1. Why is My Central Air Conditioner Blowing Warm Air?

    You may believe running your air conditioner faithfully during summer’s hottest days is enough to keep your home cool. This is not the whole truth: there are many factors that can compromise the air conditioning’s ability to keep your home at the most optimal comfort level. What you Chicago HVAC team is trying to say here is: your air conditioning system cannot alone do the job of keeping your home cool as a cumber.

    Your air conditioner unit needs assistance to help it run as efficiently as possible. You’ll be surprised to know how many things can cause your home to retain more heat than it should. In this blog, we will explain first how heat in your home happens; what problems with the air conditioning may be impeding its ability to do a sufficient job of cooling your living spaces; and some guidelines on how to support your air conditioner in doing its work.

    Why is My Air Conditioner Blowing Hot Air Instead of Cold?

    The laws of physics dictate hot air (conduction) moves towards cool air (convection). Concerning your home, heat from outside is absorbed by your ceiling, windows, walls, and doors. The foundation of your house also absorbs heat. So, you could say the entire infrastructure of your home is under assault by heat waves. No wonder the A / C is not cooling enough. To continue, if your home absorbs heat at a higher rate than the air conditioning can eliminate it, the temperature goes up. This explanation answers the concern: my A / C is blowing but not cold.

    In the face of all these factors adding to the heat gain of your home, there are plenty of steps you can take to resolve the issue of your home A / C not blowing cold air, lessening the burden on your air conditioner unit to do all the grunt work of cooling. Assuming your air conditioning system has been completely inspected, and all components are in working order; the remedies for the home A / C blowing hot air, even in the midst of oven-like heat, follow.

    Why is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling the House?

    Sealing Cracks

    A common source of high heat gain, which interferes with the air conditioner’s ability to cool your home, are minute cracks found around the perimeters of doors and windows, which let in heat from the outside. An ingenious method to discovering where these cracks are is to light a stick of incense. When you are near doors and windows, observe if the incense smoke is streaming vertically or horizontally. If the incense has a horizontal tail, that tells you a crack is present which needs sealing.

    Besides sealing cracks around the window, you can also buy heavy-weight drapery and blinds, which will further lessen heat gain. In this way, you help your air conditioning unit to optimally perform its cooling operations.

    My A / C Isn’t Cold

    Roof Replacement

    When the time comes to have a new roof installed, it’s an opportunity to reduce heat gain in your house. Roofing shingles both absorb and radiate heat. Heat from the roof works its way into your home via the attic and is absorbed into the ceiling.

    One solution for your attic, where temperatures have been known to rise as high as 150 degrees and beyond, is to purchase an attic fan. Having a dedicated thermostat for just the fan will help to determine at what temperature the fan will turn on to keep the attic cool, holding heat gain at bay.

    Another facet of shingles, which also adds to the heat gain and affects the air conditioning’s cooling properties, is their color. If they are dark they absorb more heat. This helps in the cold weather months when your home is crying out for heat, but in hot weather it only creates more heat gain. The next time you’re ready to replace the shingles talk to your roofing contractor about what colors are best for both summer and winter months.

    My Central Air Conditioner is Blowing Warm Air: Other Reasons

    Preparing Meals

    When you turn on the stove or oven in summertime, you force your air conditioner to toil harder to address the high heat gain these appliances create. A good rule-of-thumb to follow is once the outdoor temperature soars over 90 degrees, cook outdoors on your patio or sundeck. And to put a fine point on it, your dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer also add to the heat-load demand. Wait until later in the evening when the temperature drops, ideally just before you retire, to turn on the dishwasher, or do a load of wash.


    Desktops and laptops as well as TVs produce heat, so shut them off when you’re not using them.


    Shower steam equals heat gain, so ensure everyone in your home uses the ventilation fan in the bathroom.

    Water Heater

    The water heater is yet another source of heat gain in your home during the summer. Use an insulating blanket to wrap the water heater in.As you can see now there are many reasons your air conditioner is blowing warm air in the house. Take the steps we’ve suggested to bring cooling comfort to your home.

  2. Air Conditioning Circuit Breakers and Why They Trip

    Air conditioner breaker trips can be either be readily resolved, or require professional attention from an Chicago air conditioning technician. In this blog, we will explore the possible causes of breaker trips. But before we launch into why your air conditioner trips the circuit breaker, we want to explain how an air conditioning split system differs from a single system, concerning breaker trips.

    Split systems feature two separate voltage circuits, each with a separate breaker. One breaker is connected to the air handler, the other to the condenser. Different issues will cause one or the other breaker to trip; however, it is seldom the case both breakers will trip simultaneously. Power outages, lightening, a faulty transformer, or brown-outs could possibly cause both breakers to trip at once.

    What Does It Mean When a Breaker Keeps Tripping?

    Maintenance of your central air conditioning system is a common reason for breaker trips. Condenser coils that have been allowed to build up grime force the air conditioning to use more power. Instead of cooling, the power-rise causes heat to increase. The outcome is the A / C circuit keeps tripping, due to an overloaded circuit. Air filters covered in dirt also cause breaker trips.

    Make a determined effort to check, clean (if necessary), and in the case of filters, replace them. Keeping your condenser coils and air filters well-maintained will help lower your power bills and decrease the likelihood your air conditioning circuit keeps tripping.


    Faulty or non-functioning capacitators are another source of air conditioning circuit breaker trips. Two types of capacitators are manufactured: run and start.

    A run capacitator is used in all air conditioner motors as well as the compressor. The start capacitator only operates the compressor. Capacitators can blow, causing breaker trips.

    Mechanical Issues

    Faulty bearings or a jammed part can interfere with the air conditioner motor’s operation. The motor will end up working overtime to counter the resistance, caused by malfunctioning bearings or stuck components. This will cause a surge in the electrical current, producing more heat. In time, the air conditioner breaker will trip.

    Electric Connections

    Loosened wires occurring in any component in the central air conditioner will lead to breaker trips. An example of how this can happen is with the air compressor. Wire corrosion of the compressor results in loosened wires, and the connection is weakened. This problem can be avoided with regular inspection and maintenance visits by an air conditioning professional.

    Short Cycling

    During short cycling, the air conditioning motor turns on and off frequently. What happens here is the motor starts from a complete standstill to operating at full capacity instantly. During this very quick startup the motor will set off a surge of electricity, going into overdrive. The increase in heat to counter the inertia the motor’s full stop has created will possibly cause a breaker trip.

    Wire Size

    If the wire size is not correct that also will lead to breaker trips of your air conditioner.


    If your central air conditioning system is not correctly installed, breaker trips may be in its future. All installations must be performed by a certified HVAC contractor. They understand the installation must conform to the safety codes embedded in the National Electrical Code and the Mechanical Code.

    After the air conditioner installation is completed, the air conditioning contractor must contact a municipal inspector, specified by law, to make sure all safety codes have been adhered to. Having this required inspection done will go a long way towards averting breaker trips of your air conditioner.

    Why Does the Air Conditioner Reset Button Keep Tripping?

    The A / C breaker tripped and won’t reset? The reason is when breaker trips don’t respond to being reset it indicates an underlying problem of a serious nature. Call an air conditioner professional to come out and find out why your A / C circuit breakers keep tripping.

    Caution: a final note here to not reset the air conditioning breaker after a few tries.

  3. Why is Your Air Conditioner Leaking Water Inside Your House?

    The moment you discover water dripping from your air conditioning unit—which can result in water damage to your house—take the immediate step of shutting off your air conditioner. Because the water might be affecting the electrical components in a harmful way. The next step is to call in an air conditioning repair professional to take care of the problem.

    If you’re curious-minded about how the problem of the central air conditioner leaking water inside your home occurs, read on for a basic explanation about how water is created during the operation of your air conditioner, and why water from the air conditioning ends up on your floor.

    What Causes Condensation on Your Air Conditioning

    Among the many functions your air conditioner performs, one of them is the evaporation of humidity from the air inside your home. First the air conditioning blower draws hot and moist air through the return grille and sends it to the air conditioning evaporator coil for cooling. The evaporator coil forms condensation in the appearance of droplets much like you find on a cold beverage during hot weather.

    The water from the evaporator coil then spills into a slanted drain pan, and further into a condensate drain line, exiting either into your plumbing or outside your home. If the condensate drain line, drain pan, or evaporator coil is malfunctioning standing water is the result.

    There are 7 common reasons which often cause the A / C unit leaking water on the floor:

    • Condensate Drain Line

    A blocked drain line which is filled with debris such as dirt, mold, insects or other matter forces the water to back up into the house.

    • Evaporator Coil

    A grimy evaporator coil causes the mixture of dirt and water, which seeps into the drain pan, causing it to become plugged up. If the drain pan has become corroded with rust, enough to allow water leakage to occur, that also causes the A / C unit leaking water on the floor.

    A secondary problem with the evaporator coil is when it freezes over. As the frozen water melts, and there is a lot of it, it streams heavily above the drain pan, and water dripping from the air conditioning unit results. How does an evaporator coil become frozen? Most often either it’s a grimy air filter, or low refrigerant.

    • Air Filter

    An air filter, which has accumulated debris of one kind or another, becomes blocked and prevents airflow from traveling above the evaporator coil. This results in a temperature drop to below freezing, causing the evaporator coil to ice over.

    • Refrigerant

    If there is not enough refrigerant the evaporator coil will also freeze over.

    • Condensate Line

    A blocked condensate line is the number one reason for A / C leaking water inside the house.

    The condensate line receives condensation from the drain pan and sends it into a drainpipe or outside the home. A blocked line causes water backup, flooding the overflow pan.

    How to Unclog an A / C Drain Line

    If you own a current-model air conditioner it may feature a water-overflow shutoff lever. When your air conditioning unit senses a blocked condensate line, it will move to automatically shut off the air conditioner, to aid in preventing water damage. Check the condensate line and clean it if it is dirty.  An

    a / c drain line cleaning tool such as a wet / dry vacuum can be used to clear the blockage.

    But it’s better to be proactive, and avoid a blocked condensate line altogether. You’ll avert water damage and save on costly service calls. Make it a habit to unclog the air conditioner drain line with bleach. After clearing the blockage, use chlorine bleach by pouring it into the line. Do this two to three times a year.

    • Installation

    If you own a modern air conditioner, the installation of it may be at fault. This could mean a poorly-designed condensate trap has stopped the condensate from draining. The drain pan fills with water and floods your home, causing the air conditioner to drip water inside the house.

    Another installation issue is a disconnected drain line. This occurs when an air conditioning technician hasn’t had enough experience installing air conditioners and doesn’t attach the drain line correctly. A loosened drain line can result in a water leak.

    • Insulation

    Insulated coils perform the function of allowing built-up condensation to flow down the coil. If the insulation develops fissures or holes, water will drip rather than flow, causing the A / C unit leaking water on the floor, with the potential of water damage if you don’t discover the problem soon enough.

  4. Tips for HVAC Spring Cleaning


    The Chicago winter has been brutal so far, with nose-hair freezing temperatures and a heaping helping of that powdery white stuff. No wonder you’ve been sitting around your house in front of the furnace and the TV, keeping your toes warm while you watch the Chicago Bears dominate opponents on their way to the Super Bowl. (Sorry, is it too soon to joke about that? It’s too soon. There’s always next year, right?)

    Fortunately, the spring season (and a new football season) are right around the proverbial “corner”—and with the warmer weather comes some excellent opportunities to give your home and your HVAC system a tune-up.

    In this blog, the Chicago HVAC team at Aircor will give you a step by step checklist for improving your HVAC system, your indoor air quality, and the health and wellness of your family. The earlier to get moving on the these tips, the better air quality you’ll have and the more money you’ll save on your energy bill!

    Dust and mop all over your home.

    Dust is essentially a Heinz ‘57 of all of the pet dander, chemical residue, fireplace ash, dead skin flakes (that’s right, your dead skin flakes), clothing lint, dirt, and a bunch of other substances found within your home and the outside world. When all that stuff comes together and becomes a part of your home, it can cause allergies and respiratory problems—but it can make your HVAC unit sick, too.

    Dust buildup in your filters, ducts, and HVAC unit can clog things up and make your HVAC system work harder than ever before to produce clean and perfectly warm or cool air—and that can raise your energy bill by up to 15 percent per year, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE). Plus, all that dust gets recirculated throughout your system and your home, which can lead to frequent sneezing at best and serious allergic reactions at worst.

    You’ll obviously need to get your HVAC unit inspected and cleaned (more on that later) but it’s also important for you to scrub, dust, and mop throughout your home to keep dust at a minimum. The more time you spend in your home during the winter, the more dust that will build up—so give things a thorough cleaning at least once per season, and call your HVAC professionals once per season as well.

    Change your filters.

    Your filters are meant to trap dust throughout your home, but they can only last so long and do so much to keep dust at bay, especially if you haven’t replaced them in months or *gasp* years. At the least, you need to change your filters in your system every three months, but that’s pushing it for most folks, especially those with allergies. Filters are fairly inexpensive, so we’d recommend changing them once a month or every two months to ensure your air is as clean as possible.

    Not sure how to change your filters or what kind of filters to buy? That’s alright—you can always call the HVAC maintenance professionals to change out your filters and perform an air duct cleaning you so can breathe easy.

    Clear out the clutter in your home.

    Dust, dust, dust—we can’t stop talking about dust today, can we? Ultimately, it’s because dust is the supervillian when it comes to poor indoor air quality and poor health. Dust can be hiding anywhere—but more often than not, it’s hiding behind your knick knacks, Star Wars collectibles, fratty top-of-the-kitchen-cabinet booze bottles, and other items that take up physical space. Dust loves to cling to clutter—so if you’re going to get rid of dust, you’ll need to get rid of some of the clutter as well.

    Once you’ve paired things down, give your remaining clutter a wipe-down to stop dust in its tracks, and be sure to wipe things down again and again every few months so keep your home virtually dust-free.

    Trust the professionals.

    Every season is HVAC season—that’s why you need an experienced HVAC maintenance and repair team to ensure that your system is working well regardless of the temperature or the weather. Fortunately, that’s where Aircor can help. As Chicago’s premier HVAC team, we can make sure your HVAC system is ready for the warm months ahead. Don’t wait—schedule an appointment with us today!

  5. What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Air Filter in Your Home

    What happens if I run my A / C without a filter is a common question posed by many homeowners. It seems like it would be no big deal if there were no air filter in the air conditioner unit. After all it’s just a flimsy, little paper item. And what difference could it make if there were no air filter in the house anyway? Well, you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.

    Consider this: you already know if you don’t clean your house on a regular basis: your counters, floors in the bathroom and other living spaces, they would—in the space of a month—gather a noticeable amount of dirt and dust. This equals the amount of debris your air filter builds up in the same period. And we’re talking about a little filter, in which all that particulate matter would be concentrated, not spread out over the larger areas of your home. Are you starting to get the picture?

    People ask: well, how important is a clean air filter? They misunderstand what the function of an air filter is, believing the purpose of it is to clear the air of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens you breathe into your system. The air filter mesh can capture some dust coming from the vents. But the standard air filter is not designed to snare very fine particulate matter in the form of pollen, pet dander, and additional types of allergens. HEPA filters are designed for removing these types of things, but that is a topic for another blog.

    The core task of an air conditioner filter is the protection of the air conditioning alone. It is engineered to keep damaging debris away from the components of the central air conditioner. Not changing the air filter of your air conditioning unit will interfere with the air conditioner’s ability to keep you and your home cool.

    Clogged A / C Filter Symptoms

    Duct and Blower Fans

    Air conditioner air filters have a time limit on how well they can continue to remove fine particulate matter from the air. Being a small part, they will soon accumulate enough dust and dirt, thwarting their ability to protect the central air conditioning unit from harmful material.

    When to replace the air filter in the home is important to know; otherwise your air conditioner will run less efficiently; your power bills will start to surge; and the air filter will be choked with debris, unable to accept the debris traveling from your ducts and blower fans. What happens instead is the ducts and fans experience the buildup of debris the air filter can no longer handle.

    Debris such as dust will congest the moveable components: the ducts, blower fans and valves. As a result of jammed-up parts the air conditioning will use more power to overwhelm the blockage. Too much dust on the air conditioner parts forces it to consume more energy and drive up your power bills.

    Wear-and-Tear Problems with Running the A / C Without a Filter

    It isn’t only the dirty air filter, whose performance is affected; the ducts will suffer as well. Built-up dust on the ducts will cause deterioration of the moveable components, forcing them to operate at a slower rate, using up more power. The increased wear-and-tear on the unit will shorten its service life from five to ten years. That means the average life of a central air conditioner of 15 to 20 years will be shortened to—at the most—5 to 10 years instead. This is what can possibly happen if you don’t change your air filter on a consistent basis.

    Moreover, not changing a dirty air filter regularly will cost you in replacement parts as they are wearing out faster than they were intended to. Buying replacement filters is a drop-in-the-bucket compared to how much more money you’ll end up spending to cover major repairs brought on by a clogged air filter of your air conditioner.

    Can I Run My A / C Without a Filter for One Night?

    You say, okay, I get it. But in the next breath some homeowners ask: can I run my A / C without a filter for one night? Or, can I run my A / C without a filter for one day? The answer is the air conditioner will still not run as well whether it’s one day or one night. It’s a slippery slope. One night becomes one day becomes one week because you’re too busy right now.

    So now you know what happens if you don’t have an air filter in your house.

  6. Why is My A / C Running All the Time?

    Air conditioners run in cycles, turning off when the desired temperature for cooling is reached, and turning on when the temperature rises again, affecting the comfort level of your home. But when the air conditioner runs continuously, something is amiss with one or more components of your air conditioning unit.

    Below we give 6 steps to troubleshoot why your air conditioning is running constantly instead of in cycles.

    Step 1: Sizing Issues

    When the air conditioner unit is under-sized it has to work 24 / 7 to provide cooling relief to your home. The constant operation causes more wear-and-tear as your air conditioner ages, and in the bargain shortens its service life. Operating endlessly to try and achieve the optimal comfort level for your home it will fail to do so, even though it never stops running. Also, you may find your air conditioning unit breaks down when it shouldn’t, unless it is nearing the end of its lifespan.

    An over-sized air conditioning unit cannot capably evaporate too-humid air in your house. The result is too much moisture and mugginess occurs from the ineffective operation of your air conditioning system. It will also consume too much electrical power and jack up your power bills.

    The sizing of your ducts can also be a problem. They should be comparable with the size of your air conditioner system. When ducts are the incorrect size, they could have a problem managing the airflow, or delivering cooling air to every part of the house.

    If sizing of your air conditioning unit and ductwork is complementary, then the next step is to check your filter.

    Step 2: Air Filter

    The air filter quickly collects dirt and debris reducing the air conditioner’s ability to output cool air. The outcome is your unit’s air handler will have to labor more to make up for the difference in your air conditioner’s reduced ability to provide cool air. Also, a grimy air filter causes your system to overheat as a result of running harder and incessantly.

    To keep airflow free and unrestricted, either clean or install a new air filter. This should happen on a monthly basis, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

    Step 3: Coils

    The coils must be free from such impediments as grass leavings, pet hair, and mud because they will obstruct airflow. Reduced airflow will weaken the air conditioner’s operation and efficiency, which can cause it to run without stopping.

    The cleaning of condenser coils is easy to do to maintain air conditioning efficiency. Just hose them down. But don’t do this until you shut off the electric power beforehand.

    Evaporator coils are a different matter since they can’t be easily reached. To explain further, an evaporator coil constantly receives blower airflow, injected with dust and dirt. As a consequence, when air particulate matter lands on coil surfaces and accumulates, necessary heat transfer coming from the air enroute to the refrigerant is compromised. This affects the cooling operation and increases the cost of running the air conditioner. The increased cost happens because the unit has to operate on extended “on” cycles just to agree with thermostat settings.

    Why is My A / C Running Constantly, But Does Not Shut Off When Set Temperature is Reached?

    Step 4: Thermostat

    If your air conditioning keeps running after the temperature is reached, the thermostat may be the reason. It’s possible your home is at the proper temperature; however, the thermostat does not agree with the “felt” temperature. This disconnect between “felt” temperature and thermostat setting could cause your air conditioner to keep chugging along.

    A method to find out if the thermostat is faulty is to put a thermometer close by the thermostat. Give it one to two hours, and then take a reading. If the thermometer registers a temperature approximate to the “felt” temperature in the home, the thermostat may be at issue.

    Step 5: Air Leaks and Inadequate Insulation

    Air leaks and inadequate insulation can also interfere with the air conditioning’s normal on-and-off cycles. Air leaks cause loss of cool air through gaps, and places where insulation has not been installed, such as behind walls or beneath the roof.

    Loss of cool air hampers the ability of the air conditioner to achieve the optimal temperature for the comfort level of your home. This in turn forces the air conditioning to run excessively.

    Step 6: Maintenance

    You’ve heard this before: air conditioning units must have maintenance done to keep them operating optimally. The reasons we have enumerated so far tells you why.

    Maintenance on your air conditioner should be done both in the spring and at the beginning of fall. Your unit needs its ductwork, coils, and air filter inspected, and if warranted, cleaned. If your system is not inspected by a professional at these regular intervals, chances are airflow and cycling issues will happen, causing the unit to operate inefficiently. And in some cases, to have the air conditioner running all day.

  7. AC Tips: Before Calling an Air Conditioning Repair Technician

    Warm weather is not far off, specially in Chicago where oppressively hot days are the norm, you want to make sure your air conditioning unit will be able to handle the job of keeping your home cool. You especially want to avoid an emergency repair call if you can. The best way to reduce the odds of needing an HVAC air conditioning repair technician to come to your home that has now become a sweat lodge is to take some proactive steps to maintain your air conditioner unit in top working order to forestall its needing repair work done on the dog days of the year.

    If your air conditioning unit is not functioning, before you call an HVAC air conditioning repair technician to come out and find out what the problem is and possibly do repairs, here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot your air conditioner system beforehand, and maybe solve the problem yourself.

    Has the air conditioner unit not turned on at all? Don’t panic. Check out the following:

    Circuit Breaker

    It’s possible the circuit breaker has tripped. Are you running more than one appliance, using your lights and TV? Too many household items running at the same time can cause an overload of juice, causing the circuit breaker to shut off. Checking the circuit breaker to see if it has tripped, and returning the lever to its on position—if it has—will make you heave a sigh of relief you don’t have to spend money on repairs.


    Inspect your thermostat to see if it has shut off, or only the blower fan is operating. A battery-operated air conditioner may only need the batteries replaced.


    A grimy and blocked filter will interfere with air flow and lower cooling efficiency. Sometimes a filter that has gotten dirty and clogged can cause your air conditioning unit to form ice. Regularly inspect your filters and change them often to prevent the air conditioner from malfunctioning.

    Buildup of Ice

    Built-up ice on your AC air conditioning will interfere with its cooling feature. There are two methods to dealing with ice buildup: 1) shut the air conditioner unit off and operate the fan to aid in melting the ice fast. 2) turn off the air conditioner unit and wait for the ice to melt in due time.


    Check your ductwork to ensure you’re getting enough air flow. Dirty ducts will certainly impede airflow, so clean them if they need it. And while you’re checking your ductwork, look to see if a register has inadvertently been completely closed. Even a partially closed register will obstruct airflow to the ducts. 

    General Cleaning

    The entire AC air conditioning unit may just need a good cleaning to get it operating again. Consider giving the air conditioner unit a thorough cleaning before you determine it needs repairing. For the outside air conditioning unit, conscientiously wipe the fan blades and condenser fins. Caution: don’t try to clean the air conditioner unit while it is running.

    If it turns out your HVAC air conditioning system is actually out of commission, call an HVAC air conditioning repair technician to come out and discover what the real problem is. They will do a complete inspection of your air conditioner unit, pinpoint the problem or problems, repair them, and have your air conditioner unit up and running in no time.

  8. Take Advantage of Government Tax Credits to Install Energy-Efficient Systems and Green the Environment


    The federal government provides incentives for installing energy-efficient HVAC systems. Its Department of Energy offers a package of energy-efficient tax credits for not only HVAC systems but also any other energy-savings enhancements, like storm windows and weather-stripping. The breakdown is as follows:

    Credit Maximum

    You may claim a lifetime credit maximum of 10% on your expenses to purchase and install an HVAC system, or any other energy-savings enhancements. The amount you can claim is capped at $500.00.

    Filing for the Lifetime Credit Maximum

    You can download IRS Form 5659 to file with your income tax return. Anything to do with the IRS; the devil is in the details, so don’t overlook any instructions, or you may not be considered eligible, according to their nit-picking bureaucratic processes

    Time Limit

    The time period to install an energy-tax-credit-eligible HVAC system expires on January 1, 2017. This means you must file by December 31, 2106.


    Keep the manufacturers’ warranties, certifications, and purchase receipts. You may need them to file the IRS Form 5659.


    There are exceptions to the $500 credit limit and they are listed below:

    1. For a state-of-the-art main air-circulating fan the credit is capped at $50.00
    1. For an eligible oil furnace or hot water boiler, propane, and natural gas units $150.00 is the maximum you can claim.

    In the category of energy-efficient eligible products items would include central air conditioners and geothermal pumps, as well as the items listed in 2. The cap is $300.00. But please check on all this information, which is the most accurate available to date. Because it’s hard to keep up with the IRS guidelines as they are subject to change without warning for the consumer.

    Energy Star

    Energy Star on its website lists guidelines on the HVAC systems the federal government covers. Not every Energy Star-certified product is eligible for the energy-efficient tax credit. Energy Star is a reliable resource you can turn to for the correct information, in lieu of some contractors, who remain ignorant of the finer points of the energy-efficient tax credit program. Don’t depend on them. They will say anything to make a sale.

    Energy Efficiency and Your Pocketbook

    With the incentive to upgrade to green-energy HVAC products it is possible to lower your energy bills as much as 20% yearly. The average annual savings amounts to about $200.00.

    Your initial outlay will cost you but keep in mind the energy-savings down the road that will bring a return on investment. For a high-efficiency heating system expect to pay about $3,500 inclusive of installation, whereas a conventional heating system will set you back around $2,400.

    Exclusions on Heating Units

    Purchasing an Energy Star-certified product does not guarantee you can claim the energy-efficient tax credit in all cases. There are standards to be met to get the energy-efficient tax credit. The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating must exceed a conventional heating system’s AFUE. For Energy Star-certified oil furnaces they must rate at 85% energy-efficiency, while some gas furnaces need to burn fuel at 90% efficiency.

    The Department of Energy asks for even higher AFUE ratings to claim the energy-efficiency tax credit: for natural or propane gas furnaces 95% and oil furnaces 95%. Boilers must also consume energy at an AFUE rating of 95%.

    Central Air Conditioner SEER Ratings

    Cooling system ratings known as seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy-efficient ratio (EER) are Energy Star standards. The ratings vary according to the type of system: split system ratings are SEER 16-plus and EER 13-plus. For package systems, SEER 14-plus and EER 12-plus. These efficiency standards can change without notice, so double-check them on the Energy Star website.

    Return on Investment

    It usually takes about 10 years in energy-efficient savings to compensate for the expense of investing in new heating and cooling systems. But this time period can alter significantly if there are changes in fuel prices. A value-added benefit, although not evident in your initial investment in an HVAC product, is the reduction of your carbon footprint on the environment, as well as a more comfortable indoor environment for you and your family.

    Another benefit to consider is when you sell your home. It’s not that the few thousand dollars you’ve spent to buy a heating system will translate to an increase in your home’s sale price. Potential savings will come in the form of a trade-off with some buyers. This means buyers may not ask that you repair your HVAC system, or bargain for a credit as long as your HVAC system is up to snuff.

    Other Energy-Efficient Tax Credits

    There are two categories under which you may qualify for a tax credit when you make home improvements:

    1. Non-Business Energy Property Credit
    2. Residential Energy-Efficient Property Credit

    Non-Business Energy Property Credit for Eligible Property

    Homeowners can deduct 10% on the cost of the following products, exclusive of labor / installation expenses:

    • Any energy-efficient insulation material
    • Storm windows and doors (conditions apply)
    • Energy-efficient roofing materials
    • Central cooling units (limit: $300)
    • Heating units (boilers) for hot water, natural gas, and propane
    • Heating units (furnaces) (limit: $300)
    • State-of-the-art fans (for propane, oil, and natural gas heating units)
    • Biomass fuel stoves

    Non-Business Energy Property Credit caps the lifetime credit at $500

    Here are some more energy-efficient items you can claim for a tax credit:

    • Storm windows (limit: $200)
    • State-of-the-art air-circulating fan (limit: $50)
    • Eligible fuels: oil furnace (propane and natural gas); hot water boiler (limit: $150)

    Residential Energy-Efficient Property Credit for Eligible Property

    Green-energy products are incentivized at 30% of the purchase price. This tax credit has no cap in many cases, the exception being fuel cell property, capped at $500 depending on kilowatt usage.

  9. Heating System Tune-Ups: Do You Call an HVAC Professional or do it Yourself?


    The fall and winter months are when your heating bills start to climb to an unhealthy level. According to those, who track and compile data on energy usage the standard cost of providing heat to consumers was approximately $1,000 in 2010. Is it any wonder that folks are reluctant to raid their bank accounts for more money to get a professional tune-up for their heating systems? However, there are six good reasons to hire an HVAC repair and maintenance technician to perform an annual tune-up on your heating system.

    1. Airflow. If the airflow of your furnace is hindered it will have to work harder and require more repairs as it ages. Its life expectancy will also be cut short.
    1. Safety Concerns. The burning of fuel must be regulated for the safe and efficient operation of your heating system. Carbon monoxide, a potentially dangerous gas, can cause serious health conditions and even death in the most extreme cases. Its level must be checked to avoid harm to you and your family.
    1. Fewer Repairs. Finding minor problems during an annual checkup will put the kibosh on them, and avoid having them develop into bigger problems and more repair expense.
    1. Avoids a Major Inconvenience. Getting an annual tune-up done before the full impact of cold winter days and nights arrives will avoid having to put in an emergency call to an HVAC repair technician. You may have trouble finding a professional to come out as soon as possible because other people in your community may be having heating system breakdowns as well. Emergency repairs also cost more.

    This is why it’s a good idea to buy a service contract with a priority maintenance clause (PMC) included in it. With a PMC there are HVAC repair technicians on-call 24 / 7 to deliver prompt services in the event of an emergency breakdown of your heating system.

    1. Increases Operation Efficiency of Your Furnace. The cleaning and checking of your heating system’s burner and heat exchanger will keep it running safely and efficiently during those harsh and cold winter months.
    1. Honoring the Manufacturer’s Warranty. Many furnace manufacturers demand that you routinely perform maintenance work on your heating system, or else you will risk voiding the warranty. Having an annual tune-up done professionally by an HVAC maintenance technician will meet the requirement and keep your warranty in force.

    You’re saying okay, I get it. But can’t I do this myself? Well no, HVAC maintenance and repair technicians are the ones, who have the training and certifications necessary, to inspect your HVAC heating system; perform maintenance work; troubleshoot problems and repair them; and help you extend the lifespan of your heating system. And they know just what to look for during an inspection to keep you and your family safe from harm: for example, carbon monoxide levels if too high could leak the potentially fatal gas into your living quarters, causing serious health conditions and in some cases death. This alone is enough of a reason to get an annual tune-up of your heating system.

    We’re playing devil’s advocate here for a practical reason. You may be a homeowner, who can’t tell a screwdriver from a wrench, but if you’re technically inclined: for instance, you revel in working on your car; your mechanical skills could be easily transferred to doing a furnace tune-up, another mechanical job. If you’re gung-ho about learning how to do a tune-up on your heating system, here are some basic guidelines on the procedures.

    Heating System Infrastructure and How it Functions

    To start, let’s talk about what makes up your home heating system, and how it works.

    There are three components: (1) the heat sensor (commonly known as the thermostat), which calibrates your home’s temperature. As soon as the temperature decreases the (2) blower kicks in, which ignites the burner, creating combustion. The blower causes the air to travel over the (3) heat exchanger, which increases the heat exchanger’s temperature, delivering it all through your home, using the heating ducts. The cool air still in the room is cycled back to your furnace, using return ducts where the warming process begins again. The warm- and cool-air cycles keep on going until the temperature level reaches the thermostat setting you have selected. At this point the thermostat sends a message to the furnace to turn off.

    Take a Look under the Hood

    Begin by examining your furnace. If you find signs of black soot or traces of heater debris, it’s a bad sign. To troubleshoot this problem further, raise the thermostat to turn on your furnace, then inspect the burner flames. You should be seeing flames that are constant and blue. If you see flames that are either orange or yellow and fluttering, stop right there. It’s time to call in a heating repair specialist to solve either or both of these issues. If your furnace passes the soot and burner-flame test, you can move on to the next step, cleaning.

    Cleaning Your Furnace

    Lower your thermostat and let your heating system cool down. It’s also best to exercise caution and shut off your circuit breaker, which powers your furnace. Once your furnace has cooled completely pull off its side panels, and using a long-nozzle vacuum attachment suck up whatever dust has built up. You can use a moist cloth to remove dust from the blower fan blades, and other places too remote for the vacuum nozzle to access. If you’ve got an older-model furnace you need to examine your blower fan’s oil cups, which are placed at both terminals of the central shaft. Apply a little oil to them.

    Repairing Your Furnace

    Depending on your furnace model, it may contain either a direct-drive or a fan-belt drive. If the first is the case you need not do anything. If it’s the latter inspect the fan belt to see how it looks. Check underneath the fan belt to see if there are any cracks, a symptom of its being dried out by the heat. A deteriorated fan belt needs replacement at this point. Just make sure you purchase one with the same dimensions.

    Inspecting the belt’s tension is a simple procedure. Just press on it in a downward direction. If it is correctly adjusted you should see approximately a half-inch of motion. If over or below, you can calibrate the tension. Slacken the mounts on the electric motor, shifting the motor to obtain the correct tension.

    Reassembling the Furnace

    A piece of cake, you just put back on the side panels and turn on the circuit breaker.

    A Little Maintenance Tip

    During the cold months it’s good maintenance to replace your furnace’s filter every month. Be proactive though and start with a new filter before the weather turns cold.

    Even though you can perform an annual tune-up yourself, maintaining your furnace’s efficient operation, having an HVAC pro come out every three to four years is a wise use of your money. The reason for this is HVAC specialists are skilled in detecting components that can deteriorate as your heating system ages. Using specialized tools they can check to see if those components are still operating as they should.

    The bottom line is to use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to perform a tune-up on your heating system, or call in an HVAC repair and maintenance technician.

  10. Smart Thermostats Manage Your Home Environment for More Ease and Comfort


    I don’t need to tell you that heating and cooling system utility bills are astronomically high. You already know. But did you know energy-consumption waste is the main culprit in driving up your energy bills? There are many steps you can take to lower your energy bill, among them sealing leaks to prevent cold air from entering your living space; using the sun to keep your home warmer during the day; shielding your windows and doors from drafts; weather-stripping to prevent cold air from entering, and more.

    Programmable Thermostats: Energy-Efficiency in Action

    One of the key ways to also conserve energy consumption is to calibrate your thermostat at night, and when you are away from home. Performing this step will save you anywhere from 12%–15% off your power bill. The drawback to manually setting and re-setting your thermostat is that you will still come home to a house that is uncomfortably cold or hot. This is why purchasing a programmable thermostat is a wise decision in terms of allowing you to designate at what times you desire your thermostat to be turned on and off, day or night, at home or away from home. Two other benefits of using a programmable thermostat are: (1) it will help to lower your energy bill and (2) lengthen the life of your HVAC units.

    Many consumers in general think a programmable thermostat and a smart thermostat are one and the same, but they’re not. Programmable thermostats can determine temperature regulation, which delivers the benefits of energy conservation, known as smart technology. However, a smart thermostat has an additional feature called auto scheduling, which allows you to program it. This means if the daily routines of your family are run on a consistent schedule, auto scheduling, using the settings you enter into the smart thermostat will take over, relieving you of manually needing to set and re-set your thermostat. In addition, if your family’s schedules are not predictable from one day to the next the smart thermostat will become aware of the comings and goings of family members, and adjust temperature regulation accordingly. In fact, as time passes the smart thermostat will monitor your home’s temperature with more accuracy. A smart thermostat has built-in flexibility in that you needn’t use the smart technology if it doesn’t suit your lifestyle.

    Temperature Management

    Top-of-the-line digital thermostats are masters at controlling temperatures of all HVAC units. The best models on the market support programmable fans on your AC unit. Once the compressor shuts down the programmable fan will continue to operate for a short duration, using the remaining cold air in your AC unit, or pull in fresh air from outside your house. This is energy efficiency at its best. Another smart thermostat feature is auto changeover, which permits the thermostat to switch back and forth between cooling and heating functions as necessary.

    Energy Savings through Efficiency Features

    Here are some pointers on what to look for in a smart thermostat to help save energy consumption:

    Temperature Deviation

    Standard digital thermostats have a deviation of one degree or less. This is beneficial in that you get optimal comfort but your HVAC unit will turn on and off more often, causing your HVAC unit to run harder, shortening its lifespan. In terms of energy efficiency you would be well advised to choose a digital thermostat, whose deviation is wider because it will consume less energy. And why? The temperature will alter more before the HVAC unit is initiated.

    One-Phase vs. Multi-Phase

    A one-phase digital thermostat is limited to just shutting on and off. But if this meets your needs, go with a one-phase digital thermostat. However, a multi-phase digital thermostat has three automated heating levels: low, medium, and high. It is programmed to automatically proceed from level one to level two to level three to quickly heat up your home as necessary, until the optimal comfort temperature has been reached.

    Energy Saving through Auto Scheduling

    Digital thermostats in general are made to save energy, their reason for being. But the best ones have auto scheduling. Not only can auto scheduling determine your family’s daily routines and habits, but can also monitor weather patterns in your area. The smart thermostat can also find out about your preferences.


    Smart thermostats’ motion sensors permit your HVAC systems to identify and respond on days when you arrive home earlier or later than you normally do. The way the geofencing feature works is it secures an area around the perimeter of your house that integrates with the location of your smart phone. Your smart thermostat will switch to an away setting as you move beyond your house’s geofencing area and return to its usual setting, warming your home to a comfortable level by the time you enter your house. The benefit is that no energy is expended in cooling or heating your house while no one’s home.

    Home Automation System

    If you have a home automation system (HAS), find out if the smart thermostat you’re interested in buying will be compatible with your HAS. The smart thermostat’s Wi-Fi feature will integrate with your iPad or smart phone, enabling you to adjust settings whenever, wherever, or however long you are away from your home.

    DIY or Professional HVAC Installation?

    You have the choice to either have your smart thermostat professionally installed, or perform the installation yourself, even on the premier models. If you decide you’d like to take on the challenge of doing the installation yourself, your best bet is to seek out a manufacturer that provides self-installation tutorials. If you want to ensure you get the right smart thermostat for your HVAC units, look for a company that has an online tool to see if the digital thermostat you’re considering is compatible with the HVAC units in your home.

    Tech Support

    The best-quality smart thermostat companies provide a variety of resources to turn to, regarding the installation, operation, and troubleshooting of your digital thermostat. The customer care choices can range from email to phone to live-chat tech support. Some manufacturers also host online forums where you can interact with technical support professionals, as well as other users about software issues, or the operation of your smart thermostat. The more resources a company provides the better for you because you can draw from a breadth of knowledge to find the solution to any software problem you may be experiencing.

    Another strong selling point for buying the best digital thermostats is the length of their warranties, which can range anywhere from two to five years.

    Today energy-efficiency is important, not only in terms of lowering your power bills, but also in preventing your heating and cooling systems from working overtime, making them last longer.