heating system

How to Get the Most Out of Your Heating System

The last thing you want to happen in the winter time is to have your furnace go out. Keeping your furnace clean and operating properly can improve its longevity and ensure that you won’t have any worries this winter.

According to Forbes, there are a few things you can do to improve your heating system. Unless your system is brand new, you should have trained professionals clean and inspect it annually. A well-trained technician will make sure that your system is clean and running efficiently.

You should also always make safety a priority. Some furnaces are in the basement, and people have a tendency to have stuff pile up down there. Make sure there is a clear area around your furnace to avoid any fire hazards.

Having HVAC Issues? Find a Contractor Near You Today.

A great way to save money on your heating or AC bills is to install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats let you control the temperature during certain times of the day, so when you aren’t home during the day, you can keep the house cooler in winter or warmer in the summer and save some money.

Changing your filters is also a great way to keep your forced air furnace running smoothly. In most cases you can change your furnace filter yourself, check to see if yours is dirty or dusty, change it as required. Clogged filters can lead to an inefficient system, higher energy consumption, and premature breakdowns.

Our contractors will ensure that your heating system is working correctly, safely and efficiently. If you have any other questions about your HVAC system, we can answer them.

SMART Contractors Provide Our Customers With The Best Possible Service.

diy hvac

DIY HVAC Solutions: Do’s and Don’ts

HVAC systems are undoubtedly an essential part of our everyday lives, but we often forget that they are systems composed of intricate moving parts.

Poorly functioning or broken down HVAC systems can definitely be frustrating, but before impulsively deciding to remedy the issue yourself, consider first what you can and can’t do. While there are issues that you can certainly handle independently, there are others that are best left out of your hands and into those of a skilled professional.

 

Don’t

  • Attempt to replace existing parts or install new ones

Not every HVAC is built the same, so it’s unwise to assume that any two parts are exactly alike. Further, any given part may not serve the purpose that a website lists. It’s best to have your system’s parts examined by a licensed technician so that they can meet the needs of your specific unit.

  • Handle electrical connections

Electric currents that run through HVAC systems have high voltages. Attempting to tighten or disconnect electrical wires could result in a serious accident.

  • Handle refrigerant chemicals

While it may seem easy to fix a refrigerant leak, to err on the side of caution, call a professional to handle this. Exposure to refrigerant chemicals can cause frostbite, respiratory problems, and skin irritation. They are also very harmful to the environment and should be disposed of properly.

  • Attempt to clean coil fins

These parts of your system are actually more fragile than you think. Using the wrong appliance to could result in damage.

See Our Checklist to Make Sure Your HVAC System is in Good Shape

 

Do

  • Check your thermostat

While this may seem obvious, this could be your easiest and quickest solution and should be examined first. Try adjusting the temperature or changing the batteries.

  • Check your fuse box

An HVAC system might be broken down, but it could be in perfect working condition. Make sure that your fuse box is working properly before attempting to fix the system itself.

  • De-clutter the area surrounding your unit

This fix is easy enough. Head to your backyard and dust or vacuum the blower wheel on top of your system. For good measure, remove any leaves or furniture that could be crowding the condenser.

  • Change the air filters

Air filters should be changed on a monthly basis. This can improve air quality and flow in your home or business.

 

Think your HVAC system has an issue that you shouldn’t handle alone? Make an appointment with us today.

Noisy Furnace

Noisy Furnace? Read This.

Yes, we know you’re trying to hold on to the last bits of semi-warm weather before the fall temperatures come in full effect – but it’s time to “think fall” for your HVAC units.

The last time you used your furnace was probably early spring, right? So who really knows the condition of your furnace at the moment?

First, we recommend running your furnace. 79 degrees or higher is an ideal temperature to run when making sure your furnace is working properly.

And while you’re running your furnace, the most important thing to do is to check for sounds. This will be the key factor in knowing whether your furnace needs to be repaired or replaced.

Noisy Furnace

The best way to know if your furnace needs to be repaired or replaced is by having a SMART technician stop by before cooler weather sets in. Reach out today.

Fundamentals of HVAC

The Fundamentals of HVAC

In order to use and save on your heating and cooling systems efficiently, understanding the fundamentals of HVAC is key.

Why is it important to understand HVAC?

45% of your energy bill is spent on heating and cooling. This equates to an average of $2,000 annually.

In this case, it’s important to understand heating and cooling units’ cycles, as well as how ventilation plays a role in keeping these costs down and keeping your units running for as long as possible.

Cooling

The Cooling Cycle

  • Your AC recycles the air that is currently in your home and repurposes it into cooler air.
  • Freon, the cooling agent, cools your entire home.
  • The cycle completes once the temperature you set is reached.

Learn more about your HVAC systems

Heating

The Heating Cycle

  • Your furnace draws outside air into a cabinet.
  • The outside air enters a cold-air return and then goes through a heat exchanger.
  • The heated air is then pushed and circulated around the room through the blower.

How to Save on Heating and Cooling

  • Adjusting your thermostat rather than completely shutting it off will help your units recycle air quicker and preserve energy.
  • Have your home properly sealed and insulated to preserve air and prevent it from escaping.
  • Making sure your AC doesn’t have leaks will help Freon cool your home easier.

Other Important Tips to Help You Save

  • Pay attention to the SEER ratings for an efficient system. The higher the SEER rating, the better.
  • Maintain your units regularly. Have them serviced two to three times a year and before extremely hot and cold periods of the season hit.
  • Change your filters on a monthly basis.

Ventilation

When referring to HVAC, ventilation is the process that produces quality air flow. Using ventilation tools is just as important to helping you save.

Mechanical Ventilation

  • This comes from fans. This type of ventilation uses outside air and reuses it to make fresh air circulate around the area.

Natural Ventilation

  • This would come from open windows and doors. This type of ventilation is beneficial as it allows the home to rid itself of pollutants that can build up over time.

The best way to save is to understand and maintain your HVAC units. And when it’s time to service your units, you know who to contact.

smart thermostat

Taking the Best Care of Your Thermostat (Infographic)

With all the tips and tricks dedicated to maintaining your system and keeping your energy costs low, it can sometimes be challenging to keep up with them all.

One very simple step to remember is to monitor your thermostat.

First, here’s what you should know about your thermostat:

Why should you care about your thermostat?
Heating and cooling your home costs about 54% of your utility bills.

The more strategic you are in using and monitoring your thermostat, the more you can decrease this percentage.

Here are the steps to take when monitoring your thermostat:

  1. Adjust the temperature when you’re in and out of your home.
    Take note of the 3% you can save on your energy costs for adjusting air conditioning temperatures accordingly.

Best Care of Your Thermostat

Make sure your HVAC units are ready for every season.

  1. Get a programmable thermostat.
    Not only will this make adjusting temperatures throughout the day much easier, but the newest versions come with user-friendly touch screens and even mobile applications that allow you to monitor your thermostat from the palm of your hand.
  • Pick the right thermostat.
    You have four options of programmable thermostats to choose from. Make sure you choose the one that will best complement your lifestyle.
  • 7-Day Programming: Program a different schedule for each day of the week. Best for people with fluctuating schedules.
  • 5-1-1 Programming: Program three schedules – one for Monday through Friday, one for Saturday, and one for Sunday. This is best if you have a consistent schedule for weekdays and fluctuating schedules on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • 5-2 Programming: Program two schedules – one for Monday through Friday and one for Saturday and Sunday. This is best if you have a consistent schedule during the weekdays and weekends.
  • 1-Week Programming: Program one schedule for the entire week. Best for those that spend the majority of their time at home.

Keep in mind that these schedules will need to be adjusted when the season changes.

Here are some other thermostat tips to keep in mind:

  • Program your thermostat to turn on 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.
  • Lower your thermostat 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Increase your thermostat 30 minutes before waking up.

Taking the best care of your thermostat with these tips is a very efficient way to save on your energy costs. Making sure your HVAC systems are up-to-par will help you save, too. We can help with that – give us a try.

Air Ducts

Do You Have Your DUCTS in a Row?

Your air ducts play an important role in your home’s air quality. However, if you’re not an HVAC technician, it may be challenging to figure out the right time to maintain them. With this handy guide, you’ll not only learn how to take care of your air ducts, but you’ll learn what they are, their importance to the HVAC world and how maintaining them can benefit your health.

What You Should Know About Air Ducts

#1: What is an air duct?
An air duct is a metal pipe that carries cold and hot air through the vents within your home.  

#2: Why should you care about your air ducts?
Inefficient air ducts, such as those that leak, can heavily waste energy. If pollutants like mold, dust, and bacteria build up within them, they can irritate allergies, cause respiratory issues, and bring about other health concerns.

The Stats

  • Up to 40 pounds of dust can collect in your home annually
  • The debris collected in your ductwork can circulate up to 5 to 7 times a day in your home
  • 70% of indoor air is more polluted than air from the outdoors

Make sure your air DUCTS are in line.

Air Duct Maintenance

#3: How do you know when it’s time to maintain your air ducts?

  • If your furnace runs with a “musty” or “stale” odor
  • Dust builds up on your furniture quicker than usual
  • You have pets, especially those that shed a lot
  • Your HVAC system uses a throw-away filter

#4: How often should you clean your air ducts?

  • Air ducts should be cleaned every 2 to 5 years

#5: What does the process look like?

  • A system inspection (including a look at your air ducts)
  • A hose and pipe combination is connected to your system
  • Vents are completely covered
  • The system is vacuumed until debris-free
  • Compressed air is flushed through system
  • Parts within reach will be cleaned

Cleaning your air ducts is important to the cleanliness of your home and most importantly, your health. Keep them maintained by the technicians that know your air ducts best.

AC Over Time

The Advancement of AC Over Time

Do you ever think about a time before air conditioning?

It’s tough – we know. Fathomable or not, there was once a time when this glorious invention didn’t exist.

So, what creative approaches did people take to stay cool back in the day? Thanks to a few handy sources, we’ve found some very interesting past solutions to beat the heat and the interesting development of AC over time.

Our ancestors used to:

  • Have their homes built on hilltops to catch the breeze.
  • Strategically place their windows on opposite ends of each other with a door between them to produce a steady flow of cool wind.
  • Use ice water-soaked sheets and have air blown over them to create cold air.
  • Sleep on their porch at night.
  • Have attic fans installed. (The most effective approach of them all, right?)

Here are some more interesting approaches specifically for homes:

  • Trees. We often think of trees as just shade for outdoors, but that wasn’t the case in earlier days. People would strategically plant trees on the east or west side of their home, (this being where the sun rises and falls), to block out the sun.
  • Transom and Double-Hung Windows. Transom windows sit above doors, which allow hot air to rise upstairs. Double-hung windows allow you to let heat out from the top opening during the day and let cool air in from the bottom opening at night.
  • Reflective Roofs. Using light colored, reflective material to build rooftops made for a significant decrease in the heat absorbed into the home.

Have an expert cool your home.

And lastly, here are some notable breakthroughs in air conditioning:

  • In 1904, mechanical cooling was used to cool the World Fair’s Missouri State Building.
  • In 1922, the first well-designed cooling unit, using a technology called centrifugal cooling, was installed in movie theaters.
  • In 1929, a smaller cooling unit was produced but was modified between 1930 and 1931 to create a self-contained room cooler.
  • By the 1960s, new homes were built with air conditioning.
  • As of present day, air conditioning is now found in over 87% of homes.

From strategically placed homes and windows, to cooling units being available in establishments, to now being available anywhere, air conditioning is here to stay. We project that the industry will continue to shift towards greener HVAC solutions, and we’ll be analyzing this trend every step of the way.

Learn more about your modern day air conditioning solutions – give us a try.

HVAC System

How Well Do You Know Your HVAC System?

We’ll always emphasize that having efficient, well-maintained  HVAC systems is extremely important. But when it comes to our customers knowing the ins and outs of these systems, we know this may be a challenge.

Well, your HVAC systems no longer have to be a mystery. Take a second to check out this full breakdown of an HVAC unit, and feel free to engage in a conversation with us about these parts next time we come around.

8 Parts of an HVAC System

Air Return: 

The air return vent is the beginning point of your system’s ventilation cycle. Inside the vent is a fan that sucks in air. Then, that air is drawn through a filter. Once the air passes through the filter, it passes through the main system and will heat or cool the system.
Note: Dirt and debris in your air return clogs your filters – dust your return regularly.

Filter:

The filter’s purpose is to block particles from entering the air stream to ensure both your HVAC system and air stays clean.
Note: A dirty filter is one of the key components of HVAC problems. Cleaning it regularly is essential.

Ducts:

Air ducts serve as another pathway to distribute heat and cool air through your home.
Note: Clean these every two to five years.

Exhaust Outlets:

This outlet simply expels the exhaust generated by your system.
Note: You’ll want to check the chimney flue or vent stacks annually, as exhaust can become dangerous if it builds up in your home.

Outdoor Unit:

Also referred to as the “condenser unit,” this outdoor fan unit provides airflow which removes heat from inside your home and thrusts it outdoors.
Note: Keep this unit away from vegetation, as plants can cause major complications.

Compressor:

Within the outdoor unit lies the compressor. Its purpose is to convert gas refrigerant into a liquid, which then gets sent to the coil.
Note: This unit consists of many moving parts which can cause issues. Check it regularly to avoid excessive repairs.

Coils:

Also located within the outdoor unit, coils allow refrigerant to pass through, creating cool air.
Note: Coils can freeze up, potentially causing restricted airflow. Check and clean these annually.  

Blower:

Warm air is drawn through the main housing of the unit from the blower.
Note: Having a blower that moves warm air efficiently ensures system durability. As we’ve recommended with every part of your HVAC system, check this part regularly.

SMART not only knows your HVAC systems in and out, but we will maintain them as regularly as you need. Schedule your next appointment with us today.

New AC Unit

When Should You Buy a New AC Unit?

With fluctuating weather coming over the last few days of spring, making sure your air conditioning unit is up to par is important. Considering that you may not have cranked your AC in a while, there’s a possibility that you may be overdue for a new one. If that’s the case, you’re probably wondering where to start. No need to worry; we have a checklist that will make sure you know when you need to replace your AC, as well as what to look for when you do.

#1: When Should You Replace Your AC Unit?

    • If your AC unit is more than 12 years old. These units may have older technology that is costlier for you in the long run, such as Freon refrigerant, which is much less efficient and causes high repair costs.
    • If there are problems with your blower motor, compressor, and condenser. These are typically less than 50% of your entire unit’s cost, so they’re worth replacing.
    • If your unit is less than a 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating. AC units can have up to a 20 SEER rating, and the better your unit will run, the less it’ll cost you down the line.
    • If you’ve had three or more prior repairs to the unit.
    • If your unit is over-sized or under-sized. Incorrectly-sized units can cause lack of humidity control or unit failure.

#2: What Should You Consider When Replacing Your AC Unit?

Green Options
Green options, like SEER ratings, are important factors in saving you money. Look for greener heat pumps, ductless systems, and systems using geothermal energy.

Sizing
To get a properly sized AC unit, have your unit sized according to the guidelines from Manual J of the Air Conditioner Contractors of America. Then, have it sized based on the latent and sensible cooling load.

Easy Maintenance

Ensure the parts that need cleaning, such as the inside coil and air filter, are easily accessible on the unit. Cleaning the unit every summer, or when it’s dirty, will help you avoid repairs or having to replace it frequently.

Placement

Make sure the unit can be placed in areas away from the sun, but not completely covered in shade, such as the north or east side of your home. This will ensure the unit has plenty of air circulating through it.

Our highly educated and skilled contractors will ensure that you have the right installation to save you time and maintenance on your new AC unit. There’s a $200 rebate in it for you, too. Contact us to get your AC installed today.

 

i want smart

How To Prep Your HVAC System For Cooler Weather

It’s that time of year again. Temperatures are slowly starting to cool, with the daylight hours quickly getting shorter. As another Chicago summer comes to a close, now is the perfect time to transition your HVAC system to effectively heat your home during the cold weather months.

These simply guidelines from the professionals at I Want Smart will have you resting warm and cozy inside your home this winter.

Schedule System Maintenance
It’s vital to have an HVAC technician run a full maintenance checkup on your furnace to ensure it’s running smoothly, checking that no repairs or replacements are needed before the temperatures drop. Autumn and spring are the most effective times of the year to have maintenance done. The reason is that these months put the least amount of pressure of your systems because temperatures don’t hit extreme highs or lows.

Change Air Filters
A simply solution to staying toasty this winter is changing your air filter. A dirty, poorly maintained air filter can wreak havoc on your furnace because it is forced to work harder for the same heat output. Not routinely changing your filters will also increase your electricity costs. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on more expensive heating, take the family ice skating in Millennium Park or spend a weekend skiing at a cozy lodge in the Upper Peninsula.

Perform Repairs & Replacements
Imagine heating that spits out cool air on a chilly fall day, or worse a furnace that completely breaks down on an icy winter night. Making necessary repairs to your HVAC system or replacing a piece of equipment that is no longer running at optimal levels is the best way to save money over the long term. One easy way to keep the heat in this winter is to seal up any leaks from cracks in the doors and windows caused by age and weathering.

Install a Programmable Thermostat
Another measure to keeping your house comfortable while saving money is a programmable thermostat. This provides the option of automating the temperature to when you are home, programming the thermostat to output heat when you return from work and then lowering it while you sleep.

Let I Want Smart help your home stay toasty this fall and winter, while saving big on your HVAC maintenance and preventive services. Take advantage of three exclusive rebates currently being offered to I Want Smart customers for furnace/AC replacements and a comprehensive systems checkup.

Claim your rebate today! Contact an I Want Smart technician near you to schedule your next annual maintenance or system replacement.