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Here are some of the latest advancements in furnace technology

When it comes to winter heating, a majority of Americans rely on a gas or electric furnace to keep their homes cozy. The fundamental technology behind furnaces has been around for ages, but today’s systems are far more sophisticated than those manufactured a decade ago. Some of the latest advancements in furnace technology are pushing toward the upper limits of energy-efficiency, saving homeowners thousands on their energy bills throughout the lifespan of the system.

In this article, we’ll review four major heating technology advancements:

  • High-efficiency furnaces
  • Variable-speed furnaces
  • Hybrid furnaces
  • Smart home integration

Need a new furnace?

At Southern Air, our team of NATE-certified techs install advanced, high-efficiency Carrier and Trane furnaces. Call us today to get a free in-home estimate here in Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Leesville, Ruston, or the surrounding areas.

A Carrier-certified technician reviews the latest in furnace technology with a local homeowner.Get to know the latest furnace technology

High-Efficiency Furnaces

The gas, propane, and oil furnaces of yesteryear can’t hold a candle (or, perhaps more appropriately, a pilot light) to the efficiency and effectiveness of systems manufactured today.

What is AFUE?

The efficiency of heating systems is commonly measured using an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) score. Simply put, the heater’s AFUE percentage is the amount of heat energy that can be extracted from the fuel, versus how much of that fuel’s energy potential is wasted. A gas furnace with 70% AFUE converts 70% of the natural gas into heat, with the remaining 30% being lost through exhaust. In other words, the higher the AFUE, the more efficient the system is.

Starting in the 1990s, new regulations led to a new efficiency floor for furnaces: 78% AFUE. In the decades since, however, furnaces have continued to become more efficient, climbing the AFUE scale. Some of today’s furnaces scrape the very top of the scale, topping out at 97% or 98% AFUE. These high-efficiency systems waste very little energy. A great example is the Carrier Infinity® 98 Gas Furnace, which has a 98.5% AFUE score and is one of the most efficient gas furnaces on the planet.

Efficiency isn’t always what it seems

Many homeowners mistakenly think that electric furnaces are cheaper to operate than gas furnaces. After all, electric furnaces have 100% AFUE—there’s no wasted energy at all! However, just because electric systems are technically more efficient doesn’t mean you’ll see lower heating costs. Electricity is far more expensive than natural gas. Oil and propane are even pricier than electricity.

When looking at AFUE, make sure you take the cost of the fuel source into account: a less efficient gas furnace may be cheaper to run than a high-efficiency propane system. To make things even more complex, you also need to consider local energy costs.

When it comes to furnace technology and installation, Southern Air remain Louisiana’s top choice for service. Call us today to have one of our experienced technicians inspect your home’s furnace.

Variable-Speed Furnaces

In a typical furnace manufactured two decades ago, the system had one mode of operation: on. When you turned the thermostat, the furnace would come online and run at its full power to heat your home to the desired temperature. It would then turn off once the temperature was reached, repeating that cycle again and again.

There are a few problems with that approach. First, furnaces (as well as heat pumps and air conditioners) use energy to start and stop, making that stop-and-go approach less than ideal. The constant “cycling” also puts unnecessary strain on the system itself. Finally, with only one speed, the furnace couldn’t just maintain a consistent temperature: more often, the result was peaks and valleys of cold and heat in the home.

Shifting gears

Variable-speed furnaces are a major improvement. Basically, these systems have “gears” they can shift into. When they just need to maintain a temperature, they can shift into a lower speed to use less energy and keep the temperature stable. This avoids the energy waste of constantly starting and stopping.

Think of variable-speed systems like a 6-speed bike. If you had a one-speed bike, you’d have to expend the same amount of energy pedaling, no matter how steep you’re climbing or how fast you’re going. In the end, that’s going to result in a lot of wasted energy (and sore legs!). However, with a 6-speed, you can shift up or down to adjust resistance and conserve energy. A variable-speed furnace is like that: it can run at lower or higher speeds as needed, which helps it conserve energy.

A comfortable, quiet home

That precision control also means you’ll have a more comfortable home. Because the variable-speed system can slow or speed up, it can heat your home without making it too hot or leaving it too cold. That’s a big benefit of switching to variable speed, but here’s one more: variable-speed systems, when running at their lower gear, are much quieter than a normal furnace. That’s just one less annoyance in your life.

Hybrid Furnaces

Hybrid furnace systems contain not just one, but two heating devices: a gas furnace and a heat pump. Hybrid systems are ideal for people that are seeking a two-in-one solution that can both heat and cool the home. In addition, hybrid systems have versatility in the fall and spring seasons, where they can heat your home at a lower energy cost than running your furnace. Let’s dive in and discuss this new furnace technology.

A system for all seasons

In the fall, when night temperatures begin to drop but it’s not too cold out, the hybrid system can use the heat pump to warm your home. As with all heat pumps, this works by pulling heat energy out of the outside air, and then using refrigerant to move that energy inside the home. In our mild winter climate here in Louisiana, you’ll get a lot of use out of this mode. Plus, because moving heat energy is less intense than creating it, you’ll save on your energy costs versus running the furnace.

Versatility for the summer ahead

Of course, heat pumps can also reverse operation and function akin to standard air conditioners: drawing heat energy out of the inside of your home and transferring it outside, thereby cooling the air inside your home. This means that a hybrid furnace system is quite literally an HVAC system for all seasons.

The automation features of a smart thermostat can help you save energy, lowering your energy bills.

Smart home integration

The smart home is in vogue. From smart speakers that allow you to control your lights with your voice to smart appliances, more and more homeowners are making their homes more integrated and convenient. Given how important it is to life in your home, your heating and cooling systems aren’t left behind. With a programmable thermostat—also known as a “smart thermostat”—homeowners have full control over the comfort in their home.

While there are a variety of models and brands out there, most programmable thermostats have these three main features in common:

  • Automated Temperature Control: You can set up a temperature schedule for your home that accounts for when you’re regularly away or at home. This helps cut down on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year, saving you money.
  • Smartphone App Control: Smart thermostats are connected to the internet and allow you to control the thermostat from your phone, anywhere you are. Away on vacation, but need to turn on the heating for the house-sitter? With the smartphone app, it’s easy.
  • Voice Technology Integration: Most smart thermostats are compatible with smart speakers, allowing you to control the temperature settings with your voice from anywhere in your home.

Given their ability to save homeowners money and make their lives more convenient, it’s no wonder why programmable thermostats are so popular at the moment.

For furnace technology experts, call our team at Southern Air

If you want more information about the latest heating systems and furnace technology, call the team at Southern Air Heating & Cooling. We have been serving Shreveport, Monroe, and Alexandria and surrounding areas since 1993. Contact us today!

Here’s why you should spend your tax refund on a new air conditioner

It’s April. It’s the time of year where baseball starts, the weather warms up, and taxes are due. Okay, that last item is less exciting than the others. However, if you’re like most Americans, you’re probably anticipating a tax refund; the average in Louisiana is $3,073. Exciting!

Many people use their refund to pay off debt, go on vacation, or buy boats / cars. However, in this blog post, we’ll argue the reasons why you should re-invest your refund in your home’s value by upgrading an old air conditioner.

If you’re ready to make the switch from your old system to a new one, contact Southern Air for a free in-home estimate.

#1. Replacing your old air conditioner can benefit your home’s value

If you’re thinking at all about selling your home in the next decade, replacing that old air conditioner with a new one using your tax refund makes sense. A new air conditioner will increase your home’s value, improve your curb appeal, and even be a deciding factor for many homebuyers.

Why is an air conditioner so impactful? When you’re buying a home, there are a lot of upfront costs to consider, from closing costs to the downpayment itself. An older air conditioner on the verge of dying is a big turnoff for buyers, because they know they run the risk of having to replace the system themselves at a time when they’re lowest on cash.

As the seller, you can just have Southern Air install a new air conditioner for the home and then up your home’s value.

#2. You can feel the better comfort

There are a lot of luxury items you can spend your tax refund on. However, will any of them make you feel as comfortable as a new air conditioner will on the hottest, most humid nights of the summer?

Whether you’re planning on selling your home or not, you and your family should still feel comfortable in your home. Consider using your refund to upgrade to a new Carrier air conditioner, installed by the Southern Air team.

#3. Cut down on miscellaneous costs

An older air conditioner is more likely to cost you miscellaneous money on two fronts:

  • Higher energy bills: Even with seasonal maintenance, an older air conditioner just isn’t as energy-efficient as a new system. This means you’re paying more for summers to come.
  • More frequent repairs: Older air conditioners are more likely to break down than new systems, which means you’ll need AC repair more often. Over successive summers, these costs can really add up.

Call Southern Air for a free in-home estimate

Southern Air offers free in-home estimates on new air conditioners. If you’re considering using this year’s tax refund on a new air conditioner, give us a call at (318) 798-1801.

Here are four reasons to get AC tune-up this spring from Southern Air

Spring. It’s the time for cleaning, college basketball, and—we’d argue—a good air conditioning tune-up. There are many reasons to get an AC tune-up this spring, but, in this blog, we’re going to discuss the four most important ones.

If you’re ready to schedule your seasonal air conditioning tune-up, contact us today. Also, be sure to check out our Coupons page to see our current specials.

#1. Better energy-efficiency

Air conditioners get less efficient the longer they go without maintenance. Even the smallest inefficiencies, stretched out over a long Louisiana summer, can add up on your monthly energy bills. This is one of the primary reasons we recommend getting an AC tune-up this spring.

Our techs run through a complete checklist to make sure they’re addressing the most important energy-efficiency points of your system. Once these are completed, your air conditioner will be ready for the summer ahead.

#2. Reduces the chance of a summer breakdown

The summer is the worst time for an air conditioner to break down. Unfortunately, it’s almost the most likely time for it to breakdown. In fact, many breakdowns occur on the hottest, most humid days here in Louisiana, as an air conditioner that’s already near the breaking point is pushed to its limits for hours upon hours.

Southern Air is here to help homeowners with their AC repair needs. But, here’s something you should know: an AC tune-up can actually help prevent breakdowns in the summer. By having one of our techs thoroughly inspect your system, we can catch small problems before they lead to catastrophe.

#3. Keeps your AC running better for longer

Your air conditioner is like any other mechanical device, from your car to a bicycle. Without proper care and maintenance, it’s eventually going to break. In fact, you could even put it this way: you can either maintain it, or you can replace it.

Air conditioners with a thorough and complete history of professional maintenance visits every spring? They tend to last a lot longer, and are more energy-efficient as they age. That’s years longer that a homeowner can keep the system around, saving them money.

Of course, the opposite is true for air conditioners that don’t receive maintenance at all, or their maintenance history is very spotty. That being said, there’s never a bad time in your air conditioner’s lifespan to start maintenance.

#4. Gives you peace of mind

Out of the four items on this list, this is perhaps the most valuable. For many families, higher-than-expected energy bills or the sudden need for AC repair can be a lot of stress, especially when it’s hot and humid out. That stress is both financial and in terms of comfort.

An AC tune-up gives you the peace of mind of knowing your system will be more efficient and your system will be less likely to break down. That’s why we highly recommend them for all air conditioners, new and old. There’s no air conditioner that won’t benefit from a seasonal tune-up.

Call Southern Air to schedule an AC tune-up this spring

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not a tune-up is worth it, hopefully this post has helped you decide that they are. Having a professional HVAC technician thoroughly inspect and tune up your air conditioner can make a world of difference.

Ready to schedule your AC tune-up this spring? Contact us here at Southern Air, and we’ll set a time and date for one of our friendly, expert techs to look at your system.

What makes Carrier heating and cooling systems better?

At Southern Air, we’re proud to be a Carrier dealer. Carrier heating and cooling systems are among the best available on the market today, and our techs are expert installers.

We offer free in-home estimates on new Carrier systems. Contact us to schedule yours, or keep reading to learn more about what makes Carrier systems great!

Southern Air is your Carrier heating and cooling dealer.What makes Carrier different?

#1. Carrier builds energy-efficient systems

Among HVAC system manufacturers, Carrier has long been a leader when it comes to pioneering advances in technology and efficiency. That’s fitting: after all, Willis Carrier pretty much invented what we consider “the air conditioner” in 1902.

Many Carrier air conditioners, furnace, and heat pumps in their Infinity® lineup boast high SEER ratings (READ: What is a SEER rating?), which means they’re highly energy-efficient and designed to balance saving you money while also keeping you comfortable.

Of course, heat pumps are even more efficient than air conditioners and furnaces. That’s just one of the benefits of having Southern Air install a heat pump in your home.

#2. Carrier heating and cooling units make your home comfortable

Above all else, your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump needs to keep your home comfortable. There’s no sense in having an HVAC system if it’s not going to contribute to your summer or winter comfort!

Carrier heating and cooling systems are known for their great comfort. The Carrier systems in their Infinity® series also feature variable-speed drives. Not only is this functionality a big energy-saver, but it also allows your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump to make small adjustments to temperature, keeping your thermostat reading in that perfect range.

Carrier systems give you greater control over your comfort, without needing to pay more when the energy bill arrives. That’s a win-win.

#3. For superior reliability and dependability, choose Carrier

Having an efficient air conditioner is great. Having that system keep your home comfortable is even better. Best is when you pair both of those things with trusted reliability. Carrier builds HVAC units right, so that they break down less often and are easy for professionals to keep maintained.

“Reliability” isn’t just about today, tomorrow, or the day after that. It’s about the future. Carrier manufactures their cooling and heating systems to live a longer life, and keep working efficiently as they age.

For a free in-home estimate on a new Carrier heating and cooling system, call us!

Since 1994, Southern Air has been the trusted Carrier dealer of Shreveport, Monroe, and Alexandria—and all points in-between. If you’re interested in seeing if a new Carrier system is right for your home, contact our team.

We offer free in-home estimates on new installs, and our friendly, expert techs would be happy to walk you through your HVAC options.

Here are 4 common mistakes to avoid when buying a new air conditioner

Buying a new air conditioner can provide enhanced comfort and improved energy efficiency. If your existing unit is more than a decade old, you should strongly consider replacing it with a new one. You will notice improved cooling and reduced energy bills when the new system is installed.

buying a new air conditioner

Here we have compiled a list of common mistakes that people make when buying a new air conditioner.

1. Looking at just the price tag

Keep in mind that on average an air conditioner lasts for about twenty years. This is a long time to be stuck with an inefficient unit that you had purchased for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper. An inefficient unit uses more energy to cool the room than the other energy-efficient—albeit costlier upfront—unit. This will trump any cost advantages in the long run due to the high energy bills.

Keep in mind that a lower price is not always better when when you’re buying a new air conditioner. You should aim for an air conditioner of a reputable brand that is both reliable and energy efficient. This will offer more value to you in the long run.

For example, Southern installs both Carrier and Trane systems—two of the most trusted brands on the market.

2. A bigger system is not always better

When buying a new air conditioner, bigger is not always better. An air conditioner that is too big for your home and floor plan will lead to higher energy bills, inefficient cooling, and frequent repairs. The inverse is true: buying a unit that’s too small for your home, on the other hand, will result in inefficient cooling.

A lot of different factors determine the size of the unit you should purchase for your house. Here’s where to start: call Southern Air to schedule your free in-home AC installation estimate. Our technicians will work with you to determine the best air conditioner for your home’s size and your family’s cooling needs.

3. Proper and professional installation matters

Another common mistake made when buying a new air conditioner is improper installation. The energy-efficiency of the air conditioner is determined by how the unit is installed. You should contact an experienced and NATE-certified technician—like those at Southern Air—for installation.

Trying to cut corners by hiring an untrained technician for air conditioner installation will result in a waste of money. It will create efficiency and performance issues.

4. Watch for the SEER Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio—also known as the SEER rating—displays the energy-efficiency of a cooling unit. A lot of people ignore this rating when purchasing a new air conditioner. This results in a bad investment.

The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the system is. You should buy an air conditioner with a SEER rating of more than 13. An air conditioner with a SEER rating of 15 to 16 is considered highly energy-efficient. Buying an energy-efficient air conditioner will result in reduced energy bills for years to come.

Buying a new air conditioner? Call Southern Air for your free in-home estimate!

Armed with the right information, you will have an easier time selecting the right air conditioner for your home. That starts with a free in-home estimate from our team.

If you reside in Alexandria, Shreveport, & Monroe, call Southern Air Heating and Cooling to get the help of NATE-certified air conditioner technicians.

This fall is the perfect time for a new furnace

It’s a cold evening in winter, and you’ve just heard a terrible sound coming from the attic as the heating shuts off. Yes, your very old furnace just died, and probably for good. You’ll need to call Southern to have our team install a new furnace.

But, waiting for your old system to die before replacing it can actually cost you a lot of money. In this blog post, we’ll review why it’s sometimes better to make the decision to purchase a new furnace after your old one gets to a certain age.

New Furnace InstallationThe older the furnace, the less efficient it is

It’s unfortunate, but the saying is true: nothing lasts forever. Even if you had Southern maintaining your furnace every year, used it sparingly, and were lucky to have it live into its 20s without major problems, you’re still going to want to replace it. Here’s why.

For good reason, we have a mentality that it’s better to wait for something to die before replacing it. In most cases, this is a good way to look at things: upkeep and repair can save you money compared to replacing an item. However, furnaces are not one-time costs like most other items. Instead, through your heating bills, you continually pay to operate a furnace. This makes a furnace a lot more like a car—which requires gasoline and maintenance—than a clock or a door handle.

Furnaces manufactured 10, 15, or even 20 years ago are far less efficient than those made today. Not only is the technology they’re using older, but they also have had decades of wear-and-tear on system parts, and just aren’t performing like they did right after install. An aging furnace will continue to become less and less efficient as it ages.

This means that every month you delay upgrading to a new furnace, your old one is essentially costing you more and more on your energy bills. A broken door handle won’t charge you every month. Through your gas or electric bills, an aging furnace will.

The greater the mileage, the more frequent the breakdowns

Your older furnace can cost you in other ways. First, an aging heating system is more likely to break down or need repairs, especially while in use during the winter. Not only will that leave you temporarily without heat until Southern Air can help you with furnace repair, but it will also start to add up in costs. Also consider that most manufacturer’s warranties expire after the 10 year mark (as is the case for Carrier systems), and you could be facing a situation where you have to keep throwing money at your old furnace just to keep it running.

A new furnace can save you money

At some point, a new furnace just makes economic sense. The cost of the system and professional installation is a one-time cost, and you’ll start to recoup that investment through your savings on energy (which could be major) and not having to pay for repairs (mostly by not needing repair, but also because you’ll have a new warranty that covers some repair costs).

Also worth considering: many state, federal, and private utility tax credits are available to homeowners who upgrade from an older system to a new furnace. This credits can help you defray the cost of purchasing a new system. Plus, we regularly offer coupons and specials on many of our services, including new furnace installation. If you don’t see an offer, check back regularly, especially in the fall.

Why upgrade to a new furnace now?

Fall is a great time to swap out your old system for a new furnace from Southern Air. First, your furnace isn’t in heavy use (or, any use) yet, which means that you won’t have a period of time between removal and replacement where your home will be cold. Second, since you haven’t turned on the furnace for the season, you’ll be maximizing your energy savings with a new system, since your new energy-efficient furnace will be doing 100% of your heating this winter.

If you’ve been delaying the move to change out your old furnace, let Southern help you out this autumn. To get started on a free estimate from Southern, contact us today.