Happy New Years! We hope you have a great time tonight welcoming in the New Year and saying goodbye to the old. Forty-five percent of people make New Year’s resolutions; ours is to serve our customers even better than we did last year! If one of your resolutions is to make your home more green, remember that improving your insulation, sealing up any air leaks, and upgrading your HVAC system can have a big impact on your energy usage. A makeover for your house is great way to start off the year; it will make your home more comfortable and more environmentally friendly!
ACI Northwest Blog: Archive for December, 2011
If you want to lower the energy costs for your Athol home, the water heater might not be the first place you’d think to save energy. However, when you add up the savings from a few easy steps that can improve your water heater’s efficiency, it can make a significant difference in your utility bills.
Here are some of the ways you can reduce the use of hot water in the home and increase your energy savings.
Saving Energy by Using Less Hot Water
Even if you own an energy-efficient, tankless water heater, and you try to conserve water as much as possible, hot water usage can always be reduced in other areas. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can provide up to 60% in water savings because they reduce the flow rate (gallons per minute) for each fixture. Tankless water heaters are also more efficient when they are used with any application with a lower flow rate.
Replacing older appliances that require a lot of hot water with more energy-efficient models is worth the money and effort because of the energy savings you will get in the end. Make sure you fix any leaks on older hot water faucet or fixtures. A leak that costs a dollar or two extra per month doesn’t seem like much, but it will add up over time.
Lower the Temperature on Your Hot Water Heater
For every 10°F that you lower the water temperature on your hot water heater, you save between 3% to 5% in energy costs. The manufactured setting for most water heaters is 140°F, but most homes only require a maximum temperature of 120°F. Check your owner’s manual before you lower the temperature on your water heater to find out what the recommended settings are and how to change them.
Insulate Your Water Heater Tank and Water Pipes
Whether you have a gas or electric hot water heater, you can find fairly inexpensive and easy-to-install insulators or “jackets” for your water heater tank. Every tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses, so unless it is a high value, your water heater tank needs insulation. Call a professional or check your owner’s manual for the R-value of your hot water heater, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you need more insulation.
You can reduce emissions and your energy costs simply by paying more attention to how much hot water you are using in your Athol home. For more tips and expert advice, call ACI Northwest to speak with one of our technicians.
One of the most annoying things your furnace can do is to constantly keep turning on and off. This on-off cycling keeps your Valley Ford home from heating up properly. This action – called short cycling – also requires more electricity and drives up utility bills.
Short cycling is caused by an overheated furnace, which triggers safety mechanisms and shuts down the furnace. After a brief interval and cooling down, the furnace starts up again the cycle keeps repeating itself. Not only is it an annoyance, it can also signal more serious problems. A leaking heat exchanger can cause a furnace to overheat – and produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.
If a furnace is working too hard and overheating, it is usually because of airflow in and out. Your home’s ventilation system needs to be clear of dirt, dust, and debris. The more blockage in your ductwork and vents, the more friction is created, slowing down airflow and ultimately ending with an overworked furnace that continues to cycle on and off. And a blocked exhaust vent, such as a chimney or dedicated exhaust vent, can also cause a furnace to work harder. Check for things like leaves or bird’s nests.
The blockage may also be coming from a clogged furnace filter. You should clean or replace your furnace filter after a visual inspection reveals any type of build-up of dust or dirt. Do this at least every three-six months.
If you have a two-speed fan on your furnace, it is recommended that you run the fan in low speed during the cold months and high speed in the warm months. The reason? Warm air is lighter and takes less force to move.
There are other measures to take to prevent short cycling but these usually require a professional heating and cooling service technician to correct the problem. If in doubt, call your local heating and cooling contractor and schedule a furnace inspection. Don’t make your furnace work any harder than it was designed for – and keep your home’s occupants comfortable and safe.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas! We plan on eating lots of great food and spending time with our loved ones. We hope that you get everything you want under the tree this year! Fun holiday fact: the song “Jingle Bells” was inspired by sleigh races that were common in Medford, Massachusetts, where the song was written. It was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Here are the original lyrics (courtesy of Wikipedia), Merry Christmas!
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the hills we go
Laughing all the way.
Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.
|: chorus 😐
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way!
O what joy it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we – we got upsot
|: chorus 😐
A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away
|: chorus 😐
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty is his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! You’ll take the lead.
|: chorus 😐
Don’t be left in the cold this year by foregoing the annual maintenance of your HVAC system. Regular maintenance not only keeps your system working efficiently but it also makes sure it is working safely. Keep your family warm and safe this winter!
Time is running out for you to take advantage of our great offer: a free thermostat with the purchase of a new heat pump installation! Heat pumps are wonderful devices that can both heat and cool your home, and new thermostat will make sure that your rooms are heated accurately. An old or uncalibrated thermostat can seriously impact the comfort level in your house, an often overlooked fact! By getting a new heat pump and a new thermostat, you can help ensure that your house will be kept at the perfect temperature for years to come.
Call now for more details! Offer expires 12/31/2011
Happy Hanukkah from everyone at ACI Northwest! We hope you have an amazing holiday full of friends, family, and great food. Whether you have a Menorah or a Christmas tree in your house, we wish you very happy holiday. And since one of the great traditions of this time of year is delicious food, here is a recipe we found for Crispy Potato Pancakes:
Crispy Potato Pancakes
“Here’s a potato pancake that doesn’t take much time to make and is just right for two people. Weekends become our time to relax and enjoy life, and this is one of our favorite treats. -Nancy Salinas, Grand Rapids, Minnesota”
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Finely grate potatoes; drain any liquid. Place potatoes in a bowl. Add egg, onion, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder; mix well. In a large skillet, heat 1/8 in. of oil over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls; press lightly to flatten. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately.
For more details, visit allrecipes.com.
Most people in Bayview who have ceiling fans never turn them on in the winter. They assume that the fan is designed solely to cool the house – after all, blowing air feels pretty nice doesn’t it? But, a ceiling fan can actually help to move heat around your home and lower your heating bill if used properly. Here are some tips to do just that.
Rotating Warm Air
Warm air naturally rises. So, when you turn on your furnace and the blower fan pushes warm air through your ductwork into the various rooms of your home, the warm air immediately rises to the ceiling. So, for the room to feel as comfortable as you want it, you must wait for enough heat to circulate into the room to displace the cold air that was already there.
However, instead of waiting for warm air to fill the room, you can circulate the warm air as it arrives with a ceiling fan. By turning on your ceiling fan and changing the direction so it blows down (which most people already have it set to), the warm air will be pushed toward the floor, mixing it smoothly into the room and keeping you more comfortable without having the furnace on constantly.
This does two things. First, it keeps the room comfortable regardless of when the furnace cycles on or off. Second, it keeps the thermostat reading stable so the furnace doesn’t cycle on and off so quickly. If the warm air regularly rises up and the lower levels begin to cool, your furnace will frequently turn on and off as it tries to maintain the same temperature.
A Low Cost Addition to Your Home
Ceiling fans are inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing. They move air throughout the room, keep warmth low where you need it and can help reduce your energy bill in multiple ways. If you’re not sure whether a ceiling fan is right for you, talk to a technician about just how much money one of these simple devices can save you. I bet you’ll be convinced.
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” His famous quotation can apply to many things in life, including the heating system in your Greenacres home. While heating systems in Ben Franklin’s time consisted of wood burning stove and fireplaces requiring little maintenance, today’s sophisticated furnaces and building controls require a good dose of preventative maintenance in order to avoid mechanical failures and inefficient operation.
For example, a furnace runs better and lasts longer when you maintain a regular schedule of filter cleaning or replacing. A dirty or clogged filter can restrict airflow from the furnace into your home’s ventilation system and cause the furnace to work harder, putting more wear and tear on it and taking months, if not years, off of its useful life. If your furnace uses disposable filters, check them every month and replace them if necessary. If your furnace uses an electronic filter that requires cleaning, check it on a monthly or semi-monthly basis and clean it with soapy water and a hose. Be aware of the change of seasons which could add extra pollutants into the air like pollens, ragweed, and cottonwood. This debris easily finds its way into the filters and creates an unhealthy indoor environment.
You can also perform a simple visual inspection of working components inside your furnace by removing the access cover and checking – with a flashlight – for loose fan belts, frayed electrical wires, or a build-up of dirt and dust. Simple solutions include tightening or replacing belts, repairing wiring, and vacuuming out dirt and dust with a hose attachment. All of these actions will keep your furnace working better and prevent future failures.
You can also do a visual check of your home’s ventilation system, paying close attention to any cracks in duct seams or holes in flex ductwork. Using sealing cement or duct tape can usually fix these problems and allow for better, unrestricted air flow. Again, these actions will help your furnace work more efficiently and avoid premature failures.
Maybe the best advice for preventing heating system breakdowns is to have a regular maintenance schedule with a local qualified heating contractor. Most contractors can set you up with annual furnace and ventilation system inspections. Having a service agreement – as a rule – gives you priority emergency repairs and discounts on parts and services. Besides that, planned maintenance is also preventative maintenance, something that will give you peace of mind in the long run.
You’ve probably heard in Cocolalla about the new lines of high efficiency furnaces being released by popular home heating companies, but what exactly is different about these high efficiency devices from your current furnace? Let’s take a closer look at what a high efficiency furnace offers and why it can save you money.
A high efficiency furnace uses familiar technology in a new way to reduce the amount of energy lost when combustion takes place. This means:
- Sealed Combustion – Instead of open combustion which allows heat to escape during and after the combustion process, a high efficiency furnace uses a sealed chamber with carefully measured and fed airflow to burn fuel and produce heat. Exhaust heat can then be recaptured and used to heat air transferred to your air vents.
- Two Stage Gas Valves – With a two stage gas valve, your furnace can respond to the temperature outside. There isn’t just one “on” switch. The furnace will regulate gas flow based on how much energy is needed to produce heat for your home. So, if there is a sudden burst of cold outside, the furnace will respond accordingly, but for most days when heating needs are low, it will use only the minimum amount of needed gas.
- Programmable – High efficiency furnaces are now programmable, meaning you can set specific time limits for operation, change thermostat settings digitally and inspect the device through an electronic read out. The level of control given to you by a programmable high efficiency furnace can greatly reduce gas or electricity consumption.
The real reason many people are interested in high efficiency furnaces is that they are so much less expensive to operate. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars to run through the winter, they operate the bare minimum needed to heat your home. Using up to 95% of the fuel they consume to produce heat and regulating gas to cut how much is consumed during milder days, these furnaces are built to save you money.
If you have an old furnace that chews through energy like nobody’s business, now might be the time to consider the benefits of a brand new, high efficiency model.
When it comes time to install a new heating system in your Worley home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.
Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.
Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.
Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.
It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.