My husband, Joe, and I recently purchased a very large, extremely old house. It is in need of some major renovations. We’re planning to replace the roof, install new windows, gut the kitchen, and update the wiring and plumbing. We hope to make the home far more energy efficient. Because of the many rooms, high ceilings, and big windows, the heating and cooling bills are going to be a major drain on our budget. Improving insulation, weatherstripping and caulking are necessary projects. Joe and I are also looking into making some upgrades to the heating and cooling equipment. We’ve been consulting with a local HVAC contractor, who’s provided some helpful and knowledgeable recommendations. He suggested we invest in a zoned controlled system, which would enhance comfort while saving us money.
With the installation of a thermostat in each room and a series of valves within the existing duct system, we would be able to set independent temperature. There’d be no need to heat or cool empty rooms, and we could cater to personal preferences. We could target those rooms that tend to feel a bit overheated or chilly. Joe and I are still debating over whether or not to replace the furnace and air conditioner. While the heating and cooling units are still operational, they are old and not exceptionally energy efficient. Combining modern, efficient components with zoning capability would significantly trim our monthly energy bills. Despite the expense of the project, I think we would recover our investment within five years. Plus, the heating and cooling system would be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, eliminating any repair costs.
When I visited my parent’s house the other weekend, I was stunned with the change they made. I knew something was different as soon as I stepped into their residence. When I finally couldn’t put my finger on what it was, they told me they had radiant heated floors installed. They said they also got a really nice smart thermostat! I was so impressed. I should have known with how warm my feet felt when I walked inside. The air quality was really excellent and there was no air blowing from the HVAC vents. It was just pure heavenly heat radiating from the floors nice and slowly. They explained that the radiant heat rises so slowly that it is very energy efficient. They explained it’s the main reason they decided to have them installed because they wanted a highly energy efficient heating system and that was the best system for the cost. My mother was bragging how she never felt chilly tiles when we got out of the shower in the mornings and I have to admit, I was jealous! I wanted to experience that kind of luxury; why didn’t my parents have that sort of heating system when I was still living with them! I guess radiant heated floors were not very common back in the days though. Well, I enjoyed the radiant heated floors so much, I talked to my wife about it non-stop. She got just as excited about it as I was and we decided to call our HVAC company to have radiant heated floors installed! Talk about a life-changing experience!
If you want to learn a valuable lesson, try the risk of going into the winter months without getting your HVAC system tune-up. You really should get an HVAC system tune-up twice per year to keep everything running smoothly. You don’t want to face a serious HVAC system breakdown in the midst of the winter season. This happened to me and I really wasn’t a happy camper. I ended up having to get emergency HVAC system repair and that cost me a large amount of money. That pretty much made me broke for the rest of the winter season. Now I know to always get those HVAC system tune-ups before the harsh weather seasons. I’m talking about the winter and the summer seasons. While it’s worse to experience a serious malfunction with your HVAC in the winter, it’s not very comfortable when it happens in the summer season either. It’s more likely you will need emergency repairs in the winter however, because you can’t survive the freezing temperatures without a working heating system! Sometimes you will need emergency HVAC services in the summer too if you are experiencing a heatwave. You would be surprised at how many people have HVAC system breakdowns in the midst of a crucial heatwave. This is why HVAC companies get really backed up during times like this. They also make a large amount of money because of all the people who opt for emergency services. They are able to charge up to 3 times the regular cost of HVAC repairs when it’s considered emergency repair. Do yourself a favor, get your HVAC system tune-ups so you don’t face this emergency situation!
If you’ve never heard of HVAC system maintenance plans, you might not believe what I’m going to tell you. You can get an HVAC system maintenance plan with pretty much any legit HVAC company. Not all of them will be up front and tell you about the maintenance plans, but this is why you need to bring it up and ask them about what they have. HVAC maintenance plans allow you to pay a much lower amount than what you normally would with just calling up for HVAC system maintenance. They will contact you about your system maintenance and repair dates. There are even plans where you can have them cover everything including your air filter changes. Of course, plans like that cost a little more money, but most plans are really great and save you a ton of money. Just think, you can have all your HVAC system maintenance covered and you won’t have to worry about a thing.
You will pay much less money than what you normally would and you even get priority scheduling. You get up to a certain amount of repairs on your HVAC system for no additional cost, and if anything goes wrong with your HVAC system, you are covered! Having this type of plan with your HVAC company is so good, I can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t want to get enrolled with a good HVAC maintenance plan. I have been on a plan like this for a few years now and my savings are through the roof! Because of getting on a good plan, I have been able to afford a new smart thermostat and a few other nice things around the house. I couldn’t be happier!
No matter where you live there are periods of hot and cold. The cold times are the moments that I personally cannot stand. I have moved all over the world and one thing has remained constant, I have always owned a heating system. The type of heater I have experienced has greatly changed overtime. A lot of factors depend on the heating equipment you have. Sometimes a heating device is typical for the climate. There are times a certain heating option is only offered in a specific area. The home layout also can play a key factor in the style of heating equipment you choose. No matter what though, a quality heater is what every person needs in order to get through a winter season. I have experienced winters of 6-8 solid months and cold seasons that were only a few weeks. Even with the vastly different temperatures and phases of time, I was glad to have my heater at my side. So now brings the question, what kind of heater do I want to own?
There are many options for heating equipment. There is the basic furnace that can be either an oil, gas or electric based unit. Which one is better for you? Check out my other blogs titled Heating systems for northerns or Heating systems for southerners based on where you live. Right now I am just breaking down the options that a person could choose from. After the furnace, there is also a boiler system. This is the giant heating system that sits in a person’s basement. It can be hooked up to piping that goes into the baseboards, within the floorboards or even come up through openings in the house. You don’t need to get a boiler system in order to have heated floorboards however. Hydronic heating does require boiler installation and a new floor put down. However, electric heated floors are just electric mats that are placed under the floorboards. No mess or stress with this! Another option for milder climates would be a heat pump system that provides both heating and cooling. All systems are expensive because you rely on them almost daily. They are also a significant investment lasting 10-15 years. You get what you pay for. Don’t just buy whatever is convenient. Consider your heating options and fully research.
After picking out a heating device and choosing the right HVAC business to install it, what can you expect to happen next? The heating installation is pretty simple. Most companies use protective foot covers so they don’t track dirt into your home. A lot of businesses also make a point to clean up debris after the job is done. They are professionals and don’t require any assistance. From what I have experienced though, they don’t mind if you poke over their shoulder to watch.
Once the heater is installed you don’t get to call it a day however. Any heating device you pick requires service. At the very least plan once a year to have a HVAC contractor come into your home to perform a tune up. They oil, tighten and lubricate all moving parts. They check for rust, dust and corrosion. A heating system can still operate dirty or with worn parts. The difference is that your heater will run longer, harder hours. This means your energy bills will be higher and you are more likely to experience heater repairs in the future.
Even with proper heating service in the beginning of fall, you can expect a repair to pop up. Just like with a car or even with your teeth, wearing out happens. You need to get the repairs caught before they get too big. For example, letting a dirty furnace operate will make it more likely for the heat exchanger to crack. Not only will it release carbon monoxide, poisoning your home, but a busted heat exchanger is about as costly as getting a new furnace. Don’t dilly dally with getting a heater repair done!
With any major purchase, research is required. For me I love to shop around, read some reviews and then know I am making an informed decision. A heater device is a huge investment. Not only is it quite costly, but it is going to live in your home around 15 years with proper maintenance. That is a long time to hate something. A lot of people just pick what their friends have or choose the same system that was in the house before. Hunt around to find the best option for you! After you have chosen the perfect heating system, what do you do next?
Picking the right heater is step one. Step two is choosing the right HVAC business to install your heating equipment. Finding the right HVAC contractor is key. Go online and look at the different businesses in your area and compare. A good thing to look up is the Better Business Bureau rating. Typically this rating is right on the company website. Another thing I look for is if the HVAC technicians are licensed, bonded and insured. Do they have NATE certification? That is a nice bonus to have, but not totally necessary. Another factor I look into is the company policies. Do they offer same day service? Do they have 24 hour emergency service? What about free estimates? I like when the website makes a point to let me know I will speak to a live representative on my call. I also look to see how long the company has been in business and if they are family owned and/or operated. That is just my opinion however. Finally, another good idea is to look at the company reviews. Read what other customers have to say about their experience. You want to pick a HVAC business that you can keep around as long as your heating equipment.
For years I lived in the north and froze my butt off during the winter. Winter basically started at Halloween and did not end until well after Easter. I got sick of the cold and moved down south. One of the things that surprised me most about the south was that I still needed heating equipment. I assumed southerners only relied on cooling systems. There is a winter season in the south, it is shorter and not as severe as compared to the north. However, I have to say that I could not get by without some form of heating in my southern home.
What type of heater should a southern household use? For me, I will always advocate getting a heat pump system. Whether you pick to have a ductless, electric or geothermal option doesn’t matter. A heat pump is a heat pump. You get both heating and cooling in one single device. How is this possible? The heat pump doesn’t create heat energy, it simply moves it either inside or outside through a loop system. Since the heat is not actually created with fuel, a heat pump is the most efficient HVAC system out there. Another benefit is that you only then have a single system to get repairs, maintenance and tune ups on. I like that anytime the HVAC technician comes into my home, my entire system is being cared for.
Let’s face it, northern winters are brutal. They start early and linger for a very long time. Fall and spring are really just less cold portions of the winter. That is why when winter is coming, a northerner needs to be prepared. What kind of heating equipment do you have in your house? Do you own the right heating component for the climate that you live in? In the north, a hearty heater is highly recommended. Being a northern gal for most of my life, I can easily recommend some very nice heaters that help a person get by in the north.
A boiler system can heat an entire home or even a giant building with little no problem. A lot of people are scared away because boilers of the past were giant, ugly and not very energy efficient. Consider a modern boiler for your northern home! A modern boiler system uses green energy in order to work. There are no vents or flue systems to emit toxins or harmful gasses in the air. A brand new boiler is said to reduce heating costs by 90%! This is due to the system using less water and around 90% less fuel. Once you own that brand new boiler, it is super easy to maintain and operate the system. The condenser boiler monitor is as easy as turning a few knobs. With this new heating equipment, really it should be maintained twice a year.
What if you don’t like the idea of a boiler system? A lot of northern homes elect then for a gas fireplace or perhaps a gas furnace. What is the main difference between these two systems? Simple, ductwork! A gas fireplace is that big system with a faux fire burning in the living room. You know how much heat you are getting because you can feel it come from the vents. A fireplace is certainly more attractive and no heat gets lost in the ductwork. However, not every area of the home can be heated with a fireplace. Most homes that rely on that style of heater choose to get a secondary one for the bedroom or second floor. A gas furnace uses ductwork stretched in the walls and ceilings in order to move heat from room to room. If you are on it to keep the ductwork clean and free of holes, this might be a better option.