Benefits of Heat Pumps vs. Furnaces

Keeping your home comfortable requires the right system. For your heating needs, you’ll likely be deciding between a heat pump and a furnace. Since both offer benefits and drawbacks, making the choice about which is right for you isn’t always easy. The team at Rick’s Heating & Cooling can help you determine which type of heating system is right for your needs. Here are some things to consider as you make your decision.

Benefits of Heat Pumps

A heat pump offers an energy-efficient option to heat and cool homes in moderate climates. These systems work like a refrigerator, using electric energy to move heat in order to meet your comfort needs. In the summer, this means moving heat from your home to the outdoors to make you home cooler, and in the summer, it means moving heat energy from the outdoors into your home to make it warmer. This can allow you to heat and cool your home for a fraction of the cost of a furnace or air conditioner. A heat pump serves both functions, so you only need to install one unit for year-round comfort.

Potential Downsides of Heat Pumps

The main drawback of a heat pump is the fact that it doesn’t work well in temperatures below the freezing level. In these instances, a backup heat source is needed. Most heat pumps have backup furnaces, but they use electricity or gas to heat the home during cold spells, which can negate some of the benefits. However, for those days when the outdoor temperatures stay above freezing, the heat pump can be quite efficient and effective. Heat pumps are more costly than furnaces to install, but you will end up saving money in the long run over the life of the heat pump.

Benefits of a Furnace

A furnace uses gas or electric energy to heat air, then pumps the heated air through your home via your ductwork. This is a great option for heating your home that works no matter the outdoor temperature. Another potential benefit of a furnace is a lower installation price.

Potential Downsides of a Furnace

The main drawback of heating your home with a furnace is the cost of heating. The gas or electricity that you need to run a furnace creates expenses that add up. Over the life of a furnace, you can expect to pay more than you would with a heat pump. If you wish to have cooling for your home, you will have to install an air conditioner along with your furnace.

Which Is Right for You?

So which heating option is right for you? The answer depends on your goals. If your goal is a lower initial cost, then a furnace is likely best. If you’re looking to save on your overall energy costs, a heat pump may work better.

Making this choice is complicated, and that’s where the team at Rick’s Heating & Cooling can help. Our experienced HVAC technicians can help you measure your needs and goals to choose the right heating option for your Cincinnati, OH home. If you are in need of a new furnace or heat pump, contact us for help.

You can contact us online or call 513-899-6005 for expert guidance on your search for the right heating option for your property.

Recommended Thermostat Settings in the Winter

Winter in Ohio is notorious for being bitterly cold, which leads to high energy bills. If you’re looking to balance comfort with energy savings for the remainder of the season, follow these recommended thermostat settings in the winter.

Set the Right Temperature

Begin by manually setting the thermostat to a temperature you feel comfortable with while you’re at home. We recommend dressing for the weather and setting the thermostat to 68 degrees, though anything at or below 70 degrees is ideal. Remember, the lower you set your thermostat in the winter, the more money you’ll save.

Next, choose a setback temperature for the hours when everyone is away. Setbacks are worthwhile anytime your house is vacant for more than four hours. We recommend setting the thermostat to 62 degrees or lower while you’re gone to avoid paying to heat an empty house. However, to prevent frozen pipes, you shouldn’t set the furnace any lower than 55 degrees.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat keeps you comfortable when you’re at home and saves you money when you’re away. Once you program the settings you want, you can go about your day while the programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature based on your schedule. There’s no need to remember to turn the temperature down when you leave for work in the morning, and best of all, the thermostat recovers a comfortable setting by the time you get home. It’s the best of both worlds!

Consider the specific features of the programmable thermostat you choose:

  • Day settings: Seven-day units allow you to program a different schedule for every day of the week. 5-1-1 models let you program Monday through Friday on the same setting and Saturday and Sunday differently from one another. 5+2-day models allow for a different setting on weekdays and weekends.
  • Program settings per day: Many programmable thermostats allow you to enter up to four settings per day. These periods are typically named Wake, Day, Evening, and Sleep.
  • Wi-Fi capabilities: “Smart” thermostats connect to the internet, making them accessible from an app on your phone. This allows you to check and change the temperature from anywhere.

Get the Most from Your Programmable Thermostat

To maximize heating efficiency and help your new programmable thermostat pay for itself in energy savings, follow these tips:

  • Use the hold feature properly: You can pause the regular thermostat schedule when you’re away for extended periods with the vacation/permanent hold setting. You can also override programmed settings on a daily basis if you feel uncomfortable. Just remember that every time you turn up the thermostat, you’re using more energy and increasing your heating costs.
  • Refrain from cranking up the temperature: You won’t heat up your home any faster by boosting the setting to 90 degrees. All this does is increase your bills as the temperature exceeds your comfort level. Instead, adjust the temperature by a degree or two at a time to minimize energy waste.
  • Consider adding a zoning system: If your home suffers from uneven temperatures, one way to combat the problem is with a zoning system. This incorporates multiple thermostats and dampers in the ductwork to control the temperature in different rooms independently. Be sure to set each programmable thermostat according to the above recommendations to maximize comfort and energy efficiency.

Get More Recommendations for Setting Your Thermostat from Rick’s Heating & Cooling

If you have any questions about the recommended thermostat settings explained here, or you’re interested in installing a programmable thermostat, please contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling today. We perform expert HVAC services in homes and businesses across Southwest Ohio.

Should I Replace My Furnace & AC at the Same Time?

When thinking about home comfort in different seasons, it’s easy to become short-sighted. For instance, you tend to worry about furnace efficiency in the winter, and then shift your concerns to AC performance in the summer. So, when one half of the system breaks down and requires a replacement, it’s easy to forget that your furnace and AC complement one another. After all, furnaces and central air conditioners share the same air handler. This means, when the time comes to replace your furnace, you should also replace your air conditioner so the components match. Here are some reasons to explain why that is a smart decision for your home.

Prolong System Lifespan

If you only replace half of your HVAC equipment, you mix old and new technologies in the same system, potentially resulting in compatibility issues. A mismatched system could cause premature breakdowns or a shorter lifespan for the new equipment you just invested in. If your goal is to save money by only replacing the furnace or air conditioner, this outcome could thwart your plans.

Improve HVAC Performance

New furnaces and air conditioners have impressive efficiency ratings. If your existing system was installed a decade ago or more, a replacement will prove to be a huge upgrade. Not only that, but when your heating and cooling systems match, the features and performance of each one complement the other. This helps your investment pay for itself in year-round energy savings while ensuring maximum home comfort.

Only Pay One Installation Fee

A significant factor in the cost to replace your HVAC system is the installation fee. If you replace your furnace now and wait until later to put in a new AC unit, you’ll have to pay this fee twice. However, when performed together, the installation process is less complicated, and you only have to pay the fee once.

Save Money Over Time

Replacing your furnace and AC at the same time requires you to purchase two units upfront, but saving over time makes the investment worth it. First, you enjoy lower energy bills from the improved efficiency of new, matching equipment. Then, you have fewer repairs to contend with, which can build up toward the end of an HVAC system’s lifespan. Finally, with only one installation fee to pay for, it makes sense to replace your systems together instead of six months apart.

Ensure Warranty Coverage

Some warranties come with a provision that states the manufacturer isn’t obligated to honor a claim if a new system is combined with an old one. Replacing your furnace and AC at the same time ensures full warranty protection if you need it. This gives you peace of mind and could save you money if you end up running into trouble with your new HVAC equipment.

Furnace & AC Replacement in the Cincinnati Area

When it comes time to replace your broken down furnace, we recommend replacing your AC at the same time, especially if the units were installed together over 10 years ago. As you begin the HVAC replacement process, we can offer our expert advice about which heating and cooling technologies will complement your lifestyle the best. We’ll make sure the investment you make contributes to improved home comfort and savings over the long run.

To schedule your furnace or AC replacement service in the Cincinnati area, or to request a free HVAC replacement estimate, please contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling today. We have over 30 years of experience delivering quality HVAC services to homes and businesses Ohio.

How to Fix Uneven Heating in Your Home

There’s more to a successful furnace than just keeping you warm. Your furnace should provide your home with substantial heat, work efficiently, have minimal problems, and heat your home evenly. If your furnace is only heating a few rooms in your home properly and neglecting others, you need to schedule a repair service.

Need help figuring out why you’re not getting the even home heating you want and need? Follow along with the certified HVAC pros at Rick’s Heating & Cooling to find out.

Common Causes for Uneven Heating And How to Fix Them

Of course what you do to remedy the issue is going to depend heavily on what the issue actually is. In this case, there are actually a few potential problems going on, including:

  • Constricted or closed vents. First up, take a moment to examine all of the vents and returns located around your home. Vents that are closed or blocked by furniture or rugs are the leading cause for cold spots in a home, and they’re easy to fix. So start here in case you can save yourself the trouble of a repair call.
  • Sneaky drafts. Feel around all windows and doors to eliminate the possibility of something left ajar. It’s also possible that your windows might be constricting slightly and thus letting outdoor air in, which can be temporarily remedied with a winter window kit or some rope caulk.
  • Insulation. In order to keep heated air in your home you need to be certain you have adequate and effective insulation. If you’ve just moved into your home it’s always wise to get a complete energy evaluation to avoid the problems poor insulation can cause.
  • Pinholes in ducts. When was the last time you had your ducts inspected? Dented and leaky ducts can cause leaks of air, making you lose out on tons of comfort and efficiency.
  • Lack of furnace maintenance. If you missed out on your annual furnace tune-up this year, that could also be the problem. Dirty air filters and gummed up furnace parts can harm the efficiency of your system considerably, leading to poor and uneven heat.
  • Incorrect furnace sizing. This would be a very unfortunate problem to have, but it’s not unheard of. If a furnace is too small, it lacks the power needed to provide even heat. A furnace that is too large will short-cycle, meaning it never really gets the job done completely before shutting itself off.
  • Damaged blower. The blower is responsible for pushing warm air through your vents. If it’s damaged, worn out, or its electrical components are out of whack then it can lead to losing out on a lot of heat.

Schedule Heating Repair Near Cincinnati with Rick’s Heating & Cooling

Still not certain about the source of your issue, or stressing out about being chilly in your Cincinnati, OH home? Don’t worry! The certified and licensed heating experts at Rick’s Heating & Cooling are here to help.

Give us a call any time at (513) 899-6005 or contact us online to schedule a furnace inspection or furnace repair service!

Is It Time for a New Furnace or Should I Replace My Furnace’s Heat Exchanger?

Have you just been told your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger? You might assume that, as with other furnace parts, you can just replace the heat exchanger and get the system back up and running again without too much trouble.

However, the heat exchanger is the heart of any furnace, making it one of the most expensive parts of the entire unit to repair or replace. If you have a cracked heat exchanger on your hands, use the information here to help you decide if it’s time for a new furnace.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

The key to heating your home is found in the heat exchanger. When the thermostat detects that the temperature is falling, the furnace flame turns on and heats up the interior of the heat exchanger. This warms up the metal walls and tubing of the heat exchanger before the blower turns on so the air blowing across it picks up as much warmth as possible.

It’s important to understand that air doesn’t flow through the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is where combustion gases are contained and vented to the exterior after the air passing has absorbed a majority of the heat stored within. Some furnaces feature two heat exchangers to maximize efficiency. The exhaust from a furnace with a dual heat exchanger is cooler, meaning more of the energy your HVAC system consumes is converted into useful heat for your home.

Determine if the Heat Exchanger Is Cracked

It’s sad but true that some unscrupulous HVAC contractors will try to convince you that your furnace heat exchanger is cracked when it’s really in satisfactory condition. This tactic allows dishonest technicians to sell you an expensive repair or entirely new furnace.

Watch out for technicians who attempt the dubious diagnostic method of using water cameras or smoking agents to check for small gaps in the heat exchanger wall. According to the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, heat exchangers are not hermetically sealed, so a tiny bit of leakage is safe and even expected.

If your heat exchanger has really cracked from years of rust and corrosion, the hole will be large enough to see with the naked eye. Other signs of improper combustion caused by a crack in the heat exchanger include:

  • Soot buildup on internal furnace components
  • High carbon monoxide levels in the flue pipe that may leak out and set off your CO detector
  • Flickering yellow or orange burner flames, when they should be steady and blue

Why You Should Replace the Furnace if the Heat Exchanger Is Cracked

It usually takes 18 to 20 years for rust and corrosion to cause a hole to form in a furnace heat exchanger. If your furnace is old enough to have this problem, the heat exchanger probably isn’t worth replacing. Doing so would be comparable to buying a new engine for an old, rundown car.

In most cases, you are much better off putting your money toward a new, high-efficiency furnace replacement. Your investment will provide many immediate and long-term benefits, including:

  • Improved home comfort and humidity levels
  • Better air circulation for more even temperatures from room to room
  • Lower heating bills all winter long
  • Cleaner indoor air
  • Quieter operation

Contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling for Furnace Replacement in the Indianapolis Area

If you’re looking for a second opinion regarding the condition of your heat exchanger, or you’re ready to upgrade to a new, high-efficiency furnace, please contact Rick’s Heating & Cooling today. We are the furnace installation experts for homes and businesses in Southwest Ohio.