Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re looking to lower your energy bills and improve your home comfort, you’ve probably got questions about how your HVAC system works and what some of the best home improvement upgrades are for your home. At AAA Northgate, we go to great lengths to educate the homeowners in our community, and we’re happy to share the wealth!

Here are some of the most common questions we get asked by homeowners in Peoria, Morton, Bloomington, and Pekin, IL. Whether you’re looking for a plumber near you, or have some questions about furnace repair, see if you can find the answer you need below, and give us a call if you can’t!

How Big of an HVAC System should I have?

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to an HVAC system! If your AC, furnace, boiler, or heat pump is undersized or oversized for your home, you’ll add unnecessary wear and tear to your system, likely leading to more frequent repairs and a shorter equipment lifespan. AAA Northgate can help you find the right sized system to maximize both comfort and energy efficiency.

Can home performance upgrades help lower my energy bills?

With improved insulation and air sealing, you’ll waste less energy by keeping conditioned air inside your home. Whether it’s a hot summer day and you’re worried about rising electricity bills from your AC or a cold winter night and you don’t want to run out of heating fuel, improved home performance will put less wear and tear on your HVAC systems and lower your heating and cooling costs.

What temperature should I set my thermostat?

While the right temperature for your home can largely depend on your own personal comfort levels, there are ways you can save energy and money with your thermostat. In fact, you can save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat down by 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting, and in the winter, setting your thermostat at 68°F while you're awake and at the house and turning it down when you're asleep or away can also result in significant savings.

Why is my upstairs hotter than my downstairs?

When the second floor of your home is hotter than your downstairs during the summer, this usually points to a lack of insulation or air sealing, as heat will generally find a way into a poorly protected home at its highest points, and push the cooler air down out of the bottoms. Insulating and air sealing your home can not only make temperature more equal throughout your house, but can lower your heating and cooling costs as well.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is a specific kind of heating and cooling system that transfers heat instead of creating it, like a furnace does. A heat pump is similar to an air conditioner in that it absorbs heat from one location and moves it via a refrigerant line to another, but unlike an air conditioner, heat pumps have both heating and cooling settings, so they can be used year-round.

Heat pumps are incredibly energy efficient, saving you money while providing whole home comfort. Heat pumps come in several different configurations; air source heat pumps can either be ducted units connected to your forced air ductwork or ductless mini splits installed directly in the room you want to condition. Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat in and out of the ground and offer some of the highest efficiency levels of any HVAC systems.

How can I improve my indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality levels can be improved in a number of ways:

  • UV light sterilization devices can be installed inside your ductwork to reduce viruses, bacteria, and other toxic contaminants in your home.

  • Air purifiers and high MERV-rated air filters trap and eliminate allergens, pollutants, and other particles, to prevent them from recirculating through your ductwork and back out into your home.

  • Dehumidifiers and humidifiers help keep humidity levels in check, which will keep you more comfortable in your home and help avoid toxic mold growth.

How can I ensure that my heating and cooling system is operating as efficiently as it was designed to operate?

Regular heating and AC maintenance will keep your air conditioning, furnace, boiler, or heat pump running at its most efficient. It can also help prevent expensive heating or air conditioner repair, and extend the lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment. AAA Northgate’s maintenance programs make regular tune-ups easy and can help keep your home or business comfortable and energy efficient year round.

What happens if I need a repair on a holiday or weekend?

Experiencing a big issue with the heating and cooling in your Peoria, IL area home can be a major inconvenience no matter when it happens, but with AAA Northgate One Hour Heating & Air’s 24/7/365 emergency service, you can get the help you need right away.

What is the most important place to insulate in my home?

You’ll often hear that the attic should be your top priority to insulate in your home. There’s good reason for that, as heat and air tend to travel in and out of your home at the highest and lowest points, making your attic a particularly vulnerable spot. But the reality is that the best place to insulate in your home is the area where your insulation is the weakest! AAA Northgate’s energy auditors can conduct a thorough inspection and evaluation of your home’s insulation levels, testing and measuring to see where heat and air are moving out of your home. With a home energy audit, you can feel sure that any insulation or air sealing work will actually solve your issues with high energy bills and low comfort.

What is home performance?

Home performance is about making your home more comfortable, healthier, and energy efficient. Your house works as an interconnected system—your home’s insulation will affect how well your HVAC system is able to keep you comfortable, for example—and home performance is a way of using a “house-as-a-system” approach to solve energy issues, keep you comfortable, and improve the quality of your indoor air. The home performance experts at AAA Northgate are certified through the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and use building science best practices to address the issues you’re having in your home, whether it’s high heating and cooling costs or health issues related to your indoor air.

What is a blower door test?

A blower door test is one component of a home energy audit, which helps your energy auditor determine the severity of existing air leaks in your home. Blower doors help us identify where your home could use air sealing to reduce air moving in and out of your home, leading to reduced indoor drafts, more even comfort levels throughout your house, and lower energy bills.

What is infrared thermal imaging?

Infrared thermal imaging is another part of a home energy audit, and it’s used to see where poor insulation levels and air leaks are creating high levels of energy waste. Because insulation and air leaks are often hidden by walls and in hard to access areas of your home, infrared cameras can be used to identify where heat is infiltrating or escaping your house. An insulation company like AAA Northgate will use the results of an infrared camera test to address insulation and air sealing issues in your home.

What type of insulation is best for my home?

There are a number of different types of insulation that can be used in your home, and at AAA Northgate we’ll help find the right insulation material to solve the specific issues you’re dealing with and to work within your budget. Dense pack and blown in cellulose insulation is environmentally friendly, made from fire and mold-resistant recycled newspaper, and can be pumped into attics or blown into walls for long-lasting protection. Spray foam insulation has the additional advantage of acting as a moisture and air barrier as well as insulation, and can be used in a variety of situations, including to patch air leaks.

Are there any rebates or financing available for home performance upgrades?

Many Illinois homeowners qualify for financial incentives that make needed home improvement upgrades for your home more affordable. These can include financing and rebates on HVAC upgrades  through Carrier, as well as home performance and insulation incentives with Ameren Illinois, as AAA Northgate is a registered Act On Energy Ally.

Can a house be over insulated?

When a home is very airtight and insulated, your home’s energy efficiency will increase, but there needs to be a mechanical solution to ensure that home is properly ventilated, otherwise moisture and mold can become an issue. AAA Northgate’s whole home experts aren’t just well-versed in insulation—we’ll work with you to create the right balance of home performance that will ensure high home comfort, energy efficiency, and health.

What Are Your Policies to Keep My Family Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Safety for our customers and our employees is our number one priority during the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re committed to doing everything we can while offering much needed services for Illinois homeowners and businesses. We’re following the latest CDC guidelines, and have implemented a number of new protocols to monitor the health of our staff as well as our customers. We’re practicing social distancing, limiting the amount of time we spend inside your home’s living spaces, and cleaning our equipment and washing hands frequently. Read our complete COVID-19 statement here, and reach out with any additional questions.

What is air leakage and how does it affect my home?

Air leaks in your home allow uncontrolled air movement in and out of your home. This could mean letting in outdoor air pollutants and humidity, and it could also mean that your conditioned air will escape, wasting energy and money. Air sealing reduces the amount of air movement between the building materials that make up your home, leading to higher energy efficiency and fewer indoor drafts or uncomfortable rooms.

How Long Does an HVAC System Last?

Furnaces and boilers can generally last as long as 15 years before it would be better to replace than repair, while air conditioners and heat pumps will be generally good for 10 years. How long your system lasts can largely depend on the level of care and maintenance you provide, which is why enrolling in a maintenance program can keep energy costs low and help your HVAC system last longer.

Can an investment in home performance upgrades make my house more comfortable?

Home performance upgrades like insulation and air sealing will not only make your home more comfortable, but more affordable to heat and cool as well. You’ll waste less energy, your HVAC systems will need to run less often to maintain the desired indoor temperature in your house, and you’ll experience more consistent and even comfort levels in every room of your house.