Frequently Asked Questions

HVAC FAQ l Solar


Can shrubs or flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?

Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 19 inches to the unit. This allows for plenty of room for air circulation in and out of the unit. Without this room for air circulation, the unit could overheat resulting in a premature need for service.

Certain rooms in my house never get comfortable. How can I fix that?

If some of your rooms are comfortable and others are not, what you have is a ductwork problem. In many cases, ductwork can be easily modified to accommodate dampers, deflectors and other means of balancing uneven air flow.

How can I be sure my unit is the right size?

Clearly, an air conditioning unit that is too small will not keep your home sufficiently cool. What many don’t realize is that an oversized system will cycle (turn off and on) more than necessary, wasting expensive energy and possibly putting undue strain on the compressor. Comfort Engineers can determine the most favorable size for your home and/or business.

How often should I clean my furnace or heat pump filter?

Comfort Engineers recommends monthly changing or cleaning of the filter in any heating and cooling system. This applies to electronic air cleaners too. Insufficient filter changes usually result in poor system performance, poor comfort, higher bills, more frequent repairs and premature system failure.

What do rating numbers mean?

The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. The rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with a high rating indicating high-efficiency.

What does AFUE stand for?

There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Gas furnaces are rated according to their Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE. The higher the AFUE rating is, the more efficient the unit will be.

What is a SEER?

There are special names for the efficiency rating of various types of equipment. Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating or SEER. The higher the SEER rating is, the more efficient the unit will be.

What is the best temperature settings for my thermostat?

At the lowest (winter) or highest (summer) temperature at which your family is truly comfortable. There is no magic number. The highest purpose of a home comfort system is comfort. If you heat with a heat pump not equipped with a “smart” thermostat, or a programmable thermostat, you should find a comfortable temperature setting and leave it there. With any system, it is easiest to balance comfort and economy with the help of a programmable thermostat.

What is the difference between a split system and a package unit?

A split system uses indoor and outdoor components to provide a complete home comfort system. A package unit or self-contained unit requires no external coils, air handlers or heating units.

What does solar cost?

Solar Electric Systems average between $7-9/watt and will vary in payback base on how much you currently pay for your electricity as well as how much you want to lower your utility service. Solar Pool Heating is the most environmentally friendly and inexpensive way to heat your swimming pool and can extend your swimming season up to 3 ½ months. If you heat your pool with a gas heater, you will recover your costs in less than 2 years. See more about Solar as an Investment (PDF).

What types of rebates are available for solar?

All California residents that receive utility service from their regional provider are eligible for the following solar incentives: 1) Expected Performance Based Buydown is an upfront rebate that pays you for what your system will produce annually in kilo-watt hours.  2) Performance Based Incentive is a five-year rebate payment based on the actual performance of your solar electric system. You are credited monthly for the energy your system produces at a fixed rebate determined at the time of your approved application. For more information about rebates visit your utility website:
PG&E: www.pge.com/solar/ 
SMUD: www.smud.org/en/community-environment/solar/Pages/index.aspx 
Lodi: www.lodielectric.com/residential/rebateoffer.asp?id=8 3

In addition, there is a 30% Federal tax credit for both your solar electric and solar water heating system, to be applied to your tax liability in the year of installation and if needed for up to seven years following.

How long do solar systems last?

Solar products are now covered with 20-year warranties. Solar electric technology has been around for 50 years and with no moving parts they are virtually maintenance free and have a life expectancy of 25+ years. Solar water heating technology dates back centuries and the latest collectors also carry 20-year warranties.

Is my home right for solar?

Homes with an open roof space facing south, west or southwest are usually good candidates for solar.  In addition, having limited shade on the property will give you a higher yielding production from your system. Solar pool Heating is a great option for homeowners with a pool that would like to use in longer.

What about roof damage?

We guarantee our craftsmanship and expertise on your roof and will not perform any work that would compromise the roof integrity.

What is Net Metering?

This program allows utility customers that have solar electric systems to “turn their utility meter” backwards when they generate electricity in excess of their demand. This offset means that customers receive a credit on their monthly bill for the excess electricity they  generate.

What type of solar electric systems does Phoenix Energy Solutions install?

Phoenix Energy Solutions specializes in a Total Solar Home Design combining solar electricity and solar pool heating systems for more solution and therefore greater savings. The savings available for a total solar home design will add up quicker for homeowners who have large monthly utility bills or  for all-electric homes

Why is it smart to finance solar?

You already pay a monthly utility bill for energy, essentially financing an indefinite, variable rate loan from your utility company. Installing a solar power system allows you to refinance this monthly bill at a fixed rate and term and have your payments go towards ownership of a valuable asset.

Why is solar power good for the environment?

Sun-generated power is clean — no pollution, noise-free and reduces your dependence on finite resources. A typical 3 kilowatt solar electric system will eliminate 101 tons of CO2 over its 25+ year lifetime. The average residential solar water heating system eliminates 125,000 pounds of CO2 over its lifetime. If homeowners make the switch to providing their own energy, the benefits will become apparent in our neighborhoods, our state and the globe.

Will my property tax increase?

Solar upgrades will not increase your property taxes. However many homeowners with solar have experienced an increased appraisal values because homes with energy efficiency upgrades are selling for between 7-20% more than a home without upgrades.