Have you made changes to your programmable thermostat settings yet?
It’s important to take the time to change your programmable thermostat settings as the seasons change. Not only does the weather change, but your schedule may change as well! For example, if you have kids, they may be spending more time at home over the next few weeks for the holidays.
But,. what are those ideal settings? Well, we can’t tell you specifics for your particular family; remember, it’s completely customizable. But, we can tell you the temperatures the Department of Energy recommends for the right balance of comfort and efficiency.
Set the thermostat to 68°F while you are awake and at your home. While you sleep and/or while you work, you should program the thermostat to 7°F – 10°F lower than your ideal setting.
The same rules apply for summer, you should program the thermostat to be 7°F – 10°F lower than your ideal setting while you are asleep or if you work. But, while you are at home, the ideal temperature for comfort and efficiency is 78°F.
Not willing to drop your thermostat that lower or bump it up that high? Remember, even small adjustments can make a difference on your utility bill. Consider a degree or two at the very least.
What do you set your programmable thermostat to during the winter? Do you keep it in the 70s, or do you drop into the 60s?
Like this post? Share it!
Just how much do you know about thermostats?
Did you know that thermostats are not “one-size-fits-all?” There are many different types of thermostats, some may pair up with your heating and cooling equipment while others may not. It is important that matches your system and addresses your home comfort specifications. For example, programmable thermostats can give you customizable comfort based on your schedule!
Your thermostat is the “brains behind the operation” so to speak. It is in charge of sending signals to your heating and cooling equipment to either supply air or turn the air off. If there is a glitch at your thermostat, you are going to feel it in the air AND in your wallet. If you notice something off with your heating and cooling equipment, it may not be a problem with the unit, but with the thermostat.
If your old thermostat just isn’t cutting it anymore, here are some things that you should know about your options.
Non-Programmable Models. These are your base model thermostats. Generally, your non-programmable thermostats are going to feature certain system compatibilities. For example, if you have a two-stage unit, you are going to need a different non-programmable model than someone who has a single-stage model. Make sure you work with your contractor to find the right one.
Programmable Models. This is your next step up. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature based on your schedule. This gives you completely customizable home comfort. For example, during the winter you can lower the temperature your thermostat is set at during the day to save money. Then, you can make it so that your home starts warming up about a half an hour before you are scheduled to get home. This way you are greeted by a comfortable home, but you aren’t spending money heating an empty home.
Wi-Fi-Enabled Thermostats. This is going to be your “best” model. With a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, you are going to be able to control the comfort of your home away from the box on the wall! Some of these thermostats even work with other smart home systems to give you complete control of your home, even when you are not there.
Make sure you take the time to discuss your thermostat options with your local contractor. It may not seem like a big deal, but you are going to thank yourself when that first bill comes in the mail.
Do you have a programmable thermostat in your home, or a non-programmable thermostat?
Like this post? Share it!
How does airflow affect your heating and cooling system?
What exactly is airflow? You can probably guess that airflow in heating and air conditioning is just that – the measurement of air flowing through your heating and air conditioning system. Airflow is important when it comes to the performance and longevity of your HVAC equipment. Restricted airflow can lead to problems, including: hot and cold spots, increased utility bills spending, decreased efficiency and even system malfunctions that lead to an early replacement!
So, what kind of things can lead to restricted airflow?
- Improper clearance around outdoor heating and air conditioning equipment.
- A dirty/clogged furnace filter.
- A filter that is too efficient for your particular HVAC system.
- Collapsed, missing or blocked ductwork.
- Leaves and debris around your outdoor heating and air conditioning equipment.
- Dirty equipment.
- Closed registers and vents throughout your home.
A way that you can avoid restricted airflow is by scheduling preventative maintenance with your local heating and air conditioning contractor. They can come out and clean the appropriate parts of your system and make sure that everything is operating the way that it should be.
What was the last time you changed your furnace filter?
Like this post? Share it!
When was the last time you changed your furnace filter?
If the answer is “I don’t know” you may want to go take a peek at it. It’s important that you change your furnace filter often – AT LEAST once before the heating season and again during the cooling season. But, you may want to consider changing it at least once a season or even once a month – particularly if you live with an allergy sufferer or have pets. A dirty air filter can cause a whole hose of problems.
Here are just a few consequences of letting your furnace filter get too grimy.
Reduced indoor air quality. This hardly needs an explanation. Your filter traps all of the unwanted particles you don’t want in your air. If your filter is clogged, the dust and dirt that was previously trapped by the filter may be recirculated through your home!
Inadequate heating and cooling. Reduced airflow can result in uneven temperatures throughout your home because it is harder for the system to move the air. This will negatively impact your home comfort.
Increased utility bills due to reduced energy efficiency. Parts of your HVAC system have to work harder to move air through your heating and cooling system. This means your equipment is going to consume more energy. This leads to increased utility bills – your electricity bill in particular!
Frozen evaporator coils. One effect of reduced airflow due to a dirty filter is a frozen evaporator coil (a part of your heating and air conditioning system that is located inside your home). Condensation that is formed during the cooling process can freeze on the outside of the coil and reduce your unit’s ability to cool your home. This may eventually lead to a complete system breakdown!
In extreme cases, furnace failure. All of the above-mentioned problems put additional strain on your air distribution equipment (your blower in particular). If this component gives out, not only are you going to be without your heating and air conditioning system, but you could be looking at a costly repair.
These are different procedures for permanent and temporary filters. Make sure you ask your contractor about proper air filter changing practices. If you can’t find your filter, make sure you contact your local HVAC professional.
How often do you change your furnace filter? How do you remind yourself?
Like this post? Share it!
Are you using your thermostat in the most efficient way for fall?
Fall can be confusing when it comes to proper HVAC settings. Some days may feel like you need a little help from your air conditioner, while the evenings feel like your gas furnace may be the only system for the job. So, what do you do?
Here are some of our tips for making sure that you are setting your thermostat properly for the season.
For non-programmable thermostats…
Make sure that you aren’t changing your thermostat settings all the time. Extreme fluctuations in temperature settings can mean that you use more energy than necessary to make your home comfortable. If you want customized comfort based on the temperatures throughout the day and your schedule, talk to your local heating and cooling contractor about switching to a programmable model. If you are ready to switched over to heat mode, set it and then forget it!
For programmable thermostats…
Adjust your programmable settings based on your schedule. Can you keep the thermostat a little warmer at night? Are the kids back in school? Is the house empty during the day? Are you ready to switch over to heat mode? This is the time to change your settings. Just remember, once you program those settings based on your new schedule, you need to stick with those settings.
If you want greater comfort control, you may want to consider a heat pump. Heat pumps use heat transfer to warm your home using electricity. And, if you pair it with a gas furnace, you can always make sure that you are using the most efficient fuel source for the weather outside. Talk to your local contractor and see if a heat pump is a good choice for your home.
Do you have a programmable or non-programmable thermostat? If you have a programmable model, have you noticed more efficient energy usage?
Like this post? Share it!
Do you know all of your furnace options?
Fall has just started! Have you already had to use your gas furnace? Even though fall has just started, you want to start thinking about your furnace. It’s time to start getting that furnace ready for the heavy heat load of winter.
The best way to enjoy home comfort year-round is to make sure you head-off any heating or cooling emergencies during the mild, less busy seasons. If you have an emergency “no-heat” call during the winter, you are going to end up with waiting a longer time due to the high volume of calls that contractors receive during the winter.
If you have scheduled preventative maintenance and have determined that your old furnace needs to be replaced, you should do your research before you settle on the system for your home. For example, some units may cost more money upfront, but they could end up saving you money over its life because of efficient, smooth performance.
Efficiency. Higher efficiency systems are going to be more expensive than lower efficiency systems. However, the higher efficiency furnace is going to save you money month-to-month in efficient operation. Over time, this can more than pay for the initial cost difference. remember, furnace efficiency is indicated by the AFUE (the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating.
Stages of operation. There are furnaces that are single stage, two stage and modulating. The more stages the furnace has, the less amount of money you could end up spending on monthly utilities. When your system turns on and off, it is going to be consuming the largest amount of energy in the shortest amount of time. So, minimizing those on/off cycles can be beneficial. Also, multiples stages of operation can lead to more even temperatures. More even temperatures means greater home comfort!
Fuel Type. When we are referring to furnaces, we are primarily referring to natural gas-powered furnaces. There are other furnaces, such as electric and oil. Remember, a good alternative to an electric furnace is a heat pump. You can even pair your heat pump with a gas furnace for greater fuel source flexibility. Heat pumps are the more efficient electric heating method because they use heat transfer, instead of heat creation.
Not sure if you need a new furnace? Schedule fall maintenance with your local heating and cooling contractor. They will be able to let you know whether it’s time to retire that old model and upgrade to something more efficient.
Have you recently replaced your furnace? How are you liking it?
Like this post? Share it!
Why should you invest in high-efficiency HVAC equipment? Savings!
Heating season will be here before you know it! Do you know what conditioner your gas furnace or heat pump is in? Older systems may not perform up to your comfort expectations, AND they could be costing you during the winter months as a result of inefficient performance.
In fact, if you have a system that is 10-years-old, or older, you could be dealing with a unit that has not only lost efficiency after years of operation, but one that started off less efficient than even the standard-efficiency units of today.
Heating and air conditioning units today feature:
- Multiple stages of operation
- Noise reduction features
- High-efficiency capabilities
If you’re considering a replacement, try to invest in the most efficient unit you can afford. This goes for both heating and cooling equipment. Efficient equipment is more costly upfront, but you will not regret it when your first utility bill arrives.
Not sure if you need a new gas furnace or air conditioning system? Schedule maintenance this fall with your local HVAC contractor. They can look over your system, clean it, and either give it a clean bill of health, or suggest the right replacement.
Like this post? Share it!
Take everything into consideration when you buy a new air conditioner
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – your air conditioning system is made up of more than just the box that sits outside. There are components that help you run your equipment properly and distribute the air through your home in the most efficient way possible. These are all things that your contractor should bring up when they go to install a new system in your home.
Here are a couple of components that you should keep in mind.
Thermostat. Thermostats are the “brains behind the operations,” so to speak. Your thermostat is where you will set your desired comfort settings. You can use your thermostat to save on heating and cooling expenses. Set the thermostat at a higher temperature during the summer or a lower temperature during the winter and see savings without too many comfort sacrifices. Better yet, invest in a programmable model and set a temperature schedule based on your comfort needs throughout a day.
Zoning Systems. You can control your home comfort and energy usage even more with a zoning system. The function of a zoning system is to divide your home by room, or groups of rooms, (a.k.a. zones). Each zone will be controlled by its own thermostat. So, if you have a hotter room you can put it on its own separate zone. That way, your air conditioner can send cooling power to just that zone during the summer without having to waste energy cooling the remainder of the house that may be cooler/already at your desired temperature.
Ductwork. Your ductwork is your essential air distribution system. These are located in your ceiling or floors and move air from your unit to the rooms in your home. It’s important that you have your ductwork inspected and cleaned to make sure there aren’t any obstructions or indoor pollutants lurking inside.
Indoor Equipment. Again, your complete heating and air conditioning system is more than just the box that sits outside, especially if you have a split system. Split system equipment must be matched. That means that the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump must be compatible with your indoor air handler or furnace. Whether you choose an air handler or furnace will be determined by where you live.
Indoor Air Quality Products. Your HVAC system is also responsible for cleaning the air that you and your family breathe. It’s shocking how polluted your indoor air can be. In fact, indoor air can oftentimes be more polluted than outdoor air! Make sure you change your furnace filters regularly, and that you ask your contractor about the right indoor air quality products to meet your family’s needs. For example, if you have an allergy sufferer living in your home, you may want to ask about having a high-intensity air cleaner installed in your home.
Getting the right combination of all of these systems leads to a truly comfortable, energy-efficient home. Make sure you talk to your local HVAC contractor about the other parts of your heating and cooling system.
Did you invest in any of the above systems when you bough your new air conditioner?
Like this post? Share it!
What affects cooling efficiency? It’s more than you may think.
With a severe heat wave moving over the Midwest, it’s more important than ever to keep the efficiency of your cooling equipment in mind – whether that is an air conditioner or heat pump. Cooling efficiency is important for not only comfort, but reducing how much you spend on cooling during the summer.
In order to really decrease the amount of money you spend on cooling during these extreme heat waves, it’s important that you understand the things that heavily affect cooling efficiency. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to maximize the efficiency of your cooling equipment.
Airflow. One of the key factors of efficiency is proper airflow. Make sure there is proper clearance around your air conditioner, your system is free from debris and there are no obstructions in your ductwork.
Upkeep. Like your car, your air conditioner needs frequent check-ups. Your air conditioner should be serviced once-per-year (ideally in the spring). If you’ve missed the boat, you can always have a contractor come out and look at your air conditioner at any point in time. Just remember, it is always better to head-off a problem instead of waiting for one to find you.
Air Leaks. Just like too little airflow can be a problem, too much can also be a problem. Make sure you weatherize your home before the cooling season, and make sure to keep windows and doors closed while your air conditioner is in operation.
Thermostat settings. Find the highest temperature you are comfortable with and stick with it. A few degrees isn’t going to kill comfort, but it can make a difference at the end of the month. Frequently changing the temperature of a non-programmable thermostat can also be an efficiency killer. If you want customized temperature settings, invest in a programmable thermostat model.
Think beyond the box outside. There is more to your central cooling system than just the box that sits outside. When you get your system checked, make sure you consider your thermostat, ductwork and indoor equipment (if you have a split system) as well.
Knowing when to replace. If it seems like your cooling bills keep rising year after year, it could be an indication that your system is nearing the ends of its lifespan. If you are having to make frequent repairs and your air conditioner is nearing the 12-year mark, it may be time to consider an efficient replacement.
Always doing your research. When it comes to selecting your equipment, choosing your contractor and running your system at ideal operating levels – research is key. Do you need an air conditioner or heat pump? Is a programmable thermostat the best model for your needs? Do your local contractors have a positive reputation? All of these are great questions to ask.
If it’s time to replace your old cooling system with something more efficient, make sure you get in touch with your local HVAC contractor. They can steer you in the right direction.
Has the hotter summer affected your summer plans? Make sure you stay safe during excessive heat conditioners!
Like this post? Share it!
Is it worth making that air conditioner upgrade? You betcha!
How are the temperatures in your area? I know it’s been a real scorcher in the Midwest. And, if you’re trudging through these hotter months with an old air conditioner, you know just how much those cooling bills can sting during these heat waves.
There comes a certain point in the life of an air conditioner when it makes more sense to replace it rather than continue to make repairs. In fact, a new air conditioner offers more than just a comfort upgrade. Air conditioners produced today are significantly more efficient than older models and offer better features. In fact, because heating and cooling costs can comprise up to 60% of your utility expenses during peak seasons, making an efficiency upgrade can be the best way to lower monthly costs.
Here are a couple of the things that can make the HVAC replacement costs worth it:
- Your air conditioner is over 12 years old
- You have to make frequent repairs
- Your utility bills have significantly increased
- You are suffering from hot and cold spots
- Your air conditioner is loud
- Your air conditioner is constantly running
- There is visible damage to either your indoor or outdoor equipment
- Comfort levels have significantly decreased year over year
If one or more of these issues are affecting your summer, it’s time to start researching your options!
The best way to find out if you are ready for an efficiency upgrade is to talk to your local heating and cooling specialist. Not only can they diagnose problems with your existing system, but, if it is time to replace, they can recommend the best efficiency upgrade for your home.
Have you recently replaced an older model with a newer, more efficient model? Aren’t those efficiency savings great?