FAQs About Home Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation

Learning more about residential HVAC systems can help you make better future decisions regarding your own heating and cooling system. ACS Air Conditioning Systems has helped local homeowners since 1969, and since that time we have helped answer a lot of HVAC related questions.

What is Two-Stage Heating?

Fall and winter weather will be here soon, and with it comes the need to heat your house. However, outdoor temperatures fluctuate every day. Sometimes it will be slightly chilly, and sometimes you may deal with frigid conditions. Two-stage heating is one of the best ways to deal with these fluctuations while ensuring that you keep your energy bills manageable and don’t waste electricity.

How Two-Stage Heating Works

Two-stage heating gives your HVAC system two distinct levels of heat output. One is a low setting for mild days, and the other is a high setting for those snowy or clear but freezing days. You can adjust the settings throughout the day as you desire, but the low setting is designed to heat your house adequately 80% of the time. If you use the lower setting often, you can decrease energy bills and distribute heat evenly throughout your home.

How Two-Stage Heating Saves Energy

A traditional furnace only has two positions for the valve that controls its burner: open and closed. With a traditional one-stage furnace, the heat is either on when the valve is open or off when it’s closed. There’s no way to adjust the settings or distribute heat. However, a two-stage furnace allows you to partially open or close the valves. This way, you can run heat full blast for longer periods if you need to. You can also adjust settings to better serve particularly warm or cold areas of your house.

In addition, two-stage heating saves energy in many other ways than what we’ve discussed. Unlike a traditional system, two-stage heating does not “kick” on and off with little warning. The air doesn’t blast out of the furnace, and the furnace doesn’t immediately put out extremely warm air. This keeps electricity from being wasted. It also prevents warm or cold spots throughout your house because the air is evenly circulated. Once two-stage heating runs through its entire cycle, your house will remain a comfortable temperature for longer periods.

Just as two-stage heating doesn’t waste electricity, it doesn’t waste fuel either. With one-stage heating, gas is wasted because the furnace can only run on full blast, even if it’s a mild winter day. Additionally, the gas can get siphoned back into the environment and cause pollution. Since the settings of a two-stage furnace are easily adjustable, however, you don’t need to run the system full blast. You can use only the gas you need and turn off the furnace when your home is adequately heated.

A Quiet And Clean Home

Two-stage heating has plenty of other advantages. One of the biggest is how quiet it is. You might remember visiting your grandparents’ house and hearing a noisy one-stage furnace in the basement. Whenever it kicked on, the furnace would be incredibly loud and disruptive. This isn’t the case with two-stage heating; furnaces that use it are generally quiet because it takes them longer to reach full capacity. Instead of rattling or kicks of air, you’ll most likely hear a pleasant, low hum.

Finally, using two-stage heating may improve indoor air quality. These furnaces’ filters are designed to capture a large number of contaminants and without filtering them back through the air. Thus, a two-stage furnace constantly “cleans” the air inside your home.

To learn more about two-stage heating or have other HVAC questions answered, don’t hesitate to contact us online or by phone.

A Guide to Central Heating Boilers

Not too long ago boilers were the among the most inefficient means of providing central heating in a home. With efficiency ratings of between 60-70%, their ratings were pretty dismal. New boilers can go well past 90% efficiency and provide not only heat for a home but supply the home with hot water as well.

Types of Boilers

Three main types of boiler exist for the home:

  • Combination
  • Traditional
  • System

With a subset of these three known as a ‘condensing boiler’.

Combination boilers are a highly efficient means of providing both heat for a home and hot water. The combination boiler, sometimes called a ‘combi boiler’ achieves this high efficiency by clever design and by only heating water as it is needed. Instead of having a cold water and a hot water storage tank, there is a water line that passes through the boiler which is heated on as-needed basis.

Traditional boilers are what most people are familiar with. They are still the most popular style of boiler in the US, although the combi boiler will soon replace it’s place with that designation, and enjoy much higher efficiencies than what they had years ago. With a traditional boiler space will need to be allocated to both a cold water and a hot water storage tank. The traditional systems will heat water and store it in the hot water tank for when it is called. However, you will need to program the boiler as to when to provide the hot water as it does not make it constantly.

System boilers are very much like traditional boilers only they have integral water tanks which make them a great option for smaller homes or for areas that will not accommodate equipment with a large physical footprint.

The subset of these three is the condensing boiler. This type of boiler get another 10-15% efficiency above a standard boiler by capturing the steam generated during combustion of natural gas. This steam helps to heat water as it is coming into the system, thereby requiring less energy to heat it to a given temperature. This steam is otherwise wasted and is a very economical way to generate additional heat.

Boilers can be a confusing subject but there is an option that suits every home’s needs. If you would like to discuss your heating options, give us a call at Air Conditioning Systems!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Water Heaters

A new water heater is a major purchase. It’s not only a big expense; a new water heater will also affect your energy bills, your water temperatures, and your general comfort. You can rely on our experts to help you make the choice, but we also want you to be informed.

Types of Water Heaters

There are four types of water heaters you may want to consider, two of which are fairly conventional. The other two are newer styles. Each has advantages and disadvantages you need to understand to decide which is best for your home.

Storage Tank Water Heater

This is the most conventional kind of water heater and the type you most likely think of when you imagine a water heater. Typical tanks hold between 20 and 80 gallons of water and may be heated by gas, fuel oil, or electricity.

Energy bills can be high with tank water heaters, as compared to other options, with natural gas being the most economical choice for heating. Advantages of this kind of water heater include having a ready supply of hot water for multiple uses and a constant temperature.

On-Demand Water Heater

Also known as a tankless water heater, the on-demand system uses any of the same heat sources as a tank system, but heats water as you need it. It does not store a supply of water like a tank does. A major benefit of this system is that it will save you money on monthly energy bills.

There are downsides to this solution, though. Depending on the size of the heater and your home, an on-demand system may not supply enough water for multiple uses or consecutive showers. You may also get inconsistent water temperatures. On the other hand, these systems give you greater flexibility. You can use several smaller units throughout the home, or one big one in your furnace area.

Heat Pump Water Heater

A heat pump system is relatively new technology. Instead of heating water directly, it moves heat around. A heat pump water heater is much more energy efficient than a tank heater for this reason. Getting this system is a trade-off: You will pay more for it up front, but you will save money over the long run with lower energy bills.

Solar-Powered Water Heater

Using the power of the sun to heat water, a solar-powered system is the most energy efficient of all. Active systems use pumps to move water, while passive systems use gravity and natural circulation. Although it may cost more to install, you can save a lot of money using solar heating. Some states, like Hawaii, and countries have already required that all homes use solar-powered water heaters.

If you’re considering getting a new water heater for your home, give us a call. Let one of our professionals help you make the right choice for your home.

What Are The Ratings For Furnace Efficiency?

When it comes time to purchase a new furnace, it’s important to consider efficiency ratings. Energy efficiency refers to how much heat is actually produced by a particular furnace, as compared with how much energy is lost in the production process. When a furnace has a low efficiency rating, you’ll be paying for wasted energy that doesn’t turn into actual heat.

You will also want to consider the type of fuel the furnace requires, and how much that fuel costs. For example, electric furnaces are very energy efficient in terms of output, but the electricity itself can be quite costly.

How to Measure Furnace Efficiency

Manufacturers use the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating (AFUE) to qualify a furnace’s energy efficiency. The rating lets the buyer know how much heat a furnace will actually produce as compared with the amount of energy that is required to produce that heat. For example, a furnace that is rated at 80 percent AFUE has a 20 percent energy loss, while 80 percent actually becomes heat.

Ductwork doesn’t affect the rating, because each home’s ductwork varies, but it can factor into potential energy loss. Ductwork that runs through attic spaces, for example, can lose as much as 35 percent of the system’s heating efficiency.

When an Older Unit Doesn’t Have a Rating

New furnaces have AFUE ratings, which is required by the Federal Trade Commission. Older systems may not have this rating, or it may have been removed, since the requirement is relatively new. The following guidelines can give you an estimate of your current furnace’s energy efficiency.

  • Low-Efficiency Furnaces—These furnaces have a continuous pilot light that must be relit if it goes out. The furnaces work by gravity, with heat naturally rising and drafts naturally distributing the produced heat. Some low-efficiency furnaces have blowers installed, which can increase the efficiency. However, the units can still be recognized by their octopus-style ductwork. Low-efficiency furnaces are usually between 56 and 70 percent efficient.
  • Mid-Range Furnaces—With these models, a fan controls airflow. These furnaces don’t have a pilot light, as they instead use an electronic ignition. Mid-range furnaces are about 80 to 83 percent efficient.
  • High-Efficiency Furnaces—The condensing units in high efficiency furnaces first remove water from the exhaust gas, and then send that gas through a second heat exchanger for added energy efficiency. The combustion units for these furnaces are sealed, and they are about 90 to 98.5 percent efficient.

ACS Air Conditioning Systems installs and repairs a wide range of energy efficient furnaces. Call us for a free estimate, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect furnace for your home.

Benefits of Financing Your New Heating and Cooling System

The typical HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system lasts for roughly 12 to 15 years. This means that when it’s time to buy an eventual replacement for your current system, increases in the average price since your last purchase may come as a very unpleasant surprise. Fortunately, HVAC financing offers a range of appealing benefits, both for you as a purchaser and for HVAC professionals.

How Does HVAC Equipment Financing Work?

HVAC companies benefit greatly from the financing opportunities available to their potential customers. However, the typical provider does not offer direct financing. Instead, it sets up relationships with lenders in the area in order to facilitate financing through those institutions. When the time comes to pay for your new system, the HVAC provider can walk you through the available options and help you create a plan that best suits your needs. In addition to using financing to pay for your new HVAC system, you can use it to pay for routine system maintenance and any needed repairs.

Key Financing Benefits

One of the most appealing benefits of financing your HVAC system is the ability to afford an energy efficient model that continues to save you money on utility costs throughout its lifespan. Key benefits of well-designed financing arrangements include a typically straightforward application procedure, rapidly resolved decisions on credit eligibility, a generally low monthly payment requirement, the ability to set up a range of payment options and the ability to avoid annual fees and prepayment penalties. Other potential benefits include a lack of closing costs, the ability to keep your current lines of credit intact, the lack of any liens established against your property, the availability of online statements and (in some cases) the ability to take advantage of occasional promotional offerings from a financing institution.

Do You Qualify?

Generally speaking, the average homeowner can meet the requirements for financing at least part of the cost of a new HVAC system. You have the best chances of getting offers from more than one financing institution if you have paperwork that details your financial status, including such things as your current credit score and your monthly income. It also helps to have firm price estimates for the type of system you intend to purchase. If you have a somewhat shaky credit history, you can potentially improve your chances of qualifying for financing by offering a letter of reference from your employer or your utility provider.

For more crucial information on the ins and outs of HVAC purchasing, be sure to follow the pages of this blog.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Photovoltaic Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems

A lot of people are ignorant on how the sun can be used as a source of electricity in homes and companies. This electricity can be used for several purposes including lighting buildings, cooking and heating water through solar thermal hot water systems. In places with extensive hours of sunlight, this may be a cheaper source of electricity if it is tapped properly. Here are frequently asked questions about solar photovoltaic solar thermal hot water systems.

Q: How do I acquire funding for the solar thermal hot water systems?

A: In some states, the government has rebate programs and other initiatives to help citizens in running the solar systems in their homes. With this regard, you may receive some refund upon the purchase of the solar system and its installation. However, the rebates and incentives in different states may differ and therefor you ought to find out more about the programs that are open in your state or county. Some programs are time restricted and therefore you need to get all your facts right up front.


Q: How does the sun produce electricity?

A: this is commonly referred to as the photoelectric effect. It is achieved when a semiconductor material such as silicon is exposed to the rays of the sun. Upon exposure, the material releases small quantities of electricity. This is achieved through the release of electrons from the surface of the material. This way, a photovoltaic cell is able to turn these sun rays into electricity through absorption of the photons in the rays.


Q: What is the lifespan of a photovoltaic system?

A: If the system is properly installed by an expert, it can serve you for up to thirty years. The key to achieving the lifespan is by ensuring proper installation and thereafter proper and regular maintenance. To ensure this, always work with a certified expert.


Q: Where are these photovoltaic systems used?

A: The system can be used as a source of power for residential as well as commercial buildings or places. You only need to get the appropriate system depending in the size and the energy requirements of the building.


Q: What should I consider when choosing a solar thermal photovoltaic system?

A: The intended use should be the first consideration. Then, you ought to consider the area of the building, size and type of the roofing material, your budget and the type of system that is most appropriate for your needs.

The nature of the system may determine how effective it is in capturing the sun rays in a particular environment. Therefore, always insist on working on a knowledgeable and specialized expert. It will ensure that you make an investment that is worth your while. Follow us for more great articles on heating, air conditioning and home needs.

What Regular Maintenance Do Heating And Air Conditioning Systems Need?

Maintaining your heating and air conditioning system can go a long way in preventing future problems and unwanted costs. Accordingly, it is vital to always keep your heating and cooling system at peak performance. Here is an overview of some maintenance check-up that you should keep in mind to achieve this goal:

  • Check All The Controls Of Your System: Check the various controls of your system to ensure that your system starts, operates, and turns off properly and safely.
  • Inspect the Condensate Drain: Plugged drain system cause water damage in your premises and can affect humidity levels. As such, ensure that you check and inspect all the condensate drains (from furnace or heat pump to the central air conditioner) to ensure that they are functional.
  • Lubricate All The Moving Parts Of Your System: Parts that are not well lubricated will cause a lot of friction in your motor, which will in turn increase the amount of power that your motor uses.
  • Check Thermostat Settings: Good thermostat settings will ensure that your HVAC system keeps your premises comfortable and saves energy.
  • Inspect Gas Connections, Heat Exchangers, and Burner Combustion: Poor gas and heat combustion connections are fire hazards and can cause lots of health problems. Furthermore, cracked heat exchangers or dirty burner will never operate optimally.
  • Keep Evaporator and Condenser A/C coils Clean: Dirty coils will make you’re A/C system to run longer, thereby increasing your energy costs and reducing the life span of the equipment.
  • Check Your A/C’s Refrigerant Level: Inappropriate amount of refrigerant levels will reduce the efficiency of your system and increase your energy costs.
  • Clean and Dust your Blower Components: Airflow problems will lower the efficiency of your system by about 15 percent; so adjust the blower component s to provide appropriate system airflow.
  • Inspect And Clean Your Air Filters: A dirty air filter will increase your energy costs and eventually damage your equipment.

In case you are not sure about certain HVAC maintenance check-up procedures, you can contact your local contractor. Remember, contractors are often busy in summer and winter; so endeavor to check your heating system in the fall and your cooling system in the spring.
Follow our blog for more information on heating, cooling, and keeping your home energy efficient.


What Is The Difference Between Electric Heat Pumps And Furnaces?

The difference between electric heat pumps and gas furnaces has always been a source of confusion for many wanting to buy one of the appliances. The main difference between the two is that a furnace blows warm heated air throughout your premises, while a heat pump uses a refrigerant to either heat or cool air.

Making the choice between the two is dependent on several factors such as location. If you live in a relatively cold climate, a furnace may be the most viable option. However, people who live in warm areas are likely to benefit from cost effectiveness by buying heat pumps. It’s more of a personal choice but the right kind of information can help you choose the most suitable option.


Heat pumps have proved to be more efficient than furnaces. In fact, they can achieve about 30 -40 percent more energy efficiency as compared to gas furnaces. Heat pumps simply move and don’t generate heat enabling them to provide up to four times more energy than they consume. However, their efficiency is significantly reduced when there are huge temperature differences, especially in cold winters. One way to increase the efficiency of your heat pump is to ensure it is of the appropriate size for your premises. However, it is also important to size your furnace correctly to maximize its efficiency.


When it comes to cost, there are several determining factors you should consider before choosing to buy an electric pump or a gas furnace. Start by finding out the difference in gas and electricity prices in your area. The cost of the units also matters. Depending on your climate, a heat pump can heat and cool your premises all year round. If you choose a gas furnace, you may also need to buy an air conditioner to cool your premises in the warmer months.


In as much as heat pumps eliminate the need to invest in an additional appliance (an air conditioner) they use outdoor heat to warm your home. This means that they may not be as effective as a gas furnace if you live in a very cold area. A heat pump is more appropriate for moderate climate areas.

With the differences outlined above, choosing the most appropriate appliance should be easy. Call us for all your heating and furnace needs.

Planning A Furnace Replacement? 3 Things To Think About First

Most people who live in their own homes may have thought of replacing their furnaces sometime. Replacing an old furnace can help you save money. However, there are a few things you should consider before you do a furnace replacement.

3 Things to Consider Before Furnace Replacement

Here are three questions you should consider before you make the move to replace your furnace:

1. What is the heating capacity of the new furnace?

If you have a new furnace that you would like to install, keep in mind that its capacity may not be the same as that of your older unit. Let’s say your furnace was over-sized and you want to replace it with a fitting one. To do the replacement, you will need to hire a HVAC contractor to install the new unit. The contractor will also ensure the unit is calibrated for the best energy emission rate.

2. What is the furnace efficiency of your new unit?

Furnaces are powered by fuel. You should know about the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rate of a furnace. The rate refers to a percentage rate of oil that a unit uses, up to 100 percent.

If you choose a 95 percent AFUE unit, it will be more expensive than 80 percent one. The 95 percent AFUE furnace will also save more energy that the 80 AFUE unit. During the winter, you can rest easy knowing that your furnace is more efficient and your energy bills will be low.

3. Which source of fuel will the furnace use?

When replacing, get a unit that uses the same fuel as the older furnace. This will ensure that you don’t spend more when the new unit is installed. You can also consider other fuel options, for example oil, natural gas, and electricity.

Be keen when choosing the fuel use for your new furnace. The most important thing to look at is the availability and price of the fuel. Another thing you may want to consider is whether the fuel has any impact on the environment around your home when it combusts. Once you decide to replace your furnace, get one that will use fuel optimally and hence reduce your energy costs in the long run.

Do you need help finding a new furnace? Call the heating experts at ACS Air Conditioning Systems. We will work with you to find the best model for your home while taking into consideration your budget and home comfort needs.