Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I keep my thermostat set at?
- The truth is, there is no magic number that is perfect for all or even most situations. It really comes down to "what temperature is comfortable for you" versus "how much are you willing to pay to be comfortable". The higher the difference between the temperature of two different places, the faster that heat moves from the warmer to the colder. A home at 80 degrees inside and 100 outside will gain heat slower than one that is 68 degrees inside and 100 outside. The principle still holds when the indoor and outdoor temperatures are largely swapped during winter. The slower a home gains heat in the summer, or loses heat in the winter, the less often an HVAC system has to turn on and correct it back to comfortable, costing money to run. In the end, we have to balance comfort against cost to find our ideal settings.
- Should outdoor units be covered in winter?
- Only if the unit is an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler). Standard Air Conditioning and Heat Pump condensing units are entirely weatherproof, and in some cases actually benefit from winter rain rinsing dust out of the outdoor coils. Heat pumps in particular absolutely require being uncovered to allow proper function in the winter heating season.
- How often should I change my air filter?
- That depends on the type of filter you use. A standard mesh filter can usually make it as far as three months at the most. At that point, we recommend changing it even if it looks clean. These type of filters are inexpensive, and although they serve general-purpose filtering needs, changing them on a schedule is cheap insurance for your HVAC system. The more expensive pleated or electrostatic filters should be replaced (or, in the case of electrostatic filters, cleaned) once a month at the minimum. These filters are excellent about cleaning dirt and other particles out of the air, but that also means they fill up and clog that much faster. They can be invaluable if anyone in your home has respiratory concerns, allergies, or just wants to dust less often. The cost of those benefits is, however, a higher price tag per filter, and the requirement of staying on top of their changing/cleaning. Speaking from a service perspective, a significant percentage of our service calls throughout the year can be traced to dirty filters, with some of the repairs totaling into the thousands of dollars. For a three to nine dollar filter.