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Heating System

  • Use a Heat Pump for Air Conditioning and Heating

    One way to think of a heat pump is as a reversible air conditioner, which means that one device can provide both heating and cooling. Heat pumps capture heat from the outdoors and compress it. The compressed heated air is then pumped around the home or business. The heat pump doesn't actually generate heat. The principle by which heat pumps work is the same as air conditioners. However, air conditioners cycle the opposite way, expelling heat to the outdoors, instead of drawing it in. While heat pumps are typically reversible and can function as air conditioners, not all air conditioners can be reversed to function as heat pumps.

    Although heat pumps have the advantage of both cooling and heating, their functionality is limited to a moderate climate. An example of an appropriate climate for a heat pump only system would be Washington, DC. As an air conditioner, a heat pump can provide cooling air during hot temperatures. When temperatures drop below freezing though, it becomes harder for a heat pump to work as a heater. Since it functions by drawing heat from the air, it struggles to draw heat from freezing air. One solution is to add electric resistance coils to the heat pump. These coils function as a furnace and provide heat when it's too cold to draw warmth from outdoor air.

    Above freezing temperatures, heat pumps can be up to 40% more efficient than gas furnaces. Heating air requires a great deal of energy. Gas furnaces physically heat the air with a flame. However, heat pumps transition the warmth outdoors into the indoors (though compressing the air can be energy intensive). Heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces until additional electrical resistance coils need to be used to heat the air, which usually occurs around freezing temperature. At this point, the electrical or gas resistance coils are not as efficient as a gas furnace.

    If a heat pump promises to meet your heating and cooling needs, there are a few options to consider. Heat pumps come in a variety of sizes, measured in tonnage. To properly size a heat pump, home and business owners should complete a heat load calculation. This calculation takes insulation, square footage and climate factors into account and then recommends a tonnage. Heat pumps are usually electric, but some resistance coils can be gas-powered, depending on your preferences. SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating, is another way to determine the best heat pump for a home or business. Higher ratings translate to a more efficient heat pump. With these options in mind, it's easy to select the appropriate heat pump for your home or business.

  • HVAC Sizing: Why do a load calculation?

    A whole new vocabulary greets those who want to purchase a new HVAC system. Instead of seeing the normal housing “square feet” metric, people are likely to see measurements in “tons.” These are not the same tons that semi-trucks are hauling on the freeway. It's a measurement of the cooling rate, and it's about equal to 12,000 Btu/hr. To properly size an HVAC system, the buyer needs to determine how the home or office building loses and maintains heat.

    Since HVAC may seem like a complicated new world, new HVAC buyers might be tempted to use a 'rule of thumb' to determine the size of their HVAC system. These “rules” can be as simple as holding up a cut-out to the home. The hole that the house fits within is labeled with a ton amount. Other people will recommend a certain number of tons per square foot. This method is slightly better because it takes into account the weather conditions for the local area. However, there are disadvantages to using a rule of thumb.

    Using a 'rule of thumb' is like going to the store and picking out a shirt in your size without trying it on. If you are usually a medium, it's a good bet that a medium shirt will fit you. But, in some stores, a medium can be too tight to fit around your chest or so loose that the shirtsleeves go down to your elbows. Without accounting for the unique contours of your body by trying it on, it's possible that you can buy the wrong size. An improperly sized HVAC system is like an ill-fitting shirt; it does the job, but it doesn't do it as well as it could. For example, an over-sized HVAC system doesn't de-humidify the air as efficiently during the summer.

    The secret to purchasing the right size of HVAC system is to take more factors into account. Like the unique contours of your body, your home or business has unique characteristics. For a building, the unique characteristics are the materials used for the construction. Are the walls made of brick or siding? What type of insulation was used? How many vents are in the floor? The doors are made of what type of material? These characteristics (and others, such as your location) are used in a Manual J load calculation, an industry standard method to determine the HVAC size for a home or office building.

    With the internet, it is possible to do a Manual J load calculation yourself. There are many sites dedicated to the task. However, they do assume that you have the basic information about the materials used in the construction of the building. Many homeowners don't know what type of siding or insulation they have (or where to find it). If you don't know what ceiling type you have in your home, it's probably worth asking a professional to complete a calculation (according to Manual J or another method). A trained technician can quickly assess the location.

    An HVAC is a long-term investment, often heating and cooling a location for decades. Isn't it worth it to get the right size for maximum efficiency?

  • Gas or Electric Heat: A Cost Comparison

    One of the first decisions a homeowner or business owner has to make, regarding an HVAC (heat, ventilation, air conditioning) system, is whether to purchase an electric or gas heater. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The up-front costs and long-term costs are one area that people typically examine.

    Up-Front Costs

    These are the costs associated with the initial installation of the heating component of the HVAC system. The first item to look at is whether the home or business has access to electricity and natural gas. Many homes and businesses have both electricity and natural gas lines already running to the house. However, some locations do not have access to natural gas. In this case, running a gas line to the location could be an additional upfront cost. Each home or business is unique and different costs may be taken into consideration for each one.

    The cost of the heater itself is also included in the up-front costs. If you are buying this as a single component, it's often called a furnace. At National Air Warehouse, the electric furnaces start around $700 and the gas furnaces start around $900.

    Looking at just the up-front costs, the electric furnace seems to be cheaper. However, most HVAC systems are meant to be used for years. The long-term costs look at how expensive it is to run each type of furnace for years to come.

    Long-Term Costs

    The costs associated with the furnace in the long term are: maintenance and the cost of the electricity/natural gas. When it comes to maintenance, the electric heaters are typically cheaper to maintain. One of the reasons is that electric furnaces typically outlast gas furnaces. An electric furnace can last for 20-30 years with regular maintenance. Gas furnaces, in comparison, typically have slightly shorter lifespans of 10-20 years.

    People commonly say that the cost of natural gas is lower than that of electricity. This is true in many locations, but it does depend on the location of the home or business. Electricity is cheaper in some cities than others. To truly determine the long-term impact of paying for electricity or gas, a homeowner or business owner can calculate the energy use. The amount of electricity used is typically tabulated as kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the amount of natural gas is often tabulated as therms. A homeowner could directly compare the costs by converting kWh to therms (1 kWh = 0.034 therms). Less money spent per therm will save the homeowner or business owner in the long-term.

    Making a smart decision regarding electric or gas furnaces may require a bit of thought, but there are many resources out there to help home and business owners decide between the two.

  • More Misconceptions about your HVAC System

    Air Conditioner Air Conditioner

    Many people are uninformed about their HVAC system and therefore they believe a lot of misconceptions about HVAC systems. Being informed about your system is a must and this information should steer you clear of any misconceptions you might hear about your HVAC system.

    One myth has to do with when to do maintenance. Something a lot of people believe or think they believe is that you only need to check your HVAC system when you think something is wrong. This is incorrect. Preventative care is necessary and checking your HVAC on a regular basis is a must. This will save you money in the long run as it will lower the amount of maintenance you do. It is also important to keep air ducts clean and service your system every so often.

    A popular myth encourages homeowners to leave appliances and computers running when not in use with the belief that it uses less energy than shutting down and restarting. Yes, there’s a small power surge when these appliances turn back on, but it’s a small surge that equals very little run-time power. When you leave these things on, all you’re actually doing is wasting energy.

    Many people think that when you close off your vents, you’ll reduce the amount of air that’s being pushed throughout your home, but in reality, (if you have a modern HVAC system), the pressure load will be balanced throughout your rooms. If you block a vent, you can throw your HVAC system out of balance and actually make it work harder.

    In blistering heat or bitter cold, you want fast relief. To many homeowners, this translates to turning the thermostat higher or lower than usual in an effort to bring the temperature to a comfortable level more quickly. The system is either on or off, and it doesn’t vary speed or temperature according to the thermostat set point. Cranking the thermostat ensures that the HVAC system runs longer, but it won’t change the speed of results.

    Many also think that using the system in short bursts is a way to save energy and money. Actually, it takes about 2-4 minutes for you system to get going. In this time the system uses more energy. After it has some time to get going it will use less energy so using it for longer intervals is recommended provided your house is at an optimal temperature.

    Using his information will help you save money and keep your system running smoothly.

  • Switching Over to the Warm Months

    With such extreme changes in temperature, your heating and cooling units benefit from annual service checks. Plus, you are more likely to catch any minor issues before they turn into bigger ones. Add a checkup to your spring cleaning list to make sure your house is ready to handle the heat.

    A spring tune-up will provide some very important monetary benefits, especially if your system has been neglected for some time. As your technician runs a thorough check of your equipment, he will adjust loose parts, lubricate moving components, and clean dirty areas. Potential problems can be diagnosed so that preventive repairs can be completed before summer. Following are some specific ways in which your budget can benefit:

    Dirty inside and outside coils can represent up to 30 percent of your cooling expenses. A thorough cleaning makes it easier for air to flow inside, for proper cooling levels to be reached, and for your compressor to operate without stress.
    Low refrigerant can add 20 percent or more to the energy usage needed for cooling your home. A recharge is important to protect your compressor, but fixing any leaks is equally important to avoid a continued problem with refrigerant levels.
    Leaky ducts can add another 20 percent to the total cost to cool your home. Energy loss is already an issue in this portion of your system, and duct sealing is a priority to keep those costs lower.

    Another major issue addressed through spring HVAC maintenance is the condition of your indoor air. Dirty ducts and coils can aggravate your allergies or other respiratory issues. If you are sensitive to mold, you need to recognize that an unmaintained air handler is a huge problem, providing a place for mold and bacteria to increase with ease. Annual cleaning improves the condition of this area, and your technician can also discuss the benefits of a UV lamp for killing the materials in this space.

    Duct cleaning may not need to occur annually, but a duct inspection is helpful for establishing information about the condition of the area. Your ducts can harbor many kinds of pests, and droppings and dander can also trigger your allergies as your cooling system is operated.

    Making sure you get ready for spring and summer is must do after the winter months have come to an end. Hopefully this information will be helpful when getting your HVAC system ready.

  • Stay Warm and Happy During the Cold Months

    Winter is here and it is not going away for at least a few months. That means high heating costs for a lot of us, but there are ways to make sure those bills stay as low as possible this winter. Here are some mistakes homeowners commonly make when heating their homes, and how you can avoid these pitfalls in the coming months.

    When coming home to a cold house, it might be tempting to turn the heater up into the 80s to try to heat it faster. But thermostats don't work like an accelerator on a car, as the Telegraph reports, and turning the heat up to blistering levels won't warm your home faster. So just be patient and it will save you money.

    It's best to avoid extremes with your thermostat. If you let the temperature in your house fall dramatically overnight, it's going to require a lot of work from your heating system to warm the home in the morning. That could really cost you when the heating bill arrives.

    If you want the house to be 70 degrees and your thermostat is only reaching 66 degrees, turning the thermostat up to 74 degrees in an attempt to make up the difference could be a huge mistake. The furnace could be forced to work beyond its capability. Instead, find out what's causing the problem and fix it. Heat could be escaping somewhere in your home, or you may need to replace a faulty furnace.
    In this day and age of controlling everything from a phone app, one of the easiest ways to save money is to install a system that can be adjusted remotely. Heating an empty home is one of the easiest ways to waste money, so a programmable thermostat can save hundreds of dollars every year. Giving your thermostat a break every day – but don't overdo it; see No. 2 – can also be beneficial to a longer life for your heating system.

    In the summer, it's common for homeowners to have a constant tango between opening the windows and keeping them closed to let the air conditioner do the hard work of keeping a home cool. It's understandable if you forgot to lock those windows up before the cold weather arrives, but take the time now to ensure all windows are locked and sealed to keep warm air from escaping.

    Avoid doing these things and you will stay happy and warm during winter.

  • Misconceptions About Your HVAC System

    People are often uneducated about their HVAC system. Many do not have the knowledge of the proper upkeep or things you need to do to maintain your system. Everyone wants to save energy and spend as little as possible and heating and air conditioning and having some know how may be all you need to do so. Here are some common myths and misconceptions about your HVAC system.

     

    You may hear the not using your system will keep it working longer or improve the HVAC system’s lifespan. This is actually incorrect. If you do not use your system dust and dirt may begin to collect. This can cause problems in your system so regular use is actually recommended.

     

    Turning on a fan is a great way to lower your energy bills if you find that you’re turning on the AC too often, but fans don’t cool down rooms in the same way that air conditioners do. AC units work by cooling down the air in the room, but fans produce cooling effects because the increased air circulation allows the sweat on your skin to evaporate faster, thus cooling down your body faster and making the room a little more comfortable. If you aren’t in the room when a fan is turned on, it’s really just a waste of energy.

     

    Humidity will not be effected if you raise the temperature. It cannot be controlled using the HVAC however lowering the temperature may lower the humidity.

     

    One of the most common myths about air conditioning is that you should raise the temperature on your thermostat way up when you leave for work or vacation. HVAC systems are designed to maintain constant temperature. The amount of energy used by your HVAC system to recover the temperature is more than if it remains constant. When leaving for vacation, raise the thermostat about 5 degrees, but any more than that can actually increase your energy consumption and costs.

     

    If the thermostat is located in near a vent or in direct sunlight it may not properly regulate your air conditioning system. This could cause your unit to start and stop frequently, which will lead to premature wear and tear.

     

    Now that you know a little bit more about your system you can take the proper steps necessary to keeping your home at the proper temperature. Proper temperature control will you keep you and your family happy all while saving you money.

  • Saving Energy During The Cold Months

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    During the colder months of the year you need to keep your house at a warm enough temperature to keep everyone in your home happy. Heating costs can change with the passage of time but you should never be caught off guard. If you want to keep your crazy Santa Claus display in the front yard lit throughout the holiday season here are some things you can do to save energy and make sure your home is warm enough.

     

    Maintaining your HVAC system. Make sure to change and clean your air filters on a regular basis throughout the year to keep your system working. Especially when winter comes it is smart to keep the filters clean. If the filters are not cleaned it can slow air flow and increase the costs to heat your home. It may also be a good idea to have a professional check your heating system and give your system a seasonal check to make sure it is running properly and not unnecessarily costing you money.

     

    Fill cracks and leaks in your home. If you have drafts because of leaks in seals on windows and doors you should fill these. The process will stop hot air from leaking out. This is a waste of money and will save you a lot in the long run. Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors and you can save up to 20 percent on heating costs.

     

    Use a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat has more automated features than a manual thermostat that you have to adjust by hand. You may be amazed at how advanced these systems can be! The advantage of programmable thermostats is that you can automatically set them to adjust the temperature in your home at certain times. More control over your home environment makes it easier to control your power bill.

     

    Use other heating means. During the day you can open the blinds and let in the sun. This will keep the house warm with natural heat so you can use our heater during the night. This will save you money if you are only using the heater half the time and will cut down on maintenance.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Cutting down the costs of heating will leave money for other holiday expenses. It will also help you keep your HVAC system running better as long as you keep up with maintenance. Hopefully these tips help you this winter season.

     

     

     

  • 5 Common Heater Fixes

    If your furnace breaks this winter, reading this little article might save you a lot of money. Before you call a professional, you should know that the most common causes for a breakdown in a furnace are actually easy fixes that any average person can attend to.

    Professionals often get called out to attend to problems that only take a few minutes and sometimes no hardware to fix. They then still need to charge you for their driving time, and whatever the minimum service charge is, leaving you out hundreds of dollars for a problem that you could have fixed just as quickly yourself.

    Here are 5 things to check before you call:

    Is it turned on everywhere that it needs to be?

    This is actually the most common problem that a service person gets called out for.

    1. Check your breaker to make sure that the heater has power.
    2. Check for a wall switch that needs to be turned on.
    3. Make sure the front panel of the heater covering the blower motor is fully in place, as heaters have a fail-safe switch that needs to be fully pressed in for the furnace to operate.


    Change your filters

    screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-35-38-pmIf your filters are clogged, you will have restricted airflow and it will cause overheating that can trigger a safety shut-off. Heater filters are inexpensive and should be changed every month during heavy use.

    Read your owner's manual to find out where your filter is and how to replace it.

    Warning! : Always make sure that the furnace is shut off before you change the filter.

    Check to see if your gas is on

    You may have forgotten to open the valve to get gas to your furnace. Check the gas lines between your furnace and the meter, you'll find a lever somewhere. Turn it so that it is parallel with the pipe.

    If you have an old furnace, you may also need to make sure that your pilot light is lit.

    Check your ductwork

    screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-35-48-pmIf you simply aren't getting heat in one or two rooms, you probably either have a blocked duct, or a hole in your ducts where the warm air is escaping.

    Check the portions you can access, and if you find any holes, patch them up using metallic duct tape. Regular duct tape will deteriorate quickly, so make sure you use the metallic type.

    If you find any blockages, clear them out.

    Check your intake and exhaust vents

    Your heating system draws air from the outside. If those vents are clogged with leaves or debris, your heater will not work properly.

    Check your thermostat

    Believe it or not, many calls also come in from people who simply didn't set their thermostat from cool to heat. Make sure that the thermostat has power, and that the correct settings are entered. This may require changing a battery.

    ____

    With these 5 tips, you may be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars this winter, so take your destiny into your own hands a little bit and make sure your issue isn't something embarrassingly simple that you will regret having to spend money on.

  • Heat Pump Replacement: How to Tell Your Heat Pump Needs Replacing

    Heat pump replacement Heat pump replacement

    Heat pumps allow thermal energy to move against its impulsive flow direction by applying heat absorption within a cold space and then continue movement to a warmer space. A heat pump is a mechanical device that can break down and likely needs to be replaced. Your HVAC system does not need to stop functioning completely for you to think about replacing any part of it. You will notice warning signs that will alert you when it comes time for a heat pump replacement.

    Taking Steps

    If your heat pump stops functioning altogether, then the next step is to get a replacement. However, in the meantime, there are signs that you can look for in order to consider replacing your heat pump before it completely breaks down. Let’s take a closer look at this.

    Constant Heat Pump Repairs

    If your heat pump is constantly breaking down and having to be repaired, you may have to look at heat pump replacement. In fact, if it breaks down several times within the same year, this is a sign that replacement should be the next step. If repair costs are too high, then this may call for purchasing an entire HVAC system or just a heat pump, depending on how much you will save. When your heat pump breaks down at a time that it is needed the most, then it can cause so many inconveniences. Therefore, it is wise to make sure that you hire a professional HVAC contractor to inspect your system before the weather becomes cold.

    Abnormal Noises

    If you hear abnormal noises coming from your HVAC system, it may be time for heat pump replacement. All mechanical devices are designed to operate smoothly with no internal resistance or too much friction. With abnormal noises coming from the heat pump, you may have loose parts and components that have started to wear down. A professional HVAC technician will assess the situation, tracing the specific parts or components that may be loosened. This includes:

    • Depleted motors
    • Vents
    • Defective ductwork
    • Dirty filters

    The moving parts may be able to be repaired. However, if nothing changes after the repair, it may be time for a new heat pump replacement. This is the more permanent solution.

    Increased Energy Consumption

    If you notice that your energy bill is steadily increasing and you are still operating the same number of mechanical devices and appliances in your home, this could point toward energy being lost somewhere. The only time you should see an increase in energy consumption is when you add a new appliance. A professional HVAC contractor will be able to determine the cause of the increase and if the heat pump is the cause, a replacement should be done.

    Conclusion

    If you have had your heat pump for a number of years, it may be the time for a heat pump replacement. A professional HVAC contractor will assess and make the appropriate recommendations of how long you should keep your heat pump before doing an upgrade.

    Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecolivinguk/8019127396/

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