What kind of HVAC system should I have?

There is no rules for sizing a system to a home. Depending upon the construction of your home, one (1) ton of air conditioning can cool anywhere from 300 to 800 square feet of home. The only way to insure the size of the system you purchase will be large enough to cool your home, but not any larger than you need, is to have your home’s individual heating and cooling needs evaluated by SMHC.

A larger system with more capacity costs more to operate. An air conditioner is at its least efficient when first turning on. A system with too much capacity will run in numerous short cycles, turning on and off repeatedly, therefore causing it to be less efficient. Also, keep in mind that an air conditioner only removes humidity when it’s running, so a system with shorter run cycles doesn’t remove humidity from the air very well.

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How is the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment measured?

The S.E.E.R. (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) is the amount of cooling your system will deliver per dollar spent on electricity. The higher the S.E.E.R. the more efficient the system will be.

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How can I increase the efficiency and life of my home’s heating and cooling systems?

The most important thing you can do is clean and replace your filters. Newer thermostats that are ECO ready can help provide some costing savings with advanced detection sensors and scheduling. Outside of these, shades, drapes, shutters, or screens should be installed on windows that are exposed to extreme sunlight.

Every time your system starts up, it will use a lot of electricity and not produce much cooling. Usually a system that is too small to cool the home is more economical to run but delivers less comfort. Even though it runs nonstop, it will usually consume less power than a larger system that cycles on and off. As a rule of thumb, a unit that is either on or off is less expensive than one cycling on and off.

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How often should I replace my filters? Are washable filters better?

For optimum efficiency and filtration, it is recommend that you replace your disposal filters at least 1-3 months. If you have washable filters, they should be cleaned at least once a month. If you have animals, you may need to replace/clean filters more often.

Washable filters are more environmentally friendly as the need to replace them is reduced, but maintenance is more involved as they need to be cleaned more often.

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Why should I have a smart thermostat?

With smart thermostats you can control the temperature in your home at different times of day without ever touching your thermostat. Some have built in sensors to detect if anyone is home or not, so can adjust the scheduled setting based on occupancy. They can even have extended room sensors to help create a more balanced temperature. They can also learn your preferences and can send you reminders.

Smart thermostats provide a more accurate system and level of comfort. And because they can connect to the internet, along with knowing the weather and temperature inside and out, the apps they provide can also help let you control your home when you are away.

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What temperature should I set my thermostat?

The time of year becomes a big factor for desired temperature settings. In the summer months, the average temperature setting is 78°-80° and in the winter 70°-72°. There is also personal preference based on the individual – some like it warmer, some like it cooler.

When the house is not occupied, try to avoid drastic temperature changes. Many do this thinking it will save them energy and costs, but it can have the opposite effect. Do not set your temperature back more than 5°; as this will cause your unit to work harder to achieve the desired temperature setting.

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Should I close the registers and doors to areas of the home that I do not use on a regular basis?

This can decrease the systems’ airflow and efficiency. Every system is designed to cool a certain number of square feet. By closing registers and even doors in certain rooms, you disrupt the airflow and cause your air conditioning system to work harder to distribute air to other areas of your home. Your system will work harder, to cool less space, making it cycle more and become less efficient.

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Electric vs Gas Water Heaters

Electric water heaters can operate more efficiently because they do not lose heat through venting. And have instant heat when turning on. Electric water heaters also can fit in small/tight spaces. But electric water heaters won’t work if there is power loss and no backup power.

In a gas vs. electric water heater operating cost analysis, gas is usually cheaper. Natural gas is typically less expensive than electricity, and assumes that you already have access to natural gas in your home.

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