Frequently Asked Questions
- How long should my old air conditioner and furnace last?
- My electric and gas bills are high. Will a new air conditioner and furnace lower my bills?
- What is Seer?
- What is a heat pump? Is it better than an air conditioner?
- Should I replace my air conditioner and furnace at the same time, or can they be installed separately?
- Is it OK to install a different brand of air conditioner (or furnace) to work with my existing air conditioner (or furnace)?
- My friend works for an air conditioning and heating company and says he can install a new air conditioner (or furnace) for me for a lot less money. Is this a good idea?
- How does HOUK Air Conditioning determine what size of air conditioner and furnace to install?
- I want a big air conditioner. Someone told me this is not good – what are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Some rooms in our house don’t get enough cooling (or heat). Can this be fixed?
- Should I run the blower continuously, or use the auto position on the thermostat?
- How many bids should I get before I decide on a new system?
- How do I check out the companies I am considering to install my new system?
- How do I pay for my new system?
- Why should I consider a new high-efficiency filter?
- Should I have a new programmable thermostat installed with my new system?
- Does HOUK Air Conditioning have experienced servicemen?
- A cracked furnace is dangerous. How often should I have it checked?
- Why should I have my air conditioner checked in the spring and my furnace checked in the fall?
Q: How long should my old air conditioner and furnace last?
Typically an air conditioner or furnace will last 10-12 years. Sometimes it pays to replace the old system sooner because of the higher efficiency (lower gas and electric bills) provided by equipment. Due to our climate, life expectancies can vary greatly. Maintenance is a must to maximize efficiency and protect your investment.
Q: My electric and gas bills are high. Will a new air conditioner and furnace lower my bills?
YES! A new air conditioner can cut electrical consumption, as much as 50%. Even a 12 SEER air conditioner will cut the electricity used by as much as 30%. A new 90% furnace can usually cut the gas used by the old furnace by as much as 30%, and a new 80% (minimum allowed by the federal government) will use approximately 20% less.
Q: What is Seer?
This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The size of an air conditioner is rated in tons; however the efficiency is rated in SEER. It’s like mpg (miles per gallon) in a car – the higher the mpg (or SEER) the lower the gasoline (electricity) bill.
Q: What is a heat pump? Is it better than an air conditioner?
In the summer, a heat pump is no different than an air conditioner. In the winter, a heat pump operates in reverse and heats the indoors. Heat pumps need auxiliary heat (electric resistance heat or gas furnace) to help them when it is very cold or when the thermostat is moved more than 2 degrees at a time. The initial investment for a heat pump is higher than for an air conditioner, and the ductwork must be right for proper operation. One common complaint of a heat pump is that the air coming out of the registers is not hot enough (compared to a gas furnace). With all their drawbacks, heat pumps will reduce the winter heating bills. However, if you have electric heating, the savings is dramatic and you will probably want to stay with a heat pump.
Q: Should I replace my air conditioner and furnace at the same time, or can they be installed separately?
Yes, they can be installed separately; however, to ensure proper efficiency and capacity they should be installed as a matched system.
Q: Is it OK to install a different brand of air conditioner (or furnace) to work with my existing air conditioner (or furnace)?
Although it is generally recommended to match components, most brands of air conditioners will work with others as long as the coils and blowers are the proper size. You may however, experience some loss of efficiency and capacity.
Q: My friend works for an air conditioning and heating company and says he can install a new air conditioner (or furnace) for me for a lot less money. Is this a good idea?
Be sure he has a license, obtains all required permits and has adequate insurance. Keep in mind you will be dependent on him and his schedule for warranty repairs. If he meets the above requirements, has the needed experience and you understand that repairs may not be timely – you may save some money, but be sure you are not getting a “cheap” installation that will cost you more in the long run.
Q: How does HOUK determine what size of air conditioner and furnace to install?
HOUK’s Comfort Consultant will measure your home and calculate the actual cooling and heating load on the home (calculation based on window size and direction, walls, ceiling, floor, appliances, insulation, etc). This will determine the proper size of equipment that is needed. This will be compared to your current equipment and ductwork and will be adjusted based on your lifestyle, etc.
Q: I want a big air conditioner. Someone told me this is not good – what are the advantages and disadvantages?
An “oversized” air conditioner will cool your house quicker, but it will use more electricity and will not remove humidity adequately. If your ductwork is not big enough for the “oversized” air conditioner, the coil may freeze and then the air conditioner won’t work at all. Obviously the air conditioner must be big enough to cool the house, but too big is just as bad.
Q: Some rooms in our house don’t get enough cooling (or heat). Can this be fixed?
Sometimes running the blower continuously will solve this problem. Usually the new furnace will have better air flow which will help, and there is usually a way to install an additional register in the area to obtain more air flow.
Q: Should I run the blower continuously, or use the auto position on the thermostat?
Try both ways. Running the blower all the time will use a little extra electricity, however the home is usually more comfortable, the temperature is more even throughout the home, and the air is cleaner because it is filtered more. The motors generally last longer because they are not starting and stopping. Some of the new furnaces have the ability to use a slow blower speed for continuous operation, and a faster speed when the furnace or air conditioner is running.
Q: How many bids should I get before I decide on a new system?
Three bids are generally enough. If HOUK Air Conditioning, Inc. is servicing your current system, or if we have installed equipment for you in the past, you should be comfortable in obtaining a proposal from HOUK, then determining if you feel the need to obtain additional bids. Another way to obtain several bids without the effort is to call current customers that have had a system installed recently and ask why they chose HOUK (your comfort consultant can give you a list of customers).
Q: How do I check out the companies I am considering to install my new system?
This is the easiest, yet most important step – call customers. Eliminate any company that doesn’t give you a list of customers that they have installed during the last 1-24 months. Call the BBB and tell them you are considering a new system and ask about their experience with HOUK (or any other company you are considering).
Q: How do I pay for my new system?
For installation of new equipment, we do not require any down payment, however we ask for payment after the installation is complete (unless other arrangements have been made). We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Cash and Checks.
Q: Why should I consider a new high-efficiency filter?
High-efficiency filters remove more of the smaller particles from the air. This will help us breathe better and reduce sinus problems, headaches and colds. Many people miss fewer days from school and work and use less allergy medication. The air is filtered before entering the air conditioning and furnace. HOUK has several different filters available and can show you the differences in efficiency and installation cost.
Q: Should I have a new programmable thermostat installed with my new system?
Programmable thermostats allow you to raise and lower the temperature automatically, at specific times each day. They will reduce your energy bills and increase your comfort (i.e. get up to a “warm” bathroom during the winter). If your family follows a fairly regular schedule, a programmable thermostat may be a good investment.
Q: Does Houk Air Conditioning have experienced servicemen?
Absolutely! We have some of the best and most experienced servicemen anywhere.
Q: A cracked furnace is dangerous. How often should I have it checked?
If your furnace is over 5 years old, it should be inspected by qualified technicians every fall before the heating season begins. Any other time the furnace is not operating properly (ex. the pilot blows out) it should be checked too.
Q: Why should I have my air conditioner checked in the spring and my furnace checked in the fall?
They should be checked, and cleaned, to be sure they are operating at their top efficiency, are operating properly and to be sure they are operating safely.