Everyone’s concerned about energy efficiency these days. When it comes to finding ways to save money, consider the importance of effective insulation and proper home ventilation. During the winter months, there are many tasks you can tackle to seal in heat, improve indoor air quality and cut costs at the same time.
Correcting Heat Loss
Check around all of your home’s windows and doors for air leaks. If leaks are detected, there are many simple solutions to seal them:
- Caulking and weatherstripping of various types are available to seal windows and doors.
- Foam gaskets can be installed behind wall sockets and light switch plates.
- Foam sealant can be sprayed into large gaps around windows, doors, pipes and baseboards.
- Attic insulation should be a minimum of 12 inches deep, and ductwork should be checked for leaks and proper insulation, as well.
In order to have good air quality, you must have adequate ventilation. Here are several ways to accomplish this:
- An air purifier can remove unwanted bacteria, dust and other allergens that can affect your family’s health.
- A humidifier can keep air quality at just the right humidity level. It makes the air feel warmer, requiring less demand from your furnace.
- Air filters should be checked monthly and changed as dirt begins accumulating on them. Clean air filters maximize your furnace’s efficiency.
- Use exhaust fans to vent your bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.
For more information on insulation and ventilation in your Harrisburg home, contact the experts at All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating.
Charlotte area homeowners are lucky to have mild weather for much of the year. In the winter, temperatures can fall below freezing, but usually for only short periods of time. This gives residents a choice between using a heat pump or a furnace for winter heating.
How Furnaces Work
Furnaces send heat throughout the home in one of two ways. Forced air furnaces directly heat air and send it into each room through a vent system. Other furnaces heat an intermediary fluid such as air, steam or water which is then pumped through pipes into a radiator in each room. Furnaces can be fueled by oil, natural gas or electricity, and they heat the air or intermediary fluid with a flame.
How Heat Pumps Work
Heat pumps work by transferring heat in a manner similar to a refrigerator. During winter, they capture heat from the outside air and pump it into the inside air handler where it heats the air flowing through your home. Heat pumps are always powered by electricity.
When to Choose a Heat Pump
The two main considerations in choosing a heat pump are operating cost and average winter temperature. Typically, natural gas is the cheapest power source, followed by electricity, and then oil. If you use an oil-fueled furnace, converting to a heat pump may lower your energy costs. Your HVAC contractor can help you compare the energy costs for heat pumps and furnaces in your area based on local rates. Remember also that heat pumps also provide cooling, so there may be additional installation and maintenance savings from having a combined heating and cooling unit.
However, if you live in a colder area with temperatures frequently below 40 degrees, a heat pump may not be for you. Because they draw heat from the outside air, heat pumps lose efficiency below this temperature and need a backup option to help them maintain a comfortable temperature. In these areas, a furnace is often best.
For more information on heat pump or furnace installation, contact All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning and Heating.
One of the easiest ways to cut power consumption this winter is to stop the energy vampires in your home from draining electricity 24/7. It’s likely your home is populated by appliances and devices that use standby power, even when they’re not running. Anything that uses a timer or has a clock is draining electricity when it’s plugged in.
The top five offenders include:
- Computers – Computer monitors use more power than the CPU itself, but it’s easy to set the system so it goes to sleep after it sits idle for a short time. Set the computer to sleep after 30 minutes.
- Televisions – Any television that turns on instantly is wasting energy when it’s off. Plasma televisions are the worst offenders. If it doesn’t interfere with its programming, it’s best to put the television on a power strip. Alternatively, you can choose Energy Star certified televisions that use much less standby power.
- VCRs, DVD players and sound systems – This equipment draws power continually. Unless you’ve programmed them, unplug them.
- Portable electronic devices – Any handheld devices that need charging are energy vampires. The chargers continue to use power when they’re plugged in. The best way to avoid wasting energy is to gather up the chargers, label them for the device they charge and use one power strip. When you’re done, turn the power strip off.
- Kitchen appliances that have clocks or timers – Microwaves and coffeemakers have clocks that need a constant flow of electricity. If you don’t need them programmed, unplug them until you need to use the appliance.
While disabling devices that use standby power will cut your energy consumption, you can also save a considerable amount of energy by tending to your heating system. Keeping the air filters clean and performing seasonal maintenance will go a long way toward reducing overall energy consumption. Since your heating system consumes about half the energy you use, keeping it in top condition will reduce your heating expenses.
To learn more about energy vampires, contact the pros at All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating. We’ve been serving Charlotte area homeowners for more than 28 years.
Any homeowner considering a shift to geothermal heating and cooling should take the time to carefully evaluate both the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal systems. Though there are some notable disadvantages to geothermal heat pumps, they’re easily outweighed by the significant advantages in efficiency, performance and economical operation that geothermal heating and cooling provide.
- High cost of installation – The initial investment in a geothermal heating and cooling system can be substantial, often several thousand dollars more than a comparable furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Geothermal installations are more expensive because they require significant digging and trenching. This earth-moving is required to install the ground loop—the pipes where heat capture and release takes place. A geothermal heating and cooling system can usually pay for itself in monthly energy savings alone by about the halfway point of the equipment’s life span. Federal tax credits are also available to help offset the cost of a geothermal installation.
- Ground space requirements – The ground loop requires a large area of open ground space for installation. There can be no buildings, trees, sprinkler systems or other obstacles on or under the ground. If there is limited horizontal space, the ground loop can be installed vertically in a series of holes drilled deep into the ground. Vertical installations are common in urban and suburban settings where ground space is limited.
- Installer qualifications – A geothermal heating and cooling system requires expert installation by a trained and qualified specialist. Not all HVAC contractors have the skills and training to install geothermal systems. If there are no capable installers operating locally, you may have to go outside your local community, which could add to the cost of installation. Evaluate any contractor you’re considering to make sure he is qualified to work with geothermal.
For more than 28 years, All Temp Co., Inc. has served heating and air conditioning customers in Harrisburg, Charlotte and the surrounding communities. Contact us today for more information on geothermal heating and cooling and for expert advice on why the disadvantages of geothermal don’t outweigh the benefits of this efficient and economical source of home comfort.
The furnace in your Harrisburg home works 24/7 during the winter to keep you comfortable. How long your furnace will last depends mostly on how well you maintain it.
What Is the Life Span of a Furnace?
A typical furnace will last about 15 years. With regular maintenance and filter changes, you can expect your system to last 20 years or more. However, a poorly maintained system will only last about 13 years and will operate inefficiently for many of those.
Extending the Life of the System
There are several things you can do to ensure your system has a long, efficient life:
- Schedule annual maintenance every fall. Before you turn your system on at the beginning of the heating season, have it tuned up by a qualified HVAC professional to ensure top efficiency, extend the life of your system, ensure safe operation and lower your heating bills.
- Replace the air filter. A dirty air filter reduces the airflow to your system, making it work overtime to keep you comfortable, as well as reducing its efficiency and increasing the chances of premature failure. Check your filter every month. When it’s clogged with dust, replace it with a quality, pleated filter.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Taking a load off of your furnace will help it maintain efficiency and prevent undue wear and tear. A programmable thermostat allows you to program the furnace at lower settings while you’re away or sleeping, reducing the heating load on your system.
- Seal air leaks. Leaky windows, doors and service entrances allow cold air to infiltrate your home while letting conditioned air escape. Your furnace has to work extra hard to compensate for the lost air.
- Seal and insulate ducts. Leaky ducts make your furnace work hard to replace air lost through loose joints and gaps where the ducts meet the registers. Seal loose joints and insulate ducts that run through unconditioned spaces.
For more expert advice about the life span of a furnace and how you can extend yours, please feel free to contact us at All Temp Co., Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating.