Are heat pumps efficient in the Southeast states?
A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round for comfort. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. In colder weather, a heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside the home. Even when outside air feels cold, there is still heat in that air. On very cold days when there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the indoor air to warm a home. This process is quite efficient as it produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.
Are there any air conditioning systems that are safe for the environment?
At what temperature should I set my thermostat?
Do electronic air cleaners really work?
During the heating season, my heat pump makes a “whooshing” sound and I feel cool air coming from the supply registers. Is that normal?
During the winter, my heat pump delivers warm air, but not hot air, and will operate for long periods of time. Is that normal?
How are the sizing capacities of heating and cooling systems measured?
How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?
A few quick tips:
- Clean and replace your filters frequently.
- Your system will heat and cool more evenly when the blower is in the “on” position. The blower provides constant air movement throughout the home, and allows for better filtration.
- Install shades, drapes, shutters, or screens on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight to keep room temperatures at moderate levels.
How do I know if my A/C unit is big enough?
How do I know if my system is working properly?
How do I know whether my heating and cooling equipment needs replacement or just repair?
Not an easy question to answer, but here are some factors to consider:
- The age of the current system. Today, any system that is more than ten years old is probably behind the times in terms of efficiency.
- Does the current system provide the level of comfort that you want? There is a growing difference between “builder grade” and consumer choice in what a system can offer in terms of comfort and convenience.
- How much will the repairs cost…and how many more repairs will you need in the future? Is keeping an older system operational worth the time, the money and the inconvenience? Sometimes you need to know when to cut bait and say goodbye to your old heater or air conditioner.
How important is air quality and what factors need to be considered?
How important is it to get the right size of heating and cooling equipment?
How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?
When purchasing a furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, ALWAYS ask about its Efficiency Ratings. They will tell you how efficiently the unit uses fuel (gas, or electricity). The most-frequently used efficiency ratings are:
- SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): This ratio tells you the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity The SEER rating of any unit can range anywhere from 13 to 17. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system will be and the less it will cost in the long run to own and operate.
- HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor): Similar to SEER, it is a measurement of efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump. HSPF ratings range from 6.8 to 10; high-efficiency units have efficiencies of 7.5 HSPF or above.
- AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio): A measurement of the percent of heat produced by a furnace for every dollar of fuel consumed. The higher the AFUE rating, the lower the fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 80%. Older furnaces (10 – 15 years or older) may fall below this minimum. Furnaces with AFUE ratings from 78% to 80% are considered mid-efficiency; ones with AFUE ratings above 90% are considered high-efficiency.
- ENERGY STAR: An Environmental Protection Agency designation attached to HVAC products that meet or exceed guidelines for high-efficiency performance above the standard government minimums.
How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?How long should my air conditioning system run in a cycle?
How much does a new replacement system cost?
How often should I have maintenance done on my air conditioner?
How often should I replace my filters?
If energy prices continue to escalate, what would be most effective in controlling home comfort costs?
Here’s checklist of options:
- Make sure that your home’s current HVAC system is properly maintained and adjusted.
- Change attitude and habits. Rethink your clothing, your appliances and your activities in your home – anything that can produce lower temperature settings in winter and higher temperature settings in summer can help control energy use.
- Explore energy-saving add-ons for your current system: thermostats, humidifiers, and zoning controls.
- Plant trees and landscape for summer shade and winter sun.
- Add insulation, install weather stripping and plug air leaks throughout your home.
If you’re current HVAC system is in need of replacement, your efficiency options are expanded and the potential for savings compared to your existing system can be quite dramatic. ECC can provide the consultation and information about all options and system combinations that might be right for your situation.
In addition to changing my filters, what maintenance should I do on my heater and/or air conditioner?
Most maintenance should be performed only by a qualified service technician. But here are some things that you can do to assure optimal performance:
- Keep ground mounted outdoor units clear of debris, clutter and weeds; they can reduce the airflow to the unit.
- Use caution with weed trimmers around the unit to prevent damaging control wiring.
- Keep pets away from the unit; pet urine can cause expensive damage.
Is a system with more capacity better?
Is there anything I should check prior to calling for service?
Is variable speed equipment superior and/or necessary?
It’s been years since I shopped for a new heating and cooling system. What changes in technology and equipment do I need to know about?
If you’re deciding on a new system and have not kept up with advances in the industry, you will be amazed at the number of choices that you have to make. Today’s comfort systems offer a surprising number of options and combinations – from individual heaters and air conditioners to integrated or “hybrid” systems. Systems can vary widely in terms of energy efficiency and cost. The ability of systems to monitor conditions and adjust automatically has increased dramatically. And a wider variety of air quality add-ons are available than ever before.
These changes make the replacement decision even more complex than ever, so you can see how important it is to find a HVAC company that will work with you to develop a system for your situation and budget. At ECC, our goal is to be a company that will partner with you to not only install a system that is appropriate for your situation, but then help you keep the system operating at peak performance.
Should I be concerned about carbon monoxide in my home?
Very concerned. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced during the combustion of fuels. It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless…and can be lethal. Even trace amounts can impair your brain function and impact your health. Cracks, leaks, obstructions and other malfunctions in your heating system can cause carbon monoxide to develop and accumulate.
Short-term exposure to carbon monoxide usually results in flu-like symptoms: nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue. Long-term exposure can eventually lead to unconsciousness or death.
Efficient Cooling Concepts recommends the following to minimize carbon monoxide risk:
- Keep heating equipment in good repair by scheduling regular inspection and maintenance.
- Keep furnaces, chimneys and vents free of obstruction. Watch out for birds, squirrels and other animals who sometimes build nests in these areas.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector, available at any home supply store.
- Periodically open windows in winter to let in fresh oxygen-rich air inside and let out any potential carbon monoxide.
- If you use an older gas furnace, look at the color of the pilot light. The flame should be at least 80 percent blue. If the flame is mostly yellow, it could be producing carbon monoxide, so have the unit checked by a professional immediately. Be sure to tune up your gas system at least once a year.
Today’s modern heating systems burn cleaner than older systems, minimizing or eliminating your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Contact ECC for more information.
Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?
Should I try to keep my air conditioning system from running too much?
What air temperature should my air conditioner produce?
What are possible causes of cracks in a heat exchanger?
What are the advantages of a programmable thermostat?
What are the potential dangers of operating your HVAC system with a cracked heat exchanger?
What does HVAC stand for?
What is I.A.Q.?
I.A.Q. stands for Indoor Air Quality. Today, various products are available as add-ons to your existing heating and cooling system to improve the quality and healthiness of the air inside your home. These items include:
- Electronic- or Media-Type Air Filters: Filtering the air within your home will help eliminate smoke, pollen, odor, dust mites and allergens. This will allow you to breathe easier, sleep better and enjoy your home more.
- Whole-House Humidifiers: Whole-house humidifiers provide consistent humidity levels throughout the home, and some models even adjust the humidity level automatically. The average heated home has a humidity level of less than 20%. The recommended humidity level in the winter should be between 35% and 45%.
- Air-to-Air Heat-Recovery Ventilators: These ventilator systems remove stale air from inside the home, while bringing in fresh air from the outside that is warmed during the transfer process.
What is the ideal indoor humidity level?
What is the primary function of a heat exchanger?
What is two-stage heating?
What regular maintenance do heating and air conditioning systems need?
We recommend that your heating and cooling system be checked and serviced twice a year; ideally a spring and autumn tune-up. Also we recommend that you change your filter regularly, depending on the type of filter you have. This alone can eliminate many of the most common problems that need fixing and can significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious breakdown. An ECC Preventive Maintenance Service Plan assurance that these maintenance needs are met regularly and that any potential problems are promptly identified.
What should I look for when choosing a new heater, heat pump or air conditioning unit?
Here are some general rules of thumb when you are ready to replace your existing equipment:
- Choose a manufacturer that has a good reputation for quality and durability.
- Choose a model that with a high efficiency rating to bring you better comfort and lower your seasonal energy bill.
- Choose the correct equipment size and system for your home.
- Don’t just buy a unit just because it is on sale and seems like a great deal at the time; do some research on the product or ask the installation representative for more product information.
- All brands of new R410a HVAC equipment comes with a 10 year limited manufacture warranty.
- Finally, choose a reliable company with excellent customer satisfaction and a track record of service after the sale. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Check out contractor ratings and reviews online from organizations like The Better Business Bureau.
When should I replace my existing heating and/or air conditioning unit system?
All systems and units are different. Here are some rough lifespan guidelines to help you decide whether fixing or replacing is the right decision:
- Average Lifetime of an Air Conditioner: 10-15 yrs.
- Average Lifetime of a Furnace: 15-20 yrs.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines. Some units last longer than that with regular maintenance and replacement of parts. But if a unit has been repaired repeatedly, or has been run excessively, it might make more sense to replace it even sooner. Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again…and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.
There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.
Some replacement systems can cost less than the cost of repeated repairs. And in many cases, installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time.
Also, when replacing a heater or air conditioner, it is usually best to replace both units at the same time. This way, you’ll save on installation costs and both units can be serviced on the same maintenance schedule and have the same approximate lifespan.
Why are humidifiers used more in heating than cooling?
Why do I need to change my filter regularly?
Why does my heat pump system sometimes freeze up?
If the problem recurs after checking for air restrictions and thawing your system thawed, schedule a service call with Efficient Cooling Concepts. Our service technicians will check the refrigerant level. They may also have to clean the evaporator coil, check the blower speed and check for any intermittency in blower operation. A service technician can also evaluate other conditions that may make your system prone to freezing and recommend the best course of action.