Does Your Furnace Need a Winter Tune Up?

13402495_lThings are cooling off outside in Austin. Although the temperatures don’t get incredibly frigid in Texas, you still might start thinking about clicking on the heat soon. Has your furnace had a tune-up this year? If not, this is the best time to do so! No one wants to find out they have a faulty heater once it’s already freezing outside!

A tune-up on your heater is well worth it. If you’re wondering what the advantages are, keep reading!

Benefits of a Furnace Tune-Up

1. Safety

If there’s one factor that should convince you to schedule a furnace tune-up, it’s your safety. The most significant safety issue connected to furnaces are carbon monoxide (CO) leaks. The way that furnaces provide your home or business with heat is by burning fuel–but an issue with this process could lead to gas leakage and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Your health and safety can be compromised if exposed to this gas for an extended period of time. Having a professional take a look at the unit can prevent an emergency from occurring in the future.

2. Save Money!

You might ask yourself, “How will paying for a tune-up appointment help me spend less money?” The answer is that you’ll be shelling out less cash in the long run for repairs and maintenance by catching tiny issues before they worsen. Would you rather schedule a tune-up twice a year, or have to keep making a bunch of little appointments every time a piece of your HVAC unit breaks down? Paying for those minor repairs adds up! In addition, having your furnace checked up will prevent scheduling any costly emergency appointments if your unit breaks down this winter.

3. Greater Energy Efficiency

A standard HVAC tune-up with involve a cleaning and inspection of the furnace burner and heat exchanger. This ensures your safety, of course, but it also will ensure that your HVAC unit is performing at full efficiency. This is just one more way that an annual tune-up can save you money. By running at top performance, your furnace wastes less heat so you’ll be truly getting what you pay for in energy bills–all while staying warm!

The secret to staying safe and comfortable this winter is to be proactive. When it comes to HVAC maintenance, the old adage is true that you’re better safe than sorry. Call an HVAC technician today to schedule a check-up on your furnace!

People looking for an HVAC tune-up in the Austin area can still take advantage of Stan’s AC special discount and rebate program! See here for details but hurry because this offer ends November 30, 2014!

Stan’s Rebates and Specials

I’m Chris Strand, owner of Stan’s Heating & Air Conditioning. One of the most common questions we get from customers at Stan’s is about the different types of rebates and financing specials that are currently available. Because we stay on top of the myriad of incentives offered, Stan’s helps their customers qualify for more rebates by any other contractor – by a lot! There are several ways our customers can save money — and they can be broken down into 3 general categories:

Rebates and Low Interest Financing from your local utility company

One of the best ways to save on the purchase of a new air conditioning and heating system, energy efficiency improvements and equipment maintenance is by taking advantage of rebates and financing from local utility companies. Depending on the utility company you use, rebates as high as $2500 and interest rates as low as 0% are available. Austin Energy, Texas Gas Services and Pedernales Co-op all have great incentive programs.

Manufacturer Incentives for new systems

Most homeowners will recognize the big air conditioning brands we carry like Rheem, Carrier, Trane, and Mitsubishi which are commonly found in homes across central Texas. These brands compete with each other for new customers. To encourage you to buy their products they frequently offer significant discounts on new systems and special financing offers. The discounts typically come in the form of mail in rebates or instant cash back offers. These rebates and low interest financing programs can significantly reduce the up-front costs of installing a new air conditioning system in your home. If there is a manufacturer incentive available Stan’s will let you know.

Exclusive discounts for Stan’s customers only

Stan’s has been in business since 1954, and over the years we’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best customers in central Texas. To say thanks to all our customers we sometimes offer limited time exclusive saving on tuneups, repairs, and installations, so make sure to keep an eye on our website for more information about any current offers that may be available.

Because of our extreme weather, you’re probably apprehensive about the thought of your air conditioning bills skyrocketing or your system breaking. However, the good news is that we are always here to help you save money and stay cool during the summer heat.

To see all the incentives currently available, visit our website or give Stan’s a call and we can help you find the best program for you. We even help with the paperwork.

Do You Need A More Energy Efficient AC System?

outdoor air conditioning unitIf you live in Central Texas, chances are you get a lot of use out of your HVAC system. But are you getting the most for what you’re paying? Switching to a higher efficiency heating and air conditioning system can save you money, time, and discomfort. So how do you know if you’d benefit from making an energy-efficient switch? Here are few factors to consider:

1. Your energy bills have increased from last year and continue going up.

Of course, there are several reasons you could be seeing an increase in your bills–rises in energy costs and more extreme seasonal temperatures can sometimes be the culprit. However, the age and condition of your heating and cooling system may have caused it to become less efficient. Sometimes upgrading can be less expensive over time than paying the bills for a system that wastes energy and makes your bills skyrocket.

2. Your heating and cooling equipment is over 10 years old.

Many houses have units that are 10 years old or older but even if they’re still functional, these older models simply don’t offer the same performance as newer ones. Today’s highest quality air conditioners use anywhere from 30-50% less energy to generate the same amount of cooling than those older models. In fact, the law requires that any units manufactured after January 2006 must have a minimal Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13. Some of the older models have ratings of 8 or lower! You can experience huge savings by switching to a more modern, efficient HVAC unit. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by upgrading from a SEER rating of 9 to a rating of 13, you can save about $300 per year. And that’s just by switching to the minimum SEER rating. In our climate the minimum recommendation is a SEER of 15.

3. You’re frequently scheduling repairs on your HVAC system.

Almost every heating and air conditioning unit can benefit from an annual tune-up, but if your system is constantly breaking down or malfunctioning, the costs of service appointments can start to add up. At some point, it becomes cheaper to replace the system altogether than keep paying for repairs. Actually, a new HVAC system can cost up to 50% less to operate.

4. You’ve ruled out other factors.

Before you invest in an all new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed any issues with your duct system. The average duct system has a leakage rate of over 25% and is often undersized. Sometimes, this is where the true root of the issue lies, rather than in your HVAC equipment. Have your home heating and air conditioning unit evaluated by an HVAC professional to get their best recommendation. In some cases, a system upgrade or replacement may be necessary to maximize savings and efficiency. However, other times some simple maintenance like filter changes, annual tune-ups, insulation and duct sealing may help your current unit return to an acceptable level of performance.

Tips for Hiring an Air Conditioning Specialist

Air ConditionerMost people can agree on one thing during summer in Austin, TX: reliable air conditioning is a must. When you’re in need of air conditioner replacement or repair, knowing which contractor to call can be confusing when you have several options. Not all HVAC businesses are created equal and by following the tips below, you can make sure you hire the best service available.

Professional Affiliations and Recommendations

Before choosing a heating and air conditioning company, first check to see if they are members the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and have at least an A rating. You can find the company’s profile on the BBB’s website.

Being members of the local, state and national Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) association is a big plus.

Another way to get valuable information regarding the company’s reputation is to read past client reviews on the company’s Google, Yelp, Customer Lobby, and social media pages. On Yelp look at hidden comments as well, they are not as transparent as other sites. You can read about previous customer’s experiences with the contractors and why they would/would not recommend hiring them. Also ask for recommendations directly and call their past customers.

License and Certifications

Make sure the company has a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Mechanical License. Also check and see if they employ NATE and National Comfort Institute’s Air Balancing and HVAC System Performance Certified technicians. Typically you can see their licenses and certifications on their website, but you can also ask a company representative directly.

Insurance

As a homeowner, probably the most important insurance coverage a contractor can have is Workers Compensation. If anyone is hurt while performing work in your home you are liable unless your contractor has adequate coverage.

The recommended minimum insurance coverage is a General Liability Aggregate of $1,000,000 and Workers Compensation of $1,000,000.

Air Conditioning servicing and installation is a hazardous task. Make sure your contractor has insurance so you are covered and don’t hesitate to ask for proof.

Professional Demeanor

Note their customer service when you contact them. Are you put in a phone tree or do they answer the phone directly and in house. How do they speak to their potential clients? Are they courteous when answering questions and providing price quotes? Do they return messages in a timely, professional manner? First impressions matter and the way the contractor handles your communication can be a good indicator of how they will handle the project.

Company Policies and Guarantees

When it’s your time and money on the line, the fine print matters. You want to hire an honest company that values the satisfaction of its customers. Ask about their policies to see if they value quality work over simply making the sale. Do they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee? What is their warranty and policies if your new HVAC unit should break down? How long has the company been around? Do their prices seem fair for the materials and labor needed to complete the job? Ask for references of customers that had problems and call them to see how they were resolved.

Get the Details in Writing

The costs of AC repair and installation can add up, especially in Central Texas. Before you commit to a repair ask for a written estimate. Likewise, if you are looking at more substantial work, get a proposal with all the equipment, specifications and price details in writing.

Availability

Obviously, if you need a job done, it’s important that your schedule lines up with the contractor’s. It is frustrating whenever your air conditioning unit breaks down but especially in 100-degree heat. Find a contractor that offers same day 24/7 emergency service at regular rates. But if it is the first heat wave of the season same day service may be impossible. Be upfront about the issue you’re having and see what their availability looks like.

By asking a few simple questions, you can feel safe knowing your HVAC contractor is knowledgeable, qualified, and reliable. For air conditioning repair in the Austin, Georgetown, or Marble Falls areas, contact Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning today!

Avoid a Broken AC Unit This Summer

picture of someone fixing air conditioner unitAs fellow residents of Texas, we know how scorching the summer months can be. There’s almost nothing worse than having your air conditioner break down in the middle of a Texas summer. Although you can’t control the heat or humidity in June through September, there are some steps you can take towards preventing a poorly functioning or broken air conditioning system this summer.

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Schedule a Tune-Up

This is probably the best step you can take towards preventing your AC unit from breaking down in the dead of summer. An average air conditioning system runs 3000 hours per year; that’s a lot of wear and tear. An annual tune-up allows a technician to catch little problems before they turn into major complications and a broken system. Plus, tuning and cleaning your system yearly will maximize its efficiency and extend its life.

Schedule an HVAC system tune up with a professional every year, once a year.

Replace the Filter

Dirty or restrictive filters are the most common cause of poorly functioning AC systems. Clogged filters can result in a total system breakdown. Filters typically need to be replaced every two to three months, but usually every month during the summer. This means you need to keep a closer eye on your filters June through September. Besides preventing an HVAC disaster, keeping filters clean and using low density filters have an additional benefit: the Department of Energy estimates that changing AC filters when needed can lower your system’s energy consumption by 5 to 15%! But beware, the more expensive the filter the more restrictive, in many cases “high efficiency” filters create the same consequences as a dirty filter.

Clean the Condenser and Keep the Area Around It Clear

The condenser is the outdoor part of your air conditioner unit, and it plays a major role in ensuring the system is cooling properly. The condenser doesn’t have a filter so when its coil gets dirty your AC can’t cool effectively. If the coil becomes clogged it can cause the condenser to overheat and break down, so schedule a cooling tune up and make sure a thorough cleaning of the condenser is included. It can be done by the “do-it-yourselfer” but make sure the power is turned off. The coil must be cleaned from the inside out so the top of the condenser must be removed.

It is also important to trim any shrubs and plants growing near the condenser and clear away any debris or leaves. There should be a minimum of 2 feet of clearance around the unit so it can function properly.

If you find that your AC is running more than usual or it isn’t keeping the house cool enough, you may want to check the condenser.

Clear the Drain Line

An air conditioning system removes up to 9 gallons of water from your home every day as a byproduct of cooling a home. That water collects in the drain pan of the indoor coil and drains out through a pipe connected to it. Clogged drain lines are a top service issue. It is paramount that you take the maintenance of your drain line seriously.

Fortunately, most drain lines have an emergency overflow cut off switch that automatically turns your system off if the drain line plugs. Even though your system won’t operate, at least you won’t flood your home.

To prevent the drain line from clogging, schedule a cooling tune up and make sure blowing out the drain under pressure and flushing the drain with water and vinegar is included. It is important that the location of the termination point is located. Instead of blowing out the drain, many times a wet/dry vacuum needs to be connected at the end of the drain line instead to suck out any algae, dirt, or rust that has collected inside the piping.

As preventative maintenance, you can also pour a gallon of warm water with a ¼ cup of vinegar through the drain pipe two to three times a year to help wash away any obstruction.

The Bottom Line

A few simple guidelines can save you from coming home to a broken air conditioner this summer. For questions, repairs, and to schedule the most comprehensive tune up available, call Stan’s Heating and Air Conditioning for assistance today!