Your furnace and air conditioner are at the heart of your comfort in your home. If you do not know, you should check to see the current tonage, SEER and HSPF rating of your units. The government standards have risen over the past few years and you may be living with a low efficiency unit.
The SEER rating (which stands for Season Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the most common measure of efficiency of your air conditioning unit and the most important number for you to know. A rating of 16 and above is very efficient. The EER stands for the Energy Efficiency Ratio. This measures how well your cooling systems operates when the temperature outside is specifically 95 degrees. The HSPF, or Heat Seasonal Performance factor, measures the efficiency of heat pumps.
Modern efficient units may possibly pay for themselves in energy savings – especially when you factor in tax credits which are in vogue right now. New units may also include dehumidifier capabilities which gives you a further reason to upgrade.
Perfect indoor air is healthier for you and your family. It can also go a long way towards alleviating allergy and asthma symptoms.
To maintain your current system you will want to do some simple maintenance checks.
First, change your filters every month. Clogged filters make your unit work harder and will wear it out faster.
Next, clean around the outside unit. Keep it free from grass and debris which can clog the delicate aluminum fins which surround your compressor. Spray the unit down with a hose if mud has caked on it.
Thirdly, check the drainage pipes and especially any water pans in the attic. If the pipes are obstructed you will suffer water damage to your home. It is easy to make sure they are clear.
It is a good idea to have a service contract because there are things that you typically can not do or check. Only a qualified service technician will be able to detect minute cracks in your heat exchanger which can leak deadly, dangerous Carbon Monoxide into your home. He can also check freon levels and lubricate moving parts. He can check for clogged chimneys, gas pressure which are off, incorrect vent piping, and dirty, clogged burners.
If allergies are a particular concern, consider having your ductwork professionally cleaned. Your filter will always allow some dust through and mold may be growing and affecting your family’s health.
Have a digital thermostat installed or do it yourself. They are pretty easy to install and their accuracy will help with the efficiency of your system.
If you have a system failure, by learning some of the basics, you will make a much wiser choice in replacement.
Techs come and go in this business often. If you need a new system you do not want to be dealing with a newbie who is used to just “replacin fan motors.” You also do not want one who works on straight commission as a sales person. Deal with the owner of the company or someone who has been in the business for 20 years. Every town has contractors with this level of experience.
A trick to save money is to get a “scratch and dent” unit. These are often mechanically sound and still come with a full warranty. They are no more likely to fail than a perfect unit.
Make sure you get a detailed quote with covers the unit and all the accessories. Finally, check – really check – the references of the people who will do the work. It will make all the difference.
It is simply smart for you to be more familiar with your heating and cooling systems. These simple checks will save you money, headaches and bad surprises.