Avoid high Propane Prices in Central Indiana

Note: the following is an updated version of some very important information regarding the recent LP gas shortages and related high propane prices. Are you heating your home with propane (LP) gas? Considering the high propane prices in Central Indiana, you need to read this to save some serious money. The price of LP gas in Hamilton County, Indiana, was previously around $2.50 per gallon. This was creating heating costs of $2000 per year. But now with the recent LP gas shortage the costs could be double! Imagine how far ahead you would be if you could keep $1500 to $3000 of this expense every year?

Propane heat is one of the most expensive ways to heat your home. But what alternatives do you have? Here is an easy way to make a quick comparison between different heating systems and fuels. From your past heating bills we can estimate how much heat your home needed last winter. The unit of heat we use is called a BTU. (A BTU is a very small amount of heat so you need several million of these BTUs each winter.)

Let’s say your home needed 65 million BTUs last winter. Your 90% LP gas furnace can make one million BTUs for $30.86 if the gas cost is $2.50 per gallon. So your winter fuel bill ends up being about $2000 because 65 million X $30.86 = $2006. But the current high propane prices could double this cost to $4000 per winter! Does this unreasonably high propane bill sound familiar for your home?

Geothermal saves $1000 to $2000 per year!

A geothermal heat pump in your home will not change the amount of heat you need. But the geo system can make (actually, move) the same one million BTUs for a mere $7.53 if the cost of electricity is $.09 per kWh. So now your winter heating bill is 65 X $7.53 or $489. Do some quick rounding and you can see about $1500 per year in geothermal energy savings! In a more extreme example, your furnace may only be 80% efficient and your electricity may only cost $.075 per kWh. Now your geothermal heating savings is over $1800 per winter!

Note: The above prices were listed before the recent LP gas shortage. With the current high propane prices, you could easily save $3000 per winter.

And the geothermal air conditioning savings are added to the winter savings!

Precision Comfort Systems will help you with all your options and even update you on the 30% geothermal federal tax credit. We can help you decide if your next propane furnace repair is a wise decision. Maybe it’s better seen as a good opportunity to invest in a new system. Before you spend more money on your next propane tank refill, or your next furnace repair, or even your next air conditioner service, call the heating and cooling specialists at Precision Comfort Systems. 317-867-2665.

DIY test: is heat pump causing high electric bill?

If you receive a high electric bill in the winter and if you heat your Indianapolis area home with an electric heat pump and if you notice your heat pump runs 24/7, you might presume the heat pump is the problem. The trouble is, you normally have to call your heating contractor to see if the heat pump is working properly. Well here is a do it yourself test to check the heat pump, to see if it is working properly. This test is so easy, you will find yourself checking the heat pump operation every time you pass by. It’s almost as alluring as checking wet paint!

Before we start, I suggest you read an earlier blog (follow link) where I explain that it is normal for your heat pump to run non stop in cold weather. But even though your system is supposed to run often, you should know that a heat pump compressor can fail and the outside unit will still appear that it is working since the outside fan is still running. So how do we know the heat pump is doing its thing?

From the link above, you know a heat pump is two to four times more efficient than your backup electric heat. If the heat pump compressor fails, the backup heat takes over, the heat pump fan never shuts off and 6 weeks later you get a high electric bill, three times what it should be.

Here’s how to test if your heat pump is working. The outside unit is connected to the inside furnace by two copper refrigerant lines. One is the size of your thumb, the other the size of your little finger. In the winter, when the outside unit is running, feel the larger of the two copper lines. It is probably covered by a black foam insulation, so you will need to get under this foam to feel the metal pipe. This line should be very warm to the touch. It will not burn you, but on most winter days above 20 degrees, you will want to pull your finger off pretty quick. This pipe is carrying lots of heat. It was robbed from the outside air and is now being sent to your home.

If the line is not hot:

  • Is the outside unit running? Can you get it to run by raising the thermostat? Is your thermostat improperly set to emergency heat? If you cannot get the outdoor heat pump to run… and this is a tough one… it’s broke.
  • Is the heat pump in a defrost cycle? (That’s when steam is coming off the unit.) If so, wait until it’s done and test later.
  • Do you really have a heat pump? (An air conditioner is not supposed to run in the winter.) Call Precision Comfort Systems and let’s get your electric bills cut in half with a new heat pump!

If none of the above apply and the copper line is not hot, your heat pump is probably not working. The indoor electric furnace has taken over and this is costing you two to three times what you should be paying. Call Precision Comfort Systems now and we will find out exactly what is wrong.

Repeating from my last blog (but it is very important and worth a second post):

Some nasty advice is given, even among heating contractors who do not know any better, that you can use the emergency heat setting on your thermostat and “give the heat pump a break when the weather gets cold”. Well take it from me. This switch named “em. ht.” is misnamed. It has nothing to do with getting extra heating capacity or being a cold day setting. It should be named, “DOUBLE OR TRIPLE MY BILLS!” When you switch to “em. ht.”, you turn off your heat pump and now the more expensive backup furnace (toaster coils) are heating your home at two to three times the cost. Don’t do this! Allow the heat pump to run and love it. New heat pumps are very efficient and they are designed to run non stop when you need it most so your heating bill is normal. Even older heat pumps are much better than the electric furnace.

If your heat pump is too old, then its ability to move heat may be less than what it should be. Call Precision Comfort Systems, your Central Indiana heat pump specialists, to evaluate your current heat pump. We can tune it up or eventually replace it so you are getting the most from the current heat pump technology.

 

 

When to use Emergency Heat on a heat pump

Emergency Heat setting can double billsEmergency Heat sounds like a wonderful feature for a heating system. It sounds comforting to push the “Power Boost” button during the blizzard. Especially in times of a winter emergency as defined by our central Indiana weather personalities on TV. I am waiting for the day I hear, “… that’s right Bob, we are bracing for our first 2 to 3.6 inches of snow tonight and we will be tracking it throughout your evening TV shows and by the way, you should be rushing to your thermostat and switching into Emergency Heat as soon as possible!

What is Emergency Heat and when should you use it? An Emergency Heat switch is found on most electric heat pump thermostats. Sometimes it is abbreviated as “Em.Ht.” and sometimes it is called Auxiliary Heat (Aux.Ht.). Gas furnaces do not have this feature. The Emergency Heat switch is very easy to understand; it simply turns off your heat pump. But you do not want to do this unless you enjoy electric bills that are twice what they should be.

Your heat pump is a very efficient means of heating your home. Read my previous blogs about heat pump efficiency. All heat pump systems in Indiana also have backup heating coils to assist the heat pump in very cold weather. The backup coils are similar to a much less efficient, portable space heater or the type of heat coils you would see in an old toaster. Electric heating coils are only about one-third as efficient as the heat pump. But fortunately they only account for about 15% to 20 % of your home’s total winter heating needs in Central Indiana. The more efficient heat pump is responsible for most (80% to 85%) of your winter heating. Unless of course you make the mistake and turn off the heat pump!

Do not turn off your heat pump! Some nasty advice is given, even from heating contractors who do not know any better, that you can use the emergency heat setting on your thermostat and “give the heat pump a break when the weather gets cold”. Well take it from me. This switch named “em. ht.” is misnamed. It has nothing to do with getting extra heating capacity or serving as a cold day setting. It should be named, “DOUBLE OR TRIPLE MY BILLS!” When you switch to “em. ht.”, you turn off your heat pump and now the more expensive backup furnace (toaster coils) are heating your home at two to three times the cost.

Don’t do this! Allow the heat pump to run and love it. New heat pumps are very efficient and they are designed to run non stop when you need it most so your heating bill is normal. Even older heat pumps are much better than the electric furnace. Heat pumps are so efficient that even if you need to raise the thermostat a degree or two on the worst winter days, you will still be better off in the normal heating mode and not switching to emergency heat.

If your heat pump is too old, then its ability to move heat may be less than what it should be. Call Precision Comfort Systems, your Central Indiana heat pump specialists, to evaluate your current heat pump. We can tune it up or eventually replace it so you are getting the most from the current heat pump technology.

When are you supposed to use this switch? If you find that your heat pump is not working (read how to test this on your own) then you can switch to emergency heat until a technician from Precision Comfort Systems can visit your home. Or perhaps a part needs to be ordered. Our technician may leave your system in the emergency heat mode for a short time until the heat pump can be repaired.

What if it is very, very cold? Cold weather is still no reason to turn off your heat pump. A heat pump is slightly less efficient in cold weather than it is in normal 20 to 30 degree winter weather, but it is never less efficient than the backup heat. So switching to Emergency Heat will always increase your bills. And most heat pumps will, in the normal heating mode, automatically use all the electric backup heat if necessary to heat your home. You do not get extra heat when switching to emergency heat. (If your heating contractor has custom wired your system to “save” some backup heat capacity solely for the Emergency Heat setting, there is no reason to do this and it should be changed back.)

Most important, be sure you have someone servicing your heat pump, that understands heat pumps. Call Precision Comfort Systems, your Central Indiana heat pump specialists, to service your heat pump.

This green heating contractor recycles

You know from reading my blogs that Precision Comfort Systems in Central Indiana (Westfield to be exact) is the largest geothermal, green heating and air conditioning dealer in the state. But that’s not enough green. This green air conditioning contractor takes it one step farther. After you purchase a high efficiency heating or air conditioning system from Precision, know that your old system did not go to a landfill. As a green heating dealer, we recycle!

Recycle old air condtioners in Indiana

Here is a picture of our recycle shop. Each week we bring in dozens of old inefficient air conditioners. First the refrigerant is reclaimed (collected for recycling) by a Precision EPA licensed technician. Then the air conditioner and furnace parts are brought back to our in-house recycle program. Different metal components are processed, sorted and then grouped together. Then they are transported to the recycle centers.

Air conditioners can be recycledWe recognize that the most energy efficient customers are those who are investing in geothermal systems and high efficiency furnaces and high efficiency air conditioners. These are the same customers who would insist in the most environmentally sound, sustainable disposal of the old equipment. Precision Comfort Systems could not agree more. Despite the extra time involved, you can be assured that your old air conditioner nightmare that caused you so many problems, was fittingly dismembered and disposed of properly. Who knows, perhaps your old air conditioner will be part of the next windmill project or a solar collector.

Don’t fall for these AC service specials!

Do these Air Conditioning Service specials sound familiar?What’s going on? Why do some Indianapolis AC service companies insult your intelligence with these gimmicks? Precision Comfort Systems thinks you deserve the truth about these “too-good-to-be-true” air conditioner service special offers.

We think you should know, Noblesville, Carmel, Westfield and Fishers Air Conditioning service companies are not really making a profit when they visit your home for a $29.95 air conditioner clean and check. In fact, some homeowners have discovered they paid this fee to simply become a target of an in-house sales presentation. Is your 10-year-old air conditioner really about to die? Or worse, is your furnace a safety threat to your family? How do you know the truth?

Precision Comfort Systems recommends getting a second opinion. Our experienced technicians each have many stories about inspecting a supposedly condemned furnace and finding nothing wrong. It’s unfortunate, but there are some individuals who think that any furnace over a certain age is not reliable. These technicians (some who may be pressured with a sales quota) create just enough alarm to scare customers into a purchase that may not be needed.   Precision Comfort System has no charge for a second opinion. We have been to many homes in the Westfield, Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel and Zionsville area that did not really have a furnace about to blow up. You would be amazed at how many loyal customers we have acquired by simply giving them an honest answer. We would much rather impress you with our honesty than scare you into a sale.

Now let’s have some fun with those ads and give you a little Precision Comfort insight into your junk mail offers:

Free! To the first five people. (The Precision free second opinion is really free. Our other products and services have a fair price. We find it’s hard to pay the best technicians when we hand out free products.)

Truckload over shipment; our mistake, your fortune! (No one really brings in a truckload of anything anymore. Our distributors do most warehousing and they deliver to us every day as sales dictate.)

Cheap and Quick! (Precision Comfort Systems is more the “Fair and Precise” type. Our customers approve of our strategy wholeheartedly.)

Pounds of free refrigerant for your leaky air conditioner. (This is a great one and worthy of more detail. An air conditioner or heat pump should not be administered a compulsory, seasonal shot of refrigerant for good measure. Overcharging is as much a problem as under-charging a system. But what if your system is actually leaking? Shouldn’t you call the company offering free refrigerant?  How better for a contractor to identify who needs a new air conditioner or heat pump? If your system is really leaking refrigerant, you likely need a new system, not more refrigerant.  They know this. What you need is an honest and precise analysis of your situation.)

AC is now free, you pay installation. (Do advertisers really think that smart customers fall for this?)

Thanks for your continued trust in Precision Comfort Systems.

Honest furnace repair in Indianapolis area

If you are looking for honest furnace repair in the Indianapolis area during the Christmas holidays, you would think it should be as easy as reading the advertisements and calling any one of the many HVAC contractors who claim to be the most trustworthy, reliable, honest and overall best heating contractor in Central Indiana. It should be this easy to find honesty, especially during the holidays! But unfortunately, there are a few sales motivated individuals that cause false alarm and thus cast a bit of suspicion across the entire trade.

But first thing is first. If your furnace is not working properly, please have someone check it now. Think about it. What other appliance do you depend on for so much comfort and safety? It must work properly. So if it’s broke, get it fixed!

Now, assuming you have someone in your home for furnace repair, you may be surprised when they say the furnace needs to be replaced. This diagnosis changes a furnace repair bill of a few hundred dollars to a furnace replacement of several thousand dollars. This is not an uncommon occurrence. But are they telling the truth? Most people never know. What should you do?

Precision Comfort Systems recommends getting a second opinion. Our experienced technicians each have many stories about inspecting a supposedly condemned furnace and finding nothing wrong. This is unfortunate, but there are some individuals who think that any furnace over a certain age is not reliable. These technicians who are pressured for sales quotas, create just enough alarm to pressure customers into a purchase that may not have been needed.

Precision Comfort System has no charge for a second opinion. We have been to many homes in the Westfield, Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel and Zionsville area that did not really have a furnace about to blow up. You would be amazed at how many loyal customers we have acquired by simply giving them an honest answer. We would much rather impress you with our honesty today, and then have the opportunity to impress you with our installation skills in the future.

Who performs geothermal service is important

Indianapolis area homeowners with a geothermal heating and cooling system, take note. You were very wise when you decided on the very best energy savings investment. But your need to make wise decisions does not end after the initial investment. Who does your seasonal geothermal service is your next most important decision.

Geothermal service is best when it comes from those most experienced in geothermal technology. When you are tempted to change your service source to someone offering a special tune and clean for a very low price, think again. Many advertising savvy heating contractors are not as familiar with complete geothermal service as they are with traditional furnace cleanings.

A geothermal heating and cooling system, as you know, is very different. This high technology, green energy source needs to be seasonally examined by a trained geothermal technician. But let’s face it, there are probably other techs that could show you their class participation certificate. What you are really looking for is the contractor who deals with geothermal service on a daily basis.

Precision Comfort Systems in Westfield, Indiana has installed thousands of geothermal heating and air conditioning systems in Noblesville, Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers and all of the Central Indiana communities.  We are frequently called on to diagnose a geothermal problem that another contractor could not resolve. These customers are lucky that their problem was noticeable enough to warrant a second opinion. But what about the geo systems that are not quite up to their full potential and no one knows the difference? Don’t take chances. Call the pros.

Precision Comfort Systems is a Water Furnace GeoPro Master dealer and we offer geothermal service on all types and brands of geothermal systems. This includes geothermal loop services. Schedule your geothermal service from the most referred geothermal contractor, today!

Condemned Furnace Replacement

For a recent Indianapolis area family, it started as a simple, low cost advertisement for a furnace clean and check. The offer was not from their normal heating contractor, but who could go wrong with a low price that promised to “renew your furnace to its original condition?” Now, it has turned into a very expensive proposal for a complete furnace replacement. Did the low price checkup really discover a furnace about to go bad?

The truth? Yes, a checkup is exactly what you need to be sure you furnace is working properly before the winter starts. If there are safety problems, a good quality inspection should uncover the problems. But here is a different question… Is every condemned furnace and resulting furnace replacement truthful and necessary? Unfortunately… no.

How do we know?

Precision Comfort Systems offers a free second opinion. We have been called to a few homes recently because of our longstanding reputation for honesty and precise, technical knowledge about all brands and types of heating systems. These homeowners were told to replace the heating system as soon as possible for safety reasons. What we found was a 12 to 15 year old furnace that had a little dirt, a little rust, or a small adjustment needed, and then the furnace was otherwise fine.

What should customers do if they are surprised with a condemned furnace from a cheap tune-up? There is no better way for homeowners in Westfield, Noblesville, Carmel, Zionsville and Fishers to know for sure if the furnace is really unfit or if the unfortunate coupon clipper has been the victim of an overzealous sales routine. This bothers us. We understand how dependent our customers are to know the truth. Precision Comfort Systems is in the business to earn your trust first, sell you a new furnace second.

If your otherwise functional furnace is condemned during a routine checkup, this is a serious diagnosis. It may need attention immediately. But call for a second opinion from a local, trustworthy company who is known for their honesty.

Furnace Troubleshooting Tips

Read these furnace troubleshooting tips to learn how you can save on repair bills.  A furnace rarely goes through its lifetime without needing some repairs.  What most people don’t know is that they can solve some of their own furnace problems.  We have listed a few furnace troubleshooting tips to help you save on your repair bills.

Furnace Troubleshooting Tips:

Tip 1: Check Your Filter

A dirty air filter is the most common furnace problem we see.  A dirty filter causes your furnace to overheat in the winter. (It can also cause an air conditioner freeze-up in the summer.)  Once your furnace overheats, it can no longer function and could even cause a safety device to turn the furnace off.  Check your furnace filter once per month and change as needed.

Tip 2: Look for the arrow on your filter

Most air filters will display an arrow on the outside edge to show you the proper airflow direction. Your airflow is going through the ducts, through the filter and then into the furnace. Be sure to install the filter in the proper direction.

Tip 3: Pre-season furnace check

Test your furnace before the heating season begins. Your thermostat switch should be in the heat position. On a cool day, turn up the heat setting a few degrees greater than the room temperature. Wait for several minutes to be sure the fan starts and after a few more minutes the airflow should be warm. If you have an electric heat pump, walk outside to be sure the outside unit is operating.

If you are experiencing any problems with your furnace, you must call a professional.  Precision Comfort Systems provides repair services for all types and brands of furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners.  Contact us today for more questions about your furnace.

Zionsville AC Repair

Precision Comfort Systems, an Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner for 2010, provides Zionsville, Indiana with affordable and energy efficient heating, ventilations, and air conditioner services.  Located in Westfield, Indiana, Precision Comfort Systems makes frequent trips to Zionsville since this area of Boone County demands the best in terms of heating and cooling specialists.

Here is an interesting note about Zionsville.  In 2009, Zionsville was rated as Indiana’s “Best Affordable Suburb” by BusinessWeek.

Precision Comfort Systems offers our Zoinsville cutomers air conditioner repair, maintenance, and installation. We will work with you to make sure you get the best services for your investment. Precision Comfort Systems guarantees the satisfaction of all our Central Indiana customers and we offer warranties with all of our air conditioner repairs. Making sure your furnace and air conditioner provides superior comfort at a reasonable price is our #1 mission.

If you are in need of a Zionsville air conditioner repair company, call us @ 317.867.2665 today!

Photobucket BBB

Savings Calculator