FAQ

Which fuel is right for me? Natural gas. propane, heating oil or electric?

Natural Gas
Where available natural gas is the least expensive and easiest heating solution because it is still plentiful in Michigan and is piped directly into your home from the utility company.
It normally doesn’t make sense to replace a perfectly good furnace with a natural gas unit just to save money, but when it’s time to replace your furnace be sure to look at natural gas as an option. Natural gas is a great choice if its available in your area and if the utility company does not charge too much to bring it to your door.

Propane, LP (Liquified Petroleum) or Bottled Gas
Often thoguht of as a gas, propane is a stored and shipped as a liquid and only changes to gas when it is used by your heating system. Although propane is similar to natural gas in many ways (they both can be used by the furnaces with a conversion package, for instance) propane has some characteristics that are important to understand – the biggest of which is that it is heavier than air.
If you have a propane leak in your home propane can pool and create a safety hazard. We always recommend to propane customers that they buy a propane detector (available for $49.95 plus tax and shipping from our online store ) as well as a carbon monoxided detector. Put the propane detector on the floor near your furnace and put the carbon monoxide detector in your kitchen or bedroom.
That said, if installed and maintained properly, propane can be a great way to heat especially if you have other appliances like a gas stove, gas liights, or an automatic standy generator (also available from us).

Heating Oil
If you live in a rural area and natural gas is not available or if you already have an oil furnace that is working properly, then heating oil can be a a very cost effective and safe heating solution. Although initially more expensive to install than gas equipment, it is often cheaper to operate longterm than propane or electric and can pay for itself over a period of time.
Heating oil used to be the primary source for heat both in the city and the country, but it has been losing market share to natural gas a propane for many years. Since heating oil is less common today, especially with younger homeowners, it is often considered a dirty, smelly and environmentally unfriendly way to heat. The reality is that, if installed and maintained correctly, fuel oil is a very clean, safe and reliable way to heat your home.
Safety and warmth are really heating oils biggest advantages. Unlike either natural gas or propane, heating oil is not explosive under normal conditions. And heating oil burns much hotter than propane or natural gas so your register air feels warmer and your hot water heats up much faster. Also, heating oil furnaces generally last a lot longer than gas furnaces beacuse they are made out of heaver materials.
But heating oil also has disadvantages, primarily that it price has had dramatic swings recently which makes it very hard to price protect. Sitll, since heating oil is so safe, it should always be considered as a a heating source.

Electric
Although the most expensive heat source in our area, electric heaters work well to heat cold spots in homes that have inadequate heating systems. Electric heat also works well for towel warmers and other small radiant products.

What types of residential heating and cooling systems are most commonly available?

Split Systems

A split system simply means your solution has products that reside both inside and outside your home. In many cases, a split system consists of:

  • Furnace―provides heating and the fan used year round to circulate air
  • Evaporator coil―the indoor component of your outdoor cooling unit
  • Air conditioner or heat pump―works in tandem with the evaporator coil
  • Ducts―carry the conditioned air throughout your home
  • Control or thermostat―your interface for controlling your system
  • Optional air quality accessories―clean, humidify, and freshen air before it circulates throughout your home

Some split systems consist only of an outdoor unit―such as a heat pump or air conditioner―and an inside fan coil. If that’s the case, there’s usually another heat source in the home like baseboard heat or a boiler.

Heat Pump Split Systems / Hybrid Heat ®

It’s a smarter version of your standard split system, with an energy efficient twist: In addition to gas furnace heat, this system automatically figures out how to get the best efficiency by also using an electricity-fueled heat pump to provide warmth. Bonus―the heat pump functions in the place of an air conditioner too.

In the warmer, humid climates of the south you might consider a high performance heat pump with a lower efficiency and lower up front cost furnace so you can have the furnace as backup heating on really cold nights, while taking advantage of the high-efficiency heat pump most of the year. A heat pump with a variable-speed compressor matched to a furnace with a variable-speed blower motor can do an amazing job of pulling humidity out of the air in the summer to save money.

Meanwhile, in colder climates, it’s best to pair your heat pump with a high-efficiency furnace. Despite the cold, you might be surprised by just how much mileage―not to mention cost-saving efficiency―you’ll get from a heat pump in the spring, fall and, yes, even winter months.

A Hybrid Heat system includes:

  • Heat pump―provides summer cooling and dehumidification and warmth in cooler seasons
  • Evaporator coil―the indoor component of your outdoor heat pump
  • Furnace―provides heating and the fan used year round to circulate air
  • Ducts―carry the conditioned air throughout your home
  • Control or thermostat―your interface for controlling your system
  • Optional air quality accessories―clean, humidify, and freshen air before it circulates throughout your home

Ductless Split Systems

As you may have guessed from its name, a ductless split system doesn’t rely on air ducts to spread treated air in your home. Instead, this specialty system is designed to heat or cool room additions or other places that may lack ductwork, such as home theatres, exercise rooms, garages or any other area where the existing system doesn’t quite cut it. Ductless split systems include:

  • Small outdoor air conditioner or heat pump unit
  • A compact indoor wall unit
  • Refrigerant tubing and wire connections―pass through a small hole from indoor to outdoor unit to connect the system.
  • On unit or remote control―your interface for controlling your system

Packaged Systems

Some homes just don’t have space inside for a furnace or the coil needed for cooling. That doesn’t mean they can’t be filled with the same comfort and improved air quality of a split system home.

Packaged units tend to all look alike but can do vastly different things:

  • Cool only as an air conditioner
  • Cool and heat as an electric heat pump
  • Cool and heat as a Hybrid Heat® dual fuel system of gas furnace with electric heat pump
  • Cool and heat as a gas furnace with electric air conditioner

As an all-in-one unit, the only other thing you need is a control or thermostat and, of course, ductwork to carry the conditioned air. Additionally you can add air quality accessories if you like. Packaged systems may be located on the exterior of your home, either on a flat rooftop or in the yard.

Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

Traditional heat pumps do the same thing as air conditioners but in winter, they do it in reverse, drawing their heat energy from the outside air. Geothermal heat pumps don’t have to rely on the potentially wide temperature swings of outdoor air. They tap into the relatively consistent and more moderate temperatures of the earth instead. Using your yard, pond or well water, this ingenious technology enables you to enjoy higher energy efficiency inside your home—no matter how extreme the weather gets outside.

There are geothermal systems that can serve homes with ductwork or homes with radiant heat. The radiant heat versions are referred to as hydronic systems and some of those can also provide you with all your hot water needs.

A geothermal system can be used to provide all of your heating and cooling needs or you can pair it with a furnace for a dual fuel heating solution.

Should I repair or replace my heating and cooling equipment?

Furnace

The first step is getting to know your furnace. First, how old is it? A typical furnace lasts about 20 years. And chances are, the older it is, the less efficient it is. If you don’t know your furnace’s AFUE rating, call the manufacturer. They should be able to tell you by the serial number of the unit. The AFUE number describes what percentage of fuel consumed is actually used for heat, and how much fuel is simply wasted. For example, if your AFUE rating is 60, your furnace is converting 60% of its fuel to heat for the home, and losing the remaining 40% of heat, usually through venting. Obviously, the higher the number, the better the efficiency. And while no furnace operates at 100%, some get pretty darn close.

Now that you have this number, look for your energy bill. Depending on how much fuel your furnace wastes, you can easily calculate how much money you’re unnecessarily spending every month.

In many cases, the significantly lower energy bills may enable you to recoup the expense of replacing your system in just a few short years. So, does replacing your furnace make sense? You betcha.

Air Conditioner / Heat Pump

If there’s an exception to the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule, it has to do with air conditioners. The EPA recommends you consider replacement of your air conditioner if it’s over 10 years old.1 If you want to get on board with doing the right thing for the planet and your pocketbook it makes sense because newer ACs are just that much more efficient than they used to be. For example, if you were to replace an old air conditioner with a 10-SEER rating with a new 21-SEER unit and proper indoor coil, you could save up to 56% on your cooling costs. Of course, there are other reasons why you might feel the need to pull the plug on your current unit right now:

  • Your air conditioner needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up—your cooling equipment may have become less efficient
  • Your cooling system is noisy—newer, variable-speed and even 2-stage systems tend to operate quieter.
  • You take the EPA’s home assessment test and your Home Energy Yardstick score is below five—your home energy use is above average and you’re probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.

What’s the most important consideration when shopping for a new system?

WHO you choose to install your new heating and cooling system is the most important decision you can make.  Improperly installed equipment will not operate as it should and you will lose out on energy savings and system reliability.  Factory trained and NATE Certified, our technicians pass rigorous training, testing, background checks and drug screening before they ever enter your home.

Our business has thrived on referrals and repeat business since 1910.  Fully licensed and insured, we stand behind our work with guarantees, 24-hour service, and a team of exceptional technicians.  We are locally owned and operated and support the community.

Should I have my air ducts cleaned?

According to the the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)  http://www.nadca.com:

“Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been shown to collection a variety of contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria and very small particles of dust that have the potential to affect overall health, The removal of such contaminants from the HVAC system and home should be considered one component in an overall plan to improve indoor air quality.

The best way to determine if the HVAC system cleaning was effective is to perform a visual inspection of the system before and after cleaning. If any dust or debris can be seen during the visual inspection, the system should not be considered cleaned. While you can perform your own visual inspection using a flashlight and mirror, a professional cleaning contractor should be able to allow you better access to system components and perhaps the use of specialized inspection tools. In addition, following the Residential Cleaning Checklist can help to ensure a top quality job.

Frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, not the least of which is the preference of the homeowner. Some of the things that may lead a homeowner to consider more frequent cleaning include:

  • smokers in the household
  • pets that shed high amounts of hair and dander”

How often should I change my air filter?

Generally, 1 and 2 inch air filters should be changed every month and wider media filters should be changed every 6-12 months. Every filter has a manufacturer’s recommended change interval which can be found in the operating instructions of the air cleaner cabinet or by asking our team.

Still have a question?

Here are several ways to contact us

Contact Us

E.M. Sergeant
542 E. Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Main: (269) 343-1363 | Toll Free: (800) 530-1363 | Fax: (269) 343-3133
Email: info@emsergeant.com