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Monthly Archives: January 2017

  • Gas or Electric Heat: A Cost Comparison

    One of the first decisions a homeowner or business owner has to make, regarding an HVAC (heat, ventilation, air conditioning) system, is whether to purchase an electric or gas heater. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The up-front costs and long-term costs are one area that people typically examine.

    Up-Front Costs

    These are the costs associated with the initial installation of the heating component of the HVAC system. The first item to look at is whether the home or business has access to electricity and natural gas. Many homes and businesses have both electricity and natural gas lines already running to the house. However, some locations do not have access to natural gas. In this case, running a gas line to the location could be an additional upfront cost. Each home or business is unique and different costs may be taken into consideration for each one.

    The cost of the heater itself is also included in the up-front costs. If you are buying this as a single component, it's often called a furnace. At National Air Warehouse, the electric furnaces start around $700 and the gas furnaces start around $900.

    Looking at just the up-front costs, the electric furnace seems to be cheaper. However, most HVAC systems are meant to be used for years. The long-term costs look at how expensive it is to run each type of furnace for years to come.

    Long-Term Costs

    The costs associated with the furnace in the long term are: maintenance and the cost of the electricity/natural gas. When it comes to maintenance, the electric heaters are typically cheaper to maintain. One of the reasons is that electric furnaces typically outlast gas furnaces. An electric furnace can last for 20-30 years with regular maintenance. Gas furnaces, in comparison, typically have slightly shorter lifespans of 10-20 years.

    People commonly say that the cost of natural gas is lower than that of electricity. This is true in many locations, but it does depend on the location of the home or business. Electricity is cheaper in some cities than others. To truly determine the long-term impact of paying for electricity or gas, a homeowner or business owner can calculate the energy use. The amount of electricity used is typically tabulated as kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the amount of natural gas is often tabulated as therms. A homeowner could directly compare the costs by converting kWh to therms (1 kWh = 0.034 therms). Less money spent per therm will save the homeowner or business owner in the long-term.

    Making a smart decision regarding electric or gas furnaces may require a bit of thought, but there are many resources out there to help home and business owners decide between the two.

  • When do I upgrade my HVAC system?

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    One of the most common questions asked about HVAC systems is, if my old system is running poorly, can I repair it cheaply? Or do I need to purchase a new system? Like most things in life, the answer isn’t simple: it depends on the age of the system, how well it has been maintained, and your current usage of it. In this article, I will go over a few of the things that you need to look at when deciding how to make your system more functional.
    First, consider the age of your system. It is important to examine not just how long you have used it, but how old the model is. Older models will usually be much less efficient, and can end up costing you more in the long run. So even if it seems to be somewhat fixable, if it is a very old system, it might be worth it to simply buy a newer model. You will save on energy, and have what is usually a quieter, more reliable system. A well-maintained HVAC system can last for 15 years or so, but generally if it is more than ten years old, it is time to think about a replacement.
    Second, look at the cost of a repair. Unfortunately, the cost to repair a system can sometimes cost near the price of a new unit. If you are facing a very expensive repair, then it might be a lot better to simply buy a new unit. This will be especially true if the unit is in poor condition, and will likely need more repairs in the future. Thankfully, lower end units can be purchased somewhat inexpensively if money is a major issue.
    Another important factor to keep in mind, is the energy efficiency of your old machine. Many older HVAC units have chemicals that are bad for the environment, in addition to being energy hogs. Check the SEER rating of your unit. A poor rating could definitely indicate that your unit is taking a lot more energy than would be needed by a newer unit.
    So, when weighing the cost of a repair with the cost of a new unit, make sure to keep these guidelines in mind. Often investing the money for a new system will save you money in the long run, and if you keep it well maintained, it will last you for a long time.

  • More Misconceptions about your HVAC System

    Air Conditioner Air Conditioner

    Many people are uninformed about their HVAC system and therefore they believe a lot of misconceptions about HVAC systems. Being informed about your system is a must and this information should steer you clear of any misconceptions you might hear about your HVAC system.

    One myth has to do with when to do maintenance. Something a lot of people believe or think they believe is that you only need to check your HVAC system when you think something is wrong. This is incorrect. Preventative care is necessary and checking your HVAC on a regular basis is a must. This will save you money in the long run as it will lower the amount of maintenance you do. It is also important to keep air ducts clean and service your system every so often.

    A popular myth encourages homeowners to leave appliances and computers running when not in use with the belief that it uses less energy than shutting down and restarting. Yes, there’s a small power surge when these appliances turn back on, but it’s a small surge that equals very little run-time power. When you leave these things on, all you’re actually doing is wasting energy.

    Many people think that when you close off your vents, you’ll reduce the amount of air that’s being pushed throughout your home, but in reality, (if you have a modern HVAC system), the pressure load will be balanced throughout your rooms. If you block a vent, you can throw your HVAC system out of balance and actually make it work harder.

    In blistering heat or bitter cold, you want fast relief. To many homeowners, this translates to turning the thermostat higher or lower than usual in an effort to bring the temperature to a comfortable level more quickly. The system is either on or off, and it doesn’t vary speed or temperature according to the thermostat set point. Cranking the thermostat ensures that the HVAC system runs longer, but it won’t change the speed of results.

    Many also think that using the system in short bursts is a way to save energy and money. Actually, it takes about 2-4 minutes for you system to get going. In this time the system uses more energy. After it has some time to get going it will use less energy so using it for longer intervals is recommended provided your house is at an optimal temperature.

    Using his information will help you save money and keep your system running smoothly.

  • Why is my HVAC System Running so Poorly?

    HVAC 3The reason your HVAC system may not be working could be a number of things. Always make sure to take the necessary steps to keep your system running properly. Here are some common reasons and steps you can take to make sure your HVAC system runs properly always

    Uneven heating and cooling is a common problem with heating and air conditioning systems. Some rooms are nice and warm in the winter, others are chilly. Some rooms get comfortably cool in the summer, others are stuffy. Air flow has a lot to do with this problem. Dirty filters, closed vents, and ductwork issues can impede air flow, causing uneven heating and cooling. Home insulation is also a factor. Make sure to check or replace filters and make sure all the vents are clean and open.
    If you see enough dirt and debris on the air filter to fill a moon crater, you need to replace it. Or clean it if it is the washable kind. Filters should be replaced about once a month, depending on the system you have. If you don’t you’re making your system work harder than necessary. Also, check the heat exchanger and coils for any dirt.

    If there is water coming from the indoor unit of your HVAC system, you need to correct it as soon as possible to avoid water damage to your home. Water around the indoor unit means your system is leaking, not draining properly, or making excess condensation. Condensation can form on the evaporator coil and suction line if they are not properly insulated. If the necessary insulation is missing or leaving part of the coil or line exposed, more condensation collects on it, which can drip onto the floor. In some situations the coil may ice up, and when the ice melts it will leave a puddle on the floor. If the condensation drain is blocked it can cause pooled water. In the worst case, your system could be leaking refrigerant. Both air conditioners and furnaces can leak water.

    Another way you can track your HVAC systems issues it with your utility bill. Utility rates adjust often. If rates have remained steady while your bill has increased, you may have an issue that needs to be addressed. For AC systems, the federal government increased minimum efficiency ratings in 2006. If your system is older than that, it may be another reason for your higher energy bills.

    There are other things that can cause your HVAC system to run poorly. These are some of the most common and taking he steps provided will help you along the way.

  • Switching Over to the Warm Months

    With such extreme changes in temperature, your heating and cooling units benefit from annual service checks. Plus, you are more likely to catch any minor issues before they turn into bigger ones. Add a checkup to your spring cleaning list to make sure your house is ready to handle the heat.

    A spring tune-up will provide some very important monetary benefits, especially if your system has been neglected for some time. As your technician runs a thorough check of your equipment, he will adjust loose parts, lubricate moving components, and clean dirty areas. Potential problems can be diagnosed so that preventive repairs can be completed before summer. Following are some specific ways in which your budget can benefit:

    Dirty inside and outside coils can represent up to 30 percent of your cooling expenses. A thorough cleaning makes it easier for air to flow inside, for proper cooling levels to be reached, and for your compressor to operate without stress.
    Low refrigerant can add 20 percent or more to the energy usage needed for cooling your home. A recharge is important to protect your compressor, but fixing any leaks is equally important to avoid a continued problem with refrigerant levels.
    Leaky ducts can add another 20 percent to the total cost to cool your home. Energy loss is already an issue in this portion of your system, and duct sealing is a priority to keep those costs lower.

    Another major issue addressed through spring HVAC maintenance is the condition of your indoor air. Dirty ducts and coils can aggravate your allergies or other respiratory issues. If you are sensitive to mold, you need to recognize that an unmaintained air handler is a huge problem, providing a place for mold and bacteria to increase with ease. Annual cleaning improves the condition of this area, and your technician can also discuss the benefits of a UV lamp for killing the materials in this space.

    Duct cleaning may not need to occur annually, but a duct inspection is helpful for establishing information about the condition of the area. Your ducts can harbor many kinds of pests, and droppings and dander can also trigger your allergies as your cooling system is operated.

    Making sure you get ready for spring and summer is must do after the winter months have come to an end. Hopefully this information will be helpful when getting your HVAC system ready.

  • Considering a Propane Conversion Kit for a Gas Furnace

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    If you are looking for a gas furnace for your home or business, you’re probably looking at systems that are meant for use with natural gas (NAT). Most of the products on the market today are primarily intended for use with natural gas. However, with some systems -- including standard gas furnaces and combination heat and air conditioning systems -- it is possible to purchase  a propane conversion kit that makes it possible for your system to run on propane (LP) gas. As you make the decision, here are few things you need to take into account:

     

    Justifications for Fuel Conversion

     

    The primary reason why some home and business owners are interested in fuel conversion is that it allows them to diversify their energy dependence. Instead of just relying on natural gas, home and business owners who choose a propane conversion kit have the opportunity to utilize propane if the need arises. This can be especially helpful in emergency situations or other circumstances when natural gas is unavailable. With a propane conversion kit, you can take advantage of an alternative fuel source to keep your system going.

     

    Costs of an Add-On Propane Conversion Kit

     

    Adding a propane conversion kit when you buy a new furnace does come at a cost -- the current rate is about 99 dollars. However, this cost is significantly lower than the cost of buying a standalone propane conversion kit if you change your mind and want to buy one later. If you add one to an order before when you buy a new furnace, the cost can be 50 percent lower than the going market rate. Therefore, if you are on the fence about adding a propane conversion kit to your order, it might make sense to invest now instead of regretting it later.

     

    Ease of Setup

     

    Some propane conversion kits are notoriously hard to set up. Therefore, if you are choosing a furnace that is specifically designed to convert to LP gas, you should make sure that any propane conversion kit you buy will not become more of a headache than it is worth.

     

    It is important to note that not all furnaces are designed for conversion to LP gas. If you have the option of buying a propane conversion kit alongside your furnace, you know that it is. If not, it is important to take a close look at the product specifications before making any assumptions.
    National Air Warehouse offers multiple gas furnaces systems that can be converted to LP gas using a propane conversion kit, and we offer kits alongside our new products. Contact us today for more information!

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