Welcome to our frequently asked questions section. We hope these answers are helpful. Of course, just call or e-mail us if you have anything more or wish a clarification. We're here to help!
The power to chose. The electric and gas utilities are sort of like organized crime or the government. They are guaranteed a profit no matter how inefficient they manage their business (we should all be so lucky). However, with Hybrid Heat, you can do something about those fluctuating utility bills. How? You simply install both a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. With the proper control installation, you can then heat your home the most economical way possible depending on their published rates. If gas is cheaper, your furnace will heat your home, and if electricity is cheaper, the heat pump will be your choice. With Hybrid Heat, menacing utility bills are now a thing of the past.
The short answer is: whatever is comfortable to you. After all, the reason you have an air conditioner or heater is to keep you comfortable. On the other hand, if you like your home especially cool in summer or especially warm in winter, then your cost of operation will certainly rise.
Example: The "normal" setting for heating is 70 degrees F, if you set your thermostat to 74 degrees, you heating bill will rise 22%. In summer, the "normal" setting is 78 degrees F, if you set your thermostat to 74 degrees, your air conditioning bill will rise 39%, and if you set it to 72 degrees, your bill will rise 63%.
This may or may not be a big deal, it depends on the size of your home, how well it is insulated, the efficiency of your equipment, and how comfortable you want to be!
It depends, please read below:
A. Disposable filters: replace every 60 days UNLESS you have children, have pets, have more than two adults living in the home, or live in a dusty area, then every 30 days. We don't mean to sound like smart alecs, but that is what experience has shown!
B. Pleated disposable filters: replace every 30 days regardless of what the manufacturer says on the wrapping. In fact, although these filters work great, if they are too small for the amount of air that your furnace or air conditioner needs, they can work a little too well and may cause an air restriction in your system which will shorten it's life, and run up your utility bill.
3. Washable filters:
a. Flexible "hoghair" (blue or green) filters: clean every 30 or 60 days - replace when they start sagging or are torn.
b. Metal supported foam filters: clean every 30 or 60 days - replace when torn.
c. Plastic thick mesh filters, sometimes called electrostatic or "allergy relief" filters: throw away as soon as possible! Independent testing has show these filters to be no more effective than any of the cheaper filters mentioned above and may cause a worse air-flow restriction than a pleated filter!
d. Metal mesh filters: wash every 30 or 60 days, don't forget to re-spray with a filter adhesive - replace when torn or so bent it that it doesn't properly fit in it's track anymore.
4. Bryant or Carrier EZ Flex high efficiency filters: replace every six months.
5. Spaceguard/Aprilaire filters: replace annually, but you may want to check them after six months, just in case.
6. Electronic air cleaners: wash the cells in the dishwasher monthly or more often if your allergies are driving you nuts!
7. Bryant Perfect Air Purifier: Replace the filter cartridge every six months and breath easy all year long!
Both of these abbreviations relate to the U.S. Department of Energy standards for air conditioning and gas furnaces.
SEER: Seasonal energy efficiency rating
AFUE: Annual fuel utilization efficiency
In both cases, the higher the SEER or AFUE, the more efficient your system will be. For example, the difference between a 10 SEER air conditioner and a 13 SEER system means that for the same amount of cooling, your unit will use 23% less electricity! Wouldn't that be great?
We recommend service in both the spring and fall every year. Many people know to timely replace or clean their air filter(s) but only call for service when their equipment actually breaks down. This says a lot about the reliability of their central heating and cooling system. Compared to an automobile, a typical air conditioner in Tucson puts on more than 50,000 miles per year, heat pumps even more.
However, the greatest majority of our night and weekend calls are for persons who occasionally, or sometimes never have had their unit serviced. Many of the more extensive repairs that we do make were actually caused by smaller, quickly repaired problems that caused a major breakdown. Also many high utility bills are the result of easily correctable inefficiencies in their systems.
My air conditioner is a Ruud brand. My brother-in-law says that it is a cheaper version of a Rheem unit. It this true?
Nope, your know-it-all brother-in-law is wrong as usual. Due to something called "market share" many manufacturers market their equipment under different brand names to maintain their share of the air conditioning and heating market. For example: a consumer that had a very reliable Bryant furnace in his home may be loath to replace it with something else, so he requests the same brand as a replacement. What he may not know is that Carrier bought out Bryant years ago but Carrier doesn't want to drop the name "Bryant" because this customer may wish to switch brands if Bryant is no longer made. Is Bryant a better or cheaper version of Carrier? It depends on how well the logo sticker is made, I guess, because that and the model number is the only thing different since they both come off the same production line at the factory.
So does brand make any difference? Absolutely, some of the above brands are more reliable. More importantly, the installation of your equipment has an enormous effect on the efficiency and its long-term reliability. Please see the next question below.
Consumer Reports says installation has no bearing on the reliability of the air conditioning or heating equipment. If Consumer Reports says so, it must be true, right?
I read Consumer Reports avidly, and they usually seem pretty knowledgeable. However, they base their conclusion that installation has nothing to do with reliability on feedback from their readers who were told as much by their equipment installers. Duh!
Even if their installer is a lazy, cheap, corner-cutting slob, he is not likely to be so stupid as to tell his customers the truth. Rather than telling them that he neglected to read the installation instructions and he mistakenly installed the unit upside down, he will probably say that their new equipment is not made "like they used to be" and is a factory defect. Gimme a break!
Not at all! I will give you an example:
Suppose you need a new air conditioner, you live in central Tucson, and you have a 4 ton air conditioner.
The typical cost to replace your unit with a new 13 SEER air conditioner is about $5000.00. You decide to finance this project and your monthly payment is $100.00, not bad.
If you opt for a 13 SEER Hybrid Heat system, the cost would be about $6500.00 with a monthly payment of $130.00. However, you would save approximately $44.08 in average monthly utility bills making your new payment only $85.92 after your savings.
Sure, the initial cost will be more, but you defintely will save over the long run whether you finance or not. If you plan to move in 6 months, don't bother with Hybrid Heat, If you are staying put, you will be adding value to your home and keeping a few extra dollars in your pocket, and we all like that!
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