a furnace with money coming out of it

How Can HVAC Zoning Save Money?

If you shopped for a new HVAC system or did any research related to HVAC systems any time recently, you probably heard something about HVAC Zoning. Another term you may have heard is a multistage or two-stage system. But what does that all mean?

It’s not just a sales rep using technical terms to talk you into something. Although, you should worry if they can’t break it down into simple terms.

Zoning is a mode of running an HVAC system that heats and cools different parts of your home separately. Multistage or Two-stage equipment refers to the type of furnace or AC unit needed to use zoning. There are several benefits to using zoning and we can easily explain them.

In this post, we’ll explain exactly what zoning is and how it works. We’ll also explain what is required to use zoning. We hope you will know if zoning is right for you by the end.

 

What Is HVAC Zoning?

As we stated earlier, HVAC zoning is a way to set up and run an HVAC system to heat and cool different parts of a home independently from each other. Typically, this will look like having a smart thermostat that breaks your home up into 2 to 4 zones. It can sometimes go higher, but the typical home will have 2 zones:

  1. Upstairs
  2. Downstairs

You can set each of these zones to a different temperature and they each have their own thermostat to check the ambient temperature in that zone.

Depending on what smart thermostat you have, it may also have an app to use with it. This will allow you to control your home thermostat remotely. That means that if you’re having a lazy day and are cozy on the couch, then you don’t need to get up to change the temperature.

 

The Benefits of HVAC Zoning

There are several benefits to HVAC zoning. This ranges from the basics of home comfort to saving money on energy and utilities.

  • Cater to Every Family Member’s Needs
  • Save Money on Energy
  • Bespoke to the Home
  • Variable Levels of Airflow

Family Member’s Needs

Everyone has a preferred temperature. Of course, this has turned into the running gag of spouses or partners fighting over the thermostat. If you have family members with medical conditions, they may require the home to be cooler or hotter than what is comfortable for others. With zoning, you could set the area they spend most of their time in separate from the others so that everyone can be comfortable throughout the day.

Variable Airflow

Traditional HVAC systems have two settings: off or on. When they’re on, they’re running at 100%. With the smart systems used for HVAC zoning, they can scale how much airflow they send. It’s like a dimmer on a light switch. It can go from a little to a lot depending on what you need.

That means that if you need the temperature in one area adjusted by one degree, it will produce just enough airflow to do that without blasting air throughout your home. This helps to prevent cold or hot spots from forming in the rooms in your home.

This also results in saving money on energy and utilities, as it will only use enough energy to make a minor change.

Energy Savings

The reasoning mentioned above explains why zoning can cause savings on your monthly energy bill. The Department of Energy estimates that homes with HVAC Zoning save 30% - 35% on their annual energy usage compared to homes that don’t.

 

What Kind of Homes Need HVAC Zoning?

We just explained that HVAC zoning can help you save money on energy and utilities. It can also make you more comfortable by catering to family member’s individual needs or pushing airflow to the areas that need it most.

So, what kinds of homes receive the most of these benefits?

Two Story

A Two-Story Home

If you have a two-story home, you probably noticed that it is harder to keep your upstairs cool. Simply put, heat rises. As much as we want to, we have not yet made a work-around for the laws of physics. However, HVAC zoning can compensate for them. By putting your upstairs in a separate zone from your downstairs, your HVAC system will detect the difference in temperature and pump more cool air to your second floor.

Less Used Rooms

When a traditional HVAC system turns on, it turns on to 100% throughout the entire home. This is an inefficient way to run a system and can actually lead to unnecessary spending on energy bills. If you have an area that you don’t use often, you could waste money by heating or cooling it when you don’t need to. If that area were in a different zone from the rest of your home, your HVAC system would not send airflow to that area.

Specialty Rooms

If you have a gym or hobby area that gets hot, it might need more cooling than the rest of your home. Zoning would allow you to cool that area adequately without freezing the rest of your home.

Lots of Large Windows

If your home has an area with lots of large windows, then it could leak heat through the glass. This could be heat coming to make it too hot in summer, or heat going out to make it too cold in winter.

 

What Are the Requirements for HVAC Zoning?

If it sounds like you could save money or make your home more comfortable, then you should also learn about the requirements. Zoning requires more modern HVAC equipment and there is typically some cost involved.

Two-Stage or Variable-Speed System

The most important part of a zoned HVAC system is the multi-stage equipment. This kind of equipment is much more efficient than traditional HVAC equipment and can adjust the speed it works at.

Traditional Furnaces and Air Conditioners are only ever either on or off. Two-stage equipment has a high or low setting. This allows the equipment to adjust how much power it’s using if it's in high or low demand.

A Variable-Speed system has a much wider range of options. This allows the furnace or AC unit to get very specific about how much power it uses and how much airflow it generates.

Without multiple output settings, your HVAC equipment could not service each zone of your home. It would simply create too much hot or cold air that would either make your home uncomfortable or get backed up and damage your equipment.

Efficient Duct Trunks

main duct trunk

Zoning requires ducts to reach each zone that is being conditioned. Most modern developers build homes with efficiency in mind. That means that they have duct trunks built to reach most areas of the home. They may not have the duct work already installed, but the trunks should be there.

If the home you are hoping to use HVAC zoning in does not have these trunks, or does not have preexisting ductwork, then additional duct runs and extensions will need to be built so that your HVAC system can affect the entire home.

Smart Thermostat

The second most important part of a smart HVAC system is the smart thermostat and the control panel. The thermostat is the interface you use to control the setting for each zone. It must be a smart thermostat capable of being programed for zone control. The control panel is the piece of technology that receives your commands and makes the HVAC system act accordingly.

Automatic Dampers

You will also need automatic dampers to control the flow of air and make sure that it only goes to the zones that need it. These dampers will open and close to direct airflow down the right ducts and into the correct zones. As the thermostats in each zone detect the change in the temperature, the dampers will change accordingly.

These do not come standard on ductwork, so if you are looking to upgrading to HVAC zoning, then they will need to be installed.

Cost

There is some cost to upgrading almost every facet of your existing HVAC system. A large amount of the cost actually goes to the labor of designing and testing the zoning layout and the time to install everything.

Across the United States, the average starting cost for upgrading to HVAC zoning starts between $4,500 and $8000. That starting price is the cost for the design, thermostat, electrical, and any extensions or runs added to the ductwork. The price will increase when new equipment is required.

If you just bought your home, it may already have the duct trunks and variable speed equipment. In which case, you would just need to upgrade the thermostat and install the automatic dampers.

If you are installing a whole new system or are replacing old equipment with new multistage equipment, then you will need to factor in the cost of a new HVAC system.

Altogether, that could run you somewhere around $25,000. You don’t need to pay that all at once though, as some HVAC contractors offer convenient payment options.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to know if HVAC zoning is right for you. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

Daikin 1 HVAC Thermostat

What are Smart HVAC Systems?

Have you noticed how fast technology changes? Our stuff gets better, faster, stronger, and smarter. The smart phone replaced the flip-phone in a matter of years. It’s near impossible to find a TV that doesn’t have an app center. You can even get Bluetooth connected lightbulbs now. HVAC equipment is going through the same transformation. Now, individuals who enjoy having a smart home can upgrade to a Smart HVAC System.

In this post, we’ll explain what Smart HVAC Systems are, what problems they can solve, and what benefits they offer. We hope you will know if one is right for you by the end.

 

What Is It?

A smart system is a set of equipment that can detect changes in outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, and humidity, then calculates how much energy is required to create the desired environment in your home. Each piece of equipment in the system communicates with each other to deliver air at the desired temperature evenly throughout the home.

Another system you can add to make your Smart HVAC even smarter is Zoning. Note that not all smart systems come with zoning, but zoning can add additional benefits. The video gives a surface level look at what some of those benefits are.

These systems don’t just make your home life more comfortable and convenient, but they can also have real benefits for your savings and the environment. Of course, like with any big purchase, there are pros and cons. We’ll get into all that in the next few sections.

 

What Makes Smart HVAC Smart?

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems are the systems that manage the temperature and quality of air in our homes. To break it down, it’s the furnace, air conditioner, ductwork, and thermostat. It’s one of the most important tools for keeping our homes comfortable. So how do you make this system smarter?

You Give it a Brain

Not an actual brain, but some really sophisticated control panels located directly in the equipment. What makes these systems so smart are the control boards and sensors installed in the individual pieces of equipment. They can take in information, process it through an algorithm, and then communicate with the other equipment in the system. Essentially, they can think about and react to changes in the weather and in your home without you having to change anything.

 

What Makes Smart HVAC Different from a Traditional System?

Now that we know what makes a smart system smart, let's talk about how that differs from a traditional system.

Intelligent Control Systems

In the previous section, we mentioned that smart systems have control panels in the individual pieces of equipment. Compare that to a traditional system that only has one control panel in the thermostat.

Like we said, the smart system reacts to changes outside and inside the house. A traditional system is only going to react to changes in the same room as the thermostat.

Run Time

Traditional HVAC systems have two settings: off and on. When the thermostat tells the furnace or air conditioner to turn on, the system will blast your home with air until the thermostat detects the room being at the right temperature and then turns off. The ambient temperature will affect the temperature in your home and cause it to change until the thermostat tells your HVAC system to turn on again.

Smart systems have a scale of speeds they can operate at. When they detect a change in temperature, they will account for the ambient temperature and turn on with enough power to adjust the temperature inside your home. Then they can slow down to maintain that temperature without needing to turn off and on later. This results in Smart HVAC systems having much longer run cycles.

Long run cycles are great for your energy bill and the longevity of your system. Your HVAC system uses the most energy when it initially turns on, and that’s when the equipment experiences the most stress. By running for one long cycle instead of several short cycles, your HVAC system will use less energy or natural gas, and will put less strain on its parts. This translates into savings on your utilities and a reduced chance of equipment failure.

Convenient Technology

A connected smart thermostat, furnace, and smart phone

Much like other smart technologies. Smart HVAC systems have plenty of tools that make them easy and convenient to work with. Some of these technologies include:

These tools allow you to have more immediate control over your HVAC system. If you’re a frequent vacationer, busy and always on the move, or even if you just don’t like getting up from the couch, you’ll have full control of your HVAC system no matter where you are.

 

Smart HVAC Can Save You Money

While the convenience of a smart system is great for many people, it's not the only benefit that a smart system can offer.

Higher Efficiency

A man holding a savings jar containing coins

Smart systems are much more efficient than a traditional system because of their ability to operate at slower speeds for longer cycles.

An HVAC system uses the most power when it first turns on. This means that a traditional system that turns on at full power more frequently will use more power. The smart HVAC system that maintains temperature by running for a longer cycle with less power uses less energy.

Your energy and gas bill will reflect the differences in efficiency. A smart system should lead to immediate savings regarding natural gas, electricity, or whatever its primary fuel source should be.

No Unnecessary Running

A fear that almost everyone experiences in life is leaving home and feeling like you forgot something. This can be our phone, house keys, or accidentally leaving the oven on. If you accidentally leave your furnace or AC on, you could waste money by heating or cooling an empty house.

With a smart system, you can check your HVAC system and control it from anywhere by using a mobile app. If you’re taking a long trip, you can turn off your furnace on the way to the airport. You can turn everything back on when your return flight lands, so that your home is comfortable before you even step your foot inside the door.

Alternatively, if your system has geofencing enabled, your HVAC system will notice when your phone leaves your home and will power down.

Either way, you’re no longer paying to heat or cool a home that you’re not in.

 

Smart HVAC Can Make Your Home More Comfortable

A smart system can heat or cool your home more evenly because it works at a slower speed for a longer cycle. The traditional system will turn on and blow air through your ducts at full force before the thermostat tells it to turn off.

However, the thermostat is only reading the temperature in one room. This is a problem for traditional systems that run for a short period. That means that if your system were to blow too much or not enough air into a different room, the thermostat would not know. Their cycles are too short for the air to spread through the rest of your home before they turn off and on again. This can lead to hot or cold spots that make other rooms uncomfortable.

Smart systems take their time to bring your home to the correct temperature. The furnace or air conditioner will blow air into your home at slower rate. This means other rooms will experience slow and consistent airflow over a longer period of time, resulting in more even temperatures.

Zoning

HVAC Flow Chart

If you have a smart system with zoning, you will have precise control over the different sections of your home and can bring each zone to the desired temperature independently.

Even if you do not have zoning set up, the smart system will heat your home slower and will maintain temperature over a longer period. That means that the air in your home will have time to spread throughout each room and make the temperature more even.

 

Make Your Life Easier with Smart HVAC

One reason people love their smart phones and other smart technology is how convenient they are. Smart HVAC, much like a smart phone, is connected to all the tools we use to control our home.

We already mentioned the ability to control your system through a mobile app and geofencing. However, you could also connect your Smart HVAC to your Alexa, Google Home, or Nest smart home depending on what thermostat you use. Make sure to check with your HVAC sales professional about what smart home devices your smart system is compatible with.

For example, the Daikin One will work with Alexa and Google Home but not Nest.

So, if you’re frequently out of the home and want to tell your system to turn back on just before you get back, or if you just don’t want to get up from the couch, you can control your home’s heating and cooling from anywhere.

Being connected also makes repairs and maintenance easy. You have the option to sign up for Remote Response. If you have an HVAC problem, a professional technician can remotely check your system and diagnose the issue before even seeing your home. The technician will be able to check your system's history to see what went wrong before they load the correct tools into their truck. Sometimes, they can even fix the problem through the remote connection, meaning no house call is needed.

A bonus tip here: that mobile app we keep on talking about also has the added benefit of being discreet. If you get too warm in bed, but don’t want to wake your partner, just turn on the AC from your phone.

 

Final Thoughts: Is Smart HVAC Right for you?

Smart HVAC is not the right fit for everyone. It is more costly than a traditional system, and there are some alternatives that can achieve similar efficiency if that is all you care about.

However, if you want efficiency, convenience, and control and are planning on settling into your current home, then a smart HVAC system could bring your home’s comfort to the next level.

Long Term Investment

Your smart system is an investment that can earn back the cost to install it. It will provide immediate savings on your monthly utilities’ bills. This can be as much as 20%-30% based on how much you use your system. In some circumstances, this number can be lower, but this is a typical range in our experience.

The long run cycles also mean less wear and tear on your HVAC equipment since they experience the shock of turning on and off less frequently. Technicians can also render repairs easily thanks to their ability to remotely access the smart system. Altogether, that means you will spend less money on repairs and have to go through less time without heating or cooling when something goes wrong.

If the potential savings, increased efficiency, and the convenience of controlling your HVAC system anywhere sounds good to you, contact your local HVAC professionals and ask them about Smart HVAC.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to make a confident decision when purchasing a Smart HVAC system. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

12 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your House Warm This Winter

As fall and winter approach, the jackets come out of the closet, pumpkin and peppermint coffee take over social media timelines, and we turn on our home furnaces. Depending on the type of furnace you have, this can mean an increase in the natural gas, electric, or oil bill. However, this does not need to be a sizeable increase. There are steps you can take to keep your house warm in the winter and reduce your utility bill.

In this post, we’ll explain 14 tips and tricks that you can do to keep your home heating as efficient as possible. We hope these tips will help you stay comfortable during the cold months of the year and keep your utility spending to a minimum.

Most of these tips are simple steps you can take right now! Some of them are longer projects that may involve help from professionals and some money. However, don’t discount those ideas as they can cause much improved quality of life in your home and can pay for themselves in the long term.

 

1. Replace Dirty Air Filters

An Air Filter covered in dirt

The first tip is universal advice that can aid furnace owners year-round. Make sure your furnace filter is clean and replace it if it is dirty. Furnace’s need air flow to heat your home. The most common killer of air flow is a dirty air filter.

Different sizes of filters have recommended replacement timelines. As a minimum, check your filter every three months. If you see any visible dirt or build up on the filter, replace it.

 

2. Fall Maintenance

Most manufacturers recommend that you have your HVAC system serviced annually. That's why we service HVAC equipment twice a year. We'll come out your home once in the spring for the cooling equipment, and once in the fall for the heating equipment.

During your fall tune-up, your HVAC service technician will replace your filter, check your duct work and air flow, and inspect all the parts in your furnace. They’ll make sure all the sensors are clean and working and that your igniting elements are working.

If you have not had your furnace serviced in fall, then you could be at risk of equipment failure or overpaying on utilities. Consider contacting your local HVAC professionals to get a quote for a heating system maintenance.

 

3. Change Direction of Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan in a living room

If you have a ceiling fan, you may have noticed that it has a directional switch. On its default setting, a ceiling fan will move counterclockwise to create a small breeze to help chill a room. When a ceiling fan is reversed and rotates clockwise, it will move hot air pockets trapped near the ceiling and force it to warm the cool air in the lower portion of a room.

 

4. Don’t Block Vents and Registers

Having to rearrange your furniture can be a pain, but it might be necessary if your furniture is blocking your vents and registers. Those little grates on your floor or walls are where the heat from your HVAC system comes out. If you have a couch on top of a register, it will absorb all that heat before it can warm your house.

 

5. Let Sunlight In

Keep your blinds and curtains open when the sun is out. The sun produces natural heat and letting that into your home can reduce the amount of your work your furnace or heat pump has to do.

 

6. Close Curtains at Night

Once the sun goes down, the heat inside your home will want to escape through your windows. Having thick curtains to cover your windows will act as another layer of insulation and trap heat inside.

 

7. Insulate and Seal Windows

a window looking over a lake

Heat loves to travel in and out of windows. If you have cracks around the window frame, that gives heat an easy path out of your home. You may need to fill those cracks with some caulk or have a contractor give them an inspection.

To further insulate your windows, you can find shrink wrap or plastic wrap kits. Follow the package instructions for installing these kits. These kits allow sunlight to enter your home and air but will make it harder for that heat to escape.

 

8. Open Dampers

If you have dampers in your duct work, make sure they are open. You might see that it has summer or winter settings, or open or closed settings. Keeping your damper open will allow the airflow to bring heat to all of your house.

 

9. Seal Your Fireplace Flue

If you have a fireplace, make sure that the flue doesn’t have any cracks where heat could escape. A lot of heat and some dangerous fumes will escape out of a cracked chimney.

If you’re not using your fireplace, close the flue off with a seal or plug. That can prevent a lot of heat from escaping. When it’s wintry out, consider not using your fireplace at all. Often, a fireplace will allow more heat to escape the home than it will generate. That means your furnace will have to work that much harder to keep up.

 

10. Program Your Thermostat

You can actually heat your home more efficiently with smart thermostat programs. Setting your thermostat to run parallel with the ambient temperature can make your HVAC system run more efficiently. Your furnace needs time to warm the air before blowing it into your home. It can heat that air by 7 or 10 degrees quicker than it can heat it by 20 degrees. Setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature at night and in the morning and a warmer temperature at noon can cause more efficient performance.

 

11. Insulate Your Attic and Ducts

This is where we get into the tips that involve larger projects. If your attic or duct work does not have adequate insulation, then you can leak heat, sometimes before it even gets inside your home. If your attic is easily accessible and your duct work comprises metal piping, then you could do your own insulation. We have an earlier post with one of our installers showing you how to install insulation.

If your duct work is the flexible kind, then it should come fully insulated. If that insulation is damaged, it’s best to have an HVAC professional repair it.

 

12. Upgrade Old Equipment

If your furnace is older than its expected lifetime, it may be time to replace it. Furnaces lose efficiency for every year that they are running. They have a lot of moving parts. Natural wear and tear is unavoidable. This reduces how efficient they are at creating heat and increases the possibility of something breaking. Your furnace will also be out of warranty, so if something breaks, you’ll have to pay the full cost of repairs.

Compare your furnace type to this list to see if it’s past its lifetime.

  • Oil - 15 years
  • Gas - 20 years
  • Electric - 30 years

 

Save Energy While Staying Warm

This may seem counterintuitive, but this can help keep your utility bill lower while your HVAC system keeps your house warm. Research shows that, for the average person, it’s hard to notice a difference of a few degrees, but your utility bill will be around 1% less for each degree lower you set your thermostat. So, you may not feel a difference between having your thermostat at 72 or 69 but you could save around 3% or more on your utilities.

Get More Energy Saving Tips to Keep Your House Warm

If you want more tips on how to save energy while keeping your house warm. The Department of Energy has a website full of helpful information.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to keep your house warm in the winter. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

A technician performing a furnace tune up

How Often Should I Service My Furnace?

With how short the hot season can be in Oregon, it can sometimes feel like we get a month of Summer before we have to prepare for fall again. With cold weather on the horizon, something that you should do is make sure your furnace is running without issue. Regular maintenance can prevent many issues that result in your furnace being unable to heat your home. So how often should you service your furnace?

This question has a pretty universal answer. Urgency may change based on how much usage your furnace gets in a year, but everyone gets the same guidance.

You should have your furnace serviced twice a year. Once in spring, to service the cooling equipment and once in fall to service the heating equipment. Once in fall at the bare minimum, but that increases the risk of something going wrong come summer.

 

What Happens if a Furnace isn’t Serviced?

A Destroyed Furnace

If you do not service your furnace at the recommended intervals, an issue could develop and prevent your furnace from being able to heat your home.

What Kind of Problems

  • Poor Airflow is because of a dirty filter or debris build-up. If an air filter gets dirty or if debris has lodged itself in the vent or intake, your furnace will lose airflow. This will make it much harder for your furnace to provide heating to your home. It could also damage the equipment and require more severe repairs.
  • Faulty Burners from damage or build-up on the pilot light. The combustible gases may also lose efficiency or potency. If either of these situations happens, you’re going to be without heat until a professional repairs your furnace.
  • Cracked Heat Exchanger: This can become a severe health risk for your household. If the heat exchanger is no longer sealed, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and soot can blow into your home.

 

What Is a Furnace Tune-Up?

A List Of What Happens during a furnace tune up

Now we know why it’s important to service your furnace. Let’s talk about what a furnace tune-up actually is.

Each HVAC company is going to market its furnace maintenance or tune-up as something different. They’ll say they check X-number of points while someone else checks less. They may even perform the maintenance slightly differently, but they should all check the same basics.

No matter who services your furnace, they should do these basic steps:

  • Check the Vent and Intake
  • Check the Seals
  • Test the Combustible Gases
  • Test the Burners
  • Clear the Drainage
  • Check the Electrical

 

Can I Service My Furnace?

Yes, but it’s not recommended in a vast majority of cases. Usually, the only people with the equipment or training to conduct their own furnace maintenance are HVAC professionals.

Of course, saving money by doing your own home improvement is a great goal. There are some aspects of a furnace tune-up you can do yourself. Checking for blocks in the condensation drain is fairly straightforward. The rest of the steps involved could pose a risk to your well-being or home if done incorrectly.

Potential Danger

Working with the electrical wiring is obvious. First, you need to know what everything does and how to interact safely with it. Second, you must know how it integrates with your HVAC system.

The combustible gases are another point of extreme caution. We cannot recommend anyone who is untrained attempt to work with those gases or the burners.

Something else to be aware of is your furnace’s warranty. Not servicing a furnace correctly could void the warranty.

This isn’t meant to scare you. A furnace is a complex piece of equipment and needs to be handled with care. Attempting to perform maintenance while not being properly trained could cause injury or property damage.

For all those reasons, we recommend you contact your local HVAC professional. They will have the training and tools to service your furnace without risking your well-being or warranty.

 

How Long Does It Take?

A furnace tune-up will run between 30 minutes and 2 hours on average. It could take more or less time, depending on a few factors.

  • If you have multiple systems.
  • If your technician detects an issue that they can repair.
  • The location and accessibility of your furnace.
  • The severity of blockages and build-ups, if present.
  • If your furnace has had a tune-up before.
    • If your furnace is up to date on its maintenance, it may require less work.

Your HVAC professional should let you know if there is anything that will delay their work or if you will need to schedule a more intensive repair.

 

Why Twice a Year?

Orange Fall Leaves On The Ground

As we stated at the top of this post, we recommend that everyone have their furnace serviced in spring and fall.

Fall is typically the start of the “heating season” and spring is typically the end. That’s the part of the year where furnaces experience much more use and people need to heat their homes.

By servicing your furnace in fall, you can make sure that it is not likely to fail during the coldest days of the year. Servicing your furnace in spring ensures that your furnace did not incur strain or damage while it was in use.

Most air conditioner units use the furnace for airflow. Servicing your furnace in Spring also works to ensure your AC will have good airflow.

Having preventative maintenance performed on your furnace decreases the chance of it breaking down when it goes through periods of heavy use.

 

The Bare Minimum

The bare minimum is to get your furnace serviced at least once a year. Having your system serviced at least once a year will provide some level of prevention in terms of equipment failure.

This creates a risk of something going uncaught and becoming a severe issue down the line. You may find your furnace becoming less efficient or non-functioning during or after periods of high use.

Some experts say 75% of heating-related calls in winter are caused by issues that regular maintenance could have prevented. Having your furnace serviced twice a year could save you a lot of trouble when the cold weather hits.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that gave you the information you need to know how often you need to service your furnace. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

HVAC Combo

What Size of AC Unit Do I Need?

The best part of hot summer days is being able to stay out of the heat in your comfy home AC. Well, it might not be the best part for everyone, but having a cool home to come back to after a day roasting in the sun is a fantastic feeling. If you live in the Southern half of the states, this becomes a year-round necessity. To make sure your home stays cool, you need to know what size of AC unit you need.

It can be a real bummer if the inside of your home is just as hot as the world outside. It’s even worse if your AC breaks down in the middle of a hot season.

If your AC isn’t doing the trick or isn’t lasting as long as it should, it might not be the right size for your home. So what is the right size for an AC unit and how do you find it?

Well, it depends on a ton of variables which we will explain in this post.

Let’s first talk about why the right size is important and what you want to avoid.

 

Problems with Purchasing The Incorrect Size Air Conditioner

You can’t just get an air conditioner that is bigger than what you actually need. Bigger is not always better. Likewise, getting an air conditioner that is too small will not cut it. Either way, you’re looking at spending more money on energy and repairs.

Too Big

An AC Unit is Bigger Than The Unit

You might think that getting an air conditioner that is bigger than what you actually need is great. It’ll cool your house down no matter what. Sure, but probably more than you want. A lot more.

It’s going to provide too much cooling to your home, too quickly. Your thermostat won’t be able to catch up. This will cause uneven temperatures throughout your home. Not to mention that this will cost you money on the excess energy this uses.

An oversized AC unit will also short-cycle. It will turn on, blast some cold air, and turn off quicker than normal. ACs are not designed to run like this and it will damage the equipment. Meaning more frequent repairs and increasing the chances of a breakdown in summer.

Too Small

An AC Unit Too Small For Home

An AC unit that is too small is going to have problems too, but just the extreme opposite of the large unit. It’s going to be running forever. It cannot cool your home effectively because it just doesn’t have the power to cover all the space needed. This is going to be using unnecessary energy because it’ll always be on.

The constant running is also not healthy for an AC system. If a unit is too small, it’s going to wear itself down quickly. This means a severaly shortened lifespan and repairs or a total replacement well before it should be necessary.

 

What is a BTUh?

In simplest terms, the BTUh tells you the size of the AC unit. The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the basic indicator of how much cooling power that AC units have. BTUh is British Thermal Units per hour, and that measures how much energy an AC unit uses to remove heat from your home in an hour. 12,000 BTUh is equal to a ton in terms of AC units. AC units are then sized in tons from 1 to 5, with increments for every half size.

So when you ask “what size air conditioner do I need,” you could also ask “what tonnage of air conditioner do I need?”

How Do BTUs Affect AC Unit Size?

It’s recommended that you have 20 BTUh per square foot. This rule is not set in stone and it varies a lot, but works to get a baseline estimate. This can be done by taking the square footage of your home, multiplying it by 20, then dividing it by 12,000. For example, if your home is 1,500 square feet, then this is what it will look like:

(1,500 x 20) / 12,000

That should give you an answer of 2.5 or 2.5 tons. So why do some 1,500-square-foot homes have AC units that are 2 or 3 tons? Does the formula actually matter?

 

What Things Affect the Size of Air Conditioner I Need

While knowing the square footage is essential to get a basic idea, it’s not the definitive answer. There are a bunch of factors that need to be considered.

SEER

The Seasonal Efficiency Energy Ratio plays a big impact on how your AC unit operates. More efficient ACs typically use less energy to cool your home. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit is. When you’re thinking about what size conditioner you need, you should also consider what SEER air conditioner you want.

Home Layout And Condition

How your home was built and laid out determines how air flows through your home. That also determines how effectively an air conditioner can cool your home. For example, it’s going to be a lot easier to cool a house with many rooms in a northern climate than an open design interior in a southern climate.

Cottage Home

  • Preexisting Ductwork
  • Quality of Insulation
  • The Number of Windows and Sun Exposure
  • Number of Household Members
  • Heat Generating Appliances
  • Local Climate
  • Interior Layout

 

How Do I Get the Right Size Air Conditioner For Sure?

Now we know what determines what size air conditioner we need. How do we actually apply that to the calculation from earlier? To find the answer, you need a load calculation of some sort.

Load Calculation

These are sometimes referred to as Manual J, Block Load, or Peak Load Calculations. There are more of these formulas out there. Those three are just some of the most common ones you’ll see. Some of them use a computer program to get a very specific answer. At Advantage, we use a computer-assisted block load calculation because we find it yields the most accurate result.

A sales professional can perform this calculation after inspecting your home. They can usually do it pretty quickly and it will give you an exact answer what size of air conditioner you need. That way, you’re not paying for an AC that will not keep your home comfortable or having to drop cash on repairs every 5 years.

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope this article has given you the information you need to make an educated decision about purchasing your new AC system. If you have questions about HVAC systems, please check out our other blog posts. If you want to know who we are and how we can help, please visit our website and follow us on social media. We’ll be here when you need us.