Having been in the industry for a while and gaining a lot of experience, our family at Starnes Heating and Air put together a list of questions we hear more often than most. We hope you can find some of your answers here and simplify the process of getting a heating repair or making it easier to know if a maintenance plan is right for you.
No, but your heating and air should be lowered or raised, respectively, during the day while you are gone. This saves on utility costs but still allows the temperature to return to a comfortable level quickly when you get home. Running your HVAC units also keeps air moving through your house and filters, keeping the air clean and the temperature even throughout your home.
By performing a simple inspection on your filters every month or so, you can tell when a cleaning or replacement is necessary. If it seems to be preventing the flow at all, it can be cleaned carefully with a vacuum or replaced if torn or overused. We have seen that a dirty filter can increase costs of heating or cooling your house by 20% because the compressor turns off less frequently.
We recommend using a humidifier for the month or two of winter that has the coldest weather when your furnace is running. The cold weather sucks the moisture out of the air, leading to sore throats and stuffy noses. These can be seasonal illnesses or caused by dry air in the home, so it is good to try to humidify the air when it is dry. During the summer, when the humidity is already high, it is not recommended to run a humidifier inside as it can foster mold and mildew growth.
No matter what your energy costs are monthly, they can always be reduced by mindful use of your air conditioner or furnace throughout the year. Be sure to set the temperature a few degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter when you are leaving for the day. Also, wearing thinner clothes inside during summer and a jacket inside during winter can significantly reduce the costs to run HVAC units by changing the thermostat a few degrees. Keeping your filters cleaned regularly is another easy way to keep your heat pump from running constantly.
These are terms used to describe the certification for efficiency of a certain type of HVAC unit. The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, rating is a ratio of how much cooling power a unit has compared to how much energy it uses, and higher is better. The HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, rating shows how well the heat pump can heat per energy usage amount so higher is better here again. Finally, the AFUE is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which is a rating for how well your furnace or even water heater performs. The higher the number, the better, as it measures thermal efficiency.
The Summer season brings high humidity and stuffy air... and an increased chance of mold. This is due to the heat evaporating more water into the air. To add on to this, when air conditioners compress air they increase the humidity, further increasing it indoors. A new air conditioner would have a dehumidifier built in to control this buildup, but some homes need an independent dehumidifier to control the humidity on the worst days during the year. Contact Starnes to have your home diagnosed to see if humidity is an issue affecting your comfort.
IAQ stands for Indoor Air Quality and is an important factor to consider for our health. Homes work as pockets for toxins to build up inside of, especially newer houses that are insulated well beyond older standards. Once the toxin gets in, it isn't going anywhere without a ventilation system constantly working. Controlling pollutants at the source, never allowing them inside, and having an efficient ventilation system to remove the ones that do are key to maintaining proper health. Poor air quality leads to respiratory irritation and some more serious concerns from Carbon Monoxide gas.