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Serving the tri-state area of Northern Kentucky,
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What to Know About Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

greater comfort_get rewarded for your energy efficiencyYou can lower your taxes by installing a surprising number of improvements to your house, from more insulation to a complete solar energy system. There are lots of rules to examine – and here we take a look at just a few. Fortunately, we can help lead you to these tax savings based on your specific situation. Continue reading

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6 Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bill

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Who isn’t looking for easy ways to save money – in the short-term and long-term – when it comes to their energy bill? Whether it is your home or place of business, here are 6 of the top ways to save money on your energy bill this spring and summer. Continue reading

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No Ductwork? No Problem

ductless ac cincinnati

The Pros and Cons of Ductless Air Conditioning

If you’re adding air conditioning to an existing house with radiators or other “non-ducted” heating systems, or you are putting an addition on your home or office, there is an alternative to installing ductwork throughout the space: a “mini-split” AC system. Continue reading

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7 Factors to Consider Before Installing an AC System

ac install in greater cincinnati Greater Comfort expertsConsidering a new AC system install? Here are 7 things to consider first.

1. Consider the size.

The size of the unit is key to the “big three” benefits that your AC should be delivering: that’s comfort, efficiency and longevity. If the unit is running constantly, it is too small and will fail to cool your house enough in very hot weather. If the unit starts and stops frequently, it is too large and uses a lot of electricity.

Both problems will wear out a unit prematurely. We can conduct load testing to determine the correct size of unit – also taking into account other factors once we take a look at your home or business.

2. Find out more about your air quality.

You already know that quality of air is a critical component when it comes to comfort – and when it comes to our heath and well-being. Adjusting the airflow is important, to provide appropriate cooling to all rooms in your house. If this has been a problem, or you suspect it’s a problem, tell the experts at Greater Comfort so we can test and adjust your ducts to assure smooth airflow. We can help you find the right system of air quality control devices to bring you greater quality of air.

3. Look for ductwork that works.

Good ductwork is an essential part of the system. Leaks can waste energy and slow cooling. Your installer can seal or replace leaky ductwork to increase efficient cooling.

4. Don’t forget about your coolant.

New units do not use the traditional coolant, R22 (known as Freon). Freon-based units have not been produced since 2010, and new units use the more environmentally-friendly R410A. The price of Freon has increased greatly, so it may be smarter to replace your AC unit than to keep replacing leaking Freon. Experts can guide you through this process to make sure you are informed and all your questions are answered.

5. Consider the alternatives.

Today, you do not need vents to add air conditioning to your home. Traditionally, if you had radiators instead of a forced-air furnace, you had to install a full-house system of venting, or settle for window AC units. With a new ductless “mini-split” air conditioner you need only indoor air handlers, with no renovation (except a small hole in the wall to connect the outdoor and indoor units).

6. Set it and leave it!

If your thermostat is working adequately you can keep it, and save the cost of a new one. But in the long run, if you upgrade to a programmable thermostat, you can save money and not worry about adjusting the thermostat daily. Programmable thermostats will also save you money – while ensuring comfort – in the long-run. This is something that should be taken into consideration before getting any new system.

7. Do the math.

Other factors aside, here’s a common test you can use in order to decide whether to repair or replace your current air conditioner. Multiply the age of the unit (in years) by the repair cost. If that exceeds $5000, replace the unit. For example, if your unit is 8 years old, and the repair cost is $700 or more, it may be time for a replacement. We can help you do the math to make sure you are saving money with any investment made.

Call the Experts at Greater Comfort to Learn More

If you’re exploring the idea of an AC install knowing your system will need an upgrade or replacement, if you’re just doing preliminary research, or if you need a new unit immediately, we have you covered. We’ve installed, maintained and repaired more than 25,000 HVAC systems in our 28-year history. Give the experts at Greater Comfort a call today at 859-491-4915 today.

Sources/References

  1. http://www.acdesignsinc.net/blog/4-things-you-should-know-about-air-conditioning-installation/
  2. http://blackdiamondtoday.com/blog/how-to-know-if-your-ac-installation-has-been-done-professionally

 

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Thermostat Issue? Here’s What to Know

cincinnati ohio heating and cooling company

Our thermostats not only check the temperature, but they also serve to make sure the actual desired temperature is maintained in our home. We depend on our thermostat to detect the temperature – and then match the desired temperature we want in our home!

That means our thermostat plays an integral part in our family’s comfort in the home.

When our thermostats are operating as it should, all is well. But when they start acting weird and not operating properly, there are a couple of steps you can take to get to the root of the problem. Once your thermostat is working accurately again, you can have peace of mind and your family can go back to having ultimate comfort.

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Buying a Home? Here’s What to Look for to Ensure Ultimate Comfort

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We’ve talked about – both in the short-term, and the long-term – how to take care of your HVAC as you prepare your home to sell. But what about when you are on the opposite end, and you are looking to buy a home? What are the things to look for in a heating and cooling system when you’re considering buying a home?

Here we breakdown a list of some of the top things to look for, and steps to take as you look for a new home.

1. Find out the system’s warranty and/or protection plan.

Many leading brands offer warranties on their systems. First, you want to check that the homeowners have done all they can do so that this warranty is still valid. Second, eventually you want to see the details and some sort of proof of that protection plan or warranty so you know what kind of potential costs and/or system plan you’re inheriting.

2. Ask for the system history.

While this might not always be available, many homeowners will keep track of their system’s history – in part because they know they may one day sell their home. (That tells you it might be a good idea, as a current homeowner, to keep an organized account of all the ongoing maintenance you perform on your system, assuming you one day intend to sell your home.)

While maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean you will avoid emergencies or costly repairs, it does tell you that certain necessary maintenance has been performed on your system – and that’s great for peace of mind.

Many homeowners will be happy to share with you the regular maintenance they have performed on their home and/or any repairs done on the system. They keep track of that because they want to show you the system has as much as value as possible; for you, as the potential home buyer, it’s good to see more information that helps you better value the current state of the system.

3. Take note if there are carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

A lack of carbon monoxide detectors does not impact your purchase decision – but it is something to look for. Keep in mind if these aren’t present in the home, you’ll likely want to add them.

4. Don’t forget your home inspection.

Once you’re serious about potentially purchasing a home, you’ll want to do a home inspection – not just to take a look at the heating and cooling system, but to look at many of the other potential issues within the home. These experts are trained to look for things that the current home owner may not want to disclose, or that the current home owner may simply not even be aware of.

While more and more people see this is a critical part of the home purchase process, you still hear stories of people who neglected to have an expert inspect a home before purchasing it. While it’s mandatory for many people getting a loan, be sure not to forget this part of your home buying process.

When a certified technician takes a look at your potential furnace, they are able to tell you the condition of it, and they can give a better idea if long-term maintenance really has properly and consistently occurred. No matter what an owner tells you, an expert is there to tell you what they believe will happen in the future in terms of necessary repairs or even replacement.

If your home owner inspector tells you that you’ll need to repair the system in the very near future, you’ll want to take that into consideration before purchasing the home – or in the eventual purchase price of the home, it should be reflected. Most homeowners recognize the value of a furnace – just like how most home buyers recognize the value as well.

If your home inspector tells you that expensive repairs or that replacement is needed, give us a call so that we can help you be more informed and know more about your options. Even if you don’t anticipate buying a new furnace in the near future, any time you can plan ahead it makes the entire process easier.

Ensure Ultimate Comfort in Your Next Home

There are quite a few factors that go into the purchase of new home – the size, the location and other critical components of the property are just a few of the factors we tend to focus on. Don’t forget the importance of finding out key details that relate to your heating and cooling system, which can keep your family safe and comfortable in your new home.

If you consider these 4 tips you’ll have greater peace of mind, and greater comfort, in your next home. Give the experts at Greater Comfort a call today at 859-491-4915 if you need help finding out the potential costs of a new system.

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2 Potential HVAC Issues & How Springtime Maintenance Solves Both

hvac maintenance in the spring newport kentucky

Did you know that right now is the best time of year to get your AC maintenance completed?

Before the heat really starts to hit us consistently, it’s a great idea to get your HVAC checked and maintained.

Many people incorrectly believe the best time is in the summer, but ideally, you get your tune-up now. We like to remind people just in case it’s not on the calendar.

Spring Time Tune-Up

You also don’t want to wait much longer because as our AC unit gets dirtier, it’s going to get much less efficient. If you’re already feeling as if you are having to adjust your thermostat more often than you’d like, this is an additional sign that temperatures in your home – and overall air comfort – is being affected by a system that is not running optimally.

A common analogy is changing the oil in your car: between your regular oil changes, things are operating efficiently, and your car is able to perform as it should. But once you are overdue for an oil change, your car is forced to “work harder,” it is less efficient, and you run greater risk of problems occurring.
It’s not the first time that AC maintenance and tune-ups have been compared to car maintenance—and that’s because both are “easy” preventative measures you can take to avoid issues.

Here are 2 HVAC issues you can fix – or prevent from becoming a problem – with your spring cooling tune-up.

1. Dirty coils.

Condenser coils are key in making sure your unit performs as it should—and also performs as efficiently as it can. As you may know, your compressor pulls the refrigerant liquid through your tubing in the evaporator coil, and then this refrigerant material passes through the expansion valve in the unit. At this point in the process, that relieves pressure from your refrigerant, in the process cooling it.

You can think of it in simple terms as the hot air that exists in your home is removed from the home via your condenser coilers, which highlights just how integral they are to getting rid of the hot air in your home.

If the condenser coil is not clean, you can see why this would add stress to and/or disrupt the entire process. As more and more air is transferred, the fan will be working much harder of your unit is not as clean as it should be. Your A/C tune-up will make sure your coils are dirt-free and debris-free.

2. A miscalibrated thermostat.

You already know the value of a thermostat that’s working as it should: you have proper temperatures and you can fine-tine the comfort and specific temperature you’re looking for (and paying for!) throughout your entire home. A calibrated thermostat is one huge component supporting total comfort in your home!

But sometimes our thermostat can slowly show signs of miscalibration. Even being off by just a few degrees can waste a lot of money and can greatly impact the comfort we experience.

A somewhat easy-to-spot sign is when you have uneven temperatures in your home, although it’s not always obvious that it’s a thermostat issue.

While that might be more obvious than other signs, be sure not to ignore if your AC unit is running too short, or longer than it should be. Other signs that could mean you need to recalibrate your thermostat include your AC turning on and off at the wrong time, or short cycling.

In the end, you don’t get the comfort you’re after and you end up putting more stress on your HVAC system. Since your HVAC using more power when it’s turning on, any kind of cycling is hard on the unit, and is obviously less efficient than it could be.

When you have your system checked during your spring tune-up, we can make sure the thermostat is working as it should be, and we can recalibrate the system as needed. It’s just one more reason to make sure your getting in your regular maintenance.

Call the Experts at Greater Comfort Today

While there is no guarantee that ongoing maintenance will prevent all HVAC issues, it certainly extends the life of your system, keeps your family safe, helps your system work much more efficiently, and helps catch any issues you do encounter, as early as possible. Call us today to set up your spring tune-up – at a convenient time that works for you and your family.

We will be glad to answer any questions you have so that you can be sure to have ultimate comfort this spring and summer. Read more about our preventive maintenance program here.

We are also on-call 24/7 for emergency repairs if you ever need them. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915.

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Top Signs Your Air Conditioning System May Need Repair

AC repair and ac maintenance greater comfort

What are some of the top signs your AC is broken or may need a repair of some kind? Here we break down 5 things you shouldn’t ignore as we head into spring.

1. Your unit is cycling on and off.

Depending on the system, if your unit is always cycling on and off – especially if you can’t ever seem to see the thermostat showing you’re at the desired temperature for your home – it’s time to have a professional check your thermostat and your system. There’s a chance you may need the fan, condenser, and/or evaporator unit cleaned, and there could be another issue worth a look for an expert.

2. There’s water near your system.

If you see water near your HVAC or have reason to believe that water is leaking near your system, you could have a serious issue with the drain line, or another problem. While it might start off as a small leak, if you catch it early, you could avoid a big problem since some leaks can result in significant water damage to your home. While the source of the problem could be the drain line, an expert can help you see if its clogged, disconnected, if the issue is related to the condensate pump, a clogged air filter, low refrigerant, or a ductwork issue. As you can see, there’s quite a few reasons that mean you should take any signs of water leakage seriously.

3. Your utility bills have skyrocketed.

If you’re like many homeowners, you watch your utility bill, in part because you want to be able to ensure you are saving money when possible. Keeping a watch on your utility bill is also a great idea because any spike in your costs can be a sign that your system is operating inefficiently. Whether you forgot your spring tune-up or your condensing coil is having an issue, or something completely separate, we can find the reason your system isn’t working properly.

4. You’re hearing abnormal noises.

If you’re system is running as it should, sound should be minimal. In fact, in our newest models, many people are surprised just how quiet and efficient the models really are – during startup and throughout day-to-day operation. If your system is making noises—especially loud noises you’ve never heard before—there could be an issue. If you have disconnected parts or a motor that’s showing signs of wear, it could be reason to give us a call.

5. There seems to be a lack of fresh air or just a more uncomfortable home.

If you feel like you’re just not quite as comfortable as you once were, make note.

When the temperature increases, so does the humidity. That same humidity can cause damage to your furniture and encourage mold growth in your home. Altogether, increased temperatures and decreased air quality can be felt in the home if your system isn’t working like it should be. But year-to-year, even if there is a difference in how hot it gets outside, you should still have even, consistent airflow.

Remember that excess humidity wears on wood furniture in particular and can do damage to upholstery, especially on vintage furniture that has not been treated to handle it. Another major problem when the humidity rises is mold growth. Mold needs a moist environment to grow, and while humidity alone is not always enough, these conditions make it nearly impossible for bathrooms to properly dry.

If you feel like the air in your home is thicker than normal, or you see signs of mold growth, then you have more evidence your system isn’t working properly.

Get Ultimate Comfort with Greater Comfort

We install top-op-of-the line HVAC systems, dehumidifiers and we provide a full range of ongoing maintenance services. We are on-call 24/7 for emergency repairs if you ever need them. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915.

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How to Prepare Your Home for Spring Storms

We know that Spring weather means storms…storms that are often accompanied with high winds! Even though the weather can be unpredictable and it can change quickly in the Spring, we can be more prepared and safeguard our home by considering these 4 steps.

1. Check your gutters and clean out the built-up debris.

When the warmer weather hits, it’s tempting for us to spend more time outside. While you spend more time outside, consider checking your gutters to see if the winter debris has built up over the cold winter months. In all likelihood, it will be best for you or a professional to clean out your dirty gutter: after all, they are most likely full of leaves, acorns and other winter debris.

With all the other “Spring cleaning” we do, this is one not to forget—even though water-back up can do major damage to our home. Be sure not to ignore the state of your gutters, especially before any heavy rain, or storm!

2. Check your HVAC unit before severe storms hit.

Just like with other preventative measures, the weather in Spring may be unpredictable, but if we take a few proactive steps now, we can save ourselves a lot of issues if bad weather does hit. If the weather report says that a severe storm (or high winds and/or hail in particular) is on its way, and the AC is running, aim to continue to cool your home as much as possible. That’s because if the storm is bad enough, you may not be able to utilize the AC when the storm is passing through.

In less severe weather conditions, there are some other steps you will still want to take. If you have window units and the storm is severe enough, it may call for unplugging them during the storm, depending on the make and model. Of course you want to be sure any and all windows are securely closed, and that blinds and shades are completely drawn before any storm comes through.

Ensure that nothing such as patio furniture or lawn/gardening equipment is too close or near your HVAC unit. If winds get strong enough, chairs, lawn/patio furniture or fixtures, or any other kinds of objects can end up hitting your HVAC. You wouldn’t want any object to hit and damage your unit if you can prevent it from happening! In some cases, you may want to invest in a tarp or protective cover for your outside unit. Ask us for more information when we come to your home for your Spring tune-up.

3. Have basic supplies on hand.

If a power outage were to occur, would you have a basic amount of emergency supplies for you and your family?

It’s never a bad idea to have drinking water, a (transistor or battery-operated) radio of some kind, a first-aid kit, blankets and/or towels, flashlights, or even spare batteries on hand if any major storm hits.

Depending on just how bad the storm is anticipated to be, there may be even more emergency supplies you would want to have on hand—that’s just a list at minimum. Sometimes we have enough warning where we can also be sure that our cell phones are fully charged. Charging our cell phones as much as possible, and then preserving the battery if the electricity goes out is a safety measure that can be in the best interest of your family.

4. Be sure to check your HVAC after any severe storm with high winds and/or hail.

While the first 3 tips are meant to be done before a storm hits, if severe weather hits, you’ll want to take a look at the outside of your home—like your roof—and even inspect your HVAC unit.

Once it is safe to go outside, you want to be sure that your unit is still free of leaves, twigs, pollen, grass, or any other debris that the storm has moved close to the unit. Then, aim to look around your entire home and lawn to be sure no damage has occurred anywhere, not just to your HVAC, but to the rest of the home.

If you experienced extremely high winds or hail, take a close look at the unit itself making sure nothing has damaged it. If you have any concerns while looking over your unit (or hear any unusual sounds you have never heard before coming from the unit), be sure to give us a call.

When the bad weather is long gone, you can move your patio furniture back and adjust the blinds/windows within your home to your liking. These 4 tips may take a bit of time to implement, but in the end, a little bit of maintenance will save you money, help you avoid ugly repairs, and keep your family safe and comfortable.

Call the Experts at Greater Comfort 

Greater Comfort is your local heating and air conditioning company based in Newport, Kentucky. Our furnace and air conditioning experts proudly serve all of Northern Kentucky, Greater Cincinnati and Southeastern Indiana.

Our highly trained technicians bring our special brand of expertise and customer service to every job we perform. Give us a call today for your spring tune-up/maintenance or AC install needs at 859-491-4915.

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The Basics: What to Know About Your Furnace

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Any homeowner knows that you want your heating system to be working properly. In the winter months it can become a complete emergency if we have to go without heat due to a problem or breakdown with our furnace.

If you’ve been avoiding thinking about your furnace, or if you wish you knew more about the inner working of the heating component of your system, the time to learn more is now. Here we break down what you should know about your furnace.

How Your Heating System Works: Efficiency and Comfort in Your Home

Although every unique furnace model will vary, your HVAC system typically is made of 4 components: the indoor part of the system such as the furnace or air handler; the outdoor unit such as the air conditioner or heat pump; the thermostat; and the air quality component such as humidity control components or your air filtration.

Other factors to be aware of include:

  • Heating capacity: depending on your home’s unique needs, this refers to the overall capacity that your furnace has.
  • Ventilation: how your air is passed through the home and ventilated is
  • Exhaust: if it were to build-up without ever being cleaned, exhaust that is a byproduct of your furnace can pose a risk to your health and safety.
  • Electrical: not to be forgotten is the key that your electrical plays in keeping things running.

A single-stage furnace is one with one speed—meaning you have full heat (maximum speed) that provides you with warm air. In simple terms, your system will then “wait” for the air to cool down, which then triggers your furnace to turn on again. This is how conventional furnaces work to heat your home in the winter. You can see how this “off or on” furnace setup is not as efficient as furnaces that have adjustable and adaptable furnace capacity.

With a two stage furnace, you have greater control and consistency as you heat your home, versus an “off or on” setup. Having the ability to be more precise means you can control the heat output of your furnace on an ongoing basis, even as the temperature outside changes throughout the day.

With a variable speed furnace, the fan moves at various speeds in order to control the amount of heat that is dispersed throughout your home. An increase in airflow means you have a more comfortable home, including improved air quality.

In the end, single-stage furnaces will inevitably result in constant variation of temperature. Those homes with two stage or a variable speed furnace are more adaptable in real-time, and in most cases, they allow you to keep a more constant temperature in the home.

What Else Should I Know About My Furnace? 

As much as we try to keep things simple here, it is true that your heating system is a complex, complicated system—but also one of the most important parts of any home! Here is what else we can help you better understand:

Humidity in your home: you can benefit from a humidifier and dehumidifier in the home, as they help control your humidity level. Some systems are built into your system, but also we can help if you want to add a separate dehumidification or humidity system to your current setup.

The benefit of flexible solutions: conventional heat pumps would force heated air through ducts. Compare this to ductless systems, which work to deliver air directly into various zones of the home.

The reason ductless systems are popular today is because they can deliver this heat on a room-by-room basis. This is why you will hear people talking about the idea of zone-based heating—in this case, they are speaking of ductless systems. Many people choose this as an option for heating and cooling because of overall cost savings.

You have more, efficient options than ever: Ultimately, your HVAC deals with heating, cooling and ventilation. The US Department of Energy reports that modern heating systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 97 percent. That means higher efficiency, increased savings and greater comfort with a modern furnace that has the potential to covert nearly all that fuel to useful heat (1). In this post, we have covered the heating component. Stay tuned for more on what you should know about the rest of your system.

Call The Experts at Greater Comfort

Now that you know a bit more about your furnace, you are better equipped to make future decisions about your home’s air quality and heating/cooling. Give us a call today to learn more—especially if your furnace is not heating right, is louder than normal, only runs for a few minutes, or if the furnace blower is showing signs of not working consistently. Other signs you should give us a call can include excessive dust in the home or humidity-related issues.

If you’re doing research or considering new heating and cooling equipment, give us a call at 859-491-4915 to learn about your energy-efficient options that are best suited for your home.

Sources/References

  1. http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/mechanical-systems/types-of-hvac-systems
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