Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Getting the Most Out of Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps, like other hvac systems,  require require the proper operating techniques to run it's best. The combination of caring for your heat pump in the right way and setting up annual maintenance with your local hvac company can result in a system that is 10-25% more efficient than a neglected one.
Here are some tips to  ensure maximum efficiency between professional maintenance:
  • Use the “auto” fan setting. This allows the thermostat to control the fan and achieve optimal performance. It is also easier on the unit than the constant turning it up and turning it down. 
  • Change the filter once per quarter or as needed.  A new filter will ensure proper airflow and put less strain on the compressor. A new filter is much cheaper than repairing the unit.
  • Clean the outdoor coils periodically. If dirt appears on the outside, that’s your cue to hose down the outdoor coils. You should also keep plants trimmed back so they don’t obstruct airflow.
At least once or twice per year, you should schedule preventative maintenance . During a routine maintenance check a professional HVAC service tech will do the following tasks:
  • Inspect the system for dirt or obstructions and clean it out
  • Check for adequate airflow
  • Check the refrigerant charge and fix any leaks
  • Verify that electric connections are clean and tight
  • Lubricate the blower motor
  • Inspect belts for wear and tightness
  • Ensure the thermostat is operating correctly
  • Diagnose leaky ducts and seal them if needed
Each of these checks will keep your heat pump in it's best condition for years to come, helping you avoid expensive repairs and delaying replacements. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Options to Tackle High Heating Bill

Most of the homeowners in the Bay Area have probably had their furnace running for a few weeks now. This is about the time when the first heating bill arrives for the season. Obviously the amount will correlate to the size of the home and usage pattern. But it is worth spending some time reviewing if you feel it is excessive for the size of your home. In general if the bill is over $200 there may be opportunity to save that will have a quick payback.

There are a couple places to trim your heating bill. Firstly, if you are not using a programmable thermostat you should strongly consider it. Sometimes a furnace is left on when the house is not occupied or when it is not required to be heated. Those can be avoided if a digital programmable thermostat is set up properly. It is relatively inexpensive as a basic thermostat can be had for less than $50 from Home Depot.

Secondly, if your ducts were installed over 20 years ago you should have it checked for leakage. California Energy Commission have done a study indicating that the average leakage rate for older homes is around 30%. That means $0.3 of each dollar is spent heating or cooling your crawlspace/attic. That can be reduced greatly if the system is properly sealed. A duct leakage test can be done to analyze your current status. PG&E also has rebates from $350-$600 to encouraged homeowners to seal their ducts. In certain situations the rebate may be enough to cover the cost of sealing. 

Thirdly, if your furnace is over 15-20 years old it may also be a source of inefficiency. There are modern furnaces that are rated at over 95% AFUE. A 20-30 year old furnace is probably running at 60-75% so a significant saving will be seen if it is replaced.
Contact for a furnace test and tune

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Insulation, Sealing Air Leaks - A Green Remodel to help Cut Power Bills

How would you like to dramatically slash your electricity bill as much as 85%? Superinsulating a house can significantly enhance the energy performance of an old house. These so-called  deep energy retrofits achieve household energy as much as 85% by addressing all (or almost all) energy loads - space conditioning, warm water, lighting, home appliances, and plug loads - or even transportation. Energy cutbacks of this magnitude require a rigorous and extensive systems approach: The natural associations among energy, indoor quality of air, sturdiness, and thermal comfort should be honored throughout construction and designs. Passive photo voltaic design and renewable energy systems are typical during these projects.
The objectives of any house energy retrofit can be like those of a brand new green residence, however like all remodels, a big difference is basically you have to deal with a pre-existing building. Below are a few house systems with particular areas you should focus on.
1. Upgrade Your Home's Windows

With the top and bottom of the home sealed tightly and insulated, the very next prospect will be the walls. Did you know that old 
and outdated windows is like having a significant hole in your wall? While functioning poorly, they often leak both water and air into the house. Correctly mounted, Energy Star (or even better) windows seal off the gaps in the walls to hold out water and climate extremes.
2. Modernize The Mechanical Equipment

A classic heater or central heating boiler is frequently the worst energy user within an old house. Many houses built just before 
1920 have old coal-fired central heating boilers which were transformed into gas or oil. These models are workhorses, but use lots of energy. A brand new furnace or boiler can help to save energy dollars immediately. Changing window air conditioning units, which we did in most these houses, having a central system may also save energy immediately, as lengthy because the tubes continues to be put into the conditioned space. Photo voltaic water heating is a great choice to add here if you're able to afford it, but at the
minimum, upgrade the efficiency of warm water production by coupling the tank towards the boiler.
3. Bring The Basement And Crawlspace Inside Your Home

Warm, dry cellars and crawlspaces can extend living and space for storage. Wet cellars 
are the source of high humidity levels and discomfort in the summertime in old houses. They can also cause mold growth that will get distributed throughout the house. Spray foam is really a fast, efficient way to create these areas in to the conditioned space while sealing the leaks between foundation and floor framework.
4. Super-insulate And Air-seal The Roofing

If air leaks in at the bottom of the home, it leaks out at the very top, making a home cold and drafty in the winter months. A poorly 
insulated roof also can produce a hot house in summer time. Air-sealing is really a by-product of excellent insulation, so it’s a real one-step process. Using spray foam within roof may also eliminate the requirement for roof ventilation, that is tricky in complicated roofs.
5. Insulate Your Walls

Filling empty wall cavities with cellulose is really a cheap, easy, efficient way to warm-up a classic house. Blowing cellulose 
into existing wall tooth decay is definitely an art, to be certain, but you will find many companies who've been doing the work for a long time. Actually, you will find now affordable methods to seek advice from infrared cameras to make certain that voids happen to be filled without disturbing the present plaster or sheathing on outdoors walls. Because siding or shingles on old houses may also normally wear out, we go ahead and take chance to set up foam sheathing around the outdoors of the home before re-siding.
6. Get Energy Star (or even better)

Fittings, home appliances, and lighting after you have reduced your parking space conditioning and water-heating loads, the 
lighting, appliance, and plug load will probably be your next large energy item. A brand new Energy Star refrigerator uses 15% less energy than the usual standard model. Changing old light fittings with pin-based compact fluorescent fittings guarantees your utility bill will remain lower (as much as 30%).
7. Put In A Renewable-Energy Supply

When your energy consumption continues to be reduced considerably, it might be reasonable to create your personal energy with 
systems such as photovoltaics, wind energy, or hydro, if you possess a stream nearby. Before you slash the energy usage, though, it isn't worth the money in renewable energy sources. Conservation remains the least expensive game around.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

An Introduction to Geothermal Heating

One of the fastest growing sectors of renewable energy resource development is the wide and varied field of Geothermal Heating. No matter the type you choose to match your needs and location, a geothermal installation can be made completely sustainable and is very scalable. It is likely that the future of geothermal energy will find some aspect of it found in every home as part of a varied renewable energy package.
Boiled down to its most basic elements, geothermal energy is generated when the heat of the Earth itself (or submerged magma near reservoir cavities) is used to directly heat water. The water acts as a conduction medium, bringing the heat to another location. One may also use superheated steam to generate electricity by spinning an industrial sized turbine. The water may also be used directly to heat, as is the case in greenhouses with hot water pipes under plant benches.
Geothermically heated waters have been used for at least the last 2,000 years, maybe longer, as the Roman baths found throughout the former Empire can attest to. There was a revival of heated bathing culture in the mid- to late 19th century that saw the creation of countless "healing water" spas. By the 1920s those areas were popular enough that they needed electricity for street lamps and electricity around these often rural destinations, usually flanked by mountains.
The Geysers geothermal power station in northern California was once the site of one of the world's first geothermic power plants, though they were very inefficient. Later, when the spa fell out of fashion, the site became home to no less than 21 industrial turbine generators that make it the largest such facility in the world. Indeed, though Iceland produces more geothermal energy than the US per capita, the output of the US dwarfs the tiny, island nation.
Improvements in generator design have caused there to be a few typical designs for geothermal generators. The oldest type is called "dry stem" and simply uses the steam as it comes out in a single chamber system that turns the turbine. The more modern and efficient method of using what is called a "binary cycle" and two chambers has been very successful and many generators are switching over when they receive overhaul work. Here, either the superheated water itself or another fluid is allowed to undergo pressure changes that instantly turn it into a vapour, thus turning the turbines with each "stroke," like a combustion engine.
One of the most exciting developments in the production of geothermal power is the relatively new practice of injecting reclaimed water into spent vents or heated cavities commonly referred to as, "hot, dry rocks." The water is pumped in while it is still capped, to allow the pressure to grow. It is usually pumped in cold in the hopes that the difference between the water and the rock temperatures will cause further fissures to open up and increase the volume of the cavern to be filled. When new holes are driven in to the rejuvenated geothermal well, the site will usually operate indefinitely as long as there's available water.
Roughly one quarter of North America is capable of supporting any actively heated sites, such as those where hot springs are naturally found. The central and eastern part of the country are still able to use geothermal energy to heat and cool homes and businesses, but their options are limited to passive technologies such as the heat pump. Here, water or glycol is injected into pipes and circulated underground to exchange the heat or absence of it with the constant temperature of the ground outside. Such systems are always closed when they simply circulate underground, but may also be open systems that have intake and outtake pipes submerged deep into a nearby lake or pond.
These passive systems have the advantage of being suitable for homeowners everywhere, having hardly any moving parts that can break and quietly bringing your home to equilibrium with the ambient temperature of the Earth in your area. For those living in climates that get very cold in the winter, this can be the difference between heating your house from 50 to 70F (10-20C) rather than from a typical sub-zero base.
For those looking to investigate how to fit geothermal heat into their sustainable power system, there several organizations that provide detailed information on the topic as part of their advocacy mission.
The next century will surely see a wide expansion of the various geothermal technologies, if for no other reason than it's predicted affordability within even just a few years. As the benefits of geothermal heating and energy production become more widely known, it is certain that heat pumps will become as ubiquitous as wind turbines and solar panels.
If you live in the South Bay Area of California and are interested in geothermal heating for your house or business building then please schedule an appointment with one of our experienced technicians at Sandium.Com
Steven Ross owns and operates [] where you can read many additional articles about Geothermal Heating []

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Choosing The Right Home Heating Solution To Meet Your Family Needs

As the climate starts to cool down we all start to be aware of the coldness and consider purchasing warmer attire and heating our home to stay comfortable and healthy. You'll note I mentioned the word "healthy," because reduced home heating can adversely have an effect on a person's physical condition, particularly if he or she already has a respiratory health condition.
Children and the elderly are often more at risk when a simple chill develops into a more dangerous health condition. For that reason alone, effective house heating is essential. It not only keeps us warm and comfortable, it can also help to keep us healthy.
There are several types of house heating systems to choose from, and not every system will match every home. The kind of heating you select will depend on the needs of your family. Any assessment will need to take into account several factors.
  • How much you are ready to spend on installation
  • The age of your house
  • Your home dimensions
  • How many rooms you want to warm
  • Whether your home is adequately insulated (after all, it might be sensible to start by remedying heat loss via walls, doors, windows and floors to begin with).
  • How long you want the heating to operate for (will you have it turned on all day, or would you just turn it on when you arrive home?)
  • Do you want instantaneous heat?
  • Will you be looking for all-night heating or just at certain times?
  • How environmentally friendly do you want your heating to be?
  • How cost-effective does it need to be?
  • How easy should the heating system be to operate and maintain (do you want to chop logs?)
  • How safe do you want it to be (do you have children at home?)
Yes, there are countless things to contemplate when deciding on the best home heating system for your family. Now let's look at some of the numerous options available.
First of all, if you have an older home with a fireplace you may want to get the smokestack swept and burn coal or logs to be warm. Open fires are nice to sit in front of, but they have disadvantages also. They necessitate regular cleaning and somebody will have to chop the wood, or transfer the coal inside. Are you happy using fossil fuels, or would you want something more environmentally friendly?
Some folk install modern heating systems to wedge neatly into the space occupied by an old fireplace. It is worthwhile noting that some heating systems give off fumes, smoke, and/or dry out the air. I can still think of the kerosene vapors from the heater my Mum used when I was a child.
Is under floor heating worthwhile considering?
Under floor heating is now more popular particularly with those constructing or renovating homes. The setup requires a boiler to heat hot water which can then be circulated to radiators, baseboard units, or to radiant heating tubes placed underneath the floor.
Under floor heating warms rooms from the ground up and is generally very efficient to operate. Under floor heating is also hidden and won't take up any space. The systems are generally better operated at a low consistent heat, rather than switching them on and off to produce bursts of heat.
Are other systems worthwhile considering?
Some home owners choose gas fires, or electric plug-in heaters, but they can be costly to operate and are not essentially the most economical way to heat your home. Portable heaters can be very hazardous if they tip over or come in contact with furniture, furnishings, curtains, or garments. Accidents do happen.
Central heating is one more possibility. You really need to decide how many rooms you want to heat and if you want a consistent heat in each room.
What do you need to do before purchasing a home heating system?
First of all, don't simply rush out and purchase a new radiator for your home, as is might prove to really uneconomical and inadequate. Nevertheless, if you are just renting a home or apartment, then a portable electric fire might be a short-term heating solution.
Find out about the numerous heating options and the benefits and disadvantages of each system. You'll then be well-informed to make a good decision on the most appropriate system for your circumstances.
You'll want to debate the preliminary installation price tag with the ongoing expenses of running each system. You will want to look at the efficiency of each heat system in terms of heating output and heating loss.
House heating is not cheap, and purchasing the cheapest may prove to be a false economy. Some systems cost you more upfront, but end up being cheaper in the long-term.
I personally like a home that is warmed equally rather than all the heat being focused in just a solitary room or on one wall. Under floor heating systems can be more pricey (but not always), but they distribute the heat equally throughout a home from the floor up. That's why I personally fancy water underfloor heating.
After doing your exploration you'll then be well-versed enough to contact some established heating specialists to chat about options and prices. Knowledge is power, so you'll be able to ask the right questions and select the right heating solution for your home.
To set up a visit with a professional to determine the best heating solution for you and your family please visit Sandium.Com

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How to Save Energy at Home

To get an energy audit for your home please visit Sandium.Com

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Energy Savings Tips

You can save energy dollars by following these simple tips. Many of them are common sense suggestions that require no tools or out of pocket expense. Over time, you will see your energy efficiency increase and your energy savings multiply.


  • Set your thermostat at 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter.  Each degree cooler or warmer will increase your energy use by 6% to 8%.  For instance, setting your thermostat at 72°F in the summer could increase energy use by up to 40%.  The same is true if you set your thermostat for higher energy use in the winter.
  • Turn off lights & fans when you leave a room.  Fans only make you feel cooler.  They do nothing to lower the temperature.  Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb.
  • If you have central air conditioning, do not close vents in unused rooms.  This could increase pressure and cause leaks in your ducts.  This does not apply to homes or apartments with window units where closing off unused rooms will reduce cooling costs and increase comfort
  • Check air conditioning ducts.  If you feel leaks between sections, or where the ducts connect with the air handler, seal them with metal tape and a coating of mastic.
  • Clean or replace air filters.  Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20% because they make your system work harder and run longer than necessary.  They also encourage the build up of mold and mildew, making cleaning more difficult.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F or the 'normal' setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away.  Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner.  It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, an unnecessary expense.
  • Consider new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps.  They use up to 40% less electricity than older models for the same amount of running time.
  • During the summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.  Close curtains on south and west facing windows during the day, and install awnings on south and west facing windows.
  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south facing windows to reduce solar gain.
  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow.  Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house.  A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • Have your air conditioning unit serviced to cut 15% of cooling costs.
  • Clean your air conditioner's condenser / evaporator coils at the beginning of the season.  The fin coils on the outside air conditioner unit can be washed with a hose.  Clean coils lower your energy costs, extend the unit’s life and provide cleaner air for you to breathe.
  • Measure the insulation in the attic.  Many houses have 4 to 6 inches of insulation.  You need about 12 inches.  Big-box stores have blowers you can use to spray insulation if you buy from them.
  • Seal cracks, gaps, leaks with spray-in expandable foam.

Kitchen / Laundry

  • Let your dishes air dry instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.  If you don't have an automatic air dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.  About 90% of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating, and using cold water can save up to 50 cents per load.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold.  Recommended temperatures are 37°F to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section.  To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator.  Read it after 24 hours.  To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages.  Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual defrost refrigerators and freezers.  Frost build up decreases the energy efficiency of the unit.  Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Dust the refrigerator coils – this helps refrigerators run more efficiently.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are air tight.  Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator.  If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator.  Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water.  Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet.
  • Wash and dry full loads.  If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter weight clothes.
  • Don't over dry your clothes.  If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Consider air drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.

Home Electronics

  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.  Turn off your computer every night.  Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off.  This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs, DVD players, VCRs, battery charges, printers, into power strips.  Turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).  Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
  • When not using your laptop's AC adapter, be sure to unplug it from the electrical outlet, rather than from the laptop.  When plugged into the wall outlet, the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
  • Use your computer's power saving settings, including automatic monitor shut off and 'sleep' mode when not in use, to make sure energy is saved.


  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to save 75% off lighting costs.
To learn how you could save energy and $$ on your heating and cooling bill visit Sandium.Com