Happy Halloween! Candy and costumes make any day fun; we hope you have a fantastic time trick or treating! Remember to be safe this holiday, and don’t forget it is time to start thinking seriously about fall maintenance for inside and outside your house. A quick tune up of your heating system will save you some trouble during this holiday season!
Archive for October, 2011
Happy Halloween weekend from everyone at Apple Heating & Cooling! We hope you have a fantastically spooky time! And you help you save up some money to spend on candy, here are some ways to lower your heat pump’s energy bill.
One of the biggest advantages of a heat pump for your Conneaut home is that it is highly efficient for both heating and cooling. There is always room for improvement, though, so here some tips to lower your energy bill even more:
- Get it checked. It’s been said many times before, but it’s always worth saying again: consistent maintenance is one of the biggest keys to keeping any appliance running efficiently. Get your heat pump inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will keep it in good shape and provide an opportunity to make small repairs, before they have a chance to turn into big problems.
- Keep it clean. When it comes to HVAC equipment, a clean unit is an efficient unit. Check and replace the filters regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the coils and fan clean. This will also be part of the annual maintenance, but you can – and should — do touch up cleaning on your own.
- Install a thermostat. A programmable thermostat is a great energy efficiency tool for any home heating and cooling system, not just a heat pump. A thermostat will keep the temperatures lower during the day or any time no one is home, so that you are not wasting heat.
- Let it run. It may seem counterintuitive, but turning off a heat pump to save energy may actually do more harm than good. Heat pumps operate most efficiently when they stay running on a regular basis. The components don’t need to take time to spin up, and the refrigerant stays warm so it can keep moving. Your best bet is to have your heat pump connected to a programmable thermostat, program it and then stop thinking about it. You’ll save a bundle over manual operation.
- Protect the outdoor unit. The outdoor portion of your heat pump has to put up with a lot from the elements. Strong winds can damage them or negatively impact the efficient operation of the pump, so keep the outdoor unit protected from wind.
These simple measures, in combination with a highly efficient heat pump, will help slash your energy bills. In addition, check to see if your heat pump is eligible for a federal tax credit, which can save you even more money.
Energy efficiency is what you want when it comes to heating your Bainbridge home. You want a furnace that provides the greatest degree of accurate indoor comfort while at the same time operating at peak efficiency to reduce energy usage and lower utility bills. That’s seems like a lot to ask of a simple mechanical system but you should expect it out of the furnace in your basement, attic, or mechanical room.
It is especially important today as energy costs have steadily increased, including electricity, natural and propane gas, and oil. The best way to combat rising prices is to have a furnace that uses less energy. It is a simple statement but one that bears repeating: higher efficiency equals lower operating costs.
Here are some ways to make your heating system more energy efficient:
- Clean or replace furnace filters on a regular basis. A dirty or clogged filter will make your furnace work harder and become much less energy efficient. Monthly or quarterly cleaning or replacements are easy to do and will result greater operating efficiencies.
- Inspect your home’s ventilation system for accumulation of dirt, dust, or debris. Have you recently added new carpeting? Do your pets shed? Is there a large number of people living in your home? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may need to inspect your ventilation system. You may need to remove the ventilation grilles to take a closer look. Wiping down the inside of your duct work or vacuuming the duct work with a hose attachment will often do the trick. You can also schedule a duct cleaning with a local professional duct cleaning contractor.
- Remove obstructions from around vents and grilles. You need a clean path for air to flow into and out of rooms. Restricted airflow makes your furnace work harder and become less energy efficient.
- Consider an upgrade to a two-speed or variable speed furnace. Most older furnaces operated on one speed, which cycled on and off and consumed a lot of energy. Today’s furnaces operate at lower speeds, consuming less energy and often remaining on to keep a steady airflow and prevent constant on and off cycling. These newer furnaces are much more energy efficient and cost less to operate.
- Adhere to a regular schedule of planned furnace maintenance. If you don’t clean and inspect your furnace on a regular basis, schedule service calls with a local qualified heating contractor. Your contractor will likely have a service agreement plan to fit your budget, which allows for annual inspections, priority emergency service calls, and discounts on parts and services.
Besides saving on energy costs, your efficient furnace will leave a smaller carbon footprint. Your efficient furnace will exhaust less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and maintain a more green profile. And being ecologically friendly can be just as important as saving money.
You can be assured that an energy efficient heating system will keep more money in your pocket this fall and winter.
Do you hate to work on your own mechanical equipment in your Chesterland home, like furnaces and plumbing fixtures? You aren’t alone. Many people are not cut out to be do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). They prefer to hand off their maintenance and repair chores to qualified professional. That’s not a bad thing. But there are lots of DIYers who prefer to work on their own home repairs – and those are the people who aren’t afraid to take on the most challenging jobs.
If you are looking for good ideas on how to maintain your home’s heating and cooling (HVAC) system beyond the normal filter changeouts, here are some good things to check – things that will help with the overall performance of your HVAC system.
- Check the ventilation system. The ventilation carries conditioned air from a main source throughout your home. It takes a little time and effort to check your ventilation system for things like cracks or leaks around joints, but it is an important maintenance task. You may even find separations between joints or holes caused by nails. A leaky ventilation system could be sending conditioned air into attics, walls, or crawlspaces and making your furnace work extra hard just to keep your living areas warm and comfortable. Take time to visually inspect as much of your ventilation system as possible – usually metal or flex duct – and repair using joint glue, metal filler, or duct tape.
- Inspect the insulation. Your heating system works in conjunction with the insulation in your home to provide comfort and warmth while saving you on high utility bills. A home that is poorly insulated or not insulated at all will cause a furnace to work harder and not only send utility bills higher, but increase the possibility of mechanical failure. Replacing or adding insulation in walls and crawlspaces is a relatively easy, yet time-consuming task. You can roll down or tack up fiber insulation or blow in insulation into walls. You can also seal up cracks on your home’s walls, roof, or foundation with a number of different products. Once again, your goal is to make your heating system work less and save you money.
- Check the visible components of the furnace. A build-up of dust and dirt can make the moving components of your furnace work even harder, such as the motors, fan belts, contactors, etc. If you live in an area where there is lots of dust and humidity or if your home has several occupants and/or animals, it is particularly important to check your system on a regular basis. This can be done by removing the access panels and taking a vacuum cleaner hose into as many areas as possible. A good, thorough vacuuming should produce immediate results and make your furnace run much more efficiently.
Try these three steps and you may not have to repeat them for another year or so – possibly not ever again while you live in your home.
If your Dorset home’s temperature is too hot or cold, what is the first thing you check? Probably the thermostat. If you are a homeowner, you probably have played around with the setting on a thermostat, much to the chagrin of other occupants who don’t share your same comfort level. And if you try and adjust a thermostat at work – well forget about it. Most companies now have locking thermostats or “false” ones that don’t actually connect to the heating and cooling system.
So if you have a temperature problem, is it really the thermostat that causes it? Maybe yes and maybe no. One physical characteristic to check is the location of the thermostat. If it is in a drafty hallway or near a heat source, it only reads the temperature for that area and other parts of the building are neglected. You will often find more than one thermostat in a home that is tied into more than one furnace or air conditioner.
The older more popular round thermostats are manually controlled and do not adjust to any conditions in the home. They simply control the heating and cooling functions based on a human turning a dial. It’s as simple as that. So if you use this method to adjust the temperatures, blame yourself and not the thermostat. You might want to consider installing a digital, programmable thermostat.
With that in mind, let’s look at some typical ways to troubleshoot a thermostat.
- Check the anticipator, which is a small metal tab on the front of the printed scale. Give it a light push in either direction. It may be stuck.
- Clean the interior of the thermostat housing and clean the contacts (small metal plates)
- Check loose wires or wires that may be corroded.
- Read the thermostat manual (if not available, look online) for other tips such as ensuring there is voltage to the terminals.
If you have checked everything and the thermostat seems to be in working order, look for other things within the heating & cooling system. These include blocked or restricted registers and vents, leaks or cracks in ductwork, and dirty air handling filters.
On the whole, heat pumps are efficient, durable and effective. They are built to run all year round in Conneaut without needing any more maintenance than your average furnace or air conditioning system and they have an average lifespan comparable to those other types of home comfort systems as well.
That’s not to say that there aren’t things you can do to keep your heat pump in good working order, however. Keeping up with the professional maintenance visits is an important step to take along these lines to be sure, but there are also some other things you can do on your own as well to help ensure the continued efficiency and health of your heat pump system.
Proper filter care is an important part of keeping your heat pump working the way it should. If you don’t have a heat pump yet but are thinking of getting one, make sure you have the installation technician show you where the filter is located and how to replace it.
If your system’s already been in place for some time, you can still find out how to care for the filter from your annual maintenance technician or you can probably even find it on your own by taking a close look at your heat pump. The filters are meant to be removed on a regular basis so they’re typically not hard to get to. However, you should always be sure that all of the power to your heat pump is turned off before you open it up to try and find, replace or clean the filter.
Most heat pump filters are meant to be changed or cleaned about once every 90 days or so. However, the specific requirements for each system can vary considerably, so you should be sure to find out what is recommended for the model of heat pump that you have.
Also, you’ll want to know what type of filter you have so that you can purchase the appropriate replacement. The model number for each filter should be clearly printed on it, so simply slide your current filter out and make note of the number so that you can purchase the correct type as a replacement.
Most heat pumps have replaceable filters, but some still do have permanent filters that are meant to be cleaned and then returned to service. If you have one of these types of filters, be sure to read the instructions for cleaning carefully before proceding.
If you’re thinking about buying a new heat pump for your Kirtland home, chances are you have some questions about these types of products and how they work. In fact, because these types of home comfort systems are relatively new to a lot of people, there are a quite a few misconceptions out there about how effective and efficient they can be.
Recently we’ve gotten some good questions from our readers, so we thought we’d like to pass along the answers so that others can benefit from the information as well.
If I Buy a Heat Pump, Do I Have to Buy an Air Conditioner Too?
That heat pumps are only able to heat your home is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about this type of equipment. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and transferring it to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump is able to heat your home by taking heat from the outdoor air and moving it inside.
However, in the summer, the heat pump is able to do the same thing only in reverse. When you switch on your heat pump’s cooling function, it will be able to take the heat out of your indoor air and transfer it outside. In this way, the same heat pump system can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without you needing to purchase an air conditioner or other supplemental comfort systems.
If I Choose a Heat Pump System, Will I Also Need to Install Supplemental Heat?
That depends on what the climate is like where you live and how warm you like to keep your home. In general, heat pumps can keep any home comfortable as long as the outdoor temperature is above 32°F or so. If the temperature outside drops below that, you may want to have some type of supplemental heating system just in case. However, a heat pump will still be able to provide some warmth at these lower temperatures and you may be able to keep yourself comfortable with a simple space heater or two.
When it comes to the furnace in your Austinburg home, you simply want it to work all of the time. But just like any other piece of equipment, your furnace will have problems from time to time. A few of these are relatively simple to fix on your own, but for the most part you’ll need to call in someone to take care of the repairs for you.
However, before you can do that, you’ll need to recognize that a problem exists at all. And the earlier you notice the warning signs, the better off you’ll be. It’s always better to get a furnace problem taken care of right away than to wait until your furnace stops working completely.
It’s also good to remember that quite often the problems you’re having with your furnace are really originating with your thermostat. This is usually welcome news, as thermostats are much cheaper and easier to repair and replace than many other parts of your furnace. In fact, even if your furnace isn’t working at all, it may only be the result of a faulty thermostat.
Another problem you may start to notice is that one part of your house is being warmed more than another part. When this happens, it can be a sign that there is something wrong with the furnace, but it may also be that the pressure in your duct system is not balanced properly. A simple rebalancing of this system can have your house heating evenly again in no time.
You may also realize that your furnace seems to be cycling on and off too often. When a furnace is working properly, it will come on for a considerable period of time and then shut off until the temperature in the house drops below the desired level. However, some problems can cause your furnace to complete many short cycles rather than fewer short ones.
If this is happening to your furnace, there are several possible causes. Something might be wrong with the blower on the furnace or the thermostat might not be feeding the furnace the correct information. Another possibility is that your furnace’s air filter is dirty or clogged.
While there are sometimes simple and straightforward solutions to these types of common furnace problems, it’s best to call in an Austinburg professional to have them take a look if you’re not sure where to start searching for a problem. In most cases you’ll need them to come out and make the necessary repairs anyway.
Do you know how your furnace works? Believe it or not, lots of homeowners in Pierpont probably can’t explain the operation of furnace. It probably isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. It’s only important to know that once you set your thermostat to a desired temperature, the furnace comes on and warms the house.
Let’s look at how a gas furnace works since natural gas is found in most U.S. households. Gas furnaces use natural gas or propane to provide energy used for generating heat.
When the temperature in your home falls below the level set on the thermostat, an electric pilot light automatically ignites to heat a burner inside the furnace. This burner uses gas to generate heat within a combustion chamber inside the furnace. After the furnace senses that the thermostat has triggered the flame and that it is properly lit, the actual spark (or ignitor) is turned off.
Simultaneously, a motor in the furnace pulls in air from an exchange or return, which could be a grill in the floor, ceiling, or wall of a house. That air flows through ducts into the plenum of the furnace. The plenum is on the opposite side of the heat exchanger from the burner.
Gas will typically burn for at least two minutes before the blower starts to disperse heat throughout your home. This extra time gives the air an adequate period of time to warm up and also so that cold air won’t be pushed through the vents into the rooms in your house at the start. After either the preset time (roughly two minutes) or pre-established temperature is reached, the blower’s motor is turned on and it blows air over the heat exchanger, which usually consists of a series of copper tubes or pipes. When a fan blows air onto the heat exchanger, the air is heated. This heated air is then blown through a series of ducts to heat your home via vents in the floor, walls or ceiling. Exhaust fumes from the combustion process exit the furnace through a gas flue or chimney.
Just as the heat in your home turns on when a certain temperature is reached, it also turns off after the rooms are warm enough, thanks to your thermostat. The thermostat again senses the temperature in the room. When the room warms up to the temperature set by you at the thermostat, the gas valve is switched off, stopping the flow of gas. After the gas is turned off, the blower motor will still run for a few minutes, allowing the heat exchanger to cool off a bit. In some furnaces, the blower motor never shuts off, but operates at low speed to keep air circulating throughout your home.
In a nutshell, your thermostat is the brain in your heating system and your furnace is the brawn, doing most of the work.
When it comes to your Chardon home’s heating equipment, the right size is very important. If your furnace is sized correctly, you will enjoy a high level of indoor comfort, which you should. However, an incorrectly sized furnace may result in many cold spots in your home, an overworked furnace, or higher utility bills.
An undersized furnace will turn off and on frequently, which is called short cycling. Short cycling can lead to moisture in the system, causing less efficiency and damage to equipment from accumulating moisture in the heating system. The constant cycling adds to wear and tear on equipment, too. An oversized furnace may not be able to keep up with the demand for heat during the coldest days. The furnace may be constantly running and unable to keep up – adding to higher utility costs. So size really does matter when it comes to selecting the right heating equipment for your home.
But a big furnace does not mean it is right-sized. Have you ever seen a “five-way” gravity furnace? It was manufactured in the mid-1900’s and took up a lot of room – as much as half of a basement – while being extremely inefficient. The key here is efficiency. A furnace that works right is sized to the space it is heating, which does not include attics, crawlspaces, or uninsulated rooms (porches, mud rooms, etc.).
A furnace must make efficient use of its Btu’s, which is abbreviated for British thermal unit. Btu is used to measure a furnace size. Furnaces are often rated by input Btu, which is the amount of energy consumed when running. The output Btu may be different based on the system. And output Btu is the best way to select a furnace, since this is the actual heating capacity.
When sizing a furnace, the first thing to do is to determine the inside space that will be heated. If you are looking to heat your home, you can measure the square footage of each room (multiply width by length). The rooms should include bathrooms and hallways but exclude attics and crawlspaces. Add up the totals and match up the Btu output to the total square footage. If you aren’t sure of your calculations, call a qualified heating and cooling contractor.
There are many factors that go into heating a home and today’s energy efficient furnaces give homeowners many more choices. Whatever furnace you choose to purchase, make sure you do your homework and hire a qualified professional HVAC contractor to determine the best size furnace for your home.