Tag Archives: furnace

Fall Reminder: Get Your Furnace Checked Now for Efficiency and to Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Our blog today is to remind our readers that fall is an ideal time of year to get your home or office furnace checked for safety and efficiency.  If you are on an annual preventative maintenance program with a local HVAC company, this should happen as one of your two annual system checkups. There is normally one visit in the spring for A/C and a second one in the fall before you need to start using your home heating for the season.

If the heat/fuel source for your heating system involves combustion, such as natural gas, the safety check for carbon monoxide is especially important.  The reason is simple: if the heat exchanger or other part(s) of the unit is not working as it should, toxic carbon monoxide (CO) gas can be accidentally introduced into your indoor environment.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and dangerous gas. You can read more about it on our website here

Don’t Skimp When Safety is Involved

We have heard lately that, due to the strain on household budgets, some homeowners are delaying not only the buying of new equipment, but even maintenance! Some are only requesting HVAC service when their heating or cooling stops working.  Bluntly put, carbon monoxide can be a serious threat, and it is not something to put off. Further, it should only be done only by a professional who is licensed, trained, and experienced in work with combustion heating systems.

If you have not had your home heating system checked yet this year, we urge you to do it today.

Maintenance will help prevent carbon monoxide from being produced.  You can also ask about a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if something changes and carbon monoxide does get produced.  In addition to being safer, maintenance saves money on your monthly bill. Don’t wait! After you take care of this, please send us your experiences to us, so others can benefit from what you learned.

Helpful Steps for Choosing a New Furnace or to Replace Your Central Heating System

What types of fuels or sources of heat are available to your home or building
Before spending too much time researching heating systems, you must determine which fuels or external heat sources are available to your home or building. This will provide the initial list of choices you have.  For example, if gas is not readily available, gas/electric dual fuel heat pumps are off the list.  Further, if surrounded by solid rock close to the earth’s surface, then you are much less likely to consider geothermal heating.

Your climate: number of days with high temperatures below freezing
If your location has many days of sub-freezing high temperatures, this will likely cause an all electric heat pump to be in auxiliary heat mode more than you would want. If the source of that auxiliary heat is strip heating (electricity) there may be better alternatives.

Type of construction of your home or building: basement, attic space and existing heating infrastructure
If your home or building has existing piping or ductwork already in a floor, basement or attic and it is in good condition, you will need to factor this in your decision.

We recently were told an account of a homeowner in Montana who had piping for radiant heating in their concrete slab.  The piping sprung a leak and, assuming it was all bad, the owner got bids to bypass the old piping and a new system.  A quick excavation revealed a nick in the old piping system that dated back to its installation, not degradation.  So, uncovering the cause saved an unnecessary expense.

If you are considering the re-use of existing ductwork, be sure that your price quotes or bids address the condition of the existing ducts.  Include interior condition as well as sealing against air leaks.

Forced air systems vs. radiant heat: personal comfort and preferences
Do you prefer warm or hot air blowing into your rooms from  a forced air system or gradual warming through radiant heat?  Within the blowing warm air category, if there is an all electric heat pump involved, the air that comes out of the vents into your rooms will not likely be as warm as the air from a gas furnace. If you are cold natured or have respiratory issues or allergies, these factors could also affect your decision.

Length of time you plan to own your home or building, if known
If you know you will be there many years, this could affect the type of system you select. Reason: a future owner might not place the same value on your type of new system as you do.  With fuel costs mostly going up,  a higher efficiency system is still recommended, though.

Training, experience and integrity of installation companies you are considering
As written elsewhere on our website, the quality of the installation of your furnace or heating system will likely prove to be a bigger variable to your indoor comfort and satisfaction than the brand of equipment  you select.  Go here to read a quick list of tips on how to select a heating and furnace contractor.

Four parts to the cost of ownership of the life of a system
Over the life of your new furnace or central heating system, there are four types of costs to consider. You can read our blog post in May 2008 to learn more details about these.

  • Initial cost of installed equipment
  • Energy efficiency: cost of fuel or energy to operate the system over the life of the system
  • Maintenance cost over the life of the system
  • Life span and replacement cost at end of life of system

We hope these tips will help you stay warm and enjoy lower energy usage and bills!  Please post your experiences.

How To Finance A New Heating and Air Conditioning System

With utility costs going up every month and credit getting harder to find, we want to offer suggestions on how to finance a new heating and A/C system for your home or small commercial building. Making a smart decision to replace your broken or inefficient HVAC system can deliver more comfort and lower your heating and cooling bills every month. Using a cost savings estimator tool (all of which must make some assumptions to cover unknowns), you can easily figure out the payback period for the new equipment. (We wrote about those in our blog two months, in August). Since a heating and AC new system should last much longer than the payback or break-even period, you can get a return of your investment and on your investment.

Heating and AC System Financing Through Your Installer
The first place to look for financing is through the company that installs your furnace and A/C system. For many reasons, you must pick this company very carefully. It is by far the most important decision you will make towards your comfort, costs, and overall satisfaction with a new HVAC system. The local company that installs your system will usually have financing programs from the equipment manufacturer. They might also have arranged third party financing through a local or national lender. Examples of programs from a manufacturer would 12 months same as cash. As in all financial and contractual matters, be sure to read the fine print, front and back, of all documents. Also, pay special attention to the requirements for paying on time and penalties if you were to be late with payments.

Check Out Your Local Credit Union for HVAC financing also
Another, often overlooked, source of financing is through a local credit union. Credit unions have a long history of lending locally. They typically have lower fees and are usually more customer oriented than commercial banks. For a long time, most credit unions were only available through employers. However, in recent years, there are credit unions that are generally available to anyone in the community. This category is called community chartered credit unions. To find one in your area, use a search engine and enter a credit union and your city or a community chartered credit union or visit the NCUA website.

If there is not a community chartered credit union in your area, you might be able to get access to one by joining a organization. As an example, in our hometown of Austin, there is a really good credit union for the University of Texas. Originally opened for faculty and staff, now anyone in the community can be a member by joining the nearby food coop.

Utility Company or Other HVAC Rebate Programs
Regardless of where you finally get financing, remember to ask about rebate programs. These are often from your utility providers, but can also be local, state, or federal programs targeting your area. You might start there first and see if they list lenders who are approved to apply the rebate program.

We look forward to reading your ideas and experiences on this topic.