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Fall Furnace Shopping Checklist – What I Need to Know Before I Purchase

Oh, the joys of shopping. Yes, furnace shopping. Furnace shopping is not something you typically just do on a whim, as you might with home décor or new clothes. Rather, shopping for a new furnace is driven by need. Either you know your furnace only has a limited amount of time left (pat your own back for being proactive) or it’s already stopped working. Furnace shopping can be tedious and overwhelming but do your homework before you start your search and your shopping experience will be a lot less painful.

Energy Source Choices in Area

Know which type of energy source your home uses for its heating needs. While most people will replace a furnace with the same type of energy source already used, it is possible to change energy sources for your home. Speak to one of the experts at R & B Climate Control to determine if this is even possible.  There could factors that prevent you from changing from electric to gas for example.  Also, we can help you determine if it makes financial sense to do so.

Gas furnaces are very common and economical in the Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and Indian Land areas. The initial cost of a gas furnace can be more expensive than an electric furnace. Depending upon your home and utility provider natural gas may be less expensive than electricity, or it could be the other way around. Many factors play a role into which fuel source is more efficient to operate; such as, furnace AFUE efficiency, natural gas vs. propane, and SEER and HSPF rating of a heat pump. Typically, when using electric as your heat source, we are talking about a heat pump.  This type of system uses only electricity to heat and cool your home.

Size is Critical When Purchasing a New Furnace

Consumers typically fall into two categories when it comes to choosing a size for their furnace. Some want a larger furnace believing that bigger is better, and others want a smaller furnace because they believe bigger furnaces are just a marketing ploy. Both categories of consumers are wrong. 

If you choose a furnace that is too small, your furnace will struggle to warm your home and keep you comfortable. If your furnace is too big, then it will cycle on and off and cause unnecessary wear and tear to your heating system. 

The size furnace you choose should be all about your home and heating needs. The best way to determine the size you need is to have a certified HVAC technician from R & B Climate Control prepare a load calculation. Not only will they measure your square footage but they also take into account direct sources of sunlight and shady areas, the number of windows in your home, and the amount of insulation in your home. 

AFUE

An AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a type of percent rating that indicates how much of the energy heats your home and how much is wasted. For example, if the rating is 80%, then 80% of the energy is used in your home, while 20% is wasted. If the rating is 90%, then 90% goes toward heating your home and 10% is wasted. Keep in mind, you pay for 100%. The rating lets you know what is wasted and what your home will actually use. 

A furnace that has an 80% rating is less expensive but you will see larger savings over the long run with the 90% furnace. Research which is better for you and your budget, the 80% or the 90% furnace, and you should also speak to a qualified professional at R &B Climate to help you make a decision.

Remember the Warranty is Important

You’ll also want to research which furnaces offer the best warranties. Look for manufacturer warranties with the most coverage, and you can consult an expert at R & B about the addition of an extended warranty for your new heating system. And, as always remember to keep to a regular maintenance schedule, to ensure you keep your heating system’s warranty valid.

How to Prevent a Clogged AC Drain Line in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and Indian Land?

Your A/C condensate drain line is a PVC pipe that exits your house and is typically located near your outdoor air conditioner.  The drain line connects to your indoor evaporator coil. The drain line removes the condensation produced by the evaporator coil (This is box attached to your furnace or inside your indoor air handler) and carries it to the outside of your home. But where there’s condensation, there’s always the possibility of mold and bacterial growth. Mold, bacteria, algae, as well as sediment and even insects, can build up inside your drain line. These can form a clog in your condensate line.  This will cause the water to back up into your home and will fill the drain pan located under your furnace and coil or air handler. Once the drain pan overflows, well you now have a major mess on your hands!

A clogged A/C drain line is one of the most common problems HVAC technicians are called to homes for during the summer or air conditioning season.

Read below to find out what you to do when your A/C drain line is clogged and how you can prevent it.

What to Do in Five Easy Steps:  Check out this short how-to video

  1. Turn off your air conditioner at both the thermostat and the breaker.
  2. Find your drain line exit point (remember it’s the PVC pipe attached to your home) and the access point (which is a T-shaped pipe with a cover or cap attached to your indoor unit).
  3. Check for anything that might have clogged the exit point (this may require a ladder as some units are in the attic – move to step 4 if you don’t have a ladder or feel comfortable climbing). If you can’t find the source of the clog there, then remove the cap to the access point. 
  4. If you can’t see a clog, pour household bleach into the line. Start with a ¼ cup to a ½ cup. Give it 30 minutes and see if anything came out the exit point. If not, try again and see if that clears it out. 
  5. If you still can’t unclog it, you can try attaching a wet-dry vacuum where the line exits your home. (See the video above)

How Do You Prevent a Clogged Drain Line in Fort Mill, SC

Not only should you use the liquid bleach to unclog your A/C drain line, but you should always use it as a preventative measure. Once or twice per summer pour a ½ cup of bleach into the drain from the access point at the indoor unit. This will clean the drain and kill bacteria, mold, and algae growth. Also, it is good to keep to a regular maintenance schedule.  R & B Climate Control will service your air conditioning system twice per year to keep it operating at factory specs. They will ensure your unit is clean and functioning efficiently. A little preventative care goes a long way in protecting your air conditioner.  Trust who your neighbors trust in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and Indian Land, SC – R & B Climate Control!

How to Cut Your Utility Bill in Half This Summer in Fort Mill, SC

Summer is a favorite time of year for so many. Warm summer nights and long days that include vacations, swimming, kids playing outdoors, and picnics at the park. But along with the fun of summer comes the dreaded high utility bill. Summer is hot, especially in South Carolina. It’s too hot to keep the windows open so your air conditioner runs throughout the day and night just so you can stay comfortable. With utility rate increases, your utility bill probably just keeps getting higher and higher. What can you do to cut costs and potentially cut your bill in half this summer?

Replace Air Filters

Clean air filters help your air conditioner operate efficiently. Dirty and clogged air filters are a big contributor to higher utility bills because your air conditioner has to work harder to circulate the air. It will also help with allergies and asthma. Check them once a month and replace them if they’re dirty.

Avoid Heat-Generating Appliances in Rock Hill, SC

The oven, dryer, and dishwasher create a lot of heat in your house every time you use them. Try to find alternatives whenever possible, and you’ll see savings in the long run.

Instead of using the oven, you can cook on the stovetop, use a crockpot, or even fire up the grill.

Give your clothes dryer a break, hang items outside to dry. If you suffer from spring allergies; look for places around your house where you can lay out the laundry or look into purchasing drying racks.

Water heaters require energy, so try washing your laundry and dishes in cold water to save energy.

Instead of using the dishwasher, wash dishes by hand and let them air dry.

If you need to use the dryer or dishwasher, run them in the early mornings or overnight. Also, make sure you’ve cleaned your dryer traps and vents.

Keep Your Blinds and Curtains Closed from Direct Light in Indian Land

If you’re away from home, keep all your blinds and curtains closed. It’s best to keep the blinds or curtains closed during hot sunny hours of the midday and afternoon.  It will significantly lower the temperature in your home. When you are home and want to use natural light to save energy, only open the blinds or curtains that will let in indirect light.  

R & B Climate Control Recommends to Use Fans

Ceiling fans are a great cost-effective way to cool you off. Just remember to turn your ceiling fan to run counterclockwise during the summer.

If you don’t have ceiling fans, invest in portable fans. You can find inexpensive fans that have several different speeds, settings, and come with remotes.

Use your bathroom fan when you take a shower. A bathroom fan will suck up the humidity and heat from your shower.

Use Low Flow Shower Heads

Install low flow shower heads that reduce the amount of water consumption when you shower.

Turn Down Your Water Heater or Go Tankless

Most thermostats are set at 140 degrees. Turning it down to 120 degrees will lower your utility bills and still maintain a comfortable water temperature. Your water heater uses energy to maintain a constant water temperature. By lowering the temperature your water heater uses less energy.

Because tankless water heaters only work when you turn on hot water, they use less energy than standard water heaters. Switching to a tankless water heater may lower your utility bills.

Use LED Light Bulbs

Once your incandescent light bulbs stop working, replace them with LED bulbs. LED bulbs are more expensive but last much longer and use 80 to 90% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, providing you savings.

Turn It Off and Use Power Strips

Turn off lights, computers, and televisions. Unplug phones and tablets when not charging. Simple steps like these can make a big difference in the amount of electricity you and your home consume. You can even plug your electronics and appliances into power strips. Turn the power strip off when you can. Many of our electronics and appliances use energy even when they’re not in use.

Raise Your Thermostat in Fort Mill

Keep your thermostat at a comfortable temperature but not too cool. Try turning it up a couple degrees and see if your home is still comfortable. Keep it as high as possible while still maintaining your comfort level. A few degrees higher on the thermostat will save you money.

Invest in a Programmable or Smart Thermostat

You can lower your cooling bill as much as 10% by turning your temperatures down seven to ten degrees. A programmable thermostat allows you to set a schedule which would increase the temperatures during the times you’re not there.

You could also purchase a smart thermostat which allows you to control the temperature in your home remotely through a smartphone, tablet, remote control, or by voice. More advanced smart thermostats actually “learn” from your behaviors. Over time, they recognize and remember your regular heating and cooling habits. They will determine the most appropriate temperature based on the time of year, the time of day, the number of occupants, and previous patterns of use.

Properly Insulate Your Home

Before summer is in full swing, make sure your home is properly insulated. Once you turn your air conditioner on, you want to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. Check windows and doors for places where air may be getting in or out. If needed, caulk windows and replace weather stripping on the doors.

Check the ductwork in your attic or crawlspaces for leaks. A properly insulated home will help keep down costs and preserve energy.

Regular Preventative Maintenance from R & B Climate Control

Keeping to a regular maintenance schedule will ensure that your unit is working efficiently, increase the longevity, and reduce your air conditioning system’s energy consumption.

Ways to Stay Warm and Save Energy This Winter

After a hot Carolina summer and fall, cool air is certainly a welcomed change. You may have pulled out the sweaters and coats, but is your home ready for the winter? Read below to learn about some simple ways to stay warm and save energy at the same time.

Open Blinds and Curtains During the Day in Indian Land, SC

Too often, people keep the blinds and curtains closed during winter months to try and keep the heat in their house. If your home is properly insulated, open the blinds and curtains so that they may allow the sun to enter and heat the room. Not only is sunlight good to combat the winter gloom, it won’t cost you anything to warm your home naturally.

Throw on Another Blanket and Lower Your Thermostat

While you may be tempted to turn up the thermostat when you feel cold, try a blanket instead. Keep some throw blankets on the couch and add another layer onto your bedding. You can stay warm and save money. Did you know you can save up to 10% per year on your heating bills by reducing your home’s temperature by one degree?

Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

A great way to beat the heat is to turn on ceiling fans, but did you know that ceiling fans can help keep you warm in the winter months too? Reverse the ceiling fan cycle so that it turns clockwise if you are looking up at the fan.  By doing this, the fan pulls the warm air up and circulates it around the room. Keep it at a low speed and make sure that it rotates clockwise.

Insulate Your Home in Fort Mill, SC

The best thing you can do to keep down heating costs during the winter months is to make sure your home is properly insulated. First, check your windows and doors for potential leaks. If needed, caulk around the windows and replace weather stripping.

Make sure the ducts in the attics and crawlspaces are properly insulated. Run your hand along the heating ducts for holes. If you feel warm air escaping, then you’ll need to have your ductwork sealed and insulated by a professional contractor.  

Change Your Filters

Replacing your filters is an inexpensive and a highly effective way to keep heating costs down. It’s also essential to caring for your furnace. Always remember, no matter what season, a clogged filter makes your heating and air units work harder and less efficient. Change your filters every three months at minimum.

Service Your Furnace in Rock Hill, SC

A regular maintenance schedule is necessary to maintain a safe and efficient furnace. Your certified HVAC technician at R & B Climate Control will inspect your furnace to ensure it is functioning to best of its ability.  If you need to schedule heating maintenance or have further questions, please contact us!