house covered in snow

Compared to some Indiana winters, we've been pretty lucky this year! Winter is still winter though and we're right in the middle of it. With a couple of cold months still left, the question should be asked: How's your home holding up? We'd like to share some customer HVAC questions we've had over the past month as well as provide some tips to protect your home against the harsh winter days.

Q: My furnace is running but it's not keeping the temperature that I have it set at.
A: Have you checked your filter? A dirty filter restricts air flow and can affect the operation of the furnace. During milder outdoor temperatures, a filter that's a little dirty may not affect anything at all. During colder outdoor temperatures, the same filter can cause the furnace to have to work harder and fall behind. Filters may have to be changed more often than usual during extreme outdoor temperatures.

Q: I usually keep my whole house humidifier set at 40% but I've recently noticed that my windows are sweating.
A: When outdoor temperatures get really cold, you may have to turn your humidifier down. Once the outdoor temperatures warm back up a little, you can turn it back to it's normal setting. When there's too much of a humidity difference between the outdoors and indoors, you may notice some sweating. It's a common misconception that the colder it is, the higher the humidifier should be turned up. The opposite is actually true. In addition, houses differ in how insulated they are (amount of insulation, leaky windows and doors, etc). Therefore, one house may notice window sweating at 30% and another at 40%. Adjust the humidistat up or down accordingly.

Q: Why is there ice on my heat pump?
A: There's not a cut and dry answer for this. A heat pump has a defrost cycle that it goes through to melt the ice under normal circumstances. If ice is there at one time and gone the next time you look, then it is likely operating normally and has gone through the defrost cycle. If you see ice for days on end, there's possibly a problem. It could be a number of things. Turn the heat pump off by taking the thermostat to emergency heat. That will help thaw the ice so it can be properly diagnosed.

Q: My electric bills are outrageous!
A: If you are all electric, our first question will always be: do you have a heat pump or air conditioner? An electric furnace running by itself to heat your home is very inefficient and expensive. If you have an air conditioner with electric furnace, it's worth considering replacing the air conditioner with a heat pump. If you do have a heat pump and still have unusually high electric bills, there could be a problem with the heat pump or furnace. The heat pump could be under-charged, it could not be going into defrost mode, a bank of heat in the electric furnace could be stuck on, etc. It would be worth having your equipment looked at if you feel like your utility bills are high.

Here are ten other tips that we have to prep your home for colder days to come:

*Have your furnace cleaned and tuned-up
*Test sump pump
*Caulk around windows and doors
*Remove hoses from outdoor spigots
*Check insulation in attic. It should be a minimum of 12 inches
*Check door thresholds for gaps
*Plug in carbon monoxide detectors if you have gas appliances (stove, furnace, water heater, etc)
*Reverse ceiling fans
*Have your fireplace, chimney and vents inspected to make sure all is in good condition
*Clean gutters

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any additional questions. Stay warm and cozy!

3 dogs and 2 cats

There's a common passion among all of us at LCS Heating and Cooling.  Well, in addition to home comfort and the mechanics of HVAC that is! The common passion is animals.  We love dogs, we love cats, one of our techs even has a rabbit! We're just animal people.  It never surprises me to get a random picture throughout the day of a dog or cat.  It's usually a customer's pet that Travis takes a picture of and says- check this little one out! katy aloneOne of our installers even sent a picture of a customer's pet turtle that hung out in the backyard with them while they changed the heat pump.  So, where are we going with this?

IMAG0146We were all talking a few weeks ago about wanting to have some "community projects." We're excited to tell you about our first one!  One of our customers is Freeland Animal Hospital (www.freelandanimalhospital.com). They are located at Pendleton Pike and Sunnyside in Indianapolis. They are fantastic people and care so well for their furry clients!  Each year, they have an Angel Tree in which they accept donations of dog and cat food, treats and supplies. All donations then go to a local rescue.  This year the local rescue is PAWS (http://www.pawshancock.org), located in Greenfield.

Now through the end of the year, LCS Heating and Cooling, LLC has the following "Promotion" going on:

**For each new customer that signs up for Annual Maintenance (our Energy Savings Plan), we will donate a bag of dog or cat treats. Here's the link for more information about our Energy Savings Plan for your HVAC equipment:  https://lcstempsite.dreamhosters.com/esp.html

**For each new furnace install, we will donate a 5lb bag of dog or cat food.

**For each new full system install (furnace & air conditioner), we will donate a 15lb bag of dog or cat food.

Will it be dog or cat food?  The choice is yours!!

We are so excited to help a local rescue that helps so many dogs and cats each year. Who do you know that's thinking about having some HVAC work done?  We greatly appreciate your referrals and personal business.  The animals will too!

 

Investing in home upgrades can be fun....or not so fun!  Many homeowners are excited to add a sunroom, remodel a bathroom, finish a basement, pick out new flooring or granite tops.  How about picking out a new furnace though? HVAC is something we need but it's not always fun to invest in because it can't be seen.  HVAC is all about comfort. As homeowners consider their HVAC upgrades, we are often asked out rebates, incentives, and tax credits.  Being a new year, the money available to homeowners is different than what it was last year.  To keep things simple, we've listed below what's available now:

Lennox Equipment Rebates- The Lennox spring promotion is on from March 24 - June 13, 2014.  Rebates ranging in price from $75 - $1,300 are available on high efficient equipment.  Rebates are based on the installation of a single unit (air conditioner, heat pump or furnace) versus the installation of a full system (furnace, air conditioner or heat pump and thermostat).  Rebates also vary based on the efficiency of the system.  Also available are rebates ranging from $50 - $300 for PureAir filtration, zoning and solar panels.

Utility Rebates- A few of the utility companies are carrying their rebate programs into 2014.

Vectren- $150 for a 92-94% efficient gas furnace.  $250 for a 95%+ efficient gas furnace.  $300 for a 90%+ efficient natural gas boiler.  $20 for a programmable thermostat.

Citizens Gas- $150 rebate for a 92-94% efficient gas furnace.  $250 for a 95%+ efficient gas furnace.  $300 for a 90%+ efficient natural gas boiler.  $20 for a programmable thermostat.

Duke Energy- $200 for a 14+ seer heat pump with ECM fan on indoor unit.  $200 for a 14+ seer air conditioner with ECM fan on indoor unit.  $200 for 10.5+ EER geothermal heat pump.

Vectren and Citizens Gas also offer rebates for duct sealing, attic insulation and wall insulation.  See their websites for insulation specifications.  IPL's residential rebate program ended in 2013.

Federal Tax Credit- The federal tax credit available for 2014 is a 30% tax credit on the installation of solar panels, wind energy and geothermal heat pumps.  This tax credit will remain in effect until December 31, 2016.

If you are considering an upgrade to high efficient equipment, now is a great time to do so.  Why not save some $$$ that you'd otherwise be spending?  There are always options when it comes to HVAC systems, energy efficiency and comfort.  Contact us anytime for a free quote!

HVAC Repair or Replace: 5 Considerations

Heating and Air Conditioning is one of those necessary evils.  It's much more fun to spend money on a new TV rather than a new furnace!  At some point though, you may be faced with the ultimate HVAC decision:  Repair or Replace?  Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with this decision:

  • What is the age of your current system?  Most equipment comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty on parts.  The average life expectancy of a furnace and air conditioner is 12-15 years.  That's not to say that it won't last longer than that...it's just an average.  If the part is under warranty, it's most often going to make more sense to have the repair done.  If the part is not under warranty, then you may want to factor in the age of the equipment with the repair cost.  For example, if you have a $200 repair on a 15 year old furnace, it may certainly make more sense to take your chances and make the repair.  Now, on the flip side of that example, say your furnace is 15 years old and you're looking at a $500 repair.  You could have that repair done and not have another problem for a few years.  You could also make that repair and a few months later, have another part go out.  Before you know it, you have $800 into a 15 year old furnace.  Since there is a risk of other parts failing on older equipment, it may be worth considering replacement.
  • Energy Efficiency:  Your HVAC system uses a considerable amount of energy as compared with other appliances in your home.  If you have an older system, it's very likely that new equipment will be more efficient, resulting in lower utility bills.  Let's use the example of a $500 repair on the a 15 year old furnace.  If you're considering replacement, factor in the savings if you go from an 80% efficient furnace to a 95% efficient furnace.  Think about it in this way:  For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with an 80% furnace, $80 is heating your home and $20 is going out the flue.  For every $100 that you spend to heat your home with a 95% furnace, $95 is being used to heat your home and only $5 is being lost.  Air conditioners and heat pumps also vary in efficiency.  This is definitely something to think about when considering repair versus replacement.
  • Financial Incentives:  Are there financial incentives to upgrade to a new, more efficient HVAC system?  Currently, there is a federal tax credit and various utility rebates available for the installation of high efficient furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps.  The qualifications and dates do change so it's important to see what, if any, are available.
  • Length of Time in Home:  How long are you planning to live in your home?  If you are planning to stay in your home for awhile, you might have different factors to consider than if you are planning to sell in the near future.   If you are thinking about selling, definitely compare costs.  A repair might be the way to go simply because you don't want to spend money in a home that you are selling.  However, replacing the HVAC equipment might be a good investment because it will make the house more appealing to potential buyers.  If you are planning to stay for a while and are looking at a costly repair, it might make more sense to upgrade and get a new 10 year parts warranty.
  • Comfort:  HVAC equipment and technology have come a long way over the past several years!  Furnaces are now available with variable speed motors which are not only more efficient but also produce a more even and comfortable heat in the winter and coolness in the summer.  Programmable and/or WiFi thermostats are designed to reduce temperature swings, provide the ultimate control over your system and save on energy usage when you are not home.  Finally, there's the noise.  Maybe your HVAC equipment is loud because something is out of balance.  That could very well be an easy repair!  If not, consider replacing it with equipment that is quieter.  There are some systems that are so quiet, you cannot hear them run!

Repairing or replacing your furnace and/or air conditioner can be quite an investment.  Think about what's important to you when making the decision!