter debris to make sure those byproducts are exiting your home correctly.
- Registers and vents indoors should also be clear. Make sure furniture and rugs are not blocking your indoor vents either. You also want to make sure they were not accidentally closed. Blocked vents and registers can result in cold rooms and system damage.
- If you’re going out of town, have a neighbor check your home. During extremely cold weather, there could be too much strain placed on your gas furnace. This may cause a malfunction. If you aren’t home, the lack of warm air circulating through your home could result in frozen pipes and a number of other health and safety issues. Have a neighbor pop into your house each day to make sure everything is running smoothly.
- If you’re using a space heater, make sure you practice proper safety. During extreme cold, you may feel like you need supplemental heat. Temporarily using a space heater isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although it can result in a higher electric bill), but you must make sure that it is properly attended and that it is nowhere near flammable materials.
Feel like your furnace isn’t ready to tackle extreme cold? Get in touch with a local heating and air specialist.
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Are you ready for colder weather?
The holiday season is fast approaching. What does that mean? Well, colder weather will be arriving sooner rather than later. Is your home ready to keep you comfy during the winter?
There are many things you should do to get your home ready for winter. If you don’t take these steps, you could end up with an uncomfortable home or astoundingly high utility bills.
- Seal air leaks around your windows and doors. Air leaks can hurt comfort and your wallet. There are products out there than can quickly seal up air leaks around your windows and doors – like caulking or weather stripping.
- Clean your gutters. Don’t forget to have all the leaves removed from your gutters before the first snowfall.
- Close your chimney damper when it isn’t in use. Did you know that your chimney acts like a big vacuum when your damper is open – warm air rises. If you have a chimney, make sure you close your damper after each use.
- Make sure your attic is insulated. Again, warm heat rises. You want to make sure that your heated air is not escaping out of cracks in your attic or roof.
- Don’t be afraid to turn the thermostat down a degree or two. Small adjustments can make a world of difference. Turning your thermostat down a few degrees is not going to affect comfort too terribly.
- Have someone come out and perform an energy audit on your home. Find out where you could save money on your monthly heating costs.
- Schedule preventative furnace maintenance with your local heating and air conditioning contractor. Ultimately, preventative maintenance is going to be the best way to keep your home safe and comfortable this winter. Your contractor may also catch small issues that could be causing higher utility bills.
What are some of the other things you do to get ready for winter’s chill? Have you scheduled your preventative maintenance appointment yet?
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What do you set your thermostat to during the spring and fall?
Deciding when to switch from heating mode to cooling mode, and vice versa, may not be easy. It’s important to keep air circulating during the spring and fall, but you may not need the power of your gas furnace or air conditioner to keep your home comfortable. So, what should you do?
Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your heating and air conditioning equipment during the mild seasons.
Don’t turn off your equipment. It’s important to keep the air flowing during the spring and fall, especially if you are an allergy sufferer. If you notice that your equipment is not kicking on as often, and the air is getting stale, try setting your fan to the “ON” position on your thermostat.
Commit to your thermostat settings. It can be hard to determine when it is time to change your thermostat from one mode to the other. The important thing to keep in mind is to not keep switching between the two. On and off cycles are the most energy-consuming portions of a heating or cooling system’s run cycle. Minimizing these cycles is key.
Don’t simply rely on open windows. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. It is important to keep your air clean during the fall and spring. The weather may be mild, but the allergies can be brutal. If you have to open the windows, do so sparingly.
If mild weather is common in your area, consider investing in a heat pump. A heat pump paired with a gas furnace can be the ideal, year-round heating and cooling setup. This way, you are always using the most efficient heat source for the season. Heat transfer (the heating method used by a heat pump) is a more energy-efficient heating method than heat creation (the heating method used by heat strips and space heaters). During milder nights, when you don’t need the power of the gas furnace, your heat pump can kick on and keep you cozy.
Want to know more about best practices for operating your heating and cooling equipment during the mild seasons? Get in touch with your local heating and air conditioning contractor.
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Are you guilty of any of these bad homeowner HVAC habits?
We want our heating and air conditioning systems to last as long as possible. To do that, we’ve got to keep a few things in mind. Here are some things that you may be doing that could affect how long (and efficiently) your heating and cooling equipment operates.
- Constantly adjusting the thermostat.
The toughest part of an air conditioner or gas furnace’s job is start up and shut down. When you are constantly adjusting the thermostat, it can lead to more frequent on and off cycles. Plus, just because your home is set at a warmer temperature during the winter, doesn’t mean your furnace is going to warm up your house any more quickly. It will just run longer – causing additional wear and tear.
- Planting too close to your equipment.
Blocked airflow is an efficiency and performance killer. Planting too close to your equipment cannot only cause blocked airflow, but the plants can grow into your condenser and affect components. This can result in a costly emergency repair.
- Closing registers and vents.
Heating and cooling equipment is designed to heat or cool a certain amount of space. When you start closing registers and vents, this alters the amount of space being heating or cooled, making your air conditioner act as if it is improperly sized. This can lead to problems like longer run times, shorter system life and a frozen evaporator coil. This also applies to furniture placement. Make sure your furniture is not blocking registers and vents.
- Using a condenser cover.
Again, this can affect airflow – decreasing system life, lengthening run times and negatively affecting comfort.
- Forgetting to change the furnace filter.
Not only can a dirty filter block airflow, it can significantly lower the quality of your indoor air. Disposable filters don’t have to be an expensive purchase, and changing a filter is relatively easy to do. Try to change your filter once-a-month, but at the very least, one time per season.
- DIY repairs, maintenance and installation.
If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just try and fix your HVAC equipment yourself. There is a reason why technicians go to school, attend additional trainings and carry licenses. HVAC systems are complicated pieces of equipment and require a skilled hand for installation, maintenance and repairs.
- Not scheduling preventative maintenance.
The worst habit of them all. It’s good to have your contractor come out and look at your air conditioner during the spring and your gas furnace during the fall. This way they can catch minor issues before they become a big problem. Your contractor will make sure that your equipment is running as efficiently as possible, saving you money during the peak season. Contractors are even making it easier with maintenance agreements – never forget to schedule an appointment again.
Have you scheduled fall preventative maintenance yet?
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Do you know what you’re looking for in a new furnace?
Shopping for new heating equipment can seem like a daunting task. The life of the average furnace can span multiple decades – chances are you’ve never had to replace your system in the past. A new heating system is an investment financially and comfort-wise; you want to make sure you make the right decision.
Here are some things you should know about your furnace replacement options to help you make a better decision.
Heating and cooling equipment comes in a range of efficiencies – from minimum efficiency to high efficiency, condensing models. There are a couple of things to take into consideration when you are comparing efficiency ratings. If you live in an area that experiences mild winters, chances are you may not see the returns you’d like from an investment in an ultra-efficient model. On the other hand, if you live in an area that experiences brutally cold winters, high efficiency is the way to go. You’ll be shocked at the difference a high-efficiency gas furnace can make on your utility bills during the peak heating season.
- Money Back.
There are many incentives available to homeowners who purchase new heating and cooling equipment. Many manufacturers offer rebates on high-efficiency models that can offset initial costs. There are also local utility rebates that may be available in your area for high-efficiency equipment. Make sure you ask your contractor about the money-back options available to you.
- Energy Savings.
A high-efficiency furnace can help you save money each month on utilities. This can be beneficial for those who live in the North, where winters can be unforgiving. And, even minimum-efficiency gas furnaces manufactured today can be significantly more efficient than those manufactured 10 or 15 years ago. So, even if you do invest in a standard-efficiency system, you could still see savings.
- Performance Features.
How loud is your furnace when it kicks on? If it sounds like a jet engine taking off, it may be time to explore your new system options. Modern furnaces contain many noise reduction features that weren’t as prevalent during the era your old furnace was manufactured. If you’re looking for extremely quiet operation, look for a unit that features an insulated cabinet and a variable-speed blower motor.
The hunt for the perfect gas furnace is a lot easier if you have a knowledgeable, professional contractor by your side. Make sure you do some research before you hire the contractor who is going to guide you through the purchasing process.
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Do you think it’s time to replace your old furnace?
Making the decision to replace your heating equipment isn’t an easy one. Heating equipment is essential to your home comfort during the winter, but it is also expensive. You don’t want to end up replacing your unit unnecessarily, but you don’t want to be without heat during the coldest parts of the year. After all, Murphy’s Law suggests that your furnace is most likely to quit when you need it most.
If you are faced with the decision to repair or replace your old unit, here are some things to ask yourself:
- How old is my unit? The average gas furnace lasts about 20 years. If your furnace is somewhere in the 15-20 year range, and you are faced with a repair, chances are you’re just delaying the inevitable if you decide not to replace. Plus, furnaces manufactured even 10 years ago don’t include some of the amazing features modern air conditioners include – like quiet operation, more even temperatures and high efficiency. In fact, even a standard-efficiency furnace purchased today may be significantly more efficient than your old system.
- How expensive is the repair? Think of your furnace like your car – if it costs more to fix the unit that it costs to replace it, opt for replacement. Look at the cost of making repairs and weight that against the cost of replacement (don’t forget about the money-saving benefit of added efficiency and potential rebates). If you are struggling to make a replacement fit within your budget, ask your contractor about the financing options they offer.
- How high are my utility bills? If you are experiencing high heating bills during the winter, or bills that are creeping up in cost each month, it is better to replace your system. As gas furnaces age, they may lose efficiency due to regular wear and tear. So, not only will your old unit most likely have started off at a lower efficiency rating brand new, it may have lost that rated efficiency over years of use.
- How loud is my gas furnace? Loud bangs and blanks coming from your unit when it kicks on or is in operation are not a good sign. This can indicate that it is time to call a contractor and discuss a repair. If it’s determined that those noises are coming from one of the main components of your furnace, it’s best to replace.
Whether you decide to repair or replace, the process needs to start with the search for a qualified local contractor. It isn’t going to matter if you replaced your old system with a new, high-efficiency model if the installation was not done correctly. Ask friends and family for recommendations, check online review sites and get several different quotes. The cost of the multiple service calls may seem unnecessary, but if it ends up saving you money or getting a better install, it is worth it.
If you need a jumping off point, check out the Maytag dealer locator.