Do smart thermostats really save you money?

Do smart thermostats really save you money?

Do smart thermostats really save you money?

The allure of smart home technology grows stronger and strong all the time, especially as devices become less and less expensive all the time. Smart thermostats, like Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat, were really what kicked off the entire trend, and they make an excellent addition to any tech-savvy home. They’re marketed as money- and time-saving devices, but do they really save you money in the long run? More importantly, if cost is the driving factor: do you really need one?

Here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about buying a smart home thermostat.

Upfront vs. long-term cost

Let’s answer the main question to start. Yes, a Wi-Fi thermostat will save you money on your yearly heating and cooling costs. In fact, you can save an average of 10% and up to 25%, depending on which thermostat you choose and how well you use it. Learning thermostats will “learn” your schedule and preferences over time and will create heating and cooling programs that fit, while maximizing efficiency and minimizing costs.

That being said, you can get similar results with a non-Wi-Fi programmable thermostat. The main difference here is how much control you have. With a smart thermostat, you can change the temperature in your home from literally anywhere in the world that you can find an internet connection. This can make a massive difference to your comfort, since you can have your home at a certain temperature by time you get home from work, for example.

When you factor in the upfront cost of a smart thermostat, which can be upwards of $300, depending on the model you choose, you may end up breaking even in your first year of use. However, over time, you will see savings. This will always depend on your usage and how effectively you use your device’s scheduling/learning capabilities.

Wants vs. needs

If you’ve decided to go ahead with the purchase of a smart thermostat, don’t just opt for the absolute best. While “you pay for what you get” is accurate when it comes to Wi-Fi thermostats, you don’t always need what that extra $100 to $200 gets you.

Opt for a thermostat that’s simple to use and ultimately easy to install. This cuts down on both the cost of the device and the cost of installation. It’s always best to allow a professional like Pyramid install your thermostat for you, since the chance for error and disruptions to your system are high if you’ve never done it before. Some smart thermostats may also require a different type of wiring than your current setup.

Pyramid can help!

Call or text 204-694-5088 or send us an email to have a Pyramid professional come and install your Wi-Fi thermostat for you. This way you can be sure it’s installed properly the first time with minimal interruptions to your system. Pyramid also performs all types of air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC repair in Winnipeg.

Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

Common HVAC terminology every homeowner should know

As a homeowner, it’s important to maintain your furnace and air conditioner by performing regular cleaning, changing your filters regularly, getting semi-annual tune-ups, and taking care of the little details that will keep your units running for years to come. If either your furnace or air conditioner isn’t working, it’s equally important to know some key terminology so that you can describe it to a qualified repair specialist.

These are the HVAC terms every homeowner should know.

Furnace

An appliance fueled by gas, oil, electricity, or wood in which air or water is heated to be circulated throughout a home in a heating system.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but some homeowners confuse their furnace for their entire heating and cooling system or only certain components of the furnace itself.

Condensing unit

“Condensing unit” is the technical term for an outdoor air conditioner or a heat pump. It is called a “condensing” unit because it changes the refrigerant from its gaseous state to a liquid by cooling it. HVAC condensing units usually comprise the following components:

  • Compressor: Increases refrigerant pressure to keep the liquid refrigerant moving
  • Fan: Blows outside air through the heat exchanger to help cool the refrigerant
  • Condensing coil: Helps heat carried by the refrigerant to travel outside

Maintain your condensing unit (air conditioner) by keeping it free of leaves, excess grass, and yard debris so that it doesn’t overheat.

Cooling coil

Also known as an evaporator coil, a cooling coil is a coiled pipe usually made of copper, steel, or aluminum. It’s a channel meant to allow its contents to cool down, which in turn helps control the temperature of various other components of your unit, aiding in the heat exchange process.

Thermostat

A thermostat is a device that automatically regulates temperature and/or activates another device when the temperature goes above or below a specified threshold. Basically, your thermostat controls the temperature in your home by sensing the temperature and sending an electrical signal to your furnace or air conditioner to kick in.

Filter

A filter is any porous device that is used to remove impurities or solid particles from a liquid or gas. In the case of your HVAC system, a furnace filter is generally a simple cardboard and mesh construction that traps dust, pet hair, and other debris and prevents it all from entering your furnace.

Dirty, clogged filters can cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, which can lead to motors burning out, so make sure you regularly replace your filter.

Condensate pump

A condensate pump takes in the water created in your HVAC system (usually in the form of water vapour in cooled or heated air) and pumps it out to a drain. A malfunctioning condensate pump can cause condensation to build up in your HVAC system, which can lead to mould, rust in your ducting, and other issues in the inner workings of your furnace.

Refrigerant

In the context of HVAC, refrigerant is a gaseous or liquid substance used to cool various components of the system. The compressor in your A/C unit compresses the refrigerant, which makes it very hot. As it moves through the cooling coil, it cools down and becomes liquid. The liquid refrigerant then absorbs heat from the outside air and pushes the cold air out. Hot air in + cold air out = comfort.

If you find that your air conditioner is working but isn’t quite keeping up like it did the year before, it’s likely low on refrigerant.

Humidifier

A furnace humidifier helps to keep the humidity in your home at a moderate level so that the air isn’t incredibly dry all winter. Adding a humidifier to your heating system can help prevent those annoying static shocks, can keep your hardwood floors from separating, and can help with household allergens
like pet dander during the winter.

Knowing these key terms can help you hire the right person to fix your malfunctioning A/C or furnace, since you’ll be able to describe any issues you may be noticing. Knowing how these various components work will also help with your regular maintenance and cleaning.

If you suspect a faulty component, need a part replaced, or have any questions about your HVAC system, we would love to help. Call or text Pyramid any time at 204-694-5088 or send us an email. We perform all types of air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC repair in Winnipeg.

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

How to keep cool this summer without breaking the bank

Though a Canadian spring can often be a mixed bag of weather, our summers are generally quite hot, especially on the prairies. During those sweltering few months of reprieve from the snow, a fan just doesn’t do the trick. Air conditioning saves us all from the heat, but that comfort can come with a hefty utility bill depending on your situation.

If you find that your cooling bills are astronomical throughout the summer or if you simply want to keep things reasonable, here’s how you can keep cool and keep your energy costs low.

Prevention is key

Preventative maintenance can go a long way to ensuring that your air conditioning runs smoothly this summer. Just as an oil change for your car has an impact on your gas mileage and how well your car runs, a spring check-up and tune-up is just what you air conditioner needs to run efficiently.

Pyramid can help out with our professional Tune-up, Check, and Clean. We’ll check for damaged or blocked vents; make sure your A/C unit starts without issue; provide lubrication where necessary; check your system’s blower, motor, wheel, and housing; make sure all electrical connections are sound; check your thermostat; and double-check the functionality of your evaporator coil (if accessible).

Efficiency is the name of the game

Keeping cool efficiently is how you’ll stay comfortable all summer long without shelling out hundreds in energy costs every month. The simplest place to start is using your window blinds effectively. While it’s nice to let in that morning light, resist the urge; keep certain windows covered depending on where the sun is during the day. If the room where your thermostat is faces east, keep the blinds closed in the morning. This will help keep the temperature down, preventing your thermostat from kicking in unnecessarily when the rest of your home might be perfectly comfortable.

A programmable thermostat is another way to make sure you’re cooling your home as efficiently as possible. Program it based on when you’ll be home and actually benefiting from it being cooler and then let things get a little warmer when you’re not around.

As a part of the aforementioned check-up, it’s important to make sure the exhaust or HRV system is operating properly to make sure your system is not needlessly exchanging air in your house. Pyramid can help!

My A/C is running all the time — what do I do?

If your air conditioning seems to be less effective than in the past or seems to be abruptly inefficient, check your filter. A plugged or very dirty filter is the most common cause of air conditioning issues. If air’s not passing through freely, then your system has to work much harder to cool your home, and that may result in it running more often than what would normally be necessary.

If you find that you’re changing your filters regularly and that your system ran fine last year, but it’s just not keeping up this year, then you’ll want to get a professional like Pyramid in to see if you’re low on Freon. Freon is the gas/liquid that is used in your cooling system to help with the transfer of heat. It naturally dissipates over time, so your A/C unit may just need a top-up. A Freon leak is a potentially dangerous situation, so it’s important to have your system checked if one is suspected.

Need help?

For all of your air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC repair needs in Winnipeg, including unit replacements and installation, Pyramid is available to help you stay cool and comfortable all summer long. We’re even around 24/7 for emergencies. Call or text 204-694-5088 or send us an email with any questions you may have or to book an appointment.

How to choose an air conditioning repair company

How to choose an air conditioning repair company

How to choose an air conditioning repair company

When it comes time to have a new air conditioner installed or to have your current unit repaired, it can be difficult to choose a company. You’ll probably look up reviews online, but so many of them offer subjective advice and can be more about the reviewer’s personal experience and less about how the company actually performed. “My house is cool all the time now,” doesn’t help you at all in your search.

Reviews are a solid place to start, but there are several criteria you should consider when your A/C needs service or repair.

Read between the lines

Definitely start by reading reviews online, but scrutinize them and try to figure out what people are really saying. For example, if someone says, “Everything looks clean and new,” that is likely a testament to a company’s workmanship. The same goes for mentions of speed of service and can even extend to mentions of their air conditioner working even better than before.

When it comes to bad reviews, check and see if the company is responsive or not. It says a lot when bad reviews are answered, even if the complaint is justified. Remember to take every review with a grain of salt and look at the big picture.

BBB

The Better Business Bureau operates all over North America, and businesses must adhere to fairly stringent guidelines in order to maintain their ratings. Letter grades are given based on a number of criteria and can be lowered if a business fails to maintain its good standing and meet the minimum score.

Pyramid Plumbing and Heating has been accredited since 1983 and maintains an A+ rating (a score of between 97 and 100). We also maintain a 5-star review rating on the BBB website.

Beware of companies that are unwilling to share their BBB rating or those with ratings lower than an A-. Lower grades can be a result of numerous complaints, licensing issues, advertising inaccuracies, and more.

Are they insured?

To protect yourself, always make sure the company you choose is insured. This way, if your property is damaged or a worker is injured, you’re not liable for the costs. A company should have both public liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage.

Public liability insurance protects the company in the event that they are sued by a member of the public (a customer), and workers’ compensation coverage protects both you and the company if a worker is injured on the job.

Do they sweat the small stuff?

When you finally do get a repair/installation technician out for a quote, evaluate how much time they spend on details. Do they ask you a lot of questions? Do they consider multiple repair options? Do they mention additional repair or preventative suggestions to help your HVAC system work better as a whole?

A company that takes the time to consider the small details is a company you want to work with.

Qualifications

Getting a “friend of a friend” to fix your air conditioning may save you money up front, but journeyman technicians have the education and technical training required to repair or install your air conditioner properly. The journeyman designation also indicates experience, which is invaluable when it comes to your HVAC system, since it comprises so many parts.

Do your research

Don’t let one bad review colour your opinion of an air conditioner service company, especially when it may have an overall rating of 4.5 stars. Read many reviews, from multiple sources if possible, and make sure the company is BBB-accredited before you make your choice.

If you have any HVAC questions, need your air conditioner fixed before summer, or need a brand new air conditioner, call Pyramid at 204-694-5088 or send us an email.

Save Up to 20% on Energy Costs by Upgrading Your Furnace

Local HVAC and plumbing company helps customers cut costs on heating bills

As homeowners hibernate for the winter, their heating systems work in overdrive. This is when the word “efficiency” matters a great deal. Imagine two homes that maintain the same temperature. One homeowner has a 15-year old furnace that is expensive to run and requires frequent heating repair in Winnipeg, MB. Meanwhile, the other homeowner has a newer furnace that provides better comfort control with lower operating costs. Both homes maintain the same temperature—but one homeowner is paying much more than the other.

With a furnace upgrade from Pyramid Heating, homeowners can save up to 20 percent on their heating bills. It’s important to note that HVAC technology has improved twofold over the past 15 years. Demands for eco-friendly enhancements have led to the development of furnaces that are over 98 percent efficient. Compare this to older systems that fell in the 70 percent range, and it’s easy to see why so many homeowners are upgrading.

Many of today’s systems have multi-stage capability. Unlike older furnaces that worked at either 100 percent capacity or not at all, these new systems are smarter. They can work in smaller, more controlled increments to provide consistent temperature at a lower cost. Other advantages include quieter operation, longer lifespan, reduced carbon footprint, various comfort features and more.

To help homeowners enjoy maximum energy savings, Pyramid Plumbing and Heating guarantees quality installation work the first time around. The company also offers free estimates and a number of financing options to assist customers with their purchases.

To learn more about the company’s products or installation services, call the nearest Pyramid Heating office:

204-694-5088

About Pyramid Plumbing and Heating
Pyramid is a one-stop solution for heating, cooling, and plumbing needs. The company has been serving customers since 1978 and offers everything from faucet replacement in Winnipeg, MB, to heating installation.  Homeowners and businesses alike continue to choose Pyramid Winnipeg for its exceptional customer care, innovative solutions and more.

 

How to Determine if Your Heat Exchanger is Cracked

When it comes to gas appliance and furnace safety, homeowners may assume that the flammability of gas is the main hazard to guard against.

However, experienced technicians will tell you that the more important safety concern with regard to gas furnaces is actually the accidental venting of carbon monoxide into the home.

There are high-temperature limiting devices on furnaces to protect against fire, so the primary problem is that carbon monoxide could leak into the home.

In a properly functioning gas furnace system, the flue transfers carbon monoxide (and other gases produced by combustion) safely out of the house; a damaged or blocked flue can send them into the home instead.

A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is another potential source of leaked carbon monoxide. The heat exchanger contains the gas combustion chamber. As air is circulated through the HVAC system, it passes over the heat exchanger and absorbs thermal energy before it’s circulated throughout the house.

Over time, the heat exchanger can crack or separate, allowing carbon monoxide to enter the house. Our technicians not only know why cracks in heat exchangers sometimes develop, but they also knows what homeowners should do when this problem occurs as well as how regular maintenance can help prevent it in the first place.

The Causes of Cracks in Heat Exchangers

Heat exchangers are subjected to extreme temperatures, and as they heat up and cool down over the course of a heating cycle, (Especially in Winnipeg furnace season) their metal expands and contracts; this stress alone makes them susceptible to cracking.

However, there are additional factors that can worsen the chance of cracking. Anything that pushes those high temperatures even higher will accelerate the deterioration of the heat exchanger.

Overly high gas pressure is one cause of overheating. Too little airflow through the system is another, and it is often the result of an oversized furnace combined with comparatively undersized ductwork.

On the other hand, too much airflow, which causes lower-than-normal temperatures, can be just as damaging. In a furnace, vent gases need to be kept at certain temperatures to keep the moisture in the gas from condensing in the wrong places.

“The moisture in burned gas is slightly acidic—about the same level as a tomato—and this acid will corrode a heat exchanger over time.”

How the Pros Identify a Cracked Heat Exchanger

At its outset, a cracked heat exchanger is a problem that will go unnoticed by most homeowners. However, professional HVAC technicians always check heat exchangers for damage during their pre-season maintenance inspection.

The first step is simply to look where most homeowners can’t. Our technicians do visual inspections using a telescoping camera; However, it’s difficult to see the entire heat exchanger, so we use other methods as well.

According to Lyndon one of Pyramid Journeyman gas fitters, in the brief period of time after a furnace is turned on—when the burner is operating and the blower is about to be activated—technicians often check the burner flame. “If a crack has developed, air from the house will be forced into the combustion chamber when the blower turns on, causing some visible disturbance of the flame,” he says.

Is a Cracked Heat Exchanger Dangerous?

Lyndon’s answer to whether or not a cracked heat exchanger can be dangerous is unambiguous. “Any verifiable crack requires replacement of the heat exchanger or furnace.

It’s only going to get worse, not better—the only question is when.” He adds that all homeowners with gas appliances or a fireplace should have a carbon monoxide detector in their home for just this possibility.

Some situations are more dangerous than others. The more severe the crack, the swifter the response should be

Enlisting Professional Help in Winnipeg

For homeowners with newer-model furnaces, there may be a more favorable outcome in the event that a crack develops in their heat exchanger. “A heat exchanger can be replaced without changing the entire furnace,  and usually under warranty.

In fact, most heat exchangers have a longer warranty than most other parts of the furnace—often 10 to 25 years. However, the warranty rarely includes labor costs, which can add up. Replacing a heat exchanger is a very labor-intensive process because the furnace has to be completely disassembled and reassembled.

Homeowners with older furnaces may find it more cost-effective to upgrade to a more efficient model, with added benefits that include lower operating costs.

One off the biggest factors to preventing all of this? Or getting a handle on it?    Maintenance

During yearly checks, a well-trained technician can resolve potential contributors to cracked heat exchangers with a few important tasks, including checking the gas pressure and improving airflow issues by setting proper fan speeds, cleaning dirty coils, and changing filters.

With each new model, modern gas furnaces are becoming safer and more efficient. However, regular maintenance is crucial to continued safety and efficiency. We liken it to the service you should provide your car. Keep it cleaned and tuned up.

“The more you keep your system clean and running efficiently, the better the performance you’ll receive from it.” Ultimately, as with many residential HVAC issues, preventative care is every homeowner’s wisest strategy.

How Much Does a New Furnace Cost in Winnipeg?

A KeepRite furnace, installed by Pyramid Plumbing & Heating in Winnipeg

Buying a new furnace is a major investment in your Winnipeg area home. When a new or a replacement heating system is needed, the price is an important factor. Some heating contractors in Winnipeg may include some vague price information or too-good-to-be-true discount offers in their advertising, but the actual cost of a new furnace, completely installed, can’t be priced over the phone or in an advertisement. As a leading KeepRite Authorized Dealer, we receive volume discounts and we pass the savings on to our valued customers. We would like to help you understand the many factors that will determine what you pay and how much you save.

  • Which Manufacturer?

    There are several furnace manufacturers in Canada , including KeepRite, Carrier, Lennox, Bryant, Trane, Goodman, Rheem, Daikin, Ruud, Payne, York and more. Some specialize in making economy-priced products and others make high-efficiency models with advanced features and long warranties. As a KeepRite Factory Authorized dealer, our top-reviewed Winnipeg heating company offers a complete range of home heating products in all price ranges from KeepRite and Goodman. We’ll show you all of your options. You choose the option that’s best for your home and your budget.

  • Which Product Line or Model?

    All manufacturers offer a range of models, each offering different features, warranties, controls and other specifications. Our sales staff can help you choose a model that has the features you want at the price suitable to your budget. We’ll help you understand all those features and answer all of your questions.

  • What Efficiency Rating?

    Energy efficiencies are measured by their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE rating. In general, efficiency ranges between 80% and 97% AFUE or even higher. High-efficiency furnaces include additional components, which increases their prices. However, because of its lower fuel cost in the long run, choosing an efficient model will save money over the long run.

  • What Is the Installation Cost?

    Another factor in the total price for any furnace is installation and any additional materials that may be needed. If your existing ductwork or venting needs to be altered, more work is required.

  • What Is the Total Cost of Ownership?

  • Since furnaces are designed to last for 20+ years, it’s important to consider your total cost of ownership before making a buying decision. For example, the higher the efficiency is, the lower your heating bills will be. That can make heating your home in the years to come much lower than if you chose a lower efficiency one.