Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat is a thermostat that can be personalized to the specific needs of your household to ensure your comfort while cutting back on wasted energy.

By setting your programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature when you and your family leave and return, you can save money on your energy bill and return to a comfortable home.

Will I actually save money with a programmable thermostat?

If set up properly for maximum efficiency, a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs.

Getting familiar with setbacks and setups that will use your heating and cooling system efficiently greatly increases your savings.

Visit energy.gov for an in depth guide on how to get the most out of your programmable thermostat.

 

Heating Questions

When should my furnace be tuned up?

The best time to get your furnace maintained is in the fall, right before the cold of winter.  It’s best to make sure your furnace is in tip top shape before you need it the most. You don’t want your furnace to break down in the heart of winter!

What causes the loud bang noises after I turn on my furnace?

If there is a significant delay between the time you turn adjust your thermostat to when your furnace ignites, the burners are probably dirty. When the burners are dirty they can prevent the gas feeding into the furnace to ignite immediately, and the gas will build up before igniting. When they finally do ignite, it causes a loud boom.

This problem should not be ignored, as it can cause cracks in the heat exchanger, which is a costly repair.

Have a professional come to clean the burners and if they are that dirty, there is a good chance the rest of your furnace will need attention.

 

Can a ceiling fan running in reverse help heat my home?

Yes, a ceiling fan running counter clockwise takes the heat which has risen to the ceiling and circulates it back down the edges of the room, which helps heat the room.

Why is my furnace blowing cold air?

If your furnace is blowing cold air, there are several possible causes:

  • The pilot is dirty, the pilot light was blown out by a strong draft, or the thermocouple is bad.
  • The gas valve is switched off, and therefore no gas is feeding into the furnace.
  • The thermostat is on the wrong setting (“ON” instead of “AUTO”).

For more specific information, contact a professional to get the problem properly diagnosed.

I would like to replace my furnace with a more energy efficient one. What should I look for?

Look for the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which measures a furnace’s energy efficiency. This rating tells you what percentage of the fuel used is actually heating your home, and how much is being lost in the combustion process.

You want a furnace with a high rating, with some modern furnaces going as high as 98%. Old furnaces are 50% to 60% efficient, which means that half of the money you are spending on heat is being wasted in the process.

Modern furnaces are required by federal mandate to have a minimum AFUE rating of 80%.

Why does it smell like something is burning when I turn on my furnace?

If you noticed a burning smell coming from your furnace upon your first ignition this winter, don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.

As your furnace sits unused all summer, dust and dirt collects inside it. When you ignite it that first time, all this dust will burn off, usually fairly quickly. How long the smell lasts depends entirely on how dirty your furnace got in it’s off season.

This problem can be minimized by getting your furnace tuned up in the fall, at which time the internal components are thoroughly cleaned. This will help the furnace run efficiently through the winter months.

How does a variable speed furnace work?

A variable-speed furnace increases the efficiency of your air conditioner or furnace by running for longer periods of time.  Yes, it will save you money by running more.

Since basic furnaces run at either 100% or 0%, they are less efficient because they run the same regardless of your heating or cooling needs.

A variable speed furnace automatically adjusts the speed based on your heating or cooling needs.  So instead of running for 30 mins at high speed, it will run for an hour at a lower speed, which will keep the ambient temperature comfortable while reducing the energy needed.  It increases efficiency by eliminating waste from frequent starts and stops.

 

How big should my furnace be?

Choosing the correct sized furnace is a good first step when looking for a new furnace.  Heating capabilities are measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).

Your old furnace may be a good starting point, but for more accurate sizing, a professional should come to your home to do a load calculation.  They will calculate your home’s needs based on the size of your home, the number of windows, floors, insulation, etc.

Why should my furnace be serviced in the fall?

Your furnace should be maintained at least once a year, and the best time do it is before the time of year that it’s going to be used the most.

If you wait until winter to get your system serviced, you will likely have to wait for a technician to come out because HVAC companies will be busier than usual.

Why is the air so dry in my home during the winter months?

Cold air can’t retain as much moisture as warm air. When the cold winter air is warmed by your heat pump or furnace the relative humidity drops because the air can now hold more moisture than when it is cold. This creates a dry, uncomfortable environment in your home in the winter.

Dry air can also have negative effects on your home, furniture, and floors. A home humidifier can greatly increase your comfort and preserve your wood furniture, etc.

When should my furnace be replaced?

The average lifespan of your furnace will depend on what type of furnace it is.  Here are the average lifespans of different types of furnaces.

  • Electric furnaces- 15 years
  • Gas furnaces- 18 years
  • Oil furnaces- 20 years

These are merely averages, not hard rules. Your specific furnace’s lifespan will depend on the type, usage, and maintenance.  Regular annual maintenance will greatly increase your furnace’s lifespan.

How often do I need a furnace tune up?

Your furnace should be tuned up once a year. Much like your vehicle, your furnace is a machine with moving parts that need to be checked and serviced.  A furnace tune up keeps your heater running safely and efficiently all winter, and will reduce repair and energy costs.

Heating Questions

Cooling Questions

Air Quality Questions