Spring Is The Perfect Time For A New HVAC System

Spring is the time for renewal, especially if you have been considering replacing your old HVAC system. March through May is typically a mild time of year in most regions of the country, making it an ideal time to install a new heating and air conditioning system. New varieties of HVAC systems are typically more energy efficient, saving many homeowners hundreds of dollars off their energy bills. Plus, as these systems wear out, frequent service calls can cost a bundle, making it worth the investment in a new HVAC system. 

Is It Time To Replace Your HVAC System?

It is true that a new HVAC replacement system can be a large expense. However, a poorly running HVAC system can cost you plenty in repair bills and high energy costs. If you have already been experiencing a higher frequency of breakdowns or noticed that your energy bills have increased, it may be time to replace your old HVAC system. Is your HVAC system: 

  • Over seven years old?
  • Not keeping rooms in your home at a consistent temperature?
  • Running excessively or constantly turning on and off?
  • Causing higher utility bills?

If any of these are true regarding your HVAC unit, it may be time to start looking at a new system. What better time to do that then spring, right before the hot weather hits? 

There are many different types of HVAC systems available, ranging in seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings. When comparing HVAC units, look for the SEER rating to determine how much the unit could help save in energy costs. The higher the SEER rating, the more money you could save each year. Talk with your local HVAC professional about the best size and efficiency model for your home, then schedule a time this spring to get your new unit installed!

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


Add Value To Your Home With A New HVAC System

One of the major selling points to a home is the type of heating and cooling system in place. When you’re looking to sell your home, one of the home improvements that can not only add value to the property but also reduce the time it will be on the market is an energy efficient HVAC system. Unlike other home improvements that only are aesthetic, a new HVAC system can save money off heating and cooling bills for decades to come. 

New Versus Old HVAC Systems

An older HVAC system, especially those 20 years or older, can drive energy bills up and cost much more to both heat and cool a home. While older systems may have efficiency ratings of 50-75%, newer systems can have rating of up to 99%. Since heating and cooling a home can be over 50% of the overall energy bill each month, this can save hundreds of dollars, even well over a thousand, each year. By investing in a new HVAC replacement system that’s more efficient, this can lead to a tangible savings that can help your home sell over a comparable home with an older, less efficient system. 

Not many home improvements can actually save money for the home owner in the long run. A newly remodeled kitchen or bathroom may look nice, but will have little actual monetary value when it comes to monthly bills and the home’s value. For many looking to sell their home in the next few years, especially older homes, upgrading the HVAC system may be the best investment you can make to increase your home’s value and save you money on your energy bills until the sale.

Posted on behalf of James Smith, ClimateSmith LLC


What a Written Estimate on Installing a New Furnace Should Tell You

When you are having a new furnace installed, it is very important to ask for a written estimate from your HVAC contractor before agreeing to any work.  The estimate should give a breakdown of what is going to happen in your home. This means that there should be full description of what the HVAC contractor is proposing to do. A written estimate should also give a detailed description of the furnace being installed, including make, model and BTU’s. Look for the listing of permit costs on the estimate. Has the contractor included it in his bid, or is he expecting for you to pay for the permit costs as an added item?

You also want to get an estimate of the amount of time that it will take for the company to complete the furnace replacement. This doesn’t have to be an hourly estimate, but you should receive an estimate on how many days they expect the project to take from start to completion.

Check the estimate to see if it lists the length and type of warranty being provided for the work that the contractor is going to do and for the furnace itself. If there are necessary costs, such as electrical work, to complete the installation, the estimate should state whether those costs are included in the estimate or not.

The estimate should also provide you with the terms of payment that will be expected should you choose that contractor to do the work. A partial down payment when signing the contract is standard. Full payment should never be required until the job is completed to your satisfaction.

Once you have found what you need on the written estimate, it is good to compare between contractors. Make sure that each estimate is providing comparable services and equipment to the others.

High Efficiency Furnace Filters

Forced air heating and cooling systems such as a heat pump or a central air conditioning system combined with a furnace are equipped with a furnace filter or air filter to reduce airborne contaminants and to help keep the heat exchanger and coil free of dust, dirt and debris.  Most homeowners know to change the filter regularly, but you can improve indoor air quality and provide an added measure of protection for your system by upgrading to a high efficiency furnace filter.

The standard blue fiberglass filters that most HVAC systems are equipped with do a good job of collecting large particles of dust and hair, but a lot of smaller particle easily pass through these filters.  Medium and high efficiency filters do a much better job of capturing smaller airborne particles.  These filters are pleated and can be purchased through your HVAC contractor or at your local home improvement center.

Furnace filters are rated based on their ability to capture small particles.  The higher the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), the better job the filter will do in capturing small particles.  Standard filters have very low MERV ratings, but pleated filters are made with a  range of MERV ratings from medium efficiency to ultra-high efficiency.  Before you rush out and buy the filter with the highest MERV rating you can find, keep in mind that these filters also restrict air flow.

Filter manufacturers claim that the airflow restriction is not significant, but an older system could be negatively affected by installation of an air filter with a very high MERV rating.  Try using a medium efficiency filter first.  If your system can move air through a medium efficiency filter without a problem, then you could consider a further upgrade.  Remember to check the filter frequently and change it whenever it gets dirty.

Energy Efficient Air Conditioners Make Swamp Coolers Obsolete

With the advent of highly efficient central air conditioning units, swamp coolers (evaporative coolers) are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  A swamp cooler is a cooling system that does not use refrigerant for residential cooling.  Instead, a swamp cooler relies on the science behind evaporation to cool a home.

Swamp coolers use a large fan to draw ambient air through absorbent mats soaked with a continuous stream of water.  As the air is drawn through the mat, the evaporation of the water cools the air which is then blown into the home through a system of ducts.

Swamp coolers were popular in certain areas of the country 30 years ago because they used much less electricity than a central air conditioning system.  Swamp coolers don’t have compressors or high pressure pumps that draw large amounts of electricity.  A swamp cooler only has a low pressure pump and a fan which use less electricity than a central air conditioner.

However, swamp coolers have some serious limitations.  For one, they are only effective in very hot, dry climates which limits them to certain parts of the country.  For another, they need maintenance on a monthly basis to replace the pads and to clean the system.  Their cooling capacity is limited and becomes even more limited if the humidity level rises or when it is raining.

Despite the drawbacks, many homeowners have relied on swamp coolers due to their lower energy consumption, but that advantage is nowhere near as much as it used to be.  Modern energy efficient central air conditioning systems use 30% less energy than those sold only 15 years ago and only half as much energy as systems sold 30 years ago.

The bottom line is that when it comes to HVAC system replacement or installation, the reduced energy savings offered by swamp coolers is no longer enough for most homeowners to favor a swamp cooler over a central air conditioning system.

Use Energy Efficiency to Sell Your Home

Selling a home in today’s housing market can be a challenge, to say the least.  With so many homes on the market at rock bottom prices, it can take a long time to get an offer on your home and it will probably be thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars less than your asking price even if your home is competitively priced.  The problem is that houses have almost become a commodity. If your home is just like half a dozen other homes for sale in your area, buyers have no incentive to make you a better offer.  The buyer can just keep making low ball offers on homes like yours until some desperate homeowner takes it.

What you need to do is to make your home stand out from the others so that the buyer wants your home, not a home like yours.  One way to make your home stand out is by improving the energy efficiency of your home and the most fertile ground for energy efficiency improvements is your home’s heating and cooling system.

Studies have shown that homes with third party energy efficiency certifications sell significantly faster and for more money than conventional homes.  Even if your home doesn’t have a third party energy efficiency certification, buyers are clearly interested in energy efficiency.  Use that to your advantage by having an system efficiency analysis done by a good HVAC contractor and have them install the recommended package of energy efficiency improvements. 

If your heating and cooling system is more than 10 years old, consider installing a new energy efficient HVAC system.  You probably won’t recover the full cost of the system when you sell, but it will make your home more attractive to potential buyers and reduce the amount of time your home sits on the market.  Be sure that your real estate agent highlights your home’s energy efficiency and provides potential buyers with information about the improvements to your heating and cooling system.

Advantages of Whole House Dehumidifiers

Controlling the level of humidity in your home is good for your home and good for your health.  Proper humidity levels are more comfortable and can reduce the amount of time you need to run your heating and air conditioning systems.    In addition, high humidity levels facilitate the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites which are among the primary home allergens.  The mold and mildew that accompany high levels of humidity can aggravate allergies and cause problems for asthma sufferers.  Mold and mildew can also damage your possessions and, in severe cases, even cause damage to your home.

You can control mold and mildew and make your home more comfortable by controlling the moisture level in your home using a dehumidifier.  Dehumidifiers can either be small, portable units designed to dehumidify a room or a whole house dehumidifier that works in conjunction with your HVAC system. 

For dehumidification of a limited area of your home such as a basement, a portable dehumidifier can be an economical choice.  However, in most situations whole house dehumidifiers offer a number of advantages over portable units. 

For starters, a whole house dehumidifier does not take up any space in your living areas since they are attached to your furnace.  In addition, they require little maintenance other than regular cleaning.  Unlike portable units, they are designed to drain like your central air conditioner.   A portable dehumidifier needs to be emptied frequently. 

Portable dehumidifiers are controlled manually, but a whole house dehumidifier operates automatically.  Once it’s set, a whole house humidifier monitors the humidity level and controls it appropriately throughout your home, resulting in even, comfortable year round heating and cooling of all of your living spaces while eliminating that musty smell and controlling mold and mildew.