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FAQs

HVAC

What is the suggested temperature setting for a heat pump in the winter?  In the summer?

In the winter, we recommend a temperature setting that is comfortable for your household.  Once your thermostat is set, the best policy is to leave it alone.  Raising the thermostat as little as 2° may cause the supplementary heat to come on, and increase your energy usage.  In the summer, a setting of 78° or higher is recommended for cooling.  For each degree you set the temperature below 78°, you will increase your energy usage approximately 3%.

How often should I change filters?

Inspect each month and change or clean filters as needed. Time intervals vary with each family and lifestyle.  The most important aspect in the efficient operation of your HVAC system is proper air flow.  Dirty air filters severely limit air flow, which can cause the compressor to run continuously or overheat your heat exchanger.  Dirty filters can cause a 20% or more increase in operating cost.

Why does my outdoor unit have ice buildup during the winter?

During certain weather conditions, the outdoor unit will develop ice buildup.  When the unit defrosts this ice, it gives off water vapor, which appears to be smoke.  If excess ice builds up on the outdoor unit after more than 90 minutes elapsed time, switch emergency heat to “on." If this does not remedy the situation, contact our office to have a service technician come and evaluate the issue.

What is this thing called SEER?

SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.  It is a measure of the air conditioning performance of the system, where the higher rating is better. The SEER rating of your heat pump or air conditioning unit is comparable as miles per gallon (MPG) is to cars. 

 

Generators

What is an automatic backup generator?

An automatic backup generator is a backup electrical system that operates when there is a loss of power to your home. When a loss of power occurs, the generator will automatically cut on and supply power directly to your home via the electrical circuit breaker box. It operates using natural gas or liquid propane.  When utility power is restored, the generator automatically shuts itself off.

Why should I buy an automatic backup generator instead of a portable one?

During a power outage, an automatic backup generator can provide many advantages that a portable generator cannot.

  1. They start automatically within seconds of a power outage.  No searching for or dragging out your portable generator. Also, there's no need to have extension cords running throughout your house or deciding which appliance is more important.
  2. They provide protection 24/7, whether you are home or away.
  3. They run on your homes natural gas or LP fuel supply. This is less expensive than gasoline and it will not need to be constantly refilled.
  4. They are safer. Since your automatic backup generator is properly installed outside, your home is protected from deadly carbon monoxide poison that is a much greater risk with portable generators. The American Red Cross recommends permanently installed backup generators rather than portable generators for your home.

How do I know what size generator I need for my home?

There are many options that are available for any size budget.  Whether you you are looking for:

Essential Circuit Coverage- you choose predetermined circuits based on the generators kW power rating.

Managed Whole House Coverage- you receive more coverage, with less generator using load shedding options.  Non-essential circuits are shed when the generator reaches maximum capacity. They will cycle back on when essential circuits no longer require power.

Complete Whole House Coverage- Using a larger kW generator, every circuit is easily covered. Every appliance is available at every minute.

The best way to determine what fits your lifestyle best is to envision what you and your family need or miss when there is a power outage, short or long, then schedule your free in-home assessment. We can give you a personalized solution for your backup power needs.

Do generators have to be maintained?

 Yes, generators do require minimal maintenance to ensure that they will perform properly when needed.  We offer an affordable maintenance plan that is performed by our certified and trained technicians. This relieves the homeowner of the burden of remembering yearly maintenance visits.

 

Electrical

 What size electrical system will I need for my home?

 100 amps is the minimum required by most states, however, it is suggested to use 200 amps.  With ever changing technology and appliances, this gives homeowners peace of mind that their system can handle the load and the flexibility for future additions. This is not a "DIY" job or a job from an unlicensed person.  We are licensed in the state of Virginia and North Carolina and offer free estimates to help guide your project.

 What areas of my house should be GFCI protected?

 All "wet" locations such as, unfinished basements, garages, kitchens, bathrooms, outside the home, etc., should have GFCI's installed.

 What is the difference between my old fuse panel and a breaker panel?

 Both are designed to "trip" (turn off) in the event of an electrical overload. The main difference is that a breaker is mechanical and can be reset. A fuse can be "tripped" once, and then must be replaced. Breakers also offer more protection and are much more efficient.

 What is a "tamper-resistant receptacle?"

 This is a type of electric outlet that the National Electric Code requires to be installed in newly constructed or renovated residences as of 2008. These outlets are designed to protect children from shock and burns as the result of sticking small metal objects into the receptacle.

What is a surge protector and why do I need one?

A surge protector helps protect your electrical devices from a power surge.  A power surge can occur from a local power station or by lightning. Surge protectors are primarily used to protect important or more expensive electronic devices such as computers, televisions, etc.