Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions which Fosters customers normally asked can be answered here.

Below you will find a series of questions that are frequently asked by Fosters customers. This page was created to answer those questions as well as to provide an opportunity for you to ask any other questions you may have regarding the products and services Fosters provides to the citizens and businesses of Cedar Rapids and other communities within Linn County, Iowa.

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Fosters Heating & Air Conditioning has provided quality products and services to both residential and commercial customers across Linn County including communities such as Cedar Rapids, Marion, Toddville, Robins, Fairfax, Palo, Alburnett, Springville, Lisbon, Ely, Shueyville, Walford, Swisher, Center Point, Martelle and all Iowa communities in between.

What can I do on the cheap to decrease my home’s energy use?

Get personal with your window treatments!  Roll-up shades, mini-blinds, draperies and even sheers can help keep your home seasonally warmer or cooler.  No matter how great your windows are they allow more heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer than an insulated, solid wall.  Closing window treatments against the sun in summer and the dark, cold nights of winter helps keep your ‘paid for’ indoor weather indoors!  Conversely, solar gain in the winter-especially through east and west windows-adds a cozy warmth to any room when the sun’s shining, even on a cold day in Iowa.

My neighbor runs his furnace fan full time, what’s up with that?

Operating the fan in your forced-air heating cooling system will ‘stir’ the air in your home and help destratify temperatures.  This can be especially beneficial in multi-story homes in the cooling season.  ‘Full time’ blower operation also maximizes the value of accessories on a forced air system such has high performance filters, ultra-violet germicidal lamps and whole house humidifiers or dehumidifiers.  On the other hand, full-time fan operation can add as much as $400.00 to your annual electricity bill.  Furthermore, the negative pressure created by furnace fan operation in some homes can increase infiltration thereby increasing humidity in the summer and making for cold drafts in the winter; both those issues add up to ultimately higher energy costs.

How about an automatic programmable thermostat?

They are awesome!  Most modern electronic thermostats are easy to program, have backlit displays that are easy to see and since they use solid-state components they’re typically more accurate than older ‘manual’ thermostats.  Keep in mind that if you decide to ‘set back’ your heating and cooling system while you’re out of the house or sleeping, consistency is really important.  If your heating/cooling system can ‘recover’ from setback in reasonably short order, a consistent daily setback will reduce energy usage.  Constant ‘fiddling’ with the thermostat set points and set-backs will diminish the ‘stat’s ability to help reduce your energy usage.  Also, if the system has to run a very long time to ‘catch up’ and you are uncomfortable while it’s doing that, an automatic setback may not help you cut energy costs either.  The manufacturers of some furnaces and hot water boilers specifically recommend against night or workday setback.  Be sure to check the owner’s manual or with your heating/cooling service company to ensure that your heating/cooling system is compatible with a thermostat’s automatic setback.

Another note about thermostats:  If you’re an accomplished or brave do-it-yourselfer and choose to install a new electronic thermostat yourself, be sure to handle your old thermostat carefully.  Most older ‘stats use a mercury-filled switch.  Mercury is dangerous, toxic stuff and you don’t want it on you and we don’t want it in the ground water.  If you don’t know how to safely dispose of the mercury in your old thermostat, bring the whole thermostat to our office and we’ll do it for you.

What’s the deal with temperature settings on our thermostat?

Comfort settings are, well, comfort settings!  While we recommend 78 degrees in the cooling season and 68 degrees in the heating season, that’s the ‘green’ line for trying to hold the line on energy costs.  Factors like humidification, dehumidification, airflow and infiltration also impact the comfort level in your home.  Just keep in mind that many experts report that a 1-degree increase or decrease (depending on the season) in your thermostat set-point can equate to an 8% increase in annual energy usage.

Should I keep my fan running?

Normally, no. In your home, this practice can increase humidity which usually causes higher electric bills.

At what temperature should I keep my thermostat?

We recommend 78 degrees when cooling, 72 degrees when heating. Some people are not comfortable at these settings and will require it warmer or cooler. What you need to remember is that, for each degree below 78 degrees and above 72 degrees, you will increase energy consumption and cost by approximately 8%.