Questions & Answers

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What kind of system will keep me comfortable?

Since most of us spend the majority of our time indoors, it makes sense to have an indoor environment that’s healthy and comfortable. 

While your home may have unique needs, the best way to insure your comfort and health is to have your heating and cooling system provide the right balance of heating, air conditioning, air cleaning and humidification. No other single system plays a larger part in how much you enjoy your time at home or in how much you pay out to utility companies each month. 


Hot News, Cool Stuff 

For most of us, comfort starts with keeping our home the right temperature, whether that’s toasty warm on bone-chilling winter nights, or pleasantly cool in the dog days of summer. Maintaining the perfect temperature is the job of your heating and cooling equipment. 

Today’s heating systems are more efficient and reliable than ever, but heating is still the single largest energy expense in most homes. In northern climates, it may account for up to two-thirds of the energy budget. So it’s important to understand what kind of system will give you both comfort and affordability. 

Gas-fired furnaces provide warm, even heat throughout your home by circulating heated air through ducts. Boilers typically heat your home by circulating steam or heated water through a system of pipes and baseboard or radiator-type heat exchangers. Today’s furnaces and boilers are far more efficient than they were even a decade ago. 

On those sweltering days of summer, air conditioners provide cooling relief by taking heat from inside your home and moving it outside. In the process, they remove humidity from the air so you feel even cooler. New technology has made today’s air conditioners quieter, more reliable and more efficient than ever before. 


Right on the Money 

Thermostats help your heating and cooling equipment maintain the optimal temperature setting with the utmost energy efficiency. Today’s electronic models are a vast departure from earlier mechanical styles. Microprocessors allow you to program your home temperatures to suit your lifestyle, so you can keep things comfortable while you’re home and automatically set back your temperatures to save energy when you’re away or sleeping. That keeps you comfortable all the way to the bank. 


Breathe Easier 

Today’s “tighter” homes are built to be more energy-efficient, and many seal in air as effectively as they keep the weather out. That may sound good at first, but it also means that air quickly gets stale. Plus, dust and other pollutants circulate throughout your home, settling on furniture, drapes, your heating and cooling equipment or, worse yet, your lungs. Today’s mechanical and high-efficiency electronic air cleaners offer trouble-free, low-maintenance cleaning that will remove up to 95% of all airborne particles and make your home environment healthier and more comfortable. A ventilating system can provide up to eight air changes a day and eliminate the unhealthy build-up of gases and contaminants in your home. It’s literally a breath of fresh air. 


How Dry I Am 

Winter takes its toll on your indoor environment. The warm, dry air from your furnace can damage wood moldings and furniture and sap your skin of its natural moisture. It even makes you feel colder because your body senses heat as a combination of temperature and humidity. If you add humidity with a humidifier, you can actually set your thermostat a few degrees lower. You’ll feel just as warm, but you’ll notice the difference on your utility bills! Plus, you’ll replenish much-needed moisture to your home, making it a healthier, more comfortable place to spend your time. 


In the Comfort Zone 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn off heating and cooling in a room the same way you can a light switch? You wouldn’t have to waste energy by heating or cooling a room you’re not using. A zoning system is the perfect solution. By putting heating and cooling where you need it most, zoning can enhance your overall comfort and reduce your energy costs – by as much as 30%! 

No matter what climate you live in, you’ll find the best combination of comfort and energy savings with a complete indoor comfort system. Today’s energy-efficient components work together to give you precise temperature control, healthy air and the right level of humidity – and the savings on your utility bill might just make you the most comfortable of all.

What should I look for in a new furnace?

The three most important factors to evaluate when you’re considering purchasing a new furnace are:

1.Quality 2.Efficiency 3.Comfort Features 

1. Quality –

When you buy a new car, the quality of it helps determine how well it will perform and for how long. A furnace is really no different. Purchasing a brand name that has a reputation for quality and reliability can save you headaches and extra expense down the road.

New furnaces by Welsch, for example, undergo a rigorous series of quality tests and checks during production, with many of the tests being performed on every unit – not just on random samples. Plus, we back every furnace in writing, with a written warranty on the heat exchanger (the heart of the furnace) and  the entire unit.

2. Efficiency –

A furnace’s efficiency rating, or AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), tells you how efficiently the furnace uses fuel. In general, the higher the efficiency, the less fuel the furnace will use to heat your home. The government established minimum AFUE rating for furnaces is 80%. In contrast, many furnaces manufactured before 1992 had AFUE ratings as low as 60%.

High-efficiency furnaces, also called condensing or sealed combustion furnaces, offer AFUE ratings from 90% to  98%. See the Home Page of our website for information regarding the fact that these High-Efficiency furnaces will become standard by May 2013.

Although the higher efficiency may result in a more expensive furnace, Welsch professionals can use heating data from our area to help determine about how long it will take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills for the life of the system.

3. Comfort Features –

Many furnaces offer additional features that provide greater comfort (as well as additional energy savings). Two-speed and variable speed furnaces can run on lower speeds up to 90% of the time, so they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed furnaces. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings — only one or two degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed furnaces. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even heat throughout your home.

The variable speed furnaces provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance. In addition to their other benefits, they offer “smart” motors that can monitor your home’s comfort needs and automatically adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the most efficient heating or cooling. They offer added electrical efficiency as well: the “smart” fan motors on some models sold by Welsch use less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. They operate so efficiently that they can actually increase the efficiency rating of your central air conditioning system and offer you added energy savings when you use continuous fan operation in any season.

What should I look for in a new air conditioner?

While air conditioners require the use of some different components in your heating and cooling system, the three most important factors you should evaluate are essentially the same: quality, efficiency, and comfort features. 

Quality – 

When you purchase a new car, the quality of it helps determine how well it will perform and for how long. An air conditioner is really no different. Purchasing a brand name that has a reputation for quality and reliability can save you headaches and extra expense down the road. 

New Welsch air conditioners and split systems, for example, undergo 34 quality tests and checks during production, with more than 20 of these being performed on every unit – not just on random samples. Plus, we back every air conditioner in writing, with a 5-year limited warranty on the compressor (some deluxe models have 10) and from one to ten years(depending upon the model) limited warranty on the parts. 

Efficiency – 

Cooling efficiency for air conditioners is indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which tells you how efficiently the unit uses electricity. In general, the higher the SEER, the less electricity the unit will use to cool your home. The government mandated minimum efficiency for air conditioners is 13.0 SEER.

However we have air conditioners today which have SEER ratings that range from 13.0 to over 18. 

Usually, the higher the efficiency, the more expensive the unit. Your Welsch professional can use cooling data from our area to help you determine about how long it will take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills for the life of the system. 

One other point to keep in mind is that your air conditioner is a “split system,” which means that there is an outdoor unit (condenser) and an indoor unit (coil). If you are replacing an existing system, both units should be replaced to make sure your new condensing unit gives you optimal performance, efficiency and comfort. 

Comfort Features – 

Some air conditioners offer additional features that provide greater comfort (as well as additional energy savings). Two-speed units can run on low speed (using 50% of the energy) up to 80% of the time, so they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed models. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings — only two or three degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed units. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even cooling throughout your home. 

If you purchase a multi-speed or variable speed furnace or fan coil with your unit, you will enhance both the comfort and the efficiency of your air conditioning system even further.

How do I compare performance?

A : There are basically three ways you can compare the performance of different models and brands:

  1. How much energy they use to heat or cool your home (Efficiency)
  2. How much you notice their presence (Sound Levels)
  3. How they make you feel (Comfort).

 

Efficiency and Furnaces –

 The efficiency of a furnace is measured in a rating known as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A lot like your car’s miles per gallon rating, AFUE tells you how efficiently the furnace converts fuel into heat. An AFUE of 80% means that 80% of the fuel is used to heat your home, while the other 20% basically goes up the chimney.

The minimum efficiency furnace today is 80%, and we have furnaces with efficiencies as high as 98%.

In general, the higher the efficiency of the furnace, the higher the initial cost, but the less fuel it will use to heat your home. If you have an older furnace, from before 1992, it probably has an AFUE of about 60%. You could save up to 60% on your heating bills by replacing it with a new high-efficiency furnace. So the cost to replace your old, inefficient furnace is paid back through lower utility bills.

Your Welsch professional can use heating data from our area to help determine about how long it will take you to recover the additional cost of a high-efficiency model in energy savings. (Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills for the life of the system.)

Air conditioners* –

Cooling efficiency for air conditioners is indicated by a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, which tells you how efficiently a unit uses electricity. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 was about 6.0. Beginning in 1992 the government began establishing minimum SEER ratings for manufacturers. Curretly the minimum SEER air conditioning unit has a 13.0 SEER Rating. However, we have units with SEER Ratingsas high as 18.0 SEER.

As with furnaces, higher efficiency in air conditioners usually means higher initial cost but lower utility bills. Ask your Welsch professional to help you determine about how long it will take you to recover the additional cost in energy savings. Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills.

There’s one other factor that affects the efficiency of your air conditioning system: the indoor coil. (Your air conditioner is a “split system,” which means that there is an outdoor unit, or condenser, and an indoor unit, or evaporator coil.) If your condensing unit is not matched with the proper indoor coil, it may not give you the stated SEER ratings and could even develop performance problems. (It’s kind of like putting two new tires on one side of your car and leaving the old, worn-out ones on the other side. You’d probably be disappointed with both the performance and the miles per gallon you get.) When you’re replacing an existing system, make sure you replace both units so your new condensing unit will give you optimal performance, efficiency and comfort.

Sound Levels
Air Conditioners –

 There’s a good chance you won’t ever think about the sound level of your air conditioner… until, that is, you try to enjoy a quiet conversation with some friends in your back yard. Sometimes noise from condensing (outdoor) units even interferes with your peace and quiet indoors, so it’s a factor you should at least look at when you’re comparing different models.

The sound level of outdoor units is measured in bels (similar to decibels), on a scale from 0 (barely perceptible sound) to 13 (the threshold of pain). Most air conditioners operate at 8 to 9 bels; some units’ ratings are as low as 6.8. That may not sound like a wide range, but consider this: 9 bels sounds 10 times louder than 8 bels. That means one 9-bel air conditioner is as loud as 10 units rated at 8 bels. So we think taking the time to compare bel ratings is pretty sound advice.

Furnaces –

There isn’t a standard sound rating system for furnaces like the bel system for condensing units, so it’s difficult to compare models.

However, models that have two-speed or variable-speed operation typically also offer lower operating sound levels, because there is less noise from the blower motor and from air turbulence at lower speeds. Some of Welsch’s variable-capacity models even have a “ramp-up” feature that gradually introduces warm air into your ducts, helping prevent the “creaking” noises that come from ducts expanding and contracting.

Since two-speed and variable-speed models normally run on “low” speed up to 90% of the time, you’ll find they’re a sound solution when you want to enjoy peace and quiet.

Comfort Furnaces –

For furnaces, the same features of multi-capacity models that provide lower sound levels also enhance your comfort. By operating on low speed up to 90% of the time, two-speed furnaces run for longer periods of time than single-speed furnaces. That means fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts (from the blower kicking on) and much smaller temperature swings – only one or two degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed furnaces. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even heat throughout your home.

Variable-speed furnaces offer “smart” motors that can monitor your home’s comfort needs and automatically adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the greatest comfort and the most efficient heating or cooling. They provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance.

Air Conditioners –

Some air conditioners offer additional features that provide greater comfort. Two-speed units can run on low speed (using 50% of the energy) up to 80% of the time, so they offer the same benefits as multi-speed furnaces – fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings. You also get better air circulation, for even, consistent cooling and/or heating throughout your home. Plus, if you purchase a multi-speed or variable-speed furnace or fan coil with your unit, you will enhance both the comfort and the efficiency of your air conditioning system even further.

Why ‘match’ my condensing unit and outdoor coil?

A :  Imagine you have four old, worn-out tires on your car and you decide you only want to replace two of them. You can still drive your car, but you’ll soon be disappointed with the inconsistent handling and the poor mileage you get. The unmatched tires simply aren’t capable of the same level of performance. You could have these same kinds of problems with comfort and efficiency if the components of your central air conditioning system are not properly matched.

It takes teamwork –

Your central air conditioning system is a split system. That means it consist of two parts: and indoor unit (coil) and outdoor (condensing) unit. These two parts are specifically designed to work together as a coordinated “team” to provide top performance and maximum efficiency and comfort. Plus, since both components are necessary for a working system, both parts of your existing system were originally installed at the same time – which means they both wear out at the same time. So if you install a new outdoor unit, be sure to include a new, equally efficient “matched” indoor unit.

When a bargain’s not a bargain –

If you don’t replace your indoor unit, you won’t be getting what you paid for. In fact, your system could be up to 15% less efficient than stated – and you’ll be less comfortable, too. That’s why simply replacing just the outdoor unit isn’t a bargain in the long run.

Replacing the outdoor unit but leaving the old indoor unit may offer you the lowest price, but it won’t give you the best value. At best, when your air conditioning components don’t match, you’ll be sacrificing comfort. The system may still “work,” but it won’t perform up to the promised energy efficiency. Over time, this will also cost you more money. At worst, when the components aren’t matched, it could create undue stress on your cooling system, resulting in unnecessary, premature failure.

Imagine you have four old, worn-out tires on your car and you decide you only want to replace two of them. You can still drive your car, but you’ll soon be disappointed with the inconsistent handling and the poor mileage you get. The unmatched tires simply aren’t capable of the same level of performance. You could have these same kinds of problems with comfort and efficiency if the components of your central air conditioning system are not properly matched.

Matched Systems Mean Maximum Satisfaction –

When you consider the sacrifices and the added costs of repairing or replacing these unmatched units, installing a matched system the first time around makes good sense. You’ll get higher efficiencies, greater reliability and more comfort. And that’s a real bargain.

What should I ask before I purchase a system?

A :  Quality & Reliability –

When you buy a new car, the quality of it helps determine how well it will perform and for how long. A heating and cooling system is really no different. Purchasing a brand name that has a reputation for quality and reliability can save you headaches and extra expense down the road.

Efficiency Ratings –

Make sure you ask your us about the efficiency rating for the furnace, or air conditioner. It will tell you how efficiently the unit uses fuel(gas or electricity). Furnace efficiency is measured as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), and ratings range from 80% to 98%. Furnaces with AFUE ratings above 90% are considered high-efficiency furnaces.

Air conditioners have cooling efficiency ratings from 13 to 18 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio).

One other point to keep in mind is that your air conditioner is a “split system,” which means that there is an outdoor unit (condenser) and an indoor unit (evaporator coil). If you’re replacing an existing system, both units should be replaced to make sure your new condensing unit gives you optimal performance, efficiency and comfort.

In general, the higher the efficiency of the unit, the more it will cost but the less fuel it will use to heat or cool your home. So the cost to replace your old, inefficient unit (or to move up to a higher efficiency model) is paid back through lower utility bills.

Sound Ratings –

There’s a good chance you won’t ever think about the sound level of your air conditioner… until, that is, you try to enjoy a quiet conversation with some friends in your back yard. Sometimes noise from condensing (outdoor) units even interferes with your peace and quiet indoors, so it’s a factor you should at least look at when you’re comparing different models.

The sound level of outdoor units is measured in bels (similar to decibels), on a scale from 0 (barely perceptible sound) to 13 (the threshold of pain). Most air conditioners operate at 8 to 9 bels; some units’ ratings are as low as 6.8. That may not sound like a wide range, but consider this: 9 bels sounds 10 times louder than 8 bels. That means one 9-bel air conditioner is as loud as 10 units rated at 8 bels. So we think taking the time to compare bel ratings is pretty sound advice.

Comfort Features –

Some furnaces and air conditioners offer additional features that provide greater comfort (as well as additional energy savings). Two-speed units can run on low speed up to 80% of the time, and offer fewer drafts, smaller temperature swings, and better air circulation for more consistent heating or cooling throughout your home.

Variable-speed furnaces provide even more added comfort features for the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance. They can also increase the efficiency rating of your central air conditioning system and offer you added energy savings when you use continuous fan operation in any season.

For more details on quality, efficiency, sound and comfort, go to How can I compare the performance of heating and cooling products?

The Right System for Comfort –

For the optimal combination of comfort and efficiency, a total comfort system is your best bet. By matching a furnace and air conditioner with the right products for air cleaning, ventilation, humidity and system control, you can make your home a much more comfortable place to spend your time and save money on your energy bills.

Warranties –

For your peace of mind, be sure to ask your us about the manufacturer’s warranty that comes with your new heating and cooling system. You should particularly ask about the length of time your equipment is covered and what specific components are included under the warranty.

You may also want to ask us about the availability of maintenance agreements, the best way to keep your equipment in peak operating condition and reduce the likelihood of unforeseen repair costs.

How do the components work together?

A :  Typical Indoor Comfort Systems

    Humidifier
Comfort Ventilator
Zoning Controls
Furnace or Boiler
Air Cleaner
Air Conditioner

Overview of Indoor Comfort Products

Humidifier

Humidifiers can help you fight the problems of dry air in the winter months. If you want to cut down on static electricity, dry skin and cracking furniture – and feel warmer – a humidifier is the perfect answer.

Ventilator

Today’s energy-efficient homes can help you save money on your monthly utility bills. But while they keep heat in, they can also seal in stale, recirculated air. For the healthiest living environment, your home’s stale indoor air should be exchanged for fresh outdoor air at least five times per day. Every time you let stale air out and fresh air in , though, you let expensive heat or cooled air escape, too.

A ventilating system solves the problem by bringing fresh air into tightly constructed homes without wasting precious energy. Heat recovery ventilators recapture heat energy lost from indoor air during the winter months; energy recovery ventilators recapture both heat and cooling energy year-round.

Zoning Controls

The ideal heating and cooling system is one you can control to fit your lifestyle. Welsch’s thermostats and zoning systems give you both flexibility and control over the performance of your system.

Thermostats help your heating and cooling system maintain the optimal temperature setting with the utmost energy efficiency. Today’s models allow you to program your home temperatures to suit your lifestyle and schedule.

Zoning systems allow you to put heating and cooling where you need it most, enhancing your comfort and reducing your energy costs by as much as 30%.

Furnace or Boiler

Here’s some information you can warm up to. Welsch’s furnaces and boilers provide comfortable, even heat throughout your home and offer efficiency ratings that keep your energy bills at a comfortable level, too.

Welsch’s gas furnaces are available in efficiencies from 80% to 98% AFUE, and several models offer variable-speed operation, for even greater efficiency and comfort.

Air Cleaner

You’ll be able to breathe easier with Welsch’s air treatment products. Our mechanical and electronic air cleaners will remove the vast majority of the microscopic pollutants that settle on your furniture, your heating and cooling system, and – worst of all – your lungs. You’ll see the benefits everywhere from better system performance to improved health.

Air Conditioning Systems

Here are the cold facts on some pretty cool stuff. Welsch’s central air conditioners work with your furnace to provide cool, dry air throughout your home.

Central air conditioners are split systems, which means they have both an outdoor unit (condenser) and an indoor unit (coil). Your Welsch professional will match these two parts in terms of capacity and efficiency so your system performs properly.

Welsch offers a wide range of air conditioners, with efficiency ratings from 13.0 to 18.0 SEER and additional comfort features, such as two-speed operation. Our outdoor condensing units have low sound ratings, weather-sealed fan motors, a baked-on powder paint finish for durable good looks, and limited warranties of one year to 10 years for compressors and other parts.

We can match your outdoor (condensing) unit with the appropriate indoor (fan coil) unit to make sure the two parts of your system work together as a team to provide top performance and comfort.

How do furnaces and boilers work?

A :  Gas-fired furnaces provide warm, even heat throughout your home by circulating heated air through ducts.

The heat is created by burning the fuel (gas) inside your furnace. (Some furnaces use outside air to help burn the fuel; others use air from inside your home.) When the fuel burns, the hot gases that are created go through curved metal tubing called a heat exchanger and then out of your home through a metal or plastic vent pipe. At the same time, the air that circulates through your ducts passes over the outside of the heat exchanger and takes on the heat from the hot metal. The warm air is then circulated through your home. (By keeping combustion air and supply air separate, the heat exchanger allows the air in your home to be heated without contaminating it with the toxic by-products of combustion.)

Boilers create heat the same way but instead of heating air they typically heat your home by circulating steam or heated water through a system of pipes and baseboard or radiator-type heat exchangers.

Comfort Features –

Some furnaces offer additional features that provide greater comfort (as well as additional energy savings). Two-speed furnaces can run on low speed up to 80% of the time, so they operate more quietly and run for longer periods of time than single-speed furnaces. Longer operating periods translate into fewer on/off cycles, fewer drafts and much smaller temperature swings — only one or two degrees instead of the four-degree swings common with single-speed furnaces. Plus, better air circulation helps prevent air “stratification” – warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air settling on the floor. In short, you get consistent, even heat throughout your home.

Variable-speed furnaces provide the ultimate combination of comfort, efficiency and quiet performance. They offer “smart” motors that can monitor your home’s comfort needs and automatically adjust the volume and speed of air to provide the most efficient heating or cooling. They offer added electrical efficiency as well: the “smart” fan motors on some of Welsch’s variable-capacity furnaces use less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. They operate so efficiently that they can actually increase the efficiency rating of your central air conditioning system and offer you added energy savings when you use continuous fan operation in any season.

How do air cleaners & humidifiers work?

A :  If you thought air pollution was just an outdoor concern, think again. The particles you see in a beam of afternoon sunlight streaming through the window only represent about 1% of the millions of airborne contaminants in your indoor air. Most standard fiber glass-mesh furnace filters only trap about 15% of these particles, leaving the other 85% to pollute your air, your furnishings, even your lungs.

Clearing The Air –

A mechanical air cleaner has a heavy-duty media filter that can trap up to 28 times as many particles as a standard fiber glass filter, including animal dander and plant spores… These units can remove up to 99% of the air borne dust and dirt particles.

Air cleaners can improve your health, keep your entire home cleaner, protect your valuable investments and save you the time and aggravation of constant dusting.

Just Add Water –

Controlling humidity can not only affect how comfortable you feel, it can actually save you money on your monthly energy bills.

Our bodies “feel” heat as a combination of temperature and humidity. In other words, the more humid the air, the warmer it feels. So if you add humidity to dry, heated air in the winter with a Welsch humidifier, you can set your thermostat lower and still be comfortable – while you save money on your utility bills.

A humidifier can also help prevent dry, cracked skin, make it easier to breathe, protect your woodwork and reduce static electricity. It can even make you less susceptible to sore throats and winter colds.

Humidifiers operate on the basis of a simple concept. Air heated by your furnace or heat pump passes through a ceramic-coated pad in your humidifier, called an evaporator pad. The air absorbs moisture from the water-soaked pad and becomes water vapor that humidifies the heated air that is circulated throughout your home. Most humidifiers feature an adjustable humidistat so you can control the exact amount of moisture in the air. The proper amount of moisture depends on the outdoor temperature and other factors; your owner’s manual has recommendations for the best settings for your conditions.

How do heat and energy recovery ventilators work?

A :  While today’s energy-efficient homes do a great job of keeping heated or cooled air in, they also seal in stale, recirculated air. A ventilating system solves the problem of stale air by bringing fresh air into tightly constructed homes without wasting precious energy. Heat Recovery Ventilators recover heat energy during the heating season; Energy Recovery Ventilators recover both heating and cooling energy year-round.

Every home contains a certain amount of unhealthy gases from a variety of sources – building materials, the earth under your home, your heating and cooling system, and even people, who breathe out carbon dioxide. The easiest way to get fresh air into your home, of course, is to fling open a window. The problem is that you lose expensive heated or cooled air in the process.

A ventilator allows your home to “breathe” by bringing healthy, fresh air inside in a controlled way. Before it removes stale air from your home, it also recovers much of the heat or cooling energy through the use of a heat exchanger. Then, it transfers that heat or cooling directly to the fresh outdoor air it draws in. Best of all, the ventilator does this without ever mixing the two air streams. The incoming air stays fresh. And you maintain your heating or cooling system’s energy efficiency.

Welsch ventilators are controlled by a convenient wall-mounted control unit, and have three comfort modes. The recirculation mode recycles indoor air continuously and exchanges air only when humidity exceeds the desired level. This setting allows homeowners with baseboard heat to enjoy the advantages of a forced-air heating system. In the continuous mode, the unit replaces indoor air with fresh outdoor air 24 hours a day. The intermittent mode provides the greatest economy, with the unit turning on only when humidity levels exceed the desired level.

Making a ventilator part of your home comfort system is like being able to open a window in every room even on the hottest or coldest days … without the drafts, the humidity or the high energy costs. It’s literally a breath of fresh air.

How do thermostats work?

A :  Thermostats help your heating and cooling equipment maintain the optimal temperature setting with the utmost energy efficiency. Today’s electronic models are a vast departure from earlier mechanical styles. Microprocessors allow you to program your home temperatures to suit your lifestyle, so you can keep things comfortable while you’re home and automatically set back your temperatures to save energy when you’re away or sleeping.

Electronic thermostats work in much the same way as older, manual thermostats did. The microprocessor inside compares the thermometer reading of a room’s temperature to the desired temperature you select. Then, it gives start and stop commands to the heating or cooling system to bring the temperature to a level that makes you comfortable.

Programmable thermostats basically work the same way, but they are far more convenient. Once you program the thermostat to customize the system’s operation to fit your lifestyle and schedule, all you have to do is relax and let it do all the work. You simply program into its memory the temperatures you need, at what time of the day, to stay comfortable and save energy all season. You only need to program it once – until the season or your lifestyle changes.

The most important way that a programmable thermostat saves energy is in its setback feature. When you don’t need a normal level of heating or cooling, you can program the thermostat to set the temperature back until the next pre-programmed time when you want normal temperatures. Programming temperatures around 63 F on cold winter nights, when you’re snuggled under blankets, can help you save as much as 15% on your heating costs. You can save even more by programming your system to “setback” the temperature when your family is away at work, at school, or on vacation.

When should I repair equipment versus replacing it?

A :  When you’re frustrated with an equipment break-down, it can be tempting to find the least expensive “quick fix” to get on with your life in relative comfort. That “quick fix” may be the least expensive now, but it may not give you the most value – or cost you the least – in the long run.

Paying for repairs to an old or inefficient system often simply prolongs the inevitable. It’s almost like putting a bandage on a serious injury. An older system that breaks down once is likely to break down again … and again. That means more emergency service calls or, worse yet, the risk of damage to your home or to other components of your heating and cooling system.

There’s also an ongoing cost factor to consider. Restoring your old system will only bring it back to its current level of energy efficiency. After you’ve recovered from the repair bills and the frustration of system breakdowns, you still won’t save on your energy bills.

Even six-year-old heat pumps and air conditioners are considered grossly inefficient by today’s energy efficiency standards. So are most furnaces built before 1992. So you could save up to 60% on your energy bills with new high-efficiency equipment. That’s why installing a new heating and cooling system can actually pay for itself in energy savings within a relatively short time. Looking at the Big Picture.

When one component of your system breaks down unexpectedly, it’s easy to just focus on repairing or replacing that component. But each part of your system works with the others to boost efficiency and reliability, so it helps to keep the big picture in mind.

Replacing your old furnace with a new higher-efficiency model but leaving your old mechanical thermostat in place, for example, won’t allow you to enjoy all the efficiency advantages the furnace has to offer. Likewise, if you install a new furnace but don’t get a humidifier, the air will seem cooler, forcing you to operate your new system at a higher temperature to be comfortable. Plus, you can often save on installation costs if you have several components of your system (for example, a furnace and an air conditioner) replaced at the same time.

How is energy use measured?

A :  The efficiency of gas and oil furnaces is measured in a rating known as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A lot like your car’s miles per gallon rating, AFUE tells you how efficiently the furnace converts fuel (gas or oil) into heat. An AFUE of 80% means that 80% of the fuel is used to heat your home, while the other 20% basically goes up the chimney.

The U.S. government has established a minimum AFUE rating for furnaces at 80%. (In contrast, many furnaces manufactured before 1992 had AFUE ratings as low as 60%; – so nearly half the fuel was being wasted.) Furnaces  with ratings of 90% or higher are known as “high-efficiency.” The maximum furnace efficiency available is around 98.0%. Also see the front page of our Website for information regarding the government’s proposal to increase the minimum AFUE for furnaces installed in the St. Louis area to 90%, effective May, 2013.

The cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps is measured in a rating known as SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The higher the number, the greater the efficiency.

The typical SEER rating of units manufactured prior to 1992 is about 6.0. Through the years the government has established increasing minimum SEER ratings for the manufacturers. The current minimum SEER rating is 13.0 SEER. However we have high efficiency air conditioning units with SEER ratings up to 18.0 SEER.

Heat pumps also have heating efficiency ratings, indicated as an HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). In general, the higher the HSPF rating, the less electricity the unit will use to heat your home.

What is the EPA’s Energy Star program?

A :  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes residential energy efficiency because household energy use contributes to air pollution, including 20 percent of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide. It also accounts for 26 percent and 15 percent of all U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, respectively. By using more energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment, and constructing more energy-efficient homes, we can reduce this pollution; and save money at the same time!

Furnaces

Why is EPA promoting energy-efficient furnaces?

Furnaces are the most commonly used residential heating system in the United States. Approximately 38 million gas furnaces are currently operating in U.S. homes and approximately 2.5 million of these furnaces are replaced annually. A 15-20 year-old furnace may be only 66% efficient and cost up to $730 per year to operate. A new high-efficiency furnace can be 90% efficient or greater and cost as little as $525 to operate annually. Choosing to purchase a furnace in the 90-98% efficiency range can reduce pollution and save homeowners hundreds of dollars over the equipment’s lifetime.

What is EPA doing about it?

Industry-leading furnace manufacturers have signed agreements with EPA to produce and promote high-efficiency furnaces that are 90% efficient or greater. These high-efficiency gas furnaces squeeze energy savings from furnaces using an advanced “condensing” technology. Products qualifying for this EPA program will be identified by the EPA Energy Star logo. See the front page of our Website for the latest information on higher efficiency furnaces.

How do you purchase an Energy Star furnace?

Purchasing energy-efficient products becomes easier for consumers, as now they can simply ask for Energy Star models when working with a contractor to select a new furnace. Most of the major furnace manufacturers have decided to participate in the EPA program. Thus heating contractors will have easy access to Energy Star furnace models.

Efficiency Comparison: How much can my Energy Star furnace save relative to other furnaces?

Over 10 years, an Energy Star furnace could save $1,700 relative to an old furnace, and $920 relative to a new standard furnace.

*Savings based on $732 average annual heating bill from a 1993 American Gas Association survey for the Middle Atlantic region. EPA estimates for old furnace AFUE = 66%; standard furnace = 80%; and Energy Star = 92%. Actual savings for individual homeowners will vary based on geographical area of the country, local gas rates and the age and size of the home.

For more information about Energy Star furnaces, please contact: Peter Banwell, Manager, Energy Star Furnaces, U.S. EPA (6202J), 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460. Phone: (202) 233-9408. Fax: (202)233-9578.

Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Why energy-efficient air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners?

About half of all energy used by households goes to heating and cooling the home. Over 7% of all homes are heated and cooled with air-source heat pumps and 24% of new homes are built with them. Also the number of central air conditioning units in homes is increasing rapidly. Seventy-seven percent of new homes are now built with central air conditioning, up from 43% in 1972, and over 40% of all existing homes now have central air conditioning. In 1994, over 1 million air-source heat pumps and almost 4 million central air conditioners were shipped from manufacturers; the most ever.

By increasing the efficiency of new air-source heat pump and central air conditioning units being installed, we can dramatically reduce the nation’s energy consumption and resultant pollution. This will also help utilities offset their peak loads and avoid having to construct costly new power plants. More efficient equipment has the added benefit of helping consumers save money on their energy bills.

How environmentally-friendly are the new refrigerants?

A :  Welsch offers a new air conditioner (Model 550A) with R-410A because it provides high-efficiency cooling along with other substantial benefits for the environment.

Be friendly to your ozone

New refrigerants are being developed for air conditioners because traditional refrigerants, if they accidentally escape from an aging system, can cause damage to the ozone layer of the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists have associated ozone depletion with potential health risks, and many countries, including the United States, are taking steps to reverse the trend.

The culprit in traditional refrigerants (R-12 and R-22) is a chlorine atom, which reacts with ozone in the upper atmosphere and destroys it. R-410A, chemically known as an HFC (hydrofluorocarbon), contains no chlorine and will not damage the ozone layer.

Being earth-wise can make you cool

You may already know about alternative refrigerants if you’ve purchased a new car since 1994. Today, cars keep you cool with a non-chlorine refrigerant known as R-134A. The home air conditioning industry has decided to use  R-410A as the alternative refrigerant for its residential cooling products.

Air conditioners utilizing R-410A offer the same performance as R-22 units in terms of noise levels, the temperature of air coming out of the registers, and the time it takes to cool your home. In fact, the refrigerant has been on the market for several years and has undergone many hours of testing before being used in cooling equipment.

R-22 Phaseout

The government and industry have decided to phase out production of R-22 refrigerant by 2020. This phaseout will occur in steps and it appears that the cost of R-22 will escalate as the amount produced is reduced. Therefore it is our opinion that it is in the best interest of our customers to replace R-22 systems with R-410A systems in order to be prepared for the phaseout.

A :  Matched System Design –

All air conditioner outdoor units are specifically designed to work with matched indoor units for optimum efficiency and performance. The result of this matched system is a coordinated, top-performance team that ensures the dependability and high efficiency today’s applications require.

Air conditioner outdoor units may “work” with indoor units other than those for which they have been specifically designed… however, the result is a definite compromise in system performance.

Design Advances –

Through the years, indoor blower coil units have undergone numerous design advances – especially in the areas of air handling performance, filtering efficiency and operating sound levels. A new outdoor unit will also include the latest design advances.

Higher Cooling and Heating Efficiency –

The cooling and/or heating efficiency ratings that are advertised for an air conditioner are based on their performance as matched systems.

While changing only the outdoor unit may result in improved efficiency compared to the old system, it will not be as efficient as it was designed to be and your savings will be lower than with a matched system.

Equipment Age –

If an air conditioner outdoor unit is 10 years old and needs to be replaced, the indoor unit is just as old and has been subjected to the same amount of wear and tear. Replacing both units means you won’t have to replace the indoor unit in a short time…you’ll have years of service from both units.

New Warranty –

A new unit also gives you a new product warranty. Replacing the indoor unit at the same time as the outdoor unit results in peace of mind, knowing the new warranty covers the entire system.

A Bargain? –

At first glance, replacing only an air conditioner outdoor unit may appear to be a bargain. But when you consider the lower cooling and heating efficiencies, decreased reliability and the high cost of ownership that results, it’s not such a bargain after all! Replacing an entire air conditioner system costs more, but you get more…efficiency, reliability and comfort.

Should I zone my home?

A :  To keep all areas of your home comfortable, no matter what the weather! No longer must you have hot or cold rooms, or pay to heat or cool areas of your home that you rarely use. Zoning has come a long way in recent years, and it is now efficient, easy to install and flexible enough for any home.

What is Zoning?

Zoning divides your home into separate comfort areas and makes your comfort equipment cool or heat only areas that need conditioning. For example, a living room with large windows may stay too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. A zoning system will send more conditioned air to the living room, to make up for the heat gained or lost through the windows.

Why Zone?

Today’s families have different lifestyles and comfort needs. Maybe you have a home office that needs extra conditioning during the day, and none at night. Or you only use the upstairs bedrooms when guest visit. Whatever your needs, zoning can keep each area of your house at the perfect temperature for you and each family member.

When To Install Zoning

If you are replacing your air conditioner or furnace, it is an ideal time to install a zoning system. When your new comfort equipment is matched with a zoning system, you will have precise control in each zone. Houses that had been nearly impossible to keep comfortable are a thing of the past.

Zoning is also ideal for new homes, since it is installed during construction. If you are buying a new home, check with a your builder about a zoning system. It could make the difference between enjoying your new house and being truly comfortable in it!

Zoning Alternatives

Installing more than one comfort system can work to keep temperatures comfortable, but multiple systems are expensive. Typically, in a two-story home, one comfort system is installed for the downstairs, and one for the upstairs. This way, when hot air rises, the upstairs unit can keep it cool upstairs, even in the summer. And in the winter, the downstairs unit can keep that area warm.

Zoning uses only one comfort system to control the temperature for each zone. Installing a comfort system with a zoning system costs quite a bit less than installing two systems, and the yearly maintenance is also less expensive.

How Does Zoning Work?

In almost all zoning systems, zoning is controlled by thermostats in each zone. For instance, if you have four zones in your house, you will have four thermostats. Depending on your zoning system, you may have a choice of thermostats. With seperate thermostats, each zone signals the heating or cooling unit independently. This lets the system deliver cooling or heating only where it is needed. You will never have to cool or heat the whole house just to make one room comfortable.

Zoning Saves You Money!

Zoning can drastically lower your cooling and heating bills. Zoning systems can use setback thermostats in each zone to make the most of energy savings. However, in zones rarely used, electromechanical thermostats make sense because you can set them at energy-saving temperatures and forget about those areas of your home. No more closing registers or shutting doors with each seasonal change.

A good example of this is a guest room on the north side of the house. You do not want to condition it like the rest of the house, but in the winter, it needs to be kept from freezing. With zoning, you can set the thermostat back, and know you are not wasting money. And you have peace of mind knowing the bedroom will not get cold enough to freeze pipes.

Another way zoning can save money is when you are not at home. When you leave for work or vacation, you can set the whole house at an energy-saving temperature to avoid conditioning an empty house. And if you have setback thermostats, you can program them to have your living areas comfortable when you arrive home.

As you begin using your home more and in varying ways, as a home office, for example, zoning will become more important. Also, the energy savings can really mean a lot with a zoning system. Ask your Welsch rep how you can make your home more comfortable than ever!