Advice From the Pros

HVAC Contractor

Tips for Hiring the Right HVAC Contractor

hvac contractor

Sooner or later we are all faced with replacing our air conditioner or furnace. As much as don’t want to believe it, our AC and heating systems are not built to last a lifetime. This is a big decision that will affect your comfort for years to come. You want to make sure the AC company you are hiring is fair priced, competent, and can follow-up with any HVAC needs you may need down the road. When you are hot or cold, price and time are of the essence, but doing your research and making sure you have the best HVAC contractor for the job is paramount.

Ask your friends and family for recommendations.

First of all, you will be surprised how many people close to you have an AC company that they highly recommend. Unfortunately, some may have nightmare stories of companies that you should avoid. After you talk to your friends and family, look up those companies to get a feel for who they are

Check online reviews. 

Online reviews are another great resource. They don’t tell the whole story, but from a broad perspective you can get a good look at the way they treat their customers. Visit sites like Facebook, Google Reviews, and Nextdoor to read up on what their customers have said about them and, consequently, what they have done to solve any problems that have popped up.

Ask Questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! A good AC contractor will be happy answer anything you need to know. Some good questions are: How long have you been in business? What brand of equipment do you sell and what are your warranties? How long will the install take? Did you see anything else in the attic that I should be concerned about?

Get your estimate in writing.

Sometimes it is an honest mistake, but getting everything writing helps eliminate mistakes later. 

Make sure your AC contractor is licensed and insured.

You want to make sure the AC company you are about to hire knows what they are doing, therefore, has the proper insurance to cover you if something does go wrong. 

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heating system

What Type of Heating System Do You Have?

What type of heating system do I have?

The heat of Texas Summer is over – mostly!! Fall weather is late but it is upon us again and Winter is just around the corner.  Many homeowners call us with heating issues and aren’t sure what kind of heating system they have. Below are the common types of heating systems in Texas that you will find in your home and how to identify them.

Gas Furnace:

Gas furnaces run of of natural gas piped into you home. A gas furnace is the most common, and in our opinion, the best form of heating equipment in the DFW area. Gas furnaces are less expensive to run because natural gas has been historically cheaper to buy than electricity.  Natural gas futures also show that it will be an affordable fuel supply for many years to come. Another option in some areas is to retrofit a natural gas furnace to burn propane gas. Unfortunately, if your home doesn’t have gas service, then this heating option is not available to you. To see if you have a gas furnace, go into the attic or closet where your indoor AC / Heat unit is located. A gas furnace will have two visible components:

  1. A thick metal flue vent that is 4″ or more in diameter
  2. A rigid, 1/2″ gas line running into the heating unit.

Electric Heat:

Electric heater systems are coils that are installed inside of air handlers that run off of electricity only. This heating method can be expensive to operate if you have a high heating demand. An electric heating unit can be identified a couple of ways:

  1. Look at your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “heat”, an electric heating system will have one large breaker (100amp) or two medium sized breakers (30 amp or 60amp).
  2. Look at your indoor heating / AC unit – the absence of the 4″ flue vent or rigid gas line described for the gas furnace is another clue that you have an electric heater.

If you have electric heat don’t feel like you are destined to pay heating bills forever. Fortunately, you can pair electric heat with a Heat Pump unit that we will talk about next to keep the winter bills down.

Heat Pump:

The concept of a heat pump is something that can confuse customers if they haven’t worked with one before. Here is why: A heat pump creates heat by running your air conditioner in the winter time. How is that possible? A heat pump has the ability to reverse the cycle of refrigerant so that it makes hot air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Heat pumps run off of electricity also, but have the advantage of using less energy than most electric heat systems.

Heat pumps are designed for moderate climates like DFW, so they have trouble keeping up when the temperature dips below freezing. Because of this, heat pumps are usually paired with “emergency” heat systems to keep you warm in the extreme cold. Since heat pumps look like regular air conditioners, they are difficult to identify by the untrained eye. One way to check is to look at your thermostat. Go through the COOL/HEAT/OFF settings. If you come across a setting that says EM HEAT or AUX HEAT, odds are that you have heat pump.

So if you aren’t sure what is heating your home, take the information you learned today and go take a look to see what you have. Keep in mind that heating equipment is dangerous and easily burn or electrocute anyone who isn’t trained and being cautious. Always rely on an expert for your heating maintenance and repair needs.

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Nest thermostat

What Can Your Thermostat Do For You?

Nest thermostat

Does your thermostat have a little stick that you slide to the temperature you want or does your thermostat lack programming features? If so, then you are missing out on the many benefits that new thermostats have to offer. You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.

Thermostats today have a myriad of options ranging from simple to complex. All can increase your comfort while saving you money and some can become the base for all of your home automation needs.

 

Energy Savings

Energy savings from being able to tailor your use of your air conditioner – Try turning down the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees at night, and then turn it up again in the morning when the coffee is brewing. This kind of adjustment can save 5 to 10 percent of your heating bill.

The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much. Use the programmable thermostat calculator to see what you can save with set-back temperatures that work for your family.

Energystar.gov has these guidelines

Programmable Thermostat Setpoint Times & Temperatures

Setting

Time

Setpoint Temperature (Heat)

Setpoint Temperature (Cool)

Wake

6:00 a.m.

≤ 70° F

≥ 78° F

Day

8:00 a.m.

Setback at least 8° F

Setup at least 7° F

Evening

6:00 p.m.

≤ 70° F

≥ 78° F

Sleep

10:00 p.m.

Setback at least 8° F

Setup at least 4° F

Efficient Operation Tips

Our summers get hot and we’re all thankful the temperatures are going down, even if it was still 86 degrees on the evening of Halloween. Setting your thermostat as close to the outside temperature as possible is using it efficiently. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

One of the most useful benefits or programmable thermostats is being able to set a higher temperature when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. With the new advances of the Internet of Thing devices, you can even “call” ahead to your home and cool it down on your way back.

You may want to drop that temperature quickly, but setting it on its lowest setting will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense. Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner.

Comfort, Convenience and Style 

Setting a temperature schedule can ensure that your home is cooled or heated to your liking at all hours of the day, refer to the chart above for a guideline for scheduling.

Wifi thermostats allow you to change the thermostat setting via your phone from anywhere in the world. Thermostats today are designed to be appealing to the eye not be an eyesore. Many models have options to change the color to match your preference.

We also strongly agree with the last tip from energystar.gov –

  • Have your thermostat properly installed – Here’s what you need to know about proper and safe installation of your programmable thermostat, as well as when you should call a certified HVAC contractor to handle the installation for you.

– Call us today to discuss your thermostat options!

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