Heating and cooling systems have some confusing attributes and a number of maintenance routines we should follow, so it’s no surprise homeowners have many doubts when they see things like “SEER, “HEPA, or “AFUE.
But naming conventions are far from the end of it: there’s also the issue of how often should you hire maintenance, how often to change filters, how big should your system be, how much does it cost… and so on. It’s a very long list!
Which is why we’re looking into the most common questions and trying to answer them all as best as we can. You should find what you’re looking for here, but if you don’t, feel free to get in touch or contact a local HVAC company to clear up your doubts!
“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. – Eleanor Roosevelt
How does energy efficiency work?
There are many different names for efficiency ratings, so let’s get those out of the way first and trim down to avoid confusion. They all stand for basically the same thing, but they’re measured in different ways because they apply to different kinds of equipment, therefore having different names.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. This is the efficiency rating of an air conditioning equipment, and the higher the SEER number is, the more efficient that equipment is – as simple as that.
HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, and it’s used for air conditioners with a heat pump function. Once again, the higher the HSPF number, the more efficient the system is.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and it’s used to measure the efficiency of gas furnaces. Same again, the higher the AFUE rating, the higher the efficiency.
How often should I service my HVAC system?
Ideally at least twice a year – once before the winter and once before the summer, to make sure both heating and cooling are working properly. Heating and cooling repairs are often simple endeavours, but can get complicated the longer they’re neglected.
But when it comes to replacing filters:
Each filter has a different lifespan. In most cases you can get away with replacing them every three months, but some promise a lifespan of up to six months – it really depends on which filters you’re using and how often you use your HVAC system. Besides, depending on weather conditions and how much dust passes through your system, you might have to replace them once a month.
The best way to judge this is by checking your filters every now and then – if they’re dirty, replace them!
Which HVAC system is better for my home?
This is very hard to judge because every home is different. Obviously if you get whatever’s the best on the market you’ll be fine, but a lot of the time there’s no need to make such a large investment when a much smaller and simpler system would be just as effective.
The best way to determine this is by talking to a few heating and cooling companies and informing them how big your house is and how many rooms it has. It might not be enough to determine the whole thing, but it’s a first step.
How can I lower my energy bill while still making use of my HVAC system?
There are many ways to lower the energy bill and some of them don’t involve the HVAC system directly. There’s a lot to go through, but here are some basic pointers to guide you in the right direction:
- Use a programmable thermostat. You can set it up to turn off when you’re not home and turn back on some time before you arrive – meaning you can still get the comfort you desire without wasting a ton of energy while you’re away.
- Unplug appliances that are not being used. Most of them continue to consume small amounts of energy even when turned off, but it can amount to up to 10% of your energy bill.
- Make sure your insulation is being as efficient as it can be, otherwise you’re constantly using more energy to maintain a certain temperature.
- Also make sure your windows and doors are very well sealed. Outdoor air constantly sneaking inside means your HVAC system has to work twice as hard to maintain the desired temperature, meaning it won’t be as effective and waste more energy.
Those are the basics you should be looking out for, but you can always find out more tips to save energy talking to a local HVAC company!
Should I repair or replace my old HVAC system?
It really depends on how old your central heating and cooling system is. If we’re talking about a five year old system, you can probably still repair it to full working condition, but a ten year-old or older, then you might want to consider a new one.
The age isn’t the only deciding factor, though. The most important things you should consider are these:
- Is my HVAC system ineffective or too expensive to maintain?
- Is my HVAC system in constant need of repairs?
If you said “yes to either of these questions, then it’s a good idea to invest on a new system entirely. New HVAC systems have the benefit of new technology and tend to be far more efficient, reliable and smarter than older models.
If you’re standing somewhere in the middle and find yourself still unsure because the cost is a big deciding factor, try researching for prices and compare how much it costs to either repair yours or buy and install a new HVAC system. From there, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision!
Should outdoor units be covered for the winter?
Not really. There are special covers you can use to protect them from snow or debris, but these should be provided by the manufacturer. In any other case, covering the outdoor unit can compromise the performance of your HVAC system.
However, you can cover it for protection while not using it for a while – if you’re leaving town, for example. Just be sure to disconnect it from the power source to be safe.
Should a thermostat be “auto or “on?
“Auto is a very good setting on most systems, since it automatically saves energy and only raises the performance requirements when necessary. There’s nothing wrong with leaving it “on though, just be warned you will spend more energy and should pay attention to either turn it off or adjust the temperature if needed.
Should I replace both the outdoor and indoor unit, or only one is fine?
You almost always want to replace both at the same time, because efficiency ratings are always based on both units working together. Replace only one, and now you can’t trust your energy rating anymore.
Need help with your HVAC system? Talk to a professional in your area and get free quotes today!