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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.

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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.

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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.

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HVAC Maintenance Check List for Your Summer Tune-Up

We all want the perfect amount of heat during the winter and just the right amount of cool during the summer. And while this is perhaps most obvious during the months of subzero temperatures and scorching heat waves, home heating and air conditioning is usually the last thing on our mind when the weather is nice. But now isn’t just a time to crack the windows in your home and enjoy 70-degree weather. Now is also the best time for an HVAC inspection and maintenance.

If your heat pump or air conditioner malfunctions, you may have to go several days without it while you wait for a repair or – worse – several weeks without cool air if it needs to be replaced. You can prevent this from happening! Best of all, routine HVAC maintenance will also improve your system’s performance, extend its life, and reduce your energy bill. Talk about comfort on multiple levels!

Here are steps that you can take now so you can be comfortable this summer.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Homes with an HVAC system either have a heat pump or a conventional air conditioner. While each functions differently in the way they heat and cool your home, they typically benefit from the same, general maintenance. Moreover, both typically consist of two halves: an indoor unit and an accompanying outdoor unit. For your tune-up, we’ll start with your outside unit.

#1. Turn the Power Off

Before you begin working on your HVAC system, you need to turn the power off. Most outside units have a disconnector located only a few feet away. Most disconnectors consist of a handle that is covered by a lid or panel. Pulling on this handle will cut off power to the unit, but not the flow of electricity to the disconnector. In other words, the disconnector will remain “live.” It’s imperative that you cover the disconnector and ensure that none of its other areas are exposed before proceeding. For added safety, you can locate the breaker that controls your HVAC system and switch it off.

Safety should be your highest priority. If you have concerns at any point during this process, contact an HVAC technician to handle your heat pump or A/C maintenance for you.

Maintaining the Outdoor Unit

#2. Inspect the Unit Panels

Extreme weather is harsh on outside units. As you would expect, outdoor units are enclosed in panels that protect their electrical components from the elements. Check every side of the unit to ensure that panels are intact. If panels are missing or misaligned, possibly due to a storm, you could reattach or realign the panel if it’s a simple fix. However, if electrical components are exposed, you should contact an HVAC technician to fix it for you. If so, avoid starting your system again until the unit is fully enclosed.

#3. Clear Away Debris

Winter may have left dirt and debris in the exterior condenser or compressor of your unit. In this case, you can use a heavy-duty degreaser, a hand vacuum, and good old fashioned effort to clean away leaves and other waste caught in the unit. In most cases, you will also need a screwdriver or wrench to reach the interior.

Take this opportunity to cut back any vegetation within 2 feet around your unit. While shrubs are other plants are not direct obstructions, they can still affect the airflow around your unit.

#4. Repair or Replace Pipe Insulation

Check the conduit pipe that runs between your outside unit and its inside counterpart. When this pipe is properly insulated, it will maximize your energy efficiency and consequently save you money. Otherwise, you could be making your HVAC system work harder to do less and be paying more as a result. If your insulation is thin or disintegrated, you can repair or replace it with a layer of fiberglass, foam rubber, or polyethylene foam.

#5. Clean or Replace Air Filters

Like insulation, a clean air filter provides significant benefits for relatively minor work. Depending on HVAC system, your unit will either have filters that can be cleaned or filters that are disposable and will need to be replaced. Either way, make sure to clean or replace your filters every one to three months, unless instructed otherwise by your manufacturer.

Maintaining the Indoor Unit

Now is the time to move inside to work on your blower or furnace. Like before, safety is your highest priority. You’ll want to make sure that the power to the unit is cut off before moving forward.

#6. Clean the Evaporator Coil

Locate and open the door to your unit’s evaporator coil, removing any screws or bolts as necessary. With a soft brush, remove any dust that is present and then spray the coil with a commercial coil cleaner. Next, clean out the drain pan with a mixture of soap, hot water, and a little bit of bleach. Then, pour a mixture of half a cup of bleach with a half a cup of water down the drain. When you’re done, replace and seal the door.

#7. Check the Drainage Line

Algae and mold can build up within your drainage line causing it to either flow slowly or stop flowing altogether. In order to address this, locate your drainage hose, which is usually a one-inch PVC pipe, and follow it to the end where it trains. In some cases, the line will drain outside near your other unit; however, most will end at a utility sink or floor drain in your basement. Once you’ve located the end of the drain line, attach a vacuum hose to the opening. Finally, run the vacuum for a few minutes to clear away any potential mold or algae buildup inside.

#8. Change the Air Filters

Just like your outside unit, your blower or furnace requires air filters that need to be replaced on a regular basis. This means that you should follow the same steps as you did before while still paying special attention to the type of filter you use and your manufacturer’s guidelines.

#9. Test the Unit

Finally, it’s time to start up your system to check to see if it cools your home adequately. Does everything run smoothly? Does the temperature in your home reach the degree you want it to? Does the temperature in your home change in a reasonable amount of time?

Remember, if you encountered any kind of damage that gave you a reason for concern, you’ll want to skip this step and contact an HVAC technician instead. Moreover, if you’re not fully satisfied with the quality of air in your home, turn to a professional.

Receive Professional HVAC Maintenance

While these steps will help keep your heat pump or air conditioner in good shape, keep in mind that there are some maintenance items that only a professionally trained HVAC technician can handle. These advanced procedures, together with the items listed above, will ensure that your units are in top form and fully prepare for the summer ahead. Moreover, there may be instances where you lack the tools to do some of the aforementioned steps yourself. In either case, it’s a good idea to call an HVCA professional to make sure your system is blowing cool air – and not just blowing air – when it’s sweltering outside.

At Steve’s Heating & Cooling, our goal is to provide residents of Northern Kentucky and the surrounding tri-state with ideal home comfort. We provide emergency HVAC repair maintenance as well as free estimates for system repairs and replacements. Our certified technicians are available 24/7, 365 days a year and just a phone call or e-mail away! Call us at (859) 795-2172 or e-mail us and rest assured that you’re in good hands.

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HVAC Replacement

Why Replace a Furnace Sooner Rather Than Later?

When a family comes into a bit of extra money, they may decide to take a trip or buy a new car. They rarely jump right to, “Let’s replace the furnace.” However, there are several reasons why HVAC replacement may be a necessity, including:

  • Impending cold weather – many homes in sub-freezing climes depend on the furnace to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Furnace replacement can lessen the possibility of much more expensive repairs.
  • Keeping utility bills under control – older furnaces tend to be less efficient.
  • Keeping HVAC operation safe – older or faulty units can pose a hazard to the family.

Warning Signs

Many families wait until their furnaces fail before taking action. However, a better strategy for reducing repair costs and keeping the HVAC system in tip-top shape is to watch for furnace warning signs.  These include:

  • The age of the furnace – units have an average life expectancy of 16 to 20 years. If your unit is long in the tooth, consider an inspection.
  • Rising gas or electric bills – aging units operate less efficiently than new or well-maintained units. This means that they run longer to heat the homes to the desired temperature. The high costs of utilities can quickly approach the replacement costs for a new unit.
  • Frequent repairs – like a car, a furnace will need more frequent repairs as time goes on. If the interval between repairs reaches the two year mark, replacement may be a good option.
  • The burner flame changes from a healthy blue to a sickly yellow – a yellow or flickering flame is an indication of poisonous carbon monoxide. Homeowners should take immediate action.
  • Furnace making strange noises – an older unit tends to make popping, rattling, banging, or squealing noises. Before you call the Ghost Hunters, let us inspect your unit.

Before these signs appear, consider setting up a program of annual inspections, in order to maintain your unit properly.

Let Us Take Care of You

Our experts at Steve’s Heating & Cooling are well-qualified to inspect, and if necessary, perform your HVAC replacement. Contact Us today for more information.

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Why You Should Be Proactive With Your HVAC System

It has been another hot summer in Cincinnati. The last thing you want is your air conditioning system dying out on you. Unfortunately, if you haven’t run your AC or HVAC unit since last winter, you stand a serious risk of it malfunctioning. And while we are always happy to come out and perform emergency maintenance on your unit, you would be much happier to avoid the problem in the first place! Here are just a few of the problems you can avoid by regularly maintaining your heating and cooling system throughout the year.

Inadequate Performance

First and foremost, your air conditioner exists to provide you with comfort. It should provide you with a cool, steady flow of air exactly when you want it and especially when you need it. Far too often, though, we fall into the mindset that air conditioning is a luxury, leading us to put off maintenance because the current quality of air is “good enough”. And while, at times, cool air is indeed a luxury, it’s never a benefit of owning an AC unit. You wouldn’t settle for a car that couldn’t provide transportation, so why would you settle for a cooling system with inadequate performance? An improper refrigerant charge, or the amount of refrigerant in the system, is one of the most common reasons why units fail to perform. While in some cases, too much refrigerant is to blame, the majority of problems are caused by a system having too little. This often occurs when the system has developed a leak. If this is the case, simply adding more refrigerant is not going to resolve the problem. Instead, a qualified AC or HVAC technician can identify the location of the leak, fix it, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Doing so will ensure that your system has what its need to do its job.

Electric Control Failure

Compressor and fan controls wear out with use. Electrical wires also start to corrode over time. All of this, of course, means that an electrical malfunction is inevitable. This is why electrical connections and contacts need to be checked routinely by a professional. If serious damage has occurred, only a trained technician should handle the repairs.

Drainage Problems

An air conditioner’s drain line, or condensate line, helps remove condensation produced by an AC unit’s evaporator coil. Humidity can cause algae and mold to grow inside the drain and clog the system. When this happens, musty odors and water damage inside the home may occur. Cleaning is the condensate pan and drain line is a regular part of AC maintenance. In fact, the earlier a clog or blockage is treated, the less algae and mold you, your family, and—of course—your system has to deal with.

Receive AC or HVAC Maintenance from Steve’s Heating

All of this, of course, is why we recommend regular AC and HVAC maintenance. At Steve’s Heating and Cooling, we are proud to offer a professional HVAC maintenance plan. It’s not only a proactive way of maintaining the comfort in your home, but it will also help reduce allergens, dirt, and dust. Contact us at Steve’s Heating and Cooling to prevent problems, repair your units, or replace your systems altogether. Start enjoying cool air this summer with services your neighbors recommend!

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The Value of Annual AC Maintenance

Spring is here, and that means it’s the time of year to arrange for a professional air conditioning maintenance. Routine spring maintenance is one of the biggest favors you can do for your AC—and for yourself and your family! We offer air conditioning maintenance in Northern Kentucky and the surrounding areas. If you call today, you’ll be able to arrange for a convenient time for the inspection and tune-up and be able to face the first hot day of 2019 with no worries. 

Why Annual Maintenance is Important

We can hear that nagging part of your brain telling you that this isn’t necessary. “Every year? That seems extreme. The AC is working fine, what’s the point in putting more money into it?” Please don’t listen to that voice. If you want the AC to pay back your initial investment in it and provide reliable cooling, you must have maintenance done each year. (Spring is the best time for it because it cleans and adjusts the system before you need it the most).

Here are some reasons annual maintenance is vital for an AC:

  • It removes wear, tear, and dirt. As an air conditioner runs, it starts to wear down—just like any machine. It also collects dirt, which gets into all the components and damages this. This accumulation of strain and dirt can mean extra, costly repairs to keep the AC running. Even worse, it can mean an AC that must be replaced years ahead of time. Without maintenance, an air conditioner can expect to last maybe 8 years. With maintenance, those years double!
  • It makes the system dependable. The hottest day of the year comes along, placing a large workload on the air conditioner. Do you want to worry that this extra strain will cause the air conditioner to break down and leave you with a hothouse? The best way to enjoy peace of mind that your air conditioner will fight its way through whatever the coming summer hurls at it is to have the system professionally tuned-up.
  • It keeps the AC from costing too much to run. The energy efficiency of your system is only good if the air conditioner receives annual maintenance. Each year that it misses maintenance, your unit’s efficiency will decline. You might end up paying 25% more for your home cooling annually than you should.

Having spring air conditioning maintenance done isn’t a chore. In fact, Steve’s Heating makes it easier than any other local heating and cooling company. We are pleased to be able to offer you membership in our unique Comfort Club.  Membership ensures that your systems will always be maintained and performing well. Additional benefits include:

  • Semi-annual precision tuneup and system inspection
  • 10% discount on all repairs
  • 24-hour emergency service with no overtime charges
  • Comfort Club membership is also transferable, if you decide to sell your home

Ready to get your AC in-shape for spring? Interested in the perks of our Comfort Club? Get in touch today.

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Supplemental Heating Options Breakdown

It’s winter and, if you are like many homeowners, you might be looking for ways to supplement your main heating source. Perhaps you want to warm parts of the house that are always chilly or save money by heating the rooms you spend the most time in while keeping the rest of the house cooler. Maybe you are looking for an emergency heating option should you experience a winter power outage.

Whatever your heating needs, there are a number of options on the market. Here’s your guide to finding the right one for you.

Space Heaters

Space heaters come in a wide range of heating capacities. They are designed to warm a single room or small space by focusing heat in areas you need it instead of running your central heating system at full blast. Space heaters are usually powered via electrical outlet but some run on propane, natural gas, kerosene, or wood pellets.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient: Instead of heating the whole house, space heaters allow you to direct heat to areas you frequent, limiting your home’s environmental impact.
  • Lower energy bills: it is cheaper to use a space heater than to rely solely on your central heating system.

Cons:

  • If used improperly, space heaters can be a big hazard. More than 25,000 house fires and over 6,000 emergency room visits each year are blamed on space heaters.
  • Children and pets are often drawn to space heaters, risking injury.
  • Space heaters should not be used unsupervised or at night while you are sleeping.

Popular Types of Space Heaters

Radiator Heaters

These heaters warm the small areas in their “line of sight”. Instead of heating the air, radiant heaters give off radiating heat waves that warm clothes, skin, and objects.

Radiant heaters work best if you are trying warm a specific spot in your house, like a play corner or your favorite reading nook. Radiant heaters are especially effective in drafty areas and rooms with high ceilings.

Pros:

  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Very efficient and warm areas quickly
  • Typically small and portable

Cons:

  • Don’t circulate heat around a room
  • May be dangerous to small children and pets if heating elements are exposed

Convection Heaters

Also known as forced air heaters, they use a fan to circulate warm air, thus they work best in enclosed areas that are properly insulated. Because they warm up the air itself, convection heaters take longer to raise the temperature in the room.

Pros:

  • Heats the entire room
  • Best in small, well-insulated areas

Cons:

  • Less energy efficient than radiant heaters.
  • Because they use a fan to circulate air, they are louder than other options and often kick up dust
  • Relatively ineffective in poorly insulated areas

Filler Space Heaters

These heaters are filled with a material (usually oil) that is heated with electricity. It takes a while for the filler to warm up, once it is heated, it generates uninterrupted heat to the whole room.

Pros:

  • No exposed heating coils or electrical elements that pose threat of injury or fire
  • Very quiet

Cons:

  • Quite heavy, larger, and more difficult to move around
  • Take longer to heat up and cool down

Fireplaces

Fireplaces are cozy and cheery on cold, winter days but they aren’t portable, so fireplaces can only heat the area of the house in which they are located. However, you can use some fireplaces effectively for “zone heating”.

Wood burning fireplaces

These are the least efficient types of fireplaces for generating heat. Nearly 80% of the heated air is lost up the chimney of a traditional fireplace. If your goal is to generate supplemental or emergency heat, a wood fireplace is not an efficient option, despite its cheery crackle.

In addition to inefficient heat, wood burning fireplaces require more maintenance than all other fireplace options, pose greater fire risk, and demand a supply of chopped, dry wood.

Gas fireplaces

Gas log fireplaces are far more efficient than wood fireplaces. About 70% of the generated heat stays in your home. They can be remote controlled and provide all the benefits of a wood burning fireplace without the mess, maintenance hassle, and fire hazards.

Vented Gas Fireplace

These fireplaces work very similarly to a traditional wood fireplace, but they burn gas or propane and they look almost exactly like a traditional wood fireplace! Most traditional fireplaces can be converted to vented gas.

Pros:

  • Easier and less expensive to install than wood burning fireplaces
  • Many options on where vented fireplaces can be installed
  • Look very similar to wood burning fireplaces
  • Very efficient at generating heat

Cons:

  • Use more gas than ventless gas fireplaces
  • Put out less heat than ventless gas fireplaces, but far more than wood burning
  • Usually need an existing fireplace and chimney in your home (or have significant installation costs)

Ventless Gas Fireplace:

These fireplaces burn gas or propane and use the air in your home to generate heat. They are the most efficient type of fireplace because all the heat remains inside and there is no connection to the outside.

Pros:

  • Most efficient fireplace option for heat source
  • Can be installed almost anywhere

Cons:

  • Logs are set by the manufacturer and cannot be rearranged
  • Some people are sensitive to the combustion byproducts
  • Higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Produce moisture and sometimes condensation on windows
  • Less natural, bluish flame

It’s important to consider all your options when thinking about supplemental heat. None of these options seem energy efficient enough for you? Check out our post on Nest Thermostats and see if a zoning option could be right for you.

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5 Ways A Nest Thermostat Could Save You Money

Maybe you saw it at your doctor’s office, or the first time you walked into your friend’s newly renovated home. Maybe you saw a story about it on the news, or it was in the background of a photo you saved to your “Home Inspiration” board in Pinterest. We’ve all seen one: that small, circular surface with the brightly lit interface that always seems to pop up in trendy spaces. What is it?
It’s a Nest brand thermostat, or more specifically, the Nest Learning Thermostat. The “learning” feature is perhaps the most innovative; the thermostat learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around it. Something so high-tech has to be completely out of budget for the average homeowner, right? Wrong! A Nest Thermostat can actually save you money—here’s how.

1. Never forget to adjust the temperature again.

After using the Nest Thermometer for a week, it will remember your heating preferences. Do you turn the heat down when you leave for work in the morning, or adjust it to cool your home right before you go to sleep? By remembering these preferences, the Nest Thermostat automates these changes so that you don’t have to think about it, and more importantly, will save you from accidentally leaving your heat on all day and running up your bill.

2. Get rid of costly standing fans and heaters for priority rooms.

Maybe you like a warm home but a cool bedroom, or maybe you can only get work done in your office while it’s nice and toasty but the rest of your family hates the heat. With Nest thermostats, you can set up zoning in your home so that different areas can be heated or cooled differently. This means you can say goodbye to additional space heaters or standing fans. Those are notorious energy-wasters, and having a solution for those will save you money long term.

3. Have complete control over temperature with mobile app, wherever you are. 

It’s your house, so you should be in control. Never worry about the temperature of your home again. Your house can be set to “Away” mode for extended periods of time. This is great for things like vacations. Do you have pets at home, or maybe a relative will be in your home while you’re away? Nothing to worry about, your temperature can be easily adjusted and then readjusted to accommodate changing situations, even when you’re remote.

4. Safety features save you from costly home disasters.

If your home is experiencing extreme heat or cold, Nest will send you alert to avoid damage being done. This is a safety net against huge potential dangers–and thus, potential expenses– for your home, like pipes freezing or overheating your home. Never worry about an unexpected heat or cold wave again, with a Nest Thermostat, your home and your money can be safeguarded with the touch of a button.

5. The first thermostat to get the ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED.

If you’re not yet convinced, you can trust the experts at Energy Star. They are committed to putting their stamp on products that benefit the consumer and the planet, so having a thermostat be energy star certified is huge. One of Nest Thermostat’s ultimate is Eco mode, which can optimize and choose the best, most cost and energy efficient temperature for your home. This type of innovation is what earned them their energy star certification, and also makes them the best choice for cost-conscious consumers.

Those are just the obvious reasons a Nest Thermostat can save you money. Get in touch with the experts at Steve’s Heating to start taking advantage of this new, efficient, money-saving technology today.

by wfcadmin wfcadmin

How Snow Affects Your HVAC System

Kentucky doesn’t get nearly as much snow as, say, upstate New York. Even so, we have had a few snowy winters lately, and this one looks to be no different. And even though we don’t live in the tundra, it’s still perfectly normal to wonder how all that ice and snow affect the things that are constantly sitting out in them.

When snow starts to fall, you might start to wonder how your HVAC equipment stands up to the snow. Is it bad for your outdoor air conditioning unit? How about your heat pump? We’ll answer those questions (and more) for you today.

How Snow Affects Your Air Conditioner

It just takes one look at an air conditioner piled high with snow and ice to panic. Should you have covered it? Will it be dead come springtime? Let us quell your fears: your air conditioner will be just fine.

While it might be alarming to see your air conditioner halfway covered in snow, take heart: air conditioners are made to withstand that sort of weather. Manufacturers perform rigorous testing all to ensure that your air conditioner can make it through the harshest winters unscathed.

In fact, you shouldn’t even be covering your air conditioner in the winter. At least, not entirely. By covering your entire air conditioner the way you would cover a grill, you are trapping moisture inside. This will lead to mold and rotten electrical components. If you decide to cover your air conditioner at all, only cover the top to keep any falling debris or icicles out.

How Snow Affects Your Heat Pump

Although air conditioners and heat pumps are extremely similar, heat pumps don’t have the luxury of taking a 6-month break every year. Since heat pumps need to keep your house warm (especially when it snows!), they need to have ways to deal with the cold.

Heat pumps can operate when covered in snow, but their efficiency takes a massive hit. Because of that, all heat pumps have a defrost function. We won’t go into specifics, but it effectively reverses the flow of the heat so the inside of the heat pump warms up and thaws any ice in there. Once the snow melts, the heat pump resumes normal function. The defrost isn’t terribly energy efficient, but it’s much more so than your heat pump powering through frozen coils.

If it gets too cold, though, your heat pump will have a difficult time pulling heat from the air. When that happens, most heat pumps switch to an alternative heat source, often labeled “emergency heat” by the thermostat. This emergency heat usually comes through induction wires. It’s like using a toaster to heat your home. As you can imagine, it’s not terribly efficient. The cost is similar to using a giant space heater to warm up your entire home.

The best-case scenario is something called a dual-fuel system. It uses a heat pump when the weather is around 40-50º and a furnace for when it gets colder than that.

How Snow Affects Your Furnace

Basically, not at all. The more snow there is, the colder it is, and the more your furnace will have to heat your home. However, since your furnace lives inside, it doesn’t have to contend with freezing temperatures and snow.

However, snow can block the vents that let your furnace take clean air from outside (and expel dirty air from inside). If those vents get blocked, the results can be dangerous! So when snow falls, make sure your exhaust vents aren’t stopped up.

Check Back Monthly for More HVAC Tips

We write HVAC blogs every month. If this helped you find some peace of mind about your A/C’s ability to withstand the snow, check back soon! We’ll have more great articles for you.

Or, if you’re in Northern Kentucky, fill out this form for a no-cost in-home installation.