Canada Furnace Q & A: Air Conditioning Service, Heat Pumps and Energy Costs.

canada furnace questions and answers

How Do I Find a Good Company To Service My Air Conditioner?

air conditionerIt may seem right now that summer is a long way away, but before you know it, we’ll all be out in the yard cleaning up and thinking about all of the equipment that we use in the hot weather. This would include of course that fantastic machine that keeps us from melting on the hottest days – the central Air Conditioner. Whether it’s for an annual tune up or urgently required repairs, how does one find an HVAC company in whom they can trust?

A couple of ideas:

  • As in so many things, a decent referral from someone you know and trust is often a precious bit of information and guidance.
  • The firm’s website can often illustrate some important features like customer testimonials, new install illustrations (pictures) and their BBB rating (also worth calling about).
  • Find out what level of certification and qualifications their technicians are holding.
  • Make certain that the company maintains all mandated certifications, licenses and liability insurance.
  • Finally, determine how long they’ve been in the industry and ascertain that they have a real address and are a “real” company.

How Long Does a Heat Pump Last?

The short answer is that they have a service life in the neighbourhood of fifteen years. If not well maintained with regularity, however, they can “pack it in” in a much shorter time span. Some factors are influencing the lifespan of a heat pump, including the length of time that they are working and a load, but it has been documented that if regularly serviced, some units will go beyond twenty years.

A correctly followed professional installation is another factor that will determine the life of a heat pump as well. The correct size of the unit as determined through calculations performed by the professional HVAC installer counts a great deal as well.

Going back to annual maintenance is still the biggest contributing factor to the lifespan of your heat pump, however. When your HVAC professional performs the annual service ensure that one of the things on his checklist is to ascertain that the airflow has been adjusted so that the unit is providing somewhere from 400 to 500 cubic feet per minute of air (CFM).

The long and short of it is that your heat pump’s lifespan will be affected by usage, installation and the condition of internal factors like the efficiency of the home’s ductwork. If you have it regularly cleaned and maintained, you will see the longest possible operational life from the unit guaranteed.

How Do You Increase The Effectiveness of Your Heat Pump?

If your home utilizes a Heat Pump as the mainstay of its HVAC system, you no doubt have already realized how much more efficient it is as compared to the more traditional furnace/air conditioner arrangement. Here are some thoughts to help you realize the full potential of your system.

During your annual maintenance and tune-up of the system, “make sure to ascertain from the attending technician that the refrigerant level is correct to the manufacturer’s recommendations.” as stated by A/C Repair Chattanooga. If the level is either too low or too high, the performance of the unit can be compromised. Accuracy is important as well; as little as a couple of ounces off in either direction can make a big difference.

Leaks in the home’s ductwork should be found and repaired. This isn’t necessarily a do it yourself proposition, depending on the ease of access to the ducts or the level of damage (holes, cracks) or even missing sections. Given that 25% or greater efficiency losses can occur via leaky ducts, the cost of repair can be realized very quickly, and the overall comfort of the home will go up exponentially with correctly functioning ductwork.

For one ton of air conditioning volume, a heat pump must maintain a continuous airflow of between 400 and 500 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). Any rate even a little below this (300-350 CFM) will drastically impair the performance of the heat pump. Again, when your HVAC professional is out for an annual maintenance and tune-up, make certain that this is an issue he checks into and verifies as correct.

How Can You Lower Your Energy and Utility Costs?

lower energy costsOut here on the west coast, where air conditioning season isn’t typically very long, this is a more frequently asked question in the winter months. In fact, though, most of the techniques involved here are really year around solutions.

The first thing to do is make sure that your homes furnace (or boiler) and air conditioning system are properly maintained. When they are running at their most efficient, they will consume the least amount of energy – it’s that simple. Also, as we’ve said countless times before – install a new/clean air filter in the system regularly.

Make sure that all of the leaks and gaps in the home are sealed up. We’ve talked about correctly installed weather-stripping and caulk before, and it really does work. More insulation is another consideration, but make certain that this is considered and installed correctly. If you think that your case may need more detailed attention, a professional home energy audit should be something to give serious consideration to.

Try to keep hot water consumption to a reasonable minimum. Dropping both the temperature and consumption time even a little will help. Low flow fixtures can assist in this area too.

Keep the indoor temperature at 18-19 degrees C when the home is occupied and at about 16 degrees when no one is home or at night during the sleeping period. The hot water tank doesn’t need to be any higher than 120 degrees F (49 C).

The sun is your friend. I know that we don’t see the sun as much as we’d like, but when it’s out there (you remember, that big bright orange ball up in the sky) keep those blinds and curtains open – it’s free heat. Conversely, in the summer it’s a good idea to use those curtains/blinds to block out the heat when it becomes excessive.

Finally, turn stuff off when not in use! Appliances, computers, entertainment equipment and of course lights don’t need to be on if no one is using them. Many surge protectors available today have a main power switch allowing you to turn off all of the equipment plugged in with the flip of one switch.

At any rate, whenever feasible – turn it off or unplug it!