Wondering if it’s time to have your furnace cleaned? Want to learn what’s involved when you need a new HVAC system? Wondering at what point you should stop repairing your furnace and just get a new one? Curious as to why your utility bills keep going up?
Sounds like you have HVAC questions that require answers from experts. Here’s a selection of our most frequently asked questions. If you don’t find what you’re looking for right here, you can always give us a call.
HVAC: Why does it cost so much?
When you hire an HVAC contractor, you’re essentially hiring a whole team of people. The end result should be a system that’s perfect for your home’s unique requirements. Here’s what that team does for you — this may explain the reasoning behind why it feels like a major investment when you need a new HVAC sytem.
- An expert’s assessment of your home. You don’t want anyone but a licensed dealer to assess your home before deciding between all your options for a new HVAC system. They’ll begin with a look at the foundation of your home. Are there cracks? How do the seams look? Then, they’ll consider the entire home’s construction and how well it’s insulated. That entails a close-up look at your windows, your walls, doors, attics, crawl spaces, and basement (if you have one). This lets them know how efficient your home is and whether it requires a larger, more powerful system than a well-insulated home.
- An expert’s assessment of your climate and region. Where you live is another factor that needs to be considered when you’re choosing a new HVAC system. Selecting the wrong one for your climate could result in buying too much or too little.
- A technical look at your existing ductwork. How’s your ductwork these days? Was it properly installed? Was it really designed for the home you have? Bad or old ductwork can dramatically cut down on the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. It can also make home life less comfortable with chilly winters and hot summers.
- An administrative team that keeps things running smoothly. Remember, the guy who visits your home to assess your system and the team who installs your system aren’t the only people serving you. There’s the person who answers the phone, the bookkeepers, the staff who file your warranty paperwork for you, the folks who run our parts warehouse, and the technician who makes a return visit for no extra charge. That’s a lot of overhead!
- A complete home system that keeps you comfortable and safe. Finally, there’s the cost of the equipment itself. A well-designed system and one that’s properly installed can cut energy costs, keep you and your family comfortable, and even safeguard against common HVAC dangers like CO poisoning or gas leaks.
How long is a furnace supposed to last?
If you want a quick, all-purpose answer, you can expect your furnace to last about 15 to 20 years. As you might expect, however, there are lots of factors that come into play that will change the life expectancy of your furnace and each furnace is different. Some households are able to get two or three decades out of their furnace… it all depends on the make and model as well as how it was used and whether it was properly maintained.
Keep in mind that your furnace/HVAC system is one of the most important investments in your home. It’s probably the largest equipment in your home, too. Keeping an eye on how well your system is running can make a difference in preventing costly repairs that could add up to more than a new purchase.
Gas furnaces. If your gas furnace is old, it could last a long time because those old models were built like tanks and they were simpler in design. While that sounds great, the downside to those old systems is that they are far less efficient than what people are installing these days. Not only that, but the materials degrade over time and their energy efficiency, poor as it already was, gets even worse.
Oil furnaces. If your oil furnace is still within its first dozen years of use and you’ve been good about maintenance, you can probably rest easy. You’ll get at least a few more years out of it. But if you see any of the following signs of a bad furnace, it might be time to start shopping around:
- Your energy bills are going up. It might be time to investigate the efficiency of your old furnace.
- You and your family have had persistent health issues lately. It might be worth looking into whether you have a carbon monoxide leak in the heat exchanger in your furnace.
- Your furnace sounds or acts funny. Furnaces sound different when they reach the end of their lives. Listen for rattling or banging noises. If it’s blowing cold air, that’s a major indication that it’s getting too old.
How often should I get my furnace serviced?
If you want your furnace to last longer, it’s important to follow a regular routine of service. Most furnaces need to be serviced at least every two to three years. But if your furnace is located in an environment with a lot of dust or pet hair, it might be a good idea to make servicing an annual event. Remember, regular maintenance can affect the lifespan of your furnace. We offer a cost-effective maintenance program for residential and commercial air conditioning (AC) and furnace service needs.
A good furnace cleaning should include the following:
- Regular lubrication of the blowers
- A good cleaning of the blowers
- Cleaning out of the air ducts
- Regular inspection
- Prompt changing out of the filters
Will a smart thermostat save me money?
Smart thermostats offer homeowners a variety of benefits, including enhanced energy savings on utility bills.
The ultimate in convenience. Smart thermostats give you control of your home’s HVAC system from your phone, your computer, and in some cases, your voice. Crank up the heat on a chilly winter evening without getting up from your sofa. Or start up the AC as you leave work so it’s nice and cool by the time you get home.
Actionable data you can use. They also give you all kinds of fascinating stats about your energy usage, providing a dashboard view of your system and how it’s running over time.
Increased energy savings potential. The best feature of a smart thermostat is its ability to learn about your energy consumption habits. This is where the cost savings happen. Even though a smart thermostat costs more than a basic model, the increased efficiency adds up to money savings over time.
Adaptable intelligence. Smart thermostats learn from your habits… when you usually crank up the AC, when you need a touch of heat, and when you turn everything off altogether. They use this data to optimize your system so that you’re not paying to cool your home when you’re not there, for example.
Unmatched usability. Of course, you could program a basic thermostat to do the same thing but if you’re like most people, that’s just too much of a pain. In fact, up to half of all households never even bother to program their thermostat!
Even if you do manage to manually program your traditional “dumb” thermostat, you won’t get the same results. You have to set exact times, so there’s no deviation from what you program into the system. Let’s say you stay late at work one night. A programmable thermostat is still going to fire up the AC at 4:30 PM or whenever you’ve programmed it for your regular routine.
Added safeguards. Plus, a basic programmable thermostat still won’t grant you the remote access controls, which are part of what makes the savings possible. Finally, most people enjoy the manual control you get from a smart thermostat’s phone app. If your smart thermostat sends you an alert about mishaps in your home (a power outage, for example), you can respond more quickly and prevent costly disasters.
All of these features were designed to support the main, money-saving benefit of a smart thermostat: it makes your HVAC system run only when you need it to. There’s no better way to get that same result with such a high degree of accuracy and consistency than with a smart thermostat.