Q: What is SEER and AFUE Ratings?
A: SEER is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It's basically a benchmark that tells you how efficient a piece of equipment may be. Mostly you would use this rating when comparing different brands of equipment, to ensure that you're comparing similar products. A SEER is an indicator of how much electricity you can expect the unit to use - the higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit, and the less power it consumes while cooling your house. Of course, the higher SEER units also generally cost more.
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and is a rating applied to gas furnaces. It is similar to a SEER for air conditioners in that it basically tells you how much gas the furnace will burn to heat your home. As with SEER, a higher AFUE rating means less gas consumption (and lower energy bills). Easiest way to understand the AFUE rating is simply this. If your furnace is 95% efficient then for every dollar spent to heat the home you get 95 cents worth of real heating.
Q: Should I have my fan setting on thermostat set to "Auto" or "ON"?
A: Preferably auto. That way, the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used and the most efficient setting. However, there are major advantages to using the "on" setting. Air is constantly filtered through the unit's air filter, and the constantly circulating air results in an even temperature throughout the house. When filtered correctly and continuously, increases IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) as well.
Q: Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?
A: You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning or heating system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today's systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.
Q: What is involved in replacing an old system?
A: Aside from the placement of the new equipment, we will inspect several items and determine whether they need to be supplied or replaced. Some of the items include: ductwork, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat, condensate piping, flue piping, flue terminations, chimney liner, slabs, filter, driers, registers, grills, drain pans and evaporator coil.
Q: How long can I expect a new system to last?
A: If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service suggested for your unit, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years (sea coast applications may be less) and a gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.
Q: Should I be concerned about Indoor Air Quality?
A: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), your exposure to air pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. Indoor air quality products handle pollutants, humidity and other issues to improve your health.
Q: I am thinking about getting a Tankless water heater installed, What should I know?
A: This write up came from another contractor friend of mine and sums it up well.
Things to consider before going tankless:
1. Almost all tankless water heaters require 120 volts in which to operate (like many storage tank types of hot water heaters) but tankless do not have any or very little storage capability, so if your power goes out then you have no hot water at all.
2. It will generally take longer to get hot water to your tap. In my own home the tankless water heater takes approximately a minute for the hot temperature water to reach the shower approximately 15 feet away from my tankless water heater, where as with my old storage tank type of water heater it took about 30 seconds.
3. If the water temperature on the tankless is set to the maximum for residences in Ontario at 120 degrees F, then it will take longer to fill your bathtub, laundry tub, kitchen sink or other hot water usage because you will have the hot water tap completely open and just a small amount of cold water to ensure satisfactory water temperature.
4. I cannot prove or disprove the energy savings of a tankless water heater. Any heated hot water you have sitting in a current storage type of water heater probably cycles 2 or 3 times in 24 hours to maintain the 130 to 140 degree F temperature of water in the tank (what I found in my own home), probably running for a total of an hour longer over a 24 hour period. My tankless water heater requires 160,000 Btu/hr whereas my old storage tank required 36,000 Btu/hr. I am sure that the tankless provides some saving of money on your gas bill, but I don’t know that the additional install costs, rental costs, and repair bills on the tankless water heater would provide a cost saving over the long term.
5. If you use two or more appliances requiring hot water at the same time you may find that your tankless cannot keep up with demand (this is dependent on the capacity of the tankless water heater) and should be considered before installation takes place
6. Tankless water heaters are setup more like furnaces, they are more prone to breakdowns and require yearly servicing and flushing.
7. Tankless water heaters require much less space to perform the same work as a tank style water heater. If you own a cottage or other seasonal building tankless are very easy to empty after your season.
8. You will never run out of hot water as tankless technology will continue heating all of the water required for the entire length of the hot water demand not matter how long. This could be good or bad. People who have long showers will no longer have to cut shower time due to lack of hot water, and thus can stay in the shower indefinitely.