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4 Heating and Cooling Myths

There are numerous heating and cooling myths that may make you believe you’re saving money when you might actually be spending more in the long run. Find out what they are & why you need a professional like DiPietro Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mary Tarpy, Service Manager at DiPietro Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical. Today we’re talking about [four] heating and cooling myths. Welcome Mary.

Mary Tarpy: Thank you John. Thank you for having me.

1. The Myth of Saving Money by Turning Your Thermostat Up or Down While You’re Gone

John: Sure. So Mary, what are some myths relating to heating and cooling systems?

Mary: One of the biggest things people are trying to do is save money out there today. So they like to either go one way or the other with the heating and cooling when they’re not home. So if it’s a 90 degree day, they’re turning their thermostats up to 80 degrees so that there’s no cooling running in their house. Then when they come home at night, they end up spending more money trying to cool the house back down again. So, turn it up a little bit when you leave, or turning your heat down a few degrees when you leave will save you some money, but ultimately, keep it fairly level.

John: Right, so if you’re doing heating, don’t put your thermostat down to 60 degrees and let your house completely cool off like that. Or in the summer, don’t turn your air conditioning off and let it get warm, and then turn it back on again.

Mary: Exactly, because when you come home and turn it down, you’re just going to be trying to cool everything in your house down. Not just the air. You’re going to be trying to cool down the carpets, the furniture, everything’s warming up in the house. So you end up spending more money trying to compensate for what you thought you saved during the day.

John: Right, because the way that a thermostat works of course is that it might turn on for a couple of minutes, heat or cool the home for a couple of minutes, and then shut off. Then that heat or that coolness is trapped in the house. It doesn’t go away right away. It takes a little while. So your system is only on for a couple of minutes at a time, whereas, if you let it completely turn off or go way down, then when you’re turning it back on again, it’s going to run constantly for like several hours.

Mary: Not like it’s going to add up if you come home on a 20 degree afternoon and your house is now 60 degrees, and you’re trying to get it up to 70. It’s going to run a long time and you’re going to end up using more fuel and electricity to compensate.

John: Right. You related that when we were talking before to the way that you drive a car using a gas pedal on the car, is that right?

Mary: Exactly. If you hit the gas and start off real fast and you slam on your brakes to stop, you’re using more fuel. You’re better off to just [stop slowly]. Slow and steady wins the race.

John: You’re a more efficient driver if you just to try to stay in a constant speed and not be always putting the pedal to the metal.

Mary: Exactly. Exactly.

2. The Myth that Gas is a Maintenance Free System

John: Yes, yes. What’s the next myth?

Mary: I think one of the biggest ones if we’re talking about heating is that people heat with oil, people heat with gas and the myth is that gas is a maintenance-free system. Because yes, it is a cleaner fuel than oil. So it does require less maintenance.

John: It doesn’t need that constant cleaning out of the gunk that builds up in an oil system.

Mary: Exactly, exactly. But there’s a lot of mechanical parts on any heating system — motors, valves, if it’s a boiler system or whatever. In a gas system, it’s a safety check. Not only just the cleaning and the maintenance, but you’re checking for things like carbon monoxide, which is very important that you have your system checked every year to make sure that it’s running efficiently and safely.

John: Right, and making sure that there’s no leaks in the system.

Mary: Correct.

3. The Myth That Refrigerant Evaporates

John: Okay. What’s number three?

Mary: Well, on a day like today, which we’re a little bit warmer today, if my system isn’t cooling, I’d come on and put a little gas in it, which leads into another myth that refrigerant evaporates. So if your system is not cooling because it needs refrigerant in it, it’s got a leak somewhere. That means that gas is leaking into the environment and can cause damage to the ozone. So that needs to be fixed and repaired.

John: Okay, so that’s myth number [three], is that refrigerant evaporates. So, refrigerant doesn’t evaporate. So if you’re losing refrigerant out of your system, then there’s a leak happening.

Mary: That’s right. It’s leaking out of the system somewhere. It may be a small leak, it may be a large leak, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. So, in going back to number three, that my system just needs a little gas, there’s a lot of reasons why your system may not be cooling. It could be as simple as your air filter is clogged. Changing your air filter will get you a better air flow.

Your outdoor condenser could be dirty. That needs to be cleaned. Air flow is a big thing in air conditioning. There’s electrical components. They could be bad. Best place for mice to live in the winter is your AC condenser. While they’re nesting in there, they’re gnawing on the electrical wires. So, there’s a lot of variables when you go to put on your thermostat and it’s 75 in your house, and two hours later, it’s now 77. There’s a lot that could be going on.

John: Right. So if it’s not working, don’t just think, “Oh, I just have to get some gas and then it will run fine.” If it’s not running fine, there’s probably another reason for it.

Mary: Exactly, exactly.

John: All right, what’s our last heating and cooling myth? Number [four].

Mary: Biggest thing I’ve been running into lately now that we have the big box stores, is that heating and air conditioning is a DIY project. We’ve got HGTV out there and all those shows telling us all these things that we can do.

John: It makes it look like that you can do everything yourself.

Mary: You can do anything you want.

John: You could practically build your own house.

Mary: A YouTube video is going to show you what you need to do, and heating and air conditioning is not it. There’s more to putting it in. People that install air conditioning and repair air conditioning have gone to school, they’re trained for it. They have certifications, they have licenses. You need electrical permits to put in air conditioning. You’re touching your electrical panel.

You need EPA certification to touch refrigerant. If the system’s a certain size, you need to have a refrigeration license. Installing a heating system, gas licenses, plumbing licenses, so it’s really, you might be able to go and buy the unit online [or] go to your big box store and buy it, but it’s not something you should be putting in yourself.

John: What are some of the types of systems that people are trying to install themselves?

Mary: Well, nowadays, it’s water heaters. I can go to the big box store and get a water heater for $300. But, you’ve got the water heater [and] the price you pay is based on what you have for warranty. You get a 6 year warranty, a 10 year warranty, or a 15 year warranty. The better [the] warranty, the more you’re spending and having a professional install it gives you labor warranty. If anything goes wrong, those people back it up, and they come back out and take care of your situation. You do it yourself [and you have] no warranty.

John: Right.

Mary: You’re the warranty.

John: Right. So you might think that you’re saving in the short term by doing something like that. But in the long term, you’re not. Do you handle situations where people get started with one of these DIY projects and then they call you up and say, “Hey, I have my AC half-installed, can you help me finish it the rest of the way?”

Mary: All the time. Yes. “Can you come out and finish what we started?” Unfortunately, most of the time, we have to decline. We don’t know what permits have been pulled or how far they’ve gotten. If we were to do it, we would go in and we would have to start from scratch. We wouldn’t be able to warranty the equipment. We didn’t purchase the equipment [and] we don’t know what condition the equipment is.

So in most cases, we’ll respectfully decline. It’s unfortunate because people think, “I can go out and buy myself one of these new fancy ductless splits, and mount that unit on the wall.” It’s not like putting your window unit in, there’s a lot more to it, and it requires town codes, where you have to have things done by a professional, and have permits pulled.

John: Right. That’s actually construction.

Mary: Right. If you manage to get it done, it’s great today, but when you go to sell your home, the inspector is going to come in and say, “Where are the permits for this work?”

John:  Right. That wasn’t installed to code.

Mary: Yes.

John: They might actually make you take it out.

Mary: And start from scratch.

John: And start from scratch, with a professional like yourselves.

Mary: Yes.

John: Interesting.

Mary: You might think you’re saving yourself some money, but in the long run, you get what you pay for. When you call a company like DiPietro Heating and Cooling, we’re there, we do the install and if something goes wrong, we’re there to correct it. Especially if it’s within the warranty period. That’s what you’re paying for. You’re paying to have a company like DiPietro there to take care of you.

John: Right, that’s important to remember. All right, Mary, well thanks very much for speaking with me today.

Mary: Well, thank you for having me.

John: For more information, visit calldipietro.com or call (978) 372-4111.

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