Welcome to the Washington Metropolitan area's première on-line quote portal.
Frequently Asked Questions
.: Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting A System
  1. Why the right size is so important?
  2. Is it mandatory we purchase the heat load calculation?
  3. What is a Heat Pump?
  4. What is the purpose of auxiliary heat?
  5. Is a Heat Pump the right choice for my home?
  6. Oil Furnace Installation Quote?
  7. Efficiency Ratings

Why the right size is so important?
It is important that new or replacement equipment is not sized by "Rule of Thumb" or by duplicating the existing equipment capacity. The only accurate way to determine the correct capacity of heating and air conditioning equipment for your home is to have a load calculation performed on your home. There is a specific method available to all installing contractors to do this calculation. This will give your installing contractor the heat gain and heat loss design data for your home. These figures can then be used to select the appropriately sized air conditioning or heating system for your home, based on equipment-performance data.

Many factors determine the size (capacity) system your home requires. Some of these are:

  • square feet to be cooled and heated
  • climate
  • humidity
  • number of windows
  • insulation factors
  • which direction your home faces
  • heat producing appliances, and
  • the number of people who will be in the home
Oversized air conditioning systems will not remove adequate moisture from the indoor air due to short cycling.

Oversized systems quickly cool the indoor air temperature, but they do not run long enough to remove the humidity.

That leaves you feeling stuffy and uncomfortable. Control of your home's climate is rarely achieved with oversized systems and electricity consumption is higher than with a properly sized system.

An oversized furnace is similar to an oversized air conditioning system. The furnace run time is short, creating uncomfortable air stratification and less air filtration. Also, the frequent cycling of the unit on and off can cause undue wear and tear on internal working components.

An undersized air conditioning system will not adequately cool your home on the hottest days and an undersized furnace will not adequately heat your house on the coldest days.

Is it mandatory we purchase the heat load calculation?
There's only one way to determine what the right size should be, and that's to perform a heat load calculation. Your contractor will be pleased to perform one for your home, but consider these issues:

  • If your heating and cooling has been adequate in the past, chances are that the heat load calculation that was originally performed is still accurate; i.e., the home's size is the same, the climate zone is the same, and so on. As such, performing a new heat load calculation may not be worthwhile.

  • If you are using the price quote to evaluate another contractor's quote, and the other contractor has not performed a heat load calculation, you should verify that the contractor has assumed that your existing system was "right-sized." In that case, your quote will result in an "apples-t-apples" comparison, assuming other factors are equal. The same would apply if the other contractor did a heat load calculation and got a result indicating that your existing system is not the right size, then we will need to know what the other contractor's results were, or we'll need to know about the system the other contractor has specified. But be cautious. A system's inability to provide the right amount of heating and/or air conditioning may not be due to improper sizing!

  • If your existing system does not provide adequate comfort, the size could be "off" because conditions have changed, or because it wasn't sized properly to begin with. However, it could also be that the equipment is just worn out, or that some other condition exists. In that case, you best bet probably would be to speak with your authorized contractor to arrange for a comfort system inspection. It may be that your heat pump is undercharged, or a relatively small investment in insulation and weather-stripping is what you need, not a larger system.

  • In some states, by law a contractor must perform a heat load calculation unless the homeowner signs a waiver. Signing a waiver may make sense when you have no reason to suspect the system was not sized properly and you intend to reuse the existing ductwork.

Do not trust a contractor who tells you that some kind of rule of thumb can be used to evaluate the size of the equipment you need. There is no such rule of thumb, which is why reputable contractors perform heat load calculations. However, when a prior heat load calculation was performed properly, and nothing significant has changed, performing another one could be a waste of time and money.

What is a Heat Pump?
The heat pump is an air conditioner that reverses the process of removing heat from the inside of the house in summer to absorbing the heat from outside air and moving it inside in winter. It is effective by itself down to temperatures around 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, either a gas furnace or an air handler with supplemental electric heat will kick in and help heat your home. The Auxiliary Heat light on your thermostat will light. The heat pump will continue to operate along with the electric auxiliary heat. It will shut off when a gas furnace is energized. Emergency heat is a manual override option in the event your heat pump needs service.

What is the purpose of auxiliary heat?
Under normal operating conditions, the auxiliary heat is brought on automatically by the thermostat when the indoor temperature drops during heat pump operation. There are also times during cold, wet weather when the outdoor coil may ice up and your heat pump will go into a defrost cycle. This is nothing more than reversing the process back to cooling mode. Cooling mode makes the outdoor coil hot and melts any ice. The defrost cycle should only last a few minutes and then return to heating mode. During the defrost cycle, your comfort system is in cooling mode and the supply air is cool. To offset this cool air, the auxiliary heat will be energized during defrost. A mist or fog may be visible from the outdoor unit during defrost.

Is a Heat Pump the right choice for my home?
The heat pump is effective in many geographies. In all electric applications, the heat pump may consume less energy than an electric furnace or air handler using resistance heat. Why? Because it can deliver the same amount of BTUs as electric heaters using less electrical input than the electric heat. In moderate climates the savings that natural gas yields may not be as advantageous as in colder climates, since there is less frequent use of the furnace in milder climates. Of course, the heat pump can be matched with a gas furnace where preferred. The heat pump can operate in the milder temperatures when the gas furnace may tend to short-cycle.

Oil Furnace Installation Quote?
Currently we do not offer on-line pricing for oil fire heating equipment for these compelling reasons.

  • During our initial rollout we discovered that installation complexity of oil fire furnaces required information that proved challenging for on-line clients thus made it impracticable to give accurate quotes real-time.

  • Fuel oil suppliers in our service area began offering oil furnace installation at extreme discounts (tethered long-term fuel oil contracts) therefore we realized it was inappropriate to compete aggressively in an inequitable market environment.

  • Gas fired furnaces now dominate our service area marketplace and we choose to honor the needs of the majority of clients in order to remain the on-line price point leader.
To better serve fuel oil clients we now offer a traditional site-visit to allow our representative prepare a replacement quote. Please eMail us if you wish to arrange a site-visit oil fired furnace quote.

Efficiency Ratings In most cases, replacing your whole system, indoor and outdoor components, will result in a more efficient, longer-lasting system but will initially cost a little more to purchase.

AFUE, (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) is a measure of a gas furnace's efficiency in converting fuel to energy - the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.

SEER, (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. The U.S. Government's current minimum SEER rating is 13.

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Last Modified: 10/26/15