Heat Pumps vs Air Conditioners

The Difference Between Ductless Heat Pumps and Air Conditioning

It’s springtime, lots of homeowners are beginning to shop for ways to cool their homes in the summer, and one question we receive every year is “What’s the difference between air conditioning and a heat pump?”

Both are excellent options for heating and cooling your home, but which one you choose will depend on your current heating situation. If you already have an efficient furnace, air conditioning might be the best choice for you. If you have an older furnace or are looking for a furnace replacement, a heat pump might be a better option, because a heat pump can both heat and cool your house. Here are a few details about each product and how they work:

Air Conditioning

An air conditioner draws heat from the air inside your house and pushes it outside. It then uses refrigerant to replace the warm air inside your home with cool air. An air conditioner can only send energy one direction, which means all it can do is cool your house.

Air Conditioning is an ideal choice for people who already have an efficient heating system in their home. If you already have a high-efficiency gas furnace, an air conditioner is probably the right choice for you, because they typically cost less up-front than heat pumps.

Ductless Heat Pumps

The big mechanical difference between an air conditioner and a ductless heat pump is that a heat pump can reverse the flow of energy, so it can pull heat from the outside air to warm your home, but it can also pull heat from the air in your house and cool it off. Unlike an air conditioner, which can only be used during one season, a heat pump can be used to keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year.

In the fall, when it’s cool, you can efficiently heat your home with a heat pump. If you are replacing a furnace or have an older, inefficient furnace and are considering adding AC, a heat pump is an energy-efficient choice that will satisfy both requirements. However, a heat pump isn’t as robust as a traditional heating system, so when it gets really cold, you will still need to use your furnace or another heating system from time to time.

Still have questions about heat pumps vs. air conditioners? Schedule your free consultation today.

Spring Cleaning Special

Is Your Air ‘Asthma and Allergy Association Certified’ Clean?

Spring has finally begun, and that means it’s time to get your ducts cleaned. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure. it is important to perform routine maintenance to ensure energy efficient system operation, and to ensure that you’re breathing clean air in your household. Our duct cleaning services start at $11/ month. If you bundle an air purifier with your spring duct cleaning service, we offer deals that help you save as much as $450. If you bundle the two, not only will you have clean, fresh ducts, but adding an air purifier will knock out dust, allergens, forest fire smoke, and unpleasant odors permanently, so you’ll be set for spring, summer, and fall. 

Trane CleanEffectsWe are proud to carry the Trane CleanEffects air purification system, which is the only air purification system certified by the asthma and allergy association.  

Our Spring Cleaning Special Includes Financing as Low as:

  • Duct cleaning service starting at $11/mo
  • Air Purifiers starting at $23/mo.
  • Bundle the two together and receive financing as low as $33 per month for an AirScrubber Plus, or bundle a duct cleaning and a Trane CleanEffects air purification system together for as low as $41/month.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

 

Air Purification

We get a fair number of folks asking about air purifiers.  Most commonly, I see one stuffed in the corner of your living room or bedroom while doing a bid.

The bottom line is we have some great solutions.  While they get to the same goal a different way, all of the products we carry have been tried and tested by our staff and customers.

  1.  We carry the GPS series plasma purifiers.  They are simple to maintain, cost effective to install, and can easily go with you when you move across town.  Here’s a video…
  2.  At the top end of the catagory (and best in it’s class) is the Trane ‘Clean Effects’ air purification/furnace filter.

The right fit for you depends on the problems you are looking to solve.  But I’ll rank them below for the big issues we most commonly see.

Dust:

Both do a good job with dust, but they do it very differently.

  • The GPS makes the particles heavy and sticky.  So they get caught up in the filter.  Because of this, we recommend the filter be changed about 4 weeks after installation.
  • The Trane ‘Clean Effects’ filters out the dust by making it adhere to a membrane.  Wash and vacuum the membrane and you are good to good for another 3 months.
  • Winner:  We’ll give the edge to Trane on this one.  While both do well, the Trane does it on a more refined level.

Pollens & Allergies:

We have seen excellent results with both of the units related to pollens and allergies.  It’s important to note that this isn’t a medical solution, but we have seen success here at removing the source of the airborne issue that is causing the symptoms.   Again, edge goes to Trane, but it really depends on how you use your home related to windows and open doors.

Smoke and odor:

  • The GPS uses an ionizing technology that drops the smoke out of the air.  It also takes cooking, pet, spouse, kids, etc… odors and eliminates them.  Pretty nice for the price.
  • The Trane air purifier is in a dead heat on this one.  System owner’s report that being indoors during fire season was comfortable and odor free when combined with the cool air delivered through the ducts.

We don’t think there is a bad choice here.  And, with our 100% guarantee on the GPS unit, try it out, if it doesn’t work for you family we’ll upgrade you to the Trane.

How to select your HVAC contractor?

We know it’s difficult to wade through the decision making process when it comes to a furnace.  It’s the third largest purchase most people make in their lives and often the one they know the least about.  Plus, you’ve likely heard about bad experiences through friends and neighbors with some shady companies they have endured.   While I don’t think there are many companies or people in our industry who strive to be shady, a mis-communication can quickly lead to frustration and fear related to large investments and your home and family.  It’s often the product of folks being trained in vocation and not having as much training in professionalism.

I would be remiss, if I didn’t acknowledge that we have had our share of bumps and bruises in this area.  What has always set us apart, and should be the hallmark of any service company, is the willingness to stand up for our mistakes and take care of the customer.

Below are some ideas to consider when hiring your HVAC contractor (These are borrowed from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America) :

1.  Has the company shown a track record of doing right by the customer.

2.  Do you have trust that they will do the project in a timely manner and install a quality product?

3.  Have they performed a computerized load calculation and shown you the results?  This important step is often overlooked because it is fairly easy to use rules of thumb and get pretty close.   Load calculations are the difference between being close and being right on, which ultimately saves you money.

4.  Have they performed a code evaluation of your project and shared the results?

5.  Are they properly licensed and do they provide continuing education for their employees.

6.  Do they offer a Universal Savings/Service Agreement?  Yearly service and maintenance is good for your equipment, efficiency, and required to keep your warranty terms valid.

7.  Your general contractor is often a good place to ask for a referral.  We feel strongly that there are places to definitely not ‘seek the lowest cost solution’.  In new homes, a priority can easily be set that focuses dollars on the systems that are expensive to replace down the road.   Windows, vapor barrier, insulation and structure are first, then consider systems like heating, plumbing, and electrical.  Those systems are run deeply in the home and more difficult to change later.  Make sure they are being properly designed and cared for.

Remember – It’s perfectly acceptable to let the contractor know the sub-contractors you would like to use.

We view the in home evaluation and system design as the start of a good relationship with our customers. When performed with diligence and care, products are ordered correctly and our team gets the important information right from the start.  More importantly, our team is centered around informing and teaching you about options and choices so you can make informed decisions for your home and family.

Call today and we can walk you through designing your next project.

Building Permits? Why?

In some ways, Bozeman still is the wild west.  So many companies and individuals want to do projects under the radar.  It’s my belief that isn’t OK.  The permit process is a good one.  While I still have a fight on my hands some days with the building department, they are doing a job which has our overall safety concerned. My hope, at the end of the fight, is they respect why we would take our stance and fight about it.  And…sometimes I learn from them (should I have written that in smaller print?)

I’ve seen too many situations where a building inspection would have helped save the owner thousands of dollars.  Costly mistakes, discovered years later, are more costly mistakes.  I often get in situations, where being a licensed architect, and knowing the code related to an illegal apartment loses the job for us.  Often the solution, perhaps even discussion, upsets the owner.  And…while I feel we can really help the client, they have to want that solution.

We bid all of our work to meet and in many cases exceed the code.  When asked to work below the code, we won’t do it.  It doesn’t serve the client or any future inhabitants of the building.  Instead of looking at the permits as a ‘requirement’ foisted upon us, we take the approach that the process is one that helps us fine tune our skills and give the customer a second set of eyes to assure them that the project is complete and safe.

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