Archive for September, 2013


A heat pump or a furnace will both keep your home warm, sure. But there are some pretty fundamental differences between these two pieces of heating technology. Each one has unique advantages, but in many cases, installing a heat pump or a furnace comes down to whether you use gas or electricity to heat your home.  How your home is configured, local utilities and other factors that came up when building your home have dictated what type of system you have.  Your GAC Cooling & Heating professional will tell you exactly what you have. However, it’s important to know the difference so you can ask the right questions.

A furnace uses natural gas or propane to create a flame that burns.  The small flames warm up metal tubes called heat exchangers.  As the furnace fan pushes air over these hot tubes the air is then warmed up and enters the duct system to condition your home.  It’s a classic system that works, producing an intense heat that feels noticeably warm coming up through your vents.

A heat pump uses electricity to heat and cool your home.  Outside your home, your heat pump looks just like an air conditioner and during the summer it works like one.  Inside your home is an air handler.  This is connected to your heat pump with wires and copper tubing.  Your air handler has two important parts a fan and coil.  The fan runs like a furnace fan and pushes air throughout the home. The coil is what gets cold during the summer and warm during the winter.  If you have a heat pump, most homes have air source heat pumps, but there are some high efficiency geothermal systems that use the ground temperature to heat and cool the home. This option is initially more expensive, but also more efficient.

Heat pumps are a great option in temperate climates, like what we’ve got here in Frederick and Montgomery County Maryland. In fact, in this area many people with oil, propane or gas furnaces will use a heat pump to cool the home in the summer but then also heat the home until the temperature drops below 30 degrees.  These are called hybrid systems just like in cars.  They are designed to be more efficient and give the homeowner the choice based on energy costs and comfort. Most of the time, the heat pump will handle the heating duties, but every now and then when it’s really cold, the furnace kicks in. Some people think heat pumps aren’t as comfortable as gas systems but today’s heat pumps produce temperatures that are very comfortable. These systems are very different than the ones just 15 years ago.

If you still have questions about the differences or are looking to replace your furnace or heat pump, contact GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating) and we’ll answer all your questions and help you get the right heating system installed in your home.

Category : Heating | Blog

We’re ready to admit it—we love the state of Maryland, but it’s obviously not the biggest state around. Despite its small size (did you know area wise, only eight states are smaller than Maryland?!), Maryland sure has no shortage of HVAC contractors.

At GAC Cooling & Heating, we understand that upgrading to a new HVAC system is a big decision. After all, most heat pumps, air conditioners, and furnaces can be expected to last you upwards of a decade if you care for them properly.

While choosing which system you install is hard, we believe choosing an HVAC contractor shouldn’t be. Here’s what you should look for in choosing your Maryland HVAC contractor:

NATE Certified Technicians

The best HVAC contractors use only NATE certified technicians. NATE—or North American Technician Excellence—is an advanced training certification available to those in the HVACR industry. According to the NATE website,

“Consumers look for NATE certification because it ensures that a knowledgeable, well-trained and highly experienced technician will service their home heating or cooling system.”
In order to call themselves NATE certified, technicians have to retake the NATE exam every five years—this ensures that they stay up-to-date on the latest technological advancements in the HVAC industry.

At GAC Cooling & Heating, we’re proud to display the NATE certified logo on our website. In addition, we go above and beyond by requiring our technicians to go through factory classroom training and nationally accredited tests every year. This ensures that they are the most knowledgeable and have the skills to install, service, and repair your HVAC system.

Factory Authorized Dealers

Like all manufacturers, HVAC system manufacturers have strict guidelines that dealers must meet in order to be considered a “factory authorized dealer.” For instance, take Bryant, a top manufacturer of heating and cooling products. According to Bryant,

“What makes a Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer stand out is the unparalleled performance he/she offers—from reliable service to technical know-how. When choosing a dealer, look for the Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer symbol, which means your dealer has met our highest standards for superior skills, service, and a promise of 100% satisfaction guaranteed.”

At GAC, we’re not only a Bryant Authorized Dealer—we’re the 2013 Bryant Dealer of the Year! We are the largest Bryant dealer in the nation and understand the Bryant equipment inside and out.

Awards & Testimonials

Awards (like the Bryant Dealer of the Year award) and client testimonials are another great way to determine you’re choosing the right HVAC contractor. Make sure to check out testimonials on your HVAC contractor’s website and social media sites, as well as sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.

At GAC Cooling & Heating, we have been recognized as the Best in Washingtonian Magazine and we’ve won many industry awards for quality, satisfaction, and performance.

When it comes to choosing an HVAC contractor, you shouldn’t have to take their word for it! Always check to see what their customers have to say about their services. You can check out GAC’s client testimonials here.

Hire an HVAC Contractor in Maryland

Ready to choose GAC as your HVAC contractor in Maryland? Contact us today. In addition to being NATE certified, a factory authorized dealer, and having various awards and testimonials, you’ll also benefit from the following when you choose GAC:

  • On-time service
  • 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed
  • Up-front pricing
  • Fully stocked trucks
  • And respect for your home

Call us today or fill out a form for a free HVAC replacement system estimate.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog

When you were a kid, did your parents ever yell at you for leaving lights on in an empty room? “What’s the point in having light if there’s no one there to see it?” they asked. You might not have understood as a kid, but now that you’re paying the electricity bills, you probably do. But you also probably still pay to heat and cool your house when you’re not around. Luckily, with programmable thermostats, you can save on energy bills and still be comfortable.

A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperate of your home based on a pre-determined schedule. It reduces your energy usage when you aren’t at home, but brings the temperature back to comfortable levels so you aren’t left shivering while you wait for the house to warm up.

Let’s give an example. A typical programmable thermostat day for a Montgomery County family in the winter might look something like this:

5:00 a.m.: Temperature is set at 67° while the family sleeps. Since you’re bundled under blankets, you won’t notice that it’s slightly chillier—and you actually sleep better in cooler temperatures.

6:00 a.m.: Temperature increases to 70° so it’s toasty and warm when the family wakes up.

8:00 a.m.: Temperature is reduced to 66° during the day when no one’s home. Did you know you can save up to 3% on your energy bill for every degree you reduce your heat?

4:30 p.m.: Temperature increases back to 70° so it’s ready and waiting for you when you come home.

10:00 p.m.: Temperature heads back down to 67° for the night.

The next day, the whole cycle starts over. It’s a fantastic way to save money while still being completely comfortable at home. You’re also doing the environment a favor, and that definitely counts for something.

Programmable thermostats come with either individual settings for every day of the week (known as a 7-day thermostat) or one setting for weekdays and one for weekends (known as a 5-2 thermostat). You might need a 7-day thermostat if you have an irregular schedule—for instance, if the kids come home from school at 3:00 three days a week but don’t make it home until 7:00 the other nights. This way you can have perfect control over your home’s temperature.

If you’re interested in energy savings with a programmable thermostat, contact GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating). We’ll look at your needs and help you determine how much you can save—and how much more comfortable you could be. Wouldn’t your parents be proud?

Category : Energy & Money Saving Tips | Blog

Did you know that allergies affect 20% of all Americans? And it’s not just a spring and summer issue, either. Montgomery County is home to plenty of fall-loving allergens, including ragweed, which causes that irritating hay fever, as well as mold and other weeds. Medication can help, but to truly make a dent in bad allergies, you may need to make some changes to your home to improve your indoor air quality.

One of the fastest and easiest things you can do to reduce indoor allergens is to replace your furnace air filter. The whole purpose of the filter is to screen out tiny particles in the air, including dust, mold, dander and allergens. When the filter is dirty, it’s not doing its job. Also wipe registers and air vents with a damp towel to keep dust from blowing through your house that way. You’ll want to keep your windows closed and rely on your air conditioner more often to keep allergens from sneaking in.

If those basic steps don’t work, it’s time to take more drastic action. Keeping your home at a constant level of moderate humidity can reduce mold and dust mites, so consider investing in a whole home humidifier. As the cool dry air enters the area you will be dealing with dry air infiltrating into your home.  Whole home dehumidifiers assist with adding humidity into the air during the fall and winter months keeping you more comfortable and improving your energy efficiency.

Amazingly, UV light can also play a big role in keeping sneezes and watery eyes at bay. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, or UVGI lights, can kill germs, bacteria, mold, dust mites and other things you don’t want to be breathing in. They’re installed as part of your ventilation system and zap allergens before they ever make their way to you. Research shows that these lights can reduce respiratory symptoms by 40% and mucous build up by 30%. That can be a huge difference for you and your family.

Just remember, you don’t have to live with allergies. With a few modifications to your home comfort system, you can get rid of those irritating runny eyes and runny noses. If you need help figuring out which solutions are right for you, contact us. We help homeowners in Montgomery and Frederick Counties, including Rockville, Germantown, Potomac, Olney and Clarksburg breathe easier by improving indoor air quality.

Category : Air Conditioning | Heating | Blog

Where did summer go? Already it’s time to pull out your sweaters and break out the apple cider. As we ease into fall in Montgomery County, don’t forget to give your HVAC system a little TLC. Routine maintenance can catch little problems before they turn into system failures and keep you energy efficient all winter long. Here’s what you need to make sure you do before you need to crank up the furnace:

  • Change your air filters. This is often our number one tip for any kind of basic HVAC maintenance, and for good reason. Changing your filter as recommended—usually once a month, but some filters have longer cycles—keeps your air cleaner, helps air flow more freely around the house and makes your furnace’s job easier. Take this one small step and you’ll be amazed at the difference.
  • Clean your vents. Pet hair, mold, dirt and other nasty things can build up on your vents and registers, spewing pollutants into the air and again, making your system work harder to push air through your home. Clean vents and registers with a damp paper towel.
  • Check for drafts. Tiny drafts throughout your home can steal your warm air and leave you paying more for your energy. To test for drafts, walk slowly through your home with a candle, especially near the doors and windows. If the candle flickers, there’s a draft. Fill it with a small amount of caulk.
  • Hose off and cover your outdoor air conditioner unit. Wash away debris and dirt from your exterior unit and consider investing in a vinyl or canvas air conditioner cover. These can protect your unit from freezing, thawing and unexpected hazards like falling limbs or icicles. It’s not necessary, but it sure is handy.
  • Add pipe covers. Pipe covers are small pieces of foam that insulate your exterior pipes to keep them from freezing. You can find them in the hardware store or simply wrap a length of foam around the pipes and secure with duct tape.
  • Schedule your HVAC maintenance check. There’s only so much you can do on your own before it’s time to call in a professional. A heating maintenance check involves a thorough inspection of the heat pump and or furnace heating system. It’s a great way to catch small issues—replacing worn parts or tightening connections—before they turn into more expensive and uncomfortable outages. A maintenance agreement is a great way to save money on your twice a year tune-ups—and make sure you never forget to get it scheduled!

Taking these small steps now can save you time and money down the road. At GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating), we’d love to help you get your system ready for winter. We help homeowners in Montgomery and Frederick Counties, including Rockville, Germantown, Potomac, Olney and Clarksburg. Schedule your appointment today.

Category : Air Conditioning | Heating | Maintenance Agreements | Blog