How do I Maximize the Comfort & Efficiency of My HVAC System in Asheville, NC?

Home ownership requires a lot of responsibility. Monitoring, overseeing, and maintaining many of the mechanical elements of your home are crucial to keeping the home in good condition. HVAC, which means “heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning,” is the equipment responsible for maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home. It is also what preserves optimal air quality and energy efficiency.

Here are a few tips on how to maximize the comfort and efficiency of your HVAC system, regardless of the equipment’s age.

Attention Asheville Homeowners, Please Change Your Filters

Air filters are easy for homeowners to monitor and change. The type of filtration you have determines how often the filters should be replaced. Some filters must be changed monthly. Some higher-end air filtration systems can go six-months before they need to be replaced. Every homeowner should know the location and what type of filters they have protecting their HVAC system.

HVAC Maintenance is a Must!

A local professional service contractor like American Air Heating & Cooling should inspect your HVAC system twice a year, once in the cooling season and again in the heating season.

This is important to ensure your system is operating at its optimal level for the appropriate season’s temperatures. In the fall or winter, technicians should inspect and service your furnace or heater. In the spring or summer, they return to concentrate on your air-conditioner. Most professional companies offer incentives for homeowners to sign up as a maintenance agreement customer. Benefits can include priority service and discounts on repairs.

Close your curtains or blinds during the day

During the summer months, closing the curtains can reduce some of the ambient heat load on your home.

The opposite happens during the winter; and by keeping your blinds open, you can take advantage of the sun’s warming rays.

The blinds keep the warm air inside the home, as opposed to “leaking” out through the windows.

Make sure your vents and returns are not obstructed

If you have a forced air heating and cooling system, your air vents are strategically place throughout your home. These can be located on the wall, ceiling, or in the floor. It is important NOT to cover up these air vents. Blocking the vents restricts the air flow and will cause your furnace or air-conditioner to work harder to keep your home comfortable. This decreases the efficiency of your system, and it will cost you more to operate.

Clear obstructions around your outdoor unit

It is important to keep the area surrounding the outdoor section of your HVAC system clear of any obstructions. Shrubbery and plants allow air to pass through their foliage; however, make sure they are not in too close a proximity to your outdoor unit.

One foot of clearance around your outdoor condenser should be sufficient, but the more clearance you have the better. Because air is drawn into the air-conditioner, you will want to make sure any walls are at least 16-18 inches away from the unit. Warm air is discharged upwards from the unit, therefore, clearance above the unit is important. Blockage of air can result in damage to the system’s compressor and other components.

If you have a heat pump system; it is not only important to keep the area around the unit clear in the summer; but as well as the winter. You must keep the accumulation of snow or ice away from the outdoor heat pump. It can cause the outdoor unit to stop working. If you are expecting snow, make sure to remove the snow on and around the heat pump.

Make sure your system is turned off before working near it; this can be accomplished by turn the system off at the thermostat.  An extra measure of safety would be to pull the disconnect located at the outdoor unit.

If you follow these basic tips, you will increase the efficiency of your HVAC equipment and maintain a comfortable temperature no matter what time of year.

Your local trusted HVAC experts at American Air Heating & Cooling are here to help the Asheville residents!  Contact us Now!

warm home

Why Doesn’t My Heat Pump Keep Up When It’s Really Cold Outside in Asheville?

Heat pump systems are popular because they offer efficient, compact operation for both heating and cooling. Much like a refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space.

Since heat pumps move heat rather than generate heat, they provide excellent comfort much more efficiently than the operation of a traditional central heating system. As long as the components can keep the refrigerant colder than the outdoor air, it can produce indoor heat.

However, when outside temperatures dip below 30 degrees, a heat pump system begins to lose efficiency and uses a supplementary heat source, such as a gas furnace or electric heat strips to maintain a comfortable temperature.

But what if it gets really cold outside and your heat pump doesn’t seem to be heating well? You could have one of these issues with your equipment. Reach out to us at American Air Heating & Cooling, if you have concerns about your heating system.

Your Auxiliary heat strips or back up heat may be undersized or not working at all

During extreme cold temperatures, a heat pump system uses heat strips to compensate when the system cannot maintain a set temperature. An auxiliary heat strip consists of metal coils which use electricity to generate heat, however, they use more energy than the rest of the heat pump equipment.

That is why they should only be activated when outdoor temperatures dip below freezing. When initiated, it appears on your thermostat as “auxiliary heat,” or “emergency heat.”

The size of your home and the further north you live determine the heat strip size needed for optimum comfort. If you turn on the auxiliary strips but the system is not blowing warm air, the heat strips could be damaged. If you turn on the auxiliary strips and you feel warm air but the thermostat is not satisfying, you could have undersized heat strips.

The number of windows, ceiling height, and sun exposure are all factors when properly sizing auxiliary heat for a heat pump system. Also, insufficient insulation or weatherstripping can affect the efficiency of heat strips.

If you have an issue with your heat strips, it is best to consult a local HVAC service company like American Air Heating & Cooling in the Asheville area to inspect your system and make recommendations.

Undersized Heat Pump Systems in Asheville, NC

An undersized system is not large enough to provide optimum comfort in your home. The unit may never shut off causing your electric power bill to soar. A properly sized heat pump also helps control humidity, even in the wintertime. A consistent humidity level inside the home prevents condensation on windows. Excessive condensation on windows can result in mold issues.

A load calculation will measure the heat gain and loss of a structure. A professional HVAC installer will measure the heat gain and loss of your home by doing a load calculation. Roofing materials, windows, doors, insulation, appliances, and other heat sources will be considered when determining the proper size unit for your specific needs.

Older less efficient units may not keep your Asheville home comfortable?

Since a heat pump functions as an air-conditioner during the summer and reverses the refrigeration cycle to pump heat into your home during the winter, you want to make sure your system is operating at optimum levels all year long.

The average life expectancy of a heat pump system is about 12 years. With steady use and a proper maintenance schedule, the equipment will eventually start to wear down.

By keeping a close eye on your energy bills, you should be able to identify if your system is losing efficiency. Whether you are in the market for a new system or you’re hoping to keep your existing equipment working as efficiently as possible, consider calling an licensed HVAC service company.

American Heating & Cooling has been serving the Asheville area for almost two decades.  We have the experience and the trained technicians to solve your problem or simply answer you question.  Please contact us, we are ready to help!

Rheem Furnace, Heating Repair Asheville NC

What Are the Differences Between 80% and 90% Furnaces in Asheville?

Shopping for furnaces can be confusing. If you know you need a new furnace, it’s good to be proactive and start your search before your furnace stops working. You might have already started scouring the internet. If so, you’ve probably noticed that furnaces come with percentages attached. One furnace may have 80% AFUE attached to its name and another will have 90% AFUE attached. All of these numbers may have left you scratching your head. What does this mean and how can you decide which is best for you?

What Is AFUE anyhow?

AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a type of percent rating that indicates how much of the heat goes toward heating your home and how much is wasted. For example, if the rating is 80% then 80% of the energy is in your home, while 20% is wasted. If the rating is 90%, then 90% goes toward heating your home and 10% is wasted. Keep in mind, you pay for 100%. The rating lets you know what is wasted and what your home will actually use. 

At this point, you may be wondering why anyone would ever choose the 80% rating if they have to pay for 20% waste. While most people would prefer their heating systems to be the most energy-efficient possible, it does come with a higher price tag. Higher efficiency furnaces are more expensive, but the energy savings can outweigh the initial cost.

Differences and Options of 80% and 90% Furnaces

As mentioned above, the 90% furnace has a higher price tag because it has more efficient technology. With an 80% furnace, the lost 20% of heat energy is exhausted through the furnace’s vent to the outside.  A 90% furnace has a secondary heat exchanger to recover these lost gases which then diverts the gases into a condensing phase. This process retains more heat and lowers your energy bills. 

Let’s take a look at the different options or features that are available on today’s 80% furnaces. The basic single-stage 80% furnace uses a single-speed, on/off blower motor and a burner that runs at full output. With an 80% furnace, once a house is warmed, the blower turns off.  It then comes on again when the house isn’t warm enough. It also moves the air at one speed, which is unnecessary to maintain an already warmed home. Cycling on and off at one speed is not the most efficient or comfortable way to heat a home. Also, the 80% furnace burner operates at full output which is fine on the coldest days but wasteful during warmer temperatures. There are more efficient 80% furnaces that offer two-stage heating, and some have high-efficiency blower motors that can save you money on electricity; as well as, create more even temperatures in the home.

The 90% furnace is more efficient because it burns gas more efficiently, but there are many more options available to save energy and increase home comfort.  Many of these models offer an electronically commutated blower motor or ECM, which runs continuously at variable speeds and heats the house more consistently.  It creates more even temperatures in the home, which in turn uses less energy. Whenever a heating (or air) system cycles on and off it is using more energy than running continuously at a lower speed. A 90% furnace that utilizes a two-stage burner can save you money over a single-stage furnace that runs at full output. The two-stage burner will fire at a lower output and only fire at full fire rate when needed.  This will help conserve energy and increase your comfort. 

Basic Differences in Today’s Furnaces:

  • 80% or 90% Single-Stage Heating Furnace (One-stage heat means it operates at full fire on or off) These are typically your less efficient for energy savings and comfort.
  • 80% or 90% Two-Stage Heating Furnace (Two-stages of heat means it has a low fire and high fire operation) The furnace will typically run at a lower fire rate to save you money, and it will switch to high fire rate if needed.)
  • 80% or 90% + Two-Stage Variable Speed Heating Furnace (Same as the two-stage above), but you have a higher efficient motor that is quieter, saves you money, and increases your comfort by evening out temperature swings in the home.
  • 80% or 90% + Modulating Variable Speed Heating Furnace (The heating output modulates to meet the exact heating needs of your home.)  These are your top of the line furnaces today with efficiency, quietness, and overall comfort.

Talk to a Professional at American Air Heating & CoolingYou may be wondering why anyone would buy the 80% furnace over the 90%, but for many, the higher price tag is reason enough. There may even be installation issues to consider as well. This is why you should contact your certified HVAC technician at American Air to go over the pros and cons of each and help you make the right choice for your heating needs and your budget.

warm home

Ways to Stay Warm and Save Energy This Winter in Asheville

After a hot North Carolina summer and fall, cool air is certainly a welcomed change. You may have pulled out the sweaters and coats, but is your home ready for the winter? Read below to learn about some simple ways to stay warm and save energy at the same time.

Open Blinds and Curtains During the Day in Arden and Candler, NC

Too often, people keep the blinds and curtains closed during winter months to try and keep the heat in their house. If your home is properly insulated, open the blinds and curtains so that they may allow the sun to enter and heat the room. Not only is sunlight good to combat the winter gloom, it won’t cost you anything to warm your home naturally.

Throw on Another Blanket and Lower Your Thermostat

While you may be tempted to turn up the thermostat when you feel cold, try a blanket instead. Keep some throw blankets on the couch and add another layer onto your bedding. You can stay warm and save money. Did you know you can save up to 10% per year on your heating bills by reducing your home’s temperature by one degree?

Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

A great way to beat the heat is to turn on ceiling fans, but did you know that ceiling fans can help keep you warm in the winter months too? Reverse the ceiling fan cycle so that it turns clockwise if you are looking up at the fan.  By doing this, the fan pulls the warm air up and circulates it around the room. Keep it at a low speed and make sure that it rotates clockwise.

Insulate Your Home in Asheville, NC

The best thing you can do to keep down heating costs during the winter months is to make sure your home is properly insulated. First, check your windows and doors for potential leaks. If needed, caulk around the windows and replace weather stripping.

Make sure the ducts in the attics and crawlspaces are properly insulated. Run your hand along the heating ducts for holes. If you feel warm air escaping, then you’ll need to have your ductwork sealed and insulated by a professional contractor.  

Change Your Filters in the High Country

Replacing your filters is an inexpensive and a highly effective way to keep heating costs down. It’s also essential to caring for your furnace. Always remember, no matter what season, a clogged filter makes your heating and air units work harder and less efficient. Change your filters every three months at minimum.

Service Your Furnace

A regular maintenance schedule is necessary to maintain a safe and efficient furnace. Your licensed HVAC technician at American Air Heating & Cooling will inspect your furnace to ensure it is functioning to best of its ability. If you need to schedule heating maintenance or have further questions, please contact us!