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If you’re in the market for new HVAC appliances, consider what Energy Star has to offer. Qualifying units are more efficient than standard models. Here’s a look at why the Energy Star is tough to beat, no matter the season.


To earn the Energy Star label, gas furnaces installed in the southern United States, including Virginia, must be rated at least 90 annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating, which is 12 percent higher than standard models. This rating means 90 percent of the gas is converted into useable heat while the rest escapes with combustion fumes to the exterior. Oil furnaces rated 85 AFUE or higher also qualify, which is 4 percent higher than baseline models.


Boilers warm your home by heating hot water that runs through radiators, baseboards or radiant floor systems. Qualifying for the Energy Star requires boilers to be 85 AFUE or higher, making them 6 percent more efficient than regular boilers.

Central Air Conditioners

Both split and packaged system central air conditioners can qualify for the Energy Star rating. Spilt systems must have a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 14.5 and an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 12. Packaged units must perform at 14 SEER and 11 EER or higher. These ratings are 15 percent more efficient than baseline air conditioners.

Heat Pumps

Two major types of heat pumps are available for residential applications: air-source and geothermal. Both types can qualify for the Energy Star label if they're efficient enough. Split and packaged system air-source heat pumps must achieve the same SEER and EER ratings as central A/Cs. Then, when it comes to heating efficiency, split systems must achieve a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of at least 8.2 and packaged systems must have a minimum HSPF of 8.0. These ratings are 9 percent more efficient than standard heat pumps. Geothermal systems are more than 45 percent more efficient than standard HVAC equipment. Their efficiency requirements vary based on the type of ground loop you install. For more information about how HVAC equipment achieves the Energy Star rating, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling in Richmond today.

Your HVAC equipment depends on your ductwork to move air through the house. When the ducts aren't in good repair, it can greatly lessen the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, as well as affect the comfort level of the home's occupants. In time, you may need to partly or completely replace your ducts. Here are four things you can do to test the health of your ducts:

  1. Determine the age of your ducts. The home builder may have installed the ducts of your home during the original construction. The exception would be a house built before forced air heating/cooling became popular in the 1950s. In those older homes, the ductwork may date to the time when a homeowner had the first forced air system installed.
  2. Inspect your ducts. Get into your attic and crawl space to check the ductwork visually. Look at the seams and connections for any gaps or tears. If you see a streak of dust, that may show a leak. Check the points where ducts meet registers and vents to see if there are any gaps.
  3. Check airflow to all rooms of the house. Do you have a room that's always hot in summer or cold in winter, despite the HVAC system working at full capacity? The ducts going have an issue that needs attention.
  4. Get a HVAC contractor to do a duct blower test. This test uses a blower fan to pressurize the ducts and sensors to measure airflow at different locations. Using the collected data, a computer calculates how much air is being lost to leaks.

Once you complete your inspection and testing, you may find that you need to replace your ducts. Have a professional HVAC contractor do the work. Afterward, your home will be more comfortable and your energy use lower. For help with a duct blower test or replacing your ducts, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling. We've been serving the Ashland-Richmond area since 1917.

The most important aspect of home comfort is the indoor temperature. Unless you’re a heating and cooling expert, you need a reputable HVAC contractor to count on for year-round comfort and energy savings. How do you choose an HVAC contractor to work with? While it’s obvious you want one with years of experience and knowledgeable technicians, there are certain red flags you should watch out for. If you run across a contractor who indulges in the following bad practices, don’t do business with them.


Offering a lower-than-possible price is how a dishonest contractor lures you in. The company advertises a low-cost heating or air conditioning tuneup, but they neglect to disclose extra fees and hidden costs until the job is done. By then, you have no choice but to pay the inflated price. To avoid this bad practice, choose a contractor that offers competitive rates and promises no hidden fees.

"Rule of Thumb" Sizing Techniques

You tell the contractor you need a new air conditioner and the technician asks for your home’s square footage. Based on this number alone, the technician claims to offer an accurate equipment size estimate. This inaccurate, lazy way to size equipment sets you up for higher energy bills and discomfort. To avoid this bad practice, only choose an HVAC contractor who recognizes the importance of formal sizing techniques. A technician should come to your home to perform load calculations.

Offering Quotes Over the Phone

It may seem convenient to receive a quote over the phone, but several variables make it nearly impossible for the quote to be accurate. After all, without an on-site inspection and load calculation, an over-the-phone estimate could be hundreds of dollars off. To avoid this bad practice, try asking the HVAC contractor for an estimate on the spot. If they offer one over the phone, that’s your signal to seek out a different company, no matter how tantalizingly low the inaccurate estimate is. Please contact Gilman Heating & Cooling today to work with a reputable HVAC contractor. We have almost 100 years of experience meeting the needs of Richmond area homeowners.

For Richmond area homeowners, winterizing and properly air sealing should be a priority in order to prevent excess heat loss in and around the home. To improve your home heating efficiency and lower energy bills, try these simple fixes that can significantly help prevent major heat loss.

  1. Replace air filters. If you have a forced air heating system, it's imperative that the air filters are regularly replaced. Dirty filters clogged with dust can slow down the amount of warm air that travels from your heating equipment to your living spaces. New filters will improve efficiency and help prevent the spread of dust and airborne pollutants throughout your home.
  2. Check heating vents. Your heating grates can sometimes act as a natural trap for dust and pollen. Check your vents and grates and remove any dust buildup you find.
  3. Wrap the water heater. Using insulating blankets around your water heater can reduce your home’s energy use by as much as 10 percent. Over the course of the winter, this can add up to significant savings on your home energy bills.
  4. Cover exposed piping. Do a thorough check of your water heater piping to be sure that it's also covered with insulation. A good rule of thumb is to begin at the water heater and follow the pipes as they lead away from it.
  5. Spot check the exterior. Check for any holes or gaps in the foundation and siding of your house. Things to look out for include rotten wood, gaps in sealing and pipes that haven’t been properly insulated.
  6. Inspect roof shingles. Missing and cracked roofing areas can create significant heat loss. Fix any trouble spots.
  7. Check window and door joints. Time and normal use can loosen the seals on your windows and doors. Be sure to properly weatherize and seal around any potential air leaks.

To learn more about how to prevent heat loss around your Virginia home, contact your local HVAC experts at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

For homeowners everywhere, keeping the utility bills low during the winter season can be challenging. By following just a few of these green energy-saving tips, you can save a tremendous amount of money all winter long. Everyone loves to save money, but there's no better feeling in the world than helping the environment and your budget at the same time.

Replace or Clean the Filter to Your Forced Air Furnace

If you own a forced air furnace and rely on it to keep your home warm during the winter, it's important to regularly check and change the air filter. Dirty furnace filters lower the efficiency of the furnace and cause it to work harder than usual to sustain the desired temperature in your home.

Have an Energy Star Programmable Thermostat Installed

If you're constantly waking up to adjust the temperature on your thermostat, consider buying an Energy Star programmable thermostat for your home. A programmable thermostat can save money on heating bills and is potentially one of the most important energy-saving tips for any homeowner. Schedule the heater to turn off when you leave for work or are fast asleep and turn on again whenever you wake up or come home from work. Simply customize the thermostat to fit your schedule and lifestyle.

Upgrade Your Home's Insulation

Upgrading the insulation is one of the most effective energy-saving tips for a homeowner to employ, allowing your home to retain a comfortable temperature for extended periods of time. This will greatly reduce the workload on your furnace or heating unit, save money on heating costs and lower your carbon footprint. To learn more about green living and saving money by conserving energy in your Virginia home, call Gilman Heating & Cooling. We proudly serve the HVAC needs of homeowners in and around Richmond and Ashland.

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