by wfcadmin wfcadmin

Why You Should Upgrade Your HVAC System Every 15 Years (Even if it Still Works)

When you think about your HVAC system, do you only think about how cool (or toasty) it keeps you when you need it? Or do you also think about its declining health, inevitable death, and the effect it has on the environment? The average HVAC system lasts anywhere between 10–30 years, and that depends on many things: the climate you live in, how cool you like it in the summers (68º and 72º are farther apart than you’d think), how well your system has been maintained, and so much more.

The standard is to replace your central air conditioner or furnace whenever one of them dies. And it’s no wonder: buying and installing a new furnace or air conditioner is extremely expensive.

But there’s another option: replace your whole system every 15 or so years. In today’s article, we’ll talk more about why that’s not as crazy of an idea as it sounds.

Note that we’re going to focus on air conditioners in this article, but the same information applies to furnaces. We are also only going to talk about central, ducted HVAC systems.

A Note on A/C Efficiency Over Time

Efficiency is probably the number-one factor you should consider when looking at air conditioners. High-efficiency air conditioners will do a great job of cooling while remaining affordable to run. Low-efficiency units, on the other hand, don’t make use of some of the energy that’s used to power them, effectively wasting it.

The efficiency of an A/C unit is measured by its SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. To put it simply, SEER is a ratio of how much a unit cools over a year divided by how much energy it takes to power that cooling. The higher the SEER ratio, the more efficient the unit.

There are both federally and EPA-mandated SEER minimums. The federal minimums must be met by manufacturers. The EPA minimums are not required, but qualifying machinery receives an Energy Star certification, which marks it as roughly 25% more efficient than the current federal minimum.

According to Wikipedia, the federal SEER minimum in 1992 was 10. In 2016, the minimum rose to 13. It rose again to 14 in 2015. It is this gradual growth in minimum that’s the basis for our article today.

You’ll Save a Lot of Money

There is a considerable opportunity to save money by upgrading to an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating. If, in 2006 when the federal SEER minimum rose to 13, you upgraded your 10-SEER unit to a 13-SEER one, you would have saved a lot of money over the course of 15 years. That’s using data from Lexington, KY, where electricity costs $0.1028 kw/h on average, and where air conditioners only run about 1080 hours a year. The more you run your HVAC system, the more you save.

Air conditioners are getting more efficient fast, and if you make a significant upgrade, say, from a 10-SEER unit to the Trane XV18 Variable Speed unit that’s featured on our website (which has a SEER rating of 18), you would save around over half of the cost of the average A/C installation!

But if you went even further and upgraded to a 22-SEER unit like the SV20i TruComfort™ Variable Speed, you would save even more over 15 years.

There are also rebates available for installing energy-efficient HVAC systems, saving you even more money.

When you consider that new advances are constantly made in the HVAC world, it makes sense why you’d consider upgrading every 15 years. But that’s not the only reason.

You’ll Avoid Emergency Replacement

One of the best things you get from upgrading your HVAC system on a schedule is peace of mind. Though it’s possible your A/C unit will die after 10-15 years, with proper maintenance it will almost certainly make it to 15. After that, though, it will be at constant risk of failing, even with regular maintenance and upkeep. By not waiting until it breaks, you’ll get to replace it on your own time. You won’t have to pay a premium for emergency service, and you won’t have to sit in a sweltering house while you sort out the details. It’s much easier to arrange a stay at grandma’s when you can give a few days of notice.

You’ll Help the Environment

If you care at all about the environment, you should look into a high-SEER air conditioning unit. Not only does a good SEER rating save you money, it also cuts way back on your carbon footprint.

Put simply, the less electricity you use to cool your home, the less energy power plants have to generate to cool your home, and the less pollution is created.

Call Steve’s Heating for Your Next High-SEER Installation

If you’re in the market for a higher-SEER air conditioner, give Steve’s Heating a call. Our experts will work with you to find an HVAC system that’s perfect for your home and family.

by wfcadmin wfcadmin

Electric Bill Savings Guide

Save on your electric bills by taking action with these 14 tips:

  1. Examine and clean your ventilation system or have an HVAC expert do it for you. The more dust that has collected in the vents, the more you’re going to pay to heat and cool your home or apartment. It takes longer to push air through clogged vents.
  2.  Invest in energy-efficient devices. A few examples include smaller devices that don’t use as much power, energy-saving light bulbs, and Energy Star certified appliances and machines.
  3.  Don’t use ceiling floodlights. Replace these with the energy-saving light bulbs.
  4.  Change your energy supplier to a fixed rate supplier. After finding out the rate that your provider offers, check competitors’ prices in the area. Take note that a provider can be different from a supplier.
  5.  Switch off and unplug everything when they’re not in use. Meaning, appliances and fixtures that are plugged in still use power even if they’re turned off.
  6.  Move big energy consuming devices away from direct sunlight and into the cold. For example, cooling devices (such as the air conditioner) need to be placed away from heating devices, and vice versa.
  7.  Keep the door to refrigerators, freezers, etc. closed when not using them.
  8.  Keep cooling and heating devices at least two inches away from the wall so air can circulate properly.
  9.  Increase the inside temperature of freezers and refrigerators.
  10.  Check the sealing gasket or have an expert do it for you. If damaged, it will need to be replaced. It’ll save on energy consumption in the long run.
  11.  Defrost the freezer if there’s ice along the edges.
  12.  Replace old appliances.
  13.  Dry clothes on a clothesline instead of a dryer.
  14.  Put your PC on energy-saving mode.

Some other tips include being smart about how much energy you’re using. If you’re comfortable with the current temperature, turn the heat or air conditioning off.

Steve’s Heating and Cooling is here for you! Give us a Call or Fill Out a Form today to setup an HVAC appointment.

by wfcadmin wfcadmin

What to do with Your A/C when You’re On Vacation

Air conditioning is one of those inventions that are so wonderful we couldn’t imagine life without them. Before air conditioning, people did all sorts of wacky stuff to stay cool. In fact, air conditioning completely changed the way that houses and buildings were built! A/C tends to fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category, but when vacation time hits, many people start to wonder what they should do with their air conditioners while they’re gone. Do you turn them all the way off? Do you just turn them down? This all depends on the kind of air conditioner you have, and your thermostat. We’ll cover everything so you know exactly what to do with your air conditioner while you’re vacationing.

Keep your A/C on during vacation

In short, no, you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner when you’re on vacation. There are many reasons for this, and we will go over them all in this article. But for a quick summary, you should set your air conditioner either 6º above what you usually have it at, or no higher than 86º, or 80º if you have a pet. Let’s go over why that is:

Your air conditioner keeps your house dehumidified

When air conditioners were invented back in 1902, their purpose was to keep the humidity low at a New York paper plant. The cooling was just a side effect. The amount of water that air can hold is directly related to its temperature. The warmer the air, the more water it can suck up. In short, a hot house is a humid house, too.

Of course, humidity is uncomfortable, but that doesn’t matter while you’re away. But as awful as humidity is for us, it’s even worse for your house. Humidity causes your paint or wallpaper to peel; your window frames, floorboards, and door frames to warp; and in the worst cases it can cause mold, algae, and other nasties to start growing on your wall. Keeping your air conditioner on during vacation will prevent these things from happening.

However, your air conditioner uses a lot of energy to keep you cool

Everybody knows that it’s expensive to run their air conditioner, but few people know just how expensive. Of course, the actual price of your air conditioner depends on your specific unit, the size of your home, the cost of your energy, and your climate, but all across America, air conditioners are the biggest energy suckers of them all. Air conditioners can cost as much as $2 per hour to run! That’s a lot of money wasted if you’re on vacation.

Your air conditioner uses about 5% more energy for every degree cooler it makes your home. The opposite is true as well: for every degree you raise your air conditioner, it uses 5% less energy. So, it makes perfect sense why people would assume it’s best to just turn off their air conditioners while they’re gone. However, there are a few reasons why that isn’t the case:

Your fridge has to work harder

The hotter your house is, the harder your fridge has to work. While this does cause your energy bill to rise slightly, it isn’t likely to break the bank. The real kicker is that those weeks of extra-hard work will shear a good chunk off your fridge’s lifespan. Since a new fridge is a multi-thousand dollar purchase, you probably don’t want to rush it into the grave.

Your savings get lost in the extra cooling your air conditioner has to do when you get home

A lot of the energy you save by turning off the air conditioner during vacation will be eaten back up when your air conditioner has to bring the temperature all the way down to where you usually have it set.

Your air conditioner might not be running at peak efficiency

We’re not talking about SEER or Energy Star ratings here, we’re talking about the loss in efficiency that every air conditioner experiences the longer it goes without maintenance. We find that vacation is a time that gets people thinking about how exactly their air conditioners interact with their energy bills, and that it is one of the best times to talk about maintenance.

Regular maintenance is the single most important factor in a long life and continued efficiency for your air conditioner, but it’s something many people skip. Avoiding maintenance is never a good idea, because for every year your air conditioner isn’t maintained, it has to work harder to achieve the same level of cooling. This amounts to a 5% increase in its energy usage every year, and those costs add up.

Also, many air conditioner manufacturers specify that their warranties are only valid if regular maintenance has been performed on the unit by a trained professional. So, if your air conditioner breaks down within the warranty period but you haven’t had it serviced, you’re out of luck.

The HVAC Company for all your vacation needs

At Steve’s Heating and Cooling, we know how important your air conditioning is. We hope these tips gave you a better idea of how your air conditioner works and how best to take care of it. If you’re worried about how your air conditioner is performing, or if you want to get everything in tip-top shape before vacation, give us a call or request a free quote today.