How long should my furnace and air conditioner last?
Typically a furnace or air conditioner will last 10-12 years. Sometimes it pays to replace the old system sooner because of the higher efficiency (lower gas and electric bills) provided by newer equipment. Due to our coastal climate, life expectancies can vary greatly. Maintenance is a must to maximize efficiency and protect your investment.
My electric and gas bills are high. Will a new furnace and air conditioner lower my bills?
YES! A new 13 SEER air conditioner or heat pump could save you as much as 50% on your operating cost (13 SEER is just the minimum efficiency standard allowed by law). Depending on your current operating costs, higher efficiency systems could save you even more. Newer gas furnances are 30-40% more efficient than some older models. With rising gas prices, this could mean big savings.
What is SEER?
This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The size of an air conditioner is rated in BTU or Tons, however the efficiency is rated in SEER. Its like mpg (miles per gallon) in a car – the higher the mpg (or SEER) the lower the gasoline (electricity) bill.
Should I install the highest SEER air conditioner available?
In our climate, 13 SEER is now considered standard efficiency (this is new minimum efficiency the federal government allows to be sold) and 14 SEER is high efficiency. The initial investment is higher for a 14 SEER than a 13 SEER, but the electricity savings will usually pay for the difference in 5-7 years sometimes. The higher SEER equipment doesn’t remove humidity as well as older, lower SEER equipment, so it is important that the new air conditioner be sized properly so it runs long enough to remove humidity (so you don’t have a cool, but sticky home). Equipment with SEER ratings of 15 and higher are available, but are not commonly installed in this part of the country.
What is a heat pump? Is it better than an air conditioner?
In the summer, a heat pump is no different than an air conditioner. In the winter, a heat pump operates in reverse and heats the indoors. Heat pumps need auxiliary heat (electric resistance heat or gas furnace) to help them when it is real cold or when the thermostat is moved more than 2-3 degrees at a time. The initial investment for a heat pump is higher than for an air conditioner, and the ductwork must be exactly right for proper operation. One common complaint of a heat pump is that the air coming out of the registers is not hot enough (compared to a gas furnace). With all their drawbacks, heat pumps will reduce the winter heating bills. However, if you have electric heating, the savings is dramatic and you will probably want to stay with a heat pump.
Should I replace my furnace and air conditioner at the same time, or can they be installed separately?
With the new 13 SEER minimum efficiency standard now in place, it is more important than ever to make sure the outdoor and indoor units match. Not to say that a 13 SEER air conditioner can work with an older air handler or evaporator coil, but it is most likely that the system will never perform as it is intended. Also, mismatching this newer equipment to old will increase the risk of premature compressor failure. Some equipment manufacturers will now void their warranties when systems are mismatched.
Is it OK to install a different brand of furnace (or air conditioner) to work with my existing air conditioner (or furnace)?
Although it is generally recommended to match components, most brands of air conditioners will work with others as long as the coils and blowers are the proper size. You may however, experience some loss of efficiency and capacity.
My home has a forced air furnace but no air conditioner. Can I can central air?
Yes, in most cases, since air conditioners require more air flow than furnaces and it may be necessary to add more ductwork or a blower. Also, local codes require that your ductwork be insulated, and your electrical service may need to be upgraded. Efficient Heating & Cooling can determine all of the costs required to add central air.
My friend works for a heating and air conditioning company and says he can install a new furnace (or conditioner) or a lot less money. Is this a good idea?
Be sure he has a license, obtains all required permits and has adequate insurance. Keep in mind you will be dependent on him and his schedule for warranty repairs. If he meets the above requirements and has the needed experience and you understand that repairs may not be timely – you may save some money, but be sure you are not getting a “cheap” installation that will cost you more in the long run.
How does Efficient Heating & Cooling determine what size of furnace and air conditioner to install?
Efficient Heating & Coolings Comfort Consultant will measure your home and calculate the actual heating and cooling load on the home (calculation based on window size and direction, walls, ceiling, floor, appliances, insulation, etc). This will determine the proper size of equipment that is needed. This will be compared to your current equipment and ductwork and will be adjusted based on your lifestyle, etc.
I want a big air conditioner. Someone told me this is not good – what they advantages and disadvantages?
An “oversized” air conditioner will cool your house quicker, but it will use more electricity and will not remove humidity adequately. If your ductwork is not big enough for the “oversized” air conditioner, the coil may freeze and then the air conditioner won’t work at all. Obviously the air conditioner must be big enough to cool the house, but too big is just as bad. We recommend the proper size to cool your home to 75 degrees when it is 95 degrees outside, then increase the size slightly, if needed, based on your temperature preferences.
Does Efficient Heating & Cooling take care of permits, gas connections and electrical work if that is needed?
We always obtain all required permits. We can take care of the electrical and gas connections also, and we can work with your electrician or plumber if you prefer.
Some rooms in our house don’t get enough warm air (of cold air.) Can this be fixed?
Certainly. There are a variety of causes for airflow problems. Sometimes the problems are due to a dirty filter, coil and/or blower which results in the right amount of air not passing through the air handler and causing it to die off in the duct system. From time to time the duct work comes loose and a minor repair can solve the problem. In many cases, there may be duct design issues. In these cases, a professional should be called in to troubleshoot the situation. Solutions can range from some simple balancing to replacement of ducts to advanced climate control (zoning) systems such as Arzel.
Should I run the blower continuously, or use the auto position on the thermostat?
Try both ways. Running the blower all the time will use a little extra electricity, however the home is usually more comfortable, the temperature is more even throughout the home, and the air is cleaner because it is filtered more. The motors generally last longer because they are not starting and stopping. Some of the new furnaces have the ability to use a slow blower speed for continuous operation, and a faster speed when the furnace or air conditioner are running. Over the years, it has been found that running your blower continuously can increase the humidity in a house. When your air conditioner stops running there can be a substantial amount of condensation left on the evaporator coil and the drain pan. Continually circulating warm air across the components can re-evaporate this moisture.
How many bids should I get before I decide on a new system?
Three bids are generally enough. If Efficient Heating & Cooling is servicing your current system, or if we have installed equipment for you in the past, you should be comfortable in obtaining a proposal from Efficient Heating & Cooling, then determining if you feel the need to obtain additional bids. Another way to obtain several bids without the effort is to call current customers that have had a system installed recently and ask why they chose Efficient Heating & Cooling (your Comfort Consultant can give you a list of customers).
How do I check out the companies I am considering to install my new system?
This is the easiest, yet most important step – call customers. Eliminate any company that doesn’t give you a long list of customers that they have installed during the last 1-24 months. Call the BBB and tell them you are considering a new system and ask about their experience with Efficient Heating & Cooling Inc. (or any other company you are considering).
How do I pay for my new furnace or air conditioning system?
For installation of new equipment, we do not require any down payment, however we ask for payment after the installation is complete (unless other arrangements have been made). We accept VISA, Mastercard, Discover, Cash and Checks. We also have financing available through Rheem Kwick Comfort (GE) and American General Finance for low interest rates and monthly payments.
Why should I consider a new high-efficiency filter?
High-efficiency filters remove more of the smaller particles from the air. This will help us breathe better and reduce sinus problems, headaches and colds. Many people miss fewer days from school and work and use less allergy medication. The air is filtered before entering the furnace and air handler. Better quality filters can help keep coils and blowers cleaner, which can reduce energy costs and increase system reliability and longevity. Efficient Heating & Cooling has several different filters available and can show you the differences in efficiency and installation cost.
Should I have a programmable thermostat installed with my new system?
Programmable thermostats allow you to have the temperature raise and lower automatically at specific times each day. They can reduce your energy bills and increase your comfort (i.e. get up to a “warm” bathroom during the winter). If your family follows a fairly regular schedule, a programmable thermostat may be a good investment.
Should I have my ductwork cleaned? Does Efficient Heating & Cooling do this?
Yes. Efficient Heating & Cooling Inc. not only provides duct cleaning, we also provide free duct cleaning estimates. Clean ducts are important in your home environment. Dust builds up inside our ductwork just like it builds up on our furniture. It is important to clean the ductwork every few years to prevent this build-up of dust, pollen fungus and bacteria. You will breathe better, your home will be cleaner, possible health hazards will be eliminated, and your heating and cooling costs will be reduced.
Does Efficient Heating & Cooling have experienced technicians?
Absolutely! We have Rheem Top Contractor & Weil Mclain certified technicians. All of our technicians are licensed and bonded.
I’ve heard a cracked furnace is dangerous. How often should I have it checked?
If your furnace is over 5 years old, it should be inspected by a qualified technician every fall before the heating season begins. Any other time the furnace is not operating properly (ex. the pilot blows out) it should be checked too.
Why should I have my air conditioner and furnace checked every year?
They should be checked, and cleaned, to be sure they are operating at their top efficiency, are operating properly and to be sure they are operating safely.
Is there a charge for diagnosing any problems with my system?
Yes, we charge a flat rate Trip Charge/Diagnostic Fee to determine the problem with your system. If repairs are needed you will be told up front what the cost is.
My home has boiler heat. Can air conditioning be installed?
Yes ! Efficient Heating & Cooling can retro-fit your home with a Unico high velocity system. The quietest, most cost effective way to install air conditioning in homes with boiler heat. The Unico duct system installs in areas were normal size ductwork can’t go.