Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more than any other system in your home. As much as 61% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling and another 17% for hot water generation. Regardless of the type of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system you have in your house or how you heat your hot water, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and/or upgrading your equipment.
However, an energy efficient furnace, air-conditioner or water heater alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using an approach that involves the entire house. By combining the proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with proper insulation, thermostat setting, and weatherization you can cut your energy bills in half. On the other hand, if an installation is not done properly, efficiency may be dramatically cut. We assure the lowest operating cost on every kind.
Once you have a properly sized and properly installed comfort system it is critical to maintain it annually to ensure proper, safe, and economical operation.
A Comprehensive Precision Tune-Up and Professional Cleaning
of Your Comfort System can:
- Improve system dependability and reliability and keeps repair costs to a minimum
- Prolongs the life of your equipment
- Maintains safe and healthy operation
- Restores operating efficiency and capacity
- Maintains or improves overall comfort delivered
- Maximum efficiency and capacity will lower and keep to a minimum energy costs
- Energy and repair cost savings can pay for or offset your investment in a Service Agreement
- Discounts available on all products and services for customers with maintenance agreements
- Priority scheduling: Same day service and you jump to the front of the line. We service our customers before taking on new ones.
- 24-hour service for emergencies
According to home heating experts, a tune-up can save the homeowner money by allowing the system to run more efficiently while drastically reducing the chance of an expensive late night or weekend breakdown when mechanic's rates are even higher.
Our comprehensive 16 Point Precision Tune-Up and Professional Cleaning is a specialized maintenance process that keeps your existing comfort system working properly. If your system is running better, it’s much more efficient saving you hundreds of dollars. Besides, you can gain more mileage out of your heating or cooling unit, which makes your savings even greater! Tune-ups should be conducted every winter and spring season to ensure that your system is working at its peak level. Our 16 Point Tune-Up will ensure that your family is comfortable all year long!
When making one of the largest investments in your home, like replacing your current furnace, you want to make sure you’re getting the best equipment for the best price. The wrong furnace or a poorly installed one will not only impact you once, but possibly each month. It could result in heating bills totaling hundreds of dollars more than needed, and you’d never know the difference. Here are some tips to help you find out the difference between companies and the services they offer before you buy.
1. Ask for repair costs before any repairs are made.
2. Know if the company charges by the hour.
3. Know if you will pay more for service calls on evenings or weekends.
4. Find out if the company has an “investment guarantee.” A guarantee like this means that if you find a lower price on the same equipment and installation, they will match it or refund the difference.
5. Ask if you can take a look at their price books, investment guides, and discount schedules. Ask if you can see how your bid was figured. Pricing should not be a mystery.
6. Find out what kind maintenance services are provided on new equipment. You have the right to expect a full year of free maintenance to keep your furnace and air conditioner performing at top levels.
7. Find out what types of guarantees are offered on new equipment. Service or repairs. The number of years on various parts.
More Helpful Seasonal Tips
During the Colder Months:
- Turn your thermostat down at night or when leaving for 4 hours or more
- Lower your thermostat from 72 to 65 degrees for eight hours a day to save up to 10% on your heating bill
- Regularly clean and replace furnace air filters
- Don’t block vent registers
- Lower the temperature of your water heater a few degrees
- Check for air leaks near doors and windows
- Use a draft dodger on doors or windows
- Insulate all pipes
- Add more insulation in the attic and walls if needed.
During the Warmer Months:
- Turn on your air conditioner early in the season (on the first day it is above 70 degrees) to insure your cooling system is working properly
- Avoid unnecessary trips in and out of the house, especially on the hottest days. Heat and humidity come in each time you open the door
- Close blinds, shades and draperies during the hottest part of the day
- Set lamps, TV sets, and other heat-producing devices away from the air conditioner thermostat
- Install awnings over windows exposed to direct sunlight
- Install/utilize ceiling fans to create gentle breezes
- Avoid opening windows in the evening. Always have AC on so that humidity and allergy contaminates are kept out of the house
- Make sure air filters are regularly changed when needed
Listed below are some tips and suggestions you can use to save money on your utility bills, heating and air conditioning equipment and service.
Set the thermostat:
The most economical operation of your system comes from setting the thermostat properly. Set the thermostat at the highest summer setting or the lowest winter setting at which you are comfortable.
Typical settings are 78 degrees for summer cooling and 70 degrees for winter heating. When cooling, your operating costs increase from 3% to 8% for each degree your thermostat is lowered.
When heating, your operating costs increase for each degree your thermostat is raised.
Keep the air filter clean: The easiest way to ensure your system operates efficiently and economically is by keeping the air filter clean. There are several types of air filters and several possible locations for the air filter. Ask your service contractor where your air filter is located and which type of filter to use.
Keep doors and windows closed: Close all doors and windows to the outside. This will reduce the heating load in winter and the cooling load in summer. Your system will operate more economically as a result.
Keep vents and grilles unobstructed: Arrange your furniture and drapes so that all output vents and intake grilles are free from obstruction. This will reduce the cooling and heating load on your system for more economical operation.
Avoid excessive use of exhaust fans: Excessive use of kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans will make your system work harder. This will increase energy consumption and costs. Keep costs in check by making wise use of exhaust fans.
Use the AUTO setting: Generally, it is best to set your indoor fan to AUTO. This costs less and provides better humidity control in the summer. However, if you desire to operate your system with constant air circulation, ask for advice from your service contractor.
Control direct sunlight: Let the sun in during winter. Keep the sun out during summer. In summer, direct sunlight increases the load on your cooling system. Use of window shades and awnings will reduce the amount of direct sunlight and lower the cooling load. In winter, direct sunlight reduces the load on your heating system. Open window shades and awnings to increase direct sunlight and lower the heating load.
Keep the condenser coil clean: The condenser coil (the unit outside your house) should be kept clean to ensure efficient operation. If the condenser coil becomes restricted by dirt, lint, paper, grass clippings, leaves, or other debris, system efficiency will deteriorate. Use a garden hose to keep the condenser coil clean.
Insulate air ducts: Be sure all air ducts are well insulated. Ducts also should be sealed with a vapor barrier.
Keep an air-tight house: Ensure maximum retention of heated or cooled air by adding insulation to outside walls and to the attic. Seal cracks and use storm doors and/or insulated doors to prevent air leaks.
Properly vent clothes dryers: Be sure your clothes dryer is vented to the outside. Also ensure that your clothes dryer is vented away from your outdoor unit.
Keep heat away from the thermostat: Make sure no heat-generating appliances are near your thermostat. These include lamps, TVs, stereo and computer equipment.
TURN OFF YOUR HUMIDIFIER DURING THE SPRING AND SUMMER
Many people with central humidifiers go into the cooling season forgetting to shut down the humidifier for the summer.
A central air conditioner will not cool or dehumidify properly if the humidifier is running.
Step 1 - Turn the humidistat to the off position or the lowest percent of relative humidity. The humidistat is usually installed on the return air plenum above the humidifier. Sometimes it is installed on the wall near the thermostat.
Step 2 - Close the duct damper or turn it to the summer position. *Note - not all systems have duct dampers.
Step 3 - Turn off the water-supply. If you are unsure how, just follow the quarter inch water line out of the humidifier. (It is either copper or plastic). Turn the valve clock wise until it stops. *Note -If the valve is a saddle valve, the type that clamps on to a copper water pipe, it might not provide 100% shut-off.
Step 4 - Clean the humidifier and leave dry until winter. *Note - If you have a float type humidifier with a saddle valve that doesn't provide 100% shut-off, you can either manually lift the float by placing an object under it to keep the pan empty or you need to have your saddle valve inspected and/or replaced.
Step 5 - If this sounds like too much work, call us, we can do it for you!
CHECK AND MAINTAIN YOUR AIR FILTERS
It is the single, most important thing you can do for your central heating/air conditioning system.
We suggest checking filters monthly. If you have a disposable type filter, (these usually have a cardboard edge), and it is dirty, just replace it.
If you have a permanent type filter, it is very simple to clean. Just follow these four simple steps.
Step 1 - With the thermostat in the "off" position, locate and remove your air filter. Different systems have different filter locations. If you don't know where your filter is located please call us.
Step 2 - Using a garden hose with good water pressure, spray off the filter from both sides. You can repeat this process several times if the filter is very dirty. Just be careful not to use too much pressure or damage could be done to the filter media. When the water runs clear and the filter is clean you are ready to move to Step 3.
Step 3 - Shake off the excess water. You may let the filter sit out and dry but it is not necessary. You can re-install a damp filter.
Step 4 - Slide the air filter back into the rack and you are done. Now you can turn your thermostat back on and remember to do this again next month.
If you own an electrostatic air filter, like the one shown above, it helps to recharge it once a year. Doing this is also quite simple. To do so, just fill a tub large enough to hold the filter with water. For every gallon of water, add 1 tablespoon of epson salt and 1 teaspoon of bleach. After cleaning the filter soak it in the solution for 8 hours. Allow to air dry and re-install.
PRUNE SHRUBS AWAY FROM OUTDOOR UNIT
Many people, builders, and landscapers like to hide the outdoor unit behind shrubs or fences. There are some benefits to this, which we will explain below. But it can become a negative if not maintained or done properly.
The outdoor unit is a heat transfer device - a fan pulls the outside air through the refrigerant coils and discharges it up through the top (on most units). If the outdoor unit is crowded by a fence or shrubs, restricting the air-flow, it won't work properly. Thus decreasing efficiency, reducing the life span, and possibly causing damage.
Pros For Hiding The Outdoor Unit
1 - Hiding the unit can reduce the noise level.
2 - On hot summer days it can help shade the unit. This will allow it to run cooler and more efficiently.
3 - During the winter months, it can block the cold winds from hitting the unit and allowing the defrost mode to work quicker. (On Heat Pumps Only)
4 - While on the subject of heat pumps, hiding the unit can also reduce snow drifts around the unit.
5 - And last but not least, out of site is out of mind. Many people prefer not to see the outdoor unit.
Cons For Hiding The Outdoor Unit:
1 - If the fence or shrubs are too close to the outdoor unit, it can restrict the air-flow, causing serious problems.
2 - Makes it harder to clean, service, and repair.
3 - It is more difficult to notice a potential problem, such as a faulty fan motor or an iced-up heat pump.
4 - On heat pumps, it can be more difficult to get to the unit to remove snow and ice in the winter months.
5 - Close shrubs can attract rodents nests in the unit. They tend to eat the wiring which causes problems.
1 - Keep an 18" to 36" air space on all sides of unit. Prune back as required.
2 - When planting, allow room for long-term growth, 5 and 10 years.
3 - Keep a 3 to 4 foot air space above the unit. Prune back tree branches.
4 - If building a fence, make sure it can be easily removed. The unit needs to be serviced regularly.
If any major repairs need to be made, the service man may need access to all sides on the unit.
In this example, (pictured left), the shrubs block the winds, reduce snow drifts, shade the unit, and lowers noise level. And with proper planting and pruning there is still plenty of room for air-flow and the service man.
1 - Good shrubs for planting around the outdoor unit are: yews, upright junipers, arborvitaes.
2 - Make sure the outdoor coil is clean for better efficiency and longer life.
3 - If you have an air conditioner, covering it in the fall and winter will help protect the coil and fan blades. Just remember to take it off before turning it back on.
HOUSEHOLD ENERGY SAVING TIPS
Summer is over and the heating season is approaching. That makes this a good time to think about saving energy. There are many simple things you can do around the house to save energy as you will see below. If you have any other tips that you don't see below, feel free to send them in.
Do you know that up to 25% of your heat can go out the window?
Here's what you can do:
1. Use caulking and weatherstripping to stop much of the heated air from escaping.
2. Replace single-thickness windows with thermal-type double thickness windows.
3. Install storm windows and doors to provide additional insurance against heat loss.
4. Add window insulation kits which uses double-sided tape, clear plastic and a hair dryer.
Are you aware that an un insulated attic can raise your heating and cooling costs?
Here's what you can do:
1. Install R-30 insulation in the ceiling(attic).
2. Install R-19 insulation in the floor joists(basement).
3. Install R-13 insulation in the walls.
4. Install R-11 insulation on the basement walls.
Did you know that compact fluorescent light bulbs use one-fourth the wattage and provide the same amount of soft light as incandescent bulbs?
Here's what you can do:
1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.
2. Use lower wattage bulbs for small areas like hallways and vestibules.
3. Get in the habit of turning out the lights when you leave a room.
Do you know that the biggest user of energy on the home is your heating and cooling system?
To conserve energy and cut down on energy waste here's what you can do:
1. Upgrade older equipment with higher efficiency furnaces, central air conditioners and heat pumps.
2. Make sure that your heating and/or cooling equipment is properly sized for your home. Operating a unit that is too small or too large is very inefficient. Your heating and air conditioning contractor can determine the best size unit for your home.
3. Check your heating system to see that it is running efficiently. Have your dealer inspect the system before the winter months. Be sure to change the filters regularly — at least every three months.
4. If you replace your central air conditioner, make sure that the contractor replaces the indoor coil as well as the outside condensing unit. Otherwise, your system won't perform at its promised efficiency.
5. Install electric ceiling fans to boost the efficiency of room air conditioners in the summer and to circulate warm air away from the ceiling in the winter.
6. Be sure to clean or replace filters of all equipment regularly. Clogged filters make appliances work harder, so they use more energy to do the same job.
7. Help lower your energy requirements by wearing appropriate clothing in your home; lightweight clothing in the summer and warmer clothing in the winter.
8. Check the efficiency ratings mandated by the Department of Energy when you shop for new equipment so you can make sure you're getting high-efficiency equipment. Ratings will be prominently displayed on the yellow hang tag required by law to be on each new unit sold.
1 - Consider purchasing a set-back thermostat. It can cut your utility costs by 9 to 30%.
2 - By using a central humidifier during the heating season, not only will you be more comfortable but you can lower your thermostat by 2 degrees and feel just as warm while saving money on your heating costs.
3 - If your heating and air conditioning system is over 12 years old, consider replacement. Newer units are much more efficient. They also come with better warranties so no expensive repair bills to worry about.
Saving Energy in the Kitchen
The kitchen has become the favorite room in most homes and is a great place to look for energy-saving ideas because so much energy is used there.
Be sure you buy energy-efficient appliances when getting new ones for the kitchen, of course.
But here are some other tips that don't cost anything and can add up to significant savings:
1. Let dishes air-dry in your dishwasher. If the machine doesn't have such a feature, just turn the control knob to "off" after the final rinse and prop the door open a little.
2. Run the dishwasher only when it is full.
3. Don't keep the refrigerator too cold. Most units work best at around 37 to 40 degrees in the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees in the freezer section. Separate freezers used for long-term storage ought to be set at 0 degrees.
4. Try the dollar-bill test to be sure the refrigerator doors seal tightly. Close the door over a piece of paper or dollar bill so that half of it sticks out of the door. Try pulling the paper out while the door is closed. If you can get it out, then the door needs adjustment or the seal needs to be replaced.
5. Try to minimize the "refrigerator-grazing" time. Standing in front of an open refrigerator while you analyze it's contents in detail uses energy.
6. Locate the refrigerator away from bright sunlight or the kitchen stove. Otherwise, heat can cause the compressor to run.
7. If you have an electric stove, turn the burners off a few minutes before the cooking time is done. The element will stay hot enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity. Use this technique for the oven also.
8. When using small pots and pans, use the small burner elements- save the large ones for the larger pans.
9. Using a microwave or toaster oven for smaller items uses less energy than heating an entire oven.
10. If you have an old freezer in the garage that you've used for food storage for the past 40 years, get rid of it. It's an energy guzzler, and it's running up your monthly power bill. New units sold today are so much more energy efficient that they will pay for themselves in a relatively short time in the energy savings.
11. Replace incandescent lighting with fluorescent lighting. It uses much less energy.
ENERGY FACT: According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, one of the best energy investments you can make is putting in high-performance windows. The extra cost for upgrading to the best technology available today will be about $600 for the typical house.
However, the new windows would lower heating and cooling bills by about $150 per year, meaning that investing in high-performance windows (which last 20 years or more) actually gives you a 20 percent return on your investment.
Tips for the Outdoor Unit
Below are some tips, advice and maintenance guidelines for your outdoor air conditioner and/or heat pump. These tips are for better efficiency, longer life, and easier service.
Most of the information here applies to both air conditioners and heat pumps. But read carefully, some of the information is for one or the other. If you follow any of these tips make sure you know if you have a heat pump or an air conditioner or damage could result.
Tips For Better Efficiency and Safe Operation
1 - Set thermostat at one temperature. Constant adjusting can cause higher utility costs. If using your thermostat as a setback type, limit the setbacks to twice a day such as when you are at work and when you are sleeping. Only setback the thermostat 6% of desired temperature (approximately five degrees).
In heating, try not to set the thermostat below 65 degrees or above 75 degrees. Below 65 degrees a heat pump just won't put out enough heat and above 75 degrees is using too much energy. In cooling, try not to set the thermostat below 70 degrees. Besides higher utility costs, this can cause the indoor coil to freeze and cause condensation in the house.
2 - Keep coils clean. If they get dirty you can use a heavy duty degreaser and hose them down. Just turn the unit off first.
3 - Don't stack things on top of the unit. If the fan is on the top the air-flow cannot be restricted. Do not put your rolled-up garden hose or landscaping products on the unit. We see this all the time.
4 - When mowing the lawn, direct the mower away from the unit. A coil blocked with grass clippings and debris drastically reduces the efficiency.
5 - When using a weed whacker be careful near the unit. Debris can damage the coil, flatten the aluminum fins, and cut the thermostat wires; shorting out the transformer. We see this all the time and it is an expensive repair bill.
COMMON SENSE TIPS:
1 - Don't plant prickly bushes like roses or holly around the unit. No one will want to service it.
2 - Don't grow a garden or plant exotic flowers around the outdoor unit and expect the service technician to tip-toe around everything.
3 - When planting shrubs don't block the access panels or the coil. Plan to keep 18 to 30 inches around the unit. Don't forget to plan for the growth of the shrubs five, ten, even fifteen years down the road.
4 - Many people like to completely hide the outdoor unit behind shrubs. If you do this don't be surprised if the technician refuses to service the unit. Please have some consideration and leave a path wide enough to accommodate the tech and his tools and room to work.
5 - Having crushed stone around the unit is best. It allows for good drainage, keeps the unit level and from sinking, keeps the coils clean from washed-up grass and dirt and also keeps the service technicians shoes clean. This will also keep your floors and carpeting clean.
6 - If building a fence around the unit allow for room to service, even replace the unit. If any major repairs need to be made, the service man may need access to all sides on the unit. Don't expect the service tech to have to jump or climb over a fence. The unit needs to be serviced regularly. Install a gate that can be easily opened. We constantly see fences with out gates and the customer expects the tech to unbolt the fence and then re-install it when he is finished. Very Inconsiderate.
HEAT PUMPS ONLY:
1 - Keep snow, ice, and leaves away from the outdoor unit. This includes the top, sides, and bottom.
2 - Make it a habit to look at the outdoor heat pump during the winter months for signs of excessive ice or snow build-up on or around the heat pump. Especially after bad weather.
If the unit is covered in ice or snow it must be removed for it to work properly. Turn the thermostat to Emergency heat or off and remove the snow and ice. You can pour warm or hot water over the unit to melt the snow and ice. Even cold water from a hose will help. Do not use any sharp objects to pick or knock the ice off the coils of the heat pump. This could cause severe damage and personal injury. Once the unit is clear of snow and ice turn the thermostat back to normal heating. If the unit ices up again, call for service.
3 - Do not let the outdoor unit sit underneath a leaking gutter. In the winter months, water will drip on the top of the unit and freeze solid. This will restrict the air flow and cause the whole unit to freeze-up.
4 - Heat Pumps should be elevated 4 to 8 inches above ground level to keep coils clear of snow and ice and to allow for proper drainage. Contact our Service Department if you would like your unit raised.
AIR CONDITIONERS ONLY:
1 - Cover the outdoor unit including top and sides in the fall and winter when the air conditioner is not in use. Great for areas with lots of trees where falling branches can damage the unit. Also keeps heavy ice from bending the fan blades and hale from damaging the coil.
Caution, this is for air conditioners only, not heat pumps and make sure the unit is off. Do not attempt to run the air conditioning with the outdoor unit covered. Also remember to remove the cover in Spring before turning on the air.
ADDITIONAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY INFORMATION:
1 - Central Air Conditioner efficiency is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER the more efficient the unit. Units with a SEER of 12 or above are considered high-efficiency; 17 is the highest available.
2 - Furnace efficiency is measured by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The colder the climate and the higher the local utility rates, the higher the AFUE you should get. Furnaces with AFUE ratings of 90% percent and above are considered high-efficiency; 96.6% is the highest available.
3 - Heat pump cooling efficiency is measured by a SEER rating; a heat pump's heating efficiency is measured as the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). A heat pump with a SEER of 12 or higher and an HSPF of at least 8 is considered high-efficiency.
4 - Room Air Conditioner efficiency is measured by the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), which is the BTU/hr output divided by the watts of electricity the unit uses. It basically tells you how much heat you get out of the unit compared to how much electricity you put into it. The higher the EER, the less the electricity the air conditioner will use.
For more energy-efficiency tips, homeowners can call the DOE at 1-800-DOE-3732 to order a free, 36-page Energy Savers booklet or visit the Energy Savers Web site at http://www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo.
The Energy Savers campaign, developed by the Energy Department in partnership with Owens Corning, provides Americans with more than 100 easy and practical energy-efficiency tips and projects