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.

Why is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?

A KeepRite air conditioner — call Pyramid for financing options and installation

Protect your home A/C from Winnipeg’s summer heat by looking out for these common causes that require repair or maintenance to fix. Summer comes with no surprises every year, especially with our rise in humidity! It gets really, really hot. We crank the thermostat down and send our air conditioner into overdrive to try and keep us cool. Everything is great until the home air conditioning system freezes up. Home cooling systems and central air conditioners needing repair can ruin a hot summer real quick.

How does that even make sense? How can a unit freeze when it’s working around the clock in 30-degree weather? There are two fairly common reasons this happens to homeowners. And trust us, we see it every day. This is probably the most common issue our air conditioning contractors fix or provide maintenance for in Winnipeg.

A Winnipeg air conditioner with a frozen line

A dirty air filter like the one on the right is often the cause of a frozen air conditioner.
A clean furnace filter and a dirty furnace filter

1. Blocked air flow
The first potential cause of a frozen air conditioner is typically the air flow in your home. When your home’s air flow is restricted, there’s no air moving through the air conditioning system to keep the condensate on the coil from freezing. The culprit is usually a dirty air filter. This is a simple problem to prevent.

Best advice? Set reminders to regularly change your air filters, and get two A/C tune-ups each year to keep your system clean and efficient. Earlier in the season like April/May and September/October is better for maintenance, before HVAC contractors get busy with service calls.

If your air conditioner freezes up due to an air flow issue, switch it off to start the defrosting process. Next thing you should do is turn on the fan. Let it run for 60 to 90 minutes. Check and change your air filter during this time. After that, turn your air conditioner back to cool and it should start working again. Also make sure your coil is draining out of the supplied hose.

2. Refrigerant leaks
Then there’s the issue of refrigerant leaks. This is another common cause of your A/C freezing up. Whenever you’re leaking Freon or other coolant, it’s a decision point for homeowners. When you have a leak, it’s best to either get it fixed or invest in a new A/C, depending on the age of your current system.

Yes, you can get an HVAC company like Pyramid Heating and Air Conditioner to top off your coolant and get your system up and running again. However, it’s a temporary fix — and there’s no telling how long it will last. It could go a couple of months or a couple of weeks or a couple of hours before your A/C is frozen again.

If you suspect a leak, contact Pyramid Plumbing and Heating as soon as possible. Let a licensed journeyman technician pinpoint and repair the leak before it causes any other headaches.

Have you had problems with A/C freezing up? Tell us about it in the comments below.