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Frequently Asked Questions

1 . What is two-stage cooling?

Air conditioners with two-stage cooling can work at two levels. High settings run when temperatures are very hot, and low settings are utilized during milder periods. Most of the time, low settings are enough to cool your home comfortably; two-stage cooling generates energy savings, lowers operating noise, and effectively controls indoor humidity.

2 . What causes my air conditioner to freeze up?

Air conditioners may freeze due to a few common issues, including a dirty air filter, refrigerant leaks and low refrigerant levels, dirty evaporative coils, or a malfunctioning blower motor. A NATE-certified air conditioning technician can diagnose your cooling system and provide needed repairs to prevent freezing.

3 . How does an air conditioner cool a home?

Air conditioners remove heat from a building, rather than create cool air. Hot indoor air moves over the indoor coil where the refrigerant inside absorbs the heat, sending it to the outdoor coil, where it is released into the outdoor air.

4 . What is two-stage heating?

Two-stage heating equipment allows the unit to work at two output levels. High output is used during extremely cold days, and the majority of the time, low is used for milder days; this means your unit can run at a lower setting when needed to reduce energy consumption. Two-stage heating offers minimal temperature fluctuations and more even distribution of heat.

5 . Why should I use a programmable thermostat?

Programmable thermostats are more accurate than old mercury thermostats because they are electronic. When used properly, they are more efficient than manual electronic thermostats because you can preset temperature schedules around your household’s needs; settings will change automatically as scheduled so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do so yourself.

6 . Why does my furnace smell when I start it up for the first time each fall?

This smell is your furnace burning off the dust which has accumulated on the heat exchanger during the off-season. It is normal to have this odor for the first few times you use your furnace each year; beyond that, you should call for service in case a system issue is to blame.

7 . How does a heat pump work?

Heat pumps work by moving heat from one area to another. In winter, heat pumps pull heat within the outdoor air, moving it indoors to heat your living spaces. In summer, the heat pump pulls excess heat from indoors and expels it outside to cool your interior spaces.

8 . What is a geothermal heating and cooling system?

A geothermal heating and cooling system uses energy from within the Earth to heat and cool your home year-round. These systems are energy-efficient, lower energy costs, and are long-lasting.

9 . What do MERV ratings mean?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and is a rating which expresses the effectiveness of an air filter; MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. Filters with higher MERV ratings are more effective at catching smaller particulates and removing them from your air supply.

10 . How often do my heating and cooling systems need preventative maintenance?

Heating and cooling equipment requires service annually. If you have a heat pump which is used for heating and cooling, preventative maintenance should be performed twice per year; once in the spring and once in the fall.

11 . How long does HVAC equipment last?

In most cases, you can expect your system to last for 10 to 20 years. As it ages, it will lose its efficiency. It may be noisier and require more frequent repair. When you notice these signs, you can either choose to repair the system or replace it. If your system is over 10 years old, it can be more cost-effective to replace your old system with a new, more energy efficient one. Our technicians are happy to provide you with an estimate for replacement and help you determine how long it will take for the new system to pay you back in terms of the energy savings it will generate.

12 . Do I have to replace all components of my system, or can I save money by just replacing the outdoor unit?

Replacing only the outdoor portion of your system is not advisable. It can cause you to lose about 15 percent efficiency, cause your system to fail sooner, and void your manufacturer’s warranty. When it’s time to replace your exterior cooling unit, you should also replace your interior cooling coil.

13 . Can I buy a bigger system for better performance?

Bigger systems do not mean better. Your air conditioner needs to be properly sized for your home in order to provide efficient, comfortable cooling. An oversized unit will use excessive energy and not provide adequate humidity control because its run cycles are too short, leaving more moisture in the air. This can cause mold and mildew issues in your home. Shorter run cycles also cause more energy to be used and a great deal of wear and tear to the system, which can lead to early breakdowns and reduced system life. The same also applies to an oversized furnace. While oversized equipment will heat and cool your home faster, this benefit does not outweigh the negatives.

14 . Why does it matter that system components are matched correctly?

It is necessary for system components to be matched properly for a number of reasons:

  • Comfort: Components which are properly sized allow for precise control, improving your comfort.
  • Performance: Matched systems mean all components will perform properly; cycle times are maintained, humidity is kept in check, and operating noise is minimized.
  • Efficiency: Poorly matched systems use more energy than needed. A system that meets the needs of your home, as outlined by your load calculation, will give you the most value for your energy dollars.
15 . How often do I need to change my furnace filter?

You need to change your filter at a regular interval. How often depends on the filter type, the number of pets you have, and the capacity of your heating and cooling system. If you’re unsure how often to do so, contact Comfort Control for assistance.

16 . Why should I use a high efficiency furnace filter?

A high efficiency filter will remove more contaminants from your air, greatly improving your air quality. It will also keep your system cleaner and improve air flow through the system so your equipment can work efficiently. High efficiency filters are recommended if you have allergies or respiratory issues. Remember, your high efficiency air filter needs changed regularly, too!

17 . Does my furnace and air conditioner need professional service every year?

Yes! Professional maintenance lowers energy use, improves efficiency and performance, reduces repair costs, prevents breakdowns, and increases the service life of your system. Foregoing maintenance will cause performance and efficiency of your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner to decline, cause your equipment to use more energy, and leave your equipment vulnerable to major problems. Visit our Service Agreements Page to learn more.

18 . Why should I sign up for a service agreement?

A service agreement works to protect you from parts and labor expenses should your system fail. Without a warranty, you are vulnerable; a service agreement protects you from unexpected expenses. Contact us to learn more about the protections our service agreements offer.

19 . How can I reduce allergy symptoms and improve my indoor air quality?

Many products are available to help with these issues. A high efficiency air cleaner removes up to 99 percent of pollen, dander, mold spores and other air pollutants that affect air quality and exacerbate allergy symptoms. This device can keep your home cleaner and smelling fresher. A whole home humidifier can counteract symptoms of dry air, such as itchy skin and eyes, as well as static electricity. With the added humidity, you’ll also feel warmer, meaning you won’t have to set your thermostat as high. You’ll save energy while improving air quality. For more options, please contact us.

20 . What can I do to control mold growth?

When excess moisture collects and stagnates within your HVAC system and on cooling coils, due to a clog in the drain pan or other issues, mold can grow. With air circulating throughout the system, mold can be carried into your home. There are ways you can combat HVAC system mold growth:

  • Preventative maintenance: Your drain pan will be professionally cleaned and any clogs eliminated. Click here to learn more about preventative maintenance.
  • Ultraviolet lights: These can be installed near cooling coils to eliminate mold growth. Learn more about ultraviolet lights.
  • Duct cleaning and high efficiency filters can remove contaminants which contribute to mold growth within your system.
21 . Why do I need duct cleaning?

Duct cleaning removes harmful contaminants which have built up within your system’s ducts, registers, grills, heat exchangers, coils, fan motor and housing, and the air handler. Duct cleaning can improve your system’s performance and your indoor air quality.

22 . What do efficiency ratings such as SEER, AFUE, and HSPF mean for homeowners?

SEER, AFUE, and HSPF are efficiency ratings which tell you the efficiency of air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps. Many units look the same, but their efficiency ratings can help you tell the difference. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and is used for air conditioners and heat pumps. 13 SEER is the minimum efficiency available, and Nelson Comfort offers air conditioners up to 20 SEER. With a higher SEER air conditioner, you can expect lower electric bills compared to a lower rated model.

Heat pumps also use HSPF, which stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, to rate their heating efficiency. HSPF ratings range from 7.5 to 9.0, and a higher rating means you’ll gain greater energy savings.

AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, measures the efficiency of a furnace. The minimum AFUE rating for furnaces sold today in the U.S. is 80 percent, but many older furnaces have ratings of 65 percent or below. Nelson Comfort offers furnaces from 80 percent AFUE all the way to 96.6 percent AFUE, which is considered highly efficient.

23 . How can I lower my energy bills?

Lower cooling energy use:

  • Upgrade your inefficient air conditioner to a high-efficiency unit. This can save you about 33 percent on your electricity bills. To generate these savings, the system must be sized properly for your home — contact us today to learn more.
  • Set your thermostat higher in the summer. For every degree you turn it up, you can lower your cooling bills by 1 percent or more.
  • Use ceiling fans. Make sure blades are spinning counterclockwise during summer months to keep you cooler.
  • Schedule annual maintenance. A licensed technician will perform necessary maintenance to help your system operate at peak efficiency and prevent breakdowns.
  • Make sure vents are clear. To maintain proper airflow in your home and allow your air conditioner to work efficiently, keep supply and return vents clear of blockages.
  • Close vents in unused areas of the home to eliminate cooling waste.

Lower heating energy use:

  • Install a high-efficiency furnace. New furnaces use as much as 50 percent less fuel, compared to older systems, which can drastically reduce your heating costs. Choosing a unit with an energy efficient motor verses a fan motor can save you 20 to 50 percent in energy use. Contact us  today to learn more.
  • Undergo annual professional maintenance to ensure your furnace or heat pump operates at peak efficiency.
  • Install a programmable thermostat for better control over your energy use.
  • Set your thermostat lower in the winter — for every degree you lower it, you can save 1 percent in energy costs.
  • Keep the vents in your living areas unblocked to allow your furnace to receive proper air flow so it can perform efficiently and supply your living areas with adequate heat.
  • Close vents in unused areas to prevent heating waste.
  • Use ceiling fans, set to spin clockwise, to push warm air down, helping you feel warmer without increasing your thermostat setting.
24 . Why do you recommend ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment?

Heating and cooling use accounts for approximately one half of the average household’s energy use. With such a large portion of your energy portion committed to heating and cooling, we want you to make the most of your energy dollars. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency standards and are better for the environment. With ENERGY STAR, there’s no guessing whether or not your equipment can help you save!

25 . What’s a heat pump?

A heat pump is an HVAC system that can heat and cool your home. They are often paired with a backup heating unit to keep your home comfortable when the outdoor temperature is very cold. They have SEER and HSPF ratings, which show you how efficiently the unit heats and cools. Heat pumps are highly efficient and can offer great savings compared to conventional heating and cooling methods.

26 . What’s a hybrid heat dual fuel system?

A hybrid dual fuel system allows you to take advantage of both gas and electric energy to heat and cool your home efficiently. These systems react to changing conditions, and will automatically choose the fuel source which will be most efficient depending on the circumstance. A hybrid dual fuel system allows you to save money all year long. When designing a hybrid dual fuel system, we accurately match heat pump units with gas furnaces to meet the needs of your home.

27 . What is geothermal heating and cooling?

Below ground, temperatures stay constant at 50 to 70 degrees year-round, because the Earth absorbs approximately 50 percent of the solar energy that reaches the surface. Geothermal heating and cooling systems tap into this energy source for home heating and cooling. Geothermal systems can help you save about 60 percent in energy costs compared to traditional systems. They use clean, natural energy, operate quietly, and offer longer service life. Geothermal systems can provide heating, cooling, and hot water for a home.

28 . What benefits do variable speed fans offer?

A variable speed fan can operate at different speeds based on the needs of your home. At lower speeds, they can deliver steady heat or cooling to your living spaces while controlling humidity, lowering utility costs, and making little noise. When your needs increase, the fan operates at a higher speed to meet your comfort demands.

29 . What is 2-stage heating and cooling?

2-stage cooling systems are highly efficient. Use this type of system for better comfort management at outdoor temperatures change. Units offering 2-stage units may have two compressors, a large one and a smaller one which puts out about 50 percent of the capacity that the larger one produces. Or, the unit can use a single scroll unloading compressor which has the ability to reduce its capacity to around 66 percent of maximum capacity. A 2-stage unit can run at the lower stage when the higher stage isn’t warranted, lowering energy use.

2-stage heating is much the same. The units can adjust automatically based on the heating demand. In a 2-stage gas furnace, a modulating gas valve regulates fuel flow based on your heating need. 2-stage heat pump units utilize two compressors.

30 . How low or high should I set my thermostat?

Average home temperature settings are between 75 and 80 degrees for cooling and 68 to 72 degrees for heating. To save money, set your thermostat to the highest comfortable temperature in the summer and the lowest comfortable temperature in the winter. The more you are able to set back your thermostat, the more energy you will save, which translates to lower energy bills.

31 . If rooms in my home are uncomfortable, how do I fix this?

Many factors can cause your HVAC system not to work as well in certain areas of your home. Higher heat gain through windows or poor insulation, an undersized or imbalanced HVAC system, or poor system design can all cause comfort problems. Our comfort consultants can analyze your home and develop a solution to tackle the comfort problems you are experiencing — contact us today to learn more.

32 . Has Freon been discontinued?

As of January 2010, R-22, also known as Freon, is being phased out in favor of a more environmentally-friendly coolant, R-410A. Production of Freon will be reduced through 2020, meaning there will be little of the product available to recharge older cooling systems. When it’s time to replace your air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient system which uses R-410A. Most systems being marketed today utilize R-410A instead of Freon.

33 . What can I do about a noisy outside air conditioner?

If outside noise coming from your air conditioner is bothering you, you have a few options. Your air conditioner may need a tune-up or repair to correct the problem causing the noise. Or, the noise may be attributed to the system being an older model, which operates at a higher decibel rating. Many manufacturers have been working to integrate new technology to reduce compressor noise, and new air conditioning systems are quieter than ever. Replacing your air conditioner with a new, quieter model can eliminate this problem.

34 . Can carbon monoxide enter my home?

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills about 200 Americans each year, sending 5,000 more to the hospital for treatment, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If your gas or oil furnace isn’t working properly, it could allow carbon monoxide to escape into your home. Carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide detectors should always be present in the home, as they are the only way to alert you if this gas is present, as it is colorless and odorless. Headaches and difficulty waking up are signs that carbon monoxide may be present in your home; seek medical attention at once if you notice these symptoms.

35 . What should I do if I smell gas?

LP, or liquid propane, is stored under pressure in a tank outside your home. For most residential heating applications, propane vapor is used. When the liquid form is converted to gas vapor, it expands. Even a minor leak for liquid propane can lead to a larger quantity of propane vapor, which is very dangerous in enclosed spaces. Odorant is added to propane which allows you to more easily detect a leak. Because it is heavier than air, leaked propane will sink to the floor and spread. If you suspect a leak, smell around a room, paying careful attention to low spots.

If you smell propane:

  • Leave your home quickly.
  • Do not light matches, use cell phones, turn on light switches, start engines, or do anything that could create a spark that may ignite leaked propane.
  • Once you are safely away from the home, call 911 and your propane supply company.
  • Shut off the propane supply at your storage tank, if possible.
  • Do not reenter the home until you have been cleared to do so.

Natural gas comes to your home through your gas meter from your utility provider. Like propane, it also has an odorant added to create a noticeable smell. It typically smells like rotten eggs. If you notice this smell, check around your home for a strong odor. If it is faint throughout the home, contact Nelson Comfort and have the leak fixed as soon as possible. Ventilate your home by opening windows.

If the natural gas smell is constant and strong:

  • Leave the home immediately.
  • Do not light matches, use cell phones, turn on light switches, start engines, or do anything that could create a spark that may ignite the gas.
  • Once you are a safe distance from the home, call your utility company and 911
  • Turn off the gas to the home at the meter if possible.
  • Do not enter the home until you have been cleared to do so.
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