Tips and Safety Information for Gas Heating and Cooling

All Gas Heating & Cooling, Inc. in Sandwich, MA is a gas HVAC contractor serving Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the surrounding areas. We provide information to help you make decisions regarding upgrades, repairs, and replacements of heating and cooling systems. Following these suggestions will save more money.

Why Upgrade?

Everyone wants to know how much a new heating or cooling system cost. Unfortunately, there isn't a short answer.

The price varies depending on numerous factors including but not limited to the size of the system needed for your home, the type of system selected, and the scope of the work involved in completing the installation. There are usually three reasons people purchase a new heating or cooling system:

  • They are building or renovating a new home.

  • They want to conserve energy and/or reduce their utility bills.

  • Their system is old, broken, inefficient, or leaking deadly carbon monoxide.

Factors to Consider When Deciding to Replace Your System

Energy Upgrades

Upgrading your heating and cooling system to a higher efficiency system will reduce your energy costs. Depending on the upgrade, you can save between 25 – 50% on your utility bills. The rule of thumb is, “The higher the efficiency, the greater the savings.”

For more than five years, manufacturers have produced much more efficient systems. If you are looking to conserve your energy output and save some money, installing a high-efficiency system is your best bet. All Gas Heating & Cooling, Inc. can install a 96% or higher efficient heating system that will outperform any system installed five or more years ago.

The Cost of Repairs Versus the Cost of Replacing

Often, people wait until their heating, cooling, or hot water system breaks down before they even consider replacing it.
All machines and equipment have a life expectancy.

When a system that is near its life expectancy breaks, replacing it may be the best action. Here’s why: once the system breaks down, especially an older unit, parts become difficult to find or can be very expensive.

Once one component breaks in an older system, it is likely that other elements will begin to show their age and may also break in the near future. As a system age, its efficiency tends to decline, which results in higher utility costs.

The cost of replacing an older heating or cooling system will be more expensive if they are perhaps repairing a system that is 15 years or older. But the bottom line is this: do you want to throw good money in a deficient system that may not last through the season even after repairs are made?

With every system, there comes a time when replacing it costs less than repairing it. The trick is in knowing when that time is. The following should help you determine when it is best to replace your heating or cooling system.

The Bigger Picture

If you have an older heating or cooling system of 10 to 25 years old, you could save 25% to 50% on your heating and cooling costs. Replacing your heating or air conditioner can pay for itself in time.

Upgrading to a higher efficiency unit will yield higher savings, but replacing your 80% efficient furnace with a new 80% furnace can also cut utility costs. The reason is that the efficiency rating is determined when the system is new. Time and usage can decrease efficiency over time. Yearly maintenance services can help preserve the efficiency of your unit. However, most efficiency ratings decline over a long period of time.

Other Factors

A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save on utility costs. This device offers four pre-programmed settings to regulate your home's temperature in both summer and winter—when you are home, asleep, or away.

The pre-programmed settings that come with programmable thermostats are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. Depending on your family's schedule, you can see significant savings by sticking with those settings or adjusting them as appropriate for your family. The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don't need as much.

Energy Safety

Carbon monoxide alarms are valuable lifesaving devices. When used and maintained properly, these alarms are effective at detecting carbon monoxide in homes before it reaches lethal levels.

Kidde recommends that you replace your carbon monoxide alarm every five years from the date of manufacture in order to upgrade to more advanced carbon monoxide sensing technologies and more innovative safety features. All UL-listed carbon monoxide alarms are required to publish the date of manufacture on the label accompanying the product. This information is usually listed on the back of the alarm.

Kidde also recommends testing carbon monoxide alarms monthly to ensure they are in proper working order and that batteries are still fresh. It is also important to have home appliances checked annually by a qualified technician.

Carbon monoxide alarms are designed to activate in accordance with UL 2034 Standards. Individuals with medical problems or those believing that they may be susceptible to lower carbon monoxide levels may consider purchasing a warning device which alarms at lower levels of carbon monoxide than those specified by the aforementioned standard.

What is CO?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, and non-irritating poisonous gas resulting from the incomplete combustion of organic materials such as gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, propane, coal, wood, charcoal, diesel fuel, heating oil, and almost any other combustible material, such as tobacco and paper. Any fuel-burning appliance, vehicle, tool, or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of CO.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. As we mark the beginning of another heating season, during which we spend 90% of our time indoors, All Gas Heating & Cooling, Inc. reminds customers of the importance of taking preventive measures against carbon monoxide accumulations at home.

How does exposure to CO affect us?

During normal fuel combustion, a harmless gas known as carbon dioxide is emitted. If there is a lack of oxygen to ensure complete combustion of the fuel, the poisonous gas CO is produced instead. 

Exposure to CO reduces the blood's ability to absorb oxygen. Low levels of CO poisoning result in symptoms often mistaken for the common flu and cold, such as shortness of breath, nausea, and headaches. 

With higher levels of poisoning, the symptoms become more severe: dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, and fainting. Very high levels of exposure may cause unconsciousness and even death.

What are the most common causes of CO accumulations?

  • Blocked or poorly ventilated fireplace chimney or furnace flue
  • Faulty or damaged heating equipment
  • Automobiles, lawnmowers, and snow blowers running in unventilated garages

How can homeowners and renters protect against CO accumulations?

When properly maintained, your natural gas furnace and water heater do not emit CO. As a preventive measure, a qualified heating technician should inspect all appliances and heating equipment regularly. 

Chimneys should be inspected annually, since debris may hinder proper ventilation. In addition, check natural gas flames periodically. A clear-blue color means it is properly adjusted while an orange or yellow flame may indicate a problem. 

Never use a range, oven, or clothes dryer for heating. Also, never use gas or charcoal grills indoors. The installation of a CO detector with an audible alarm in your home and garage is also recommended. 

According to the American Lung Association, "Carbon monoxide detectors should meet Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. standards; have a long-term warranty; and be easily self-tested and reset to ensure proper functioning." For maximum effectiveness during sleeping hours, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed as close to sleeping areas as possible. Carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased from us.

What should I do if I suspect CO exposure?

If you suspect CO exposure, it is important not to panic. If you suffer from chronic flu-like symptoms, see your doctor and ask if it could be a low-level CO poisoning. If you have a CO detector and it alarms, open the windows; ventilate your home with fresh air; and have your heating system checked by a professional.

If your alarm sounds and you are feeling drowsy, nauseous, or dizzy, leave the house and call 911 from your neighbor's home. You may need medical attention for CO poisoning.

Any of our new or existing customers who wish to have his or her equipment inspected may call us at 1-888-813-9995. At your request, our company will send a trained technician to check your equipment on a time and material basis.

Cut Heating Costs

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average US family spends over $2,000 a year on home energy. Nearly half of that amount goes to heating and cooling homes. We can help put some of that money back into your pocket.

Programmable thermostats let you control the temperature when you are away, asleep, or out in the yard. Just set it and forget it. Let the programmable device work for you. Here are some suggestions to cut heating costs:

  • Check your systems’ air filter every three months.

    If the filter looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make your system work harder, wasting more energy.

  • Have your system checked annually.

    This inspection will ensure that your equipment is running at optimum efficiency and comfort. Most manufactures require annual maintenance on new systems as part of their warranty.

  • Seal leaking ducts.

    As much as a third of an air-conditioning system’s airflow could leak through the ducts, causing a loss of comfort and cooling capacity. The impact is most severe in ducts installed in attics where temperatures can exceed 140° in the summer.

  • Install energy-efficient water heaters.

    You can save over $147.00 annually over conventional 40-gallon hot water tanks and 1323 lbs. of carbon dioxide and 23 trees. All without having to wait for more hot water; giving you more time to do the things you love.

  • Install high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.

Cut Cooling Costs

  • Kick temperatures up a notch.

    If you set your thermostat a little higher during summer months, you'll reduce your cooling costs 3% to 4% for each degree of adjustment. Changing the temperature from 74° to 77° could lower your energy bill by more than 10%.

  • Use a whole-house fan.

    This appliance is a simple and inexpensive method of cooling a house. Whole-house fans are particularly useful when humidity levels are not too high.

  • New air conditioners must have a minimum SEER rating of 16.

    Be aware of how the SEER rating can affect your energy use.

  • Keep out sun and heat.

    Especially in the afternoon, use shades, blinds, or curtains in west-facing rooms. Keep exterior doors and windows closed when running your air conditioner during the day. At night, turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to draw in cooler air when humidity is low.

  • Minimize heat from other sources.

    Turn off lamps, TVs, and other heat-producing items when not in use and move them away from the thermostat. Run dishwashers and other large appliances in the early morning or late evening when electricity use is lower and their heat has less effect on cooling.

  • Maintain your air conditioner.

    Clean or replace your filters at least once a month or as needed during heaviest use. Keep leaves and other debris away from the exterior condenser. Regularly keep condenser coils clean.

  • Consider fans.

    Use ceiling or portable fans to keep air moving and cut back on cooling. Run them only when you are in the room. Otherwise, you are wasting energy.

  • Use Shade.

    Did you know that placing your condenser on the northern side of your home can save you as much as 10% on your cooling cost? Shading your condenser with plants and shrubbery has the same effect.