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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.

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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.

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Winter 24/7 Emergency HVAC Services

XXAs we all know, you can’t plan emergencies. The reality of this, of course, is universally true for every type of crisis, but it can be particularly poignant when your furnace breaks down in the middle of winter.

And while, unfortunately, you can’t reschedule a heating emergency for a more convenient time, you can have a plan ready for solving your heating problem and – ideally – have a plan for preventing your heating problems in the first place.

Winter is here in Northern Kentucky and, if you haven’t been properly maintaining your furnace with preventative maintenance throughout the year, your furnace is at risk of breaking down during the coldest nights of the year. You need a plan now before an emergency arises.

Don’t wait until your furnace starts acting up to start thinking about emergency HVAC services. Steve’s Heating has come to the rescue of hundreds of homeowners experiencing furnace problems. Far too often, we’ve seen these furnaces break down in the middle of winter when families need them the most.

Aside from the obvious discomfort of losing heat during freezing temperatures, a broken furnace will also impact your home, your finances, and – most importantly – the safety of you and your family. Here are three reasons to keep the phone number for a reputable HVAC company on hand this winter.

A Faulty Furnace Can Cause House Fires

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, faulty heating systems are the second leading cause of residential fires during winter, second only to cooking. Freezing weather, in particular, can lead to ignition problems which in turn puts you at greater risk of a more serious incident. But, aside from the risk provided by the time of year, there are already a number of problems that can arise at any time in the year even from something as simple as buildup in your furnaces heating ducts.

If you have a furnace in your home, you need routine maintenance for your heating system, even if it’s only an annual check-up before winter begins. However, if at any point you sense that you may have a problem, it’s important to call an HVAC professional immediately.

A Broken Furnace is Expensive

In general, the cost of replacing a furnace is greater than the cost of standard furnace repair and far greater than the cost of furnace maintenance to prevent your problem in the first place. Of course, similar to other home appliances, there will be instances when completely replacing a furnace is one of the best home investments you can make. If your need to replace your furnace is primarily due to a lack of proper maintenance, however, it can be a costly and otherwise avoidable expense.

An Unmaintained Furnace Creates Safety Hazards

It’s no surprise that homes are sealed tight during winter. And while keeping warm air in is often at the forefront of our minds during winter, there’s still a need to allow pollutants to escape.

Your furnace plays an important role in determining the quality of the air you and your family breathe for hours at a time. Even if a furnace is not “broken” in the traditional sense, a poorly maintained heating system can still lead to safety hazards in your home either by producing excess moisture that leads to mold or by releasing carbon into the air. Worst or all, the signs of a problem are not always overt. While smoke is an obvious cause for concern, mold can grow without detection and carbon won’t be detected at all without a working detector. These subtle signs make the need for regular maintenance even more crucial than they would otherwise be.

And while maintaining the air quality of your home can be easily achieved through routine furnace maintenance, a complete breakdown of your heating system during winter can leave you in conditions not meant for habitation.

Stay Warm and Have Peace of Mind this Winter

When you have a problem with your furnace or another component of your HVAC system, you need a solution now rather than later. And you need a professional that you can trust to do the job right.

When your home or business is experiencing a heating problem, Steve’s Heating can come to your rescue. We offer year-round 24/7 emergency furnace repair and other HVAC services to residents of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. Have peace of mind and reduce the time it takes to solve your problem by keeping our phone number on hand. Our trained HVAC technicians are always available and just a phone call away.

Along with emergency services, we also offer regular maintenance and replacement services for your heating and cooling systems. Learn more about all of our HVAC services or request an appointment today. Thank you for reading, and Steve’s Heating and Cooling looks forward to keeping you and your family comfortable and safe this winter.

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Spring AC Repair-HVAC Maintenance

Spring is officially here which means summer is right around the corner!  Spring has seemingly decided to be hot to this point, prompting people to use their AC.  We’ve already repaired a lot of AC units, and it’s early in the season.  If you don’t want your AC to break, consider now is the ideal time to make sure your home HVAC systems are working perfectly with proactive maintenance.

With spring, the weather can be very unpredictable, so it is important to have your systems working in order to keep your home comfortable at all times.  This will also make the transition into summer easier, which is important because we all know that the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky summers can get extremely hot.  Taking precautions to make sure you have AC the moment you need it will be well worth it when the time comes. When maintenance is a regular happening through the seasons, it is much more infrequent to experience problems.

You may be wondering, what is included in HVAC maintenance?  We check if dust is accumulating, dirt on coils, allergens or bacteria in duct systems, and much more.  This is just a small part of our maintenance program, the “comfort club.”  If something does happen unexpectedly we also offer repair services where we send our team out, examine the problem, and fix what we need to.  As we said before, with a maintenance program this is much more unlikely.

Maybe you want to gear up your AC for spring, or maybe you’d just like to be on top of thingswith your HVAC system. Steve’s Heating can fix, monitor, and replace your system.  If you’d like to join the comfort club, or have any questions, contact us!

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Trane

Getting the Most From Your Trane Furnace

When it comes to heating and cooling solutions, having more options is definitely preferable. Each structure has its own HVAC needs and so a wide range of appliances have been developed to allow people the maximum control over these essential systems. Making sense of the many options available to you will enable you to make the most informed decision. The Trane furnace system offers users many distinct advantages to homeowners in particular though some commercial spaces can benefit from it, as well.

Cut Down on Temperature Variation and Save Money

The Trane XC95m is the preferred heater of many homeowners. The XC95m is equipped with a special gas valve that is designed to regulate the temperature output with much greater precision than other gas furnaces. This valve modulates the flow of gas to prevent excess heat from being generated. Too much fuel causes temperature spikes and ends up increasing your monthly gas bill. Furnaces without this modulating valve feature burn excess fuel throughout their lifespan. Even if such a furnace is a bargain initially, it can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

Protecting Your Trane Furnace

The cost-saving advantages inherent to the Trane design are only going to be realized if homeowners make the effort to arrange for regular maintenance. All furnaces and HVAC components require a little attention in order to perform correctly. Regular maintenance will:

  • Verify that all components are intact and working correctly
  • Remove dust, grit, and debris from the air intake vents
  • Ensure that the system is operating at peak efficiency
  • Give homeowners the benefits of a reliable heating system

Considering a New Furnace?

The XC95m is an excellent furnace. It is a preferred furnace among many homeowners who value it for its quiet function, efficient operation, and money-saving design. We are pleased to offer this line of products to our customers considering a new furnace. Our customers can depend on us for the parts and services necessary to keep this valuable system working correctly.

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HVAC Maintenance

It Is That Time Again: HVAC Maintenance

Here at Steve’s Heating and Cooling, we are serious about helping you get the most out of your HVAC system. That is why we recommend bi-annual maintenance on your appliances. Just as you cannot expect your car to run well without its needed maintenance, you must maintain your HVAC system to get the life and quality performance you expect from it.

Why Do I Need Maintenance?

Maintaining your HVAC system is important whether you have top-of-the-line appliances, such as Trane, or something less reliable. The last thing you want is for your furnace or air conditioning unit to shut down unexpectedly, leaving your home at dangerously extreme temperatures.

Not only does maintenance lengthen the life of your entire HVAC system, but it also gets you better quality heating and cooling. Systems that are not well maintained reduce your indoor air quality by releasing allergens into your air every time they run. Some of the common indoor allergens that are worsened by a poorly-maintained HVAC system are:

  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Pet Dander

What Maintenance Do I Need?

We recommend you have your HVAC system serviced every spring and fall. When you call us for maintenance, our skilled technicians go through a lengthy checklist to make sure your appliances are functioning at their best. Just a few of the things you can expect our technicians to do are:

  • Lubricate and inspect the function of individual parts within your appliances
  • Replace any worn belts, wiring, and other parts
  • Clean out built up dust, dirt, and debris
  • Inspect for leaks and other serious hazards

We Want to Keep You Comfortable

When you stay on top of your bi-annual maintenance, you can expect your HVAC appliances to last longer, perform better, and reduce indoor allergens. Eventually, when your old appliances must be replaced, we can get you a great deal on one of our long-lasting Trane appliances. We are proud of our status as a premier Trane dealer because we know how trustworthy the products are. Let us help keep you comfortable all year long by giving us a call today to schedule your HVAC maintenance.

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Heat Pump Repair

If your heat pump has been giving you problems, don’t wait until the dead of winter to address them. We don’t realize how vital our heating systems are until we don’t have them anymore. Nothing is worse than trying to survive even one night in a freezing cold house.

We can help with all your heat pump repair needs! We offer 24-hour services as well — so you’ll never be left out in the cold. Since the inception of Steve’s Heating & Cooling in 1975, we have installed and repaired thousands of heating and cooling units throughout the Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky areas. You can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands. We specialize in trusted Trane products. Keep in mind that we can also install systems that are extremely energy efficient — why not start getting more bang for your buck?

Why you should choose Steve’s Heating and cooling as your heating and cooling expert:

  • We offer satisfaction guaranteed! Trust us to get the job done right or your money back.
  • We only hire highly trained and certified repair service professionals.
  • We offer professional, trusted services, and have been for the last 38 years.
Have any questions? Call us at 859-795-2172. If you want to schedule a new system replacement consultation, click here.
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Furnace Buying Checklist

Keep in mind that when buying a new furnace, you’re actually buying two items – the furnace and its installation. Use the items below as a “checklist” of sorts, to refer to before you invest in buying a new furnace.

1. Remember that the even the best furnaces – if they’re poorly installed – will not deliver what they should. Likewise, even the best installation won’t make a poorly designed furnace perform better than it can (and its limits). Choose wisely, and do your research.

2. Learn the important abbreviations associated with heating. For example, AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and is a rating that shows how well the furnace uses gas supplies. The bigger the number, the better it uses the supply.

3. Do some comparative online shopping, and always ask questions if you have them. Use online comparative shopping tools and find out what’s best for your home by going to the Trane “What’s best for my home?” page here.

4. Check Energy Star certifications at www.energystar.gov. We highly recommend only buying Energy Star certified products.