energy savings

Furnace vs Heat Pump: Which is Better for My Home?

Furnace vs Heat Pump: Which is Better for My Home?

The debate between furnaces and heat pumps is a common one, but is one really better for homeowners in Semmes, Alabama? They will both heat your home, but they do so through different methods, and a heat pump has the advantage of providing cooling as well. Size, features, efficiency, and cost are also important factors. Deciding whether or not a furnace or heat pump is best for your home comes down to making an informed decision based on system performance and your needs. You will need to consider how both furnaces and heat pumps work, and the pros and cons of each.

Conventional Furnace

A conventional HVAC furnace works with a duct system to get warm air to various rooms in your home. To generate heat, a furnace burns fuel (often natural gas, but sometimes oil). These heated gases then pass through a heat exchanger in coils. Air from your home blows over these heat exchanger coils, heating up the air, and then redistributing it through your home via the duct system.

Furnace Pros

  • Reliability: Over the years, furnaces have been designed to be more efficient and to provide the right levels of heating comfort.
  • Durability: Modern systems are being designed to be more durable. With proper use and maintenance, they can last much longer than older model furnaces. They also last much longer than heat pumps and require less maintenance. They can also withstand the rigors of unpredictable winters.
  • Performance: Furnaces provide better heating performance and are ideal for regions that see harsh winters. A heat pump doesn’t work as well in extreme temperatures.

Furnace Cons

  • Risk: Even though furnaces today are built to be safer and more efficient, there is always the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. This risk can be minimized with regular maintenance and replacing old or damaged furnaces. Carbon monoxide detectors in your home are very important.
  • Efficiency: Although modern systems have greatly improved in performance, a heat pump can still save you more on your energy bills.
  • Air Quality: From the combustion of gases to the system of ductwork, central heating systems can have a greater negative impact on your indoor air quality than a heat pump.

Heat Pumps

In contrast to a forced-air system, a heat pump moves rather than produces air. Warm air is moved out of the home in the hot months, and into the air outside. A heat pump can also function in the reverse, cycling in warm air while cycling out the cool air during the winter months. A heat pump consists of both an indoor unit and outdoor condensing unit. Heat pumps are known for efficiency since they don’t expend the energy or fuel to produce their own heat.

Heat Pump Pros

  • Efficiency: Since a heat pump doesn’t rely on fuel and just moves air around, it saves you a considerable amount on the utility bill. You also get heating and cooling in one unit.
  • Installation Cost: It costs less to install a heat pump since it doesn’t need the ventilation system a furnace requires.
  • Safety: Without the risk of carbon monoxide leaks, a heat pump is safer for your home.

Heat Pump Cons

  • Effectiveness: Since a heat pump only moves air, it doesn’t have the power of a furnace and won’t function as well in extremely cold regions.
  • Supplemental Heating: A heat pump may require additional heating support when it can’t provide sufficient warmth.
  • Maintenance: Split between two units, the heat pump may require more maintenance than a conventional furnace.

The Verdict

Both a heat pump and furnace can provide warmth in the winter. A heat pump, however, can cool your home during the hot summer months. Even if you consider cost and efficiency, the system that works best for your home will depend on the unique conditions of your home and region. It is a good idea to consult your HVAC technician who will consider factors such as the size of the home, the number of occupants, and the typical weather conditions of the area to determine the best system. The pros at Air Speciality, Inc. can help you to make the best decision according to your needs and budget. Whatever decision you make, we also provide the right systems and installation solutions. Call us today at 251-545-3337 with your furnace or heat pump questions. We look forward to serving your HVAC needs.  
An Upgrade Improves Heating and Cooling Efficiency

An Upgrade Improves Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Time and use will eventually take a toll on your HVAC system. This will affect performance and lead to a loss of efficiency and money. If you find that your system needs frequent repairs and is not providing the level of indoor comfort you need, then it’s time to consider a replacement. An upgrade of your HVAC system can increase savings and comfort in your Semmes, AL home.

Improved Performance

Most well-kept HVAC systems will only operate efficiently for up to 10 years. Even if you’ve kept up on your preventive maintenance, switched out air filters regularly, and kept your system clean, your heating and cooling system will still deteriorate over time. As the system ages, it needs to work harder to maintain the level of comfort to which you’ve become accustomed. This causes the system to lose efficiency and increase your energy bills. Upgrading your HVAC system will restore heating and cooling efficiency.

New Technology

Since the time that your HVAC system was installed, it’s likely that new technology has been introduced. These technologies are generally designed to increase the efficiency and performance of your system. For example, programmable thermostats allow you to effectively manage temperatures day and night according to your schedule. This ensures more efficient use of your HVAC system so that it doesn’t waste energy. Other technology like more advanced filters, air purifiers, and various system components will help to make your HVAC system more efficient.

Increased Savings

While upgrading your system comes with a cost, the money you save on energy over time will make up for that cost. Remember, though, that if other parts of your system are inefficient, an upgrade will only do so much. Invest in annual maintenance so that ductwork, filters, and other components can be properly assessed. When all parts of your system are in good condition, you will get more bang for your buck. If you have questions or would like to upgrade your HVAC system, give Air Specialty a call today at 251-545-3337.
6 Fall Maintenance Tasks that Save You Money

6 Fall Maintenance Tasks that Save You Money

maintenance Semmes, Alabama residents are lucky to enjoy more favorable weather at the beginning of fall, with much cooler temperatures starting in November. It is important to prepare your home for the season ahead with simple maintenance tasks. This helps to ensure your home and systems are in good condition to face whatever winter may bring.

Stocking Up on Filters

Furnace filters will need to be changed regularly or as soon as they become dirty. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce system efficiency. Maintain your filters so that your system can operate at peak efficiency.

Changing Your Ceiling Fan Rotation

Most people associate fans with cooling and not heating. While ceiling fans do create a wind chill effect when they are rotating in the right direction, they can also warm your home if you simply reverse their rotation. As cool weather sets in, turn your fan to the reverse or clockwise setting. Using the fan along with your heater will allow you to leave the thermostat at lower temperatures. Moving clockwise, the fan pushes warm air down from the top of the room, and helps to keep the warmer air circulating to keep you more comfortable. Using the proper fan setting will keep your home comfortable with minimal heating, particularly in that transition period before it becomes really cold. Using your fan instead of or along with the furnace will help you to conserve more energy and save money.

Cleaning the Gutters

Clogged gutters prevent proper drainage and may lead to leaks. Don’t wait until melting snow is seeping into your home, or damaging the foundation of your home. Clean out your gutters in the fall when the weather is still comfortable. If it has been a while since you performed this task, you may find a lot of dirt and debris waiting for you. Taking care of this DIY weekend job now will prevent more expensive problems later.

Sealing Your Home

Air leaks will let warm air slip right through the cracks this winter. These leaks can also allow cold air to enter your home. Seal them up now to avoid further energy waste, and so that you will be ready for winter. Install weather-stripping around your windows, and use caulk to seal any cracks in windows and doors as well. Your ducts can let a great deal of air escape too. It is estimated that as much as 20 percent of the air moving through your ductwork is lost to leaks. Seal and insulate your ductwork to keep warm air in where it belongs. Not only will this keep temperatures comfortable, but you will save money, too. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this investment will save you $120 or more every year on your energy bill.

Make Sure Your Gas Furnace Is Ready

If you have a gas furnace, it is smart to contact your gas company for a fill-up before the cold season really sets in. This will ensure you are not left without fuel when you need it most. It is a good idea to fill-up now while the cost is lower. The price tends to increase closer and during the season when the demand is greater. Your HVAC technician will help you to determine whether or not you need to fill up.

Scheduling Your Annual HVAC Maintenance

You should have an HVAC professional service your heating system once a year. The ideal time for this is in the fall before you turn it on for the first time. Schedule your appointment early and you can beat the seasonal rush, and ensure your system is in good condition to keep you comfortable all season. During this maintenance visit, your HVAC professional will check the filter, look for leaks, tighten loose parts, and thoroughly clean the furnace. He will also look for any signs of leaks or other likely problems. These regular tune-ups can save you from costly repairs later on and give you a chance to address issues early in the season before you find yourself in a freezing home. If you are ready to schedule your HVAC maintenance visit this season, contact Air Specialty at 251-545-3337. With the proper care and attention, your home will be clean, sealed, and perfectly prepared to keep you comfortable in any weather.  
Appliances Continue to Use Power If Not Unplugged

Appliances Continue to Use Power If Not Unplugged

Even the most energy-savvy homeowner could be overlooking one very simple task that is impacting their energy bill. Many of your household appliances continue to drain a steady stream of energy even when they turned off. If you are looking for ways to create a more energy-efficient home in Semmes, Alabama, you need to understand standby power and what you can do to truly increase energy efficiency in your home.

Minimize Energy Drain

The most efficient way to stop appliances from using standby power is to unplug them completely, where possible. This might not be practical for your washer, dryer, microwave, and dishwasher, as the outlets are not usually easily accessible. However, for other electronic items, you should always unplug them if they will not be in use for a while. Items such as computers, printers, and gaming and entertainments will use a lot of standby energy. If you find it inconvenient to regularly unplug multiple items, using one or more power strips can make a difference on your energy bill. Power strips with on/off switches allow you to cut the power to several devices at once without having to unplug each. Simply turn the strip off, and power no longer flows to the devices. Power strips effectively reduce energy waste and help you to save.

Upgrade for Efficiency

A smart solution for items that you cannot unplug is to upgrade to energy-efficient models. Energy Star-certified refrigerators, HVAC systems, and other appliances, will use less electricity at all times. So even if you are unable to unplug them, you can still realize savings overall. Energy Star-certified appliances are given that label because they are more energy efficient and help to reduce energy waste. So when next you are looking for appliances for your home, look for those with the Energy Star rating. For more ways you can increase energy efficiency in your home, contact Air Specialty at 251-545-3337. The Air Specialty team provides preventive maintenance and other services that will improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. We can also recommend more energy-efficient upgrades so your entire home can be more energy efficient.  
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