Is a Heat Pump Right for My Home?

16 01 2013

Everyone is looking to save money these days.  With the ever rising cost of home heating oil, people are looking for other alternatives.  Every winter we get calls from homeowners wanting to remove their oil furnace and replace it with a heat pump.  Undoubtedly, they have spoken to a friend who has a heat pump and says that they should get one.  But, heat pumps are not the right solution for every home.

Every home has its’ own heating and cooling characteristics.  The construction quality, insulation values, window types, ductwork design, and even the orientation to the sun affects how much heat and how much cooling a house requires.  If your home is an older home with little or no insulation then chances are that a heat pump will not heat your home efficiently.  While a heat pump can continue to produce heat at even 0 degrees outside, it can’t produce enough to make up for how much heat the house is losing.  So, the house will begin to get colder because it is losing heat faster than the heat pump can replace it.  To help, a heat pump has back-up electrical heating elements to aid the heat pump; however, these heating elements take a lot of electricity to run.  In some cases, you could spend more on electricity than you did on oil.  This of course, would defeat the purposes of installing the heat pump which was to save money.

The only way to know if a heat pump is the right solution for your home is to have a load calculation done by a professional heating and cooling contractor.  At Brady Flanary HVAC, this service is included with our free system replacement estimates.  Not only will we be able to tell you what the correct solution is for your home, we can make suggestions as well as show you the actual impact for energy improvements to your home.

So, if you are thinking about installing a new heat pump in your home, give us a call.  It’s free!



The Three Key Components to Replacing Your Heating and Cooling System

28 11 2012

If you are looking to replace your heating and cooling system, then there are three major factors that you need to keep in mind.  These factors will not only guarantee your comfort, they will also improve the longevity and efficiency of your new system.  These factors are the actual system itself, the systems fit on the home, and the quality of the installation.

The system itself is pretty straight forward.  All equipment has an efficiency rating making the efficiency of the equipment easy to compare.  Just make sure to stick to the facts.  Efficiency ratings should be backed by an AHRI certificate verifying the rating.  However, efficiency isn’t the same as quality.  Here again stick to the facts.  A true heating and cooling professional should be able to share with you how a system works and what engineering aspects of that system make it a better system.  Again, if they can’t tell you what makes it a better system then chances are it isn’t.

The systems fit to the home is one of the more complex and more difficult to understand factors.  In order for a contractor to know what fits the home, they must first understand the heating and cooling requirements of your home.  This is done with a manual-j load calculation.  This load calculation involves entering the exact information about your home into a computer program.  The contractor will need to know the size and type of windows on your home and which way the windows face in relationship to the sun.  They will need to know the insulation values in your walls, ceilings and floors.  They will need to know how many people live in your home and what heat-producing appliances are in your home.  They will also need to know the size and type of doors that are on the home.  Basically, they need to measure and look at just about every aspect of your home.  Then factoring in where you live, the computer program will tell them exactly how much heat your home requires on the coldest days of winter and how much cooling your home requires on the hottest days of summer.  This information will help the contractor choose the appropriate size and type of system for your home.  Matching the new system as close to possible to the heating and cooling requirements for your home ensures the system cycles correctly thus providing maximum efficiency and comfort.  Any contractor who does not do this calculation should be dismissed accordingly!

The last important factor is the quality of the installation.  The number one energy robbing problem with heating and cooling systems is lack of proper installation.  Even the best system can be rendered useless if not installed correctly.   Choosing the proper company to install the system is critical.  This will take a little research on your part.  First of all, any heating and air conditioning contractor should be able to provide references.  And I am not talking about 2 or 3, I am talking about 100.  Anyone can come up with 3 people who like them.  In addition, that company should have a clean Better Business Bureau rating.  They should have NATE certified technicians (NATE certification is highest and toughest to obtain certification in the heating and cooling industry).  All heating and air conditioning contractors are required to have their work inspected when installing a new system.  But, just because they are getting their work inspected doesn’t mean it is done right.  Typically the inspection department isn’t looking for design issues or properly configured equipment, they are only looking for safety hazards.  So, getting a job inspected doesn’t guarantee is done right.

Your heating and cooling system is the hardest working appliance in your home and it accounts for nearly 70% of all your energy costs.  Take the time to make the right decision.  Learn about the equipment and choose the better equipment.  Make sure you understand what your home needs and how the proposed system meets those needs.  Lastly, make sure to use a contractor who has the experience and expertise to install the system correctly.  Take the time to do these things and you can’t go wrong!

Take a Trip Before You Replace your Heating or Cooling System?

28 11 2012

Most people look at me funny when I suggest this, but it would be time well spent and provide you with a higher level of comfort about the company who is going to be working in your home.  So, you need to replace your heating or cooling system and you want to make sure the company who is going to do the work is professional.  You call some contractors to give you estimates for replacement and you decide to buy from the company who you were comfortable with and who gave you what you perceive as a fair deal.  Problem here is that heating and cooling contractors are smart enough to send out the smartest and nicest people they have to represent the company.  “Slick Willies” as I call them.  They are professional sellers not heating and cooling professionals.  They tend to tell you what you want to hear and not stick to the facts (see my earlier post of sticking to facts).  Now you have made your decision and the folks who actually show up to do the work just about make you sick.  Your uncomfortable with these people running around in your home.  So this is where the trip comes in.  Do a quick web search for heating and cooling supply companies in your area.  These are the supply companies that provide heating and cooling contractors with their parts and supplies.  When you find what looks like one of the larger supply companies, drive there and observe the caliber of folks who come in and out.  I guarantee it will be an eye-opening experience.  You could also ask to meet the folks who are coming out to do the work before hand or ask for bios with pictures before you make a decision.  Might be a little more fun though to take the trip.

Stick to the Facts when purchasing a New Heating or Cooling System

28 11 2012

Okay, your old furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner has finally gone out or maybe you where smart enough to plan ahead, either way it is time to replace.  So, you’ve done your research and learned as much as you can and it is perfectly clear as to what the best solution is, right?  Doubtful!  Unfortunately, purchasing a new system can be about as clear as mud.  So, I offer this little bit of advice.  Stick to the facts!  Learn the exacts of the equipment and the company putting it in.  If the company representative who comes to your home doesn’t provide you with facts to back up their solution, then you can dismiss them right away.  Furthermore, stay clear of what you read on the internet unless it comes from a factual source (i.e. BBB, Department of Energy, Energy Star, or Consumer Reports).  There are plenty of “backyard professionals” who post information on the internet and they don’t know much more than you.  They know only enough to pretend they know what they are talking about.