Thirsty for HVAC Knowledge? Ask an Expert!
Q. How can I reduce my energy costs for home heat and air?
A. There are several short-term and long-term solutions to reducing your energy costs. Here are a few:
1) Control the Climate with non-emotional temperature adjustment- Georgia Power recommends keeping your winter and summer thermostat temps on the 8s to save money and keep your performance consistent. That means 68 for wintertime and 78 for summertime. Personally, I like to keep it within a couple degrees of 72 in all four seasons, but that’s just me. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do! If you have to choose between feeding the kids and feeding the thermostat, please make the wise choice!
2) Upgrade your system to a higher-efficiency system - Swapping your old, rickety AC unit for a high-efficiency unit can cut electricity bills by up to one-third, all while keeping you cooler in summer and warmer in winter! Win-Win! Schedule a FREE In-Home Consultation with a Dobbs representative today and receive a free estimate that shows how much you can save by upgrading to a high efficiency system.
3) Become a Dobbs Club Member, or Have Dobbs Club Member Program Preformed – Cars need tune-ups to ensure proper working condition. Tuning up your heating and cooling system every spring and your heating system each fall will help ensure each system operates at peak efficiency and can help you identify and resolve any potential issues before a breakdown occurs.
4) Don't block the vents in well-used rooms – For instance, in your living room you should keep your supply and return air vents free of objects like cats, rugs, blinds, carpet, tables, lamps, chair or couches so your heat and AC can operate efficiently and evenly throughout the entire room.
5) Have your local HVAC service technician install a programmable thermostat – An electronic, programmable thermostat from Dobbs will allow you to control your home or business's temperature, even when you're at work, on vacation, or asleep. Hot when you go to sleep, cold when you wake? Set your thermostat to adjust for that! Make the best use of your heating and air conditioning resources! If you lower your thermostat 1° for at least seven hours a day, you can save at least 1% on your heating bill. The same principle applies (inversely proportional) to saving on your cooling costs.
Q. So I want the biggest HVAC unit you have. My neighbor says it can actually give me worse performance. What do you think?
A. LOL! I applaud your enthusiasm. And if you have enough square footage and a well-constructed ventilation system, a giant system can be phenomenal. But if you aren’t living at the Biltmore Estates, your neighbor may have a point. You don't really want your HVAC Unit to be a great deal larger than your needs. Domestic A/C systems control the comfort level in your home both by cooling the air around you, and by removing unnecessary humidity. This causes both short-term and long-term relief from the heat on your skin. An oversized air conditioner can cool your home faster, but it will use more energy and will not remove humidity adequately, thereby reducing the actual comfort of those in your home. Additionally, your ventilation system may not be able to support the massive airflow of a giant system.
There are also long-term, accumulative problems with a giant unit for a smaller space. A unit that is too big for your home will have shorter, abbreviated run cycles. It can take a relatively short amount time to cool the air, but a bigger unit will shut off before an adequate amount of air blows across the indoor coil. The indoor coil is the place where moisture condenses into water, and eventually drains from your system. If you have too much moisture in your air, it can lead to mold and mildew problems in your home. What a nightmare! Short-run cycles can also mean your system starts and stops more often. And just like a car that starts and stops multiple times, this uses more energy and can cause additional wear and tear on the entire HVAC unit. Just like florescent lights, an AC unit operates more efficiently during longer run cycles.
Q. How long should I expect my HVAC unit to last at my home?
A. Great question! According to our sources, experience, and track record, most of the systems that we install have an operational lifetime, on average, of 10-15 years. When your unit ages, the operational efficiency goes way down. Sleek, slick units that really hum can become noisy and rickety. When big appliances get rickety, things tend to rattle loose, come apart, and break down. You will have poorer performance, and your unit will need repairs quite often. Either that, or you will adjust to terrible heating and cooling parameters inside your home. When this starts happening, and you become aware of it, you really have two options for improving your home heating and air scenario:
- Full-system overhaul
- Full-system replacement
Because technology in the heating and cooling world can change quickly and swiftly, Full-System replacement will usually garner more bang for your buck. Having the most energy-efficient equipment makes sense in the long-run. This is especially true if your unit is a decade or more old, or is out of manufacturer’s warranty. Dobbs Heating and Air would be glad to have one of our highly-trained Comfort Specialists come to your home and give you a FREE in-home Quote for an overhaul, or a brand new system. Call today!
Q. What will my repairman be looking for to determine if I need to replace my unit, instead of repairing it?
A. Great question! There are a few automatic things that will lead your repairman to at least suggest that you explore replacement options. If your unit is 10 years old or older, or is outside of the manufacturer’s warranty parameters, your repairman might suggest giving replacement a thought. Why is that, you might ask? Well, simply put, your HVAC unit is NOT a classic car. Nobody (outside of maybe the most eccentric HVAC repairman with a lot of experience) gets crazy excited about a classic HVAC unit. Experts say that technology doubles at least every ten years, maybe less. This percentage is perhaps even greater for HVAC technology. If replacing your unit would give you substantially better performance, and pay for itself in efficiency costs within a short amount of time, wouldn’t you want to consider replacing your unit? It makes sense to me!
There are also other scenarios for recommended unit replacement, including faulty performance from your present unit. If your unit requires frequent repairs, frequent part replacement, stops working efficiently, or stops working altogether, your repair technician might suggest replacement. If your unit runs excessively, with no real gains in heating or cooling, or constantly turns off and on, you might need a new unit. Lastly, if yours produces high utility bills, but you and your family are still fairly uncomfortable with the climate control, it can easily be more economical to replace your existing system than to keep repairing a rickety old time bomb.
Q. How do I know if I need a new heating and cooling system?
A. Every home or business is different. Every ventilation system is different. We can gladly send an experienced Dobbs Comfort Specialist to your home for a FREE consultation to examine your home inside and out to determine the right system for your needs. Many homeowners assume that a new HVAC system will solve their problems, and sometimes that is the case, but frequently there are underlying issues that need to be addressed simultaneously to achieve the kinds of efficiencies possible with a new unit.
Q. Can you give me a price without an in-home consultation?
A. We can’t really give a firm or reliable quote for HVAC repair, replacement, or installation without an in-home or in-business consultation. The reason for our policy on this matter is simple; we find that pricing varies based on your needs, and the unique conditions in your home or business. Our representatives will do several things on their visit that we could not possibly do over the phone, or via email.
For instance, a detailed load calculation, based on many factors like square footage, air flow, and voltage parameters, among other things, must be performed in order to properly size your system. Improperly installing a system that is too big or too small may result in terrible performance, higher utility bills, wasted money, and unhappy, miserable employees or family members. This isn’t in anyone’s best interest. Therefore, an in-home consultation is totally worth your time, and our efforts. Plus, it’s free!