Your air conditioner and furnace are critical to your comfort in your home. You should find out what the SEER and HSPF ratings are on your units, as well as the current tonage of your air conditioner. It was only a few short years ago that the government allowed much lower efficiency units to be sold and it may be costing you money.
The Season Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER rating is the most critical number to know. It measures the efficiency of your air conditioner. You will want a SEER rated unit at least 15. Higher is better. The EER is your Energy Efficiency Ratio. This ratio will tell you how your unit performs when it is exactly 95 degrees outside. The Heat Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF is a measure of how well your heat pump is expected to perform.
There are many ways to save on your heating and cooling expenses. These high efficiency units can easily pay for themselves. There may also be current tax credits in place, which would make it even more appealing to get a new unit.
Upgrading will also give you a chance to add new features – such as dehumidifiers which will add to the quality of air in your home.
Well treated air will make life better for your family. If anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergy, a new HVAC system will bring welcome relief.
If you can not upgrade right now, there are some basic service things you can easily perform to optimize your system.
The first step is the easiest. Change your filters! Monthly or more often if you run your unit constantly. When your filters are blocked with dirt, your heat and ac motors have to work far harder and they will wear out far sooner.
The second step is to make sure the outside unit is clear. Leaves, grass dirt and other obstructions will choke off the cooling fins on the outside unit. Clear them away and spray away any mud which is blocking the fins.
The third step is to inspect the pipes from which condensed water drains. Make sure you check the status of the water catch pan if your inside unit is in the attic. The pipes can become blocked and will lead to water flowing into your home where it does not belong.
The fourth step is to install a digital thermostat. You can do this yourself. The digital thermostat is very accurate. There are
simple models and highly programmable models. Either one is a wonderful upgrade from the old style thermostats.
The last step is to set up a service contract. You will not be able to perform all the maintenance that is really needed. A service technician, who goes through years of training, will check your heat exchanger for tiny cracks. Carbon Monoxide leaks out of these crack and has meant the death of more than a few families.
Your service tech can also check on all the moving parts of your system to make sure they are well lubricated. He can read your freon levels and gas pressures. He can inspect chimneys, piping and burners. Most HVAC contractors offer duct cleaning or have arrangements with companies who specialize in this. If your family gets sick a lot, mold and dust in the ductwork can be the silent culprit.
By doing these steps you will have a much better grasp of what is needed when it is time to replace your units.
Service technicians are constantly being turned over in this business. The last thing you want is an inexperienced, green tech putting in your $ 8,000 system. Also beware the straight commission salesperson type of service tech. Try to deal, instead with the owner of the company. If the company is too large that you can not work with the owner, then insist on a senior tech who has been in the business for at least 20 years. You will find these in every city.
One way to save money is to buy a “factory second” or “cosmetically damaged” unit. These units are certified and typically come with the same warranty as a pristine one. They should perform just as well as a pristine one.
When you get your quote for the replacement, make sure it spells out the accessories which will be included. And lastly, make yourself go to the trouble of actually checking the references of the company and the techs that will do the install. This will be the best you can do to insure all goes well.
It is not that hard to know the basics of your home heating and air conditioning units. This knowledge is the best insurance to see that you avoid problems in the future.
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