ACI Northwest Blog : Archive for October, 2012

Tip: Why Install Outdoor Lighting

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If you’re a homeowner in Spokane you’ve probably thought about outdoor lighting for your front or back yard. Even if you don’t have any kind of landscape, like if you live in a condo or apartment, you probably notice if the light in front of your door doesn’t come on when it’s dark. If you’ve never thought about outdoor lighting for your home you should start. There are a number of important benefits that it can have for your property. In this blog post, we’re going to discuss some of the benefits that outdoor lighting can have for your property.

Aesthetics

Whenever they show a spooky old house in horror movies it’s always lit very dimly with only a couple light sources tossing shadows across the yard or the front of the house in a menacing way. You probably don’t want to light your house like that, but it goes to show you how lighting can affect the way that your house is perceived. By strategically placing lights around your yard, trees, bushes, steps or porch, you can create a very specific, attractive and inviting atmosphere.

Curb Appeal

This ties in with aesthetics. One of the easiest ways to set your house apart from your neighbors is with some awesome outdoor lighting. As people come home from work, your house will stand out as a warm and polished home.

Security

We all like to walk down well-lit streets as opposed to a dark alley. Light can be great natural deterrent to crime. When you install lights in your front yard it has the potential to increase the security of your property.

Safety

Have you ever walked up to a house with poor outdoor lighting and hit your head on a branch or tripped over a garden gnome you couldn’t see? That’s not a good first impression. With proper outdoor lighting your guests will be able to see any steps or branches or lawn ornaments that could pose a safety hazard to them in the dark.

Value and Usability

Beautiful outdoor lighting can potentially add value to your house. If you have an outdoor space like a patio, a pool or a built-in barbeque, without proper outdoor lighting those spaces can only be used when there’s light. With outdoor lighting, those spots can be used for dinner parties or evening lounging.

If you’re interested in learning more about outdoor lighting and how it can benefit your property, call the experts at ACI Northwest. We have years of experience providing knowledgeable and trustworthy outdoor lighting services in Spokane.

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Ventilation Tip: How Attic Fans Improve Overall Home Efficiency

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

In addition to proper insulation in your attic, there are other improvements you can make. Adding an attic fan can increase ventilation and provide benefits all year long, not just in the summer. While a whole house fan can help to provide ventilation throughout the home, an attic fan may be more appropriate for your situation. Ask your contractor if you aren’t sure.

Call the ventilation experts at ACI Northwest for more information about how to help weatherize your home for year round comfort and efficiency. To get you started, we have included some of the main ways that attic fans can improve overall home efficiency and prevent moisture problems in the home.

Creating more fresh air circulation in your attic not only helps cool the home in the summer, but it can also prevent moisture related damages. In a home that is already well-insulated and has plenty of ventilation, an attic fan will help with overall efficiency by helping to remove the hot air from the attic. In addition to keeping the home cooler in the summer, it removes the heat that rises to the attic in the winter.

You don’t want all the heat in your home trapped in the attic during the winter because it will speed up the snow melting process. If temperatures drop quickly, the snow melt can freeze and create ice dams. Ice dams can cause damage to your roof, and when they start to melt, the water can get under the shingles and into your attic. This can ruin the insulation, wood, and even dry wall and ceilings if the leak is serious enough.

If you aren’t sure whether an attic fan is right for you, call the heating and cooling specialists at ACI Northwest. We can answer all your questions and provide our expert advice.

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Heating FAQ: How Are Furnace BTUs Measured?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

One question that we get from customers on a regular basis is how to size a furnace and how BTUs are measured to help determine the right size. Your furnace’s heating capacity is measured by a unit called a “British Thermal Unit” (BTU). A BTU unit is essentially a measurement determined by the amount of heat it would take to heat one pound of water by one degree; therefore, the BTU capacity for a furnace can help determine fuel costs by converting it into cost per 1000 BTUs.

When you are comparing furnace models, you should see a BTU number provided in the general information section. You’ll also see AC capacity measured in BTUs, but there are variations in the calculations according to whether you are purchasing a heating or cooling system.

The type of fuel will have an effect as well. For instance, natural gas is usually metered in CCF (hundreds of cubic feet) of energy consumption, so about one thousand BTUs of natural gas is provided by 1 cubic foot, so when you divide the cost of the fuel by 1000 BTUs of propane heat you can determine how cost-effective it will be to run a furnace on natural gas. Propane would require the same type of formula. Only combustible fuels are measured in BTUs. Determining the cost of an electric furnace will involve other factors.

Here are some additional factors to consider when sizing according to BTU output for a particular furnace model:

  • Location, size, and layout of the home.
  • How well the home is insulated and sealed.
  • The amount of natural light the home gets in the winter.
  • How many rooms require heating.
  • Ventilation and moisture levels.
  • Condition of all other heating components and equipment in the home.

For new home constructions, you’ll need to work with your builder to help determine square footage and the other factors mentioned above before choosing a furnace. Having the right furnace size is vital to maintaining high performance and efficiency levels.

Don’t hesitate to call the Spokane furnace experts at ACI NORTHWEST if you have any questions about selecting the right furnace for your home.

Call ACI Northwest for all your Spokane heating questions and services. Whether you want to know more about sizing a new heating system, or you would like to discuss your options for replacing your furnace, one of our friendly staff members will be glad to help you out.

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FAQ: Why Get a New Heating System in the Fall?

Monday, October 8th, 2012

At ACI Northwest, we know that saving money on heating costs in the winter is important to our Coeur d’ Alene customers. That’s why there’s no better time to think about upgrading to a new high-efficiency furnace, heat pump, boiler, or geothermal heat pump system.

Just like having a routine tune-up in the fall, installing a new system helps ensure that you will have an efficient and high performing heating system throughout the entire winter. A new heating system is also less likely to break down on you in the middle of the heating season. Depending on the type of heater you are interested in, fall is a good time to have a heating professional install it due to the weather changes.

For instance, installing a geothermal heating system will require drilling or digging trenches to install the loop fields. If you want a new system before the winter arrives, and you haven’t scheduled an appointment, set up a consultation soon. Doing so will increase the chances that we can install the underground pipes before the ground freezes. In addition, a geothermal heat pump can both heat and cool your home; therefore, in the fall, you won’t necessarily be using either your heat or AC, which means it will not affect your comfort during the installation.

By the same token, installing any type of heat pump system in the fall is a good idea due to less need for heating or air conditioning when the weather is temperate. For furnaces and boilers, you will want to ensure that they are working before you need to turn on your heating system. In addition, you may decide that it’s time to replace your heating system during the annual check-up in the fall. Our technicians will test the efficiency of your current system, and provide a full inspection to help you decide whether or not a replacement is the most cost-effective choice.

Call ACI Northwest if you are considering a new heating system. We can help you with all your Coeur d’ Alene heating needs.

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Heating Question: Can My Generator Power My Heating System in an Outage?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Back-up generators come in many types and sizes. There are many that are perfectly capable of powering a heating system during a power outage, but you’ll need to know how much energy your heating system needs, as well as how much energy you’ll be using for other appliances like your refrigerator, television, lights and microwave.

Calculating Your Wattage Use

You’ll have to check your heating system and other appliances to find out exactly how much energy they each use. But just to get a general idea of what this total will be like, we can use some common numbers from current energy star models. On average, a furnace fan takes 400-600 watts to keep running, a refrigerator uses about 200 watts and a microwave consumes about 1,200 watts when in operation.

These numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, because they don’t take into account the fact that most of these appliances take much more energy to start than they do to keep running. For instance, that same furnace fan requires about 1,600 watts to start and the refrigerator likely needs another 1,600. Of course, you don’t need to turn all of these appliances on at once, so if you’re careful and creative with when and in what order you use them, you can get by with much less available wattage.

Generator Types

Both portable and stationary generators are available in a wide variety of sizes, although stationary systems are generally much more powerful than their portable counterparts. If you plan on powering your home for a long period of time or you have a lot of powerful appliances you want to keep on, a stationary generator may be necessary.

For more information about installing a generator in your home, give ACI Northwest a call!

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