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Energy Savings

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Ask Dirk Q&A: Common Questions Homeowners Ask

Over the past 30 plus years, we’ve been asked countless questions from customers throughout western Nevada. Many of them have been asked enough times that I felt it important to share.

Does a bigger HVAC system provide better performance?

In short, the answer is no. The size of your HVAC system depends entirely on the total square footage of your home. A system that is too small will run nonstop trying to reach and maintain your desired temperature, whereas a system that is too large will heat and cool your home in frequent, short cycles.  Either way, you may end up with a higher energy bill due to an inadequately sized system for your home.

 

How can I reduce my energy costs?

                    • Consider using a programmable thermostat to control temperatures throughout the day. Or if you’re leaving for more than a couple hours and able to remember, set your thermostat 10-15 degrees lower in the winter and 5-8 degrees higher in the summer. Energy Star estimates that users who do this can save 5-15 percent on their energy bill.
                    • Get your system serviced twice a year, once at the start of air conditioning season and once at the beginning of heat season.
                    • Make sure your vents are not closed, covered, or blocked by furniture.
                    • And last but not least, change your filters regularly.

How often should my filters be changed?

Your filters should be changed twice per year at least, during your summer and winter maintenance services. Even better—change them quarterly. Best—during high use periods, change them monthly.

 

 

 

conditioner 

How long will my HVAC system last?

The length your system lasts is reliant upon how well the unit is maintained. You can expect your HVAC system to roughly last between 15-25 years—IF—the recommended service and maintenance is performed throughout the last of the system. Certain elements of your total system may have different lifespans.

                    • A/C Units: 10-15 years
                    • Gas Heater: 15-30 years
                    • Heat Pumps: 10-15 years

 

If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you. Please send it to me at dirk@roperhvac.com and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-08-02T17:07:13-07:00July 15th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Ask Dirk: What happens during my HVAC maintenance service?

Roper's Heating and Air Conditioning ServicesYour HVAC system is a mechanical system with lots of moving parts. Without regular maintenance and care, its performance will start to decline and eventually the entire system will just plain fail. A heating and cooling system replacement costs thousands of dollars, so regular maintenance can extend its lifespan and protect your wallet.

What does the technician do?

Inspect and Change Your Filters

We’ve talked about how important clean filters are regularly in this column, and we’ll probably keep talking about it – it’s that important. In our dusty climate, filters need frequent changing because they trap all kinds of dust, debris, germs. Dirty filters can cause inefficient heating or cooling, and poor indoor air quality.

Visual Inspection of the Entire System

A thorough visual inspection can identify problems before they happen, and it’s a good idea to get it done before peak cooling or heating season begins. Addressing minor problems found during regular maintenance service can greatly reduce potential emergencies.

Clean and Remove Debris

While filters help with dust and debris, particulates also collect on blowers, moving parts, condensing units, and other system components, interfering with smooth operations and potentially causing corrosive damage to internal systems.

Check the Condensate Drain

A clogged condensate drain in your air conditioner and heat pump can obstruct water flow, causing moisture to accumulate in the system. This can potentially lead to mold, water damage, uneven temperature regulation, bacteria, and compromised air quality.

Check the Electrical Connections and Voltage

HVAC connections and systems can come loose or break over time. Frayed and damaged wires should be replaced to minimize the risk of fire and component failure.

Inspect Exhaust Outlets

Gases like carbon monoxide escape through exhaust outlets. Clogs can lead to dangerous build-up, and possibly compromise your safety. Your technician will check for signs of corrosion, leaks, and backdraft in the system, chimney flue and vent stack.

Check Fuel Lines and Connections

Leaking gas and fuel lines in your system can be a fire hazard, and disconnected fuel lines, accumulated soot in the burners and cracked heat exchangers can impact on the system’s efficiency.

Check the Refrigerant Levels

If your air conditioner doesn’t have enough refrigerant in it to cool the air efficiently the compressor will have to work harder to achieve the desired level of temperature, which can damage the system. Losing refrigerant often means leaks, which need to be detected and repaired.

A final note

Regularly servicing your HVAC system is beneficial in many ways, with improved reliability, lower energy bills, longer equipment life, and a safer, healthier environment. Additionally, a thorough examination by a trained technician will help to ensure the whole system is healthy, and if it’s not, your technician will advise you of any needed repairs.

With summer rapidly approaching, it may be a good idea to get your system serviced early to make sure you’re covered before it gets too hot, so you have ample time to enjoy your air conditioner.

# # #

Have a question for Dirk? Send it to dirk@roperHVAC.com and he’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

About Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning: For more than 30 years Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning has been providing essential indoor climate management services to the citizens of western Nevada. Roper’s is a family-owned, community-oriented business that specializes in the restoration and preservation of Total Home Comfort. Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning is located at 2062 S. Edmonds Drive in Carson City. For more information, visit https://roperhvac.com/.

2019-07-23T10:55:44-07:00June 16th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: Is my thermostat costing me money?

According to EnergyStar.gov, nearly half of your home’s energy usage is for heating and cooling. How can you be both comfortable and energy efficient?

Aside from changing your filters regularly to keep dirt and dust from building up in your system, which can cause early failure or expensive repairs. here are easy some things you can do right now to improve your energy use:

 

Stop trying to heat or cool your home quickly

Most homes in our area have single-stage systems, which means it only works at one speed. Cranking up the heat will not heat the home any faster. Setting the temperature higher than what you want will make your furnace run longer and is likely to cause you to overshoot your desired temperature. The same idea applies to cooling, but in reverse, of course.

Don’t “set it and forget it”

Thermostat temperature settings should be changed any time you’re leaving the house for more than a couple of hours. Why heat or cool the place if you’re not there? If you’re leaving for more than a couple of hours, you can save energy by resetting your temperature.

Try this – when you’re going to be gone for more than a couple of hours, set your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower in the winter and 5 to 8 degrees higher in the summer. Energy Star calculates savings of 5 to 15 percent on your energy bills if you can do this.

If remembering to change the thermostat every time you leave sounds daunting, try a programmable thermostat, which can be set to accommodate your daily absences and desired sleeping temperatures.

Or, if you’re not really sure when you’ll be back, a WiFi thermostat will allow you to set your thermostat using your phone or tablet from pretty much anywhere when you’re ready to head home.

Then again, don’t mess with it

This is one of those times when micromanaging can backfire. Programmable thermostats are efficient when they’re allowed to run according to the schedule you gave it. If you decide you’re too warm or too cold and fiddle with the temperature, the system will turn on and shut off more frequently, which makes it run inefficiently.

Programmable thermostats come in many abilities and new technologies. Research the one that seems right for you, and talk with your service technician about which thermostats will work well with your system.

And, as we’ve discussed before, give your system an annual check-up

It may still be snowing now, but spring and summer are right around the corner, which is a peak season for HVAC contractors. Spring is a great time to do a pre-season check on your equipment that put in some overtime this winter.

Your service technician will clean your system, and tighten electrical connections, lubricate moving parts if any require it, check system controls, drainage, ensure your gas lines are safely connected and check your thermostat settings for you.

— Dirk

If you have a question for Dirk, send an email to dirk@roperhvac.com and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-03-26T11:52:23-07:00March 21st, 2019|

Ask Dirk: Will running my ceiling fan in the winter save money?

Ceiling fanYou may use ceiling fans to help cool your house during the summer, but did you know you can use them in the winter to help boost your home heating system as well?

Heat rises

A ceiling fan normally cools the home by pushing air down directly under the fan. When the blades push air down, they create a wind-chill effect and can facilitate evaporation, further aiding in cooling. This does not actually lower the temperature of your home. It just makes you feel cooler.

Because hot air rises, a lot of the energy your central heating system uses warms the top of the room, near the ceiling. Check to see if there is a switch on the fan motor casing. If there is, flip it and see if the air is pulling up or down. Reversing the direction of the fan’s rotation to pull cooler room air upward will push warm air near the ceiling downward.

If your home leaks…

As we’ve discussed in other columns, your home most likely leaks air. Homes with high or leaky ceilings will be harder to heat. If you have air leaking into your attic, the negative pressure inside your home compensates by pulling in cold air near the floor.

In the clockwise direction, ceiling fan blades draw the cold air in from around the room and push it upward, which then pushes the warm air hovering near the ceiling down into the room.

Does this save me money?

Ceiling fans, especially if they are Energy Star-rated, cost maybe a few cents per hour to run and may allow you to lower your thermostat a few degrees. This will cause your furnace to run less often which may lower your energy bills with no significant reduction in comfort.

To ensure optimal savings and comfort, it’s important to choose an energy-efficient fan. Choose an Energy Star-rated ceiling fan, which are up to 40 percent more efficient than standard fans, and which use better motors and innovative blade designs to lower the fan’s energy consumption .

 But wait, there’s more

Another fun benefit of running your ceiling fan in the winter is the potential for improved airflow and air quality. Your ceiling fan supplements the air circulation by your HVAC and will definitely help to circulate stale air which, during heating season, sits near the ceiling.

It’s not the fan, it’s you

It’s important to remember that ceiling fans make people warmer or cooler, not rooms. While they may only cost pennies per hour to run, you’ll want to turn your fan off when you leave the room. Because they only distribute air more evenly and don’t actually heat it, running a fan in an empty room is a waste of electricity. The room with the thermostat is the exception — leave the fan in there turned on so that the thermostat has an accurate reading of the room’s temperature and doesn’t use extra energy trying to heat the room further.

One last thing

If you have an open stairway in your home, installing a ceiling fan at the top of your stairs helps redistribute the heat that rises to the second floor back down to the first floor. Keep this fan running while anyone is in the rooms near the first-floor landing. If the thermostat is near it, run the stairway fan whenever the central heating is on, so the thermostat gets a more accurate reading and the heating system doesn’t work harder to heat the whole house.

2019-02-08T17:19:21-08:00February 8th, 2019|

Ask Dirk: What Should I Do Before Calling for Service?

You’ve turned on the heat and nothing happens. No click. No warm air flowing through your vents. And it’s cold inside. Should you immediately call for service?

Roper's Heating and Air Conditioning ServicesWhile some situations require a call to the technician to set up a service appointment, not all do. There are some simple steps you can take to troubleshoot possible problems to save yourself time and money before calling for service.

Check the thermostat

You’d be amazed how often settings on the thermostat cause issues that result in a technician visit. Take a moment and check your settings before calling. It could be that someone messed with the settings or something wasn’t set correctly.

Newer HVAC control panels can be complicated. If you’re having problems with your thermostat control pad or don’t understand it, ask your technician to walk you through it again during their next visit.

Check Batteries if Applicable
If your thermostat uses batteries and you find it isn’t lighting up, dead batteries could be to blame. Replacing these batteries yourself is simple and doesn’t require a visit from a technician.

Check Circuit Breakers
If the batteries are OK but your system still isn’t working, check the circuit breakers or fuse box. Make sure fuses to your system haven’t burned out or make sure your circuit breakers haven’t been tripped. Sometimes a jolt of electrical energy can trip a breaker, so it’s worthwhile to investigate the circuit breaker or fuse box before calling for help.

While your furnace most likely uses gas (or heating oil) to provide heat, it requires electricity to run. So, if your power is out, your furnace will not operate.

Check filters
Your filters should be changed every couple of months. This is especially true during months of heavy use, like cold winters. If your furnace unit doesn’t seem to be blowing sufficient air through vents, or if it’s cycling on and off without warming your home to the desired temperature, it could be the result of a dirty filter. Regularly changing filters will help your system last longer and operate more efficiently.

Check Indoor and Outdoor Switches
Most units have a way to disconnect the power. In our area, the furnace (or air handler) is usually plugged into a normal-looking household outlet, while the outdoor unit typically has a disconnect mounted on a wall near the unit. Occasionally a child or pet will accidentally hit one of these switches, so if that’s a concern, check these switches before calling for service.

If you’ve completed all these steps and still don’t have heat, it is time to call for technician service. Mention to your technician that you have completed this checklist and they will take it from there.

— Dirk

Have a question for Dirk? Send it to dirk@roperHVAC.com and he’ll try to answer it in an upcoming column.

2019-01-14T10:09:34-08:00January 14th, 2019|