Q: What should be a high priority when purchasing Heating and Cooling system?
A: The quality of installation. Replacing a heating and cooling system is a big investment. Although there are a lot of good manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment, the equipment is only as good as the installation. For example, air conditioners and heat pumps should be charged per the manufacturer specifications. This procedure is known as the Superheat or Sub-cooling method. The contractor you choose should know these procedures, if they don’t, your installation will not be done correctly.
Q: When should I start considering replacing my Heat Pump or Air Conditioner?
A: The Department of Energy recommends considering replacing heat pump and air conditioning systems that are more than 10 years old or that are not keeping you comfortable.
Q: When should I start considering replacing my Furnace?
A: The Department of Energy recommends considering replacing furnaces that are15 years or older or that are not keeping you comfortable.
Q: Can I really save money by installing new equipment?
A: According to the Department of Energy, installing ENERGY STAR certified systems can save you money on your monthly utility bills. Installed correctly, a high efficiency heat pump or air conditioner can save you up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. An ENERGY STAR certified furnace can save you up to 15 percent in operating costs, if installed correctly.
Q: What is a Hybrid Heat dual fuel system?
A: Pairing a heat pump outside with a gas furnace inside is called a “Hybrid” dual fuel system. This allows automatic switching between the between the appliances, to provide the most energy-efficient operation. As the temperature drops outside, the system automatically switches from heat pump operation to furnace operation when it becomes the more economical way to keep your family comfortable.
Q: Should I purchase a new Air Conditioner or Heat Pump with R-22 (Freon) Refrigerant?
A: No. An air conditioner purchased today with R-22 (Freon) refrigerant will be obsolete as early as 2010. The Clean Air Act of 1990 prohibits the production of hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) based air conditioners and heat pumps by year 2010. Freon is an HCFC. We recommend purchasing an air conditioner with R410A refrigerant, the environmentally friendly refrigerant. The R-410A refrigerant has been on the market since 1996.
Q: What refrigerant should I look for when purchasing an Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?
A: When purchasing a new air conditioner or heat pump, choosing an air conditioner or heat pump that operates with the non-HCFC refrigerant R-410A is the best choice. This refrigerant is environmentally friendly, as it has no chlorine. As of 2010, all residential air conditioners will be required to operate on non-HCFC refrigerants.
Q: Why install Ultraviolet Lights (UV Lights)?
A: Ultraviolet lights reduce the amount of pollutants, such as mold, bacteria, fungi and viruses that can breed inside the heating and cooling system. The UV Lights are mounted inside the duct work near the indoor coil. They emit intense UV-C light to sterilize the coil surface and surrounding area which maximizes the system’s efficiency. As a result of installing UV Lights, your home will have cleaner and fresher air.
Q: Why should I install a Humidifier?
A: There are many reasons to install a humidifier. One is to keep you from getting sick. Have you ever noticed that we tend to get sicker in the winter than in the summer? This is not because it is cold outside (actually there are fewer viruses in the winter than in the summer). This is a result of your body’s membranes drying and cracking which allows a direct channel for viruses to enter the blood stream. Other reasons are to reduce dry itchy skin, static electricity and to protect wood, furnishings and musical instruments in your home. Also, by adding a humidifier, it allows you to remain comfortable at lower temperatures, which lowers your utility costs.
Q: How often should I change my filter?
A: This is a very good question. The type of filtration system you have determines how often you should clean or change your filter. If you use entry level throw-away filters, then you would want to change the filter monthly. If you have an upgraded 6” wide (media) filter, you could go as long as 6 months before a replacement is needed. If you have an electronic air cleaner or electrostatic filter, you should consider cleaning the cells on a monthly basis. If you have a Carrier Infinity Air Purifier (this is a maintenance free air purifier that not only captures, it kills airborne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and mold) you may be able to go as long as a year before the filter needs to be replaced.
Q: How often should I have my Heating and Cooling system checked out?
A: Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, preventative maintenance of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment recommend performing preventative maintenance in the spring and in the fall. Actually, some manufacturers require maintenance to honor warranties. Comfort Solutions offers three types of preventative maintenance contracts. Call our office at 703-COMFORT for more details.
Q: How do I know if my Contractor is licensed?
A: The license of a contractor can be verified at the Virginia Department of Professional Occupational Regulation (DPOR) website. The website is www.dpor.virginia.gov. Comfort Solutions is a Class A licensed contractor, which is the highest license the State offers.
Q: Does the refrigerant piping need to be changed if I install a new Air Conditioner?
A: All air conditioning equipment has product data documentation provided by the manufacturer indicating the approved refrigerant pipe sizes for the air conditioner you purchased. If the piping you currently have is a different size than the manufacturer’s standard, the piping will need to be changed. If the piping is the proper size, it can be reused.
Q: One company is offering me an Air Conditioner that they say is 15.5 SEER and another company is offering the same Air Conditioner (same model #) and telling me it is 19 SEER….Who do I believe?
A: This is a common question we hear. If you look at the brochure for the proposed air conditioner, it probably states that the air conditioner can operate up to 19 SEER. Each split system cooling unit has a nominal SEER rating. The SEER rating of a system is derived based on the combination of equipment installed. The outdoor equipment (heat pump or air conditioner), as well as the indoor equipment (evaporator coil and furnace, or air handler), play a vital role in the rating. Ask your contractor to show you the data that shows what SEER you will actually achieve for your application.
Q: What energy efficiency do I look for when purchasing an Air Conditioner?
A: All air conditioners have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more efficient and lower the operating cost.
Q: What is the lowest SEER rating available for an Air Conditioner or Heat Pump?
A: Recently the SEER rating was increased by the Department of Energy from 10 to 13 for residential air conditioners. If a company offers you an air conditioner that is lower than 13 SEER…BEWARE.
Q: What is HSPF?
A: HSPF is Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. This is similar to the SEER rating, except it measures the efficiency of the heating portion of the heat pump. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the unit.
Q: Can I reuse my old thermostat when installing new Heating and Cooling system?
A: You can, but it is not suggested. The thermostat is the brain of the system and controls the operation. A new digital thermostat is included with all of our complete installations.
Q: How long will it take to install my new Heating and Cooling system?
A: Typical installs for a complete heating and cooling system takes approximately 8-10 hours. Typical installs for a furnace only or air conditioner only takes approximately 4-5 hours.