Blog - PECO Heating & Cooling

Save the Day (and Lives!) with an Emergency or Whole House Generator

We all know why it is good to have a generator when the power goes out.  A generator can keep your refrigerator, lighting, and (if you live rurally) water running. It can also be a lifesaver, literally, for those with certain medical conditions where electricity is required for home healthcare. In addition, the young and elderly are more at risk of heatstroke and a generator can help keep indoor temps down during a long-term outage.

Unfortunately, generators can also take lives when used improperly. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, generators caused more than 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. We urge you to keep your unit at least ten feet from your house to make sure that carbon monoxide gas doesn’t give you a headache, knock you out, or even kill you!

Gasoline vs. Propane/Natural Gas

We also recommend that you go with propane or natural gas versus gasoline. Though gasoline is a handy fuel, it has a definite shelf-life and must be stabilized when stored for long periods. Old gasoline can gum up the carburetor of a gas-powered generator, requiring attention over time. Propane, on the other hand, is safe and simple—no messy spills as you try to fill it. Just hook up a filled tank or natural gas line and go! Natural gas and LP is stable indefinitely requires less maintenance and you can get whole house service vs enough to run your refrigerator and a few lights. 

Wire it Right!

You can use extension cords to power up individual devices with plugs, but hooking up essentials such as your furnace, air conditioner, well pump and pressure tank requires a transfer switch. A manual transfer switch is essentially a small circuit breaker box that you mount next to your main electrical panel. For most homeowners, it is best to use professionals for these types of installations. We can match the capacity of the transfer switch with the wattage of your generator. This is the only safe way to connect your generator to your house wiring. We ensure you house is disconnected from incoming power lines when you switch on the generator. This prevents back-feeding powerlines which can be a lethal hazard for utility workers attempting to get your electricity up and running. 

Call the Professionals!

At PECO Heating and Cooling, we make professional installation of a manual transfer switch for your generator safe and affordable! We also provide a wide range of other electrical and plumbing and home maintenance and repair services. Did we mention that we’re the go-to HVAC experts for upstate South Carolina? To make sure you are ready for the next power outage, visit us online or call 864-639-2424 today to schedule an appointment.

Unwanted Houseguests? Check your Flow!

Ready to pack your stuff and move into a new place? Before moving in, you might want to see who signed the guest book and never left. Pollen, dust mites, textile and carpet fibers, mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria, and smoke are just some of the unwanted house guests that might have been left behind by previous residents. And, without some work, they might not ever leave!

Low residential airflow makes things stuffy, stale, and even unhealthy. It also causes hot and cold spots. You can also suffer from low flow in your wallet because it costs so much more to keep yourself comfortable with an inefficient system.

Don’t go with the flow. Be the flow!

Friction and turbulence slow your flow. It’s the same as being on I-85 at rush hour. Stalled cars and merged lanes cause traffic to crawl. Friction is caused by the buildup of dirt and grime in HVAC components, filters, and ducts. This causes airflow to come to a standstill. Turbulence occurs when air rubs against itself and is caused by poorly installed duct systems with sharp curves.  

What can you do to increase flow? It takes an expert to see trouble spots. We can inspect your duct system to see if it is damaged, badly designed or sloppily constructed. We can also check out your heating and cooling system to make sure that filters and coils are clean and operating right. Once we get things running smooth, we offer a Planned Maintenance Agreement (PMA) to keep it at peak efficiency. For a minimal investment, we can come to your home twice each year. We will clean filters and burners, check coils, motors, amperage, and all other components of your system. You gain peace of mind and lower energy bills. We also give PMA customers a 10% discount on repairs, priority status and never charge them overtime for nights and weekends.

Start Fresh!

At PECO Heating and Cooling, we want you to make a fresh start in your new home! We also provide a wide range of home maintenance and repairs, including home inspection repairs, plumbing, and electrical services. For a housewarming without unwanted guests,  call 864-639-2424 or visit us online to schedule an appointment today.

The History of Being Cool

The history of air conditioning is longer than you might think. Summer has been rough on human beings for tens of thousands of years. Ben Franklin, who invented bifocals, a better wood stove, swim fins, and much, much more, was not the first to fail at inventing a method to “sweat less.” Suffering through an English summer in 1758, Franklin famously ran experiments to test the evaporation of chemicals to freeze surfaces over which, in theory, “the wind would blow briskly.” Though Franklin was mercurial in his search for better ways of doing things, he never got the mercury to go down in any buildings.

We are lucky to be living in a time when most homes have AC. Otherwise, we might all be tempted to use Franklin’s go-to approach which was the “air bath.” The man on the hundred dollar bill was not self-conscious about opening his windows and traipsing about his home without any clothes on. He was utilizing sweat, nature’s original AC system. When your body starts to sweat, it is promoting heat loss through evaporation. You may not like the drip, drip, drip, but sweat is keeping you cool!

Early Forms Of AC

Cave dwellers understood that it’s much cooler underground and inside the earth. Early humans even built burrows to beat the heat! The Egyptians took things to the next level by hanging wet reeds in their windows. This cooled sweltering Nile river valley breezes wafting through homes and public buildings. The richest Romans used the cool water in aqueducts piped under their homes to chill out and bought expensive snow that merchants imported and stored underground.

The Chinese invented handheld fans when they realized that moving air creates a cooling effect on the skin. This was the first portable AC unit! The towers of traditional Middle Eastern buildings utilized towers that were designed to catch and circulate cool breezes. This drew cool air up from underground channels and pushed warm air out. Victorians built homes with high ceilings, giving the heat room to move upward. They also installed large recessed windows and covered porches to increase coolness and airflow.

Willis Carrier was looking for a way to dry ink during the summer for a publishing house when he built the first air conditioner in the summer of 1902. When he stared at the mist of a Pittsburgh train platform, he saw that if he could manufacture airflow with specific amounts of moisture, he could “condition” the air. He didn’t just allow the ink to dry in books, he wrote his name in the history books. His system was initially employed for industrial use, but theater-owners soon understood they could bring in more patrons if it was icy-cold inside all summer long! Carrier understood he was on to something big and developed a network of international dealers and that is still one of the big names in the industry.

More Than Comfort

At PECO Heating and Cooling, we understand why people have worked so hard for thousands of year to keep themselves cool in the summer. It isn’t all about discomfort either. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat rash are physiological reactions to stifling temperatures. That’s why we are available 24/7 to make sure your AC system is running right. Our Planned Maintenance Agreement ensures that your heating and cooling systems are in excellent working condition every single day. Twice each year, we’ll come to your house and perform maintenance that will give you the reliability you can count on. We also provide a wide range of home maintenance and repairs, including home inspection repairs, plumbing, and electrical services. To stay cool without resorting to Ben Franklin’s “air bath,” call 864-639-2424 or visit us online to schedule an appointment today.

How to Protect Your Home and AC System from a Lightning Storm

Lightning never strikes twice, they say, but it is more likely to strike in some places than others. Despite a tragic, recent Independence Day incident, it is relatively uncommon for people to be struck by lightning in South Carolina. Our homes and electrical appliances, unfortunately, are at much higher risk. It just takes one power surge caused by a lightning strike to ruin your AC unit, leading to costly repairs or replacement. Did we mention the heat you’ll have to suffer through until your air conditioner is up and running again?

When lightning strikes near a power line, it can cause a power surge that flows through your home’s electrical system. The spike in voltage during a power surge can damage components of household electronics by causing an arc of current. This arc overloads the system and damages components due to the sheer heat generated by a surge.

Your air conditioner may not be top of the list when you think of “electronics” or “appliances” but it’s also at great risk of power surges!

How Do You Reduce Your Risk?

The manual method is to turn off the power at the breaker during a storm but it is a hassle, inconvenient to have the power off, and impossible to do when you are not home. A better long term solution is a high-quality, whole-house surge protector that we wire to your electrical service box.

Though installation of a whole-house surge protector is not inexpensive, consider the prices of all the appliances and electronics in your home. Protecting these devices, worth thousands of dollars, may make the investment worthwhile.

If you are relying on insurance to help you out in the event your air conditioner gets fried by a lightning-fueled surge, you may want to reconsider. Insurance policies aren’t always straight-forward. You will be required to establish that your damage was due to a storm, and some policies don’t even cover air conditioners. Let’s not forget deductibles! Maybe the best insurance is to install a whole-house surge protector.

So, you didn’t get a whole-house surge protector?

If a thunderstorm cooks your unprotected air conditioner, we are happy to help you get the cool air flowing again as soon as possible. We can help you diagnose the damage and help you decide if repairs are possible or if you need to install a new unit. We can also make sure that everything is properly grounded when your system is brought back to life. If you would then like to discuss additional levels of surge protection for your air conditioning system we would be glad to research and recommend products that will make sense for your home. Whether you’re looking to avoid costly air conditioning damages or are dealing with a damaged unit now, contact your Home Service Heroes.

We’re a family-owned business and we take great pride in offering high-quality home repair with even higher quality attention to our customer’s needs. We’re available 24/7 and service Oconee, Pickens, and North Anderson counties. As well as maintaining, installing and fixing heating and cooling systems, we are also licensed plumbing contractors. We can fix or build anything that moves gas or water through your house and we even repair and remodel homes. If you’re thinking of insuring your home against a lightning strike with a whole-house surge protector, call the whole-house experts at PECO today at 864-639-2424 or request an appointment online

Saving Energy While Heating Water With A Tankless Water Heater

Water Heating Can Be a Tankless Task

Traditional water heaters, even if they are running right, have built-in inefficiencies. You would never keep a pot of boiling water on the stove 24/7 to make your coffee or tea each morning. That’s sort of what’s happening in your water heater tank—whether you’re at work, or away for the weekend, your water heater is burning energy all day, every day to keep a big “pot” of water ready for the next time you want to use it. Going tankless addresses this wastefulness by only heating water on demand. It is also a much smaller unit, saving on space. This is a big deal since water heating is the second most expensive energy guzzler in most households.

How It Works

When you turn the handle for hot water in a traditional system, pre-heated hot water travels through pipes to the tap. In a tankless system, cold water is carried to the unit and is circulated through a series of coils called a heat exchanger and sent directly to the faucet. The system only heats the water that you need—you save on your electric or gas bill and reduce your carbon footprint!

Gas Versus Electric

Electric on-demand tankless systems produce lower flow rates than gas-fired units due to lower BTU production. The most powerful home electric system produces 125,000 BTU, while outputs from gas systems range from 120,000 to 199,000 BTU.  Electric water heaters are more compact and can be complicated to install, requiring (3) 50 AMP double pole breakers and circuits run to supply the power. Your home’s electrical panel and service AMPs must be large enough to supply the additional 150A required to run the electric tankless water heater. Most homes only have 200A service. Gas tankless heaters are larger and will require installation of additional gas lines and PVC venting (exterior tankless only need gas and water lines). Gas water heaters are more efficient than electric, and the price to install is about the same.  There are more restrictions for installing electric tankless than gas; however, because electric tankless is limited to the power supplied to your home.

How Much Is Not Enough?

Typically, tankless units provide hot water at a rate of two to five gallons per minute, depending on the model and temperature of the groundwater. For simultaneous demand for showering, dishwashing and clothes washing, be sure that the new system you purchase will cover your needs. Tankless water heaters can cost significantly more to install compared to an electric tank water heater, but it will also produce energy savings that may result in the unit paying for itself in 10-12 years or less. Also, they will last longer—warranties for most tankless systems are for 20 years compared to 8-10 years for tank systems. For more information about installing a tankless water heater system in your home, call PECO, your home service heroes. We’re a family-owned business and take great pride in offering high-quality home repair with even higher quality attention to our customer’s needs. We’re available 24/7 and service  Oconee, Pickens, and North Anderson counties. As well as being licensed plumbing contractors, we also install, maintain and fix heating and cooling systems. We can fix or build anything that moves gas or water through your house and we even repair and remodel homes, including doors, minor drywall, and painting. If you’re thinking of going tankless, call the experts at PECO today at 864-639-2424 or request an appointment online.

The Costly Air Conditioner Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Keep your Air Conditioner Running Smooth in the Dog Days of Summer

Long, scorching days and warm evenings tell us the dog days of summer have finally, fully arrived. Another thing that tells us? The steady, smooth whirr of your air conditioner. Unless your AC unit is balky, noisy or just not pumping out cool air like it used to. Then summer, especially in upstate South Carolina, becomes unbearably stifling, humid, and even unhealthful. Not to mention a drain on your budget when you have to finally break down and fix it. So, what can you do to make sure you keep your cool in the hottest months of the year?

Change that Filter

On average, the air filter on your heating and cooling system becomes saturated with dirt and dust after 1 month. This not only increases the amount of dust in your house, but it makes your unit work harder with weaker output. Replacing a dirty filter can improve AC energy use by 5 to 15%—and might even make you stop yearning for winter!

Dirty Fins and Coils

Your AC’s evaporator coils work as a heat exchanger—refrigerant inside the coil evaporates as heat is absorbed. The fins enhance the heat exchange process. Layers of dust and dirt bog the system down by up to 40%, costing you more and more money to get to a temperature you can live with. It is recommended you get your coils and fins cleaned at the beginning of the summer and then check for buildup throughout peak season. Though it is possible to DIY this task, it is probably best to give it over to professionals who can check for other key issues.

Maintenance Free—Not!

Many people treat their AC and heating system as if it is a self-cleaning, self-maintaining unit, which is just not true. Over time, the life-blood of your unit, refrigerant, escapes and is dispersed outdoors, putting a strain on your system and your budget. A technician can determine if your system is low on refrigerant and add more if needed, getting your unit back on track and making your home or business way more chill.   

As you can see, staying ahead of repairs is the best way to avoid costly, inconvenient fixes. At PECO Heating and Cooling, our Planned Maintenance Agreement, will keep your heating and cooling systems in excellent working condition all year long. Twice each year, we’ll come to your house and perform maintenance that will give you a  reliable system you can depend on. We also provide a wide range of home maintenance and repairs, including home inspection repairs, plumbing, and electrical services.

If you need help with just about anything in your home, we have the tools and knowledge to give you professional, top-quality craftsmanship and get you through the dog days. Why are they called dog days, anyway? The Romans noted that in the summer, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog. They thought Sirius gave off extra heat, making summer hotter! To keep the dogs at bay all summer long, call 864-639-2424 or visit us online to schedule an appointment today.

Choosing the Right Size HVAC System for Your Home

If you’ve ever looked on the internet for tips on choosing the right size HVAC system for your home, you know it can be confusing! Often there are a number of different calculations and formulas – but how do you know which is the correct one to use? It is best to have an HVAC specialist visit your home as we have found those formulas or calculations can’t take into account your lifestyle and the TRUE energy efficiency in your home.   We have used the Manual J calculation and there are limitations to the software.  Many times we have found it to undersize the appropriate tonnage for a home. 

Some clients enjoy their homes icy cold while others like a typical 72 degrees for summer and the same for winter. Older clients have different needs than those with families and active lifestyles.   Some homes have vaulted ceilings and large windows; ductwork is under or oversized…parameters manual J can’t calculate.

Home Air Conditioner

Can’t You Just Use Square Footage to Choose an HVAC unit?

While there are certain charts out there that will give you a general idea of the best HVAC size, they’re based only on square footage and don’t take the other variables addressed by the Manual J calculation into account. If you were to compare two homes with the same square footage, one may have less energy-efficient windows, more people living in the home, and older insulation – factors which could significantly alter the BTU recommendations. Even though the homes are the same size, they could have completely different energy needs.

A reputable HVAC company will take all these things into consideration, look at your existing system, lifestyle, home age, etc and make suggestions for energy efficiency (i.e. attic insulation), air filtration and more.  Changing any of these parameters can help you save energy passively and perhaps reduce the required tonnage of your system.

Still having trouble deciding which size HVAC system is right for you? Give us a call, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable technicians can help you choose the perfect system for your home.

8 Cool Cost-Saving Tips to Reduce Your Air Conditioning Bill This Summer

With warm summer weather on the way, it’s the perfect time to look at some effective ways to save on your air conditioning costs this summer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners spend a combined $29 billion per year in cooling and energy costs – and much of that could potentially be reduced with a few easy tricks and tips.

1. Invest in an automated thermostat

Smart thermostats are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to reducing your cooling costs. They allow you to regulate the temperature of your home when you’re away and control it remotely. Program it to have a higher temperature (only 3 degrees above or below your comfort level) when you’re away from the home, then have the cooling kick on once you’re home. Over time, you’ll definitely see the savings add up!

2. Turn your thermostat up

Often people think turning their air conditioner off while they are away and turning it on when they come home will save money.  It doesn’t work.  When the system is off (in either heating or cooling cycle) the entire house and its contents ejects the heat or cool temp into the room until they reach equilibrium – walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, appliances, etc.  When you return home and turn your thermostat at your ideal temperature…all those items listed much reach that temperature first…before you feel it.  This is called heat transfer….This means your system could run for 8-10 hours straight on a very hot or cold day before you are feeling it versus cycle on and off for a total of 4 hours during the day to maintain the temperature.  For older more inefficient systems it could run longer and risk damaging critical components like the compressor and motors. Its best to set your thermostat to a higher temperature when you leave the house only 3 degrees above your comfort level, then down to a cooler temperature when you get home will save more money than having the AC unit cycling on and off throughout the day.

3. Window coverings

If you have a lot of sunlight beating on your home throughout the day, it could be heating up your interior. Installing some blinds or curtains will help keep the heat out during the summer and keep heat in during the winter – contributing to energy savings all year round!  Awnings work great as well

4. Install a ceiling fan

According to the National Resource Defense Council, using a ceiling fan during warm weather can make a room feel up to 10 degrees cooler, plus it uses 10% less energy than a central air conditioner. You can also improve energy efficiency by installing a smart ceiling fan that schedules when your fan turns on and off.  This is because of heat transfer again.  Since cool air is blowing across your skin, you feel cooler.

5. Turn off the AC at night and open the windows

If it’s a cool night, you can turn your AC off and open the windows to cool your home down. Be sure to close the windows and drapes or blinds as soon as you wake up to lock in the cool air.

6. Close your chimney flue

Leaving your chimney flue open isn’t much different than leaving a door or window open, so if you have a chimney, be sure to close off the flue during the warm summer months. Doing this simple trick can save an additional 10% on your air conditioning costs.

7. Check your windows for energy efficiency

Heat loss and gains through windows are responsible for approximately 25-30% of residential heating and cooling costs. You can have an energy audit done, or you can simply go around your house and feel for where you feel air coming through around windows and doors. If you have leaks, you can apply caulk to the cracks (or have us do it) to create a fresh seal that will prevent your cool air from escaping. If you have an older home with single pane windows, you may also want to consider installing more energy efficient windows.

8. Have your vents and ducts serviced

It’s important to keep your vents opened and unblocked of clutter/furniture to make sure your AC system is running as efficiently as possible. Blocked vents make your AC system work harder than it has to, leading to higher energy bills – and may even cause damage to your AC unit over time.  Many people think if they close the vents or shut doors this saves energy.  It is best to leave doors and vents opened and if you have 2 systems, make sure they are both running.

Ducts should also be checked for cracks, as escaping air may also cause your AC to run less efficiently. Additionally, keeping your vents clean is important to your health, as dirty vents can harbor bacteria and microorganisms that can affect your health.  Having an Air filtration system with MERV11 or MERV16 5” pleated filter system will keep your system and ductwork clean. UV lights can kill bacteria, mold, and mildew. Investing in a planned maintenance agreement can ensure that your HVAC system stays clean and running as efficiently as possible all year long.

Get Your House Ready for Your Vacation with these 5 Tips

Just because you’re away on vacation doesn’t mean you don’t stop thinking about or needing to take care of your house. Here are 5 tips to make sure your home is safe from electrical issues while you are gone.

Unplug

Even when your devices are turned off, they still use up power and electricity and could be subject to surges and shorts. By unplugging your devices, specifically things like your TV, computers, lamps, and more you will save money on electrical use and protect from any potential fire hazards. Unless you want a stinky mess when you come home, you probably should leave your fridge plugged in, but you could always turn down the settings slightly.

Hot Water Tank

Another way to reduce your costs and power usage while you are away is to turn down the temperature on your water heater. Even though you are not using your hot water while on vacation, the water will cool on its own which will kick in the heating process of your tank. Most hot water tanks have a setting on them called ‘vacation’ or ‘away.’ Simply find the temperature knob or panel, and set it to the vacation temperature which is usually just above the pilot setting. Why heat your water when you won’t be using it?

Temperature Settings

Don’t leave the temperature turned up high or the AC turned on at all when you are away. If you’re traveling in the winter, you will have to leave the heat on, but the temperature can be much lower than if you were at home to keep your pipes from freezing and bursting. As well, if you are away in the summer, there is no need to keep your air conditioning on at all. You can cool your house down again when you come home. If you have pets you can’t take with you, consider having someone else look after them at their home.

Programmable Lights

At night, we want some lights on in our house, so it looks like people are at home. There are devices we can get so we can program our lights, inside or out, to come on at a particular time. Timed lights will work to reduce our electrical costs. You could also look into smart lights, either builds or fixtures which you can control from your smartphone and turn on and off wherever you are.

Check-In

Lastly, have a friend, family member, or neighbor check in on your house every few days while you are away. Someone walking around your home and property could notice a problem before it becomes severe. Some insurance companies require that someone check on an empty house for the coverage to still be valid in case of an emergency.

How to Decide Whether to Replace or Repair Your HVAC System

How to Decide Whether to Replace or Repair Your HVAC System

Your HVAC system is malfunctioning; how do you know whether it’s worth repairing or if it should be replaced altogether? While we can certainly give recommendations when we take a look at your HVAC system, here are a few guidelines you can keep in mind to determine which choice is right for you.

It’s Worth the Cost of Repairs if:

  • If your system is less than 10 years old. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the typical HVAC system is expected to last about 10-15 years. If your unit is less than 10 years old does or does not have manufacturer’s parts warranty, it’s most likely more cost-efficient to have it repaired. Over 10 years old? You’ll most likely want to have it replaced to save on repeated service calls.
  • Your ductwork is the issue. Many times, issues with your HVAC system can be caused by problems with your ducts. It’s estimated that about 10-30% of your HVAC system’s air leaks out before it reaches the interior of your home, so having your ducts checked for any leaks or gaps can save you money on energy costs and help your system run more efficiently.
  • You’ve had regular maintenance performed on your HVAC unit. If you’ve kept up with regular maintenance on your HVAC system, this can reduce demand service calls and save on your power bill monthly. Regularly cleaning the unit of dust, pollen, animal hair, dirt, and debris should ensure that your unit doesn’t fail before it’s time. We recommend having your HVAC system serviced twice a year; spring and fall are a great time to get your system ready for your heavier heating and cooling needs during the summer and winter months.

It’s Worth the Cost of Replacing if:

  • Your unit is over 10 – 15 years old. As mentioned above, at this age, your unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, and that means the chances of it having repeated need for repairs goes up. As the components in your HVAC begin to age and malfunction, it’s generally cheaper to simply replace the entire unit than to pay for repairs every season.
  • You notice higher energy bills when you use your HVAC. As HVAC units age, they become less energy efficient and must work harder to keep your home heated and cooled. If you notice that your energy bills have been rising, it may be worth replacing your older unit entirely.
  • Your HVAC system isn’t keeping your home comfortable. If your system isn’t able to keep up with the demands of your home and you’re continuously noticing that rooms aren’t as comfortable as they should be, it may be time to replace your HVAC unit.

Are you still having trouble deciding whether you need a repair or replacement? You can do a quick calculation to see what would be more cost-effective. Contact us for an estimate for HVAC repair, and then multiply that number by the age of your system in years. Then, check that price against the price of a new unit. If it’s more than the cost of a new unit, then it’s best to replace it. If it’s less, and the system is under 10 years old, it’s probably best to repair it. If you’re still unsure, our skilled technicians can provide expert advice on whether your unit should be replaced versus repaired. Give us a call and we’ll come out and take a look!