• Definitions & Answers

    • What does IAQ stand for?
      IAQ stands for Indoor Air Quality. The air inside a climate controlled home can become laden with indoor contaminants such as dust, animal dander, air borne microbial, and food and tobacco odors. EPA studies show that the air inside can be 2-5 times, and up to 100 times, more polluted than the outside air. The tighter the home is (proper weather stripping, good installation, storm windows) the more likely a whole house IAQ system is needed to continually remove these potentially harmful contaminants. Hometown Heating and Cooling Inc., offers both Trane® and Honeywell® IAQ solutions that can make your indoor air quality fresher and cleaner.
    • What is a dual fuel system? (also known as a hybrid system)

      A dual fuel or hybrid system is a system that incorporates a furnace and a heat pump to heat your home. Usually what happens in a Dual Fuel system is this. When we get our really cold Montana weather (30°F and below) the furnace efficiently heats the house, but when the temperature rises, it is more efficient to heat your home using a heat pump. At about 30°F or above, our system switches from the furnace to the heat pump. Through a process explained in the previous question, the heat pump is now heating your home without using any fuel which means you are now experiencing significant savings in your heating bill depending on the quality of insulation in your house and the efficiency of the heat pump. As an added bonus, when the hot summer gets here, you have air conditioning, because the heat pump will reverse the flow of refrigerant back to the cooling cycle, bringing you all the benefits that an air conditioner has to offer.

    • What is a heat pump?
      A heat pump is similar in appearance and function to an air conditioner, in the sense that it pumps refrigerant through copper line sets, removing heat from your home’s air and pumping it outside to the condenser, resulting in a cooling effect. What makes a heat pump different is that it has a reversing valve that can reverse the flow of refrigerant. With reversing in mind, the heat pump is now removing heat from the outside air and pumping it into your home. The heat pump is powered by electricity rather than fuel which can significantly reduce your energy bills in milder weather. A heat pump system is very efficient at heating when ambient temperatures are around 30°F and above, even more efficient than a furnace. There is an economical point, based on current local gas and energy rates, that it is more efficient to run a heat pump over a furnace. We calculate those figures for your home, so that you’re getting the best of both worlds. We understand that this might be a lot to take in, so to put it simply, a heat pump will provide the same benefits as an air conditioners, but it has the ability to save you money on your heating bill, so it can pay for itself over time.
    • What is a heat load calculation?
      A Load Calculation is a scientific process that uses industry-standards that take into account the number of windows and doors in your home, window dimensions, and average number of hours of sun exposure. Subtleties like shade trees and shrubbery in your yard, open floor space, the R-value of wall, floor, and roof insulation, local climate patters, and design and condition of your current central duct system, number of heat-generation appliances, they type of interior furnishings, number of fireplaces, and many other factors effect in unique ways the heating and cooling requirements of every HVAC system.
    • Do I need air conditioning in Montana?
      This is probably the 2nd most frequently asked question that we get. Recently the temperature in Montana has been reaching over the 100°F mark in our summer months. While it is usually not that hot every day, an air conditioning system will make your home more comfortable. Air conditioning adds value to your home and while you do not need it for survival, it will make our hot summer days much more enjoyable when you want to get out of the sun and feel that cold air surround you when you enter your home. The way we look at it, you would not buy a new car without air conditioning, so why would you buy a new home without it?
    • What does AFUE stand for?
      AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all furnaces. 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 AFUE rating reflects the percentage of energy used efficiently, with a high rating indicating high-efficiency.
    • What does HSPF stand for?
      HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning and heating equipment. There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Heat pump equipment in the heating mode is rated by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. The higher the HSPF rating, the more efficient the unit. Heat pump equipment in the cooling mode is rated by a SEER rating as explained in the previous question.
    • What do SEER and EER stand for?
      SEER stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. The U.S. government requires an efficiency rating of all air conditioning equipment. There are special names for the efficiency ratings of various types of equipment. Air conditioning equipment is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. Even though the Energy Efficiency Ratio or EER is not required to be posted by the government, it is similar to the SEER rating, except that the EER rating is a tougher testing process. An EER rating is based on a tougher heat load performance test and this means that the higher the EER rating, the more efficient the unit when it is under tough loads more similar to real life cooling.
    • What does MERV stand for?
      MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is a standard ratings system set up by ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. MERV is a way of comparing the efficiency of air filters without having to look at all the technical details provided by manufacturers. Its simple, the higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter.
    • What does HVAC stand for?
      HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning. Since this is what we focus on, you know that we are going to offer the most advanced, current, and efficient equipment and installation techniques that the industry has to offer.
  • General Questions

    • What is the difference between a single-stage, two-stage, and modulating furnace?

      When we run a heat load calculation, the furnace is sized for the coldest days in Montana. A single-stage furnace is the work-horse of the industry and is either going to be fully on or fully off and will run at full capacity whether it’s -40°F or +40°F outside. In other words, it’s heating at 100% capacity every time it gets a demand for heat from the thermostat. This can cause short cycling and create temperature swings on milder days.

      A two-stage furnace delivers more efficiency and comfort because it will begin heating at a low-stage, or reduced capacity of 70% which is a sufficient amount of heat, on most days. When the temperature drops down low and your home finally needs the furnaces full capacity, the furnace steps it up to the second-stage at 100% capacity to heat your home on those cold frigid days in Montana. This saves you money and adds comfort because your furnace is using less fuel in the first-stage, and heating more evenly because the temperature rise is not as excessive as a single stage-furnace.

      This is where the competition ends and Trane takes it to a whole new level. A Trane® modulating furnace with ComfortLink™ II has the ability to make the energy efficient fan and the burners modulate from 40% to 100% capacity and everywhere in between. This is a furnace with a brain. It makes the calculation on what will be the most economical and comfortable heating capacity for your home at any given moment. That means when it is 30°F outside and your home only needs 24,000 Btu, it’s only going to get 24,000 Btu. Well, maybe we have a storm moving in and it’s going to get colder. No problem. The modulating furnace will give your home what it needs, when it needs it. It’s like having 100 furnaces to choose from at any given moment and since it’s a Trane®, you can relax, knowing that you have the best, most reliable furnace in the industry. The ComfortLink™ II communicating system not only delivers the best efficiency and comfort that the industry has to offer, it also communicates any issues or faults directly to the Trane® XL1050 Thermostat with built in Nexia™ Bridge that allows you to get alerts from anywhere that you can take a smart device. This also gives us the ability to look up fault code history and help diagnose any issues before we leave the shop, which allows us to potentially bring any needed parts on the first visit and get you up and running as quickly as possible. All Trane® furnaces come with a conditional 10-year parts warranty, from the manufacturer, so you won’t have to worry about paying for any parts, for at least a decade!

    • My heat pump is steaming and dripping water, is that normal?
      During the heating cycle a heat pump removes heat from the outside air. Water will condense and run on the ground near the outdoor unit. If it is 47° or colder it will automatically defrost itself periodically. This will cause cool, harmless steam to rise from the heat pump.
    • What if my furnace breaks and it's not a Trane? Will you still service it?
      First, let us offer our condolences. To answer your question though, Yes. We install the best and service the rest! We have successfully serviced many brands of HVAC equipment. Unfortunately you do not have the industries’ #1 most dependable furnace, Trane! That means that your furnace is slightly more prone to failure, however we have access to just about any part that you may need, and a knowledgeable service technician to get your system up in running again no matter what brand you own.
    • What if I don't see the product I'm looking for on this website? Do you offer more?
      We do offer more products than what you have seen here. This website is intended to give you a general idea of what we offer. We have access to just about any HVAC product you can think of. If we do not currently stock it, we will do our best to locate what you are looking for, and offer it at a great price!
    • How do I know what size unit our house needs?
      This is the #1 problem that we see in homes around the valley. Many homes have furnaces or air conditioners that are oversized by up to 200% or more. An HVAC system that’s too small won’t keep your home comfortable and one that is oversized will be less efficient, and often overheat or freeze, cause hot and cold spots, and short-cycle (turn on and off) more than necessary. This cycling wastes precious, expensive energy; puts undue strain on components like motors and compressors, and often reduces the expected life of the system. What’s worse, is that if you paid for a 2-stage furnace upgrade, you likely won’t see the benefits from it. Hometown Heating and Cooling, Inc., is professionally trained to calculate the proper sizing of your equipment, and will determine the optimal size of HVAC equipment for your home by making a careful study of your heating and cooling requirements. We will consider many factors before making a recommendation. Such as, size of the house, climate, elevation, the number and type of windows installed, insulation, and even the number of people living in your home.
    • If an outdoor unit needs replacing, should the indoor unit be replaced also?
      Yes. Trane air conditioning and heat pump units are designed to operate as a complete, matched system. The efficiency rating is based on the entire system. Replacing the entire system ensures the system will be reliable and efficient.
    • Can shrubs or flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?
      Yes. However, we recommend that plants be no closer than 18 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.
    • Should Trane outdoor units be covered in the winter?
      No. Trane heat pumps operate year-round and should never be covered. Similarly, air conditioners that operate seasonally are built to withstand an outdoor environment and should not be covered.
    • Should my thermostat be set to 'auto' or 'on'? What about 'circ'?
      Preferably auto. That way, the fan operates only when the temperature requires it. This is the most used and the most efficient setting. However, there are advantages to using the “on” setting. While set to the “on” setting air is constantly filtered through the systems air filter, and the constantly circulating air results in an even temperature throughout the house. For those homeowners who have a VisionPRO thermostat installed, you have a “circ” option. Circ stands for circulate. What this means is that when your system has not called for heating or cooling within 1 hour, the thermostat will turn the fan on for 20 minutes to ensure air circulation and filtering.
    • Where can I buy a 4' filter for my Honeywell┬« air cleaner?
      This is probably the most common question we get! Since we install high quality and high MERV rated filters in all of our systems, we recommend replacing them with the same filters to keep your efficiency up and your utility bills down. These filters cost more than the standard 1″ filters that other companies install, but they trap more particles and last up to 1 year versus the 1 month life span of the standard 1″ filters. Overall they cost the same at the end of the year (1 filter vs. 12) and they do a better job. However we can get just about any filter that you need.
    • Why choose Hometown Heating and Cooling Inc.?
      You should make sure that the contractor is licensed and insured in the area that you live in, and you should ensure that they will apply and pay for all of the required licenses and permits to do the work on your project. Hometown Heating and Cooling Inc. not only meets the requirements above but also continues to attend seminars on the latest technological advances, newest products, building codes, and job site safety. We can also provide you with a free, comprehensive, in home evaluation of your HVAC needs, including, an assessment of your equipment, duct work, venting, and heat loss calculations. A thorough assessment by a trained expert will guarantee that you get the right size and model of equipment installed for your home’s needs. You don’t want any surprises when your gas and electrical bill comes! We can answer any questions concerning new products, energy efficiency ratings, how to gain savings on your utility bills, or repair and replacement services. Since we install only the best, most trusted brands, you’ll have the peace of mind you’ve been looking for.