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FAQ's

Air Quality
How often do my home’s air ducts need cleaning?

Is it true that air fresheners (scented candles, plug-ins, etc) are bad for you?

How can I improve my home’s air quality?

What are the signs that my air ducts have leaks or holes?

What does a dehumidifier do?

Why should I be concerned about my home’s air quality?

What are UV air cleaners?

How often should I change my air filter?

How do air ducts affect system performance?

Cooling
What should I set my thermostat fan setting to—ON or AUTO?

Do I need to cover my air conditioner in the winter?

How often should I get my home comfort system tuned up?

What is a “ton” of refrigeration?

What is an air source heat pump?

Are there any negative effects of running my ceiling fan and air conditioner at the same time?

How can I calculate the energy savings of upgrading to a new energy efficient air conditioner

My air conditioner is running, but my vents are blowing hot air—why?

How much money will I save a year if I upgrade my air conditioner to a new energy efficient model?

How can I tell if my attic is under insulated?

Why has ice formed on my central air conditioner’s outside unit?

Why should I get air conditioner maintenance in the spring?

When should I get my air conditioner tuned up?

How can I find an energy efficient air conditioner?

What is a programmable thermostat?

What is zoning?

How can zoning improve my comfort?

General
Why is it important for my home to have enough insulation?

What is zoning?

Why should I have my system regularly maintained?

How can a programmable thermostat lower my energy costs?

How can zoning improve my comfort?

When I turned on my furnace, it smelled bad. Is it Carbon Monoxide? Should I be worried?

Heating
What should I set my thermostat fan setting to—ON or AUTO?

Why does my heating equipment smell like something is burning when I turn it on?

How often should I get my home comfort system tuned up?

What is an air source heat pump?

How can I tell if my attic is under insulated?

How can I determine a furnace’s energy efficiency?

What is a geothermal heat pump?

How do heat pumps work?

What are the benefits of using a heat pump?

How can we be sure our furnace is operating safely?

How often do my home’s air ducts need cleaning?
ccording to the EPA, there are only 3 times when your ducts would ever need cleaning:
  • Ducts are infest with rodents or insects.
  • There’s substantial mold buildup on your ducts or part of your heating/cooling system
  • Ducts are clogged with dust and/or dust particles are being blown your your home’s supply vents into your home.
There’s no “clean your air ducts every # years” rule of thumb. It needs to be done on an as-needed basis.

Is it true that air fresheners (scented candles, plug-ins, etc) are bad for you?
Yes. Air fresheners, though they make your home smell nice, harm your health. Many contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that “trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma,“according to Stanley Fineman, MD, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) president-elect.

In high concentrations VOCs cause:
  • Eye and respiratory tract irritation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Memory impairment
Also, the “Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners” study by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that many common air fresheners contain chemicals called phthalates.

These chemicals aggravate asthma and allergic symptoms. Read up on other ways you may be making your home sick through poor air quality.

How can I improve my home’s air quality?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests these three air cleaning strategies:

What are the signs that my air ducts have leaks or holes?
There are a few telltale signs signs of air duct leaks/holes in your home.

Ask if you have:
  • Any rooms that are hard to heat or cool- Major leaks keep air from being properly transported to those rooms.
  • Dusty rooms after turning on your air conditioner- Leaks in air ducts will suck up dust and other contaminants  in your attic and then push them out the supply ducts.
  • Higher utility bills- Since less air is circulated around your home, your heating and cooling system has to run longer--running up your utility bill in the process.

If you have noticed all of these in your home, your air ducts most likely need to be sealed by a professional. Not doing so will cost you more money and negatively affect the health of your family.

What does a dehumidifier do?
A dehumidifier removes excess moisture in the air.

This is great for those living in the Tampa Bay area, characterized by high levels of humidity which causes the muggy, “sticky” feeling in the air

With less humidity/moisture in the air, you’ll stay comfortable at warmer temperatures, which means your air conditioner or heat pump will be working less, lowering your monthly energy bill as a result.

Why should I be concerned about my home’s air quality?
The Environmental Protection Agency has listed indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental health risks facing the American public. They estimate that the average home’s air quality is 2-5 times worse than outdoor air, with some homes air as much as 100 times worse!

Air quality has already been linked to many health problems including heart attacks, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and much more. You should be concerned about the quality of the air you breathe in because it directly affects you and your family’s quality of life.

What are UV air cleaners?
UV lights installed within your heating and cooling system are sometimes called UV germicidal lamps or UV air cleaners. These products are designed to kill mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses that can find their way into your air conditioning and heating system.

Heating and cooling air naturally creates condensation and moisture that serves as a perfect breeding ground for these contaminants. UV light kills and neutralizes harmful pollutants, creating cleaner, healthier air in your home.

How often should I change my air filter?
While how often you change (or wash, if you have a re-useable filter) your home’s air filter depends on the type of air filter you have, we recommend checking it at least once a month. If the air filter is visibly dirty – replace it.

Dirty air filters restrict airflow to your home heating and cooling system, which can result in higher energy bills, more repairs, an uncomfortable home and a shorter life for you HVAC equipment.

How do air ducts affect system performance?
The air duct system is an important component to your overall home heating and cooling system. Ducts control the distribution of air throughout your home. Poor duct performance contributes to uneven distribution of air and inconsistent levels of comfort from room to room. Air ducts that are damaged, improperly installed, the wrong size or leaking can diminish the ability your system has to perform at its best.

What should I set my thermostat fan setting to—ON or AUTO?
Typically, you want to keep it set to AUTO. That way the fan will only work when it’s being cooled or heated. Setting to ON means your system’s fan is constantly blowing air out the vents. While this helps evenly distribute air in your home, it’s much more expensive.  So keep it at AUTO most of the time.

Do I need to cover my air conditioner in the winter?
In short, no.

Recently, it seems there has been a trend to cover air conditioners in the winter when not in use. This may seem logical at first. After all, we cover boats, grills and patio furniture to keep them looking their best, why not the A/C unit, too?

But air conditioners are built to stand up to the outdoor elements. And covering them up can create problems because the covers may accumulate moisture (leading to rust or mold) and make your A/C a perfect place for critters to hide out and inhabit.

How often should I get my home comfort system tuned up?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both recommend getting your heating and air conditioning equipment tuned up twice a year, once in the spring before the summer heat arrives and once in the fall.

This will keep your equipment running safely and efficiently. Think of maintenance like getting your car tuned up before a long road trip.

What is a “ton” of refrigeration?
Your air conditioner’s ability to cool your home is measured in tons. One ton of refrigeration can cool 400 square feet of living space. So if your home is 1200 square feet, you might need a 3 ton unit. Because there are other factors affecting how much cooling a home needs, you need a professional air conditioner contractor to determine what tonnage you really need. Otherwise your air conditioner may be under or oversized, increasing your energy bills as a result.

What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump is an air conditioner that can also work in reverse to heat your home ,effectively cooling your home in the summer and heating it in the winter. It’s main appeal is that It’s also more energy efficient than a furnace in non-frigid climates like the Greater Tampa Area.

Are there any negative effects of running my ceiling fan and air conditioner at the same time?
The only negative effect is a higher energy bill ( depending on how many you run and for how long).

But if you turn on the ceiling fan, you can turn up the thermostat’s temperature setting about 4 degrees without being uncomfortable.

However, keep in mind that a ceiling fan does not actually cool your entire home. It only makes you feel cooler due to the wind-chill effect. So, if you’re not in the room where the fan is running, you’re just wasting electricity.

How can I calculate the energy savings of upgrading to a new energy efficient air conditioner
There are several factors involved to get an accurate calculation, but you can get general estimates with these tools:

NATE - Annual Energy Savings Calculator
Energy Star- Central Air Conditioning Saving Calculator (Excel file)

My air conditioner is running, but my vents are blowing hot air—why?
This can happen for a variety of reasons including:
  • A dirty air filter
  • Your air conditioner is low on Freon
  • The air conditioner’s evaporator coils are dirty
These can cause your air conditioning unit to ice up if you’ve been using it on a hot day, causing your system to start blowing hot air.

Contact an air conditioner contractor to figure out your system’s problem and have it fixed.

How much money will I save a year if I upgrade my air conditioner to a new energy efficient model?
This depends on several factors including:
  • The SEER (energy efficiency rating) of your current air conditioner
  • The SEER of the new air conditioner
  • How much your power company charges you for electricity

However, you can get an estimate on how much money you will save by using this Annual Energy Savings Calculator from NATE.

How can I tell if my attic is under insulated?
The recommended level of insulation in an attic is 10-14 inches spread evenly throughout the attic. You can eyeball this by looking at the insulation in relation to the floor joists. if the insulation is even with or below the floor joists, that means you need more insulation.

Why has ice formed on my central air conditioner’s outside unit?
It probably means one of two things:
  • You’re low on refrigerant and have a leak (call a professional contractor for help if this is the case)
  • Your air conditioner isn’t getting enough air, probably because you haven't changed your air filter in a while.

Why should I get air conditioner maintenance in the spring?
Getting air conditioner maintenance done in the spring makes sense for a few reasons:
  • Ensures that you’ll get service quickly (HVAC contractors are always busier during the summer)
  • Decreases chance of a costly breakdown during the summer
  • Lowers your high summer utility bills through increased energy efficiency

When should I get my air conditioner tuned up?
The best time to get it tuned up/serviced would be in the early spring before it gets unbearably hot. This will ensure that your air conditioner is working as efficiently as it can, saving you money on your utilities when you're using it during the summer.

How can I find an energy efficient air conditioner?
Look at an air conditioner’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. This tells you how efficiently the air conditioner converts electricity into cooling comfort for your home.

The bottom line: The higher an air conditioner’s SEER rating, the more efficient it is. The current minimum is 13 SEER or higher.

Contact a professional HVAC contractor to find out how much you can save on your energy bill with higher SEER rated air conditioners. 

What is a programmable thermostat?
A programmable thermostat is a thermostat with the ability to set different temperatures based on the day and the time.

For example, a thermostat can automatically adjust the thermostat when you leave for work at eight each day and then re-set it before you get home at five. (This process can save you money on heating and cooling bills.)

What is zoning?
Zoning makes your home more comfortable and helps you save on energy costs. Using multiple thermostats, your home is divided into independent zones. The climate of each zone is then independently controlled depending on your desired level of comfort. Common examples of zoning include separating the upstairs climate from the downstairs in a two-story home, or establishing a special zone for sleeping and living areas.

How can zoning improve my comfort?
By zoning your home, you have more control over different areas of your home without the need to regularly adjust the thermostat to reach a desired level of comfort. Rooms inside your home, which are traditionally warmer than others, are easy to control without placing extra strain on your HVAC system.

Why is it important for my home to have enough insulation?
Without insulation, heat could easily enter your home  in the summer and escape in the winter. So, without enough insulation you’ll have:
  • Higher energy bills
  • A less comfortable home
  • Heating and cooling equipment that run longer than they need to

What is zoning?
Zoning makes your home more comfortable and helps you save on energy costs. Using multiple thermostats, your home is divided into independent zones. The climate of each zone is then independently controlled depending on your desired level of comfort. Common examples of zoning include separating the upstairs climate from the downstairs in a two-story home, or establishing a special zone for sleeping and living areas.

Why should I have my system regularly maintained?
Regular maintenance is vital to the performance and lifespan of your heating or cooling system.

Benefits of regular maintenance include:

• Help system perform efficiently and cut down on high energy costs
• Prolong the life-span of the equipment Help eliminate the risk of unexpected and costly repairs
• Maintain manufacturer’s warranty
• Ensure system is running without risk to your health or safety

How can a programmable thermostat lower my energy costs?
Programmable thermostats allow you to customize your temperature settings based on your needs and lifestyle. With programmable thermostats, you can create custom schedules so your home is comfortable when you need it to be. When you’re not running your heating or cooling system excessively, the energy savings are enormous.

How can zoning improve my comfort?
By zoning your home, you have more control over different areas of your home without the need to regularly adjust the thermostat to reach a desired level of comfort. Rooms inside your home, which are traditionally warmer than others, are easy to control without placing extra strain on your HVAC system.

When I turned on my furnace, it smelled bad. Is it Carbon Monoxide? Should I be worried?
It is normal to notice an odor because dust collects on the heat exchanger over the summer, and when you turn on the furnace, it is burning that dust off. When you run the furnace for the first time, you can open your windows to air out the odor. Carbon monoxide is odorless so you have nothing to be worried about there. It is always a good idea to use a carbon monoxide detector to ensure your safety. To be certain your furnace is running clean and safe, it’s best to schedule maintenance before the heating season kicks into full gear.

What should I set my thermostat fan setting to—ON or AUTO?
Typically, you want to keep it set to AUTO. That way the fan will only work when it’s being cooled or heated. Setting to ON means your system’s fan is constantly blowing air out the vents. While this helps evenly distribute air in your home, it’s much more expensive.  So keep it at AUTO most of the time.

Why does my heating equipment smell like something is burning when I turn it on?
Don’t be alarmed. This is normal.

You don’t use your heating equipment much in Florida, so that allows dust to settle on internal parts. So when you use your heating equipment for the first time in winter, the heating equipment burns off all that dust, causing the smell.

A planned heating equipment maintenance visit from a professional involves cleaning off that dust and performing several other tune-up procedures that increase energy efficiency and save you money on your energy bills each month.

How often should I get my home comfort system tuned up?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) both recommend getting your heating and air conditioning equipment tuned up twice a year, once in the spring before the summer heat arrives and once in the fall.

This will keep your equipment running safely and efficiently. Think of maintenance like getting your car tuned up before a long road trip.

What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump is an air conditioner that can also work in reverse to heat your home ,effectively cooling your home in the summer and heating it in the winter. It’s main appeal is that It’s also more energy efficient than a furnace in non-frigid climates like the Greater Tampa Area.

How can I tell if my attic is under insulated?
The recommended level of insulation in an attic is 10-14 inches spread evenly throughout the attic. You can eyeball this by looking at the insulation in relation to the floor joists. if the insulation is even with or below the floor joists, that means you need more insulation.

How can I determine a furnace’s energy efficiency?
A furnace’s energy efficiency is measured by its AFUE rating. This stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.

This rating tells you what percent of the energy being used by the furnace is going toward heating your home.

For instance, if you have an older furnace, the AFUE rating is probably around 50% to 60%.

This means that for every dollar of fuel your furnace uses, only $.50 to $.60 of that dollar is actually going towards heating your home. The rest is lost in the fuel combustion process and sent out the flue pipe.

Federal law now states that furnace’s have an AFUE rating of 80%. So if you have a much older furnace, it could benefit you to upgrade to a newer furnace to get major energy efficiency savings.

What is a geothermal heat pump?
A geothermal heat pump works as a home heating or cooling system by pumping heat into or from the ground. Using the steady moderate temperatures found inside the earth helps to improve energy-efficiency and lowers the costs of heating or cooling your home.

How do heat pumps work?
Heat pumps are great for climates with moderate heating and cooling needs and offer energy-efficient alternatives to more traditional heating and cooling methods. Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another rather than generating heat. During the winter, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your home and in the summer months heat is transferred from inside your home, outside.

What are the benefits of using a heat pump?
Heat pumps are great because they can warm or cool your home depending on the time of year.

Benefits of using a heat pump to warm or cool your home include:

• Year-round cost savings
• Enhanced humidity and temperature control
• Provides even temperatures throughout your home
• Uses less energy to heat or cool your home
• Not dependent on fossil fuels which leads to price fluctuations

How can we be sure our furnace is operating safely?
The best thing to do is schedule maintenance before the heating season is in full swing. But, if you’re not ready for that, there are a few steps you can take:

• Before you do anything, inspect your unit to make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer.
• Be sure to run your heater before you need it to eliminate the chance it won’t work on the first cold night you turn it on.
• Dirty air filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency – sometimes even damaging your unit. Change the filters regularly.
• Check all access panels to be sure they are secure, with screws in place.

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