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AFUE: The Five Essential Questions Your Service Company Should Ask You Before You Buy In

Right here, we have all the answers to your questions on AFUE, including a quick video on Ron’s Story, the five essential questions you should be asked before your job is priced, and US Department of Energy guidelines that will help you along the way. AFUE can be confusing at first, but once you are armed with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision tailored to your specific situation, you will feel empowered. 

“The Five Essential Questions Your Service Company Should Ask You Before You Buy Into AFUE” includes –  

  1. A Brief Overview of AFUE 
  2. Ron’s Story/Quick Video Explanation 
  3. The Five Essential Questions 
    1. How? 
    2. When? 
    3. What? 
    4. Are? and… 
    5. Did? 
  4. US Department of Energy 
  5. Understanding ENERGY STAR  
  6. Your furnace or boiler (Do you need to buy the same equipment you have?) 
  7. Get a free quote instantly, without a tech visit to your home 


A Brief Overview of AFUE 

When you’re on a quest for information about AFUE you’re most likely in the fact-finding phase of HVAC replacement or repair. HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, which not many are aware of, and refers to the heating and cooling industry as a whole. So, let’s discover the meaning of AFUE together and start a discussion on why it’s important to have a clear comprehension of what it is. Additionally, what are the questions you need answers to before you make any decisions about your home heating system? In this blog post, we have the five essential questions your service company should ask you before you buy into AFUE. If they don’t ask you these questions or haven’t asked you them yet, you may want to consider a second opinion on your furnace or boiler diagnosis.  

afue photo

AFUE is a commonly used acronym within the HVAC industry. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is a percentage that expresses the amount of heat you will benefit from throughout your home versus the amount that will escape through the flue.  

Wait, what?!  

Yes, something has to keep the birds warm. (You can insert your smile here.) It is true, the heat escaping through the flue from lower efficiency equipment is a major ouchie for your heating bill. The good news, though, is the higher efficiency level your equipment is, the less fuel you will literally lose to the birds. That might mean you pay more money for a furnace up front, but over the lifespan of your system, you’re spending less on fuel. 

The heat produced by your furnace in correlation to the level of fuel used is the AFUE. Some older homes have furnaces with extremely low or even unmeasurable levels of AFUE, which means those homeowners are spending much more money on fuel than recommended by US government agencies like the Department of Energy. New Energy Star rated equipment is rated between 80-98% AFUE, as opposed to older homes with no AFUE rating on their equipment at all. Homeowners with much older systems waste a lot of fuel to these lucky (and warm) “birds we are referring to. 

Upgrading to a new system can save you a lot of money on fuel, which means you will be getting more bang for your buck, but how will you know whether its time to replace your furnace or simply repair it??  

Before you even get to this decision-making step, there are a few questions your service company should ask you as a homeowner in a time of need  

Here’s a quick tip to keep in the back of your mind throughout the process. As of the year 1992, the US Department of Energy set the standard that all furnaces sold in the US must be minimally 78 AFUE. Other specific types of furnaces have different standards, and as of 2015, even higher levels of AFUE are required between 80-83 AFUE. So, to comply with these standards, when purchasing new equipment should operate at this efficiency level.   

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the meaning of AFUE, there is a plethora of information on the What is AFUE post. Click Here.


Ron’s Story

Learn more about AFUE and the Five Questions Your Service Company Should Ask You By Watching THIS VIDEO about Ron’s Story.

As some of you can relate, Ron’s story is not uncommon to those with older homes. But like Ron, you, too can take this crash course on heating terminology and get yourself up to speed to make an informed decision. With that in mind, we’ve curated a list from industry experts on the top 5 questions you have to listen for… Your service company should be asking you these 5 questions, and if not, perhaps it’s time to make sure they know your answers. 


The 5 Questions 

  1. How frequently do you operate your furnace? Is it running year-round, or is it running more seasonally, or occasionally? 
  2. When did you move into your home and how long do you plan to stay put? 
  3. What is your budget for a new heating system? 
  4. Are you aware the repairs on a higher AFUE heating system are more expensive than on a minimally required AFUE percentage? 
  5. Did you know you can cut out added costs by shopping online for your ideal AFUE system?  


These questions lead to your system diagnosis and a recommendation or repair or replace. Please bear in mind, however, that if your system is 10 years or older, most will advise you to replace.  

Many sales people will tell consumers that they’ll save a lot of money by installing a high-efficiency furnace. But if you’re replacing an older furnace that has an AFUE rating between 55-70%, then installing an 80% AFUE furnace will already be a substantial upgrade, and you will immediately see a huge savings on your utility bill.   

If you plan on living in your home less than five years, the payback time period may not be enough to justify the additional cost of a high efficiency furnace if you buy from a contractor.  

The distribution channel for furnaces consists of a manufacturer, distributor, and then a dealer (the installing company). Each channel adds a markup. The dealer usually adds a 100% markup. Costs vary, but compared to an 80% furnace expect to pay $1,100 dollars or more for a 90% AFUE furnace.  A 95-99% AFUE furnace will probably cost you between 150-200% more than an 80% AFUE furnace.     

When they ask about your budget, just be honest. What do you expect a new system to cost? What about a repair? The thing you must know here is that the repairs on a more efficient system, or – one with a higher AFUE, will cost more money than they will on a lower AFUE system.  

That brings us to the final of the five essential questions your service company should be asking you before you repair or replace. So, here’s a question or two for you to ask yourself. Are you a sharp, smart consumer? Do you pride yourself in seeking knowledge before you invest your money in a large purchase? If yes, then you will be rewarded by arming yourself with information and seeking pricing for HVAC replacement equipment online. This is a great way for you to see a real breakdown of what you should expect to pay for a replacement.  


Understanding ENERGY STAR 

When you are looking for information on energy efficient equipment to replace your existing system or occupy a new home, you will want to have a concise understanding of government standards. ENERGY STAR certified, guaranteed products are not only good for you and your home, they have beneficial-for-the-environment operational standards. They meet strict criteria in order to carry this label. For detailed information on products that carry the label, you can visit their website (Link to: ) 

Here are a few criteria furnaces must meet in order to carry an ENERGY STAR label:

Gas furnaces in the southern United States must be a minimum of 90% AFUE. In the northern parts of the US, gas furnaces need to operate at 95% AFUE (as a minimum efficiency level standard). Oil furnaces must have an 85% or higher AFUE rating. For a specific breakdown of the US states per region, please click here.


Your furnace 

As a general rule of thumb, if your equipment was or is heating your home comfortably, it is the proper size you’ll need for a replacement. You can search the model number written on the product tag online to see what type of system you have.  

Money conscious consumers who want to avoid paying a retail markup are encouraged to get a bid and compare online at At there is never a retail markup, or commissions paid to sales people that drive up the price – just complete transparency and the guaranteed lowest prices on central heating. Search for replacement equipment in the comfort of your own home or office, or from the library, or from Starbucks, or the car! You can access the information you need on your phone or tablet, on-the-go or on your couch. Call or chat if you have questions. 

Now that you know the essential questions your service company should be asking you – what are you going to do to resolve your home or office heating woes?

What is AFUE – Your Personal Efficiency Guide for Heat

The Acronym AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and is an indication of how efficient a furnace is at converting fuel to heat. AFUE is measured as a percentage, and the higher the rating, the greater the fuel efficiency. Please read below for further demystifications on AFUE, so you can decide which level of efficiency is best for your needs and budget.

Here’s what we will cover below:

Your Personal Efficiency Guide to AFUE includes –

  1. Definition
  2. Word Breakdown
  3. John and Rita’s Story/Quick Video Explanation
  4. AFUE Mathematics
  5. FTC and US Department of Energy
  6. What does AFUE have to do with MPG?
  7. 4 Questions for Clarity
  8. Benefits and Regulation
  9. Types of Fuel


The Introduction to AFUE

If you live in Florida, where the Pricefixer corporate offices are located, you most likely lean toward traditional condensing units to cool your home as your primary temperature control method. However, you never know when a cold front is going to come through, so it’s essential to be prepared to weather the fallout from the storms. If you’re in other parts of the United States such as the chillier climate near the Great Lakes or throughout the mid-west, you are certainly going to be interested in educating yourself about furnaces and AFUE, especially if you own a home or are considering becoming a homeowner. So, what exactly is AFUE, and why does it matter to you? Read below for a clear definition and your complete personal efficiency guide to AFUE, and to review supporting visuals like photos and a video explainer depicting John and Rita’s story, if you prefer to watch instead.


afue photo



The acronym AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It’s important to understand what AFUE means while contemplating the purchase of a furnace for your home, because a misunderstanding could lead to a lot of lost money, time and effort. The overall definition of AFUE, in neophyte terms, is a measurement of the efficiency level of the furnace to utilize the fuel within. To examine this concept a bit deeper, the amount of heat a furnace produces in direct relationship to the amount of fuel used is called, AFUE.


An AFUE furnace that is 92% efficient means that for every $100 of gas consumed, it will generate $92 worth of useable heat. To find out where that $8 goes, watch the video below.

But, if you’re still unsure, no worries because there’s an even more in-depth definition, and beyond that, we will give you another example.


Word Breakdown

Let’s break it down here into individual word segments. Annual refers to the efficiency on a yearly basis, and how well your system performs over a 12-month time span. Fuel is a material that is burned to produce power, or to produce heat, in this instance. A few examples of fuel in this application could be heating oil, natural gas or propane. The word Utilization refers to the action of making use of something in a practical way. Efficiency is the part of the acronym that is defined by the productivity level of a system or machine (or furnace, in this instance) to achieve the highest levels of output. These words make up the larger concept of Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, and when you can break it down into smaller meaningful parts, sometimes the explanation becomes more digestible. Please note, AFUE does not refer to the electricity usage of your furnace or boiler, it directly refers to the fuel efficiency of the equipment in regard to gas, propane or oil.


For a Quick Video Explanation, Click Here!


AFUE Mathematics

Now, let’s get into AFUE by the numbers, and what they mean. Newly manufactured furnaces vary in levels of AFUE from efficiency levels of 80% up to the level of 98%. (Lower efficiency models exist in some homes built before energy efficiency standards were put into place by governing agencies. So, it is possible your home has a much lower level of AFUE. More on that later.) For now, back to the example: this means a furnace with 90 AFUE will convert 90% of the equipment’s fuel consumption to consumable heat. Sounds great, right?

So, when you look at an 80 AFUE furnace, it will convert 80% of the fuel consumption to heat. So, how much heat does a 98 AFUE furnace convert? Well, now you are armed with all the powerful information! Now you know a 98 AFUE furnace will convert 98% of fuel to consumable heat, and so on. Your knowledge in heating will make it much easier for you to determine the best system for your needs when the time comes. If you take 100% and you subtract the amount of AFUE, you will know the amount of heat loss your equipment will be responsible for. For example, in an 80 AFUE furnace, 20% of the heat produced escapes through the chimney or other places.


FTC and US Department of Energy

The FTC or Federal Trade Commission has guidelines in place that make it a requirement for manufacturers of furnaces and boilers to display the AFUE on equipment so consumers like you can determine the energy efficiency of your system. There are also a plethora of rules and notices put forth by the U.S. Department of Energy that delve deeper into the standards of operations for consumer furnaces and more, available here.


What does AFUE have to do with MPG?

Another way to think about AFUE is to draw a parallel to a similar topic that you may have dealt with in your lifetime. For every dollar of fuel consumed, AFUE measures the amount of heat produced. Here’s an example for you that will put you on a clear path to strong knowledge around this topic. You can compare the way AFUE applies to: heat a furnace produces, similarly to the miles per gallon on a car, SUV or truck you are considering purchasing. If you’re not currently in the market, perhaps at some time you were, or know of someone who has been. For this purpose, let’s use you for the example.

Your fuel costs will increase the lower your AFUE, and similarly, the money you spend on fuel for a higher AFUE heating system will be less than what you spend on a low efficiency system. The higher the efficiency, the less money the equipment will cost you to operate, specifically regarding fuel. (See graph below.) When your vehicle gets 30 MPG or miles per gallon, it has better fuel efficiency than, say, a larger gas-guzzler that might only get 12 to 15 MPG.

Operating Costs


When you go to the dealership, do you purchase the vehicle based solely on the miles per gallon it gets? Or do you make your decision based on multiple factors that ultimately weigh into examining and determining your best option?


Questions for Clarity

Some other factors you should consider are:

  1. Usage
    Ask yourself this: Do you run your furnace or boiler year-round?

  2. Homeownership plan.
    Ask yourself this: How long will you live in your home?

  3. Cost
    Ask yourself this: Am I prepared to invest in a higher-efficiency furnace that will cost more money up-front to purchase?
  1. Repair or replace?
    Ask yourself this: Does it make more sense to repair or retrofit my current furnace or boiler, or to replace it altogether?


AFUE Savings


Benefits and Regulation

If you are most interested in a high efficiency, or 80+ AFUE heating system, consider keeping your eyes open for an ENERGY STAR® label, which can be found on the most efficient models. The government standard on new heating equipment is a minimum of 80 AFUE, so no matter what, when you purchase a new furnace or boiler, make sure it operates to this level of efficiency and that the equipment is clearly labeled.


Types of Fuel

Types of fuel utilized within your heating system bear a significant weight on the costs of operating the equipment, additionally. Different types of fuel include natural gas, propane, heating oil, firewood and more. For details on fuel types and associated AFUE, check out our post here. (insert link to fuel article.)

If you prefer an electricity-operated system instead of a fuel-reliant method such as a boiler or furnace, you can learn more about heat pumps here. (insert link to heat pump blog.)

Here is a recap of what was covered in this article:

  1. Definition
  2. Word Breakdown
  3. John and Rita’s Story/Quick Video Explanation
  4. AFUE Mathematics
  5. FTC and US Department of Energy
  6. What does AFUE have to do with MPG?
  7. 4 Questions for Clarity
  8. Benefits and Regulation
  9. Types of Fuel

To learn more about replacing your heating unit, click here.

Do I Need an AC or a Heat Pump to Cool My House?

You’ve decided it’s time to update your home’s heating and air conditioning unit to a more energy-efficient system, and you’re excited about all the money you’ll be saving on your utility bills and shrinking your carbon footprint. But, as you start to do your due diligence research on HVAC systems, you discover there’s another energy-efficient cooling system besides the traditional central AC unit that many people are choosing to put in their homes instead: the heat pump. You begin to wonder, “Should I get a heat pump?” “What’s the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner?” “Which HVAC system is the best one for me?” Luckily, you’ve come to right place. Below are answers to questions you’re probably asking yourself regarding the heat pump vs. air conditioner dilemmayou are currently facing.


I’m really not sure what I need…a heat pump or an air conditioner?

If you’re looking for a cooling system for your home, don’t let the name fool you – heat pumps are great for providing you with cold air during the warmer months. Heat pumps also operate just as efficiently, if not more so, than traditional air conditioners. The main difference between a heat pump and a standard air conditioner is that an air conditioner provides only cool air, while heat pumps provide both cool and warm air. There are air conditioning systems that provide heat also, but they do so by using electricity to create heat, which is not nearly as efficient as a heat pump which moves warm air around rather than generating it.


I want to ask for help but I don’t want to pay a trip and diagnostic fee.

Although it’s always a good idea to consult with a certified HVAC technician, we’ll try to help you out here a little. If you’re trying to determine whether a heat pump is a good choice for your home, the first place to start is to think about your area’s climate. Heat pumps work best in warmer climates with mild to moderate winters. If the temperature in your region frequently drops below freezing, it will be more difficult for a heat pump to draw heat out of the air, which may cause it to run non-stop or switch to an auxiliary heat source driving up its energy consumption and operational costs.

However, advancements in heat pump technology are making them suitable in areas that experience extreme cold weather, as much as 20 degrees below freezing. Newer heat pumps are gaining in popularity in colder climates because they are a good deal more efficient and cost much less to operate than oil-burning systems.

Once you’ve decided which system you’re going to get, it’s very important to have a technician visit your home to perform a load calculation. This will determine the size of the heat pump or air conditioner you need to properly cool and heat your home. Systems which are too small or too big will not be as efficient or will not effectively remove humidity from your home as a properly sized unit would.


Do I need an AC or a heat pump to cool my home?

If your home is already equipped with ducts, then central air conditioners and heat pumps are both good options for cooling your home. In fact, both systems share a number of common components, such as an outdoor unit that houses a compressor, condensing coil, fan, and motor, and an inside unit with an air handler, evaporator coil, and blower. Heat pumps are just as effective at providing chilled air as air conditioners, and they both pretty much work the same when it comes to cooling your home.

Central air conditioning units provide cooling by removing warm air from inside your home and using a refrigerant to the air when it enters the evaporator coil. This chilled air is then distributed throughout your home via a duct system and a blower located in the air handler unit. Heat pumps also remove warm air from your home in the same manner. However, the main difference between the two systems is that heat pumps have a reversing valve which, when switched on, reverses the direction of the refrigerant and transfers heat from the air outside to the inside of your home making it nice and toasty.

The heat pump’s ability to move air around and transfer heat from outside to inside and vice versa, makes it the perfect all-in-one-system that can provide both heating and cooling comfort. Plus, it’s extremely efficient since it’s merely moving hot air around as opposed to generating heat as a traditional HVAC system do.


Do I need an AC or a heat pump to heat my home?

As just mentioned, the great thing about a heat pump is that it both cools and heats. Air conditioners only cool the air unless the system is outfitted with electric heat strips. If you live in a climate where it is cold most months of the year, this type of system is going to use up a lot of energy to run since heat has to be created. This is where the heat pump has an advantage over traditional HVAC systems as it transfers heat from the outdoors to warm your home, which requires very little energy. Switching from an air conditioner with a heating element that generates heat to a more energy-efficient heat pump, which moves hot air around, can reduce your utility bill by up to 40% throughout the winter months.


Can I run the heat in the summer?

It is not recommended to have your heat pump in heat mode when it’s really warm outside as it could damage some of the internal components. If you want to test your heat pump system in the summer to make sure it will work during the winter, just switch it to heat mode for a minute or two to see if warm air comes out. If it does, then the reversing valve is working properly.


Can I have cooling in the winter if I need it?

If you need to have cool air in your home during the winter (perhaps because you set the thermostat to 90 degrees to shake off the chill when you woke up and left your house for the day forgetting to turn it down….. and you can’t open your windows to let the warm air out because they are all sealed shut for some reason) then you just have to switch the reversing valve from heating to cooling and you’ll be all set!


Are heat pumps a good choice in a four-season climate vs. a climate with less variance?

Heat pumps are a great choice for climates that stay mostly warm with little variance, such as Florida, or mostly cold, such as Maine, and everything else in between. They are just as efficient as top-of-the-line air conditioners for cooling your home during the summer and are the best choice efficiency-wise for heating your home in the winter. Heat pumps are an energy-efficient solution for most of your heating and cooling needs.


How do I know if I have a heat pump or an AC?

To find out if whether the system you currently have is an air conditioner or a heat pump, look for the yellow EnergyGuide label located on the outdoor or indoor air unit. Located just below the “ENE” of the “EnergyGuide” title will be a description of your type of system. For example, you might see the words: “Central Air Conditioner – Cooling Only – Split System”  or “Heat Pump – Cooling and Heating – Split System.”

If you are unable to see the label on your system, then another way to tell if you have a heat pump or air conditioner is to walk outside to the big metal box unit located next to your house, and take a peek between the slats. If you see a copper-looking device shaped like this….

copper device heat pump

…then you have a heat pump.


Wait, what about a furnace? What’s the difference?

Furnaces, which are more popular in northern states, generate heat by burning oil or natural gas and blowing the heated air into your home. Heat pumps transfer heat from the air outside into your home to provide warmth. Even if the outside air seems cold to you, a heat pump can still pull the heat from cold air. However, how much heat is transferred into your home depends on the outside temperature. As it gets colder, there is less heat available to extract.

Typically, when temperatures reach around 25-30 degrees, a heat pump will run longer and may even trigger a supplemental heating source, such as a furnace or electric heat strips, to aid in warming the air. When this happens, the heat pump becomes less efficient and consumes more energy to run. If you live in a climate where the temperature frequently drops below 30 degrees, a heat pump may not be the best option for you. Furnaces, on the other hand, can provide heat even in the coldest of cold climates.


Any shocking information about heat pumps?

Probably the most “shocking” thing about heat pumps is the different types of heat pumps that are available! We’ve mostly been talking about “Air Source” heat pumps, which are the most popular, but there are also “Geothermal” heat pumps, and “Absorption” heat pumps. Here’s how they differ:

  • Air source heat pump– extracts and moves heat between the air outdoors and the air indoors.
  • Geothermal heat pump– transfers heat to and from the ground or a nearby water source to your home.
  • Absorption heat pump– is similar to an air-source heat pump but uses heat sources, such as solar-energy, natural gas, propane, or geo-thermal water, instead of electricity to operate.


What’s the Department of Energy say about heat pumps?

Recognizing the energy-savings advantages heat pumps have over other HVAC systems, the Department of Energy (DOE) states that heat pumps can provide equivalent heating and cooling for as little as one quarter the cost of other systems. When used for heating, the heat pump can reduce the amount of electricity used by approximately 50% compared to furnaces and baseboard heaters. The DOE also notes that high-efficiency heat pumps are better at dehumidifying than standard central air conditioners, which result in less energy being used and more cooling comfort during the warmer months.


You can always call us or visit our website for a walk through on AC vs. heat pumps.

If you have additional questions, or still aren’t sure whether an air conditioner or heat pump is the right system for you, then just visit or call us at (877) 774-2334 and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions!

How Your Heat Pump Keeps You Cool

Heat pumps are often thought of as being a device which help keeps your home warm during the cooler months, but what is often overlooked is the fact that heat pumps are also one of the most energy-efficient ways to cool your home during the warmer months as well.


Definition of a heat pump

A heat pump is a mechanical system that moves available heat from one area to another. Since heat flows naturally from a higher temperature to a lower temperature in an effort to reach thermal equilibrium, heat pumps use very little energy to push or “pump” warmer air around. During the winter months, a heat pump provides warm air by removing heat out of the air or ground and transferring it into your home. During the summer, the heat from your home is transferred outdoors leaving cooler air behind. Moving heat from place to place instead of generating heat, as a furnace or central air conditioning unit would do, uses significantly less energy providing huge cost savings over other types of HVAC systems.


Brief history of the heat pump

In the 1940s, Robert C. Webber, an American inventor, noticed that the outlet pipe of his freezer became very hot when he lowered its temperature. He soon realized the potential applications for the heat which was being discarded. Running pipes from his freezer to his boilers, Webber captured this displaced heat to provide his family with hot water. Next, he piped hot water into coils and used a fan to blow over the coils sending warm air into his home. Soon after, Webber figured out how get heat from underground and use to warm the air thereby inventing the first ground-source (geo-thermal) heat pump in the late 1940s. Soon after, electrical and gas heat pumps were developed.

It hasn’t been until the past 10-15 years, however, that heat pumps have gained significantly in popularity due to their eco-friendly manner of operation, their ability to both heat and cool, and their cost-savings energy efficiency. Additionally, advancements in heat pump technology are improving their performance even further. Newer, high-efficiency models utilize the heat that is wasted heat when the system is in cooling mode to heat water at two to three more efficiency than an electric water heater would.


Understanding your heat pump

Heat pumps operate via the principle of heat transference. When in heating mode, a heat pump extracts heat from the outside air and moves it into your home. While in cooling mode, the heat pump removes heat from the air inside your home to the outside leaving cooler air behind. Only a small amount of energy in the form of electricity or gas is required to transfer the heat from indoors to outdoors or vice versa.

When the air outside is too cold for extracting heat, the system’s “backup heat” will come on using an alternate form of heat, usually heated coils knows as “strip heat” or “aux heat” to warm the air inside. This backup heat, however, is powered by electricity or gas which consumes a lot more energy to run.


How does a heat pump work?

Heat pumps provide heating and cooling to your home by moving heat around and by employing a reversing valve, which changes the directional flow of the refrigerant depending on whether cooling or heating is required. Heat pumps are similar to split central air conditioning systems in that they have both an indoor and outdoor unit. They also share some of the same major components, which are:

  • Compressor:The compressor compresses and circulates the refrigerant which absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.
  • Condenser & Evaporator Coils: The condenser and evaporator coils work with the compressor to heat or cool the air, depending on which mode the heat pump is in.
  • Air Handler:The air handler blows the warmed or cooled air into the ducts of the home to distribute the cooled or warmed air.
  • Heat Strips:Heat strips are an electric heating element used for auxiliary (back-up) heat when the weather outside is too cold for heat extraction and an additional heat source is needed.
  • Reversing Valves:Unique to heat pumps, reversing valves change the directional flow of the refrigerant to either heat or cool the interior of your home.

Unlike central air conditioning systems, though, heat pumps are much more efficient at heating your home in the winter because it removes heat from outside air and pumps it indoors, whereas a central AC system must use a great deal more energy in the form of gas or electricity to create heat in your home and raising the amount of your utility bill.


How does a heat pump cool?

Heat pumps can cool your home just as effectively as energy efficient air conditioners can. Warm air is pulled out of your home by a fan while refrigerant is pumped from the exterior condenser coil to the evaporator coil indoors absorbing the heat from the air. The air handler then pushes the cooled air through the ducts into various rooms of your home. This cycle starts again and continues on a repeating loop until the desired interior temperature is reached.


Can a heat pump dehumidify?

Heat pumps are great dehumidifiers due to their typically larger condenser coils which work better at treating and eliminating moisture from the air than regular air conditioners. After the liquid refrigerant is evaporated and turned into a gas, it is then compressed by the condenser unit and turned back into a liquid, releasing heat into the surrounding air as it does so. As the heat cools, the moisture in the air is removed by the condenser coil thereby lowering the humidity levels. Reduced humidity in the air will immediately make you feel a few degrees cooler than it actually is, providing additional energy and money saving benefits.


Advantages/disadvantages of a heat pump

There are a lot of advantages of having a heat pump in your home, not the least of which you can use it all year round as it provides both heating and cooling. Also, as the primary function of a heat pump is to transfer heat from one place to another, it’s a very economical and efficient way to make your living space comfortable.

There are some disadvantages to heat pumps, though. For example, they are not as effective in extremely cold climates where the temperature falls below freezing on a regular basis. There is more heat to transfer from one place to another in more moderate climates than in very cold climates, so if the auxiliary or backup heating system comes on frequently, then it’s not really operating as an energy-efficient system. Also, in colder climates there is still heat available in the outside air which can be pumped indoors, but the heat pump will need to work a lot harder to extract it.

Another possible disadvantage is that the heat produced by a heat pump isn’t quite as hot and intense as the heat produced by gas furnaces or electric HVAC systems. However, as heat pumps move heat around, heated air is more evenly distributed throughout your home with fewer “cold spots” that homes with traditional heating systems can often have.

The biggest advantage to using a heat pump, though, is that is the heat in the outside air, which is free(!), for heating and cooling making it much more efficient than other systems that use inefficient sources of energy such as oil or electricity. Though the upfront costs of purchasing and installing a heat pump may be higher than traditional HVAC systems, the payoff will be more than worth it as you’ll see reduced energy use and lower utility bills over the heat pump’s life span.


Types of heat pumps

There are three types of heat pump systems: air source, which is the most popular, geo-thermal, and absorption. The difference between them is where they get their heat source from.

  • Air-source heat pump: The air-source heat pump uses fans to transfer heat from the air outside to inside your home and vice versa. Since heat is being moved around instead of generated, relatively little energy is consumed in operating this type of system. Compared to electric or gas-operated heating systems, an air-source heat pump can reduce your utility bill by as much as 50% over these other systems.
  • Geothermal heat pump: Also known as a ground-source or water-source heat pump, the geothermal heat pump transfers heat from underground or a nearby water source. The earth is an excellent source of heat as it absorbs a large amount of solar energy, allowing it to maintain a moderate temperature just below the surface all year round. Geothermal heat pumps use refrigerant or water in pipes submerged underground to absorb the earth’s heat where it is extracted and then sent as warm air into your home. Very efficient, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly, geothermal heat pumps can provide heating and cooling for your home while reducing your utility bill by up to 65%.
  • Absorption heat pump: The absorption heat pump is an air-source heat pump that uses a variety of heat sources, such as natural gas, solar energy, geothermal energy, etc.) instead of electricity to operate the compression cycle for heating or cooling your home. Also, an environmentally-friendly ammonia plus water solution is used to generate heat instead of an ozone-destroying refrigerant.


Clear list of steps to operate the heat pump

Since heat pumps don’t generate heat from scratch, but instead use available natural sources of heat and move it around, there are some factors users should keep in mind when operating their heat pump system.

  1. Don’t set the temperature too high in the winter or too low in the summer. Heat pumps generate a more continuous moderate temperature to eventual reach the desired warm or cool temperature rather than higher- or lower-temperature blasts of air. Therefore, the air coming into the home may not seem warm enough, or cool enough, at first, but heat pumps run in longer cycles to achieve the desired temperature.
  2. If you want to raise the temperature in your home, do so gradually by adjusting the thermostat only 1-2 degrees higher at a time. Doing so will keep your system from employing the auxiliary heat which uses more energy and could affect your utility bill.
  3. Don’t do setbacks with your heat pump. Traditional HVAC users have been taught to “setback” their air conditioner and heater to a much lower or higher temperature when they are out of the house to save on their electric bill. However, doing this with a heat pump system may not only trigger the back-up heat to kick on, but it may also take the system several hours to reach your home’s ideal temperature. It’s best to just set your ideal temperature and then walk away to reap the most benefit in cost savings and comfort from your heat pump.

Also, it goes without saying that just with any HVAC system, proper maintenance is important to maintain efficient operation of your heat pump. Make sure to clean or replace filters on a regular basis (usually monthly), make sure there is no debris, vegetation, or clutter around the exterior unit, check ducts, coils, and registers regularly and clean when needed, and check for refrigerant leaks.


How much does a heat pump cost?

The typical range for installing a new heat pump is between $4,000 and $7,000, depending on the type of heat pump you purchase and the size of your home. Geothermal heat pumps are generally more expensive to install since there are component that require being placed underground. As a heat pump can provide both heating and cooling, it eliminates the need for a furnace and an air conditioner. Though upfront costs may be high, heat pump systems can significantly reduce your energy consumption and keep more money in your pocket making it a worthwhile investment for your home and your budget.

When you’re ready to purchase a new system, be sure to save thousands by shopping online with!

What is a Ductless System- Heating and Cooling Systems Explained

What Is a Ductless System?

A ductless air conditioning system is an energy-efficient system that can cool (or heat) rooms and zones of a home without needing ductwork. Ductless systems provide a suitable AC option for homes that don’t have the space for ducts or for homeowners who’d rather not tear up their walls to install ducts.


How Ductless Systems Operate

Similar to ducted, split central air conditioners, ductless systems also consist of an indoor air handling component and an outdoor component housing the compressor and condenser unit. However, instead of just one large air handler unit tucked away inside a closet, crawl space, or attic, ductless systems have multiple air handlers installed in different rooms of the house mounted on the wall. These individual air handlers operate similar to a window unit, where each one can be regulated to a different temperature.

The indoor and outdoor components are linked with copper tubing that passes through a small hole in the wall. Similar to split air conditioners, refrigerant travels through tubing to the indoor air handler(s), where the evaporator coil pulls the heat from the air leaving cool air which is blown into the room. The refrigerant, in vapor form, is then transferred to the condenser coil in the outside unit where it is changed back into liquid form.

Ductless systems were originally developed by a Japanese manufacturer in the 1970s and are predominantly used in Asia and Europe, but they have recently gained in popularity in the U.S. due to their energy-efficient capabilities. The ductless air conditioner was designed to be an improved version of the window unit, where it could provide localized cooling to homes and buildings where a larger, central air-type system was not an option due to building size or financial constraints. Providing greater efficiency than window units, the ductless system offers air comfort variability that can be controlled individually, room-by-room, which enhances its appeal as it gives all family members more control over their own comfort.



Pros and Cons of a Ductless Unit


  • Ductless systems are very energy efficient due to the fact that they’re smaller so they use less energy to operate and because there are no ducts. An average home with a central air conditioning system can have an energy loss of 25% to 30% just from their ductwork. Ductless systems also have technologically advanced components such as an inverter-driven compressor, which allows the system to speed up and slow down as needed instead of shutting down completely. Other types of systems consume a lot of energy just on start-up alone.
  • Installation of ductless systems is easier and less complicated than ducted systems. The factory puts together most of the components of a ductless and not having to deal with ducts makes the installation process one where there are fewer chances for mistakes to occur.
  • Faster cooling – since there are no ducts for the air to travel through to reach its destination, ductless systems can cool a room much quicker since the air handler unit is already in the room.
  • Zoned cooling -each indoor unit of a ductless system has its own thermostat allowing that room’s temperature to be individually controlled. No need to cool a room that’s empty – just turn the unit in that room off. Plus, family members get to choose the temperature that is most comfortable to them.
  • Reliability – ductless systems have gained a reputation for being reliable and maintenance friendly. Also, without ducts, potential problems such as leaks, debris, or build-up which can clog air flow and reduce efficiency are not a concern.


  • Ductless systems are expensive. For a single-room installation, a ductless air conditioner will cost you several times more than a standard, comparable window unit. Compared to an air conditioning system for an entire home, such as a ducted central air conditioner, a ductless system will typically be more expensive than a similar capacity unit. And, if you are replacing your ducted central air system with a ductless system, the cost could be two to three times more expensive than replacing it with another ducted system.
  • Maintaining a ductless system can be cumbersome as each unit’s filter will need to be washed monthly, or more frequently if there are pets or a smoker in the house. Skipping this important step could shorten the life of your system.
  • Ductless systems are primarily used for spot-cooling rooms in an average-sized house and are not really ideal or cost-effective for cooling an entire building.
  • The indoor component of a ductless system may not be aesthetically pleasing to some, and they typically come in only standard white or beige colors, jut out from the wall, and cannot be covered.

Ductless System Set-Up

The outdoor component of a ductless air conditioning system can be installed on a concrete slab in a shaded area on the side or back of the house and unobstructed from shrubbery. The exterior unit can also be attached to the outside wall of the house with mounting brackets. With this type of installation, it’s important to have plenty of clearance, at least 4 inches, between the wall and the unit, and at least 20 inches of clearance above the unit.

Interior components of a ductless system are typically mounted high on an interior wall of the room it’s cooling. It should be centrally located in the room for even distribution of the cooled air. For less obtrusive locations inside a room, ductless interior units can also be placed recessed in the ceiling or near the floor. The indoor unit should be installed no more than 50 feet away from the outdoor unit.


Cost of Operating and Maintaining a Ductless System

The upfront cost of your ductless system will depend on the size of your home and how many units it will require –  either one, two, or perhaps four or more. The more units required, the more the initial cost will be. There are also other factors which can affect the cost of a ductless system such as brand, the amount of cooling needed, system features and capabilities, integrated technology, and air conditioning support and services.

The high costs of ductless air conditioners can sometimes scare consumers away, but rebates and tax incentives are often available as they are energy-efficient systems. Plus, the initial costs are likely to be recouped before too long since ductless air conditioners, which have SEER ratings up to 26, are one of the most efficient and cost-saving air conditioning systems available. Ductless air conditioners use up to 30% – 50% less energy than central air systems so their overall operational costs are lower. Maintenance costs for ductless systems also tend to be lower than that for other systems, and with proper care and maintenance a ductless system should last for over 20 years.


Is a Ductless Air Conditioning System the Best Choice for Your Climate?

Ductless systems are a great option for most climates as they can provide individual heating and cooling effectively and efficiently. However, for those regions that reach extremely high temperatures and humidity levels in the summer, a ductless air conditioner may have difficulty cooling your home on some of those hotter days. Also, ductless systems are not as good as central air systems at removing moisture from the air so for those who live in a very humid climate, a ducted system may be a better option.


What Is the Difference Between a Ductless System and Other Types of Systems?

Ductless air conditioners resemble window units in that each are designed to cool one room. The similarity pretty much ends there as ductless systems are much more efficient than window units, don’t block the sunlight by taking up space in a window, and don’t pose a security risk as window units can easily be removed. Window units are still the cheapest and easiest air conditioners to install, though.

Compared to ducted air conditioning systems, such as split and packaged AC units, ductless systems work in a similar way to cool the home with the use of a compressor, evaporator coil, condensing coil, refrigerant, and blower. However, the cool air is delivered directly into each room through separate air handler units installed on the walls of each room instead of the cooled air reaching the room through a network of ducts. Not having ducts makes for much easier installation and maintenance for ductless systems, as well as improved efficiency and less dust in the air as there are no ducts on which it can collect.

Ductless systems come with a hand-held remote that controls just that one individual unit. With the remote, you can turn the AC system off and on, choose heat or cool, set the thermostat, and control the air speed. If you have multiple units in your home, then a programmable thermostat will allow you to pre-program your desired temperature settings and start/end times for all of the connected units.

Naturally, with the internet of things (IOT), there are smart thermostats available for ductless systems as well that can preheat or precool your home before you get home, monitor the temperature of your home, even while you’re away, adjust the temperature according to weather systems, and work with other applications for multiple features and benefits.

Ductless air conditioning systems are a great alternative to the ducted options and with their temperature variability control and energy-efficiency, they are an excellent choice for many consumers. However, your AC contractor may still advise you to get a ducted system if you already have ducts installed, are concerned with controlling the humidity, or want better air flow throughout your home, which a network of ducts help provide.

If you’re in a new house without any ducts already installed, then you will have the choice of which type of air conditioning will work best for you and your home. To learn more about the most common types of systems, click here. If you’re ready to shop for your new system and want to save thousands by shopping online, click here.

What is a Packaged Unit- Heating and Cooling Systems Explained

If you’re shopping around for a new central air conditioning system, you’ve probably discovered that there are three types of systems from which you can choose: Packaged Units, Split Systems and Ductless. All three systems work equally well and offer energy efficient options and state-of-the-art systems that can help you save money and effectively cool your home. In this article, we’ll discuss the packaged air conditioning system in more depth and whether or not it’s a good option for you. As a rule of thumb, it’s almost always a good idea to stick with the type of system you have – if you have been satisfied with it.


What is a Package System?

A packaged unit is a heating and cooling device that has all of its main components (condenser, compressor, and evaporator) combined together in one single, metal-encased “package.” Packaged air conditioners are a great option for homes that don’t have a lot of space for an indoor component. Not to say that a packed unit can’t adequately cool a large home – because it definitely can. Package units tend to be popular in the southeastern regions of the U.S. where homes don’t typically have basements or crawl spaces, but they can be used in any region.

A packaged unit hooks up to a home’s ductwork to pull warm air out of the house and replace it with cool air. The unit is located outside the home usually on a concrete slab next to the house, or, to save even more space, installed on the roof.


What Is the Difference Between a Split System and a Packaged Unit?

A split system has some of the air conditioning components located outside the home, such as the fan, compressor, and condenser, and the rest of the components located inside the home, such as the evaporator coil, air handler and blower. The advantage of a split system is that the indoor components are kept in a controlled, non-harsh type of environment and therefore have a longer life-span than if they were located outside. Another advantage is that split systems come in higher energy-efficient options with SEER ratings in the twenties, whereas packaged units typically have 14 SEER or 16 SEER options. The advantages of a packaged unit over a split system are:

  • They are easier to install. All the components of the system are not only housed in one convenient unit, but they are assembled in a factory in a controlled environment where the refrigerant charge and other parts are already in perfect working order. Split systems are more complicated to install, increasing the possibility of installation challenges.
  • They are huge space savers. Without a second, indoor section to install, packaged units are perfect for homes without the extra space.
  • Easier maintenance. All parts are located in one place and conveniently located outside, which makes maintenance and repairs easier.
  • It’s quieter. Since the entire system is located outside, the noise level inside the home is much lower.


Types of Package Units

There are several different packaged options to choose from depending on your cooling or heating needs:

Cooling only packaged air conditioner: Electric-power unit with no heating elements for those climates that are typically warm year-round.

Packaged air conditioner with heat: Electric-powered air conditioner that also has a heating element. Electricity heats up the element warming the air that flows over it. This warm air moves through the ducts to raise the temperature inside your home. This type of system is common in warmer climates where the heat is used only occasionally.

Packaged gas/electric systems: This type of system offers high-efficiency electric air conditioning during the warmer months and the efficiency of a gas furnace for heating during the cooler months. These are common in colder regions as gas heat is an energy efficient way of heating a home. Do you have gas or electric? You can learn more by using the instant low price quote tool here. 

Gas and Electric Package Units

Packaged heat pumps: A heat pump moves warm air from outside the home to inside the home during cooler months, and then, reversing the cycle, moves warm air from inside the home to outside when cooler temperatures are desired inside. Powered by electricity, heat pumps move warm air around instead of generating heat which makes them particularly energy efficient. Heat pumps work best in moderate to mild climates.

Dual fuel heat pump (heat pump and gas furnace): Utilizing the heat pump to pull heat from the outside air to warm your home, the furnace part of this system doesn’t kick on until it’s around 35 degrees or less outside, making it a very energy efficient system, perfect for cold climates.

Electric furnace and heat pump: Similar to the heat pump plus gas furnace system, the heat pump does the majority of the air cooling and heating here as well, with a backup electric furnace that kicks on only when there is not enough heat in the air for the heat pump to sufficiently warm the home.


What type of air conditioning system is best for your regional climate?

It’s not just whether your climate is mostly warm or mostly cold, but also whether you have more of a dry climate as opposed to a humid climate that will affect the type of air conditioning system that will work best for you.

Packaged air conditioning systems are a great option for cooling your home, however, if you happen to live in a warm, humid climate like Florida, you may discover that split system air conditioners are more common. This is due to several factors: 1) an air conditioner in a hot, humid climate is going to work a lot harder to keep a home cool than one in a milder climate, so having a high energy-efficient unit is important. Split systems come with higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings than packaged units do, making them the preferred system for many due to their higher efficiency options; and, 2) split systems do a better job of dehumidifying a home than packaged units do, and a less humid home is a more comfortable home.

For drier climates, such as Las Vegas, packaged units that combine electric air conditioning with a gas furnace for heating are an excellent option. Also, packaged systems that combine a heat pump with a gas furnace are popular in drier climates as the heat pump is highly energy efficient because it moves warm air around to cool and heat rather than using energy to generate heat.

The heat pump plus gas furnace system is also common in colder climates as using natural gas or propane to heat a home is an energy efficient solution many northern homes employ. Similarly, the electric furnace and heat pump is frequently used in colder climates as well.


System Components of a Packaged Air Conditioner

When purchasing a packaged air conditioner, it’s useful to know the various components within that make it work. This way you’ll be able to “talk shop” with the contractor who is installing it and better understand how to perform maintenance on it.

The main components of a packaged AC unit are:

  • Fan for moving air through the system
  • Evaporator coils that cause the refrigerant to evaporate into gas thereby removing heat and moisture from the air
  • A compressor pumps the refrigerant between the evaporator coil and condenser coil
  • Condenser coil that removes heat from refrigerant vapor converting into liquid form
  • Refrigerant lines contain the refrigerant traveling between coils


Maintenance Tips for Your Packaged Unit

Knowing the components of your packaged air conditioning system, how they work, and potential problems they may encounter that could affect your system’s performance will help you stay on top of maintaining your unit, which will go a long way in extending the life of your system. The compressor, for example, is the heart of an air conditioner and if this important (and expensive) component breaks down, you may find yourself opting to just purchase a whole new system.


What does a compressor in a packaged unit do?

The compressor, powered by a motor, compresses refrigerant into a high-pressure gas and forces it into the condenser coil where its heat is released and the refrigerant condenses into a liquid. The liquid refrigerant is then pumped into the evaporator coil where it evaporates into a gas (vapor), and in doing so, removes heat and moisture from the air. As a gas, the refrigerant returns to the compressor where the whole cycle begins again. Common causes of compressor malfunctions are dirty and gummed-up condenser coils, blocked refrigerant lines, contaminants in the system (such as dirt, debris, moisture, leaves, etc.), and inadequate lubricant levels can cause serious problems for the compressor.

Routine maintenance by a licensed professional is key in maintaining an efficiently-running system with a long life ahead of it. Besides routine maintenance, it’s important that you don’t delay when it comes to repairs. If you hear an unusual knocking, rattling, grinding, or rumbling sound, call your repairman immediately before even more damage is done. Finally, don’t forget to replace the filters regularly, especially during the summer months when your air conditioner is working overtime.

Since your air conditioner plays such an important part of keeping you comfortable in your home and considering it’s one of the largest expenditures on your utility bill, purchasing a new AC system should be thoroughly researched so you can make the best decision for your home and budget. Understanding the benefits of a packaged air conditioning system, how it works to cool (or heat) your home, and how to take care of it will help you have a long and enjoyable experience with your packaged air conditioning system.

To learn more about the heating and cooling options available to you, click here. 

Heating and Cooling Systems Explained- Your Best Guide to the 3 Types

When you’re in the market for a new air-conditioning or heating system and trying to determine which of the heating and cooling systems is the best for your home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of different options, types of systems and selections available. If only there was one place that easily explained the main types. Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we are going to provide an overview of the three main categories of heating and cooling systems and discuss in detail the differences and benefits of each in order to help you make the best decision for your home, your budget, and your lifestyle.


Overview of the three main types of air conditioning systems

The three most common types of air conditioning systems are split systems, package systems, and ductless systems. Split systems are the most popular type of air conditioners found in U.S. homes. Just as its name implies, this system is “split” into two main components with one part located inside the home and the other housed outside the home in a metal container. The indoor component is connected to a network of ducts and uses a blower to circulate cooled air throughout the various rooms of the home. The outside component contains a condenser coil and a compressor, which pumps the refrigerant into the system.

A packaged unit works just as a split system does by moving cooled air through a network of ducts, however, instead of an indoor and outdoor unit, the evaporator coil, condenser, and compressor are all housed together in one metal-encased “package” that’s usually located outside the home.

Ductless systems, also known as “split ductless” systems, provide cooling similar to central air conditioning systems only without the use of ducts. These types of systems have an outside component with a condenser that circulates refrigerant via tubing to indoor blower units located in separate rooms. This type of system is particularly useful for homes that don’t or can’t install ducts.

Each of these air conditioning systems are effective in cooling homes during the warmer months of the years, but looking a little more closely at each will help you determine which system is the best one for your home.

Click here to watch the PriceFixer explainer video of the three types of heating and cooling systems. It can be super helpful to see a visual description of each!


What is a Split System?

A split system has an outdoor component with a compressor that pumps a liquid refrigerant through copper pipes (refrigeration lines) to the indoor component. The indoor component, usually located in a closet, crawl space, or attic, contains an evaporator coil that absorbs heat from the air, thereby cooling and dehumidifying it. Using a blower, also known as an air handler, this cooled air is then pushed into multiple areas of the home via a system of ducts and vents effectively lowering the interior air temperature. Simultaneously, warm air is being drawn out of the rooms through return air ducts.

The heat that was absorbed by the evaporator coil is then pumped back out (as a vapor) to the exterior unit that houses the compressor and condensing unit where it is it condensed into a liquid state so the cooling cycle can start all over again.

Split System explainer

Split System Pros:

  • Since half of the AC system resides indoors, its interior components are protected from harsh weather conditions, which will prolong their life. As long as you change the filter regularly and perform routine maintenance, the evaporator coil and fan should last a long time.
  • Higher energy efficiency options. Split systems come in a wider range of SEER ratings, going as high as 18 SEER and above, which means superior energy savings.

Split System Cons:

  • Larger system takes up a lot of space.
  • More complicated installation – with two separate components, indoor and outdoor, the chances of faulty installation doubles. Incorrect installation will reduce a split system’s efficiency and its life span.
  • More difficult to repair as there is an outdoor and indoor section, the latter oftentimes being in tight or hard to reach places.


What is a Packaged System?

With all of the main air conditioning components conveniently housed together in a single casing, a packaged unit operates in the exact same way as a split unit does, with the transference of a refrigerant between the evaporator coil and condensing coil, delivering cooled air via ducts throughout the home. Typically located outside next to the house on a concrete slab, or on the roof of a house, packaged units are much smaller than split systems and are an excellent option for space-challenged or smaller abodes.

Split systems and packaged units are what’s known as “central” air conditioning systems because they use a network of ducts, typically hidden behind walls, under floors, or above the ceilings, to circulate cool air throughout the home. The ducts are made of sheet metal and conveniently work with furnaces and heaters to distribute warm air throughout the home as well.

Package Unit

Packaged Unit Pros:

  • All components are already factory-assembled and tested which allows for easy installation and proper functioning once its installed.
  • Smaller size takes up less room. Packaged units can even be installed on some roofs, for extra space saving options.
  • All of the components are located in one place which makes it easy for maintenance and repairs.
  • A quieter home – since there is no indoor component, your peace and quiet inside the home won’t be disturbed. The air handlers of some older split systems could develop annoying noises over time.

Packaged Unit Cons:

  • All of the sensitive electronic components are located outside exposed to a harsh environment. Exposure to the elements could cause rust, damage, or other problems that could hinder the operation of the unit. Also, curious animals often burrow or chew their way into the unit causing damage as well, which leads to a life span that is likely to be shorter than that of a split system.
  • Lower SEER options. Packaged units don’t offer high SEER options like split systems do, but rather only go up to 16 SEER.

What is a Ductless System?

A ductless air conditioning system cools your home in a similar fashion as a ducted, central air conditioning system, only without the ducts. It does this by having an outdoor unit pull heat from inside your home while indoor air handlers, typically mounted high on the wall of a room, blow cool air into each individual room. Just like a split, central air conditioning system, a ductless system has an outdoor component that contains a condenser, compressor, and evaporator. Unlike the split, central AC system, however, instead of one air handler tucked away in a closet, smaller, individual air handlers are installed in individual rooms and the air temperature of each room is controlled by the air handler unit in that room. Connected to the outside component by cables and refrigerant lines that only require a small hole in the wall to pass through, the air handlers are able to effectively distribute cooled air without the need for ducts. Ductless systems are also capable of distributing warm air.

Ductless systems are growing in popularity and are a great option for homes that don’t have ducts already installed and the idea of tearing up the walls to install them is undesirable, or if a home simply doesn’t have the space to install them. A great benefit of ductless systems is that they avoid the energy loss typically associated with ducted systems. More than 30% of energy can be lost due to ducts, especially if they are in an unconditioned area, like the attic. Ductless systems also have the added benefit of individualized air control for each room; if one person prefers a room temperature of 78 while another person prefers their room temperature to be 72, then this system offers that type of flexibility. Ductless systems do tend to be more expensive than central air conditioning systems, but avoiding the cost of installing ductwork would lighten the expense.

Ductless System Explained

Ductless system pros:

  • No ducts required
  • Extremely energy efficient
  • Flexible air temperature control for individual rooms
  • Easier to install than larger, central air split systems with connecting ducts
  • Less dust as there are no ducts, which collect dust that gets circulated through the air

Ductless system cons:

  • More expensive than traditional AC systems
  • Air handler mounted on wall may look obtrusive
  • Installation more expensive as each indoor unit must be correctly sized and placed


Check out the video overview of three types of systems.


Now that you know what they are, where can they be located within your home or business?

Of course, a certified professional contractor can help you determine the best location for your new air conditioning system, but listed below are the common locations for each type of system. 

Common locations of Split Systems

To avoid extra long ducting, which could reduce efficiency, it’s best to install the indoor unit in a central location within the home. Some common places include utility closets or an enclosed space within the garage. Putting the air handler in the attic is not ideal as that area is prone to extreme heat and reaching the system for repairs or to change the filter may be difficult. For the outside component, it’s best to place it in an area that avoids direct sunlight and has plenty of clearance on all sides, with two to three feet of space on all sides and five feet or more of unobstructed space above the unit.

There are 5 areas within the home where the unit could be oriented.

  1. Attic
  2. Garage
  3. Crawlspace
  4. Basement
  5. Closet

Common locations of Package Units

Just like the outdoor component of split systems, packaged units should be installed outside the home in an area with plenty of clearance on all sides. Common locations include placing the unit on a concrete slab near the foundation of the house, or, if space is really limited, packaged units can be installed on some roof types, freeing up more yard space.

Common locations of Ductless System

The air handlers placed indoors are compact and sleek looking and their design can be aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, they can be mounted in a variety of locations such as on the wall just above eye level, in the ceiling, and near the floor.


Lifespan Comparisons

Extreme weather conditions will of course affect the life span and operational efficiency of any type of air conditioning system, as well a lack of proper maintenance, but under typical U.S. weather conditions and routine maintenance, the lifespan of a packaged unit is around 12-15 years. The life span of a split system is around 15 years, a bit longer than that of a packaged unit due to half of the system being located indoors in a controlled environment. The average life span for a ductless system is 20 years, as the lack of ducts also means a lack of dust, dirt and debris collecting within them that could potentially damage important system components.


Clear signs it’s time to replace your air conditioner

Now that you’re more educated about the different types of heating and cooling systems available, you can make a smart decision about the best option for your home when it comes time for you to replace your current system. How will you know when it’s the right time to replace your old AC unit? There are several key indicators you should be on the lookout for that will let you know when it’s time to throw in the towel and get yourself a new air conditioner. Remember, if you keep putting money into repairing an older unit, you will be losing out on the cost saving features that today’s newer, more energy efficient models provide. 

  1. Your air conditioner is over ten years old. Even if it could go another five years, the savings you’d see with a newer, more energy efficient system makes it worth your while to replace the older unit now.
  2. High repair cost. If you’re facing an expensive repair, it makes sense to put that money towards a newer, more efficient unit instead which will save you money on your utility bill.
  3. Repairs aren’t expensive but they’re frequent? If your AC unit is constantly breaking down then those small repairs can start to add up. Save yourself the aggravation and invest in a new unit.
  4. Your air conditioner still uses R 22 Freon. Not only is this hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) one of the worst pollutants and ozone-depleting substances in existence, but it is being phased out by the government to conserve energy and protect the environment. All air conditioners will eventually switch over to only using the new R410A refrigerant; help the environment and replace your old unit now.
  5. Loud noises. Rattling, shaking, grinding, clicking and general cacophony are sure signs your air conditioner is in distress. Newer models are much more technologically advanced resulting is quieter operation and better comfort.
  6. Excessive dust. If you see a lot of dust in your home, even after cleaning, it could indicate a leak in your ductwork. Leaks in the ducts cause the system to work harder and less efficiently, increasing your operating costs.
  7. Diminished air flow. If there is little to no cool air blowing out of the vent, then there’s likely a problem with the compressor.
  8. Hot spots or difficulty keeping your home cool. This could be a sign of an improperly sized system or an aging air conditioner. Either way, an air conditioner should adequately cool your home, if it doesn’t, then replace it with one that does.
  9. Your monthly utility bills have dramatically increased. If your energy consumption has spiked and there’s no obvious reason why, then the culprit could be an inefficiently operating heating or cooling unit that’s nearing the end of its working life.



So, you’ve decided to purchase a new HVAC system – aren’t you glad you read this article? You are now well-informed about the options available to you that will help you choose the perfect system for your home. Let’s review:

The three main types of air conditioning systems are:

  1. Split Systems
  2. Packaged Units
  3. Ductless Systems

Split systems and packaged units are both known as central air conditioning systems because they force air through a network of ducts to distribute cooled air evenly, and “centrally,” throughout the home. The difference between a split system and a packaged unit is the split system is much larger and has an indoor component and an outdoor component. Packaged units take up less space as the main components are combined into one convenient “package” located outdoors.

A ductless system provides cooling for the home with multiple air handler units installed in individual rooms and does not require the use of ducts.

Ductless systems and central air conditioning systems are both excellent choices for cooling a home. Not sure which type of system is right for you? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of a “forced-air” system (central air) and a ductless system:

Central air conditioning pros:  

  • Effective and efficient cooling of your home, particularly large spaces
  • Ducted systems are better at controlling humidity levels
  • Better air circulation throughout the home
  • Cleaner air due to the use of air filters which remove airborne particles and pollutants
  • Combined heating and cooling; the ducts used for cooling can also be used for heating
  • High SEER rated units available
  • No obtrusive air handlers; ducts are hidden behind the walls and vents are inconspicuous which is aesthetically pleasing to some
  • Easier maintenance; a ducted system has just one outdoor component and one air handler, unlike ductless systems which have an outdoor component and multiple air handlers, each of which require maintenance.

Central air conditioning cons: 

  • Ducts are necessary and must be installed if not already present
  • Installation can be complicated and expensive
  • Moving air through ducts causes an energy loss of 30% or more
  • Ducts collect dust and debris and need to be cleaned regularly
  • Improper filter maintenance can spread dust and airborne particles through the air
  • Blocked or partially obstructed vents can cause uneven cooling and heating
  • Can be noisy as the air moves through the vents

Ductless systems pros:

  • Quick and easy to install
  • Ideal for homes with no ductwork
  • More energy efficient than ducted systems since there is no energy loss moving air through ducts
  • Individualized temperature control for each room allows for zoning capabilities which improves energy efficiency
  • Improved indoor air quality – since there are no ducts to collect and spread dust, pollen, and allergens
  • Low noise – with no air traveling through ducts and quiet air handling units, ductless systems are very quiet

Ductless systems cons:

  • More expensive than traditional central air systems
  • Reduced air flow and air circulation – since individual air handlers cool separate rooms, there is less overall air movement throughout the home sometimes leading to stagnant air
  • Less effective humidity control – air handlers in ductless systems do not remove the moisture from the air as well as central air systems do
  • Air handler units mounted on walls – some may find the units don’t fit with their design aesthetic
  • Multiple air handlers mean more parts that need service

When choosing an air conditioning system for your home, look at the space you have available inside and outside your home, review your budget, decide the energy efficiency standard you’d like to have, and shop online to get the lowest prices for all your cooling and heating needs and local installation. If you’re looking for the best possible quote for a new system and installation, visit! Better Warranties. Lower Prices. Guaranteed.

What is a Ductless Heat Pump System?

A ductless heat pump is a very efficient and simple heating system replacement for traditional furnaces and electric heaters; it performs the functions of heating as well as cooling. A ductless system offers very easily-controlled air-conditioning and heating that can keep the temperature in the indoor spaces of your home at comfortable levels, right round the year.

What is a Ductless Heat Pump System?

This type of system is also referred to as a ductless mini-split system and is a highly-effective way of heating and cooling your home. It becomes an excellent primary HVAC system in homes that also have electric furnaces and wall heaters. A ductless heat pump system is specifically designed to provide comfort right round the year and it works noiselessly as well. Apart from that, it allows you control & efficiency even as it cuts your electric heating expenses by almost 50%.

How Does a Ductless Heating System Work?

This system functions differently from a standard electric heater, which creates its own heat. A ductless system pulls the heat from the outdoor air and uses it in heating your home. This process can be reversed within the system, to cool your home. A ductless heat pump distributes cool or warm air far more efficiently and quietly than a conventional electric heater.

Ductless Heat Pumps- The Facts

If you are looking for a furnace replacement, a ductless system is an excellent option. Most people are aware of what these systems are, and you may have also seen the indoor units installed on the walls in homes, restaurants as well as office premises. Here is some detailed information and facts about them:

1. Highly Flexible Option

A conventional heat pump & air-conditioning system forces heated and cooled air via ducts. In comparison, a ductless system delivers air directly from the indoor units, into different zones or rooms. These are typically made of an outdoor unit and one/more indoor units, depending on the cooling and heating capacity of the system. The indoor units aren’t connected to the outdoor unit via ducting. Instead they are connected via small pipes that run through a small hole in the wall to the outdoor unit. These kinds of installations make these systems a very flexible option. The indoor units only require mounting units and access to electricity.

They may also be referred to as multi-split, split or split –ductless systems and they are a very cost-efficient way to replace space heaters, electric baseboard heaters and window units that aren’t as efficient. They can be easily installed in new construction, home additions, apartments and condos and are provide you the flexibility to control the temperatures in these individual spaces. A ductless heat pump can also be installed in structures that currently use a ducted heating system.

2. Cost-Efficiency

One of the main reasons why many homeowners opt for these as their furnace replacement is because the ductless systems are highly efficient and can significantly reduce your utility bills. They consume far less power compared to other heating systems, and are more compact in size as well. Since they deliver the heated or cooled air directly in to the room, there is no loss of efficiency.

The multi-split system can also give you the flexibility to create various zones in your home and you don’t have to cool rooms which aren’t occupied. This becomes a distinct money saver. Aside from the money you save, when you install a ductless heating pump, you may also be eligible for utility rebates/tax credits for the year during which you install this system. Regardless of how you look at it, installing a ductless heating system is a win-win for you.

3. Improved Air Quality

Since we shut the windows and doors of our homes in the colder months, often times the indoor air quality is lower than the outdoor air quality. When you have a ducted system, you have to ensure the ducting is cleaned with regularity by professionals. Despite having done this, there are times when allergens and dust tend to linger in the indoor air. In comparison, a ductless system offers multi-stage filtration, which is extremely effective in reducing bacteria, dust, allergens and pollen from the air.

4. Easy and Quick Installation

It can take several weeks to install a ducted system and the work can disrupt the daily activities in your home or office. In comparison, the installation of a ductless system is far less intrusive, based on the total number of outdoor & indoor units that have to be installed. In most instances, it doesn’t take more than a day to install the system and get it running.  This means you have less hassle to deal with and don’t have to go through the inconvenience of staying without heating or cooling depending on what the outdoor climate is like.

In these systems, small pipes connect the outdoor unit with the indoor unit, and only a 3” hole is required to be made. Very simply, you don’t have to worry about any damage and rebuilding of walls and ceilings, like the kind that occurs when you get a ducted heating installed in your home or office space.

5. Environment-Friendly

Since these systems are smaller and are used to cool individual rooms or specific zones, they are very energy-efficient and the ones from the best brands always have a high-energy rating. The refrigerant used in these systems is called R410A, which is a zero-ozone depletion refrigerant. This means the ductless heating systems has a very low impact on the environment right through ‘its lifespan and it’s a great way of reducing your carbon footprint.

A ductless system is an ideal heating system replacement as well as a supplemental heating and cooling system for any other HVAC unit that is currently installed on your property. With this unit, you are assured of a comfortable indoor environment right through the year. You should discuss various options with your HVAC contractor to choose the system best –suited to your needs.


Furnace & Air Conditioner Size For 2-Story Home

A furnace or an air conditioner for your 2-story home represents a significant investment and this makes it important to buy systems of the right size. Not only will it work more efficiently, but will be able to maintain a comfortable indoor atmosphere. It’s crucial to keep in view that if an air conditioner is too large, it will use an excess amount of electricity and the air in your house will also feel too cold and clammy. On the other hand, if the air conditioner is too small, it won’t be able to keep your indoor temperatures at comfortable levels. If you want to choose the right size of air-conditioning system, you’d have to follow some basic math.

Aspects to consider

Regardless of the number of stories your home has, the air conditioner or furnace size would be dependent on the total square footage that has to be cooled. A number of other factors also come into play when estimating the size of either a furnace or AC system, such as:

    • The amount of exposure to the sun & the outdoor air
    • Type of outer wall insulation
    • Thickness of the insulation
    • The type, size & number of exterior doors and windows
    • Ceiling height
    • Other


  • Effects of undersizing or oversizing your furnace or air conditioner

    As mentioned earlier, oversizing or undersizing can impact the efficiency and performance of the system and will affect the comfort levels in your home, regardless of whether you are getting a furnace or an AC installed. Undersizing results in the system being unable to meet the required temperature settings. Aside from the comfort aspect, when you undersize your AC or furnace system, that can most likely lead to a premature failure of the units.

  • Most people are also under the misconception that larger units will also be more efficient and provide more cooling; but as discussed at the outset, this is a misconception. When we talk about the heating ability of a furnace or the cooling ability of an air conditioning unit, uniform distribution is of utmost importance and that becomes the optimum operational time of the system. When you opt for oversized units, they may be able to cool your home much quicker, but it won’t run for the optimum length of that cycle and will not provide a uniform temperature in your 2-story home. This means you will notice that there are cold and hot spots across your home.
  • When you use an oversized furnace that can cause the system to get stressed and overheated. The ducting network that exists on your property would be unable to support the large air flow volume, which will result in a pressure buildup within the return air duct and cause the furnace to overheat. In addition to erratic air distribution, when you oversize your air conditioner that results in higher humidity levels in your home. Air-conditioners are meant to dehumidify the air as well as cool the indoor spaces. The indoor evaporator coil removes water vapor and moisture from the air that’s passing through. If your property has an oversized air-conditioner, it will cycle faster and won’t be effective in dehumidifying the air to the right levels. The other factor to keep in view is the energy-efficiency of the system.
  • The furnace or the air conditioner can provide optimal efficiency only when it has been sized correctly. When you either oversize or undersize your furnace or air conditioner, it impacts the energy-efficiency and you will be saddled with higher utility bills.
  • One Unit or Two?

    This is one more question you should be asking yourself. If you live in a 2-story home, a single Ac unit might not be able to cut it. If you set the thermostat to a lower temperature to offset the warming that occurs naturally in the living spaces on the upper stories, that can cause the lower floors to become chilly and vice versa. The best way to solve the problem is to install 2 separate units, each dedicated to one level. While you do end up paying a higher upfront cost as well as operating and maintenance costs, you would be able to control the cooling or heating on the different levels more effectively. These 2 smaller units will perform the job of a single larger unit, but in a more effective way.

    The additional cost of the 2nd unit may easily be offset by sizeable energy savings in the long term. A lot of this depends on how the structure of your house is and the manner in which you use your air-conditioners. There is another distinct advantage to getting 2 units installed in your two-story home. In case there is a downtime on one system, you might just be able to maintain a certain level of cooling in the house till the time you get the dysfunctional one fixed.

    Install A Good Zoning System

    If you prefer to install a single AC system, you should consider zoning. When you divide the system into various zones that have individual thermostats, it adds to the cooling or heating capacity of the unit. The motorized dampers within the ductwork respond to the signals from the system’s central controller to direct the cool air to one zone when it reaches the temperature set on that specific thermostat.

    It will simultaneously decrease/shut down the air-flow to another zone which doesn’t need that level of cooling. A zone dampener opens and closes independent of other similar systems that are installed on the property. This allows a single AC to effectively maintain the temperature in the lower and upper floors. You have the option to turn off the cooling or heating zone on one story while the system heats only the zone/s that is being using. This functionality also makes a zoned furnace or AC system extremely cost-efficient.

    As you can see, there are a number of variables that come into the picture when you are purchasing a furnace or air conditioner for your 2-story home. This means you would have to hire the services of a professional installer to estimate what type of system would work best for your needs.


How Much Does it Cost to Install a Heat Pump?

heat pump installation can make a significant difference to your energy bills as it helps reduce the cost of cooling & heating your property. This acts like a Furnace replacement as well as an AC replacement. Depending in the type of heat pump you choose and the size of your home, the cost of a heat pump installation can be in the range of $3,955 to $6,773.

If you are considering purchasing a geothermal pump, that would require underground installation that would increase the installation costs; these would be higher than what you would pay for installation of an air-source pump. While the purchase and installation of a heat pump represent a significant investment, it is a very energy-efficient system and can reduce the amount you spend on your utility bills in the long term.  Before we go into details about how much it costs to install a heat pump, you would have to take these aspects into account:

Installation Cost Considerations

The amount of excavation required will impact the installation cost. Ensure you consult and discuss this with a few well-established heat pump installers and get quotes from them. This is because there can be a significant variation in installation costs. For instance, if the project involves drilling through a driveway or a concrete slab, it will escalate the overall cost of the heating system replacement, in comparison to an installation in which no excavation is involved.

1. Expenses involved

These are the expenses that would have to be kept in view while installing either an air-source pump or a geothermal one:

    • Heat Pump – The amount you pay for the heating pump unit; there can be a wide variation in pricing depending on the brand, model,


     and type of pump. Installation – This includes preparation of the area where the pump is to be installed, all the standard equipment required, labor and planning cost. It may also be inclusive of the cleanup of the site once the project is complete. Materials and Supplies – This includes the cost of all the pipes, hardware, fittings etc., Since there is pipe fitting involved in the installation of ground source pumps, the supplies and material costs are generally much higher in these projects. Specialty Equipment Fees – In certain projects additional equipment such as brazing kits and pipe cutters are required in the work and that is included in these fees.
    Your home’s size

This is one of the most important aspects that determine the cost of your heat pump installation. A larger house would need a pump of a higher capacity to meet its heating & cooling requirements. The higher the capacity of the unit, the more you shell out for it. It’s important that you don’t try to cut costs by opting for a pump of a lesser capacity; that will only cause you to spend more in terms of energy usage.

Aside from this, it will stress the system and reduce its lifespan, and you would eventually have to replace it sooner than required.  The unit should be sized based on the maximum heating and cooling demand. You would have to take the square-footage of the space into account while determining the heat pump size.

2. Sound Rating

It’s also very important that you factor in the sound rating; look for one that has a lower rating as the ones that are noisy can actually cause the exterior walls closest to the installation, to vibrate when they are in use.

3. Climate

heat pump is always the most–effective in a temperate climate; if the climate in your area is extremely hot or cold, the system will end up using more energy than it should to maintain the indoor temperature at the desired levels. This is why something that is easy on your pocket might not always be an excellent option if you live in a region with a hot and humid or even a very frosty climate.

4. Split/Packaged System

You would have to decide whether you want a spilt system or a packaged one. The former has an exterior unit as well as an indoor one. On the other hand, a packaged model is an all-in-one system that is fitted outdoors; it doesn’t have an indoor element.

5. Ducting

This is another factor you would have to take into account. If your property doesn’t have ducting installations, you may want to consider opting for a ductless system. This requires only one small hole in the wall to connect the outdoor unit with the indoor unit. Certain short run models are ideal for smaller areas in a home, like rooms that have ductwork installed.

6. Number of Rooms

You would have to keep in view the number of rooms that require heating or cooling. A single zone system can be used to heat only one area of the house and will have only one interior unit and one exterior installation. In comparison, a multi-zone unit can have multiple indoor units connected to a single condenser unit which is located outdoors. All of these factors have bearing on the cost of the heat pump you decide to install on your property.

Understanding Heat Pump Pricing

Every heat pump manufacturing company generally offers high/mid and low-quality systems. The cost of the heat pump will be dependent on the SEER and HSPF ratings. A system with a higher energy and a higher HSPF score will cost more than one with lower ratings. Most homeowners opt for a mid-quality heat pump, and spend in the range of $700 and $2,800 for it (excluding labor expenses). Based on the model and brand as well as installation factors such as excavation and drilling, the cost can eventually reach $9,000.

Most heat pump manufacturers don’t display unit prices since there are a number of factors that impact the overall cost. However, the average cost of major heat pump brands for their 3-ton models could be in the range of  $5,000- $9000 for labor and all the standard supplies and material. If more pipe work is involved that cost would have to be factored in as well.

Today, you will also find a number of hybrid heat pumps that pull energy from gas boilers; absorption pumps operate on water that’s heated by geothermal energy /solar panels. However, these aren’t as commonly used as the heat pumps we just talked about and their unit and installation costs are

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