You want to be comfortable at home. Your HVAC system is an investment in comfort.
Modern HVAC equipment has a life expectancy of at least 15-20 years. So if you’re going to spend any time in your home over the next few decades, why not invest in equipment that best meets your needs?
The right equipment can address heating, cooling and indoor air quality issues within your home. But in order to help determine which equipment is the best solution, your HVAC partner must take the time to understand your needs.
At Fire & Ice, we do this by discussing what we call comfort concerns. And since your comfort concerns are vital in our process, we’re going to dive into what comfort concerns are and how we use them to build your system.
It’s important to note that, even when we understand your comfort concerns, it’s up to you to make the final call on which system is right for you. Our job isn’t to push our most expensive system on you -- it’s to make sure we help you find a system that fits your needs in a way that’s valuable to you.
So let’s talk about how we do that.
What Are HVAC Comfort Concerns?
The phrase “comfort concern” is just another name for your heating, cooling and air quality preferences and any issues you have with your current system.
Comfort concerns can include the following:
- Hot or cold spots
- Dry indoor air during the winter
- Muggy indoor air during the summer
- Annoyingly loud systems
It’s also important to prioritize these comfort concerns. This tells us which comfort concerns hold the most value for you as a homeowner.
While we always try to address all of your comfort concerns, the solutions to some comfort concerns can have a higher initial cost. Prioritizing your comfort concerns can help ensure your replacement system stays within your budget.
When we know your priorities, we can help make sure you get the best bang for your buck.
Why Are Comfort Concerns Important?
As Fire & Ice sales professionals, we want to make sure that we provide the best possible heating and cooling solutions for you and your home.
Your comfort concerns serve as our introduction to your home and you as a homeowner. When your HVAC partner understands your comfort concerns, they can better recommend products that can address those concerns and help make your home more comfortable.
Comfort concerns aren’t an HVAC industry standard. Occasionally HVAC sales professionals may take the time to understand your comfort concerns during an in-home estimate. But not all of them do.
At Fire & Ice, we address common concerns with every customer.
Many of our customers believe that they have to adapt to their home’s comfort levels. But that absolutely isn’t the case. With HVAC equipment, we can adapt your home to fit your comfort preferences. And the right HVAC equipment can give you back your home.
Some of the homeowners we’ve worked with had spent years avoiding parts of their homes that got too cold, hot or muggy depending on the time of year. Because we took the time to understand their comfort concerns, we could help them find the best solution.
In order to do that, we need to know your preferences and any issues you have with your current system.
When we understand these comfort concerns, we can introduce you to products that better fit your needs. Because your HVAC system should fit your needs.
We can technically put almost any system in your home. But if a system doesn’t solve the issues that matter to you, then it probably isn’t worth the price, no matter how expensive or inexpensive.
While the more expensive systems can address the most problems, they’re not always the best fit for you, your home or your wallet. Our goal is to identify and address comfort concerns in a way that you find valuable.
How We Use Comfort Concerns to Build Your Heating and Cooling System
Remember the examples of comfort concerns that we mentioned earlier? We’re going to break down solutions for a few common comfort concerns.
While replacing or adding HVAC equipment can address these concerns, not every solution will cost you money.
Just to recap, we’ll discuss solutions for the following comfort concerns:
- Hot or cold spots
- Dry indoor air during the winter
- Muggy indoor air during the summer
- Annoyingly loud systems
So let’s get started.
Are there any areas that get too warm or too cold?
There are a few reasons why you may experience hot and cold spots in your home.
The simplest way to fix this is to run your blower fan more often. Your blower fan circulates air throughout your home. When you let your blower fan run constantly (or at least more frequently), the air in your home circulates better.
Better air circulation can help even out the temperatures in your home.
We know that many homeowners leave their fans set to “auto.” But that means that your blower fan only runs when your heating or cooling system does.
If leaving your blower fan on makes you chilly, a variable-speed blower motor can help. Variable-speed blower motors give you more control over their speed. Lower speed settings can make sure the air continues to circulate but in a way that isn’t so noticeable.
If you still have hot and cold spots after running your fan more often, it could be an issue with your current system.
During an in-home estimate, one of the first things we do is perform a Manual J load calculation. This tells us how powerful your system must be in order to adequately heat or cool your home.
Since some HVAC contractors don’t perform proper load calculations (or skip them all together), your system may not be the right “size” for your home.
Hot and cold spots can occur whether your system is too large or too small for your home.
If your system is too large, it’ll kick on and off more often than it should. This can also result in temperature spikes as your system overshoots the temperature your thermostat is set to.
If your system is too small, it’ll run more often than it should in an attempt to heat or cool your home to the set temperature. While longer runtimes can be good sometimes (as we’ll discuss later), this isn’t one of those times. In this case, a longer runtime actually harms your system.
In both cases, improper sizing results in more wear and tear on your system. This can decrease your system’s life expectancy by as much as 5-10 years.
Your HVAC partner can solve these issues by performing a load calculation before they recommend systems.
Leaky or improperly sized ductwork can also create hot and cold spots. Your HVAC partner should be able to diagnose and offer solutions for issues with your ductwork.
Does the air in your home get dry during the winter?
If you suffer from itchy skin, bloody noses or frequent colds in the winter, you may benefit from a whole-home humidifier.
In Central Ohio, cold weather can bring relative humidity down to around 15%. If you don’t have something in your home to offset this dry air, you’ll be at its mercy.
Whole-home humidifiers help add humidity back into the air. Because whole-home humidifiers use your existing ductwork, they can treat the air throughout your home efficiently.
Whole-home humidifiers start around $600, including installation, labor and other fees. Your HVAC partner can add a humidifier to your existing system at any time.
Does your home get muggy during the summer?
If it feels just as humid inside your home as it does outside, you may benefit from a whole-home dehumidifier.
Although your air conditioner or heat pump already helps remove humidity from your home, sometimes it needs a little help. That’s where a whole-home dehumidifier comes in.
Like humidifiers, your HVAC partner can add a whole-home dehumidifier to your existing system at any time. Dehumidifiers also use your existing ductwork to remove humidity from throughout your home.
Removing humidity from your home can address several comfort concerns, including:
- Uneven temperatures between floors - If you have a multi-story home, two factors are working against you: humidity holds heat, and heat rises. By decreasing the humidity in your home, a dehumidifier can help even out temperatures between floors.
- Fewer creepy crawlies - Spiders, silverfish, centipedes and other insects thrive in humid environments. By decreasing the humidity in your home, a dehumidifier can help eliminate them.
And while boosting your comfort, a dehumidifier also takes some strain off of your air conditioner.
Your air conditioner or heat pump already helps remove some moisture from the air in your home. But when you add a dehumidifier to your system, your air conditioner or heat pump can focus on cooling your home. This decreases wear and tear on your system, improving its life expectancy.
But dehumidifiers can be a bit more of an investment upfront. Whole-home dehumidifiers start around $2,700, including installation, labor and other fees.
If that’s not within your budget, don’t worry: there can be more than one solution.
If you have a multi-story home and only your upper floors are muggy, increasing the staging of your air conditioner or heat pump could help address this problem.
In some cases, your air conditioner may not run long enough to adequately cool and dehumidify your upper floors.
Air conditioners or heat pumps can come in three different stages:
Entry-level air conditioners and heat pumps are typically single-stage. This means that they’re either running at 100% capacity or they’re off.
While single-stage systems can reliably cool your home, they may struggle with multi-story or large homes. Single-stage systems have the shortest runtimes. By the time the conditioned air begins to reach your upper floors, the first floor, where many homes have their thermostats, is already nicely cooled.
And then your system shuts off.
Two-stage and variable-speed air conditioners and heat pumps can run at lower capacities. As a result, multi-stage systems have longer runtimes and can better maintain even temperatures throughout your home.
When we increase the staging of your system, we can increase its runtime. This ensures that your air conditioner can do a better job at cooling and dehumidifying those upper floors.
But because we can only increase your system’s staging by replacing it, this isn’t typically the best solution for homes with cooling systems that are less than 15 years old. (Modern HVAC equipment has a life expectancy of 15-20 years or longer.)
However, sometimes it may make sense to replace a system that’s younger than 15 years.
Here are some situations where it may make sense to replace a system under 15 years old:
- Your system isn’t the right size for your home. As we discussed earlier, sizing can affect your system and your comfort. If this affects your comfort or your utility bills, it may make sense to replace your system.
- Your system isn’t efficient enough. Your system’s efficiency affects your energy costs. If your utility bills are too expensive, it may make sense to invest in a new, more efficient system.
- Your system doesn’t address your comfort concerns. If your system doesn’t meet your needs or preferences, it may make sense to replace your system with a system that can.
In any case, when you replace your system is always up to you.
As you continue to research the best systems for you, make sure you know how much a replacement air conditioner costs.
Is your current system so loud that it’s annoying?
Some of our customers say that their system wakes them from a deep sleep when it kicks on. Others have to turn up the volume on their TVs so they can keep up with their favorite shows.
While this isn’t a high priority for every homeowner we speak to, we think it’s important for you to know that there are quieter options out there.
Systems like the Trane XC95M furnace or the Trane XV80 furnace have insulated cabinets to help cut down on the amount of noise they make. But switching to a multi-stage system, like we discussed earlier, can also help give you a little more peace and quiet.
The Fire & Ice Difference
At Fire & Ice, we believe in doing things right the first time or not at all. We integrate this into everything we do.
In addition to taking the time to understand your comfort concerns, some of the other practices that we follow to do things right by our customers include:
- Load calculations. By properly “sizing” your system to fit your home, we make sure your system can do its job.
- Pulling permits. Permits and inspections aren’t just legally important for an installation. Permits and inspections help protect our customers. We aren’t afraid to have our work critiqued, especially if it ensures that we did the best possible job for our customers.
- Fully commissioning the systems we install. After the installation, we fire up your new system and run tests to make sure that everything is running as it should according to manufacturer specifications. While some companies do partially commission newly installed equipment, most don’t fully commission.
- Follow-up quality inspections. We want you to be happy with a Fire & Ice installation. To make sure you are, we check in with you periodically during your first year with your new system.
- In-house training. We have the largest in-house HVAC training center in (at least) Central Ohio. Each of our technicians completes at least 200 hours of training.
- Transparency and education. We believe in giving you the information you need to make an informed decision. HVAC equipment is complicated, but you shouldn’t have to work in the HVAC industry to know which systems are right for you and your home.
Although each of these requires that we put in more time, effort and money, we believe you deserve the best. That’s the Fire & Ice difference.
If you live in Central Ohio and you’re ready to build your dream system, we’d love to speak with you!
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