Heating & Air Conditioning Tips & Info

Become a well-informed homeowner with these 6 home comfort tips.

When you want to learn more about your heating and air conditioning systems, turn to the experts. Carrier experts have been delivering comfort for over 100 years, so you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find insight on everything from basic home furnace or boiler, air conditioner, and air quality systems to innovative new technologies shaping your home comfort.

Heating and air conditioning tips to reduce energy costs.

1. Change Thermostats To Save Money

Upgrading to a programmable thermostat and optimizing your settings is smart. Getting a designer look in the process is just plain cool.
According to EnergyStar.com, homeowners can save about $180 a year by changing thermostats to a new, digital, programmable thermostat and maintaining those settings.

In hot weather, keeping your thermostat at an even, comfortable level (75-78 degrees Fahrenheit) helps to reduce the energy use of your air conditioner, and ultimately utility costs. However, as thermostats age, they become less efficient due in part to aging wiring, poor location (too near a heat source or in a drafty hallway), or dust accumulation on movable parts. Most people can actually feel it when their thermostat settings are off because the home is suddenly too hot or too cold.

So, if your current thermostat is older, or is just not performing up to par, you may want to swap it out. This is true also if your thermostat is simply unattractive.

Some of the newer thermostats are designed to fit into a wall and a room’s overall décor quite seamlessly. If you’ve been daydreaming about redesigning a room, you may have wondered how you could hide that ancient, blocky thermostat implanted in your wall.

Carrier has introduced a sleek new, ENERGY STAR-rated thermostat, the EDGE. It sports seven designer thermostat faceplates to complement any room. More than just a pretty face, the EDGE is just 8/10ths of an inch thin, works with nearly all heating or air conditioning systems, is fully programmable, and can be programmed via your PC.

2. Furnace Repair and Annual Maintenance

Preventative maintenance for your furnace (or boiler) is always less stressful than furnace repair. Review what you can do in the off season to help keep your furnace in good condition.

Summer is the perfect time for furnace repair and maintenance, and other heating repair issues. One reason for this is the availability of furnace technicians. Another is that preventative maintenance is always less stressful than furnace repair when it’s freezing outside.
Some HVAC dealers even offer incentives or other specials for heating repair services during the summer, which means they can fit you in and you won't be left in the cold.

To familiarize yourself with your furnace you may want to review how a furnace works, and exercise some of the preventative maintenance yourself. Here are some things you can tackle, if you're up to it:

  • Confirm that the furnace cycles through start-up to shut-down via your thermostat.
  • Check the supply (small grates in each room) and return air (large grate, usually in a hallway) temperature to make sure your thermostat is accurate.
  • Clean and level your thermostat. For older thermostats this ensures proper function since many of them have liquid mercury switches. And always, this is aesthetically more eye pleasing.
  • There is a safety switch on all furnace doors that “pops out” when the door is removed. Make sure this is unobstructed and clean.
  • Look at all the furnace's visible wiring and electrical connections for burns or unraveling/loose wire nuts or tape.
  • Check the condition of your furnace's vent connection pipe and chimney for rust or gaps. Venting system parts can deteriorate over time.

Here are a few questions that you could ask of your local heating and air conditioning dealer:

  • Which is the best furnace on the market?
  • Is my furnace operating at peak performance?
  • Is my furnace energy efficient?
  • Could I save money on my utility bills with a new furnace?
  • How closely can I manage my home comfort with Carrier furnaces?
  • Which furnaces have easy-to-clean filters?
  • How quickly can you typically respond in an emergency situation?

3. Considering a New Heat Pump or Air Conditioner?

As we move into the hotter summer months here in the Northeast, you may wonder which product — a new air conditioner or heat pump — would work best for our area.

The primary difference between air conditioners and heat pumps is that heat pumps can both cool and heat.

Generally, a heat pump heats best down to about 40 degrees. Below that outdoor air temperature, you may want a furnace as your primary heating source – or both. A setup known as a hybrid heat dual-fuel split-system, is smart enough to know when it’s cold enough to heat with a furnace, and when it can use the heat pump.

There are both air conditioners and heat pumps that meet the ENERGY STAR guidelines for energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR web site explains that “Though these products can be more expensive to purchase up front, the cost difference will be paid back over time through lower energy bills.”

4. Air Conditioning Maintenance Saves Money

Proper air conditioning maintenance can help your unit last decades. On the flip-side, a neglected air conditioner loses roughly 5% of its efficiency each year that it operates without upkeep.

Filters and coils are both parts that require regular maintenance for your air conditioner to operate effectively and efficiently. Neglecting your unit leads to poor air conditioning performance and increased energy consumption. And regular maintenance is far less costly than repairs or a replacement.

By keeping your unit operating at peak performance, you will recover any money invested in upkeep by lower repair costs and savings on your electric bill.

Both the homeowner and a professional can accomplish different aspects of preventative air conditioning maintenance.

Homeowners can:

  • Regularly make sure the condensing unit located outside is not covered up or clogged with leaves or debris. The unit needs to breathe, to draw air into the system.
  • Change the filters regularly.
  • Do not use a hose and water to try to clean the interior of the unit. Cleaning the unit in this way can lead to serious risk of electrical shock and possible shorting of electrical components.

Professional HVAC servicing should include:

  • Balancing refrigerant levels.
  • Making sure all electrical components and controls are working properly.
  • Checking and cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils.
  • Oiling motors (if applicable).
  • Checking the thermostat for functionality.
  • Checking filters.

One last word of advice in regular air conditioning maintenance is to ensure that your ducts are properly sealed. When cooled air leaks from supply ducts, or when hot air creeps into return ducts, this can lead to wasted energy, and an overworked air conditioner. Your ducts need to be airtight for the most efficient performance from your cooling unit. Products such as the Aeroseal duct sealing process are an effective and affordable way to seal the ductwork in your home.

5. Is It Time to Replace Your Air Conditioner?

Here is a checklist from ENERGY STAR, that outlines when and why you may need to replace your A/C unit. Among the reasons listed are:

  • Your air conditioner is more than 10 years old: Older units may not be as efficient. New units can save up to 20% on cooling costs.
  • Your air conditioner needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up: Your cooling equipment may have become less efficient.
  • Your cooling system is noisy: You could have a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.
  • Your Home Energy Yardstick score is below five: Your home energy use is above average and you're probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.

6. Pay Yourself Back Fast

Upfront costs for your new heating or cooling system are offset over time by the energy savings you will see if you choose high-efficiency units. This payback period (the period of time it takes before a consumer recoups, through lower utility bills, the price of the more efficient units) can be trimmed down with government or manufacturer rebate programs.

Carrier also awards  rebates to “consumers who purchase and install a new cooling system in their home — the better the system, the bigger the rebate.”

For more information, contact us or call 518-894-COOL (2665).