5 Common Home Heating Myths

While scouring through information sources, one may come across various tips on cutting down on heating costs. However, some of these claims are just plain wrong, oversimplified or long-standing myths about reducing heating expenditure. To separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s essential that one knows the most common home heating myths.

 

Sealing ductwork

Despite what the name may suggest, duct tape isn’t any good when it comes to sealing ductwork. There are various tapes that can be used to seal ducts, but normal duct tape doesn’t make the cut. It usually gets old and falls off with time as heating cycles go by.

 

The Fireplace

A fireplace isn’t the best way to heat up a home. The cost of paying for firewood, along with the fact that the fireplace gobbles up indoor air that’s already heated only to shoot it out the chimney, means that this wouldn’t go hand in hand with realizing financial savings. The only exception is when one only wants to heat a single room.

 

Programmable Thermostats

Such devices require a little calibration, though the simpler ones work to adjust the temperature at pre-set times. In the default mode, it could realize energy savings because it turns off heating during the night. However, it could be counterproductive for houses with heat pumps as such devices don’t go well with varying temperatures. To enjoy the convenience of such a device, it needs to be well calibrated. Alternatively, one could opt for smarter gadgets which learn how the home works in order to make the necessary adjustments.

 

Cranking it Up

There’s also the belief that cranking up the thermostat in a cold house helps heat the indoors quicker. However, furnaces work in a binary manner, meaning that apart from turning them on, no further tinkering will help heat the house faster. The only result from cranking the thermostat will be heating up the house beyond the desirable temperature and wasting energy.

 

Constant Heating

Another common misconception is that it’s cheaper to keep the home at a constant temperature, even when it’s unoccupied. This doesn’t always apply, except in homes with heat pumps. Running the system less means lower energy consumption. During winter, one could set the thermostat to about 70 degrees when they’re awake and set it lower when sleeping or away from home. For each degree set back on the thermostat for an eight hour period, one could save about 1% of their annual heating bill, with a 10-degree drop pushing the savings up tenfold.

 

Windows

There’s the tale that replacing drafty windows with more energy efficient ones helps save energy. Due to the high cost of this undertaking, the break-even point could take decades to reach. Better ways of conserving energy include air sealing, insulation and improving the HVAC unit’s efficiency. However, one could consider more efficient windows if they’re renovating for cosmetic reasons. Follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Reduce Home Heating Costs This Winter

Everyone wants to save money and finding ways to reduce home heating costs during the winter is a great place to start. Fuel costs vary by region but regardless of where you live, a substantial portion of your household budget goes toward maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature.

If your home’s HVAC system is more than 15 years old, it is time to start thinking about purchasing updated equipment. This is a good time to consider switching to an alternate fuel source. Natural gas is the least expensive fuel, followed by oil, propane and electricity.

Even if your system is up-to-date, you can improve its efficiency by making sure it is properly sealed. Experts estimate that up to 40 percent of heated and cooled air leaks through ducts. Aerosealing is a new technology that blows sealant particles into the ducts. The particles produce airtight bonds over any leaks in the system.

Lowering your thermostat can also improve your home’s HVAC system efficiency. Set the thermostat for 68 degrees Fahrenheit for occupied rooms during the day. At night, set your thermostat to 60 degrees for optimal efficiency.

Making sure you have adequate attic insulation is another way to save money on energy bills during the winter. Your attic should have eight inches of cellulose insulation or a minimum of 11 inches of rock wool or fiberglass insulation. You can hire an HVAC technician to add more insulation if you have less than the minimum required. A technician can also make sure all openings in the attic floor, including those near electrical boxes and plumbing vents are sealed to eliminate drafty rooms.

It is a good idea to have a qualified HVAC technician service your system at least once per year. Many companies offer affordable service contracts. This saves you the hassle of trying to remember when to call for annual service. The technician will inspect the entire system and can save you money by finding small problems before they become big ones.

Throughout the year, you can reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs by changing or cleaning the air filters approximately once per month. Following these tips can help any homeowner save money and extend the lifespan of the home’s HVAC system.

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Do I Need Maintenance For My Heating And Cooling System?

HVAC maintenance is an important part of protecting your system from premature failure. According to research done by Energy Star, neglect and dirt are the no #1 cause of HVAC failure. Just like any other mechanical equipment, heating and cooling systems require regular maintenance to operate at peak performance. Here are some of the reasons that make maintenance essential to heating and cooling systems.

 

Energy Efficiency

Heating and cooling systems use up a lot of energy in order to keep your home comfortable. Without proper maintenance, these systems will not only cost you hundreds in repair and replacement, but will also increase energy bills. Properly maintained systems can reduce energy costs by up to 40%.

 

Comfort

The reason you installed a HVAC system in your house in the first place was to make the air in your home comfortable. It would be useless to spend any money on energy bills for a unit that doesn’t deliver the exact levels of comfort you require. A badly maintained heating and cooling system will not deliver the desired indoor air quality and will cost you more on energy bills.

 

Life Span

Performing regular maintenance tasks to your system will not only save you money on bills but will also extend your unit’s life span. This will have, in the long run, saved you a lot of money on repair and replacement.

 

Cost Effective

Compared to the amount of money you would pay to repair or replace a damaged heating and cooling system, the money spent on regular maintenance is far less. On average, you will spend about $150 on yearly HVAC maintenance. You will spend even less if you go for multi-year contracts with a particular company.

 

Safety

When a technician performs maintenance tasks to your unit, they will tighten loose electrical connections, measure current and voltage and replace worn out components of your unit. This will not only improve the unit’s operation but also minimize risk of injury caused by damaged systems. Loose connections can easily start a fire which can be destructive or even fatal.

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How Important Is It To Get The Right Size Of Heating And Cooling Equipment?

HVAC sizing is one of the trickiest things to get right when designing a new home. Going overboard has its pros and cons. Being too conservative also brings its own share of problems. The knowledge of seasoned professionals will help a lot to determine what size is just right given all of the pertinent factors surrounding the installation. A good match means that the following are all given proper attention:

Comfort

The reason HVAC systems exist is to bring comfort to the inhabitants of a structure whether it is a house or a large building. The air conditioner should be able to have enough power to offset the heat brought in by the warm weather. The heater should keep people warm in the midst of winter. An underpowered system will not suffice when the peak of the seasons hit. An overly large system, on the other hand, may bring too much heat or fail to deal with humidity because they get cold too fast.

Cost

No one wants to spend more than they have to. Overestimating the size of the HVAC units will inevitably lead to higher costs than is actually necessary. Of course, trying to lower the cost should not be an excuse to grossly underestimate the requirements either as this has a negative impact as well. Professionals must estimate the perfect HVAC sizing using scientific and rigorous standards so that homeowners can find their ideal system at a reasonable price.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, less is more. The smaller systems are easier to manage than the large ones that have complicated configurations and greater needs. There are just more things that can go wrong with bigger systems like central air conditioning compared to tiny window units.

Energy Use

Proper HVAC sizing will guarantee that the system will not draw more power than it actually needs. Heating and cooling appliances are already responsible for much of the household expenditure. Both environmental and economic concerns make it vital for people to limit their energy consumption.

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3 FAQs For Home Heating, Ventilation And Water Heaters

1. Why does my heater keep shutting off?

Most modern heaters are equipped with systems that make them turn on and off automatically. When the unit senses the inside air to be comfortable enough, it turns itself off. On the other hand, it will turn itself off if it is too cold inside. However, if this process happens too frequently and on a random basis, you can safely conclude that your unit is running a problem. In most cases, short cycling is known to be the cause of this issue. Short cycling can result from a number of factors, such as a faulty thermostat, dirty air-filters, corroded sensor, foreign objects lodged in air vents or chimney, etc. Before you contact a HVAC service, check if any of the above is causing the problem, in which case very likely you can fix the issue yourself. If none of the above is the issue, you need your unit to be inspected by a HVAC professional.

2. How are heaters rated?
Most modern home heaters, ventilators and water heaters systems will come with AFUE ratings. AFUE gives you a percentage number which is calculated by measuring the ratio of total energy output annually as against the total energy input. Thermal efficiency rating is a more reliable measure when you are trying to find the peak efficiency measure of a unit. However, AFUE gives a better understanding of a unit’s performance over the whole year.

3. Why my heater never shuts off?

This is mostly a winter time problem. Keep this in mind that if it is extremely cold outside, your heater will run constantly since it is designed to work like thus. However, if it’s not too cold and the heater still runs all the time, this may be caused by some malfunction in the system. Possible causes include an inaccurately set thermostat; an iced-up outdoor unit; cold return temperatures; snowdrift against outdoor unit. In all these cases, you can possibly fix the problem yourself. However, the problem may also be caused by factors such as bad compressor valves, bad reversing valve, undersized ductwork or equipment, bad metering device, low refrigerant charge, etc. If any of the above is the issue, you will need to contact a HVAC professional.

For these and any other HVAC related services or enquiries, please contact us today.

What Are Some Signs My Furnace Isn’t Working Properly?

Most homeowners do not give their furnaces much thought until the heating season hits, and they begin to rely on their units to give them warmth and comfort. Like any other HVAC equipment, a furnace has a lifespan and breaks down; however, there are a number of furnace warning signs that give clues of their imminent need for repairs or demise.

Unusual Odors and Noises
Furnace odor problems can be as simple as a filthy air filter or as grave as a gas leak. Strange odors can be a sign of a serious problem; therefore, homeowners should not ignore them. In the HVAC field, odor complaints are quite common. There are different types of smells with different causes; however, one can break them down into a few categories:
• Damp and musty
• Electrical
• Oil
• Gas
• Burning odor

When a furnace starts making unusual sounds, it might be a warning sign of imminent trouble. Most people know the type of sounds to expect from their furnaces; therefore, any other sound that is out of the ordinary should be cause for concern. Some of the strange sounds include chirping sounds, rattling sounds, squealing sounds, and clicking sounds. A few of the reasons a furnace might start making odd sounds include gas leaks, failing motors, or dirt build-up.

Age
With good care and maintenance, modern furnaces can offer reliable service for more than 20 years. However, a homeowner with a unit that is more than ten years old should begin to expect frequent problems, and should begin monitoring it more closely. Those with units that are more than 15 years old should begin looking at replacement options rather than wait for the inevitable breakdown and failure.

Burner is Yellow
A yellow burner flame is a sign of an obstructed airflow. It is an indication that there is an inefficient mixture of oxygen and gas in the furnace, which causes carbon monoxide to leak into the living environment. A furnace that is working efficiently should have a steady, blue flame. Therefore, homeowners who come across a yellow burner flame must call a certified technician immediately since carbon monoxide is a lethal gas.

Broken Thermostat
If one has to rush back to the thermostat to adjust varying temperature from one room to another, it is possible that the furnace is not distributing warm air throughout the house. It is an indication that the thermostat is faulty or poor ventilation planning. A diagnostic checkup by a licensed technician can help find the cause.

Homeowners should always get a furnace inspection before the beginning of every heating season. Call your local HVAC Contractors for heating system and furnace service.

Saving On Residential Heating Costs

The extremely cold weather that has hit the country simply cannot be ignored. Due to a higher demand for energy, heating costs have gone through the roof with up to 90 percent of the population being affected. The cost of heating using natural gas has gone up by more than 10 percent in the last 12 months. About 50% of homes in the US use natural gas for heating. The cost of heating using electricity, heating oil and propane has also significantly gone up.

In an attempt to keep warm, most people usually turn up the heat in their homes by a few degrees. What you might not know is that a single degree increase on your thermostat could mean a 3% rise in heating costs. On the other hand, turning your thermostat too low can cause your pipes to freeze. A good idea, therefore, would be to leave open the cabinet doors that lead to your kitchen faucets, when you go to sleep. This will allow the circulation of warm air around the pipes consequently preventing freezing.

Safety is also important during these cold days. An electric space heater should be kept not less than one meter away from items that can easily catch fire such as curtains. So once you leave the room, be sure to switch it off.

A new furnace can also significantly bring down the cost of heating in your home. This is because new furnaces are designed with higher efficiency in mind. Some are capable of utilizing over 95% of all the energy produced by the fuel. However, the high cost of these devices may bar some people from making a change. In such cases, the best thing to do is to get in touch with a professional HVAC technician, like Brewer Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. of Grass Valley, CA, and get advice on how much you stand to save in the long run by buying a new furnace. To determine this, the HVAC expert will take several factors into consideration namely: fuel cost, furnace efficiency and heating load (how much energy it takes to maintain an internal temperature of 65 degrees).

You don’t have to upgrade your furnace if it still has some years left in its two-decade lifespan. There are other more affordable ways of improving energy efficiency in your home, for example, attic insulation and weather stripping. If after doing all this, you still feel that more needs to be done, it would be a good idea to request an energy audit from your provider. This will help unearth any chinks in your home that could be allowing heat to escape.

Gas Furnace Maintenance Practices

Having a heating system that is in good condition is important. It enables you to have peace of mind knowing that your house will be kept warm at all times. To keep the heating system in good condition, one has to regularly clean it and carry out some maintenance practices. This is only possible if one is familiar with the central part of the heating system which is the gas furnace.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping the heating system clean and in good condition not only prolongs the life of the furnace, but also lowers the monthly utility bills. Maintenance of the system involves many intricate procedures. Most of them should be done by a licensed and certified technician since natural gas is highly explosive. However, this does not mean that homeowners should leave all the work to the technician. There are several tasks that one can perform so as to ensure efficient operation of the furnace.

Maintenance practices should be performed regularly. There are some that should be done monthly and others that should be done just before the winter season, when the heating system will be used a lot. Here are some of the cleaning and maintenance services that can be performed by the homeowner.

Filters

The filters should be kept clean at all times. If they are plastic filters, the homeowner should vacuum and wash them with detergent and water. Once they are clean, he or she should air-dry them thoroughly and place them back in the furnace. If they are cardboard filters he or she should discard them when they are dirty and replace them with other new similar filters.

Cleaning electronic filters is more complex. The homeowner should first remove the filter and follow the maintenance instructions that came with it. It is important for one to follow the instructions otherwise the filter might get damaged.

Lubrication

The furnace has moving parts inside it, such as the indoor blower motor and induced draft motor. Those parts are normally in motion and must be lubricated at all times. This involves opening the furnace, which is a risky procedure. Therefore, the task of lubricating the furnace parts should left to a licensed and certified technician. All motors with oiling ports should be lubricated every month or regularly depending on how long the furnace operates.

Burner and Heating Components

Furnaces operate for many years without malfunctioning. However, it is important to schedule maintenance appointments with a technician. He or she should inspect the heat exchanger passages, the thermostat setting, the burners and he venting system to ensure that there are no signs of corrosion.

Considerations

Before hiring a technician, it is important to check if he or she is licensed. One should also carry out maintenance services even when there is no technician. However, if there is a serious problem or major maintenance services that need to be done on the gas furnace, one should hire a professional.

Tips On Saving Money This Winter

As the colder season rolls right around the corner, many people will turn to their interior heating systems and become more energy-efficient and savings-minded. With winter soon to come, it is a good idea to look into winterizing your home, so that extra money isn’t wasted on heating and other utilities bills. More often than not, a wide variety of basic steps may be taken to reduce the amount of money you can expect to pay at the end of the holiday season.

Perhaps the easiest way to reduce your heating bill is to find ways to reduce your need to keep the heater on. One of these ways is to use a towel or any other cloth to tightly pack in the underneaths of your doors to prevent a draft from reducing the temperature in the room. Additionally, purchasing an energy monitor can help you keep an eye on your general energy consumption this holiday season. Most of these monitors are affordable and can help you regulate your utilities without unnecessarily experimenting with your bills! Something as simple as turning off the thermostat to your house or apartment can also save you a large amount of money in the long term. In a similar way, dressing warmer can also help save you money on your heating bill. If you have a fan in your home, there is a neat way to use it to circulate warm air through the home. The usual counterclockwise rotation that the fan is used for will produce a cooling breezes, though, if the reverse option is available, switching to a clockwise rotation will help heat up your home! The air that is pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space, effectively spreading the heat throughout the room.

When all else fails, a professional HVAC service is recommended. Sometimes the fault does not lie in the methods of the homeowners, but the heating service itself. When that is the case, contacting a professional HVAC service for a new heater installation can save you more money in the long-term. Proper heater maintenance with the new heater is recommended as well, once the professional HVAC service has been provided. By applying the aforementioned tips on your new heater, you will be able to not only save money yearly on your heating bills, but also do your part in helping conserve resources.