UNDERSTANDING HVAC EFFICIENCY RATINGS

When shopping around for a new HVAC unit, furnace or heat pump, efficiency is often one of a buyers’ top considerations. But finding the right unit for your home and your needs can be challenging. If efficiency is of utmost importance in your new purchase, it is crucial to understand what the different rating systems are for these units. As Maryland HAVC contractors, we are familiar with several different rating scales used in the HVAC industry. Let’s take a few minutes to examine each one up close.

SEER RATINGS

An HVAC unit’s SEER rating stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is a measurement of the difference between the amount of cool air put out by an HVAC unit and the amount of energy expended to produce that cool air. Basically, it is a rating that lets you know how much energy your HVAC unit will use to cool your home. The higher the SEER number, the more efficient your AC system is.

If you are looking to replace your existing HVAC unit, you are in luck because new HVAC units are required to have a SEER rating of at least 13 or 14. If you live in a particularly warm climate, however, you may want to get a unit that goes as high as a SEER-23, which will help you get the best AC performance for your money.

AFUE RATINGS

AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which is used to measure a furnace’s overall efficiency. The AFUE rating of a furnace is largely impacted by the fuel used to run the furnace, with electric heating and natural gas receiving the highest ratings. A typical furnace will usually rate somewhere around 80%, while very high-efficiency models may rate at 95% or higher. Not sure what kind of furnace you need? At Cool Breeze, we will spend time to discuss your heating needs, so that we can recommend the best furnace with the right AFUE depending on your lifestyle.

HSPF RATINGS

The HSPF rating, which is an abbreviation for Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor, is what is used to determine the efficiency of a heat pump. Heat pumps are very efficient at both heating and cooling your home, but are more suitable for moderate climates. When looking for a new heat pump for your home, it is important to understand that a higher HSPF rating equals higher efficiency. In Maryland, where the temperatures range from very hot in the summer to freezing cold in the winter, a heat pump may not be enough to heat or cool your home during those extremes. However, an additional heat source such as a wood stove may provide the little heating boost your home needs.

Replacing your home’s HVAC unit, furnace or heat pump can be a stressful and confusing task. At Cool Breeze, we are experts in helping customers select the unit that will best serve their needs, keeping them comfortable and saving them money in the long run. If you are ready to replace your home’s heating or cooling unit and would like some guidance in terms of energy efficiency or capacity, give us a call so we can start discussing your options!

SHOULD YOU CONVERT FROM OIL TO NATURAL GAS HEATING?

If the time has come to replace your existing oil-burning heating unit, it would be wise to take some time to compare the cost and benefits of natural gas heating vs. oil heating. While both oil and gas are effective in heating your home, each of these fuel types has its own pros and cons. Let our Maryland HVAC contractors walk you through some of these advantages and drawbacks.

OIL HEATING PROS AND CONS

Although oil is by far not the energy source of choice in the United States, that’s not entirely true for the North East. In the older homes of Maryland, oil is often more common than gas, because when these homes were built oil was the more economical option.

Oil also burns very efficiently, making it a good option in extremely cold climates. Another positive aspect of oil is that it has less of an environmental impact than other heat sources do, because burning oil releases nearly no emissions. Oil also does not pose a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning like an improperly functioning gas furnace can.

On the flipside, however, oil is generally a less convenient fueling option, as it has to be delivered to your home’s oil tank and needs to be refilled on a regular basis. Oil is also considerably more expensive than natural gas, and the price of oil varies, so there is always a risk that it will continue to rise.

NATURAL GAS HEATING PROS AND CONS

Natural gas is a great heating option if it is available for your home. Not only is the gas itself less expensive, but the equipment necessary for a gas furnace is generally more economical than an oil-burning furnace. For a gas-burning furnace, gas is piped into the house from a gas line connected to the city’s gas supply, therefore you never need to worry about running out of fuel.

Because of its convenience and lower cost, gas is becoming increasingly more popular. A couple of considerations before you decide to go with gas: gas heating is not available to everyone because gas lines are not run in all communities (especially older communities); and gas is a less environmentally friendly option, because natural gas is a limited resource.

WHICH IS THE BEST FUEL TO HEAT YOUR HOME?

When deciding whether switching to natural gas is the right move for your home, it is important to first determine whether or not natural gas is available to you. It is also important to consider what matters most to you. Do you need to save some money each month to loosen your belt? Are you concerned about the environmental impact you are making? Do you like the convenience of a gas line, or would you prefer to monitor your oil usage and have your tank refilled when it is low? All of these questions are important for you to consider when making any kind of change in your current heating setup. Natural gas is a great option for many home owners, and we at Cool Breeze would love to answer any questions you have about it or convert your heating system!

4 BIGGEST WAYS TO SAVE ON YOUR HEATING BILL

Lowering winter temperatures often lead to rising electric bills for homeowners in Maryland. As the temperature goes down outside, our furnaces have to work extra hard to keep our homes warm, and your family happy and healthy. Cooler temperatures don’t have to mean extreme heating bills, however, if you employ a few simple tricks to increase your furnace’s efficiency and decrease your home’s air leakage. Let’s take a look at some simple steps you can take to keep your family warm this winter.

ELIMINATE AIR LEAKS

Are you paying to warm the outside of your home without realizing it? In most homes, a significant percentage of the air being heated inside the home escapes through windows, doors, electrical outlets, attic doors, chimneys, etc. When the warm air inside the home leaks out, your furnace works extra hard to keep up, costing you extra money with no benefit.

Fortunately, most of these common leaking areas are easy to fix and can end up saving you a boatload over the course of a winter. Windows and doors are a good place to start, since most of the air leaks are coming from them. By replacing (or installing) weather stripping around your windows and doors you’ll be able to stay warmer and spend less money, and best of all, it’s a simple DIY weekend project.

Warm air can also very quickly and very easily escape from your home’s chimney if you have one. Hot air rises, so a chimney is a perfect escape for your much needed heat. While making sure to keep your flue closed when the fireplace is not in use will help, some air will likely still leak out. One solution for this is a chimney balloon, which is inflated when the fireplace is not in use and blocks any air from escaping (or cold air from entering) your home.

Another important place to check for air leaks is your home’s ductwork. If you are unsure whether or not you have possible leaks in your heating system’s ductwork, Cool Breeze can come take a look and help you find and address any issues that may exist.

UPGRADE YOUR THERMOSTAT

Another great way to save on energy bills all year round, whether it be for heating or cooling, is installing a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to get the most out of your heating or cooling system by running it on a set schedule. If you spend 10 hours a day somewhere outside the house, why does your home need to be at a warm and cozy 70 degrees that whole time? It doesn’t, and a programmable thermostat allows you to lower the heat when no one is home, and automatically raise it for you during the hours you really need it.

IMPROVE AIR FLOW

Airflow in your home will also determine how efficiently your furnace is heating your space. Blocked heating/cooling registers will be less effective, so make sure to keep them clear of furniture and miscellaneous items. Another important thing to consider as the seasons change is which heating/cooling registers you have open and which you have closed. In the cooler months, the heat coming out of your registers will rise, so it is important to have mainly your downstairs registers open. In the warmer months, on the other hand, the cool conditioned air will fall, so opening the registers on the upper floors of your house is important.

UPGRADE YOUR FURNACE

Sometimes, it’s the old, inefficient furnace that is eating up your heating budget. If you are in the market for a new furnace, it would be prudent to consult with a professional on what type of furnace would best suit your home and your heating needs. The location of your furnacecan also greatly impact the furnace’s efficiency. If you are in need of a new furnace, contact us at Cool Breeze today so we can help you evaluate your options.

There are lots of small changes you can make quickly and easily that will help save you money on your heating bill. At Cool Breeze, we are here to help you with all of your heating and cooling needs, and our experts would love to talk with you today about any questions you may have!

IT’S TIME TO SCHEDULE YOUR SEASONAL FURNACE MAINTENANCE

As the temperatures here in Maryland continue to steadily drop, it is important for homeowners to have regular seasonal maintenance done on their furnaces. Routinely servicing your home’s furnace will not only ensure your home is being heated as efficiently as possible, but will also extend the life of your furnace and give you peace of mind. The Maryland furnace maintenance services we offer at Cool Breeze will leave your home ready for the cold winter ahead and your family warm throughout the cooler months. Furnace maintenance is important for three main reasons: efficiency, longevity, and safety.

FURNACE MAINTENANCE INCREASES HEATING EFFICIENCY

Your furnace works constantly throughout the winter, drawing in the air in your home, heating it, and pushing it back in every room. Unfortunately, the air in your home is far from clean, containing dust, pollen and pet dander. Fortunately, your furnace has a filter to help protect the delicate equipment from these pollutants that could potentially harm it, as well as to protect your lungs from inhaling all these particles.

This filter becomes clogged with dust over time, making your furnace work harder to pull the air in, which result in higher energy consumption by the furnace. At Cool Breeze, our fall furnace checkup, among other things, includes examination and replacement of the air filter. Another important thing that needs to be checked and calibrated by a professional is the thermostat. A thermostat that isn’t properly calibrated can read the wrong temperature, making your furnace run longer than necessary, costing you money.

FURNACE MAINTENANCE EXTENDS THE LIFE OF YOUR FURNACE

While regular maintenance on your home’s furnace increases its efficiency and lowers your energy bills, it can also extend the life of your furnace by ensuring that it’s running smoothly. Just as your car needs regular maintenance checks to keep running for miles and miles, so does your furnace. The fans in your furnace need to be checked regularly to ensure they are circulating air as they should be, both for the efficiency and longevity of your unit. Any moving parts in your furnace should also be checked and routinely lubricated so they continue to run at peak performance without untimely wear and tear.

FURNACE MAINTENANCE ENSURES YOUR SAFETY

A furnace in need of repair can not only cost you a lot of money because it is inefficient, but can also cost you your health, and even life in extreme cases. It is imperative to have your furnace checked for gas leaks, flue corrosion, malfunctioning safety controls, and any cracks or leaks in the unit. Furnaces that are not properly maintained can leak dangerous fumes putting you and your family at risk.

At Cool Breeze, we can inspect your furnace before the coming winter and quickly diagnose and resolve any problems we find. We get a lot of furnace repair calls this time of year, and we recommend checking your furnace before you actually need to use it. This way you won’t be frantically searching for a qualified Maryland furnace repair company as your home turns into an ice castle. A working furnace is important to your family’s comfort, health and safety, and we will help put your mind at ease as winter quickly approaches. Call Cool Breeze today to schedule your appointment!

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEAT PUMP AND A FURNACE?

The changing of seasons here in Maryland means pumpkins, brightly colored leaves falling from the trees, hayrides, and cooler temperatures. Cold nights and crisp mornings will leave you needing a heat system for your home that is not only functional, but also energy efficient and cost effective. The two primary options for heating your home are a heat pump and a furnace. While the purpose of these two appliances is the same, they function very differently, which is something our Sykesville HVAC experts will be happy to help you understand.

HOW A HEAT PUMP WORKS

A heat pump serves as an air transporter, rather than an air heater. It constantly moves warm air where it’s needed or not needed, creating a comfortable indoor environment. A heat pump can be a part of a traditional HVAC system or it can be used to harvest geothermal energy from the depths of the earth. Heat pumps run on electricity and don’t require any additional fuel to be burned. And because it takes less energy to move the heat than to produce it, heat pumps are more energy-efficient than furnaces. Heat pumps are a popular alternative to furnaces, posing less risk to the homeowner because they do not produce a live flame or use any fuel.

HOW A FURNACE WORKS

A furnace, unlike a heat pump, uses oil, natural gas, or propane to heat your home. A furnace actually burns gas or oil, creating a flame that heats the air. The burning oil or gas heats a coil in the unit, and then a fan pushes the warmed air throughout the home. Oil is the least efficient of these options, and is considered the least “clean” because it does produce some air pollution. A furnace can heat a home quicker and warmer than a heat pump, but oftentimes gas or oil bills far exceed electricity bills (depending on your location and average utility costs).

WHICH IS MOST EFFECTIVE?

The answer to the question of which heating appliance is more effective and efficient isn’t a clean cut one. In moderate climates without extremely hot and cold temperatures, heat pumps can be the best option, although electric utility bills should be taken into account. In areas of the country where electric bills are reasonable, heat pumps are the way to go. If your area has extremely cold winters, a furnace will be a more efficient option for your home, because most heat pumps simply can’t keep up with temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

AN ALTERNATIVE

One good option for homeowners in a moderate climate, like ours here in Maryland, is a hybrid system. In this scenario, you would primarily use a heat pump for energy and cost efficiency, but on those really cold (below 30 degree) nights the furnace would kick in, warming your house more effectively than a heat pump ever could. The heat pump would be run the majority of the year, cooling your home in the summer, and heating it in the winter, until the temperatures necessitate the use of the furnace.

Whatever your heating needs, Cool Breeze is here to keep you warm throughout the upcoming winter, and cool in the summers ahead! Give us a call today to discuss your heating options.

HORIZONTAL VS. VERTICAL FURNACE INSTALLATION

When the time comes to replace your furnace, whether it is to improve energy efficiency and lower your utility bills, or because your existing furnace is old and broken beyond repair, trying to figure out your options can be overwhelming.

What type of furnace would work best in your home?

What space limitations do you have?

Which type of equipment will run most efficiently and save you the most money over time?

These questions may leave you feeling confused and stressed. At Cool Breeze, our Maryland HVAC installation pros consider it our goal to help you be informed and make wise decisions. Let’s take a look at your options when it comes to installing a new furnace (or an air handler if your system includes a heat pump).

HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL INSTALLATION?

You are probably used to your home appliances being installed in an upright position. This is true for almost everything, but when it comes to furnaces and air handlers, they can actually be installed both ways.

  • Vertical or upright installation can be performed in two ways: up-flow and down-flow. The flow refers to the direction of the air as it passes through the furnace or air handler. So in an upflow vertical furnace, the cold air is taken in from the bottom and the warm air is released from the top. In a down-flow furnace it’s vice versa.
  • Horizontal installation is also available for some furnace and air handler models. Horizontal units can be installed in attics, garages or basements either by placing the device on a platform or suspending it from the ceiling.

So which HVAC system should you choose? And does it matter at all whether it’s vertical or horizontal? Let’s dive into specific HVAC installation scenarios.

UP-FLOW VERTICAL FURNACE

If you plan to have your furnace in the basement or crawl space, an up-flow furnace will be the most energy efficient for your home. These units draw in cold air at their base, and expel the heated air from the top. And because hot air rises, it makes the most sense for this unit to be in the basement. It’s also a more comfortable arrangement, as the warm air typically enters from the floor registers and warms your feet first. Because of their energy efficiency, up-flow vertical units are the most common in homes today.

DOWN-FLOW VERTICAL FURNACE

In a down-flow furnace, the cold air is drawn from the top and expelled as warm air out of the bottom of the unit. A down-flow unit is generally installed in the home’s attic, and tends to be less energy efficient. In some homes, a down-flow furnace is the only option due to space constraints. The pricing of a down-flow furnace is similar to that of an up-flow furnace, however sometimes installation costs can be higher because the work tends to be done in smaller, less accessible places.

HORIZONTAL FURNACE

A horizontal furnace is most commonly installed in small spaces that won’t allow for a traditional vertical furnace. These units draw in cool air from one side and expel warm air from the other. Like down-flow furnaces, these units are also less energy efficient than up-flow units and are primarily used in homes with limited space that doesn’t allow a vertical installation.

Other Configurations

Less commonly used units include an up-flow/horizontal furnace, a down-flow/horizontal furnace, and a multi-position furnace. These units do basically what their names imply. Up-flow/horizontal and down-flow/horizontal furnaces can be installed horizontally, but the airflow direction in them can’t be changed. A multi-position furnace or air handler, on the other hand, can be set to process the air however the homeowner would like. These furnaces and air handlers can be installed either horizontally or vertically, and the air flow can be changed to fit the home’s needs.

Choosing a new furnace for your home can seem like a daunting task. Here at Cool Breeze, our Maryland HVAC experts would love to work with you to determine the most efficient and cost-effective HVAC installation for your home. Contact us today for a consultation or a quote!

3 COMMON HVAC INSTALLATION MISTAKES TO AVOID

Whether you are building a new home, remodeling your old one or simply considering replacing your HVAC system, this article is for you. As Maryland HVAC installation and repair professionals, at Cool Breeze we frequently run into poor HVAC installation jobs performed by inexperienced contractors. They may not be disastrous, but they usually lead to increased energy bills and lack of indoor comfort, which is the opposite of what a good HVAC system is supposed to do. If you recognize any of the below HVAC installation mistakes by looking at your own system, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to offer you suggestions for correcting them.

A BAD SPOT FOR A THERMOSTAT

A thermostat is a part of the HVAC system that you most frequently interact with to set the right temperature. However, in order to heat or cool your home to the right temperature, the thermostat first needs to read the right temperature. And by “right” we mean the average temperature of the room it’s in. When a thermostat is placed next to hot or cold source, its reading may be skewed, and so will be its settings.

For example, a thermostat placed in direct sunlight may read that the room temperature is 79F, while in fact it’s 75F. So if the AC is set to kick in at 77F, it will start cycling sooner and will keep your room cooler than you prefer. When planning for a good spot for a thermostat, be sure to evaluate the surroundings and eliminate any external factors that may skew the readings.

BLOCKED RETURN VENTS

Return air vents are essentially holes in the floor that allow for the indoor air to be fed back into the AC unit or furnace to be cooled or heated respectively. The problem is, they are not exactly attractive, so some homeowners try to cover them up or tuck them away. In some older homes, you may find return air vents in closets and other out-of-sight places where they often end up covered up with boxes or furniture. When return air supply is restricted, the blower fan will try harder to pull the air in, which may shorten its lifespan significantly.

The same concept applies to your outdoor AC unit, furnace, evaporator, heat pump and any other HVAC equipment. Don’t try to cover them up, because all of these devices need a room to “breathe.”

POORLY SIZED SYSTEM

An HVAC system is more than just a condenser, evaporator and a furnace. It’s a complex system consisting of air ducts, air supply and return vents, insulation, ventilation and many other aspects. The power and capacity of your AC unit or furnace, as well as the number and placement of vents should be proportionate to the size of your home. If you own an older home and feel like your heating and cooling bills are too high or the temperatures are uneven throughout the house, it’s possible that this is due to the poor design of your HVAC system.

Air duct sizing plays a big role in the overall performance of your HVAC system. Air ducts that are too narrow may create excessive air velocity, which in turn may create drafty conditions and contribute to noisy HVAC operation. On the other hand, air ducts that are too wide may make it difficult to dial in the proper air flow and may cause your equipment to work more than necessary.

When you are looking for someone to install your new HVAC equipment, it’s important to hire a Maryland HVAC contractor who treats both HVAC and your home as a system. At Cool Breeze, we always take into account your comfort and the energy efficiency of your home, rather than simply installing equipment.

Give us a call or contact online for a free estimate or consultation.

LEAKING INDOOR AC UNIT: CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS

One of the common problems in summer is a leaking indoor AC unit. It may be leaking profusely and constantly or you may find occasional puddles around your air handler. Either way, leaking AC is not something you want to be dealing with on a hot summer day. Our Maryland AC repair specialists are here today to offer you a few ideas as to why your indoor AC unit may be leaking, as well as how to fix it. But first, let’s discuss how it works!

WHAT YOUR INDOOR AC UNIT DOES

If your HVAC system is set up properly, you should have one AC unit outside of your home that connects to another unit indoors. Your indoor unit contains the evaporator coil and can be located next to the furnace or inside an air handler. The purpose of the evaporator is to pull the warm air from your home and cool it with the cold refrigerant as the air passes over the coil.

WHY WATER FORMS INSIDE YOUR AC UNIT

Besides being warm, the indoor air in summer can also get rather humid. Air contains a certain degree of moisture at all times, but warm air can hold more. On contact with the cold coil, warm air condenses and releases water, which forms into drops on the coil. It’s like pouring a glass of ice water and walking outside. You will see how drops start to bead up on the glass right away.

WHY YOUR EVAPORATOR UNIT MAY BE LEAKING

As the drops keep forming on the evaporator coil, they will eventually start dripping, right? Thankfully, your AC unit is equipped with a drain pan and a sloped drain pipe that carries water away as the pan gets filled. Depending on your setup, this drain line may exit either outside or into your home’s plumbing.

Now that you know where water in an AC unit comes from, let’s figure out why it’s all over your basement floor!

Reason #1: Blocked Drainage Tube

If your drainage tube is blocked completely, the water will start backing up right away. However, blockages usually happen over time and are not always complete. That’s why many homeowners often discover a leak on hot, humid days when the extra humidity in the air causes excessive condensation, so the partially blocked drain can’t keep up any longer.

Why do drain pipes get blocked? There’s dust and algae, and many other reasons! Sometimes, a dirty condenser coil may be the culprit, as the dirt mixes with the water and fills the drain with gunk. That’s why it’s important not to skip seasonal maintenance of your Maryland HVAC unit. The good news is that a wet-dry vacuum can usually resolve the clogging in minutes.

Reason #2: Rusted Evaporator Drain Pan

If your unit is old or if the water drains slowly due to blocked pipes or poor installation, the evaporator drain pan may get rusted through. In this case, the water won’t even get a chance to get to the drain—it will drip right through the pan and cause a mess. Some units have an emergency overflow pan that sits underneath the primary evaporator drain pan in case it malfunctions or overflows. If you see water in the secondary pan, that’s a sign that something is wrong.

Reason #3: Frozen Evaporator Coil

When a frozen evaporator coil starts to melt, the drain often can’t keep up, which leads to a leak. There are a few things that may cause a frozen evaporator coil. The first one is a dirty air filter that restricts the air flow over the coil. Without the warm air to pass through, the coil temperature drops so low, the coil may ice over. The second common cause is low refrigerant level that also causes the temperature to drop.

Of course, these are just some of the most common causes of a leaking indoor AC unit. If you discover a leak, we recommend turning off your AC and calling your Sykesville, Maryland AC repair technician. Our pros at Cool Breeze will promptly respond to your call and conduct a thorough inspection to determine the exact cause of your problem.

HOW TO AVOID SCAMS AND HIRE A RELIABLE MARYLAND HVAC CONTRACTOR

An air conditioning repairman working on a heat recovery unit.

You can tell the Maryland summer is here: the temperatures have soared into 90s and the outdoors have that inescapable sauna feel. It’s that time of year again when a single day or night without a working AC can turn your comfortable life into a nightmare. If you don’t have an established relationship with a trusted Maryland HVAC company by now and you need urgent repairs or maintenance, you could become a victim of an HVAC scam. Here are a few tips to help you recognize and avoid scams no matter how sophisticated they are.

HVAC SCAMMERS MAY PRETEND TO WORK FOR KNOWN COMPANIES

One of the most popular approaches used by scam artists these days is to call homeowners and act like they represent one of the Maryland HVAC companies known and respected in the area. They would say something like “it’s time for your free inspection” or “let’s schedule seasonal maintenance.” And if you agree to a service visit, they would typically find some “problems” and suggest expensive replacements of either a part or the entire unit. If you agree, they may either take your money and disappear or pretend they replaced the part that was good to begin with.

To avoid this sort of scam, do this when you get a call from a person who claims to work for your local HVAC company:

  • Check the phone number and the caller ID; make sure it’s local. Feel free to look up the phone number online and see if you can find any matches.
  • Ask the caller’s name and role, then call the real company back to verify if this person works there and whether they have a record of your scheduled appointment.
  • If you go through with the appointment, look for branded uniforms and vans. Most established HVAC companies understand the value of branding.

And remember, if you feel suspicious, you can always refuse the service at any moment or call a different contractor to request a second opinion.

KNOW HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

A lot of contracting scams, including HVAC, follow a similar scenario—they usually present an offer that sounds too good to be true and see who goes for it. Here are some tell-tale signs that you may be talking to a scammer:

  • They call you first, drop a flyer in your mailbox or go door to door.
  • They communicate everything verbally and don’t offer written estimates or contracts.
  • They emphasize urgency when describing problems and press to sell.
  • They usually don’t have business cards and don’t wear uniforms.
  • They request money upfront.
  • They have little to no presence on the web, including a website.

Remember to always check your contractor’s license before hiring them to do any work. And if you think you may be dealing with an impostor posing as another company, give that company a call to warn them. Scam artists tend to target single people 65 and older, but in theory anyone could become a victim of a scam.

If you are a regular Cool Breeze customer and you get a call or a visit from a technician that doesn’t look like he or she works for us, give us a call right away. We do our best to maintain our reputation as a trusted Eldersburg HVAC contractor and to protect our customers from impostors.

4 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE REPLACING YOUR AC

Row of commercial HVAC air conditioner outside compressor units outside a commercial building as part of a climate control cooling and refrigeration conditioning system

An air conditioning unit is a big investment. But if your old equipment keeps breaking down and despite all the repairs doesn’t provide the efficiency and comfort you seek, then it’s time to get a new one! The HVAC market has changed a lot in the past decade, and our Maryland air conditioner installation pros are here to guide you toward the right choice. Before you hire that HVAC tech and swipe your card to pay for the new AC, consider these things in order to make an informed decision.

THE HEALTH OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM

A good Maryland HVAC tech will conduct a thorough inspection of your system before recommending HVAC repair or replacement. We don’t mean to alarm you, but in homes with a broken AC we often find leaky air ducts, an inadequate number of supply or return registers, and a furnace that’s about to take its last breath. Although you didn’t plan on an upgrade of this magnitude, now may be the best time for it. Consider upgrading all of your equipment at once or installing a more energy-efficient geothermal system for an even bigger impact. There are various federal, state and manufacturer rebates available to help you keep the initial cost down.

COOLING DEMANDS

What changed in the past decade that you’ve been using your current AC unit? Have you built a home addition or finished your basement? Did you buy a new convection oven that radiates insane amounts of heat? The reason we ask is because your AC unit has to be properly sized for your home’s cooling needs. And if your cooling needs increased or decreased recently, you shouldn’t just get an AC replacement with the same specs. You need to re-evaluate how you use your home and what would be an adequate cooling system for your needs.

HIGH-EFFICIENCY AC UNITS

If you are replacing an AC unit that is 10-15 years old, any newer model will probably be more efficient than your old one. However, if you want to maximize your savings, consider purchasing an appliance with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The Department of Energy defines SEER as “the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output.” In other words, each AC unit is given a score based on how much energy it uses to cool a space to a certain point. The minimum SEER rating is 13, but the higher the number, the more efficient the unit.

WHAT’S NEW IN THE INDUSTRY

If you haven’t shopped for HVAC equipment in a while, you’ll be amazed at how far this industry has come in terms of both efficiency and comfort. Modern AC units have many new features you might not be familiar with. Here are a few to be on the lookout for:

  • A fan-only switch to help you reduce costs by circulating air instead of cooling it.
  • A programmable thermostat to help you control temperature when you are away (some models even sync with your phone!)
  • A light alerting you to check and replace the filter
  • Quiet operation
  • An air handler with variable speeds
  • Add-on air cleaners and humidifiers

In addition to all of the above factors, cost is certainly another important thing to consider. When you are requesting estimates from different Maryland HVAC contractors, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. For example, the lowest price estimate may not include the labor cost for fixing your leaky air ducts. And between the two most expensive estimates, one may not offer as good of a warranty as the other one. That’s why you should always request itemized estimates for HVAC replacement if your contractor doesn’t automatically itemize.

Our cooling and heating specialists at Cool Breeze are always available to conduct an inspection of your HVAC system or evaluate the health of your equipment. Give us a call or contact online for a free quote.