ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Shoshone County’

Home Inspection 101 for Shoshone County

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

When purchasing a home in Shoshone County, it is very important to analyze precisely what kind of investment you are about to make. This type of investigation might be best for a professional home inspector to perform.  They are accustomed to advising potential homeowners on what type of heating repairs or electrical maintenance needs to be done. Remember though, employing an inspector could be pricey, depending on the time and expert level they might require.  But it could be worth the investment since a home is undoubtably going to be worth more than a home inspector’s fees.

For that reason, it can be very helpful if you can take a look at a place on your own first to see if it is even worth making an offer on. Of course, you cannot complete the type of inspection that a professional would be able to do, but you can take a look for some important and easy to spot problems that will give you a good idea whether or not it is even worth taking the process on this house any further.

For instance, you should start by taking a look at the house from a good distance away. Make sure the house actually looks like it is standing upright and that it is even. Sometimes from a distance you can see that a house is actually leaning to one side when that is not obvious up close.

Also, this will give you a chance to check out the lay of the land around the house. Remember, you want water to flow naturally away from your house so that it does not get into the basement and cause a problem on a regular basis. That means that you want the ground to slope away from the house rather than be flat or slope towards it.

Check out all of the plumbing and be sure to run water, flush toilets and thoroughly inspect all bathrooms and the kitchen. You want to see high quality fixtures and good water pressure. Also, check to see how long you have to wait to get hot water at various locations to test the water heater.

Be sure to find out what type of heating system the house has in place as well and how old it is. Even a system that works well will need to be replaced soon if it is more than 10 years old. While this may not necessarily stop you from purchasing the house, the cost of replacing that system can certainly impact the amount you are willing to offer.

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Bayview Heating Tip: Most Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Home

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Before you decide which upgrades will make your Bayview home more efficient, it would be best to get a home energy audit. You can do this yourself with a few simple tests, or you can hire a professional auditor. The auditor will use advanced equipment and techniques, such as blower doors and infrared cameras, to detect air leaks and places that need more insulation.

When your home is properly insulated and sealed, here are some upgrades you’ll want to think about to make your home more efficient.

High-Efficiency Furnaces & Heat Pumps

If you have an old single-stage furnace, it is time to upgrade. These furnaces were designed to run on two settings—either off or on, and when they are on, they run at full speed. Not only do they lose heat this way, but they also take longer to warm up your home. The new two-speed and multispeed models run at lower speeds to maintain a constant temperature. You can also buy ones with variable-speed blowers that operate on various speeds, which are the most efficient. Heat pumps are a good option if you need both heat and A/C in your home. While most heat pumps are manufactured to be efficient by design, the newer models are the most efficient way to heat and cool your home. If you have a heat pump older than 15 years, talk to an HVAC technician about a heat pump replacement.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters heat your water with individual units located near hot water applications. You also have the option of installing a single, whole-home tankless water heater, or for appliances that use more hot water, such as dishwashers and washing machines, you can install tankless models just for their use.

Water-Saving Toilets & Low-flow Plumbing Fixtures

Duel flush, or water-saving toilets are an excellent choice for an upgrade if you want to save water. These toilets use less water overall, and you have the option of using more or less water each time you flush. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can also provide up to 60% in utility savings. Low flow plumbing fixtures reduce the flow rate for each fixture or application, which reduces the overall amount water used in the home. These are a good option if you’ve installed a tankless water heating system. Your tankless water heaters will be more efficient if the sum of the flow rate total for every fixture in the home is lower.

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Sagle Heating Replacement Tip: Signs of an Oversized Furnace

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Most people in Sagle, when they choose a new furnace, think that “bigger is better”. However, an oversized furnace can present just as many if not more problems than an undersized furnace. So, if you feel you may have overdone it in the past or you want to avoid making a mistake in the future, here are some signs that your furnace may be oversized.

Short Cycling

The most common sign of oversizing is short cycling. Short cycling occurs when your furnace turns on and off frequently because it reaches the thermostat setting so fast. Basically, your furnace is so powerful that it can produce what you need rapidly and then shuts off. But, because it does this, the temperature in your home is likely to cool much faster as well since the furnace isn’t on all the time.

Additionally, the on and off short cycling has a negative effect on your furnace, causing excess wear and tear on the system and eventually leading to extra repairs and in some cases early replacement.

High and Low Temperatures

When your furnace is turned on for a comfortable indoor temperature like 70 degrees F, the high and low temperature between cycles should be relatively close to that temperature. In an ideal situation, you shouldn’t even notice a fluctuation.

So, if the high temperature gets close to 75 degrees F and the low temperature is around 66 degrees F, you have a furnace much too large for the size of your home.

Furnace Room Issues

You might find that the space and exhaust given for the furnace are not sufficient either, especially if your previous furnace was replaced with this oversized unit. Backflow of a gas or oil smell or excess heat in and near your furnace room are both common signs that the furnace is much too large.

So, what should you do about your oversized furnace? If you have had that furnace for some time or just moved into a new home, it’s a good idea to have a new one installed. Have a proper load calculation done and then get a new furnace installed so you don’t have to worry about the system cycling on and off so often. If it’s a newer unit, call your Sagle heating technician and discuss possible options to reduce the negative effects of the miscalculation of its size.

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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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Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems in Worley

Monday, December 12th, 2011

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

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

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

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.

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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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Components of a Geothermal Heating System: A Guide from ACI Northwest

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

A geothermal heat system in your Hayden home has three basic components and some add-on ones as well.

Its most distinguishing feature is the ground loops. The most common is the “closed” ground loop system, which is a series of pipes that are buried underground. These pipes contain a heat transfer fluid, comprised of antifreeze and water. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and carries it to the home. This fluid also absorbs heat from the house and sends it into the ground to keep the home cool.

Examples of closed loop systems include the horizontal closed loop, which can be used in larger parcels of land (over an acre for example). The loops are placed typically placed horizontally 6-to-10 feet below the surface. A vertical closed loop design is recommended for smaller parcels of land and loops are often buried vertically approximately 20 feet underground. Other types of ground loop designs use well water to transfer heat in an open loop configuration, or have a closed loop submerged underwater in a pond or lake.

The next component is the heat pump, which draws the fluid from the ground loop. In a heat pump, heat energy is exchanged with the ground to heat or cool the home. In the heating mode, fluid warmed from underground flows through the heat pump. A fan blows across the pipe warmed by the fluid. Because the fluid is much warmer than the air inside the heat pump, heat energy is released into the cooler air. The cool air is warmed and distributed inside the home. The process is reversed for cooling. Cool fluid in the pipe absorbs heat from the warm air inside the home. Once pumped underground, the excess heat in the fluid is absorbed by the cooler earth.

The final component is the air handling or distribution system. Here, a fan in the heat pump’s furnace blows air over a fan coil and the heated cooled air is distributed through the home’s ductwork. Some distribution systems are hydronic, where hot water is circulated through radiators or radiant floor heat tubing. This water absorbs heat from the heat pump and then distributed throughout the home.

In some homes, both a forced air and hydronic system, often referred to as a “hybrid system” work together.

Optional components include a heat pump “desuperheater,” which is used to help with domestic hot water heating. In warm weather, the desuperheater recovers some of the heat – that would otherwise be sent to the ground loop – to help produce hot water. In cold weather, some of the heat pump capacity may be diverted from space heating for the same purpose. Desuperheaters save approximately 25% on domestic water heating costs.

Another component is an auxiliary electric heater, which is built into the geothermal heat pump This auxiliary electric heat is installed to allow heating and cooling technicians to size – or resize – a home’s geothermal heat pump system to assist the system during the few coldest days of the year. Auxiliary electric heat is also an emergency backup heat source if there are any operational issues with the geothermal heat pump system.

If you have any questions about this system, talk to your local contractor.

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A Question From Valley Ford: What Is AFUE and Why Should I Care?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

If you’ve been shopping for a furnace in Valley Ford, chances are you’ve noticed that each furnace has its own annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. These generally range from 80% to the high 90% s and the higher the number, the more fuel efficient that particular furnace is.

But what does this number really mean and just how much should you care? Well, the AFUE rating should actually have a significant impact on your furnace purchasing decision, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll always choose the furnace with the highest efficiency rating either.

For one thing, you’ll have to recognize that not every type of furnace is capable of running at the highest efficiency levels. Oil furnaces, for instance, can’t compete with the super high efficiency gas furnaces on the market today. That’s not to say that an oil furnace might not be the best choice for you under certain circumstances, but it does mean that you should take a close look at your furnace usage before you make a decision.

If you do choose a gas furnace, you will of course have the option of getting one that can reach up to 97% or so efficiency. However, that may not always be the best choice either. If you live in a place where with very harsh, long winters and you’re going to be using your furnace heavily, then it’s definitely worth investing in a higher AFUE furnace that can save you considerable amounts on your monthly heating bills.

But if you don’t use your furnace too often as your area has more mild winters it’s probably not worth it for you to invest in such a high efficiency product. That’s because the higher the AFUE of the furnace, the more expensive it is to purchase and install. Certainly you’ll save money every month because you’ll be getting more heat out of the fuel you’re paying for. But if you don’t use your furnace all that much, the savings really won’t be that substantial.

Don’t forget that a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating is still quite energy efficient. And once you get up that high, you have to use your furnace a lot for the difference between 80% and 90% to really become apparent. So if you don’t use your furnace heavily during the winter, it will take you many, many years to make up for the higher purchase price of the 90+% AFUE models.

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How Do I Choose an Appliance? A Question From Laclede

Friday, September 9th, 2011

There are a lot of responsibilities you’ll face as a Laclede homeowner, but one of the most important is the selection of good appliances that will keep your energy bills down and improve the value of your home. But, what factors should you consider when choosing a new appliance to ensure you get the very best? Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Capacity – First, make sure you know the capacity you need for your new appliance, along with the size available for installation. Choosing the perfect refrigerator or dishwasher is great, but if it doesn’t hold enough or doesn’t fit the space you have available, it might not be a good selection.
  2. Energy Efficiency – Next on the list should be energy efficiency. Be aware that this will directly affect the price. So, if price is a major issue for you, move it up on the list by at least one spot. However, if you want to save money in the long term on electricity and water and you want to do your part for the environment, look for Energy Star labels and the highest efficiency ratings on the market.
  3. Cost – Cost is a big deal for almost all homeowners. Unless you have very specific needs, you should break down your search by budget range. Most of the time, you can contact an appliance salesperson or contractor and give them a budget with which to work. If researching online, use ConsumerReports.org or Amazon.com to review specific models by price range (you may even find a good deal).
  4. Noise Factor – Many people forget just how much noise an appliance makes until they install it and realize they can’t hear a person from three feet away in the laundry room. Noise cancellation costs more, but in some instances, especially for appliances in the living space like a refrigerator, air conditioner or bathroom fixture, it’s a major plus.
  5. Digital Controls – Most new top of the line appliances have digital readouts and LCD displays that allow you to review your options, reduce energy consumption and make quick adjustments. However, digital readouts and expert controls are not always necessary to get an efficient, affordable device, so this becomes a convenience factor.

Review your options carefully before selecting an appliance for your home. Organize the above five factors by importance to you and review the options in that range accordingly. You’ll hopefully find the perfect appliance for your needs.

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