Q: Temperature should I set my thermostat to?
- A: According to Georgia Power: “Set thermostats at 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter. You can expect a 3% to 5% increase in energy use for every degree you set the thermostat lower in the summer and higher in the winter. Also consider installing a programmable thermostat." But of course adjust your thermostat to what feels best for your comfort.
Q: How often should I check my air filters?
- A: We recommend checking your air filters every month. Depending on the activity in your home and the conditions with pets or maybe construction most 1" pleated filters can last up to 90 days. Fiberglass filters only last for a month at best and are not recommended. Media filters (4 inch thick , 5 inch thick) can last a year and sometimes longer but should be checked every 6 months to make sure that the filter is performing properly and isn’t impacted, restricting air flow.
Q: Should I get a Carbon Monoxide detector?
- A: Yes. Simply put a carbon monoxide detector could save your life and they are highly recommended especially if you have older gas appliances in your home. Having a well working carbon monoxide detector should be a priority.
Q: How long does my carbon monoxide detector last?
- A: You should change the whole carbon monoxide detector at least every 5 years, or even sooner. The components in the detector can become less effective over time due to dust and other air born factors deteriorating the ability of the unit to do it’s job properly. It is best to err on the side of caution and replace your device soon rather than later. Batteries should be changed with the time change, same as with your smoke detectors.
Q: My furnace is having issues, how do I light my pilot light?
- A: Firstly, do not try to light a pilot light if you’re not sure if you have a standing (always on) pilot light. If your furnace is less than 20 years old it most likely doesn’t have a standing pilot. Do not attempt unless you are positive you have a standing pilot. Most modern furnaces do not have pilot lights anymore and instead use electronic ignition systems. There are 3 types of electronic ignition systems;Electronic Pilot Lights
New furnaces don’t need pilot lights like older models did. Instead new furnaces use electronic ignition systems that ignite on demand, eliminating the need for a warm house from electronic pilot light furnace standing pilot light and making them safer, more reliable and energy efficient.Intermittent Pilots
The first type of electronic pilot is the intermittent pilot, which doesn’t remain on all the time. Rather, it comes on only when the burner needs to be ignited. When the thermostat gets low and signals for heat, the pilot creates a spark which activates the burners and then shuts off when the heat cycle is complete. Since the pilot is only used as needed, less fuel and energy is consumed with the elimination of the traditional standing pilot light.Hot Surface Pilots
The other, most common, form of electronic pilot is the hot surface igniter. The type of pilot requires no pilot light and works similarly to a light bulb. Made from silicon carbide and silicon nitride, it responds to an electric current sent through the igniter when the thermostat calls for heat and heats its surface. The gas valve then opens once enough heat is built up and gas flows to the burner where it is activated by the heat of the igniter.Each type of electronic furnace ignition system will require replacement after a few years, so it’s important to keep regular maintenance scheduled for these systems.
Q: What is two-stage cooling?
- A: Two-stage cooling utilizes a multi-, or two-speed compressor. A high-stage demand from the thermostat will cause the compressor and circulating fan to operate at 100% cooling capacity and the indoor fan to operate at the high-speed setting designated at the furnace or air handler. A low-stage demand from the thermostat will result in a 35% speed reduction at both the compressor and indoor unit circulating fan. Two-stage cooling generally results in extend operation at low speed removing more moisture from the structure, providing more comfort and using less electricity than single-stage systems.
Q: What is modulating heating?
- A: A high-efficiency gas furnace with modulating gas valve and variable-speed blower provides outstanding efficient and economical heating performance. Unlike single-stage gas furnaces that operate ‘all ON’ or ‘all OFF,’ a modulating, variable-speed gas furnace minimizes energy use by running at the lowest possible fan speed, and producing just the right amount of heat to keep a steady, comfortable temperature in your home.
Q: Should I zone my house?
- A: In many application it’s too much to expect one thermostat to provide perfect conditions to every room in your home. What is comfortable for the sleeping area may be uncomfortable for the living area and vice versa. Zoning divides your home into areas with common heating and cooling requirements by the use of additional thermostats and zone dampers installed in the duct system. Zoning allows you the ability to leave unoccupied areas without heating or cooling, in some cases saving money on energy costs. A properly designed zoning system allows you to simply set the temperature in each zone to your desired comfort level and the equipment and zone dampers will do the rest.
Q: Why should I perform preventive maintenance?
- A: Heating and cooling systems work incredibly hard to perform their functions for your household. The constant stopping, starting and continual operation can wear down a machine quickly and unexpectedly if the proper care and maintenance is delayed. However, by performing preventive maintenance, or servicing your system regularly, you can maximize the life-cycle of your heating or cooling unit and guard against many unexpected failures.Preventive maintenance inspections performed on a regular basis can uncover leaks, rust, rot, soot, frayed wires and corroded electrical contacts.
Q: What type of filter should I use?
- A: Standard furnace filters work well to keep your system and its duct work clean, but they don’t really improve indoor air quality. To do that you need a media filter. The media filter rests between the main return duct and the blower cabinet and will improve dust and particle removal by seven times that of a standard furnace filter. However, upgrading to a pleated media filter will remove everything from insecticide dust to airborne viruses from the filtered air.A media filter can have a life exceeding a year, and its only drawback is that its tight fiber weave can cause your furnace to have to work harder to blow air through the house. Always choose a filter that matches your blower’s capacity and consult your AAA Technician for the best option.
Q: What is Emergency Heat?
- A: Simply put, all Heat Pumps in northern climates (below 35 degrees) need a supplemental heating source. Usually it is in the form of electric resistance heating – at the indoor unit. This is an all-electric Heat Pump, but it could also be a gas, oil, or hot-water back-up system as well. The supplemental heat is also referred to as second-stage or back-up heating, with first-stage being the Heat Pump only. Emergency Heat is when you use your supplemental heat (2nd stage) by itself, without the use of your heat pump (1st stage heat).Different systems and thermostats have different ways of determining when the second-stage heat comes on to assist the heat pump, but it is always done automatically. The two stages will work together in the colder months, and it is not necessary to switch your thermostat to Emergency Heat. So now we know that Emergency Heat is basically when you use your supplemental heat by itself.
Q: Why is the Emergency Heat light on?
- A: The Emergency Heat light will be on whenever your thermostat is set to Emergency Heat. But if your thermostat is not set to emergency heat and the light is on, then that usually indicates a problem with your heat pump.
Q: How often should I check my air filter?
- A: We suggest checking filters monthly. If you have a disposable type filter, (these usually have a cardboard edge), and if it is dirty, just replace it. Don’t attempt to clean it. Some higher efficiency 1" pleated air filters can go up to three months before needing replacement. But in the higher-use seasons, it’s better to check more often.Different systems have different filter locations. If you don’t know where your filter is located, now would be a good time to learn! Usually, there is a removable filter access door in the return air duct next to the furnace or indoor unit. This can be in a basement, crawl-space, utility closet, garage, or attic.Sometimes, especially with older systems, the filter is located inside the furnace itself, next to the blower motor. And some systems have a central filter grille installed in a wall or ceiling. The grille swings open, revealing the air filter.Keep in mind, many air filters are directional – the air is meant to flow through the filter in one direction only. Look for an arrow or airflow symbol indicating direction. The arrow should point towards the furnace or air handler. If your filter does not have any arrows, see if one side of the filter looks rougher than the other side; that would be the side to collect the dust, so the other side would face the equipment.
Q: Can frost, ice, dirt or other debris keep the outdoor unit of my cooling system from operating effectively?
- A: Anything that prevents airflow from making its way to the outdoor coil can negatively affect the efficiency and performance of the equipment. Make it a priority to keep the space around the equipment clean and clear.
Q: Should I cover my outdoor unit in the fall and winter?
- A: Covering the outdoor unit in the winter months prevents unwanted debris from accumulating on the outdoor unit and later impeding airflow to the outdoor unit. At the same time accidentally operating the outdoor unit with a covering in place could cause system damage. It is recommended that high voltage power always be disconnected from the outdoor unit whenever a cover or anything obstructing airflow is introduced.
Q: How long will my system last?
- A: Proper maintenance is key. Maintenance and service play a key role in the life-cycle of a heating or air conditioning system. If all recommended maintenance and service actions are taken, an air conditioner can last 12 to 15 years and a gas furnace 20 to 25 years.
Q: Is there really a difference between air conditioner and heat pump sound levels?
- A: In air conditioning mode and air conditioner and heat pump work in exactly the same manner and there is no detectable sound level difference. High pressure refrigerant is created by the compressor in the outdoor unit which sequentially creates low pressure refrigerant inside the indoor unit evaporator coil. Low pressure refrigerant turns cold, warm air is circulated across the cold coil ultimately cooling the indoor space. In heating mode an air conditioning system employs a gas furnace and the outdoor unit is idle. A heat pump system reverses the system piping flow pumping high pressure refrigerant to the indoor coil. This heats the coil and the structure as air is circulated across the coil. Hence the outdoor unit is operational during the winter months.