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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.

Low-Balling

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.

If you're considering a furnace upgrade, it's important to do some research before making such a big purchase. You have a lot of options to choose from, and one of the things you'll have to decide is whether you want single or two stage heating.

What's the Difference Between Single and Two Stage? 

When a single stage furnace turns on, it runs at full capacity until the desired temperature is reached, and then it shuts off. A two stage furnace has another--lower--speed. This is the speed that the furnace uses most of the time.

The difference between single and two stage heating is most obvious on moderately cool days. A single stage furnace will give your home more variation in temperature while it goes on and off to maintain a reasonably warm temperature. A two stage furnace will use only its lower capacity mode on days that aren't too cold, providing less temperature fluctuation. This is also helpful if you're concerned about ways to save energy.

What Are the Benefits of two Stage Heating?

  • The slower flow of air can help your air filter catch more of the allergy-causing contaminants floating throughout your home.
  • Your heating system can operate more quietly for the majority of the time.
  • It provides a steadier supply of warm air, so your home will stay closer to your desired temperature with less fluctuation.

Is There a Difference in Terms of Wear and Tear?

Because two stage furnaces have time to warm up before going into high gear, they're subject to less stress than single stage systems. This means with regular tune-ups, a two stage system will last for many years to come.

Interested in investing in a new heating system for your home? Contact  Gilman Heating & Cooling, and we'll be happy to help.

You may have one in your home, but you may still be wondering what is a forced-air furnace. By learning exactly what it is and how it works, you can better see that it's maintained and maximize its efficiency.

What is a Forced-Air Furnace?

A forced-air furnace heats air and disperses it throughout your home via ductwork and vents. Forced-air furnaces heat air in various ways, including by burning natural gas, propane or heating oil, or less often with electricity. Most of today's forced-air furnaces are energy efficient and their blowers can be used to distribute cool air from the A/C in the summer.

 

How Energy Efficient Are Forced-Air Furnaces?

A forced-air furnace's efficiency is measured by its annual fuel utilization efficiency. AFUE shows how much of the fuel or energy going into a furnace gets converted into heat for your home. An AFUE of 90 percent means that 90 percent of the energy is used as heat, and only 10 percent is wasted, usually up the chimney. Older furnaces can have an efficiency as low as 60 to 70 percent. High-efficiency condensing furnaces, on the other hand, feature AFUE percentages ranging from 90 to 98 percent.

Replacing Your Forced-Air Furnace

Replacing your furnace isn't especially complicated, but you do need the expertise of an HVAC-system professional. He or she can not only help you choose the right model, but also:

 

  • Properly size your new furnace for your home.
  • Ensure proper ductwork design and installation.
  • Perform a combustion-efficiency test.

How Much Does a Forced-Air Furnace Cost?

The actual cost of a new furnace depends on the product selected, efficiency rating, installation and other factors. Typical cost ranges include:

 

  • $750 to $1,500 for a wall furnace.
  • $1,500 to $2,000 for a floor furnace.
  • $3,000 to $6,000 for a typical natural gas, propane or oil furnace. High-efficiency furnaces can cost up $10,000.

For more information about forced-air furnaces, please contact us at Gilman Heating & Cooling. Since 1917, we've proudly served homeowners in and around the Richmond area.