ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Spirit Lake’

How to Make Your Heating System More Energy Efficient: A Tip from ACI Northwest

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Efficiency is what you want when it comes to heating your Coeur d’Alene home. You want a furnace that provides the greatest degree of accurate indoor comfort while at the same time operating at peak efficiency to reduce energy usage and lower utility bills. That’s seems like a lot to ask of a simple mechanical system but you should expect it out of the furnace in your basement, attic, or mechanical room.

It is especially important today as energy costs have steadily increased, including electricity, natural and propane gas, and oil. The best way to combat rising prices is to have a furnace that uses less energy. It is a simple statement but one that bears repeating: higher efficiency equals lower operating costs.

Here are some ways to make your heating system more energy efficient:

  1. Clean or replace furnace filters on a regular basis. A dirty or clogged filter will make your furnace work harder and become much less energy efficient. Monthly or quarterly cleaning or replacements are easy to do and will result greater operating efficiencies.
  2. Inspect your home’s ventilation system for accumulation of dirt, dust, or debris. Have you recently added new carpeting? Do your pets shed? Is there a large number of people living in your home? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may need to inspect your ventilation system. You may need to remove the ventilation grilles to take a closer look. Wiping down the inside of your duct work or vacuuming the duct work with a hose attachment will often do the trick.
  3. Remove obstructions from around vents and grilles. You need a clean path for air to flow into and out of rooms. Restricted airflow makes your furnace work harder and become less energy efficient.
  4. Consider an upgrade to a two-speed or variable speed furnace. Most older furnaces operated on one speed, which cycled on and off and consumed a lot of energy. Today’s furnaces operate at lower speeds, consuming less energy and often remaining on to keep a steady airflow and prevent constant on and off cycling. These newer furnaces are much more energy efficient and cost less to operate.
  5. Adhere to a regular schedule of planned furnace maintenance. If you don’t clean and inspect your furnace on a regular basis, schedule service calls with a local qualified heating contractor. Your contractor will likely have a maintenance plan to fit your budget, which allows for annual inspections, priority emergency service calls, and discounts on parts and services.

Besides saving on energy costs, your efficient furnace will leave a smaller “carbon footprint.” Your efficient furnace will exhaust less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and maintain a more “green” profile. And being ecologically friendly can be just as important as saving money.

You can be assured that an energy efficient heating system will keep more money in your pocket this fall and winter. You can take that to the bank.

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What Are Your Heat Pump Options? A Tip from Kellogg

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Once you’ve decided that a heat pump really is the best option for your Kellogg home, you’ll still have a lot of options to consider. There are actually quite a few types of heat pumps and they can vary considerably in terms of their energy efficiency and other available features.

For instance, you can choose to go with a heat pump with a one-speed, two-speed or multi-speed compressor. Single speed compressors are only capable of operating at full capacity. That means that they’ll certainly be able to keep your home warm, but they may be working harder than they need to at some points.

A two-speed or multi-speed compressor, on the other hand, can be adjusted to more appropriately fit the heating and cooling needs of the moment. There will certainly be times when you don’t need your heat pump to be going all out, and the ability to regulate this level of performance can benefit you in several ways.

It will allow you to maintain a more consistent indoor temperature to be sure, but it will also reduce the overall wear and tear on your heat pump over time. If your heat pump doesn’t have to run all out all of the time, it simply won’t wear out as fast, and that will save you both money and frustration in the long run. It’s also worth noting that heat pumps with two-speed or multi-speed compressors are more easily integrated into a zone control system if you have one in your home.

However, regardless of what type of compressor your heat pump has, you’ll also have to examine the various heat pump models available to determine what their actual energy efficiency ratings are. Each heat pump actually comes with two ratings, one for heating and one for cooling.

The heating season performance factor (HSPF) reflects the heat pump’s heating efficiency, while the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a measure of its cooling efficiency. The higher both of these numbers are, the higher the efficiency of the unit. But you don’t necessarily need both numbers to be as high as possible to get the best heat pump for your home.

If you’re going to be using the heat pump more for cooling than for heating because of the climate where you live, you’ll want to make sure the unit you get has as high a SEER as possible, but you won’t have to worry too much about the HSPF. But if you’re going to need more heating than cooling, you should pay more attention to the HSPF than the SEER.

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What Is Forced Air Heating? A Question From Cocolalla

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Chances are that you’ve heard the term forced air heating in Cocolalla before, particularly if you’re in the market for a new home heating system. But what does that actually mean? The truth is that if you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. There are so many types of home heating systems out there that it’s common to be a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is that a forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat throughout your house using air to carry it. In this type of system, heated air travels through a system of ducts and is expelled through vents into the different rooms and areas of your home in order to maintain a particular temperature. That temperature, of course, is whatever you set your thermostat to, and when the desired temperature is reached, the heat will shut off until the temperature drops down again.

The main difference between the different types of forced air heating systems is the type of equipment that heats the air. For instance, you could have a gas furnace or a heat pump. Both of these are capable of heating air, and when paired with a fan, blower or air handler, can distribute heated air throughout your home.

Many forced air heating systems are remarkably energy efficient and can effectively keep you home comfortable all winter long. Additionally, they are generally made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for year round temperature control. Heat pumps are especially convenient in this way, as they’re able to both heat and cool your home depending on the season and your home comfort needs.

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New Thermostats – Are they Worth the Investment? A Question From Sagle

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

When you are trying to save money around your Sagle house, a new thermostat is definitely worth looking into. Sure, your old thermostat works fine. But there are a lot of features available on newer models that can help you save money on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

And you do not need to wait until it is time to replace your home comfort system to upgrade your thermostat. Most thermostats can work with many different types of heating and cooling systems. So no matter what type of HVAC system you have or how old it is, you should be able to integrate some type of new thermostat into it.

But how can a new thermostat save you money? Well, they simply offer a lot of features that you can use to your advantage. For instance, even the most basic programmable thermostat can let you set different temperatures for different times of day. You can program the thermostat to turn the heat down during the day when no one is home and then you can have the heat switch back on just before you get home.

That way, you can come home to a nice, warm house without having to pay to heat it all day long when it is empty. Many newer thermostats also are more accurate and can provide more pinpoint control of your heating and cooling system. That means that you will not be wasting money because your heating system gets the actual temperature in your house up to 75°F when you only really need it to hit 72°F.

Newer thermostats help you to save money in a variety of ways, and that savings will more than pay for the cost of having a new thermostat installed. That is because thermostats are actually quite cheap and easy to install. A relatively basic programmable thermostat should not run you more than $100, and even if you opt for one of the more advanced systems out there, you will not pay more than a few hundred dollars.

That is a small price to pay considering the increased comfort possible with a state of the art thermostat and the potential for savings every month on your heating or cooling bills. Plus, you likely paid a considerable amount to have that state of the art HVAC system put in. It is worth paying just a bit more so that you can get the most possible out of it.

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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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How Does Central AC Work? A Tip From Spirit Lake

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

We pretty much just take the fact of central air conditioning for granted these days in Spirit Lake. It is present almost everywhere and it is hard to imagine getting through a long hot summer without it. But if you are like most people, you probably do not actually know how central air conditioning works. While you can certainly take advantage of it without understanding it, the basic concept is pretty simple.

Basically, central air conditioning systems are composed of an outdoor unit that typically houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that manages the flow of air throughout your house or other building. This indoor unit is typically either an air handler or a furnace, and it directs the flow of air through a series of ducts that feed into the various rooms of the house.

The cool air originates in the outdoor unit and is blown into the house, gradually absorbing heat as it goes, and that air is then returned to the outdoor unit to be re-cooled. What actually happens in the outdoor unit involves the cycle of a type of refrigerant from a gas to a liquid and back. In the condenser area of the outdoor unit, the pressure on the refrigerant is lessened and it is able to absorb heat from the air returning from the house.

This gas, while warmer than the liquid refrigerant, is still quite cold and acts to cool the air being passed back into the house. As that refrigerant moves along to the compressor area, the gas is converted to a liquid and is forced to release the heat it had been holding. In that way, the air conditioner is able to remove heat from the inside of your house and release it outside.

Your air conditioning system is also generally hooked up to a thermostat, which is what controls when the unit switches on and off. You can set the thermostat at the temperature you would like to maintain inside your house and the thermostat will signal the air conditioner to switch on when the indoor temperature rises above that level. And once the indoor temperature is again below the preset level on the thermostat, the air conditioner will switch off again.

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The Advantages of an Air Conditioning System

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Just about everyone knows that air conditioning systems keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. While this may be enough of a benefit for you, there are also some other benefits to having a central air conditioning system installed in your house as well.

For instance, if you have someone in your household who is more susceptible to extreme temperatures than most people, an air conditioning system can actually help improve their overall health. Babies certainly fall into this category, as they have more difficulty than older children or adults do controlling their body temperature.

Also, many elderly people or people suffering from certain medical conditions, particularly heart conditions, are especially sensitive to the heat. If they are unable to stay cool, it can be very dangerous and damaging to their health, and an air conditioning system helps to guarantee that they will be able to stay cool and comfortable even on the hottest days of the year.

Aside from direct health concerns, air conditioning systems can also help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and allergies. They do this by controlling the level of humidity inside your home. If the air in your house is too moist or too dry, it can exacerbate cold and allergy symptoms, as well as dry out skin and make the indoor environment generally uncomfortable.

Proper humidity control is also important because it helps to ensure that any air filtration or purification system you have in place is able to operate at peak efficiency. Many of these units have a hard time extracting particulate contaminants from the indoor air that circulates through them if that air is too humid or too dry. With a state of the art air conditioning system in place, however, you will not have to worry about whether or not the humidity level in your home is out of balance.

It is also worth noting that a central air conditioning system can be preferable to a window mounted unit because it provides for a more even distribution of cool air throughout the house. Also, when you have a central air conditioning system, the condenser which is the source of most of the noise and vibrations that air conditioners make will be located outside and out of earshot. With window mounted units, on the other hand, there is really no way to block out or diminish the noise.

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How Much Will a High Efficiency Air Conditioner Save You?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

When it comes to your air conditioning system, the energy efficiency rating really does matter. While you may be paying a bit more for products with higher energy efficiency ratings to begin with, you will certainly save a significant amount on your monthly cooling bills in the years to come.

Before you can evaluate your options in terms of energy efficient air conditioners, however, you will need to know how their efficiency is represented. Most air conditioners come with what is called a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). A higher SEER means a more energy efficient model, and likely a higher price tag as well.

But how much more energy efficient is a SEER 10 air conditioning unit as opposed to a SEER 11? Well, the truth is that it is about 7% more efficient. However, a SEER 14 will be 23% more efficient than a SEER 10, but only 5% more efficient than a SEER 13 model.

While all of these numbers can help give you some context in which to evaluate the various air conditioners out there, they can only go so far. Turning these percentages into dollars is what you really have to do when you are trying to figure out what your monthly or yearly savings will be.

So to give you a bit of perspective, imagine that your annual cooling costs come to around $480 with your current SEER 10 air conditioning system. If you choose to upgrade to a SEER 13, you will save somewhere in the neighborhood of $110. But if you opt for the SEER 14 instead, you will gain an annual savings of closer to $140 compared to your current bill.

Of course, the SEER of a particular air conditioner is not the only thing that will cause the price of the unit to rise, nor is it the only thing that can cause your monthly cooling costs to rise. Air conditioners also need to be matched to the size of the space they will be asked to keep cool.

If the unit you have is too small to effectively cool the area in question, you are likely paying more than necessary in terms of cooling costs for less than ideal results. Similarly, if your unit is too big, you will be paying too much no matter how high a SEER rating it has.

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