FAQ's

Is my old inefficient air conditioner costing me money?
What is SEER?
If I buy a more efficient unit, can I buy a smaller one?
What are the benefits of zone control?
Do programmable thermostats really make a difference in my air conditioner usage?
How should I use a programmable thermostat?
How do I know if I have adequate insulation?
How is an air conditioning or heat pump system sized to a house?
How likely is it that my unit is properly sized?
How long should my air conditioner or heat pump last?
What is a heat pump?
When replacing the outdoor unit, should the indoor unit also be replaced?
What are furnace ratings?
What is two-stage heating?
How do I know what size unit our house needs?
Can I use my existing chimney with my new furnace?
What is a variable speed furnace?
Will my new furnace work differently than my old one?
When replacing the indoor unit, should the outdoor unit also be replaced?
How does indoor air quality affect my health?
How does an air filtration system help?
How does a whole-house humidifier help?
How does a carbon monoxide alarm work?
What is a fresh air exchanger?
What is UV Sterilization?
What Is R-410A?
What are the advantages of R-410A?
What are the disadvantages of R-410A?
Do I need to get three bids for any work to be done or before replacing equipment?
Should I set the fan switch on my thermostat to the auto or on position?
Is my old inefficient air conditioner costing me money?

Today’s air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps are more energy-efficient and less costly to run than ever. Give us a call and we’ll show you ways to make them even more efficient.

What is SEER?

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a system for rating the efficiency of cooling equipment. The higher the SEER rating, the less your unit will cost to operate. HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is a measurement similar to SEER, but it measures the efficiency of the heating portion of a heat pump.

If I buy a more efficient unit, can I buy a smaller one?

Probably not. A more efficient unit does not mean it will have more capacity. It only means that the new unit will operate more efficiently and with less energy cost when compared to the old unit.

What are the benefits of zone control?

Not all areas in your home need to be maintained at the same temperature. You can save money and get more control over your family’s comfort by having a zone control system installed. Ask us about them.

Do programmable thermostats really make a difference in my air conditioner usage?

New programmable thermostats allow you to adjust heating and cooling to fit the time of day and even your vacation schedule. Should you replace your thermostats? Call us and ask.

How should I use a programmable thermostat?

It is most efficient to find the temperature setting that feels most comfortable to you and leave the thermostat set there, even though a programmable thermostat allows you to set the desired temperature based on the time of day or your daily activities. As an example, if you are at work from 8 AM to 5 PM, you could set the thermostat to 84 degrees during those hours. If you want the house cooled down by the time you get home, program the thermostat to cool the house approximately one hour before you usually arrive home. Remember, a programmable thermostat may cost a little more that a standard thermostat but it can save you money in all seasons.

How do I know if I have adequate insulation?

Climatech will inspect your home to determine if more attic insulation could cut your monthly energy bills. Inadequate insulation causes higher than necessary operating cost, while too much insulation is expensive to install and does not necessarily pay for itself.

How is an air conditioning or heat pump system sized to a house?

The standard practice for sizing air conditioning and heat pump systems is to perform a load calculation on the structure. A load is completed by Climatech for every installation, regardless of size. Equipment must be sized based on the outdoor design temperature, direction the structure faces, attic and wall insulation, window types and locations, elevation of the home, and other structural and environmental factors. The Pittsburgh Area cooling design condition is to maintain a 75 degrees indoor temperature while the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees. Rule-of-thumb calculations are inaccurate. That is why an air conditioning contractor who uses the square foot method to design a system, or suggests a larger unit based on structure size alone, is not performing in the customer’s best interest.

How likely is it that my unit is properly sized?

There have been studies done that show that as many as 53% of home air conditioners are oversized by as much as a ton or more capacity. Units are often 60% to 80% larger than they need to be because someone thought they needed a larger unit. A larger unit will not only cost more during installation but also consume substantially more energy.

How long should my air conditioner or heat pump last?

If you have a system that has been properly sized for your home and it has been properly maintained, it should last as many as 15 years with minimal problems. However, if the size is incorrect or the unit does not receive regular maintenance, the lifetime will be reduced by five or more years.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable.

During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses-the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home.

Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

Also, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s ability to operate as efficiently as the gas furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

When replacing the outdoor unit, should the indoor unit also be replaced?

The answer is most likely YES, but this is mainly due to four reasons:

1. Matched system design
All outdoor cooling units are specifically designed to work with matched indoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. Air conditioner and heat pumps may “work” with other indoor units, but the result is a definite compromise in overall system performance.

2. Design advances
In recent years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances-especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.

3. Higher cooling and heating efficiency
The cooling and/or heating efficiency rating assigned to a given air conditioner or heat pump is based on matched system performance. While you may gain higher efficiency by replacing only the outdoor unit, the efficiency levels (and savings) will not be as high as with a matched system.

4. Equipment age
If an air conditioner or heat pump outdoor unit is 10 years old and needs to be replaced, the indoor unit is just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won’t have to replace the indoor unit in a short time-you’ll have years of service from both units.

What are furnace ratings?

Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio, which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed.

Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 80% AFUE. If your furnace is 10 – 15 years old, it likely falls far below the current furnace minimum and wastes energy. This doesn’t mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace.

Furnaces use electricity to run fans and motors. The amount of electricity used varies greatly depending on the type of furnace. Be sure to check electricity usage prior to making a purchase decision.

What is two-stage heating?

Two-stage heating means the furnace has two levels of heat output: high for cold winter days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household-cooling demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and provides more even heat distribution. Longer, low-capacity operation has many advantages:

  • Consistent comfort
    Two-stage heating eliminates the temperature swings associated with standard furnaces, regulating temperature to within as little as one degree of the thermostat setting.
  • Quiet operation
    Two-stage furnaces start in the first stage, when the amount of heat required is lower, instead of reaching full capacity all at once. That means there’s no sudden “kick” or blast of air.
  • Improved air filtration
    Low-speed operation allows your filters to capture more contaminants (because air is constantly passing through them), so you can breathe easier.
  • Efficient performance
    Because the furnace operates mostly in its lower-capacity first stage, it burns less fuel than a standard furnace that always runs at full capacity and shuts off when the heating demand has been met.
How do I know what size unit our house needs?

The standard practice for sizing a furnace or heat pump is to perform a load calculation on the structure. A load is completed by Climatech for every installation, regardless of size. Equipment must be sized based on the outdoor design temperature, direction the structure faces, attic and wall insulation, window types and locations, elevation of the home, and other structural and environmental factors. The Pittsburgh Area cooling design heating condition is to maintain a 72 degrees indoor temperature, while the outdoor temperature of 0 degrees. Rule-of-thumb calculations are usually inaccurate. That is why an air conditioning contractor who uses the square foot method to design a system, or suggests a larger unit based on structure size alone, is not performing in the customer’s best interest.

Can I use my existing chimney with my new furnace?

Furnace technology has advanced significantly in recent years, raising concerns over chimney use. As a result of changing technology, many existing masonry chimneys aren’t able to meet the specific demands of new furnaces.

There are several reasons for this furnace-chimney incompatibility. First, the size of the chimney can be an issue. Modern, higher-efficiency furnaces transfer more heat into your home and less heat up the chimney than older, less-efficient units. While this means more efficiency for your energy dollar, it also means that the existing chimney might be too large for the new furnace. The result could be improper ventilation of flue products, which can cause condensation problems inside the chimney.

Other considerations include chimney height and location, proper lining and condition of the chimney. Building codes must also be kept in mind to ensure proper draft in the chimney for adequate ventilation.

What is a variable speed furnace?

The term “variable speed” refers to the furnace’s indoor blower motor, which moves at different speeds to precisely control the flow of heated and cooled air throughout your home. Better airflow control has several benefits:

  • Electrical Efficiency
    Variable speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bills, as they consume less electricity than standard motors.
  • Cooling Efficiency
    Variable speed technology also means you will gain heating efficiency or AFUE.
  • Zoning
    Variable speed motors are excellent for zoning, which allows you to customize your comfort in different areas of your home and control your energy bills. They also have a higher capacity to move air, making it easier to heat those “cold rooms”.
  • Air Quality
    A variable speed motor can also help clean the air in your home. When the fan is in constant operation (indicated by the “Fan” setting on your thermostat), the motor will continue to slowly circulate air, allowing filters to capture more contaminants.
Will my new furnace work differently than my old one?

Furnace technology has advanced significantly in recent years. Modern furnaces are designed to provide more even and efficient heating than past furnaces, which can impact both how your system operates and what you notice about your system. To better regulate temperatures and airflow, modern furnaces move more air over the heat exchanger than older furnaces. The air that comes out of your furnace registers may not seem as warm as the air from your old furnace, but overall airflow is improved. Better airflow means higher comfort.

Also, new furnaces are designed to integrate with high-efficiency air conditioners, so furnace blowers are more powerful to accommodate add-on cooling. Since cold air is much heavier than warm air, your system needs an extra boost from the blower to deliver cool air throughout your home. If you have an older home, this performance boost could produce unfamiliar sounds because air duct systems were originally designed for heating only. To minimize sound levels, choose a variable speed product which automatically changes speeds to meet the airflow needs of both heating and cooling cycles.

When replacing the indoor unit, should the outdoor unit also be replaced?
  • Matched system design
    All indoor evaporator coils and furnace blowers are specifically designed to work with matched outdoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. Air conditioner and heat pump outdoor units may “work” with new furnaces, but the result is a definite compromise in overall system performance.
  • Design advances
    In recent years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances-especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.
  • Higher cooling and heating efficiency
    The cooling and/or heating efficiency rating assigned to a given air conditioner or heat pump is based on matched system performance. While you may gain higher efficiency by replacing only the indoor unit, the efficiency levels (and savings) will not be as high as with a matched system.
  • Equipment age
    If the furnace needs replaced, the air conditioning or heat pump outdoor unit is probably just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won’t have to replace the outdoor unit in a short time-you’ll have years of service from both units.
How does indoor air quality affect my health?

Indoor air quality can contribute to:

  1. Allergies
  2. Asthma
  3. Dry, itchy skin
  4. Eye irritation
  5. Nose and throat problems
  6. Headaches
  7. Dizziness
  8. Fatigue

Poor indoor air quality has been linked to all of these medical conditions and symptoms. In fact, your indoor air can be five times more polluted than the air outside. The EPA ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Climatech offers a wide range of air quality products that can make the air your family breathes cleaner and healthier.

How does an air filtration system help?

A whole-house air filtration system will remove dust, pollen, odors, tobacco smoke, and other harmful particulates from the air inside your home. This is especially helpful for asthmatics and people with severe allergies. Check with your doctor and insurance company about medical coverage.

How does a whole-house humidifier help?

Between 40% to 60% relative humidity maximizes comfort and minimizes adverse health effects. A whole-house humidifier will maintain the proper humidity in your home year-round. Also helps keep organic things from drying out – like woodwork, wooden furniture and your skin.

How does a carbon monoxide alarm work?

A carbon monoxide alarm works like a smoke detector to warn of deadly CO levels caused by incompletely burned fuels. They should be placed near the garage door, the fireplace, and gas appliances.

What is a fresh air exchanger?

Today’s new homes, because of improved construction and thicker insulation, can be too “tight.” An air exchanger will economically replace stale, polluted indoor air with fresh filtered outside air, making a more comfortable and safer environment.

What is UV Sterilization?

Ultraviolet lights are used to kill germs and mold in cooling coils, condensation trays and ductwork. Ask us about additional advantages.

What Is R-410A?

R-410A is refrigerant which is basically a mixture of R-32 and R-125. It was invented to replace R-22, which is the most widely used refrigerant today. R-22 will be phased out over a long period of time. The federal law schedule has R-22 to be phased out as follows:

Year 2010 = No longer used in new equipment
Year 2020 = No longer produced
Year 2030 = Complete phase out of R-22

Because the life of a standard comfort system is 15 years, purchasing a unit with R-22 would be well within the time and availability of R-22 refrigerant. However, it will become more expensive as the deadline approaches.

What are the advantages of R-410A?

R-410A has a higher heat transfer coefficient than R-22. This is somewhat of an advantage for the manufacturer, but not so much for the end user. With higher transfer coefficients, one might be able to use a physically smaller system to obtain the same rating. For the person who is purchasing the unit, the efficiency would still be the same 10, 11, 12, 13, or higher SEER’s.

What are the disadvantages of R-410A?

Systems that use R-410A will run at a higher pressure than those using R-22 (approximately 60% higher). The number of service technicians currently trained and equipped to service these units is, at this time, very limited. The standard gauges, tools, and recovery equipment are not compatible for use on R-410A systems. This limits the number of service personnel qualified to service these systems. In addition, the current wholesale cost of a pound of R-410A is 800% more than a pound of R-22. It is anticipated that as the use of R-410A becomes more common, the cost will become more affordable.

Do I need to get three bids for any work to be done or before replacing equipment?

While getting multiple opinions or estimates may seem practical, it only works if you get bids on exactly the same thing. Quality and efficiency can vary greatly between different system configurations and different contractors. If a company offers you a bid on equipment without doing an on-site examination of your home and your needs, their equipment may not be the best system for you. Never buy until you are happy with the quality of what you are receiving and you are sure that the contractor who is doing the work is reputable.

Should I set the fan switch on my thermostat to the auto or on position?

Most central air conditioner thermostats are equipped with two fan settings – “on” and “auto.” When the setting is “on,” the fan runs continuously. The “auto” setting allows the fan to run only during cooling cycles (when the air conditioner compressor is operating). When the air conditioner is in use 24 hours a day, the cooling compressor only operates about 50 percent of the time, or 12 hours.

The additional fan operating time that occurs when the thermostat is set to “on” can add approximately $40.00 to monthly air conditioning bills. Using the “auto” setting, on the other hand, saves energy and money because the fan operates fewer hours. In addition to achieving energy and cost savings, the “auto” setting promotes more comfort in the home by providing better humidity control. Humidity is less controlled when the “on” setting is used as moisture removed during the cooling cycle is recirculated back into the home while the compressor is off.

Some customers prefer the “on” setting because it provides continuous airflow. However, the air circulating when the compressor is not operating is not “cooled” air. This airflow into the home will actually be warmer than current room temperature if the air has circulated through ductwork located in a hot area such as an attic. Continuous air circulation is better provided by the use of a ceiling fan or circulatory fan in each occupied room.

The “auto” fan setting on central air conditioner thermostats can offer more economical air conditioning and better humidity control. The same holds true for central heating systems – the “auto” setting provides more economical operation. Climatech encourages consumers currently using the “on” setting to consider using “auto” to help reduce their cooling and heating costs. Or Climatech can install a thermostat with a programmable fan control, so the fan can run continuously during occupied hours and intermittently as the need dictates.

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