Category Archives: Heating

Turn Up the Thermostat or Turn on a Space Heater?

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Even here in the Valley of the Sun, it can get downright chilly during the winter months. For homeowners, there is often uncertainty over when to crank up the heat by turning up the thermostat and when it makes sense and cents to choose an electric, gas or radiant space heater.

Many believe that space heaters are the more practical heating solution. However, the reality is there are times when it’s better to turn up the central heat and other times when a portable heater is a better choice. Because there is so much debate on this topic, the U.S. Department of Energy has weighed in. They state that space heaters “can be less expensive to use if you want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in a room.”

However, it’s important to note that space heaters are not more cost-effective than central heating systems when heat is required in more than one or two small areas. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that it would cost nearly 50 percent more to heat a home with space heaters when compared to central heat.

Space Heater Best Practices

If you do choose to use a space heater to warm up a single room or small space, there are some best practices that can keep you, your family and your home safe and comfortable.

  • Only use a heater that has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and has an automatic shut down when the desired temperature is achieved.
  • Choose a model with a tip over automatic shut-down feature.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from all combustible material, including newspapers, clothing and blankets.
  • Don’t place heaters under desks or in enclosed spaces.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord to plug in a heater.
  • Don’t use heaters in rooms that are not being occupied.
  • Keep space heaters away from exits, walkways and paths of travel.

Have a home heating issue? Call the experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating at 480-968-5652.

Fall Furnace Safety Tips

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Evening temperatures have dropped, and mornings are downright chilly. Soon, it will be time to turn on that furnace to keep your home warm and comfortable. When it comes to furnaces, it’s important to always put safety first. So, before you turn up the heat, check out the following furnace safety tips to prepare you and your family for the cooler months ahead.

Change Your Filters

This is a simple yet important safety tip. Pop out your dirty filter and replace it with a new one. It takes seconds and can reduce dust circulating in your home and help keep your furnace running efficiently.

Install a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector

Although nearly every home has smoke detectors, far fewer have CO detectors. If you have a gas furnace, these are vitally important. A CO detector will alert you if the CO levels in your home reach a dangerous level, so you’ll be alerted if you ever need to evacuate and call for emergency assistance.

Keep Your Furnace and the Area Around It Clean

Eliminate fire hazards by keeping your furnace and the area surrounding it clean and unobstructed by dirt, dust and items that can impact its safety and efficiency.

Store Combustibles Away from Your Furnace

Do you have combustible or flammable items like gasoline, lighter fluid or paint thinners? It’s just common sense to ensure they are nowhere near your furnace to avoid any risk of a fire or explosion.

Keep Registers Open

Keeping registers closed while your furnace is on can cause resistance and heat build-up in the furnace. This can damage your unit and creates a fire risk. If you have to close multiple registers, most likely you need to turn the temperature down.

Keep Registers Clean

Vacuum registers to remove dust, animal hair, and other pollutants that circulate in your home. Also take the time to keep the area around registers unobstructed by furniture, rugs, toys, blankets and other items.

Schedule an HVAC Inspection

Perhaps the most important way to ensure the safety of your home’s furnace is to get a furnace inspection before it’s time to begin turning on your heat. At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we offer a thorough check of your furnace that includes inspecting for cracks in the combustion chamber, faulty wiring, dirty air filters, and more. Call us today to schedule your furnace inspection.

Do I Really Need an HVAC Maintenance Contract?

Are you risking a big-ticket repair because you don’t have an HVAC maintenance contract? It goes without saying that you need insurance to protect your home, life and vehicle. It’s understood that the peace of mind you gain from this protection is worth the cost. Few individuals can afford the financial impact of an unforeseen accident, illness or other unfortunate event. Yet, many homeowners choose not to invest in protection for one of their most important and costly aspects of their home – their HVAC system. This unfortunately can be a very unwise and expensive decision.

The Many Benefits of HVAC Preventive Maintenance

The single best way to prevent budget-breaking repairs or replacement of your air conditioner and heating unit is to have an HVAC contract that includes regular HVAC maintenance. Tune-ups of your air conditioning and heating units include identifying and repairing small maintenance issues before they turn into big, system-hindering problems. This helps to minimize the chance of unexpected breakdowns during peak cooling and heating seasons. As well, regular maintenance extends the life of your HVAC system and maintains its peak efficiency for as long as possible. This results in lower utility costs, as well as longer stretches of time before requiring new installation.

Which Air Conditioning and Heating Maintenance Contract Is Right for You?

At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we recommend a biannual (twice a year) HVAC maintenance agreement to ensure your system is working optimally for both summer and winter, as well as throughout the rest of the year. We offer contracts for both residential and commercial customers.

With an HVAC maintenance contract, you save on the cost of maintenance appointments while receiving valuable discounts on necessary repairs for issues that are discovered during these appointments. You also have the flexibility to schedule maintenance appointments when they are convenient for you!

Don’t spend another day without any protection for your HVAC system. Call Bruce’s today to learn more about the value of an HVAC maintenance contract.

Should You Install a Furnace or Heat Pump in Your Desert Home?

Installing a Furnace in Your Desert Home
If your heating system is showing signs of wear and tear and needs repair from an HVAC repair company in Gilbert, you have a couple of options when it comes to replacing your old unit.

Your first option is a traditional furnace, which you might have installed in the home now. Furnaces are responsible for heating the home using fuel and are controlled by a thermostat. The drawback is that they consume a lot of energy.

The second option is a heat pump, which is designed to keep the home’s temperature comfortable and consistent. In the winter, warm air is brought in, sucked into the heat pump and circulated throughout the home. In the summer, warm air is pushed back outdoors.

Since winters don’t get particularly cold in Arizona, heat pumps have been a popular choice for desert homeowners. But even in cold-weather states, air-source heat pumps are becoming more common due to their efficiency and cost effectiveness.

In this post, we will explore the major differences between furnaces and heat pumps and which one is best for your Gilbert home.

How are Furnaces and Heat Pumps Different?

Furnaces and heat pumps have the same goal of keeping the home warm and comfy during the winter, but they achieve so differently.

  • Heat pumps don’t manufacture the heat they distribute. Instead, the heat is found from the outside climate and brought into the home. Furnaces, on the other hand, generate their own heat using oil, gas or electricity, which is more necessary in cold-weather climates.
  • Furnaces blow out heat, which can create hotspots in the home. Heat pumps do a better job of maintaining an even temperature. Some people prefer the warm blasts of air, while others prefer a more steady temperature.
  • Some people don’t like the lukewarm temperature that they get with an air-source heat pump. On average, heat pumps deliver air between 90 and 100 degrees, whereas furnaces get up to 120 to 125 degrees.

Is One Better than the Other?

There’s a reason why HVAC services in Gilbert offer both furnaces and heat pumps – some homeowners prefer one over the other! Pros and cons exist for each heating system, so it’s difficult to generalize and say that one is better than the other. Your best bet is to speak with a professional who can provide you with more personalized information.

Before you schedule an appointment, here are a few basic things to know that might make your decision easier.

  • Can you add a gas line? If you can’t add a gas line to your home, then the choice is an easy one: get a heat pump. A heat pump uses electricity. If you can add a line, you’ll need to factor in this cost.
  • How warm do you want your home? We mentioned above that heat pumps feel more lukewarm, which will be more uncomfortable as the temperatures drop. This isn’t common in the desert, but still something to consider.
  • What are energy costs in your area? You’ll see a lot of generalizations regarding the costs of heat pumps and furnaces, but the real answer comes down to what you pay for gas and electricity. These rates vary from month to month, and heat pumps will get expensive if they need to pull air from a secondary heating unit. In general, though, heat pumps can save upwards of 30% off your electric bill.

Before you make an investment in a new heating system, give Bruce’s Air Conditioning and Heating a call! Our licensed and certified technicians are more than happy to provide you with a solid recommendation based on your needs and budget.

Photo Credit: Franco Giovanella

Setting Up Your Thermostat Before You Leave For Vacation

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There are always a million things to remember when you’re about to go on vacation, and not all of them have to do with your destination. There are also some things you need to do to prepare your home for an extended absence, so that you don’t come back to find a mini-disaster to ruin the good feeling of vacation you enjoyed very much.

One of the things you should definitely have on your list is to give your HVAC system a break while you’re away, whether that’s in the wintertime or in the summer. By turning your thermostat a few degrees higher in summer, you’ll save a lot on your heating bill, and there’s no reason to have perfectly conditioned air while you’re gone anyway. The same is true of a winter vacation, so you can allow the furnace to take it easy, and heat your home to a somewhat lesser temperature while you’re gone. This will gain for you the same kind of savings that a summertime reduction would.

Ideal Vacation Temperatures

So what exactly is the right temperature setting for your home while you’re on vacation? HVAC experts recommend that you add 4° to the normal household temperature which you maintain in summer, which means that if you normally cool your house to 71° in the summer time, you should set it at 75 when you’re away. Living in the area around Scottsdale, Gilbert, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, or Gilbert will certainly require your air conditioner to be left on while you’re gone, but try to keep it higher than if you were home.

Resist the temptation to set it even higher, because beyond 4° higher gets to be counter-productive, and you may have to make your HVAC unit work extra hard to cool the house down again when you return. If that happens, not only would you be fairly uncomfortable while you’re trying to restore a cool temperature, but any savings you realized through a higher setting while you were gone, will now be negated by the extra work in restoring a livable temperature. There’s another danger as well. If you allow the house to become too hot and humid, it could promote the growth of mold and mildew, even if you’re only gone a week. Keep it at the sweet spot of 4° higher, and you’ll have the ideal setting.

The 4° principle holds true for your furnace as well, so when you take a wintertime vacation, the ideal setting is 4° lower than normal, which means your normal 71° should be set at 67° for vacation time. There is one exception to this rule though. A gas furnace does not require as much work to heat your home, so it won’t have to do double-time to warm up your house when you return.

That means it’s safe for you to set the temperature to 63° or 64° while you’re gone, and your gas furnace won’t be taxed too badly when you return and need the house warmed up. You might be a tad chilly while you’re waiting for a comfortable temperature to be reached, but there won’t be any strain on your gas furnace, and you won’t incur higher energy bills. If you experience any issues with your air conditioning upon your return, don’t hesitate to contact the cooling experts at Bruce’s Air Conditioning and Heating for fast and reliable service.