AC Versus Heat Pump | Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning

Summer is finally over. If your air conditioner needs repair more than once throughout the summer, it may be time to replace the unit. When the time does come to replace your air conditioner, one of your choices is whether you want another air conditioner or a heat pump. These units are very different, so understanding each product’s differences and advantages will help you decide.

What an Air Conditioner Does

An air conditioner removes heat from the home and expels it into the yard. It does this by depressurizing coolant in a coil until the coolant is very cold. The coolant then absorbs heat from the air in the home.

Once the heat inside the home has been absorbed, it is moved along the coil until it reaches its exterior. The coolant is then pressurized until it becomes very hot. The air conditioner unit blows warm air into the yard, and the cycle begins again. Air conditioners reduce both temperature and humidity in the home.

What a Heat Pump Does

A heat pump works like an air conditioner, pressurizing and de-pressurizing coolant to remove warm air inside the house and blast it outside. The difference between these two units is that the heat pump can be reversed to work like a furnace. To do this, the heat pump absorbs heat from the outside and blasts it inside.

Heat pumps are efficient in warm places like Modesto, where the season’s lowest temperatures are generally in the 40s. In colder climates, heat pumps work less efficiently than furnaces because they rely on warmth outside the home to heat the interior. The less heat the air outside contains, the less efficiently the heat pump will operate.

The Benefits Of Heat Pumps

  • Why You Should Choose a Heat Pump: Deciding between a heat pump and an air conditioner can be challenging. Air conditioners are the traditional appliance for keeping a home cool in the summer. An appropriately sized air conditioner will do its job well. However, heat pumps have many advantages over air conditioners.
  • Heat Pumps Are Easy to Maintain: With a heat pump doing the job of the air conditioner and the heater, the homeowner has only one appliance to maintain instead of two. This can lead to lower repair bills and less yearly maintenance.
  • Heat Pumps Are Energy-Efficient: Heat pumps are known for their efficiency, especially in mild or warm-weather climates like Modesto. In fact, heat pumps can heat a home using about 50% less electricity than an electric furnace.
  • Homeowners Are Likely to Have a Backup: Often, people with an air conditioner and furnace combo will keep their furnace, even when replacing their air conditioner with a heat pump. This means the furnace can be used as a backup if the heat pump should ever break down.
  • Heat Pumps Improve Home Value: Home buyers like buying homes with energy-efficient appliances and home systems. With a heat pump installed in your house, your home may enjoy a boost in value.
  • Heat Pumps Are Cost Efficient: Because heat pumps are so efficient, they often cost less than a furnace and air conditioner combination. Using a heat pump year-round can help a homeowner save hundreds or thousands of dollars on their utility bill.
  • Heat Pumps Are Space Efficient: Heat pumps take up about half the space of an air conditioner and furnace combination. They’re an excellent product for tiny homes with little space to dedicate to the HVAC system.

When to Get an Air Conditioner

Of course, heat pumps aren’t for everyone. Heat pumps cost hundreds or thousands more than an air conditioner. This makes air conditioners an attractive option for homeowners on a budget.

How to Get Started

Whether replacing your air conditioner with another or with a heat pump, the first step is to contact a reputable HVAC contractor. Your HVAC contractor will assess your current system, tell you whether or not it’s a good idea to replace your air conditioner and estimate what you will pay to make that replacement.

Get at least three bids from three professionals before making your final selection. Bids should be itemized and detailed so that you know what to expect when the work is finished. Check each contractor’s references and licensure to ensure they’re certified and qualified to do the job. When the time comes to pick a professional, make sure you sign a contract.

Contact an HVAC professional in your area for more information about heat pumps and air conditioners. At Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re happy to answer any questions about which unit is right for you. Contact us today for more information.

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5 Common HVAC System Mistakes

If your HVAC system isn’t used or maintained correctly, it may fail over time. Below are some of the most common mistakes you might make when caring for or using your HVAC system. Correcting these mistakes can help you take care of your HVAC system and can also help you maintain a better quality of life in your home.

1. You Closed Off Vents to Save Energy

It’s a common assumption that you can save money and reduce the burden on your HVAC system by closing off vents to rooms that are not regularly used throughout the day. Many people do this because they believe fewer rooms to cool off or heat means less work for the furnace or air conditioner. While this does seem logical, it’s not necessarily true.

Your HVAC system was designed for your house, calibrated to its size and duct design. However, cutting off rooms can throw that system off. Also, added pressure in the ducts can cause air leaks, leading to inefficiency.

Besides, if your air conditioner can cool your home in less time because it’s cooling less space, your home could become humid. Your air conditioner needs to run for a while to remove moisture from your home. Overall, it’s better to leave your vents open throughout the year.

2. You Set a Higher Temperature to Heat Your Home Faster

When you set a temperature on your thermostat, you don’t set the rate at which the HVAC system does its job; you only set the temperature the HVAC system is trying to reach. So turning your furnace to a high temperature in winter to warm up faster doesn’t work because your home will warm up at the same rate no matter what temperature you set. The same is true of air conditioner use in summer.

Plugging in a more extreme temperature than the temperature you want only wastes energy. Instead, set the thermostat to the temperature you want and be patient; your house will soon be comfortable if your HVAC system works properly.

3. You Decided Not to Get That HVAC Tune-Up

HVAC tune-ups aren’t wasted money! During an HVAC tune-up, your HVAC contractor will do things like:

  • Check the thermostat
  • Examine the mechanical parts
  • Ensure operating safety
  • Clean the coils (if necessary)
  • Examine wires for wear and tear
  • Test and/or inspect all moving parts
  • Identify potential issues like a mechanical failure

If you can get a tune-up at a time of year when you don’t use your HVAC system as much, your HVAC system should be ready to run at times when it’s needed. However, if you don’t get a tune-up, you may not be catching problems that your HVAC system is experiencing. This could lead your HVAC system to work harder throughout the year or could lead to a breakdown at a time when you need your HVAC system to function.

4. You Didn’t Notice Your HVAC System Was Exacerbating Allergies

Your HVAC system spreads dust and even germs throughout your house. Your ducts blow dust into the rooms of your home. However, during this process,  allergens are transported from one room to the next in a stream of air. If you or your loved ones suffer from allergies, you may be able to reduce allergy symptoms at home by making some changes to your HVAC system.

And, if your HVAC system is negatively impacting your allergies, one of the ways to tell is to notice what happens when your HVAC system turns on. If you start to cough, sneeze or experience other allergy symptoms when your furnace or air conditioner begins to run, this is a sign that your HVAC system is spreading dust. Pay attention to the behaviors of other family members and watch for these same signs.

There are many things you can do to improve indoor air quality. First, have your ducts cleaned by an HVAC professional? If you or someone you live with is very sensitive to allergens, have an air purification system installed in your home. Talk to your reputable HVAC contractor to get a quote.

5. You Didn’t Get a Safety Inspection

During a home safety inspection, your HVAC professional will identify dangers like gas leaks, asbestos in the ductwork, mold, and too much humidity. Failure to catch one of these problems can impact the health and safety of your family. So get a safety inspection to catch issues as soon as possible.

Contact Your HVAC Professional

Overall, don’t fret too much over avoiding common HVAC system mistakes. Instead, maintain your HVAC system and improve the quality of life in your home. For more information about getting a safety inspection, improving indoor air quality, or getting a tune-up, contact Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ll be happy to schedule an appointment.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

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What’s Involved In Professional AC Maintenance Services?

When You Receive Maintenance From The Pros, What Are You Paying For?

We all know that we should maintain all of our appliances. Still, we rarely find the time or motivation to do it ourselves. So should we pay someone to do the maintenance for us? Well, that feels like cheating. Most of us would rather have our AC break down than pay for someone else to do work we could have done ourselves.

But, can we do the job as well as the pros?

It turns out we can’t.

The average person can, at most, take care of simple maintenance procedures that will keep our AC chugging along. However, it takes a real professional to get our systems back into prime condition. Thankfully, Derek Sawyer’s Heating and Air Conditioning team are the people you need for all your AC maintenance needs.

Preventative Maintenance

Let’s face it, some of us can barely operate the toaster, let alone a precision machine like an air conditioner. The most an inexperienced consumer should ever perform on their air conditioner is essential preventative maintenance. Depending on your level of comfort, this may include:

  • Combing The Vent Fins
  • Replacing the Air Filter
  • Cleaning The Evaporator Coil
  • Cleaning the Condensate Drain

Maintenance of this level should be relatively easy to handle and will only help improve regular performance. If your AC is suffering from any serious problems, only a professional will be able to diagnose your unit.

Professional Service

If you find that your AC seems to be struggling to keep up with your demands despite being well maintained, you should look into calling an expert. A professional technician is perfectly capable of performing any of the regular maintenance you’ve missed and the more technical work that it needs. In addition to basic maintenance procedures, your service technician should, at the very least:

  • Calibrate Your Thermostat
  • Inspect The Unit’s Electrical Contacts
  • Lubricate Parts In Good Condition and Replace Worn Ones
  • Cycle The System On And Off
  • Recharge The Refrigerant And Fix Any Leaks

These few inspections are generally enough to keep your AC working and avoid costly breakdowns. However, most service technicians will perform a full 20-point inspection of your AC that should include:

  • Test Capacitors
  • Calibrate the Thermostat
  • Lubricate the Bearing
  • Examine Safety Devices
  • Clean the Indoor Coil
  • Examine the Fan’s Blade
  • Flush the Condensate Drain
  • Clean the Air Purifier
  • Examine the Ducts
  • Check the Condenser Coil
  • Clean the Condenser Coil
  • Examine the Service Valves
  • Test For Burnt Contacts
  • Check For Exposed Wiring
  • Examine Electrical Wiring Connections
  • Examine the Operation Of the Compressor
  • Monitor the Refrigerant’s Operating Pressures
  • Calculate Supply/Return Temperature Differential
  • Calculate the Blower Motor’s Amperage and Voltage
  • Inspect The Electrical Disconnect Box Proper Installation

If you’re not sure what all of that means, don’t worry. You don’t have to know everything about your AC because it is a professional’s job to ensure it is appropriately maintained.

Why You Should Have Your AC Maintained By A Professional?

We would all like to care for our repairs, but we have to leave some things to professionals. Unless you plan on joining an AC repair school sometime soon, there is no way for you to take proper care of your air conditioner.

Not to mention that maintaining an air conditioner can be a dangerous job! Between all of the refrigerants, electrical wiring, and fans, there is no shortage of ways that you can hurt yourself.

Instead, it is best to leave most AC maintenance to your local HVAC company. If you think hiring someone to maintain your AC is a waste of money well, then think again! Not only will regular maintenance help prevent breakdowns, but an efficient AC will also help you save on your utility bill. Altogether, you can be sure that maintaining your AC, especially with Derek Sawyer, will only keep your money in the long run.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

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Air Conditioning and Kids: 4 Considerations

Air conditioning can ensure the comfort and safety of every household member, including your children. But these benefits only come if you set up your HVAC and maintain it to adequately meet your little ones’ needs.

Whether you already have children or plan to grow your family soon, it pays to understand how air conditioning can help kids, how improper air conditioning management might do more harm than good, and what options you want to pursue. Here are four considerations to keep in mind.

1. Climate Control for Babies

Preparations for bringing a new baby home should include more than just painting the nursery and selecting a crib. Infants have special needs that call for fine control of their environment, including temperature and moisture levels. You may have to modify your air conditioning setup to meet these needs.

Newborn babies have more difficulty controlling their body temperature than older kids or adults. This adaptability challenge makes air conditioning a critical factor in supporting your baby’s health, safety, and wellness. Bear in mind, however, that a chilly room can prove just as unhealthy as a stiflingly hot one.

As a general rule, keep the air temperature in your baby’s room around 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Crack a window or door to help fresh air circulate, even if it impacts energy efficiency.

Babies also have delicate skin that can quickly dry out under air conditioning. Moisturize your baby’s skin regularly to counteract the drying effect of air conditioning. Consider adding a humidifier to the room for additional humidity control.

2. Pediatric Asthma and Allergy Moderation

Respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies commonly afflict children. In addition, dust, dander, mold spores, and other airborne particles can contribute to symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Ideally, your HVAC system can ease such issues by filtering out these particles.

Unfortunately, an air conditioning system without proper maintenance can add to children’s respiratory distress instead of relieving it. Dirty air ducts, moldy vents, and clogged air filters can push accumulated contaminants into the air or fail to filter existing airborne pollutants efficiently.

If your child shows signs of asthma or allergies around the house, have your air conditioning system inspected and, if necessary, thoroughly cleaned. Replace air filters as soon as they show signs of dirt. Ask your air conditioning technician to recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that can filter out all but the tiniest particles.

3. Indoor AC Components

The same ventilation network that can help or hurt respiratory issues in children can also invite injuries. Air vent registers (the shuttered or grilled panels that allow air to pass into individual points in a room) often have sharp metal edges or points on them, potentially cutting fingers or causing other damage.

While the registers placed high up on walls should pose no threat to children, babies or toddlers may hurt themselves on registers placed at or near floor level. If you have metal registers in these areas, replace them with child-safe plastic ones—also, secure floor registers should be installed to prevent kids from removing them and leaving an uncovered hole.

Curious children enjoy dropping toys or other objects into open spaces, including air conditioning registers. This habit can wreak havoc on mechanical parts, contribute to duct blockages, or force you to keep removing the registers and fishing out the dropped objects.

You can alleviate these issues by placing some screen or mesh between the outer register and the passage leading to the ducts. For instance, your air conditioning technician might install an inline air filter compatible with your HVAC setup.

4. Outdoor AC Components

As you work on child-proofing your central air conditioning system, don’t forget about the outdoor components that play a vital role in making the system work. The bulky condenser unit beside the wall contains a high-powered fan to control hot airflow. Unfortunately, this fan poses a threat to the fingers of curious kids.

You might assume that placing a snugly fitted enclosure around your condenser would solve this problem. Unfortunately, this strategy may also limit airflow, reducing the condenser’s efficiency. Again, an air conditioning specialist can advise you on what kind of fence or another protective barrier will serve your kids and your air conditioner.

Suppose you need to optimize your home’s air conditioning to give every member of your family a high quality of life and safe home. In that case, Derek Sawyer’s Smart Energy Heating & Air has the installation, repair, and maintenance skills to support that goal. Contact us today to learn more about your residential air conditioning options.

We look forward to working with you.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

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Is a High SEER Rating Important for Your Home’s AC?

Do you need a new air conditioner? Should your future central system have the highest seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) available? If you’ve heard a high SEER rating is the way to go, take a look at what you need to know about this number, energy efficiency, and home cooling before you invest in a new AC system.

What Is a SEER Rating?

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio is exactly what the name says—the ratio (number) of the air conditioner’s energy efficiency over the annual cooling season. More specifically, this ratio measures the total heat the air conditioner removes (from the interior space) divided by the electricity the system uses annually.

What Is a High SEER Rating?

A higher SEER rating should equal increased energy efficiency and lower electricity bills. The reduced energy usage and operating costs of high SEER number units often appeal to homeowners who want to save money and help the planet.

While new technology and innovations allow the HVAC industry to increase efficiency, current top SEER numbers range from the 18 to the miod-20’s.

How Can a Homeowner Find Out the SEER Rating?

What is the SEER rating of the air conditioner you want to buy and install? The SEER number is listed on the unit itself. But if you haven’t seen the unit or are ordering the AC system from an HVAC contractor, ask the professional. The technician or installation expert can provide you with the SEER rating before you commit to a new purchase.

Is Higher Better?

Even though it might seem like the highest SEER number possible is the best unit for your home, this isn’t always true. While a high SEER rating indicates the air conditioner’s advanced ability to efficiently remove heat from the indoor environment (your home’s space) over the course of one cooling system, a 20-plus unit isn’t always the best choice.

In general, higher SEER rated air conditioners are more expensive. While you can find high SEER number systems at a variety of price points, the quality and technology used in most of these air conditioners comes at a greater initial purchase cost in comparison to a unit rated in the low teens.

If you want to lower overall air conditioner-related costs, you need to calculate the cost savings of a higher SEER unit versus the initial purchase price. Some high-prices/high-SEER units may not pay for themselves over time. A qualified HVAC contractor can help you to calculate the cost-savings difference between SEER ratings and compare the price of use to the purchase and installation costs.

Is Lower Better?

In general, a lower SEER rating isn’t a better choice. While the highest SEER rated air conditioner isn’t necessary in every home, the lowest SEER rated model can cost you in excessive energy bills. Even though low SEER rated units are cheaper to buy, you are likely to pay more in energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests homeowners choose models with a minimum of a 15 SEER rating.

A low SEER rated system may need to run for longer periods of time to cool your home effectively. Along with cooling the air, the AC system also removed humidity. Lower SEER units may not dehumidify your home completely. This can leave the indoor air sticky and uncomfortable.

Is the SEER Rating the Only Feature to Look For?

While SEER rating is key to lowering home energy usage and the related cooling costs, it doesn’t always guarantee a low electricity bill. The system’s components or features also play key roles in how well your air conditioner works.

A single speed air handler is the least efficient option for a new AC unit. A two-speed air handler can reduce costs, in comparison to a single-speed selection. But if you want to save the most money in cooling costs, a variable speed air handler is the best option, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Along with the air handler, the thermal expansion valve can add to the unit’s overall energy efficiency. Don’t worry if you have little to no knowledge of the air conditioner’s parts. A qualified HVAC contractor can help you to choose the right combination of features and SEER number for your home’s needs.

Does Installation Play a Role in Home Cooling?

Simply stated: yes, installation plays a primary role in your new air conditioner’s ability to efficiently and effectively cool your home. A high SEER rated air conditioner that’s the wrong size for your home’s interior space and energy needs may not save you money.

An HVAC contractor can calculate size based on the square footage to cool combined with potential energy loss (such as leaky air ducts or poor insulation). They can also install the unit to the manufacturer’s specifications and make sure the ducts, thermostat, and other parts of the system work correctly.

Do you need a new air conditioner? Contact Derek Sawyers Heating & Air Conditioning for more information.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

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What Is The Right Size Furnace For You?

What Is The Right Size Furnace For Your House – Your Guide To Perfect Home Heating

What is the correct size furnace for your home? Well, the HVAC professionals at Derek Sawyers Heating & Air Conditioning are standing by to help you figure it out today! So, don’t hesitate! Give us a call or contact us online to get started today!

Finding the right size furnace for your house hinges on understanding BTUs or British Thermal Units—the primary measurement used to gauge the heat output of various devices in your home or business. But that begs the question, “What is the right size furnace for your house?”. By guiding you through assessing your home’s square footage, local climate, and insulation effectiveness to determine your ideal BTU capacity (or size) furnace!

Key Takeaways In Determining The Right Size Furnace For You

  • The ideal furnace size for your home is calculated based on the BTUs required per square foot, which are influenced by your home’s square footage, local climate zone, and quality of insulation.
  • An appropriately sized furnace ensures energy efficiency, comfort, and reduced wear, whereas an oversized furnace can lead to short cycling, energy wastage, and uneven heating; a too-small furnace can struggle to keep the home warm, leading to increased energy bills and frequent repairs.
  • Professional HVAC assessment using the Manual J load calculation is essential for determining the accurate furnace size, considering all factors, including home layout, window and door efficiency, ceiling height, personal lifestyle, and HVAC system usage.

How We Calculate The Ideal Furnace Size For Your Home

Selecting the ideal furnace size doesn’t have to be a headache-inducing task. It is based on a time-tested and simple calculation involving British Thermal Units (BTUs). To wrap your head around what a BTU is, imagine a tank of water weighing one pound. Then imagine how much heat you’d need to heat that water by a single degree Fahrenheit. That amount of energy is equal to precisely one BTU.

However, just because more BTUs mean more power, that doesn’t mean that figuring out the right size furnace for your home is to go with whatever heater has the biggest BTU output. Instead, making this decision involves harmonizing those BTUs with your home’s heating needs and demands. The square footage of your home, where you live, and the climate you wish to maintain in your home are all crucial factors in determining what size furnace is right for you.

Additionally, our HVAC professionals always consider your home’s insulation when determining what furnace fits your needs best. Insulation helps keep warm buildings warm and cool buildings cool. In other words, it significantly enhances how effectively your furnace operates.

The Role Of Square Footage In Furnace Sizing

The foundation of our heating calculations is the overall square footage of your home or business. We calculate each room’s square footage first, then calculate the total square footage by adding all those numbers. This number is critical in determining the appropriate size of furnace.

However, square footage alone isn’t enough to find what size furnace fits your needs best.

Climate Zone – Tailoring Your Heater To Your Region

We must also consider your area’s climate when determining the right heater for your home or business. Homes in colder, typically more northern regions demand a furnace capable of producing more BTUs than those basking in the Central Valley sun. These requirements range from around 30-35 BTU/sq ft for warmer areas to an intense 50-55 BTU/sq ft needed in colder regions.

Insulation And Its Impact On Furnace Efficiency

As discussed earlier, you should consider your home’s insulation when determining the correct heating system. Insulation keeps warm spaces warm and cool spaces cool. In other words, it prevents the transfer of heat energy. Sealing windows and attics is more than another item crossed from a chore list. These are strategic steps towards finding the right size furnace for you.

Different insulation materials and methods play critical roles when determining both efficiency and capacity needs for our air conditioning and HVAC systems—choices that have significant implications not just on how comfortable we feel but also on the potential impact on our finances.

How Important Is An Appropriately Sized Furnace?

It is essential to have an appropriately sized furnace to maintain optimal comfort in your home. There are multiple benefits to installing a new furnace that fits perfectly. An oversized unit leads to unnecessary energy consumption, while one too small struggles to adequately heat your home. An appropriately sized furnace also minimizes strain on its parts and prevents frequent breakdowns, saving you countless dollars on repairs and replacements.

In heating and cooling systems, correct sizing isn’t just important—it’s crucial for heightened energy efficiency and prolonging the lifespan of your equipment.

Why Oversized Furnaces Are Actually A Bad Thing

Oversized furnaces cause several problems. While the capacity may seem impressive, it’s also far more likely to experience issues like short cycling. This repeated on-and-off operation strains the parts, increasing general wear and tear, which increases the chances you’ll need repairs or replacement parts far earlier than if you had a correctly sized unit. Additionally, short cycling increases energy use, costing you money every month in wasted energy.

Yet, wear and tear aren’t the only concerns about running an oversized furnace. Doing so often leads to inconsistent heating and inadequate air balance – turning it into a haven for musty and moist air. And, to make matters worse, an oversized furnace presents one more critical risk: cracked heat exchangers. If the heat exchanger cracks, it can vent carbon monoxide straight into your home or business—a threat not to be taken lightly.

Downsides Of An Undersized Furnace

Similarly, an undersized furnace will need help to keep your space warm and comfortable. This results in wasted energy and soaring energy bills. An overworked and undersized furnace also risks damage and premature repairs and replacements. So, don’t make your furnace work too hard; you might spend more than you saved by getting a smaller unit.

Additional Factors In Fine-Tuning Furnace Size

Square footage and climate aren’t the only considerations you should have when determining what size furnace fits your needs best. Radiant floor heating sways BTU calculations based on whether you have conductive tile or insulating carpet floors. While some dismiss those as significant factors in determining heater size, they are, in fact, essential in fine-tuning your heating needs.

Windows, Doors, And Sun Exposure

Windows and doors are also considerations to make when selecting a new furnace. If a home has older windows that let drafts in or numerous external doors, it might necessitate using a more powerful furnace to counteract the heat loss. It may even be worth replacing poorly insulated doors and windows to reduce heat loss, making it easier for your heating system to keep up with your needs.

On the flip side, windows have potential benefits too. Sun exposure can be advantageous by allowing for an approximate 10% reduction in required furnace output while harnessing solar energy to augment indoor warmth. The strategic implementation of energy-efficient skylights helps reduce the demand placed on our furnaces.

Ceiling Height And Home Layout

When evaluating your heating needs, consider the impact of ceiling height and your home layout. A higher ceiling requires a more powerful furnace. Other things that impact your furnace needs include:

  • North-facing skylights bring in cooler light and may reduce the need for additional heat.
  • South-facing skylights provide an abundance of passive solar warmth during the winter months.
  • Tubular skylights excel at preserving a pleasant indoor temperature.

What is The Manual J Load Calculation?

Hiring our professionals is essential when determining the exact size of furnace necessary for your home. To do so, our experts utilize what the industry calls a “Manual J Load Calculation.” It is a simple calculation that considers all the variables we discussed previously. Another name for this calculation is an HVAC load calculation. In simplest terms, the calculation considers variables like home size, insulation quality, climate, and more to give you an exact number of necessary BTUs to heat your home or business adequately.

Consider Furnace Efficiency When Making Your Decision

Turning our attention to the heart of a furnace, we examine its efficiency rating, known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (or SEER for short). This metric gauges how efficiently any HVAC equipment operates throughout an average season of use. The greater the SEER, the more efficiently an HVAC system operates. Hence, less energy is wasted, reducing running expenses and environmental impact.

High-efficiency gas furnaces go beyond mere cost savings—they boast cutting-edge technologies that enhance their capability to generate heat while optimizing fuel consumption.

Matching Your Furnace To Your Needs

The size of your furnace should be compatible with the unique dynamics of your home life, from the daily comings and goings to special occasions that draw in guests. The number of individuals and pets under your roof and how you prefer to experience warmth personally are crucial elements that should steer the selection process for an appropriately sized furnace. This ensures a cozy environment tailored to your needs without incurring extra costs. Proper consideration of these aspects is critical during furnace installation to achieve maximum efficiency.

In multi-level dwellings, employing zoned heating systems can bring about more precise climate management throughout various areas of the house. Doing so might even reduce the size of furnace needed to heat your home!
today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What size heating system do I need?

In a warm climate, a heating system capable of producing 45,000 BTUs is required for efficiently heating a home that spans 1500 square feet.

How many square feet will an 80000 BTU furnace heat?

A furnace with 80,000 BTU capacity can effectively warm up a typical home measuring 2,000 square feet.

How do I calculate the square footage for my home’s heating needs?

To ascertain the total square footage necessary for heating your home:

  1. Measure the length and width of each room.
  2. Multiply these figures to get the area of that individual space.
  3. After doing so for all rooms, compile these amounts to determine your home’s cumulative square footage required for heating.

Does where I live affect the size of the furnace I need?

Indeed, the region where you reside influences the furnace capacity necessary since your specific climate zone dictates how many BTUs per square foot are needed to heat your living space adequately.

Is a higher AFUE rating better for my furnace?

Indeed, a furnace boasting a higher AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating signifies improved efficiency and diminished energy waste. This leads to savings on costs and lessens the ecological footprint.

Contact Us For Help Figuring Out The Right Size Furnace For You!

Here at Derek Sawyers Heating & Air Conditioning, we pride ourselves on being the go-to company for all your HVAC needs. Our service professionals can help with everything from determining the right size furnace for you to repairing and replacing your existing system and everything in between. So, if you need help with your heating system, you’ve come to the right place! Contact us online or at (209) 266-8682 today!

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

Looking for help with your Tampa plumbing? Well, then check out the services offered by our friends over at ACS Home Services! They offer everything from HVAC to plumbing and even electrical. Look them up in the following locations today:

Is Your Furnace Worth Repairing?

With the average furnace costing thousands of dollars once you factor in parts and installation, most homeowners consider it a costly investment. It makes sense to hold on to your heating system in that light for as long as possible. At some point, however, the downsides of keeping your current furnace will eventually outweigh the benefits.

While your HVAC specialist can quickly tell you when to cut your losses, a quick self-assessment will help you decide between a furnace repair and a complete replacement. Ask yourself the questions below if you’re at a crossroads regarding your furnace’s future.

Are Your Furnace Problems Minor or Major?

The severity of your furnace’s problems can easily tip the scales toward either repair or replacement. However, simple issues like a faulty thermostat or a clogged condensate drain often require little effort or investment. You can even take the DIY route to fix minor problems like clogged air filters and vents at little to no cost.

However, when faced with a significant furnace problem, the time, effort, and repair cost can sometimes exceed the cost and effort of a new heating system, even when you add labor and other miscellaneous expenses. If the repair cost exceeds a third of the price of a new furnace, you’re better off replacing it.

Furnace problems that take a long time to fix or require extensive changes can make a complete replacement more worthwhile. However, some issues, such as a cracked heat exchanger, offer no choice except to replace the furnace.

How Long Have You Had Your Furnace?

Today’s furnaces are robust enough to offer 20 to 30 years of reliable service. However, most manufacturers recommend turning an eye toward replacement at the 15-year mark. Continual wear and tear over a decade or more of kindness can make any furnace feel its age, which increases the frequency of repairs.

Consider the following if you have trouble deciding whether a repair or replacement is a good idea for your existing furnace:

  • If your furnace is brand-new and already needs repair, consider replacing it under warranty, as it may have defects that affect its operation.
  • Don’t worry about replacement if your furnace is just a few years old. Your heating system has plenty of years of faithful service ahead of it.
  • If your furnace is over 15 years old but only needs the occasional repair, consider your replacement options and make plans if repairs increase in frequency.
  • If your furnace is over 15 years old and suffers from constant issues, prepare for a complete replacement.

Care and upkeep also affect a furnace’s long-term health and influence your decision to repair or replace it. Regardless of age, a well-maintained furnace won’t need as many repairs as a neglected system.

How Many Repairs Has It Had So Far?

Occasional repairs and quick preventative fixes are a fact of life for most furnaces. What’s unusual, however, is to keep your furnace on life support via frequent repairs. Unfortunately, funneling time and money to keep your current furnace in service quickly turns into a game of diminishing returns, with each repair offering less benefit and a shorter lease on life for your furnace.

Not only do the financial costs add up to nurse your furnace along steadily, but you also have to consider the personal cost. Instead of dreading the following breakdown or scrambling to cover yet another repair bill, you’ll rest more comfortably and have greater peace of mind with a brand-new furnace.

Is Your Furnace Right for Your Home?

Recent improvements can leave your furnace out of step with your home’s changing heating needs. New additions, such as an extra room or an enlarged ceiling, can add additional strain to your existing furnace, resulting in more wear, higher energy consumption, and shorter service life. Complete remodeling can change so many aspects of your home that a new system becomes necessary.

Changing technology can also make your existing furnace outdated. Recent advances, including variable speed motors and modulating gas valves, help modern furnaces use less energy while maximizing heat output. Although you can retrofit these features on some existing furnaces, only a brand-new unit will thoroughly and efficiently use the new tech.

If your furnace was oversized or undersized from the start, now is the time to choose the right-sized replacement. Modern methods like Manual J load calculation let HVAC specialists select and install furnaces based on precision on square footage, insulation levels, and other home data.

Whether you choose repairs or a complete furnace replacement, the experts at Derek Sawyer’s Smart Energy Heating & Air are ready to help. Let us tackle your Central Valley home’s furnace repairs or help you choose the right upgrades to keep your home cozy. Contact us today if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

Not around here? Well, check out the 5-star Denver heating services our friends offer at Brothers Plumbing Heating Electric!

What Makes High-Efficiency Condensing Furnaces So Energy Efficient?

Suppose you’re serious about saving energy but don’t want to sacrifice indoor comfort. In that case, high-efficiency condensing furnaces offer a significant upgrade path. Condensing furnaces regularly achieve high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings, with some at 98 percent or more. The average conventional furnace is typically rated at an AFUE of 80 percent.

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to condensing furnaces and the impressive efficiency they offer. The following provides an in-depth look at the components that make the condensing furnace tick and how they save energy.

Electronic Ignition

Many older furnaces rely on a conventional pilot light for the startup. Pilot lights must always remain on, meaning your furnace constantly consumes a small amount of fuel to keep the pilot lit. This fuel usage can increase over months, resulting in higher long-term utility costs.

Condensing furnaces do away with pilot lights in favor of electronic ignition. In addition to eliminating wasted fuel, electronic ignition systems offer better reliability than standing pilot systems.

Modulating Burner Gas Valve

Burner gas valves are another area where the condensing furnace stands out from its traditional brethren. The average conventional furnace uses a burner gas valve with two states: on and off. This means that single-stage burner gas valves operate at 100 percent when activated. Unfortunately, single-stage burner gas valves are impractical when moderating the burner flame for improved energy efficiency.

Some furnaces get around the inefficiency of single-stage burner gas valves by offering dual-stage versions instead. Dual-stage burner gas valves provide high and low settings via electronic controls. These controls give dual-stage burner gas valves greater flexibility than their single-stage counterparts.

Modulating burner gas valves offer an even greater range of condensing furnaces. In addition, these gas valves can increase or decrease their output in single-percent increments. Such fine-tuned control helps eliminate drastic temperature swings while boosting the furnace’s efficiency.

Variable-Speed Blower Motor

Ever notice how most conventional furnaces seem to run at full blast? Traditional furnaces use permanent split capacitor (PSC) blower motors for air circulation. While these motors are simple, inexpensive, and robust, they’re also rated at a single operating speed.

The lack of variable controls makes it nearly impossible to moderate indoor temperatures on conventional furnaces without the blower motor stopping and starting repeatedly.

This is where the electronically commutating motor or ECM comes into play. Unlike PSC motors, ECMs can operate at various speeds without any penalties in energy efficiency. In addition, whereas conventional motors have no choice but to run at full blast, variable-speed blower motors can adjust their speeds in response to heating demands.

Variable-speed blower motors help condensing furnaces achieve efficient and highly versatile home comfort. For example, these motors can operate at extremely low RPMs to provide quiet, continuous air circulation throughout each room of your home.

Sealed Combustion Chamber

Conventional furnaces often use atmospheric combustion chambers that draw air from indoor spaces. However, the need for an indoor air supply leaves the combustion chamber exposed to the rest of the home. In addition, such a design leaves the furnace vulnerable to backdraft, where combustion gases are drawn out of the exhaust flue under negative pressure and back into the home.

In contrast, condensing furnaces use sealed combustion chambers entirely separate from indoor spaces. Instead, the combustion chamber receives its air supply from the outdoors. As a result, sealed combustion chambers are safer and more efficient since minimal heat is lost to the furnace’s immediate surroundings.

Secondary Heat Exchanger

In a conventional furnace, the hot exhaust gases generated through the combustion process travel through the heat exchanger. This metal tube series passes the heat between the passing exhaust gases and the circulating air that flows over the device. Any excess heat is carried away into the flue and vented outdoors.

Condensing furnaces prevent excess heat from being wasted by circulating exhaust gases through another heat exchanger. The secondary heat exchanger scavenges waste heat from the exhaust, boosting the furnace’s efficiency. This process also cools the exhaust gases so they can pass harmlessly through PVC pipes.

Heat Recovery Ventilator

Some condensing furnaces come equipped with a heat recovery ventilator. This device pulls fresh outdoor air into the stove and pulls heat from stale indoor air via a built-in air-to-air heat exchanger. The extracted heat is then used to pre-heat the incoming air before reaching the furnace.

HRVs are often necessary for tightly sealed homes since there aren’t any cracks or crevices that fresh outdoor air can be pulled through. Using an HRV also improves a condensing furnace’s overall energy efficiency.

Now that you know what makes condensing furnaces so energy efficient, call the experts at Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning and schedule your next heating system installation today.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

Not around here? Well, check out the 5-star Denver heating services our friends offer at Brothers Plumbing Heating Electric!

4 HVAC Duct Problems to Address

Home HVAC systems can only deliver the performance their owners expect when they have clean, intact, well-designed ductwork. If the ducts that run through your home cannot deliver warmed or cooled air efficiently, you may experience everything from chronic health problems to elevated electric bills.

You might not suspect that your air quality woes relate to a duct issue if only because you rarely see or deal with these hidden sections of your HVAC system. Look at four potential problems that can plague your ducts and the measures you can take to alleviate them.

1. Dust

Even the most carefully maintained home will collect a certain amount of dust. In addition to the dust and debris tracked in from outdoors, humans and pets naturally shed hair and skin cells that settle onto surfaces, get kicked up into the air, and eventually get pulled into the HVAC system.

Fortunately, HVAC system vents accommodate air filters that trap much of this debris, removing it from general circulation and cleaning your air. Not so. Fortunately, these air filters have a finite capacity for collecting dust. When they become clogged, the dust settles in the ducts, where it accumulates over time.

Dust accumulation can also develop suddenly if your home undergoes construction or renovation. This work can fill the air with particulate matter, including debris that can trigger allergies or other respiratory issues. This extra burden can overwhelm your air filters’ and ducts’ ability to filter and clean the air.
If your home seems unusually dusty, no matter how often you clean it, check your air filters and replace them as needed. If the problem persists, you may need to have the ducts inspected and cleaned by professionals.

2. Mold

Mold represents a special kind of problem. Like dust, it can enter your home on shoes, clothing, pet fur, or other carried objects. However, unlike dust, this living organism grows and thrives in moisture and environmental conditions amply provided by air conditioning components and processes. The presence of dust only nourishes it further.

Mold commonly grows in receptacles for standing water, such as the evaporator drain pan in your HVAC system. Typically, the drain pan collects condensation and then expels it via a drainage line. If this drainage system fails, mold spores from the drain pan may rise into the air and enter your ducts.

Mold spores can cause numerous health problems as they float through the air and into people’s respiratory systems. If you have a mold problem in your HVAC system, your family may experience allergic reactions, asthma attacks, or other ailments. Other signs of mold include discoloration around vents and a musty smell in the air.

While you can often remove mold around vents, mold infiltrating your ducts or drain pan requires professional evaluation. Your HVAC technicians will either remove the mold themselves or recommend a mold remediation specialist. They can also repair drainage problems that create standing water in your system.

3. Air Leaks

HVAC ducts can direct air through your home in a precise manner because they function as a closed system. Installers seal individual sections of ductwork to ensure no air escapes on its journey through your home. However, the system can lose considerable efficiency if a hole, gap, or other air leak develops.

Duct air leaks can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, rodents can damage ducts as they chew their way into walls, while corrosion allows holes to form. Most commonly, however, simple thermal expansion and contraction over several seasons of use can weaken the seals connecting duct sections and vent registers.

Symptoms of a leaky duct system include uneven heating or cooling and hard-to-manage humidity, indications that cooled or heated air has escaped into the walls instead of circulating through your rooms. In addition, an inexplicable rise in your energy bills may mean that your HVAC system must run harder to compensate for the leakage.

HVAC technicians can check every inch of your ductwork for leaks. They can seal the leaks with metallic mesh tape, restoring your HVAC system’s functionality and energy efficiency.

4. Design Flaws

Sometimes, an HVAC system’s ductwork struggles with efficiency problems from its first operation. Even experienced contractors can make errors in the planning and construction phases, resulting in HVAC ducts that can’t do their job adequately. If your HVAC system has never worked well, suspect this possibility.

Common mistakes in HVAC duct installation include installing too small a system for the home’s needs, running the ducts over too great a distance for efficient operation, and not installing enough return vents to permit good air circulation. Your HVAC expert can recognize these flaws and make any recommended modifications.

If you believe a duct problem has limited your ability to enjoy your HVAC system, contact Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning. Our HVAC experts can evaluate your ductwork and recommend the right action to improve your home’s air quality and energy efficiency.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

Not around here? Well, then check out the 5-star Denver heating services our friends offer at Brothers Plumbing Heating Electric!

Managing Allergies With HVAC

Allergies can bring you down and leave you feeling too terrible to enjoy life. Whether you’re allergic to pets, pollen, dust, or other airborne allergens, a high-quality HVAC system can be one of your best allies. All you need to know is how to put your HVAC system to work for you. Follow these innovative strategies to use your HVAC system to relieve runny noses, dryness, hay fever, and more!

Add an Air Purifier

You may cringe when you learn about the common air pollutants inside your home. You may be breathing in microplastics, mold, pet dander, household cleaners, pollen, and worse. Unfortunately, the air pollutants that you inhale while relaxing at home can be the very things that trigger a variety of allergic reactions.

Consider adding a whole-house air purifier to your HVAC system. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, this can be one of the most effective things you can do to improve indoor air quality. When you use an air purifier, you reduce your exposure to common allergens. As a result, you may notice a dramatic difference after introducing the cleaner and start to feel better.

Keep the Humidity in Your Home Low

Mold allergies are common and can wreak havoc on your sense of well-being. The bad news is that mold can grow anywhere. The good news is that you can help prevent decay with your HVAC system. If you have a mold allergy, fight back and set the humidity in your home below 50 percent. Otherwise, the moisture can encourage mold growth.

If necessary, add a dehumidifier to keep your allergies at bay. A whole-house dehumidifier can be an asset that works with the HVAC system to create a suitable healthy climate within your home. In addition, it can continue to ensure humidity is removed from the air while your air conditioner is between cycles.

You should also make sure to ventilate your home correctly. If you don’t have proper ventilation, mold can grow and thrive. Pay incredibly close attention to the bathroom, kitchen, and basement. These areas often lack adequate ventilation and can be a hotbed for mold growth.

Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

If you suspect that your air ducts may be causing your problems, make sure you have a professional clean them. A professional duct cleaning service is worth every penny if your air ducts contain mold or have accumulated a lot of dirt and grime. Often an entire HVAC system cleaning is combined with cleaning your air ducts. The cleaning service you need depends on your unique situation and the condition of your system.

Never try to clean your air ducts yourself, and don’t ask a knowledgeable neighbor or friend to try their hand washing them. Instead, hire a licensed National Air Duct Cleaning Association-certified professional to perform the cleaning. Only a professional will know the ins and outs of cleaning ducts. In some cases, duct cleaning requires cutting holes in the system, and a professional can cut and seal the ducts properly.

Keep the Area Around Your HVAC Clear

Keep the area around your heating and air conditioning unit clear of debris, dust, and other items. If you have children, make it a family rule that everyone keeps their stuff clear of the HVAC unit inside and outside the house. A clear pathway will help increase the airflow. It also helps the system work most efficiently to regulate the air inside your home and protect you from allergies.

Avoid fancy landscaping in the outside area around the HVAC unit, too. Trees around the unit can provide shade as long as they don’t block airflow. Otherwise, the best practice is to keep the grass mowed and clear of the team. You don’t want common allergens or other outdoor debris to brush up against the heating and cooling system where they may cause problems.

Don’t Open Windows During Any Season

Keep your home protected from the allergy triggers often found in the great outdoors. Although you might want to open the windows during beautiful weather, resist the temptation. Even though allergens are less prominent at night, keep windows closed to protect yourself and your children.

Replace Old Units

Newer HVAC systems tend to offer the best protection against indoor allergens. However, a total replacement may be best if you have had your air conditioning and heating system for a decade or if it malfunctions. The United States Department of Energy recommends regular maintenance of your plan to get the most out of its ability to fight allergies.

Finally, contact Derek Sawyer’s Heating & Air Conditioning today for any questions about a new heating and cooling system. We can advise on improving your home’s air quality with the best equipment. Since we strive to be the best in the Sacramento area, you’ll enjoy the highest quality systems and a pleasant, professional installation experience.

We offer HVAC maintenance services in the following areas:

Please leave us a review or learn more about our Modesto AC repair services today!

Not around here? Well, then check out the 5-star Denver heating services offered by our friends over at Brothers Plumbing Heating Electric!

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