ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Rathdrum’

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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Generator Tip: Whole House Generator FAQs

Monday, August 13th, 2012

If you are thinking about buying a new whole house generator in Spokane, you probably have a few questions about how to select and install the right model. Here are a few common questions and their answers on this topic:

 What Sizes Are Available for Whole House Generators?

Whole house generators generally come in sizes between 22 and 48 kilowatts. The number of kilowatts you want in a generator depends on the number of amps your home consumes. We know the maximum because no home consumes more than 200 amps due to limits in the electrical grid. A 22 kilowatt generator, for example, would replace 92 amps in your home, more than enough for most days – though probably not enough to keep your air conditioner running through the night.

How Long Does a Generator Last?

A quality whole house generator is often rated for up to 20 years of operation in standby conditions. That means that it will last for 20 years while actively installed on your property. That does not mean it can be operated continuously for 20 years, and operational lifespan will vary by model.

How Much Space Does a Generator Need?

You should allow for at least 3-5 feet on all sides of the generator for ventilation and to ensure nothing can get caught up in the system. It should be in a clear space away from entrances to your home but close enough to be easily wired into your electrical system during installation.

What Maintenance is Required?

The actual maintenance needed will depend largely on how often the system is actively used. Either way, it is recommended that you change the oil and all filters once per year. A full inspection is recommended if the system is used for more than 24 hours consecutively in that time period.

If you have any questions about installing a generator in your Spokane home, give ACI Northwest a call today!

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Air Conditioning Guide: Common AC Electrical Problems

Monday, August 6th, 2012

There are a number of quite common AC electrical problems which can occur at any time immediately after an AC installation or after years of air conditioner.  ACI Northwest is an air conditioning company in Coeur d’ Alene that understand the electrical systems of air conditioners and can help to determine which AC electrical problem you are encountering..

Common Air Conditioning Electrical Problems

A loss of power could mean electrical controls have failed after years of use and electrical wiring could need to be replaced.

Unusual odors such as a burning smell could indicate faulty wiring where the insulation has come off internal wires, leaving them exposed and unsafe.  Exposed wiring can result in short circuits or even the potential for an electrical fire.

Thermostat sensors can be knocked out of place and can malfunction, causing the AC to cycle constantly or turn on and off in an unpredictable manner.

The AC compressor must have the proper amount of electricity running to it in order to function adequately.  If improper electricity amounts continue to flow to the compressor it can eventually seize up and stop working.  Restoring this balance is essential.

Tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses can also be the reason for an air conditioning to stop running.  However, the root cause of this type of electrical problem should also be addressed so that the breakers are not tripped on any sort of regular basis.

Each of these air conditioner electrical problems is something that the skilled Coeur d’ Alene air conditioning technicians at ACI Northwest can diagnose and resolve.  Contact ACI Northwest today and have the electrical system in your air conditioner running properly once again.

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Air Conditioning Repair Question: What Are Limit Switches and How Do They Work?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

We use our thermostats and air conditioning systems all the time without wondering how they actually work.  But the time will come when you need a repair and might want to know about limit switches and how they work.  ACI Northwest has well-trained AC technicians that handle all sorts of air conditioner repairs, even with something as simple as a limit switch replacement.

Limit switches are found in a wide range of devices throughout industrial and home applications.  Limit switches are designed with two main functions: to activate or deactivate an electrical circuit.  They begin and stop specific electric currents, allowing certain functions to occur only under very specific circumstances, so that electronic appliances or device remain safe and are only in use when needed.  Limit switches are like the light that turns on only when you open the fridge door and then shuts off again when the door shuts.

In air conditioning systems, the limit switch is the link between the blower of the air handler and thermostat.  When the thermostat reaches the desired indoor temperature it stops, the AC from using energy to create more cold air, while also flipping a limit switch that shuts off the air handler as well.

It is amazing how one of the smallest pieces of an air conditioning system could have such a big impact on maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures, as well as how efficiently our AC system operates.

ACI Northwest provides quality air conditioning services in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington.  Our certified technicians have years of field experience working with every aspect of air conditioning systems, including limit switches.  If your AC shuts off before your home reaches the desired temperature, or if it cycles on and off too often, call the professionals at ACI Northwest to schedule a routine air conditioner inspection. We can determine whether it is an easy limit switch repair, or some other problem with your system.

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Electrical Question: What Size Generator Do I Need?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Electricity has become so integrated with our day to day lives that it is easy to overlook the importance of a functioning electrical system. Like most other things, though, when your electricity isn’t working it becomes very clear very quickly just how much you rely on it. When your electricity goes out, whether from a storm, blackout or any other cause, a good generator can be a big comfort. Just as with a heating or cooling system, you should have a properly sized generator in order to get the best performance from it. Here are some tips to make sure you get the right generator for your Rathdrum home.

First of all, you must decide what exactly you’ll want to power when you lose electricity. What do you consider essential? This is important, so take your time and make a list. Any medical equipment is clearly a priority, but what about a full refrigerator? Your septic pump certainly needs to be powered, but does your climate demand heating and cooling power in your home? Once you have decided on the necessities you’re ready to get started.

It is important to remember that bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to a generator for your home. Larger generators are obviously more expensive, and if you’re never going to approach its capacity then you’re just paying for potential, not performance. Even the biggest generator will not provide enough power to service every electrical device in your home, so some restraint is necessary. Whole home generators do not require you to decide what appliances are necessities, but they will not power everything all at once. The best way to ensure that you’re covered in the event of an energy loss is to calculate the amount of energy that the appliances in your home use, and find a generator with the capacity to provide at least that much energy. Remember that some appliances have different starting energy requirements than running loads, and that some appliances are always running.

There are numerous energy calculators available online that can help you decide what size generator you need. To eliminate as much guess work as possible, though, we at ACI Northwest suggest having a Rathdrum electrician come to evaluate your home. We’ll help you decide exactly which generator best suits your needs, in addition to providing expert installation, maintenance and repairs for your device. Call today with any further questions you may have.

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How to Get the Best Heat Pump in Kellogg

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Everybody wants a good deal in Kellogg, especially when making a major purchase. People want their money’s worth. They want to feel like they got the best they could for the money they spent.

But how do you decide what the best option is, especially when choosing a product that you know little about, like a heat pump? The average homeowner does not spend a lot of time studying his heat pump or reading heat pump magazines for fun, so chances are you are not a heat pump expert. That’s understandable…but it doesn’t help you when you are trying to buy a new one and you want the best.

Fortunately, there some things you can look for to get clues about the quality of a heat pump and how well it suits your needs.

Efficiency is among the most important factors in choosing a heat pump. Because heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, they have two different efficiency ratings, one for each mode.

The heating efficiency for a heat pump is rated on a scale called the heating season performance factor (HSPF). This rating is actually the result of a calculation. To find the HSPF for a heat pump, the unit’s estimated heating output is divided by its energy consumption. Simply put, it’s the ratio of heat put out by the unit to the amount of power it draws. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump is. To give a frame of reference, all new heat pumps are required to have an HSPF of at least 7.7. The most efficient units available carry an HSPF of 10.

The rating system used to convey the cooling efficiency of a heat pump is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This is a simple numeric value that rates how efficient the unit is. Many new heat pumps carry a SEER of at least 12, while the most efficient models rate between 14 and 18.

While efficiency is important, it is just one factor. More efficient units are also more expensive, so you will want to consider the upfront cost. The most efficient units will pay for themselves in savings relatively quickly, but the purchase price is still important. Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons when choosing a new heat pump for your Kellogg home.

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How to Lower Energy Costs for Your Athol Home: Water Heater Tips

Wednesday, December 28th, 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.

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How Heating Zone Control Can Save You Money

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

The costs of heating your Rathdrum home have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, thanks to higher energy costs and price increases for heating equipment. Despite the strides made in energy efficiency, there seems to be no end in sight for the steady rise in heating equipment operating costs.

Now add in the cost of heating unoccupied areas of your home, such as basements, hallways, or extra bedrooms, and the energy costs go even higher. Most of these costs are unnecessary and avoidable if you have the time and a small investment in a well-planned heating “strategy” for your home. This strategy involves using heating zone controls to make the most efficient use of your heating system.

In a nutshell, here is how heating zone control works. The rooms in your home are connected to your heating system by a series of ductwork, which carries heated and conditioned area to all corners. But some of these areas may not need to be heated as much – or possibly at all – compared to other rooms in your home. For example, do you need heat in your kitchen but not in your basement? Most people would answer yes. Or they may say they need more heat in the kitchen and some, but not very much heat in the basement.

Or try this: do most people in your house spend more time in one room, such as the family room, and less time in their bedrooms? If so, why would it be necessary to heat the bedrooms all of the time? In order to deliver heat to areas in your home that need it the most, the ductwork to these rooms should always be “open.” Ductwork to other unused areas of your home can be “closed” during various times of the day.

Opening and closing of ductwork and airflow is achieved by zone controls. A zone control is installed in the home which electronically or wirelessly opens and closes “dampers” in the ductwork, depending on the heating demand. You can divert heat to areas of your home using zone control and dampers while decreasing the heating load on your furnace. This type of heating zone control will move heated air to where you want it. Simply put, you are not heating areas of your home that don’t need the heat.

The heating zone controls can be programmed for various times of the day, too. For example, you may not need any heat in your basement while you sleep or when you are away from home. You can program the damper in your basement’s ductwork to remain closed or partially open during these times. In a sense, the heating zone control in your home acts like a programmable thermostat – only it uses a series of dampers to control indoor temperatures.

The next time you walk into an unused part of your home, think about how much money you are spending to heat it. It makes sense to consider heating zone controls. The initial costs of installing zone controls and dampers are minimal and the payback in energy savings and comfort are substantial.

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Is Geothermal Energy Renewable?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Geothermal heating systems take heat from the ground and transfer it to your St. Maries home. But how does this heat get into the ground in the first place? Conventional heating systems like furnaces use energy sources like oil or natural gas to generate heat. These energy sources are not renewable, and neither is electricity which is typically generated by burning coal or another non-renewable resource.

The renewable resources we usually think of first are solar and wind power. The sun, of course, will continue to shine and provide heat year in and year out whether we make use of it or not. Similarly, we cannot use up the wind. It will continue to blow no matter how many times it has blown before.

But what category does geothermal energy fit into exactly? Well, it is actually a renewable resource just like solar or wind energy. In fact, geothermal energy is a direct result of the sun’s heat relentlessly pounding the ground. The ground actually absorbs a considerable amount of the heat from the sun that reaches the earth every day, and that is the heat that your geothermal heating system is using to heat your home.

Of course, a geothermal heating system cannot run on geothermal energy alone. The indoor components of this heating system that keep the air flowing throughout your house must be powered by electricity. But the amount of energy needed to do this is much less than what you would need to use to run a furnace or other type of more conventional home heating system.

Over all, geothermal energy is an excellent and renewable source of energy. And once you have the heating system in place, you will need to spend very little to keep it up and running. It is an excellent option for many people, and can help to keep your home cool in the summer as well.

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Furnace vs. Heat Pump: A Tip from Sagle

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

If you’re preparing to replace your existing Sagle home’s heating system, you may very well be struggling with the question of whether to go with a furnace or a heat pump for all of your future home heating needs. Each of these systems have their own advantages and drawbacks, and once you’ve narrowed it down to one type or the other, you’ll still have a pretty wide variety of products to choose from.

Furnaces are still the most popular type of home heating equipment on the market. You can get furnaces that run on gas, oil or electricity, although gas furnaces are by far the most common type of furnace around these days. The latest models are extremely energy efficient, with AFUE ratings reaching into the high 90%s.

Like heat pumps, furnaces use ducts to transfer heated air throughout your home. They typically require regular maintenance once every year or two depending on the type of furnace you have, and they can be expected to last anywhere from 15 to 25 years when properly maintained. Most modern furnaces are also made to be compatible with a central air conditioning or cooling system as well.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, don’t generate the heat that they circulate throughout your house. Instead they are able to extract the heat from the air outside and pump it inside. This means that they use much less energy than even the most energy efficient furnaces.

However, heat pumps are only capable of heating your house comfortably when the outside temperature is above freezing. If you live in an area with particularly long and frigid winters, you’ll probably find that you need to supplement your heat pump with another heat source. Because of this, it actually makes little sense to use a heat pump in more extreme climates.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with relatively mild winters, heat pumps can be a great option. They provide a constant flow of warm air to all parts of your home and can also keep you house cool during hot summer months. To cool your home, heat pumps simply reverse the process they use to warm it. They take the heat out of your indoor air and pump it outside. This is a very effective home cooling method and makes heat pumps a great solution for year round comfort.

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