HVAC Terminolgy defined:
HVAC Heating, Ventilation, and air conditioning.
SEER Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
EER Energy Efficiency Ratio
BTU British Thermal Unit
CFM Cubic Feet per Minute
AFUE Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency
HSPF Heating Seasonal Performance Factor
Ton One ton is 12,000 BTUs per hour
FER Fan Energy Rating
GWP Global Warming Potential
ODP Ozone Depleting Potential
When should I replace my furnace filter?
- If you have an Aprilaire “Space-Gard” filtration system; once a year unless you have multiple pets or a lot of hardwood floors.
- If you have a standard 1” filter, use the following rule of thumb: No more than $4.00 per filter and divide the “will last up to” time in half. Example: lasts three months should be changed every 6 weeks.
- Filters should be checked monthly.
- Portable LED mini humidifiers will clog your filter with a white powdery buildup; avoid using or use distilled water only in unit.
Should I use a set-back programmable thermostat?
- Old answer, yes; new answer, not necessary.
- Newer furnaces are designed to heat your house with 2 stages or more of heating capacity and a variable speed or ECM blower motor. They are designed to maintain a certain temperature using the least amount of energy possible.
- The newer furnace control boards also have built-in algorithms that adjust your heating and cooling needs based on a one week or more cycle. Smart thermostats can be counter productive and confuse the furnace into being less efficient.
- Rule of thumb; Never lower more than 4 degrees. All of your furniture and flooring, walls etc. cool off or heat up depending on the season and your equipment must work harder and use more energy to get your home back to set temperature. Maintaining one set temperature is the most efficient way to control your home with newer equipment.
Should I get a smart thermostat?
- Most people don’t need a smart thermostat. If you travel a lot or have a desire to check your temperature daily, then yes. If you don’t check it daily or when on vacation, your furnace or A/C will still be broke when you get home.
- Most smart thermostats need a common wire for proper operation. 4 or 5 wires minimum, depending on furnace and A/C.
- Rule of thumb; I travel a lot and have pets or kids at home, yes. Someone watches my house daily when on vacation or I work from home, no. It’s just another expense unless your trying to show off.
Do I need a humidifier?
- Some houses do, some do not.
- Rule of thumb; If you get shock or nose bleeds in the winter, I would invest in a whole home humidifier.
Should I have my equipment serviced yearly?
- Yes; Todays high tech equipment should be maintained yearly for optimal performance and savings. A good technician can test for and hear things that a homeowner might not notice.
- Rule of thumb; Please change your filter as needed to prolong your equipment life.
Can I repair my own furnace or air conditioner?
- With todays high tech equipment it is not always a good idea. Google has a lot of information, but not always accurate. Most people end up calling for service anyways; after they broke another part, or unable to locate the part they need in a timely manner. For safety reasons, most HVAC contractors don’t sell parts to the public.
- We also get annoyed when we get called out late in the day or after hours because the homeowner has been tinkering with the equipment all day or can’t get it back together.
- The only parts available at your local hardware store nowadays is a thermocouple, thermostats and some basic boiler parts. Or you can order online and wait a minimum of two days for your part to arrive.
- Rule of thumb; Almost always cheaper and faster to call a trained professional.
I live in Wisconsin, should I have a secondary heat source in my home?
- Yes, you always should have another heat source. Whether it be a wood burner, fireplace or some form of electric heater. This is especially true if you reside in a manufactured home as pipes can freeze quickly.
- Rule of thumb; A convection flat panel electric space heater ‘looks like a radiator’ , is a very low cost way to keep your home warm in an emergency. They are very safe heaters that are small in size for easy storage.
My furnace was just condemned, how soon does it need replacement?
- Furnaces may be condemned for different reasons. Replacement parts no longer available, age of unit, upgrading to a higher efficiency or possibly a failed heat exchanger.
- Failed heat exchanger means carbon monoxide is an issue and furnace should not be run. Run your secondary heat source until a new furnace can be installed. A reputable contactor can inform you of the best course of action.
- Rule of thumb; Don’t be fooled into immediate replacement on a ‘Friday’ night without the ability to get a second opinion or bid. Unreputable contractors will push for an immediate sale using scare tactics. A motel room for a day or two can be much cheaper than getting taken for an additional 2 or 3 thousand dollars on a quick uninformed decision. ‘A friend or relatives home would probably be free’. Pipes in a standard home rarely freeze even at sub zero temperatures without a few cold days in a row. THIS IS NOT THE CASE FOR HYDRONIC BOILER SYSTEMS. Again; plug in that back-up heat source.
Do I need to have my air conditioner serviced?
- Yes; The outdoor unit collects cotton from cottonwood trees and grass clippings along with dirt forming a thick mat blocking airflow and hindering your units performance. This can be chemically cleaned by yourself or a professional. The indoor unit also needs attention for proper drainage and a filter check.
- Refrigerant should never leak out of your unit unless it is old and has started to rust through the coil or other connections have failed.
- Rule of thumb; Cooling requires more airflow than heating. This is automatically done with programming on your control board that the home owner shouldn’t adjust. Please change your filter at the start of every cooling season and during the seasons as required.