Choosing the heating and air conditioning products best suited to your home and your lifestyle requires some planning. Comfort Tips will help guide you through the purchasing process, from hiring a qualified dealer to exploring financing options. They are designed to help you get the most from your comfort system and show you how to improve your home’s indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
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1. Reputation for quality and dependability
Dealers should be able to provide names of satisfied customers in your neighborhood. They should also be licensed, insured and code-compliant.
2. Prompt, courteous and professional service
Some dealers provide an extra measure of convenience with extended hours, emergency service, financing packages and year-round maintenance programs.
3. Commitment to your satisfaction
Dealers with a solid reputation are committed to 100% customer satisfaction. They realize that actions speak louder than words. So instead of just talking about quality, they practice it through listening, learning and responding to your needs.
4. Innovative product offerings
Dealers should offer a variety of innovative products and services that make your home more comfortable. They should also be able to provide suggestions for saving money on your utility bills and improving the quality of the air you breathe.
5. Solutions customized to match your needs
The best dealers recognize that one solution does not fit all homes. After going over what you want, and taking a look at your home and duct system, the dealer should be able to develop a proposal customized to your specific needs.
6. Technical expertise and certification
Dealers should have technicians on hand that can select the right size equipment for your home, install it properly and keep it in good working order. One sign of qualification is membership in professional organizations such as North American Technician Excellence, the only national testing and certification program accepted by the entire industry.
7. Clearly stated repair and service policies
The warranty and other service policies should be clearly stated for equipment, materials, and labor. They should also indicate who is responsible for honoring the warranty.
Chances are, your heating and cooling system is the most expensive equipment you will purchase for your home. That’s why it’s important to choose proven products from a reputable manufacturer.
A new ENERGY STAR®-labeled system, when properly sized and installed, can save you up to 20% on your annual heating and cooling costs.* Plus, it may qualify you for utility rebates** and tax credits.***
3. Quiet 0peration
The sound of a standard furnace can be as loud as 100 decibels, comparable to the sound of a kitchen garbage disposal! Air conditioners can produce sounds as high as 80 decibels. Look for technologies and features that help keep operating sound at a comfortable level.
4. Consistent temperatures
With a typical furnace or single-speed air conditioner, indoor temperature can vary as much as seven degrees from the thermostat setting. Variable speed and/or two-stage systems give you the assurance of precise temperature control.
5. Balanced humidity
To maintain proper moisture levels in your home, choose a thermostat that controls both temperature and humidity. You might also consider a variable speed and/or two-stage comfort system and dehumidifier.
6. Proper Airflow
A typical furnace motor runs at one speed and circulates a constant volume of air, so it responds to changing comfort demands by repeatedly cycling on and off. This frequent cycling increases air stratification and stagnation. For optimal air circulation, choose a variable speed model.
7. Healthy air
One of the best ways to combat indoor pollution is to attach an air cleaner to your furnace or air handler. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing your system is working to capture small contaminants in every room of your home.
**Check with your local utility about rebates in your area.
*** Tax credits are available for certain high-efficiency cooling and heating equipment under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. For details, go to www.irs.gov.
Before you Buy
If it’s time to replace your furnace before cold weather moves in, talk to an HVAC professional to determine the correct size system you’ll need. If the heating unit is too large for your home, it will waste energy by frequently cycling on and off.
Choosing an ENERGY STAR® qualified system will allow you to save money on energy bills by heating or cooling your home more efficiently. Here’s a guide to some of the common terms you’ll encounter when shopping for a new heating or cooling system.
What does AFUE mean?
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency: Like your car’s miles-per-gallon rating, a higher AFUE rating means a higher efficiency unit. A furnace’s AFUE of 90% means 90% of the fuel is used to heat your home, while the other 10% is wasted in gases vented outside. Choose a higher AFUE to save more energy.
What is a BTU?
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, the unit of heat energy that’s necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, from 58.5 to 59.5. How does this apply to your home? Well, a 10,000 Btu air conditioner can remove 10,000 Btus of heat per hour.
What does EER mean?
The EER, or energy-efficiency ratio of a cooling system, measures how efficiently the system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (usually 95F). A higher EER means a higher efficiency.
What is the difference between EER and SEER?
The SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency ratio) is a measure of air conditioning system’s efficiency over an entire cooling season, as opposed to a single outdoor temperature.
What is HSPF?
Heating System Performance Factor: This is the measure of a heat pump’s estimated seasonal heating output during spring and fall. Heat pumps with higher HSPFs are more efficient than heat pumps with lower HSPF ratings.
Keep your cool with simple A/C maintenance
Clear leaves, brush and dirt from inside your air conditioner’s top grille.
Trim nearby shrubs and bushes to allow at least two feet of clearance around the unit.
Trim nearby shrubs and bushes to allow at least two feet of clearance around the unit.
Schedule an annual checkup of your air conditioning system.
Replace your air conditioner filter once a month. Dirty filters restrict air flow and can waste energy.
If you use a room air conditioner, install it on a north-facing wall to keep it out of the sun.
If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified model to help reduce cooling costs up to 20 percent.
Don’t let April showers bring May mildew
Clear leaves, pine needles and other debris from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage. Check that they’re stable to avoid flying debris during storms.
Be sure downspouts slope away from your house. They should carry water at least 5′ from foundation walls.
Position lawn sprinklers so they don’t spray your home’s walls.
Examine window and door seals and weatherstripping. Reseal if needed.
Move furniture a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.
Check windows for condensation and walls for water stains, which are signs of too much humidity.
Keep your home’s relative humidity between 30 – 50%. A humidity control system such as Lennox’s Humiditrol® can safely control humidity.
Take control of home energy costs
Reduce air leaks in your home by caulking, sealing and weatherstripping around doors and windows.
Use exhaust fans to reduce moisture in the kitchen or bath, but turn them off when they’re no longer needed.
Make sure your refrigerator’s seals are airtight. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar out easily, the seal may need to be adjusted.
Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer.
Turn off lights you don’t need to save energy and reduce extra heat in your home.
If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model with two-stage cooling. Two levels of operation allow you to rely on the low setting most of the time.
Prepare dinner on your outdoor grill to help reduce your air conditioner’s load.
Check ducts for air leaks, including holes or separated sections.
General guidelines for keeping your home warm and efficient:
Have a qualified HVAC professional inspect your home’s ducts and cooling equipment.
Set your thermostat to 68°F when you’re at home and awake, and as low as 60°F when you’re asleep or awake.
Clean or replace furnace filters every month.
Clean chimney and check to see if your fireplace is working properly.
Seal air leaks in the attic, basement and crawlspace, and also around windows and doors.
Seal air leaks in the attic, basement and crawlspace, and also around windows and doors.
Check your attic for proper insulation. (The U.S. Department of Energy suggests a value between R-22 and R-49.)
Close curtains or shades at night and keep them open during the day.
Clean windows on the south side of your house to maximize sunlight exposure.
Weather-strip doors that lead to cold or outside areas.
Wrap and insulate waterlines to prevent them from freezing.
Repair leaky faucets.
Extra steps you can take to save energy:
Install a programmable thermostat, so you can preset temperatures for different times of the day.
Insulate the water tank and first six feet of hot and cold water pipes connected to the unit.
Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120°F (for every 10-degree decrease in temperature, you may save 3% – 5% on your energy costs).
Install rubber gaskets behind outlets and use switch plates on exterior walls.
Install low-flow showerheads.
Things you can do to improve air quality and reduce potential health risks:
When adjusting clocks, change batteries in smoke alarms, as well as radon and carbon monoxide detectors.
Consider a ventilation system to increase air circulation inside and add a healthy dose of fresh air.
Clean water-damaged carpets and materials, or consider replacement.
Reduce the potential for buildup of allergy-causing pollutants by keeping your house clean.
Take special precaution when operating fuel-burning appliances to avoid leakage.
Store and dispose of household chemicals in a safe manner.
1. Maintain your heating and cooling system
The best way to keep your equipment running at peak performance is to have a licensed HVAC professional do annual tuneups. It’s also important to clean or change air filters once a month.
2. Seal air leaks
Fixing leaks around your home will help you get the full performance out of insulation. The biggest gaps are usually found in the attic and basement.
3. Seal ducts
Ducts that are damaged or blocked can leak conditioned air and reduce your system’s efficiency by as much as 20%. You can improve your duct’s performance by calling an HVAC professional.
4. Replace old equipment with ENERGY STAR® products
When purchasing heating or cooling equipment, look for the ENERGY STAR label. These products use advanced technology to help you save on energy bills and improve the comfort in your home.
5. Make sure equipment is the right size for your home
Remember that bigger isn’t necessarily better. If the heating or cooling unit is too large for your home, it will frequently cycle on and off, which wastes energy. Plus, it won’t run long enough to remove humidity from the air, which can impact the comfort and health of your home.
6. Install a programmable thermostat
An ENERGY STAR® qualified thermostat, when properly used, can save you about $100 every year in energy costs. To maximize savings, it’s important to keep the thermostat at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, whether it’s during the day when you’re at work or through the night.
7. Change five lights
If every household replaced five frequently used lights, or the bulbs inside them, one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases would be prevented from going into the air.
Seven tips that can save you money this spring:
Reduce air leaks in your home by caulking, sealing and weatherstripping around doors and windows. This could save you 10% or more on your utility bill.
Turn off exhaust fans in the kitchen or bath when they’re no longer needed. These fans not only remove cooking odors and moisture, but they remove air-conditioned air from your home, too.
Make sure your refrigerator’s seals are airtight. It’s easy to test them by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar out easily, the seal may need to be adjusted.
If you’re upgrading your air conditioner system, choose a model with two-stage cooling. These systems have two levels of operation, with a low setting that’s adequate to meet your home’s cooling needs 80% of the time and a higher setting that can run longer when needed to produce more even temperatures.
Turn off lights you don’t need to save energy and reduce added heat your air conditioner will have to remove. Standard incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat, and cost more to run. Replace them with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
Use your dishwasher to wash only full loads. The same holds true for the laundry room.
Have dinner al fresco. Using an outdoor grill to prepare dinner lets you avoid building up excess heat in the kitchen.
Take a vacation from high utility bills this summer
Ready to take some well-deserved time off and head for the beach? Give your home appliances a break, too, and you’ll come home to a lower energy bill.
If you have a backyard pool, you can save energy maintaining it by giving your pool pump a break. Cutting back its operating hours to the minimum needed to keep your pool clean will save money and extend the life of your pump. If you have a heated pool, keep it covered when it’s not in use to avoid heat lost to evaporation.
Eliminate condensation on windows and walls by controlling high humidity. Installing a whole-home dehumidifier like the Lennox Humiditrol® dehumidification system reduces excess moisture to help you feel more comfortable and lower your risk of developing mold and mildew problems.
Plant trees to keep your cool. Adding deciduous trees around your home will block the sun’s rays to avoid overheating your home. The trees will lose their leaves in the winter, so the sun can help warm your home when it’s needed.
Wash and dry several loads of laundry back to back, so your dryer won’t cool down completely between loads. Better yet, hang laundry outdoors to air-dry it free of charge!
Don’t force your air conditioning system to work harder than it has to. Make sure curtains and furniture aren’t blocking any vents, and keep lamps away from the thermostat.
Sign up now for a chimney cleaning service, when no one else is thinking about their fireplace. You’ll avoid long waits for an appointment, and keep your fireplace running safely and efficiently.
Use microwaves, slow-cookers and other smaller appliances to prepare dinner. You could save up to 30% of the energy used by a conventional oven(and you’ll reduce the heat load on your air conditioner).
Crisp, sunny days and clear, cool nights provide the perfect opportunity to open your windows and enjoy the weather (and the energy savings). Here’s how to keep those energy savings going all season long:
Rearrange your furniture to keep you warmer without turning up the heat. Move your sofa and chairs near interior walls, so they’re out of the drafts that can come in through exterior walls and windows.
Schedule an HVAC professional to clean your home’s ducts before it’s time to turn on the furnace. Your system’s efficiency can be reduced as much as 20% by damaged or blocked ducts.
Enjoy your wood-burning fireplace on mild days in autumn and early winter. When outdoor temperatures drop below 30°F, the fireplace can pull more cold air into your home through cracks and crevices, forcing your furnace to work harder.
Replace the five most frequently used lights in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). These more efficient bulbs produce less heat and waste less energy and the savings can be considerable during the shorter days of fall and winter.
Vacuuming and wiping clean light bulbs and lighting fixtures can also help save energy. Dust and kitchen grease can build up and reduce the bulbs’ brightness, requiring you to turn on more fixtures to get the light you need.
Drain your hot water heater annually to reduce the sediment that settles to the bottom of the tank, creating a barrier between the water and the heating element. Keep the water temperature set at 120°F, as the higher the water temperature, the faster the sediment builds up inside.
Where’s the waste?
Energy waste is easy to overlook, especially in winter when you’re just trying to stay warm. It is possible to save money without reducing your comfort level. Here’s where to look:
Dirty furnace filters require your heating system to work harder. Create reminders in your email calendar to change or clean your system’s filter regularly. Disposable filters should be changed once a month. Also, clean your clothes dryer’s filter after each load.
Check around doors and windows for drafts of cold air. Adding inexpensive foam strips and caulking seals in warm air and can reduce your heating bill.
An old, inefficient HVAC system can waste hundreds of dollars each year. Install an energy-efficient furnace like the G71MPP Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace from Lennox to reduce your energy bill dramatically. The Precise Comfort™ technology automatically adjusts heat and airflow in increments as small as 1% to provide the ultimate in comfort control.
Excess dust in your home could be a sign of air leaks. Sealing leaks could reduce your annual energy bill by about 10%.(If you own a newer home that’s airtight but you still have a dust problem, consider using a high-efficiency air cleaner. Saving your personal energy is important, too!)
Back electrical outlets and switch plates on your home’s exterior walls with rubber gaskets available from home-improvement stores.
How can I save with a Heat Pump?
If you live where temperatures are typically above freezing and electric rates are low, you’ll use a heat pump year ’round. (Heat pumps draw heat from outdoor air in winter and release it inside. In summer, the process is reversed.) The cost of buying and installing a heat pump divided by the total hours used each year is less than that of buying and installing individual heating and cooling systems.
As long as the temperature stays above freezing, electricity is an efficient way to create heat. When temperatures dip lower, a heat pump with dual-fuel capability combines an electric heat pump with a gas furnace. The system alternates between electric and gas heat, depending on which is more economical, to help keep your energy bills low.
Making your life a little greener doesn’t have to hurt. In fact, there are some very simple steps you can take to reduce your impact on the planet…and the amount you spend on energy bills and elsewhere all year long. Here are some easy tips that make it easy to be green.
As much as half of the energy your home uses is spent on heating and cooling. So choosing high-efficiency air conditioning and furnace systems can make a big difference on your home’s emissions and your utility bills. Installing an ENERGY STAR® qualified HVAC system can dramatically reduce your energy usage, saving up to 60% on your cooling bills2, and up to 40% on heating costs.
Reducing the number of catalogs that clog both your mailbox and the landfill is better for the environment – and for your pocketbook, if they tempt you to buy. Each American gets about 63 catalogs every year; production of those uses an estimated 53 million trees and enough water to fill 81,000 swimming pools every year. There’s an online service that can help you get off mailing lists free at www.catalogchoice.org, or you can find each catalog company’s 800 number and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
You hear a lot about “ozone”…but is it good or bad? Well, that depends on where it is. The ozone layer refers to the ozone within the earth’s stratosphere, where more than 90% of the earth’s ozone exists. This ozone layer helps protect the earth by absorbing 97 to 99% of the sun’s high-frequency ultraviolet light. However, ozone is an irritating, corrosive, colorless gas that you don’t want in your home, because exposure to ground-level ozone can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain. Many indoor air quality (IAQ) products such as electronic air cleaners and portable ionic air purifiers produce ozone. Choose an IAQ product that does not produce ozone, such as the Healthy Climate® IAQ products from Lennox. This is the industry’s first comprehensive line.
Many energy utilities around the country are now offering “green energy” programs. Because green or renewable energy can be more expensive to develop than coal-based energy, these programs ask for voluntary contributions to offset the extra cost. You can generally buy “blocks” of green energy for a few dollars that your energy company will use to purchase the more expensive, renewable energy. These contributions allow you to offset part of your home’s “carbon footprint,” the measure of how much carbon dioxide is created each day by your use of fossil fuels.
Insulating your attic helps keep your home’s upper floors more comfortable in summer and winter, and keeps more of the comfort you paid for from escaping your home. Use insulation with at least a minimum R-30 value, or visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website to learn more about choosing the right level of insulation for your area of the country.
Planting a garden instead of grass around your home will allow you to save water, reduce the energy spent mowing and help avoid spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Choose native wildflowers, a ground cover that requires little care or an organic herb garden and you’ll save time and money all summer long