How to Save Money when Buying a New Air Conditioner

Buying a new air conditioner can be a challenge, especially when you have so many choices available to you. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to not only save money, but also get the best possible system for your dollar. Here are some tips for saving money when buying a new air conditioner.

Understand what SEER Values Truly Mean

The SEER rating on an air conditioner basically tells you how efficient that particular model is. With that in mind, homeowners who want the best of the best often go for the highest number they can possibly find. However, the difference between a model with SEER 16 and SEER 21 could be thousands of dollars. It’s important to figure out what’s necessary.

Though high efficiency is a great thing, bear in mind that SEER ratings are measured in laboratories under optimal conditions. Chances are good that your home isn’t kept like a laboratory and conditions will change. With that in mind, if you can save $3000 by purchasing a SEER 16 model over a SEER 21, it may be more beneficial to purchase the SEER 16 model. What’s more, higher-efficiency units are usually costlier to repair, and while you might recoup your $3000 over the lifetime of the unit in terms of energy savings, this doesn’t take repair costs into consideration.

Buy the Right Size

It’s always best to have a contractor help you decide which size air conditioner is right for your home or property. It’s virtually impossible to decide what’s right without having someone come to your home and take many factors into consideration. Of these factors, things like your climate, home size, insulation, crawlspace size, attic space, and more all come into play. Buying an air conditioner that is too small or too large for your home will inevitably cause problems and raise your energy bills significantly. While it might cost a little more initially to have someone help you decide which size unit to buy, it is worth it in the end.

Understand Fair Prices

One of the most difficult things about buying a new air conditioner is determining what a fair price should be. It’s much like buying cars – different dealerships might offer you prices that vary by thousands of dollars. Something to keep in mind is that the brand name on an air conditioner isn’t as important as many people make it out to be. Despite the name on the front of the machinery, the internal components are made by the same companies in eight out of 10 cases. With that said, instead of buying based on name brand, buy based on customer reviews and the type of warranty you’ll receive. These things are far more important in the grand scheme of things.

When buying a new air conditioner, there are several things to consider. The three tips above are the best ways to truly save money when making this important decision. Things like SEER ratings, air conditioner unit size, and even fair pricing are vitally important to making the best possible decision.

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When to Schedule HVAC Maintenance for the Best Results

Most homeowners prefer to schedule HVAC maintenance annually. During this visit, a service technician comes to their homes, inspects their systems, and provides repairs and advice as needed. However, some homeowners wonder when to schedule HVAC maintenance visits for the best results.

During the Off-Peak Months

For most homeowners who want to know when to schedule HVAC maintenance, the best answer is during the off-peak months. HVAC technicians stay busy during the dead of summer when humidity and temperatures alike soar. For this reason, waiting until the middle of summer to schedule your visit could result in a longer-than-usual wait time. November and December are the perfect times to schedule your annual maintenance visits as technicians are not as busy.

After Major Weather Events

Florida is certainly no stranger to inclement weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and even monsoons can wreak havoc on the outdoor components of HVAC systems. If your area was recently hit with severe weather, it is always a good idea to schedule HVAC maintenance afterward. After all, in cases like these, it is better to be safe than sorry. You may not even realize a problem exists until it causes hundreds of dollars in damage.

When Something Isn’t Right

Learning when to schedule HVAC maintenance is also all about pinpointing when something seems “off” with your HVAC system. If it starts making a strange noise, doesn’t appear to heat or cool properly, or spikes your energy bill despite no real changes in the outdoor climate, something could be amiss. If you experience any of these issues, contact your local HVAC technicians right away for an inspection. The sooner you resolve the issue, the less likely it is to turn into an expensive repair in the end.

If You’ve Recently Moved

It is always a good idea to schedule HVAC maintenance if you recently purchased a home. Even if the previous owner says the system was serviced within the last 12 months, it is important for you to hire a company you trust to make sure everything is in good working order. After all, not all HVAC companies have the same inspection policies, and this means that something could have been overlooked.

If You Use Your HVAC System Year-Round

Some people rely on their HVAC systems all year long, whether they are actually cooling their homes or simply using their systems to remove humidity and move air through the home. If your air conditioner runs nearly 12 months out of the year, it may be worth your while to schedule HVAC maintenance twice each year rather than just once, and ideally about six months apart. The more you use your system, the more wear you can expect – and maintenance visits are designed to help prevent problems due to this wear.

Determining when to schedule HVAC maintenance visits can be tricky. Following the tips above will help you and your family stay comfortable all year, whether the temperatures soar in August or fall below freezing in February. Contact your local HVAC technicians today if it has been over a year since your last maintenance visit.

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Florida Winter Weather – Snow Safety Tips

Many parts of the country are used to dealing with downright nasty winter precipitation, but for much of Florida, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, such weather is incredibly abnormal, which makes the roadways (and sometimes even homes) more dangerous than usual. Here are three very important Florida winter weather and snow safety tips to keep in mind during these unusual periods.

Use Kerosene Heaters with Caution

Many Floridians simply don’t have furnaces installed in their homes, which means they rely on space heat to help them stay warm during cold snaps – especially when temperatures plunge below freezing like they did in parts of the state in January 2018. Kerosene heaters provide quick, relatively efficient heat, but they are only as safe as the people using them. These heaters do require ventilation as the combustion gases can be toxic, they produce open flames, and they can get quite hot to the touch. Be sure to keep kids and pets away from these heaters and provide adequate ventilation.  

Drive Safely in Florida Winter Weather

Snow is a rarity in Florida, and it fell in places like Jacksonville and Tallahassee in winter 2018. Because Floridians are not used to such weather events and the way wintry precipitation affects the roads, it often leads to accidents and slide-offs. Here are some tips for driving safely on Florida’s roadways during winter precipitation events:

  • Drive slowly. Driving slowly is the best way to avoid accidents during Florida winter weather events. Give yourself extra time to reach your destination, and don’t rush.
  • Don’t use cruise control. Cruise control is very beneficial during good weather, but it can be problematic when driving in snow or ice. If your car loses traction, your cruise control may not turn itself off, causing your car to propel itself forward very quickly when it gains traction again.
  • Downshift to slow down. Though your brakes are very important in keeping you safe, your transmission is actually the safest tool for slowing you down, especially when going over potentially frozen bridges, down hills, or even around corners. Slow down well in advance, then downshift to help control your car’s speed.

Keep Your HVAC System in Good Working Order

Of the Florida homeowners who do have gas, electric, oil, or even geothermal heating, there are many who do not have their systems serviced as often as they should simply because they don’t frequently need to use the heat. This can create serious issues, especially when temperatures plummet. Waiting until Florida winter weather events have been forecast to schedule a maintenance visit may prove troublesome; this is a busy time for HVAC companies. Instead, be sure to have your HVAC system serviced and inspected once every single year to ensure you are ready for the cold temperatures.

Though snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are rare in Florida, they can and do occur. It is always best to be prepared for the worst, and these tips can certainly help. Understanding these tips for heating your home and driving carefully could save your life, and having your HVAC system inspected regularly can ensure your family’s comfort regardless of what Mother Nature brings your way.

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Broken Furnace Giving You Chills? Follow These Steps

With the cold weather descending on the state of Florida and temps regularly falling into the low 40s, now is the time of year when you might start relying on your furnace to keep you warm. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when a broken furnace is most likely. Here are the steps to take when your furnace doesn’t work as it should to keep you and your family warm.

Step 1: Check that the Furnace Settings are Correct

You’d be surprised at how often a seemingly broken furnace can be corrected by adjusting simple settings. Make sure the system is set to “heat”, the fan is set to “auto”, and the thermostat is set at an appropriate temperature. More often than not, fixing a broken furnace is as simple as adjusting these common settings.

Step 2: Clean the Thermostat

If altering the settings doesn’t get your broken furnace to work properly, the next step involves making sure the thermostat itself is clear of dust. A layer of dust can impact the thermostat’s calibration, tricking the thermostat into believing it’s warmer than it truly is.

Step 3: Look at the Fusebox or Circuit Breaker

If your furnace won’t come on at all, check to make sure the fuse hasn’t blown or that the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped to the off position. Replace the fuse or reset the breaker if this is the case, and then try to resume normal operation. Remember also that blown fuses and tripped breakers signify an electrical overload. If it happens again, be sure to call an HVAC specialist for help.

Step 4: Check the Furnace and Filter

Next, if you still have a broken furnace after following the aforementioned steps, check the furnace and filter for obvious problems. A clogged air filter can have a tremendous impact on the operation of your unit, so this is a great place to start. If the filter looks clean, check the outside of the furnace for anything unusual, such as an odd sight, an odor, or even a strange noise. In the event you hear, smell, or see anything out of the ordinary, turn the furnace off and call for help. (Remember: if you smell natural gas, which has a sulfuric smell like rotting eggs, evacuate your home immediately and call your local fire department and/or gas company once you have left your home safely.)

Step 5: Contact an HVAC Professional to Fix Your Broken Furnace

Finally, once you’ve followed all the steps above, you may need a professional to fix your broken furnace. Significant HVAC repairs should be left to the professionals who have received years of training and experience. CoolNow is available around the clock, even on weekends and holidays, to help keep your family comfortable and safe. We can quickly diagnose and repair the issue for you, and we can often come to your home very quickly after your call.

A broken furnace can put a damper on your day and leave your home feeling anything but cozy. Follow the steps above in order to see if you can find the issue, and if you can’t, remember there are professionals standing by to help you resolve the problem and enjoy a comfortable, warm home.

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5 Christmas Energy Saving Tips to Follow This Season

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but all those lights and decorations might be driving your energy costs through the roof. Below, you’ll discover five Christmas energy saving tips that will help you enjoy the holidays without emptying your wallet.

#1 – Switch to LED Christmas Lights

If you’re still using the same Christmas lights from 20 years ago, you’re using far more energy than is necessary. Bulb technology has improved significantly over the years, and LED bulbs are brighter, longer-lasting, and far more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts. It’s a bigger initial investment as LEDs cost more than incandescent bulbs, but there’s a very good chance your energy savings will make up that difference in the first year alone.

#2 – Take Advantage of Cooking and Baking

No matter how well-insulated your oven or how powerful your range hood might be, baking and cooking increases your home’s temperature. In the summer, you probably use a slow cooker where you can or even reserve your baking for the nighttime hours when it isn’t quite so hot. In the winter, you can do the opposite – cook and bake during the day when everyone is awake to help take some of the strain off your heating system. It’s one of the best Christmas energy saving tips out there. Not only do you save money on your heating costs, but you get to eat some delicious treats, too.

#3 – Reduce Screen Time

Though today’s televisions, computers, mobile device chargers, and more are designed to be increasingly energy efficient, reducing screen time is still one of the best Christmas energy saving tips available. Most households have several televisions, computers, and mobile devices plugged in and turn on at any given time. Instead of getting lost in the screens, turn them off, light some candles, and spend some time together. It’ll save you money and it’ll also help bring your family closer together.

#4 – Reduce Your Lighting Use

Of all the Christmas energy saving tips available, this is one of the simplest. All you have to do is reduce the number of lights you use, and it applies to traditional lighting and special Christmas lighting. Unplug or turn off your Christmas lights after a certain time; chances are good that only a few people will see your display after midnight, anyway. What’s more, when you are using those lights, there’s a chance that they may provide enough illumination for you to cut back on your primary lighting, too. Just be conscious of the number of lights that are on and do your best to reduce your usage.

#5 – Bundle Up

Last, but most certainly not least, one of the easiest Christmas energy saving tips you can follow is to bundle up and reduce your thermostat setting by a degree or two. Even a couple degrees can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the winter. Put on an extra pair of socks and a sweater and move your thermostat from 70 degrees down to 68. You may feel a little chilly at first, but you’ll soon acclimate.

These five tips can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the Christmas season if you follow them, but there’s a bonus tip that can save you even more. Instead of relying solely on space heaters or your furnace, consider lighting your fireplace, instead. It’s warm and cozy, and it pays homage to the spirit of the season.

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