Maintain HVAC

Maintain your HVAC to Save Money

Over the past year, people have been staying home more because of the pandemic. More people are working from home, many students have turned to completing school online, and most of our social activities were canceled for a period of time. Because of this, many homeowners decided to invest in their homes and their comfort by upgrading to a better HVAC system. It makes sense – if you are home for the majority of your day, you want to be comfortable. Demand for newer, more efficient HVAC systems has risen and so have the costs of materials, labor, and fuel. Most HVAC manufacturers have announced price increases anywhere from 3 to 9% to handle the increased cost of materials, labor, and transportation of goods. So if you were thinking of purchasing a new HVAC system, now might not be the best time. By taking care of your system and completing routine maintenance, you can save yourself a lot. The average lifespan of an HVAC is about 15 years, but that can be increased to 20 or more with some TLC. A new system averages anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 (add a few hundred dollars more these days). Here are a few quick tips to maintain your HVAC system and extend its life for as long as possible.

Professional Help

The number one thing you can do to maintain your HVAC unit is to schedule regular maintenance with a certified company. Specialists recommend that you make an appointment with your HVAC company twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. This will ensure that your system is ready when you switch from heating to cooling, and then from cooling to heating. Trained specialists will keep your HVAC unit in great shape, allowing it to run as efficiently as possible. An efficient system means you will have a lower energy bill to pay, and it will put less strain on the machine. A system that can run smoothly will last longer. Specialists can also diagnose any issues they come across – big or small. By fixing a problem in its beginning stages, it reduces the wear and tear put on your system, allowing your system to live longer. Help your HVAC system stretch its lifespan for as long as possible, so you can save money, by scheduling routine maintenance with Weather Crafters today.

Filters

The easiest thing you can do for your HVAC, by yourself, is to change the filters regularly. Filters help remove particles from circulating through the air in your home. From pollen and pet dander, to bacteria and mold spores, the filter helps keep the air clean and fresh. According to the EPA, indoor air is actually between 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air because it doesn’t have the natural filtration of rain, trees, and clouds to clean it. If you live with someone with asthma or respiratory issues, upgrading to a high-quality filter can help. Regardless of the quality of your filter, it should be changed regularly, usually about every 3 months. By changing the filter, not only are you increasing the cleanliness of the air in your home, you are also helping your HVAC system run more efficiently. When a filter becomes full, it starts to clog and air can’t move through the filter as easily. In turn, the HVAC has to work harder to push air through the clog, and the harder a system works, the shorter its lifespan usually is. Changing a filter is really easy, and if you aren’t sure, ask your specialist to show you how on their next visit. You can also sign up for an automatic delivery service so you don’t have to remember when to change the filter. When the new filter arrives, you know it’s time to change it.

Outdoor Cleaning

During the summer, heat is removed from your home and dispersed outside through the outdoor condenser unit. It’s the big box that sits outside of your home, with a fan in it. Keeping this clean and clear is key in helping your system run efficiently. During the fall and winter, twigs, leaves, and other debris can create blockage and prevent air from flowing freely. In the spring, before you turn on the air conditioning, clear away anything that is on top of or around the unit. When planting landscaping, make sure you leave adequate room around the condenser. You can also use a hose to rinse off any pollen or build up, but don’t use a pressure washer because that could cause permanent damage.

Check the Evaporator Coil’s Drainage

During the summer, your air conditioner is going to have condensation on the outside of it. Drip pans are installed under the unit to catch the dripping condensation and to prevent any water damage. There is also a drain pipe to prevent any overflow. Before turning on your air conditioning for the summer, check for any blockages that will prevent water from draining properly, such as algae or mold. Check to ensure proper drainage is happening every few weeks throughout the warm weather. If you aren’t sure where to find your evaporator coil, ask your HVAC technician to show you.

Costs are on the rise due to shortages in raw material, labor, and transportation. If you are able to extend the life of your HVAC unit even just a few years, you are saving yourself money. Checking the condenser unit and the evaporator coil drainage cost you nothing except a few minutes of your time. The cost of a good quality filter and regular maintenance seem like nothing when compared to the cost of a new system. Give your HVAC a little TLC and it will save you money.

smart thermostat

Stay Cool with a Smart Thermostat

You’ve been out in the sun all day. You can’t wait to get home, put your feet up, and cool off. Then you remember you forgot to turn the temperature down and your house is going to be uncomfortably warm when you arrive. It doesn’t have to be this way. Things are starting to heat up as summer approaches, and there is no better time to upgrade your HVAC system by installing a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats are easy to install, user friendly, and they help you to control the temperature of your home or office from the convenience of a smart phone. This means whether you are away on vacation, or just at work for the day, you can make an adjustment with a few swipes. Here are few FAQs that will help you determine if a smart thermostat is right for your home or business.

What makes a thermostat smart?

These thermostats are labeled as “smart” because they are constantly collecting data and using it to run more efficiently. Efficiency means that the system is running using the least amount of energy to reach the desired temperature quickly. This keeps you comfortable while reducing your energy bill and extending the life of your system. By collecting data, the system learns your preferences and habits. If you adjust the temperature a few degrees each night before you go to bed, the thermostat will recognize that pattern and automatically change the temperature, without being told to do so. This allows the HVAC system to run more efficiently because it can gradually raise or lower the temperature. Manually changing the temperature causes the system to work harder, and reduces its efficiency. By trying to adjust the temperature as quickly as possible, it uses more energy. The smart thermostat also sees how your patterns change throughout seasons. So instead of you having to remember to adjust the thermostat each day, your thermostat will help you do that in a more efficient manner.

Does a smart thermostat actually save money?

The ultimate goal of a smart thermostat is to have your heating and cooling system running as efficiently as possible. This requires less energy, and less energy usage means less money spent monthly on your bill. In the U.S., an average of 10-12% savings on heating and 15% on cooling was reported by smart thermostat users. That’s about $150 in savings a year. A smart thermostat will pay for itself in less than 2 years. You can also get a rebate and money back if you install certain models of smart thermostats, such as varios Ecobee, Braeburn, Honeywell, Emerson and Google Nest models. Look for your model here https://www.energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-connected-thermostats/results

Are smart thermostats user friendly?

Overall, models are made to be easy to work with. If you aren’t comfortable with smart technology don’t let that deter you. The benefits greatly outweigh any difficulties you may encounter. Having a smart thermostat installed by a professional will make the transition much smoother. Contact Weather Crafters to talk to a trained HVAC specialist to determine what model is right for you. We are here to answer any questions you have, and to walk you through how to use the new thermostat. Learning how to use the in-home controls, as well as the accompanying app on your phone are important, and we are here to help with each step.

Keep your home or office comfortable and save money by installing a smart thermostat. Based on your lifestyle and your budget, our technicians can help you choose the smart thermostat that is right for you. Smart thermostats are not just for the tech savvy – they work wonderfully in any home or work place. They have large displays and are very user friendly, which means anyone can use them. Best of all, when Weather Crafters installs your smart thermostat, we will be there to help you with the programming and to answer any questions. It doesn’t matter if we installed it yesterday, or two years ago, we are always here to help. Give us a call today to decide which smart thermostat is right for you.

maintenance

This Old House: The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Older homes are awesome – they have character, memories, and a coziness that newer homes take time to develop. While some people may consider an older home a “money pit”, that doesn’t have to be the case. If you own a home, regardless of its age, it is really important to have regular maintenance completed. As with caring for many things in life, if you maintain your home, it will last longer and hold its value better. According to John Ghent, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, as much as 50% of a home will need repairs or replacement in a30 year period. An average house will need 0.75% of its value in repairs in the first 10 years. If you own an older home, you just need to take that into account when scheduling and completing maintenance. Here are some things to consider focusing on if your home was built before the 2000s.

Roofing

Roofs can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, depending on the quality of the material and where you live. Areas with high humidity, regular strong winds, or lots of rainfall can shorten a roof’s lifespan. The average cost nationwide of a new roof can range anywhere from $5,000 to more than $10,000. Factors include the quality of material you are purchasing and how large the roof is. Keeping your roof in good shape is important – it protects the rest of your home from water damage and hail. It also plays a role in the insulation of your space, helping you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. To help your roof live longer, complete regular maintenance throughout the year. Look at the shingles and check for damage at least once a year and after big storms and high winds. Keep branches clear from the roof, whether they are touching or dangling above to prevent holes. Unclog gutters to prevent water damage from overflow and remove moss to stop growth from pushing up under the shingles.

HVAC system

No matter how old your home is, if you live in the midAtlantic region, there is a good chance that you have some type of heating and cooling system. The average HVAC system lasts about 15 years and costs anywhere from $5,000 to more than $10,000 to replace. Having your system scheduled for regular maintenance by a trained technician twice a year is highly recommended. The system is vital to any home’s comfort throughout the year, and it becomes especially important in older homes. Making sure that humidity and temperature is regulated properly throughout an older home is key in the battle against age. Most homes, old and new, are constructed using wood, which expands and contracts with the temperature and humidity. If you have a good HVAC system, there will be less stress on the wooden aspects of your home because there won’t be such a drastic change in temperature or humidity. While this is important in all homes, many older homes’ “character” comes from wooden features. Healthy wood is less likely to chip off or fall apart.

Windows

Making sure that you have snug, well-fitting windows (and doors) is important in any home because it allows your heating and cooling system to work more efficiently. Because replacing all the windows in your home can be pricey (between $300 and $700/ window), many older homes have windows that are really outdated. Gaps can appear in the frames due to the wood expanding and shrinking with temperature and humidity changes. This allows air to leak out, which reduces the efficiency of your HVAC system, leading to an increase in your energy bill, and a decrease in the lifespan of your heating and cooling system. Windows can also cause damage to exterior walls due to rain water leaking in. If you are in need of new windows, but think you can’t afford it, consider replacing a few at a time.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 Housing Survey, 42% of homes in America were built before 1974, which means there is a decent chance that you live in an “older” home. Although all homes should be well-maintained, older buildings need a little more TLC to stay in good shape, and to continue to be the place you call home. Focus on maintaining the big items, like the roof and the HVAC to help extend their lifespan, and work on keeping your home energy efficient. Even though the building might be old, you don’t have to live in the dark ages. Give Weather Crafters a call today to schedule your next maintenance visit!

Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostats

If you are ready to have more control of your home’s comfort, to save money, and to save energy, then it is time for you to install a smart thermostat. While there may be a lot of gadgets on the market to make your home a “smart” home, a smart thermostat is actually worth the investment. It gives you convenience, control, and money saved.

Studies show that 89% of homeowners don’t properly use the programmable option on thermostats, so having a pre programmed thermostat running on a timer is not saving you as much money as a smart thermostat could. If you forget to adjust the timer on your thermostat, a smart thermostat can help. It can be controlled remotely through your smart phone, and the programs are very user friendly. The thermostat communicates via wifi so that you can change the temperature even if you aren’t home. This is a nice feature if you travel a lot – you may not have a set schedule but can adjust the temperature to save yourself money on heating and cooling. There’s no point in heating or cooling a home if no one is there.

Because a smart thermostat is “smart”, it doesn’t just rely on you to tell it what to do. It learns your habits and preferences. Even if you forget to turn the temperature down at bedtime, it will remember. You can also adjust settings so that the thermostat is alerted when you are on your way home, working with your phone’s GPS system. If you leave work early, a traditional thermostat wouldn’t turn on until the programmed time. Your smart thermostat can tell that you are on your route home, so it starts to warm up the house. Instead of coming home to a chilly house, and manually adjusting the temperature, your smart thermostat has already kicked on and warmed the house to your preferred temperature. Not only does this bring you comfort, it saves you money too. If a system is running on a schedule, it can gradually adjust the temperature over time. If you manually change the temperature, it works as quickly as possible to reach the desired temperature. Working quickly is not working efficiently, and more energy must be used.

The fact that your thermostat can tell when you are on your way home may seem a little bit over the top. However, letting your smart phone alert the thermostat that you are heading home can save you a lot of energy and money on your heating bill. If you came home to a house that was chilly, you would probably just walk over to the thermostat and manually turn up the heat to the desired temperature. In order to save energy, you may have programmed your thermostat to a lower temperature during the day, when no one is home. If you come home early, the house might be at a chilly 67 degrees. If you manually adjust the temperature to 72 degrees, that means your heating system has to raise the temperature by 5 degrees, rather quickly. This will cause your heating system to go to full-blast to get the room to 72 degrees as quickly as possible. With a smart thermostat that knows you are on your way home, it can adjust the temperature more slowly. This is one of the benefits of a smart thermostat that allows your heating system to work more efficiently, which saves energy and money.

According to EPA estimates, smart thermostats can save homes up to $180 a year in heating and cooling costs. About 50% of a home’s energy bill is related to heating and cooling. These smart thermostats cost between $200 and $500, so in about 2 years, the thermostat will have paid for itself. Smart thermostats save money, and improve convenience and comfort in your home. It’s time to upgrade to a smart thermostat – call Weather Crafters today. We can answer any questions you might have about different smart thermostats and how to install them. We are also happy to recommend different types of thermostats, based on your needs. Smart thermostats are an investment in the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Start investing in one today!

How long will my HVAC last?

How Long will My HVAC Last

Your HVAC system is an important part of your home and your comfort. These days, living through a summer or winter without air conditioning or heat seems unthinkable. However, if your system dies unexpectedly, you might have to endure some discomfort while you find a replacement. A new system can range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 – depending on the size of your home and the quality of the system. Knowing when you will need to replace your current system can be a big help, so you can plan for it financially. Weather Crafters can help you install or replace an HVAC system.

So the obvious question is: How long will my HVAC system last? The answer can vary a lot, depending on how well the system is maintained, the quality of the system, and if it is the correct fit for the space. It also depends on the individual parts within the system. As a whole, HVAC systems can live from 10 to 25 years. The average lifespan of a furnace can be from 15 to 25 years, while an air conditioning unit only lives about 12 to 15 years.

How well is the system maintained?

HVAC systems need to be routinely checked and serviced at least once a year, preferably twice a year. You should schedule an appointment with your HVAC specialist in the fall, before you turn on the heat, and in the spring, before using the air conditioner. You can also help make sure your system is running efficiently by changing the air filter regularly – every 30-90 days (as specified on the filter). To extend your system’s life, the key is to have it running as efficiently as possible. This happens when air flow moves smoothly throughout the house – no clogged filters, blocked air ducts, or leakey doors and windows. The HVAC specialist checks many of these things, but you can improve your home’s energy efficiency by scheduling an energy audit.

What is the quality of the system?

The quality of the system can be reflected in the price tag. The more expensive a system is, the better quality it should be, and the longer it should live. If you purchase a model with a poor quality part, the whole system will suffer because of that one bad part. If you opt for something of lower quality, you could end up paying the difference in repairs if a part goes bad. However, this may not always be true, and a faulty part can lead to much bigger problems. Do some online research and talk to your HVAC specialist to determine which brands are known for quality throughout the system. According to Consumer Reports, the Top 5 brands for reliability in 2020 were Trane, American Standard, Bryant, Lennox, and Carrier. While these brands have a good reputation, there are other great options out there. Get in touch with Weather Crafters, and we can give you recommendations based on your individual budget and needs.

Is it the correct fit for the space? 

The best way to help your HVAC system live a long and happy life is to help it run efficiently. To do this, it needs to be correctly sized. If a system is too small for a space, it will be constantly running to try to keep up with the demand, and constantly failing. An optimal system runs by heating or cooling air gradually, over time, and then turning off, until more air is needed to maintain the temperature. An under-sized system will constantly run, trying to play catch up. This is a huge waste of energy, and it will quickly shorten the lifespan of a system. On the opposite end of things, you could also purchase and install a system that is too big for a space. This might not seem to be a problem, but it is. A system is built to produce air for a certain amount of space. Just as an undersized unit will underproduce heated or cooled air, an oversized unit will overproduce. This obviously is a problem for the systems efficiency, because it is creating more heated or cooled air than needed. An HVAC system is built to run the length of it’s cycle – if you have an oversized unit, it will heat or cool the space too quickly and turn off. It takes more energy for the system to turn on, than to keep running. Let’s say a cycle is supposed to take 30 minutes, but only takes 10 minutes. The system will turn off when it reaches the desired temperature. If it turns off after 10 minutes, it will have to turn back on in 20 minutes to maintain the temperature. So if it does it’s job in 10 minutes, and turns back on 20 minutes later, it has turned on twice in a 30 minute window. However, if it ran it’s normal 30 minute cycle, it would only turn on once in a 30 minute period. Turning on takes a lot more energy, and it wears out the parts of the machine more quickly. 

Knowing how long your HVAC unit will last is important because it helps you budget and prepare to replace it. You can also extend the life of your system by making sure it is well taken care of by having a professional do regular check ups. When it is time to install a new system, let us help you determine the best HVAC system for your home. Based on your budget, space size, and other important factors, Weather Crafters can give you recommendations, based on our own extensive knowledge and experience of various brands and models.