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Air Conditioning

17
May

If your like most of us, we are always looking to save money on energy cost. Below is a quick list of twelve ways to reduce your air conditioning cost this summer.

  1. Stay cool, but not too cool! – The first place to reduce your air conditioning cost is with setting the thermostat to a cool, but not too cool setting. Our customers find they can easily stay pretty cool at 75°F to 78°F. In many cases you can save upwards of 5% in cooling cost for every degree you raise your thermostat.
  2. Don’t trick your thermostat – A thermostats job is to sense heat and adjust to keep you cool. Things like televisions, lamps, PC”s and direct sun light all impact the heat in your home. By turning off these items or pulling down shades will keep your home cooler and reduce your air conditioning cost this summer.
  3. Slow and easy wins the race – When that first hot day comes and you’re ready to turn on your air conditioner, take it easy and set the thermostat to the desired temperature.  Many people will crank the temperature way down to try and boost the cold air. This does not work and will only increase your air conditioning cost. Remember our goal is to reduce your air conditioning cost.
  4. Keep the air flowing – Air flow is very important to keeping a consistent temperature in your home. Make sure that nothing is blocking your vents. When the cool air can circulate with ease, it reduces the need for more cooling, thus reducing your air conditioning cost.
  5. Keep it clean – An easy way to reduce your air conditioning cost is to clean and/or replace your filters monthly. Dirty air filters restrict the air flow and reduce efficiencies.  To make this task even easier we have a Filter Program which delivers filter right to your home! Heck, we will even send you a reminder email monthly so you do not forget.
  6. Get a little help from your friends – Many newer systems do a really good job at removing the hot air from your home, but homes with older systems might struggle to keep up.  In these homes you want to install a whole home ventilating fan in the attic.  Removing extra warm air from your home will create less stress on your system and reduce your air conditioning cost.  A low cost solution would also be to install a window or two.
  7. It’s always cooler in the shade – Just like sitting under a big oak tree on a hot day, it’s always cooler in the shade. Your home is no different, the more you keep the sunlight out the cooler it will be. Make sure to close the blinds that take direct sunlight.  It’s amazing how a little shade can help to reduce your air conditioning cost.
  8. Get sun glasses for your windows – Just like sun glasses protect your eyes from sunlight, window tinting and reflective window film will protect your home from sunlight and unwanted heat. The less heat in your home, the less your air conditioner will run, thus helping to reduce your air conditioning cost. Window film has an added benefit, whereas it also protects your furniture, carpet, and hardwood from fading over time.
  9. Share the cool air – If you have room fans or ceiling fans, turn them on! Moving the cool air around your home will help to even the temperature and reduce the demand, and this will help reduce your air conditioning cost.
  10. Hose it down – Once a year you should spray down (with low pressure water) your outside unit (the condenser). Make sure to turn off the unit at the thermostat before doing this. A clean outside unit will help to make your system more efficient and reduce your air conditioning cost.
  11. Seal it up tight – Often times you will have air leaks in the exposed duct work on or around your main heating and air conditioning unit in your basement. Use metal tape (found at your local big orange box) to seal up those leaks. Sealing these leaks will get more air upstairs to the rest of the house where it belongs. This will reduce demand for cool air and reduce your air conditioning cost.
  12. Going green helps – Like we said it about shade, so why not give back to the planet while reducing your air conditioning cost by planting some trees. This not only helps the environment, but it also will reduce your air conditioning cost by providing shade on those sunny sides of your home.
Category : Air Conditioning | Energy & Money Saving Tips | Blog
14
Jul

The Short Answer

YES! Upgrading to an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating can greatly reduce your electricity consumption. In addition, there are also a number of rebates available when you upgrade to a more energy efficient air conditioner—saving you even more money.

Contact us today for a free estimate on a new, energy efficient air conditioner.

The Extended Answer

How exactly can a new air conditioner lower your energy bills? The truth is that many of today’s highly efficient air conditioners can be up to 30 percent more efficient than systems that were installed just 10 years ago. The size of an air conditioner is rated in BTU’s (British Thermal Units) or tons; however, the efficiency is rated in SEER—which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER rating on your air conditioner, the more efficiently it operates.

According to the Department of Energy, air conditioners manufactured after January 26, 2006 must achieve a SEER of 13 or higher. SEER 13 is 30 percent more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10.

Although SEER 13 is the minimum, you can consider a unit with a higher SEER to achieve even greater energy savings. For example, Bryant’s Evolution System central air conditioners have as high as a SEER 20 rating!

Keep in mind, the initial investment may be more for a SEER 20 air conditioner than a 13 SEER one, but you reduce the operating costs required to run your system. As a result, your total investment (both purchase and operation) will end up being less with the higher efficient system over the course of its lifespan.

In addition to saving money by installing a higher SEER unit, you may also be eligible for certain rebates. For example, Pepco offers energy efficient rebates in Maryland through its Pepco HVAC Efficiency Program. In addition to offering up to $500 rebates for new, energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, the Pepco rebate also allows for up to a $250 rebate on duct sealing and $100 rebate on HVAC system tune-ups from Feb. 15, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2014.

To find out if you qualify for a Pepco rebate, call GAC Heating & Cooling today, fill out a contact form. We can also help if you’re interested in financing your new air conditioner.

Category : Air Conditioning | FAQ | Blog
8
Jul

Did you know that installing a new air conditioner can improve your home comfort and save you money? The truth is that many of today’s highly efficient air conditioners can be up to 30 percent more efficient than systems that were installed just 10 years ago. By upgrading your aging system to a new high-efficiency AC, you can quickly lower your energy bills.

But that doesn’t change the fact that installing new central air conditioning in your home isn’t exactly cheap. The cost of air conditioning replacement in Maryland varies depending on:

  • The size of your home
  • The age of your home
  • What type of unit you choose to install
  • If your house needs new or replacement ductwork
  • Etc.

However, in general the average cost to replace an air conditioning unit, without any work to the current ductwork can range from $1,000 to upwards of $4,000. This price will include the AC unit and labor costs.

If you don’t have that kind of green lying around, we can help.

Financing Your Air Conditioning in Maryland with GAC

GAC Cooling & Heating is committed to providing affordable air conditioning services to our customers throughout the Montgomery County and Frederick County areas. That’s why we’re pleased to offer special air conditioning financing in Maryland to our customers through Wells Fargo.

We have 12 months special financing for eligible customers with approved credit by Wells Fargo Financial National Bank, an Equal Housing Lender.

Additional Ways to Save

While the federal tax credits for energy efficient furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners expired in Dec. 2013, you are still eligible for federal tax credits if you install an ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pump before Dec. 31, 2016.

As long as your system is ENERGY STAR qualified, you’re eligible for up to 30 percent of the cost of your geothermal unit (with no upper limit).

Schedule Air Conditioning Replacement in Frederick, MD

When you need air conditioning replacement in Frederick, MD, GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating) is ready to help. In addition to being NATE certified, a Bryant factory authorized dealer, and having won various awards and many customer 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 AC replacement system estimate.

Category : Air Conditioning | Energy & Money Saving Tips | Blog
1
Jul

The Short Answer

With proper AC maintenance, you can expect your air conditioner to last about 15 years. However, installing a new air conditioner can improve your home comfort AND save you money! Many of today’s highly efficient air conditioners can be up to 30 percent more efficient than systems that were installed just 10 years ago. By upgrading your aging system to a new high-efficiency AC, you can quickly lower your energy bills.

The Extended Answer

According to the Department of Energy, the average “lifespan” of a central air conditioner is about 15-20 years. Keep in mind, in order to make sure your investment keeps you cool for years to come, you need to purchase the best model and size unit for your home, have it installed properly, and schedule regular maintenance.

Choosing a Home Air Conditioner

Size is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a new air conditioner.  Properly sized air conditioners minimize operating costs, reduce humidity in your home during the summer, making you feel cooler, and reduce the temperature “swings” you may feel between rooms.

At GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating), our comfort consultant will determine if there is a reason to believe your existing air conditioner is not properly sized for your home. Most often, the existing system capacity is correct. If, however, we are concerned that the existing system is not correct, we will measure your home and calculate the actual heating and cooling load on the home (calculation based on square footage, windows, walls, ceiling, floor plan, appliances, insulation, exterior factors, etc.). This will determine the recommended size of the equipment for your home.

Professional Air Conditioner Installation

Many air conditioners are installed incorrectly. This reduces their efficiency and also shortens their lifespan. That’s why in addition to choosing the right size air conditioner for your home, it’s also vital to have it installed professionally. A good HVAC contractor will be able to help you with all aspects of your air conditioner installation, including placement, sealing, and installation of all appropriate components such as:

  • Evaporator coil
  • Ductwork
  • Thermostat
  • Supply registers
  • Condensing unit
  • Etc.

Routine Air Conditioner Maintenance

Almost all AC manufacturers recommend annual inspections of their systems. In fact, many manufacturers will void your warranty if you fail to practice proper AC maintenance.

At GAC Cooling & Heating, we offer Peak Performance Maintenance Agreement plans to further protect your AC from inconvenient breakdowns, high repair costs, shortened equipment life, and other AC repairs. With the current high cost of energy, it’s extremely important to keep your system in good condition. When you neglect your AC, you pay for it, in terms of wasted energy and higher repair costs.

Category : Air Conditioning | FAQ | Blog
22
Jun

When you run the air conditioner, all you want is to enjoy nice, cool air entering your home. If a nasty smell is laced with the cool air though, it tends to ruin the refreshing sensation. Needless to say, you want to get rid of the odor as soon as possible. Learn the reasons behind different A/C smells and how to fix them.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Mildew?

As the most common smell accompanying cold air from an A/C unit, a moldy odor undoubtedly means mildew or fungus is growing in or around the air conditioner. It’s really not that surprising. After all, in addition to cooling the air in your home, air conditioners also remove excess moisture. If it’s not drained away properly, mold may begin to grow on areas with lingering moisture. Even a dirty filter can cause the smell of mildew to waft from supply registers. Hire a professional to clean your air conditioner, replace the filter, and get rid of the mildew smell.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

A dead animal is the most common cause of a rotten, spoiled egg smell coming from the air vents. An injured or sick bird or rodent may have climbed inside an air duct during the winter where it died and began decomposing. Then, when you turn on your A/C for the first time in the summer, a pungent odor ruins the effect of cool air entering your home. You need to have your ducts professionally cleaned to wipe out any rodent remains.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Sewage?

This odor may be emanating from a backed up sewer line or ruptured sewer vent pipe near the duct system. All it takes is a little methane gas from the sewage leak to get into the ductwork and your entire home may smell like a sewer. Methane gas is dangerous, so if you smell a sewage odor, contact an HVAC technician without delay to look into the problem.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Feet?

A dirty, clogged air conditioner may emit a stinky feet smell. This is caused by stagnant water that collects in the system and isn’t drained away properly. A thorough cleaning by a professional should be enough to remedy the problem.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Skunk?

This smell could be caused by a dead skunk in or around the ductwork, but that’s not very probable. What’s much more likely is that gas is leaking from somewhere. Methyl mercaptan from the gas leak, which smells very similar to skunk spray, may be entering the ductwork and circulating around your home. If this happens, it could endanger your family. Get out of the house and call an HVAC technician and your gas company immediately.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Gun Powder?

A shorted out circuit board or fan motor may send a gun powder smell out of the supply registers when the air conditioner initially cycles on. A professional can take a look at your system and recommend replacing aging parts if necessary.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Exhaust Fumes?

Your air conditioner is powered by electricity, not gas, but the engine and a few other components have fluids inside that can leak out. If this happens, the smell of exhaust fumes may permeate your home. To prevent a harmful situation from developing, have the A/C fixed as soon as possible.

Schedule Air Conditioning Repair in Maryland

If your air conditioner smells like mildew, rotten eggs, sewage, feet, skunk, gun powder, or exhaust fumes, you clearly need air conditioning repair. To schedule an appointment, please contact GAC Cooling & Heating, proudly serving Maryland residents since 1970.

Category : Air Conditioning | Blog
15
May

One of the easiest and most beneficial maintenance steps to keep your A/C running smoothly all summer long is to change the filter regularly. But just how often is “regularly?” And how do you remember the next time you should change the filter?

When to Change Your Air Conditioner’s Filter

The most recognized rule of thumb is to check the filter once a month and change it when it appears dirty, letting no more than 90 days pass between changes. This is good advice, but your needs may vary based on a few factors including:

  • The type of filter you use: 1- to 3-inch filters fit within the rule of thumb to change the filter every 30 to 90 days, but high-efficiency filters may have different requirements. Check with the manufacturer for more details if this applies to you.
  • Your sensitivity to airborne pollutants: If you have allergies, you could benefit from changing the filter every month without fail.
  • The presence of pets in your home: If you have one or more pets, the A/C filter is likely to fill up faster than one found in a home without animals. That means you need to change the filter closer to the 30-day mark to prevent airflow from becoming restricted.
  • Level of pollution inside and around the home: If you live near a construction zone or you have a generally dusty or polluted home for another reason, cleaning the filter monthly could help keep the indoor air cleaner.
  • Occupancy of the home: The more people who live in your home, the more airborne pollutants you can expect to have. This means monthly filter replacement is recommended. On the other hand, if you have a vacation home where you only spend half the year, you can easily get away with changing the filter every 6 to 12 months.

Remembering to Change the Filter

You probably don’t think about the A/C filter every day. Use these tips to help you remember when to change the filter:

  • Write the replacement date on the edge of the filter.
  • Make a note on the calendar to check the filter one month after you replace it.
  • Set a reminder on your phone.
  • Sign up for email alerts from your HVAC contractor.

For more tips about changing your A/C filter, please contact the professionals at GAC Cooling & Heating (Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating), meeting all your HVAC needs since 1970. If you need a new replacement air filter, we offer them as single filters or by the case (depending on the filter) at our office at:

227 E. Deer Park Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Category : Air Conditioning | Air Quality | Maintenance Agreements | Blog
12
May

The average air conditioning system will last between 10-15 years. Even if your air conditioning system has not stopped working completely, it could be worth looking into replacing your older system for a new system that is more energy efficient.

How Much Will it Cost to Replace Your Air Conditioning Unit?

The cost of air conditioning replacement has many variants, including:

  • The size of your home
  • The age of your home
  • What type of unit you choose to install
  • If your house needs new or replacement ductwork
  • Etc.

The average cost to replace an air conditioning unit, without any work to the current ductwork, generally starts around $2,750. This price will include the A/C unit and labor costs. These prices are only indicative of a new cooling system, if you also need to replace your heating system this price will increase.

*Note – The price of a new air conditioning system will vary and depends upon your home”s specific needs.

What’s Included in the Cost of My Air Conditioner Replacement?

There are many things that you should expect to be included in the total cost or your replacement.

  • Delivery and transportation of your chosen air conditioner unit should be included in the total cost.
  • Preparation of the work site including any work to protect existing structures.
  • Installation of the new unit.
  • Cleanup and removal of the old unit and any other debris caused by the air conditioning installation.

The Advantages of Replacing an Air Conditioning Unit

If you look at the cost of replacing a unit and wonder if it is worth it, you may want to consider the advantages a new unit may bring to your home. Here are just a few advantages to consider when deciding on a new system:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Fewer repair calls and costs
  • Rebate eligibility
  • Quieter operation

What to Consider before Replacing an Air Conditioning Unit

There are many reasons why an HVAC specialist may suggest replacing your current air conditioning unit with a new model:

  • The age of your unit can help you decide on whether to replace your unit. If your air conditioner is between 10-15 years old, it may be more cost efficient to replace the unit, especially if your unit is no longer under warranty.
  • If your unit is in need of frequent repairs, the repairs may end up costing you more than a new unit in the long run.
  • Air too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer can mean that your equipment is failing or it cannot handle the current workload.
  • If you hear excessive noise coming from the air conditioning units or the vents, this can be a sign that your unit is undersized.

If you are considering replacing your air conditioning unit or would like to know more, contact us today for a free replacement estimate.

Category : Air Conditioning | Blog
4
Apr

You often hear that maintaining your air conditioner is kind of like maintaining your car. That analogy is getting a little boring. Let’s compare it to going to the dentist instead.

Perhaps no two dentists have exactly the same recommendations—maybe yours likes Crest mouthwash and mine likes Listerine—but for the most part, I think they’d agree that you should brush twice a day, floss once a day, and have a professional cleaning twice a year.

Fortunately, your air conditioner doesn’t require nearly as much maintenance. But then again, you also don’t rely on it to chew up your sirloin.

Similar to not brushing or flossing, not maintaining your AC can have consequences. And while cavities and root canals aren’t exactly cheap, having to prematurely replace your air conditioner can be even costlier.

Without any further dental analogies, here are the most common AC problems we see that are easily preventable with proper AC maintenance.

Clogged Air Filters

Dirty or clogged air filters greatly reduce your air conditioner’s efficiency—making it work much harder to cool your home. The more stress you put on your system, the earlier it’s likely to kick the bucket.

Depending on how often you use your AC, you should change or clean the filter every one to three months.

Air Conditioner Leaks

When your air conditioner isn’t cooling your home, the problem can often be attributed to refrigerant leaks. If your system is low on refrigerant or has a refrigerant leak, it can’t properly cool the air that passes through your unit.

If your air conditioner is in good condition and has been maintained, additional refrigerant is usually not necessary. But the longer you wait to repair a leak, the more costly the repair will likely be.

AC Fan Problems

If you’re experiencing interruptions to your home’s cooling schedule and you don’t have a leak, the problem could be your AC’s fan—which propels the cool air through your ducts and into your home.

Unlikely a simple filter change, this likely isn’t a repair you can make on your own.

Schedule AC Maintenance in Frederick, MD

I think you know where this is going. If you want to prevent these common AC problems and avoid pricey repair and not risk shortening your system’s life, you should let a professional come inspect your system before cooling season begins.

If you live in Frederick, MD and  sign up for a maintenance plan with GAC, you’ll receive:

  • Priority Service – Your calls automatically move to the top of the list.
  • Seasonal Tune-ups – We will tune-up your HVAC system twice a year. This helps keep your system operating at maximum efficiency and reduces the chance of an in-season breakdown.
  • Twenty Percent Off Repairs – In the event that you do have a breakdown, you’ll receive 20 percent off on the repair.
  • Loyalty Discount – Your membership is locked in at your current rate for as long as you continue to renew.

We can also cover your humidifier and air cleaner maintenance. This includes cleaning, checking, and replacing your humidifier pads and cleaning checking, and replacing your air cleaner filters.

Contact us today to sign up for AC maintenance plan in the Frederick, MD area.

Category : Air Conditioning | Blog
2
Apr

When you’re researching a new cooling system for you home, you might be wondering which system reigns supreme—the central air conditioner or the heat pump? Naturally, the question depends on the climate you live in and your home’s unique cooling needs. Since we’re located here in Maryland, we’ll focus on the best cooling system for your Maryland home. Call us selfish, but we’ve been here for over 40 years, so we know the area pretty well.

And as far as your home’s unique cooling needs, we can send one our comfort specialists out to perform a home evaluation, make recommendations, and offer you a free estimate on a system replacement.

But for the sake of this blog post, we’ll just go over the general pros and cons of each system.

Central Air Conditioners

Depending on which model of central air conditioner you choose, its functions may include:

  • Air cooling
  • Air circulation
  • Air cleaning
  • Dehumidifying/humidifying

If your home has existing duct work (for example, if you use forced air heating), installing central air conditioning can be a quick and affordable project.

Heat Pumps

An air source heat pump has the parts and functions of a central air conditioner, but it also offers a heating function. In this way, you can almost think of an air conditioner as a one-way heat pump.

So a heat pump can offer:

  • Air cooling
  • Air heating
  • Air circulation
  • Air cleaning
  • Dehumidifying/humidifying

Even better, ground source heat pumps also offer the benefit of water heating.

Heat pumps, especially geothermal ones, can be expensive to install, but can often save money in the long run—not only in energy savings but also in saved maintenance costs.

And what about duct work? The good news is, if you don’t currently have duct work in your home, there are ductless heat pumps available. However, this option tends to be best for small spaces.

The Winner?

So who wins the cooling system war? While both options are great for adequately cooling your home, the heat pump has a slight edge for its additional heating function. While it might cost you more up front, you’re more likely to benefit from savings long term.

Of course the best way to determine which cooling system is best for you and your home is to call the experts at GAC. We’ll evaluate your home and help you pick the right system (and correctly sized system!) for your home.

Call us today for a free replacement estimate in the Frederick, MD area.

Category : Air Conditioning | Blog
7
Nov

Most of the time when you hear about humidifiers, it’s because they make the people in your home more comfortable. That’s absolutely true; a humidifier can help soothe dry skin and chapped lips and reduce those pesky static shocks. But there’s another critical reason your home needs a humidifier: to protect your home against dry Montgomery and Fredrick County winters.

During the summer months the humidity level in an air conditioned home is around 50%.  In the winter that humidity level can drop to 15% unless you have a humidifier.  The moisture is getting pulled out of everything!  That’s why your skin gets dry. But that’s not the only place that loses moisture. Wood in particular is very susceptible to drying and cracking during the winter months. In fact, one of our customers called us to install a humidifier after they ran into an issue.  They just moved into a beautiful, expensive home and did a number of renovations. The owner heard a sound he thought was a gunshot; a loud crack! that scared the daylights out of him. On further inspection, he found that the massive oak doors he’d just had installed had become too dry and split right down the middle, wasting his investment. We have also have had to install a humidifier for a friend after they bought a pricey new all-wood coffee table. They didn’t have a humidifier, and in a matter of weeks, it developed a massive crack down the middle. These homes were so dry that the air pulled moisture in these wood furnishings destroying the investment.  So, if you have nice wooden furniture, antiques or even trim work or bead boarding in your home, buying a humidifier is a sound investment.

Homes of the last 10-15 years are built tighter than the homes that were built in the 50’s and 60’s.  If you live in an older home that hasn’t been updated with new doors, windows or insulation, a humidifier may not be able to keep up with all the cold dry air that is infiltrating through the gaps in the home.  What’s a homeowner to do?

  • If you live in an older home with original windows, consider having them replaced. Over time drafts develop, glass grows thin and brittle and the windows just can’t do their job. Swap them out for new double-insulated panes that will reduce the drafts.
  • Basements are notorious for letting in drafts, especially if you have bay windows. Do you ever notice cobwebs gathering in the basement? You don’t have a spider problem, you have a draft problem that pulls dust into cobwebs. Use a spray sealer like Great Stuff to create a stronger barrier and keep those drafts at bay.
  • Get that humidifier. Once you’ve done all you can to insulate your home, we can help you figure out which humidification system is right for you. We can help you with everything from a whole-house humidifier to an effective steam humidifier.

Keeping your home at a pleasant humidity helps your family and your home. Don’t risk either—contact GAC Cooling & Heating today, and we’ll help you with all your HVAC needs in Montgomery and Frederick County.

Category : Humidifier | Blog