Answered by Our Bozeman HVAC Experts
Our team of experienced technicians at
Premier Air Heating & Cooling want customers to learn as much as they can about their
air conditioning systems, because we want them to feel empowered to make informed decisions. Our
FAQ list is a perfect resource to consult when you have questions or concerns.
Call our Bozeman HVAC team at
(406) 333-0177 or
contact us online.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I replace my furnace?
We have seen furnace units that were installed in the 1950s that are still
functioning and heating homes here in the Gallatin Valley, but it isn’t
very common. The average warranty for modern high efficiency furnaces
is 10 years. You should expect your furnace unit to last anywhere from
10-20 years if it is maintained and
We often forget to think of our furnace unit as a piece of equipment with
moving parts that needs to be maintained much like the parts of your car.
Once a furnace has reached 10 years old, your cost of ownership is going
to start increasing, and typically the repair costs are going to add up
quickly, making it a great time to look at upgrading to a new, more efficient
furnace system. The typical rule of thumb we go by is that if you take
the cost of the repair and multiply that by the age of the furnace, and
that cost is more expensive than replacing the entire furnace system,
then it is time to look at
replacing the furnace to keep it heating your home in Bozeman.
How do I choose the right air conditioner for my home?
The best AC unit for a home depends on many variables. Below are some common
situations and the best AC unit options for each.
“I need whole-home comfort”
If you are looking for a whole-home solution, you have several options.
If your home has existing ductwork or you wish to install ducts, an air
conditioner or heat pump can deliver the cooling you need. Without ducts,
a ductless cooling system may be a viable option to provide cooling throughout
“I need heating and cooling”
The best AC units for both heating and cooling would be a heat pump or a
ductless air conditioner with built-in heating. Heat pumps deliver cooling by extracting heat from
the home, but when temperatures are cooler outdoors, they can provide
heat by working in reverse. Heat is extracted from the outdoor air and
moved into your home.
Ductless systems that are paired with heat pumps work the same way, in
reverse to provide heating to the zones they serve. Ductless air conditioners
are available with base pan heaters to provide warmth to individual areas
“My home doesn’t have ducts”
If your home is not equipped with ductwork and you cannot or do not want
to install a duct system, the best AC unit for your home would be a ductless
air conditioner. Ductless air conditioners do not need ducts to deliver
cooling. Air handlers are installed directly within your living spaces
to produce cooling for individual zones. Single outdoor units can support
multiple air handlers throughout your home depending on the system’s
“I want zoned cooling”
Each of these air conditioning systems can provide zoned cooling when configured
correctly. Ductless air conditioners are an easy and affordable way to
gain zoned cooling, as each air handler is installed within an area and
serves the comfort needs of just that area.
Heat pumps and air conditioners can be configured with a zoning system
to provide individual comfort for your living areas. A zoning system uses
a network of dampers installed within the ductwork to regulate airflow
to each area of the home. Individual thermostats allow users to control
conditions in each zone of the home.
“I want to keep energy costs low”
Heat pumps are one of the best AC units for a home when energy costs are
a concern. These units are highly efficient and use very little electricity
to produce a high cooling output. They also offer affordable, efficient
heating in the wintertime for a year-round comfort solution.
Air conditioners with high SEER ratings can also help keep your cooling
bills under control. While the federal minimum SEER rating is 13 or 14
depending on where you live, high-efficiency air conditioners are available
up to 26 SEER for maximum energy control.
If you have questions about which system is best for your home, contact
Premier Air Heating & Cooling. We would be happy to come out and take a look at your
home and provide you with the options that would best suit your needs
and the various price points to help you match your budget.
How much does it cost to run air conditioning?
Running your air conditioning is a lot cheaper than you’d think.
In Montana, we are fortunate that we don’t need AC for long extended
periods of time—typically just in the afternoons and evenings on
very hot days—so our energy consumption is low.
When you determine the energy consumed by your new AC (in watts), you can
figure out what it’ll cost you to run. These are the steps:
- Divide the BTUs of the system by the SEER rating tagged on the unit
- To convert this to Kwh, dividing by 1,000
- Multiply the Kwh your AC consumes by the number of hours it operates annually
The majority of homes in Bozeman have 3 – 4 ton systems, so you are
typically looking at 36,000-48,000 BTU’s of cooling. Let’s
say you have a 3 ton AC, which is pretty typical for a 1,500-2,000 square
foot home. With step 1, a 36,000 BTU air conditioner at a SEER rating
of 13 (the typical SEER installed in Montana) gives us 2,770 watts. Step
2, converting to Kwh, gives us 2.77 (2,770 divided by 1,000).
Imagine you run your air conditioner 8 hours a day for about 90 days a
year. That’s 720 hours of AC use per year. So, for step 3, the calculation
goes – 2.77 Kwh X 720 hours of annual use = 1,994.4 annual Kwh consumption.
The average price per Kwh in Montana is roughly 11.5 cents.
In this case, you’d spend just over $229 on cooling your house annually.
8 hours a day for 90 days a year is a pretty aggressive estimate for our
Montana climate, so chances are, this may even be a bit on the high side.
If you upgrade to a system with a higher SEER rating, that number is even
less. For a 16 SEER unit, your cost would be $186.30 to run the system
for 720 hours.
How can I make sure my HVAC contractor knows what they’re doing?
In the state of Montana, you don’t have to hold a license to install
arguably one of the most important systems in a home: your
HVAC system. We all need heat in these cold Montana winters, but the guys installing
these systems need no experience before starting a company, like electricians
and plumbers. When the economy and building industry are booming, you
get a lot of companies moving quickly to an area to capitalize on that
growth. The main problem with that is they come to town, capitalize on
the boom. and are gone tomorrow. 2, 3, 5, 10 years down the road when
you start having problems, they are either out of business or have moved
on to the next place or back home.
Ask for references from a trusted contractor. Typically, a long-standing
builder in the area will know who to use and who to steer clear of in
terms of sub-contractors. Ask around.
Get multiple bids. If one is too low, that is usually an indication that
there is a problem. If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Do your research. Don’t go into things blind. Do a little Google
research about what you are trying to do and get a bit of an understanding
before you interview contractors.
Ask who is doing the work. Sometimes companies send in a fast talker who
can dazzle you with all the latest and greatest features and talk the
talk but when it comes to the actual installation, they send in the greenhorn
with no experience. Ask about the installers and their experience.
How much does a new furnace cost?
The answer is, “It depends.” There are many reasons that you
may need a new furnace and the cost will vary based on the answer to that question.
1. You are building a new house and need a new furnace and duct system.
In the Gallatin Valley, you can anticipate spending anywhere from $2.50-$3.00
per square foot on a basic furnace system and duct work. If you plan to
add options like zoning, upgraded thermostats, or an HRV, your total cost
will go up.
2. Your older furnace went out and you need a new one. You can expect to
pay about $3,500-$4,000 for a new 95% efficient furnace. Most companies
will provide a free estimate. It is important to get estimates from at
least two companies and to research those companies before you choose
to purchase. The HVAC industry has little oversight in Montana (no special
licenses are required to become and HVAC contractor like plumbers and
electricians) so make sure the company you choose is local (so they will
warranty their work) and that they have experience in the trade and positive reviews.
3. You are doing a remodel project and want to add a forced air system.
This is often one of the most varied costs when it comes to a new furnace.
Some companies will want to charge “time and materials” for
this type of work rather than an estimate or a bid since remodel projects
often run into unforeseen costs or more hours than a typical project.
You can expect to pay a bit more per square foot since it’s more
labor intensive to work around an existing structure. Typical prices range
from $2.70-$3.20 per square foot for the basic system.
How does an air source heat pump work?
Since installing one in our own home last year, we have saved a significant
amount of money on our energy bill. We have propane to run our furnace
and two winters ago, the propane bill was outrageous. At one point, we
paid over $3 a gallon for propane compared to the typical summer fill
rates of $0.99 or $1.49 per gallon here in the Gallatin Valley. We ended
up paying for our heat pump in one year thanks to the energy savings.
During the fall, it was fantastic because as we all know, there are days
where you may want both heat and air conditioning in the same day. It’s
pretty awesome to have one unit that take care of both needs, is highly
energy efficient, and keeps our family warm and cool.
How often should I change my furnace filter?
One of the top problems we see in the industry today is lack of air flow
due to a dirty filter. When running an air conditioning unit, lack of
air flow can cause the unit to ice up and not function properly. It is
recommended to change your filter every three months. This can reduce
allergens as well as increase the efficiency and performance of your system.
Most HVAC contractors will write the size of the filter on the exterior
of the furnace. If not, the size is printed on the filter. You can get
filters from any local hardware store or your local HVAC contractor. Many
contractors offer annual maintenance programs and will leave extra filters
so you can change them.
Why should I service my furnace?
With winter in Montana in full swing, it is not the time to be dealing
with a broken furnace. By having your furnace serviced by a professional
at least once a year, you can increase the life span of your furnace and
reduce the risk of costly repairs. A typical tune up costs between $110-$250
while an emergency service call can add up with labor costs being $70+
per hour. We had a call a couple weeks ago that could have 100% been prevented
by annual maintenance, that ended up costing the homeowner nearly $1,000
in labor and parts and will likely reduce the life span of the furnace.
By utilizing an annual service agreement, you not only will save money
long term, you will also have peace of mind that your furnace should keep
you and your family toasty through the winter for years to come.
Call us for a free estimate at
(406) 333-0177. We’re happy to welcome you into the family, whether you’re
in Bozeman, Belgrade, or the surrounding areas.