Friday, November 30, 2012

Thermal Comfort: A 40 grit viewpoint for consumers

 It is possible that you're here simply because you are concerned about your indoor climate. So have a look at the instrumentation inside the vehicle. This photograph by LumaSense, is one of various types of test set-ups which help automotive manufactures to determine exactly how you thermally feel inside their products.
Do you notice the way manufactures have improved upon  the windows, they offer heated (and now cooled seating), put zoning controls in the front and back, made the interiors more sound proof, and the air of greater quality? These features came after doing intensive "human factor" based research. The results are being used to make the best interior environment for your driving enjoyment.

So here is the million dollar question for everyone...

Exactly why would you be happy to invest hundreds of thousands of one's dollars (incredibly more than the cost of your new car or truck) into a house where you and your family will spend almost all of your own time and you don't really know whether you will be comfortable in it or not? Do you see contractors doing thermal comfort research? Why not? Do your own homework and see the way many many people in the different heating and cooling chat rooms are trying to solve thermal comfort problems with many people who likely created many of the problems to begin with. Our favourite site for entertainment is the GardenWeb heating and cooling forum...have a look - scroll through the current and past threads and observe an entire population trying to fix problems and make decisions on stuff with folks who have good intentions but many of them couldn't define the elements of thermal comfort even if their licenses depended on it.

Understand, the health of the indoor climate has an impact on you and your families health. If your determination on your interior environment is not based on science...exactly whose sales pitch are you relying on...those who want your money? Really? Gather around folks while we have a heart to heart about you and your shopping experience for thermal comfort.
As odd as it seems, people take more time exploring pet food, beds and linens, or sports and audio equipment then they do their own interior environments. If consumers actually treated their investment in their indoor climate like shopping for cosmetic surgeons they'd end up with much better results...anyways, the car or truck manufacturers know and care about your physiological and psychological comfort and it shows by their research and the introduction of healthy and comfortable features and benefits.

So you Jack and Jill from the university of hard knocks maybe with a degree or two behind your name, have you yet questioned the contractors or renovators just how much formalized thermal comfort research have they done while building to the very least allowable standards in North America affectionately named the, "Building Codes"? No? Pity.

How about the heating and air conditioning sub trades and their are going to give them a check representing your hard earned money in exchange for an undetermined indoor climate? Have you questioned them? What specialised schooling they have on human physiology and psychology as it relates to thermal comfort...after all it'll be a real live human being (that would be you) that will complain. No? We aren't surprised since human factors are not included in heating, ventilation & a/c nor building design educational curriculums - go figure.

As bizarre as it sounds, if you are like the majority of educated consumers you have bought into a hook, line and sinker on code based hvac "comfort" systems without doing the same exact level of research that likely earned you your first diploma or degree.
Exactly why do we know this?

Because like the visitors of on-line heating, ventilation & a/c chat forums, consumers who shop for thermal comfort almost always gravitate to discussions about heating and cooling products and systems rather than hitting the books on thermal comfort and human physiology which is what the automobile manufacturers did - you see the boys and girls in the automobile design business get it...the building profession (still) doesn't get it. 

Remember grandpa's saying, "if all you carry in your pouch is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well a large segment of the field only carries a hammer and tries to solve every thermal comfort problem with products and mechanical systems without understanding the real problems. As an example, we have pointed out in several articles that the majority in field see heating and cooling as an "air based" problem when the root of the problem in our opinion is a surface temperature problem. I have stated in several publication that if building codes dropped the reference to controlling air temperatures and switched the requirements to controlling mean radiant temperature, building performance specifications would have to change overnight. Ok enough of that - let's get back to you and your shopping for thermal comfort...

So look, there are a lot of  people way smarter than us - you are likely one of them - but even we can see that the public relations, marketing and sales machine have convinced most of  the brightest and wealthiest people on the continent that comfort is a piece of mechanical product or it comes from the bling adorning the house interior. As University of Toronto Professor Ted Kesik has said, “No profession that I know of provides so little factual information to the consumers of its product…”

Just look around you, in the magazines, at the shopping mall at the show homes...everybody does it, but very few really put comfort into scientific can buy a comfort heating system from a comfort specialist, sit in a comfortable chair, walk on comfortable flooring, wear comfortable clothes all under comfortable lighting and calming music but yet still feel hot, dry, damp, clammy and cold...what's up with that?

Here is the thing...other than the many people we've trained, the majority of S & M folks (sales and marketing) selling stuff for your personal house can't advise you about true human thermal comfort. You can test them the article we did originally for Dr. A. Bailes III from Energy Vanguard on thermal comfort then with your knowledge go ask the S & M crowd selling thermal comfort to define it and see what happens.

So precisely why do most people selling thermal comfort services and products not understand what thermal comfort is?

Hold on for it....because they don't have with the intelligence and check book come to them pre-programmed to buy the bottom in "built to code heating vetilation & a/c systems" so you can spend more money on the building bling. It's correct...Americans spend more money on outdoor furniture, hardware, house appliances, pets and cosmetics than they do on the very interior climates they constantly complain about...we like to say customers had been swiped by the "poo and goo machines" by the money they spend on fifi, fido and cosmetic lotions and creams...and let's be honest - the heating, ventilation & a/c field is pathetic at marketing against the big bling machines...and its tough because what we have to offer is unseen. Now on the other hand, if you were to listen to the health and building scientists they'd inform you to pay attention to the unseen...yes its abstract but we're talking about your physiological and psychological well being and they know about that stuff.

Precisely why?

Well...because they've been researching it formally ever since the late 19th century. They even have fancy instruments to evaluate you and your interior spaces just as the automobile manufacturers have done. The great news is out of this science based studies have emerged the interior environment engineer working with thermal comfort standards to form the optimal thermal environment for you and yours.

Wait a minute you might say...thermal comfort standards - huh?

Are you surprised to hear there are in fact 'thermal comfort standards'? Yes? Well they have been published as early as 1966 but don't feel concerned - you're not alone, almost all veterans in the building field have no idea they exist either.
So exactly why doesn't the building field know about thermal comfort standards?
Well hold on for it (again)....because they don't have to know...and since you with the intelligence and check book don't come pre-programmed to ask to see their thermal comfort research proving their indoor climates meet the interior environment standards - they'll never know (drum roll) if you don't ask...and if you do ask - don't be surprised to get the same cocky look you get from your dressed to the nines pooch wearing the pretty pink pet pullover.

That's why it is so important that you do your research in regards to your new house or renovation - it's your money and your determination best places to invest it...we could hope from this point on in you are going to do the necessary research to really understand what it takes to make you thermally comfortable.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Infrared Survey

An infrared survey makes use of a state of the art infrared camera or thermal imager to scan walls, floors, ducts, doors and windows to determine minute temperature differences. Essentially, it converts heat power into a visible picture. Moisture inside a wall or under the roof covering shows up as a result of the slight temperature differences. Cold or warm air is visible flowing from cracks or holes in walls and ducts. Missing or inadequate insulation is evident from the temperature distinction or surrounding locations.

Energy Efficiency

  • An infrared survey locates places of missing or inadequate insulation is walls and ceilings.
  • An infrared survey locates locations of air leakage at doors, windows and wall penetrations.
  • An infrared survey pinpoints areas of air leakage within the ductwork.
Building Envelope Leaks

  • An infrared survey can pinpoint water leakage in walls and roofs too as identify the source area in the leak.
  • Mold will be the outcome of moisture entry. Mold remediation alone will not address the trigger. 
  • A survey prior to remediation will help decide where moisture is entering so that the trigger could be corrected, tremendously lowering or eliminating re-infection.
  • A second survey is advised right after remediation to become certain the repairs had been effective.
  • With mold remediation costing a huge number of dollars, a survey is low-cost insurance coverage.
Electrical System
  • An infrared survey locates "hot spots" in wiring and breaker panels due to overloaded circuits, improper splices and poor connections. 
  • An appropriate survey can tremendously reduce the risk of a residence fire.
Plumbing System

  • An infrared survey can locate breaks or leaks in water lines below the concrete slab.

In numerous circumstances I'm called out to look into a specific item like a roof or wall leak. When you have a single issue that you simply have identified or attempted to right, a single item survey might be all  you want or want. This really is particularly recommended in mold remediation where I may have to return a number of times to become positive the issue has been effectively corrected.

Some issues, like a leak at a window frame could indicate a construction defect. In these cases, I recommend checking all windows, not just those where an issue has become visible. If a single window is improperly flashed, it really is probably that all are improperly flashed.

I, by no means know ahead of time what exactly will be involved in surveying a certain home or the eventual complexity of each job, as a result infrared surveys are conducted on an hourly rate. 


In some cases, a great deal. Here are some examples:
  • The leaking flat roof that no roofer appears to be able to repair. At some point they throw up their hands and suggest replacing the roof. I can often pinpoint the water entry point allowing repairs and saving at times tens of a huge number of dollars.
  • The costly mold remediation that only had to be done once  since the underlying problem was properly identified and addressed.
  • The leaking window frames that were identified and repaired before a mold issue developed.
  • The overheating wiring splices under the drywall that were repaired just before there was a fire.
  • The hot water piping leaking below the slab, caught just before there was major foundation damage.

These are just several examples of the sorts of issues discovered routinely with thermography. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Furnace Buying Tips

The furnace is the most important appliance in your home- just ask anyone who is without a working furnace during the dead of winter. So how do you go about choosing the right furnace? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
 The specs of the furnace must meet your needs exactly. If it is to small it will not heat your home effectively, and too large will run too frequently- thus raising your utility bill, wearing down parts to quickly, and creating a temperature in the home that is uncomfortable. Not to mention if your air ducts are designed for a smaller furnace than the one you purchased, the flow of the air would be loud throughout the house and cause excessive wear on the ductwork.
• Choose a well-known and trusted contractor to purchase from and install your furnace. Some companies may try to sell a unit that is more than what you need just to make an extra profit. You want someone with experience that will come out to your home and evaluate what you really need. 
• Consider energy efficiency.  Check out the furnace's annual fuel utilization efficiency rating. This is a % that will tell you how efficiently it uses energy. This number is common among gas furnaces.
• Think about the various options that are available on furnaces, make a list of wants and needs. You may want to consider getting variable speed blowers on your furnace so that the air moves through your home slowly. This will create less noise at times when not as much heat is neede. It also results in fewer problems with keeping the temperature at a comfortable level inside your home. Variable heat outputs and air filtration devices are also features you should look into.
• Most often it will actually save you money to replace your furnace earlier rather than later. Old furnaces do not operate at the level of energy efficiency that those made today do, so you might want to consider replacing an old furnace simply because of its age.
If you're unsure whether you should repair a furnace or if replacing it is the better option, call in a trusted technician to evaluate the  furnace. It could be as simple as changing out a filter or if a main component has gone out then you will need to replace it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pros and Cons of Slab Heating

Although slab heating is growing increasingly more popular,  there are still numerous homeowners who are not sure if it is the right choice for them. There are  pros and cons associated with the slab option as there is with any heating system, you must weight each side before making a decision.
  • Slab heating is known for its exceptional performance.

  • This option is completely noiseless operation (or as close as you can get). There is no distinct start up sound that most heating systems have and you won't hear that rattle of the duct work.

  • Slab heating has a thermostat that you can set to the desired temperature; this will ensure that your entire house has the same even temp- from top to bottom.

  • This option is also cost effective when you take into account the costs to install and to run over the years. 
  • Not suitable for two story homes

  • Slab heating is still a new trend amongst homeowners, you might find it hard to find an installer in your area.
 Keeping our homes warm during the winter months of the year is one of the highest priorities of homeowners the world over; with this heating option, you will be able to do just that with relative ease.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Increasing a home's performance can be quickly done and inexpensive

Weatherization is a chance to improve your home's energy efficiency without making major modifications to the overall structure of the house. It should involve a whole-house systems approach that considers all aspects of energy efficiency, safety, moisture control and the durability of the structure.
Test for leaks first, make your improvements, then test the home again.
A whole-house  approach to home performance  includes a number of before-and-after tests that check for air leakage and measure the performance of the hvac systems. A good first step is hiring a home energy auditor to evaluate the performance of your home. A professional auditor will most likely use a blower door, Duct Blaster and infrared camera, as well as other tools, both to quantify and qualify the energy wasting areas of a house. After the testing, the work begins to take care of the problem areas, and when it is finished, the auditor will come back to retest. The results of his 2nd visit tells you how well the improvements you made are working.
Air sealing is the most important
Before any other improvements are made, it is vitally important that air leaks must be sealed. Insulating a  very leaky house is counterproductive, and it makes it more difficult to find the leaks in the future with new insulation piled over the top of the leaks.
Will weatherizing really help to make the home efficient?
Some homes may not be worth the improvements until structural issues or severe site or plumbing problems are taken care of--problems that  would be beyond the expertise of a weatherization contractor. Issues may include mold in a bathroom that doesn’t have proper ventilation; water leaks in the basement; or weak foundations or the framing of the structure.
Educated homeowners use less energy
Some energy problems are people issues not buidling issues. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day, not using exhaust fans in the bathrooms or the kitchen and leaving windows open in winter, educating your family may be  as important as anything else.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heat Recovery (HRV) & Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV)

Interior quality of air issues have greatly increased since the the later part of the 1970’s when building technologies succeeded in creating energy-efficient "tight" homes. Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) have for ages been widely used in Canada and are also growing to be popular in the United States. Believe it or not, Canada has a nationwide ventilation law. During 1992 there was in excess of 125,000 systems sold there. Within the U.S., there are only 3 states that have ventilation laws and there are more than 15,000 units presently being used in the United States.

Contaminants inside of homes, which once escaped through cracks and crevices around doors and windows, are now confined inside producing an internal atmosphere that's typically Two to five times more polluted compared to outside the house. Family pet dander, mold spores, dustmites, allergens, cigarette smoke along with other pollutants amount to very poor indoor air quality. An Energy Recovery Ventilator  (ERV) or a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) is an excellent solution to combat bad indoor air quality by delivering clean fresh air into your house whilst expelling stagnant air.

ERVs and HRVs utilize internal fans to pull fresh air flow in and then transfer stagnant air out of your house. The main element to efficient ventilation is the HRV or ERVcore -- which warms or cools down inbound fresh air, recapturing Sixty to eighty percent of the conditioned temperatures which would otherwise be wasted.

HRV vs. ERV - so what exactly is the difference?

There's two kinds of energy-recovery systems: heat recovery ventilators (HRV) and then energy recovery (or also called enthalpy recovery) ventilators (ERV). Both types incorporate a heat exchanger core, one or more fans that will help drive air through the device, and some controls. The primary difference between a heat recovery and an energy recovery ventilator is the means by which the heat exchanger core functions. With an energy-recovery ventilator, the heat exchanger exchanges a specific amount of water vapour together with heat energy, while a heat recovery ventilator simply only transfers heat. The part of the United States that you reside is going to determine the type of unit that's right for your family's needs. In most cases - HRVs are generally suggested for cold climates with lengthier heating seasons. ERVs tend to be used for milder, more humid climates with longer cooling seasons.

Installation & Sizing

HRVs/ERVs are normally sized to ventilate the entire house at a minimum of .35 air exchanges each hour. In order to calculate the lowest CFM requirements, you need to take the sq footage of the property (which includes the basement) and multiply by the height of the ceiling so you can get the cubic volume. Next, divide by 60 and multiply by .35.

The ideal way to configure the unit installation on an ERV or HRV is to always make a dedicated system of ducts to blow out old stagnate air from trouble spots (kitchens, bathrooms) and bring in fresh air to the more frequently used areas (lving rooms, bedrooms). Even though this is preferred, it is sometimes not possible - particularly in a retro-fit scenario. The most typical, and much easier installation is achieved by attaching the ERV/HRV supply and exhaust ductwork straight to the return air-duct of the home’s present forced air hvac system.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Long Gas Lines Show the Need for Resilience

Hurricane Sandy confirmed the vulnerability of people's dependency for gas for commuting and emergency generators

By now we’ve just about all witnessed the pictures of houses entombed within sand along the Jersey Coast, burned-out properties within Queens, as well as immersed subway stations in Manhattan. Those breathtaking photos were in the initial wave of media from Superstorm Sandy the end of October.

The 2nd, residual consequences might not be as spectacular, but they are nonetheless extremely substantial. And they display, ever so clearly, our need for better resilience. As of late-afternoon Sunday, Nov fourth, there were still 1.8 million people without having electricity, the vast majority of these people within New York and New Jersey. That’s lower from 8.5 million without having electrical power at the peak, but it still involves nearly a quarter of New Jersey. In some places black outs may last for several weeks.

Failures around August in New Jersey aren’t so terrible - there might be some irritation from the high temperature, but few at true risk of safety -- but with conditions falling into the thirties earlier this week, power outages turn out to be very severe. The vast majority of our home heating systems have to have electrical power to operate - for the fans, pumps, and controls -- though there are some exceptions.

Electric power failures and gas stations

Along with these kinds of clear challenges regarding energy outages - lack of , heat, and home appliances - power outages impact all of us outside the house as well.

As we realized within New Jersey and Long Island, without having electrical power most gas stations can’t run. The American Automobile Association calculated early November that 60% of service stations throughout New Jersey and 70% on Long Island were closed down because they don’t have power to pump gas. Only 23% of New Jersey service stations were still with no power by Sunday morning, but lines continued in many locations.

There were in addition actual gas shortages, which contributed to the problems. The U.S. Department of Energy announced that thirteen of the region’s thirty three gas terminals had been closed as a result of the hurricane, along with 2 main gasoline pipelines serving the area.

Without gas, we can’t run our vehicles. But those shortages also meant that home owners with more compact, gasoline-powered generators were running out of gas.

Moving toward resilience

The solutions to these problems are many-faceted. Relative to the need for power generators, we should develop better resilience in to our homes. All homes should be able to sustain livable conditions in the event of loss of power or home heating fuel. This is a familiar refrain of mine.

We can do this with much better building envelopes (substantially greater insulation levels, triple-glazed glass windows, tighter construction) and also passive solar gain. By using these features, temperatures in these houses should never fall beneath forty five or fifty degrees Fahrenheit, even during the heart of winter season if there’s absolutely no power and our home heating systems can’t operate.

Minimizing dependence on cars

Relative to fuel shortages and also the inability to pump gasoline in the course of outages, we can obtain increased resilience by reducing our dependence on the automobile. This isn’t a quick fix, however by means of participation in local preparation efforts and by influencing transportation funding priorities, we're able to create a lot more pedestrian-friendly spaces that let people to reach key services safely on foot or simply by bike.

If we develop communities which will function reasonably well without having cars during times of emergency situations, those will be places where automobile use might also decrease during ordinary times. These are going to be cleaner, more secure, much healthier places that move all of us toward sustainability.

Final thoughts

Resilient design is where we should be headed. It's an integrated method that can keep us all safer and enable us to recover faster from no matter what the next disruption may be.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Masonry Home heating solutions Burn Clean & Hot

If you have a big home and you simply desire to heat with wood, you can think about constructing a Russian-style masonry solid wood stove.
A masonry heater, also known as a masonry stove or Russian hearth, is really a wood-fired heating system that is fired intermittently at high temperature to heat up the big quantity of thermal mass, which then radiates heat into the house. The heater has a circuitous route as a result of which the flue gasses move. From here, the heat is transferred into the stone, brick or any other masonry parts of the heater.
Primary advantages of masonry heating
From an environmental standpoint, masonry heaters burn fuel really rapidly at a higher temperature. This results in very complete combustion with small pollution produced. Except when 1st starting the fire, there should be no visible smoke.
From a overall performance and comfort standpoint, masonry heaters take a lengthy time to heat up, however they then continue radiating heat for an extended period of time, generally 18 to twenty-four hours. The outer surface of a masonry stove in no way gets as hot as a cast-iron or steel wood stove, however it retains its heat much longer. The surface region provides a large radiant surface, contributing to comfort.
Operation of the masonry heating units
As opposed to a wood stove, where you typically start a fire after which maintain it going for any extended time frame by adding fuel, using a masonry heater you operate it in batches, and the fuel is generally entirely burned from the time the following fire is started. This implies that you need to begin a lot of fires - which many people will discover less convenient.
Because the firebox may not be extremely large within a masonry heater and because a fast-burning, intense fire is preferred, the firewood is reduce and split differently. Often the length of acceptable firewood is less than with a wood stove (sometimes as short as 12 inches), and the optimal diameter of split wood is smaller sized - typically three to 5 inches.

Because the heat from a masonry heater will not warm up a space swiftly (it could take a number of hours for the outer surface to reach peak temperature and peak heat delivery), it isn’t as effective as a wood stove at rapidly taking the chill off. You should plan ahead. Also if it is going to be a sunny autumn day and you also possess a lot of south-facing windows, starting the masonry heater in the morning might result in a  period of overheating later in the day when the sun peaks. 

Some masonry heaters include bake ovens or warming places built in to the modules, providing a good feature for all those interested in wood-fired baking. Some also contain benches for seating. 

System choices
Masonry heaters are typically custom-built, and such units can satisfy a wide array of style wants and unique needs. Simply because they are large and heavy, provision should be produced for such units - like a concrete slab or concrete bearing walls beneath the heater. The Masonry Heater Association of North America is an excellent resource on masonry heaters and includes a directory of masonry heater builders.
You can find also some companies of modular masonry heaters that can be assembled fairly simply. The best-known manufacturer may be the Finnish organization Tulikivi. Tulikivi heaters are produced from soapstone or ceramic and are available inside a wide range of types, each with or  without baking ovens. If a residence has the room or space for it, a masonry heating unit is generally the best method to heat with wood. In new construction, specifically in rural locations, it is undoubtedly worth looking into.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Carrier Air Filters

Carrier is one of the most well knowned companies and a trusted name in providing HVAC systems. In 1902, Willis Carrier invented the basics of air conditioning and since then Carrier company had been a world leader in manufacturing air conditioners and heating systems. They manufacture a wide range of cooling and heating systems and their various parts. If you are purchasing an air filter Carrier would definitely be a good choice. They manufacture filters in all sizes and different materials.

If you reside in a area with little pollution then you can purchase a disposable panel filter. They need to be replaced every 30 days and is very efficient in trapping larger sized particles like dust, ash, sand and other debris. If you want a higher level of protection against pollution  a electrostatic pleated filter which would ensure maximum protection would be a better choice. This AC filter effectively prevents harmful microbes, smokes and pet danders and will provide you with cleaner air. It is perhaps the best way to remove pollutants which are as small as 0.01 microns.

The Carrier filters have high MERV rating and they will enhance the air quality of your home. They are easy to replace and are designed to give improved performance. They also keep your heating and cooling system working efficiently. They are durable and consume low energy. Another advantage is that they only need to be replaced every 2 to 3 months.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Your Furnace Ready For Winter Weather

November is here, the cold weather season is upon us. In fact many of us are already dealing with snow and freezing temperatures. This is the season that many people love. I mean who doesn't long for the brisk chill of a cool November day? Cold weather, cuddling by the fire, hot chocolate..  That said- winter has a way of sneaking up on us.  As a result, it's imparitive to take quick action to ensure that your home is a warm, comfortable living space during what could be a very cold winter.
Neglecting your hvac system can lead to disastrous results. If you aren't careful your living room could turn into the Arctic Circle. The cold weather, as much as we love it, belongs outside. You look forward to the wondrous benefits of winter: hot cocoa, crackling fire in the  fireplace and family gatherings. Well, in order to enjoy these traditional winter activities you should make sure that your heating system is serviced and running properly.
If you have a older, outdated heating system whether it has performed wonderfully or questionably, have it inspected soon. Even if it worked without a problem during  past winters, there may be hard-to-detect problems, the result of wear and tear from years and years of use.. If you're hesitant to spend money on a heating system evaluation, consider it an investment in your peace of mind. Having a factory-trained HVAC technician perform a system evaluation can lead to more energy efficiency and lower heating bills over the next few years. Maintaining your heating system will not only bring a financial savings on your heating bills, but also help you avoid  future repairs that may have been prevented if caught when they were minor issues.
It's important to schedule regular servicing to guarantee uninterrupted cold-weather operation. In addition to having a seasonal check-up performed by a certified HVAC technician, there are additional steps homeowners can take to increase the efficiency of their heating systems. Change the air filter's at the beginning of every heating season and check it every few weeks tthrough the winter. Also, inspect the heat exchanger for holes or cracks and make certain there are no carbon monoxide leaks.
Keep your eyes open for red flags. If your house isn't being heated evenly you should figure out why, and if you are also having humidity problems, your system could be malfunctioning.
If your furnace appears to be on it's last leg it may be smarter to invest in a energy efficient model than to be dumping money into a sinking ship. Remember, it's an investment. So do your research.
In the event that you need to purchase a new furnace, take a deep breath and contact your local HVAC company. They can solve your heating problems well in advance of winter's cold weather. This is why it is important to take preventive measures as opposed to waiting until the last possible moment to take action, or worse, putting it off completely.
Remember, don't rely solely on your judgment to diagnose heating problems call your local heating professional. With his expert service and your own regular maintenance checks you and your family will enjoy a safe, warm home all winter long!

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Save Energy During the Winter Months

Energy saving tips for the winter season will help to keep more money in your wallet and save energy during the cold season. Most techniques below are cheap and pretty easy to implement. Other methods require energy upgrade investments from your local HVAC company that will pay off over time in energy savings.
To manage your heating bill, turn the thermostat down when you are not home, when you go to bed at night or when you have a house full of guests. Before winter hits , make sure that your thermostats are functioning properly. Set the temperature at the most 68 degrees. With a programmable thermostat you can schedule when you would like to have your heating on.
If you are able replace single pane windows with double-pane windows.  If you can't replace your windows you can reduce drafts by attaching a clear plastic film or heavy-duty, plastic clear sheet on your windows.
Heavy curtains or blinds will help to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Weatherstripping is another simple step in keeping the warmth inside the house. Besides weatherstripping your windows you should weatherize your pipes, vents, doors and water heaters.
The attic and basement are usually where you will find air leaks. Evaluate whether your attic is sufficiently insulated. If it has the insulation of less than R-30 (11" for fiber glass, 8" for cellulose), it needs to be enhanced. You should also check if you need to add the insulation to your basement and your crawl space. Call your local HVAC company to have your insulation performance checked. 
Have all your heating equipment checked by a professional contractor. It is a wise decision to replace older equipment with an energy-efficient model.
Warm air travels up and builds up near the ceiling. Switch your ceiling fan to run in a clockwise direction to dispense the air and move warm air around the room.
If you tend to stay in one room of the house for most of the day, you might consider a space heater for that room only. Close the vents in the rooms you are not using. You could also invest in a new zoned heating thermostat so that you could set the temperature for each room idividually. 
Clean air filters in your heating system to increase energy efficiency and airflow. These filters need to be checked once a month, and replaced when dirty- it may be monthly or every other month.
19% of an average electricity bill comes from water heating. You can lower the bill by using less hot water, turn down the thermostat, insulate your water heater, or investing in an energy-efficient model. When installing the insulation make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendations or hire a licensed contractor.
By following these winter energy saving tips you can keep your home more comfortable during winter, save money and help the environment too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

4 Benefits of Regular Duct Cleaning and Repair

The drive home from work: traffic congestion, hard on the lungs- all the smoke from semi trucks and other big vehicles. After a full day inside a cubicle, you may look at the city you live in and see nothing but air pollution. How do you survive breathing the fumes of what you and your fellow neighbors have created?
You can't wait to get inside under a cool air conditioner and breath in some clean air for a change. Maybe that is what you expect to happen. But if it is, sorry to deliver some bad news, you are not breathing in the clean air you think you are..
Are you aware that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates household air is up to 70 times more polluted than what you breath in everyday during your work commute?
Most of this indoor pollution exists because people fail to get their ducts and furnace cleaned as often as they should.The cost of ignoring basic maintenance on your HVAC system can produce  pollution worse than anything you will  encounter outside, and could lead to expensive air duct service - or more serious, duct replacement.
You can't afford to take air duct cleaning for granted any longer.  Here are 4 benefits of quality air duct cleaning and care:
1. Your health. Inside your current ductwork, there are actually all sorts of unwanted critters waiting for yourself to uncover. Harmful bacteria, fungus, mold and mildew spores, animal dander, as well as pollen, consistently collect to contaminate the quality of your own clean air. Through air-duct cleaning and heater cleaning, you can remove these factors before they take control of you by way of allergies, asthma, or or other illnesses.
2. Energy savings. The EPA estimates that it doesn't even take one-tenth of an inch of dust buildup on a heating coil to negatively affect your energy efficiency. 
3. Less work around the house.  By engaging in routine maintenance and air duct cleaning you can greatly reduce the time you spend on menial chores like dusting.
4. Longer life expectancy of your heating and air conditioning equipment. By regularly engaging in good quality air-duct cleaning, or hiring an HVAC specialist to ensure your ducts are getting the treatment they need for maximum overall performance, you help reduce the possibility of air duct repair or air duct replacement, that will certainly be awaiting you down the road otherwise. 
It is best to stay on top of the problem before it is too late. But if it is time for an air duct replacement, act quickly. The money you can quickly make up for in a more efficient energy system and future awareness that will prevent serious problems before they occur.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just What Does a Heat Recovery Ventilator Do?

For those who have bought a house, are purchasing a house, or if you're renovating your home you may very well be familiar with the topic of a heat recovery ventilator or HRV. Brand new houses typically come with one, however older properties usually do not  have them unless the climate control system was modernized. Rather simply, an HRV works to preserve heat while eliminating stale indoor air.

Back before the ever increasing rise in energy costs began, heat retention would not have been needed in the same capacity as it is today. Now we've got air tight doors and windows, each crack is filled with caulk and our walls are insulated much better than at any time before. All this works fantastic to assist in decreasing our heating bills, but it can be a nightmare for indoor air air pollution. We may be comfortable, but our health can be at stake with allergens and micro organism increasing.

Although some steps could be taken such as electrostatic air filters, they decrease the amounts of airborne contaminants, but do absolutely nothing for the gases for example carbon monoxide or excess moisture. This is where a heat recovery ventilator  will come into play. The most effective approach to keep the indoor air pure is always to remove the polluted air and substitute it with new, dry air. This needs a system with two supporters, 1 to push bad air out and an additional to drag the nice air in. A heat recovery ventilator will do this and more. Not merely does the air get cycled through for cleanliness,  it also goes through a high temperature exchange core which heats the outdoor air before it circulates indoors. 

Up to 85% of the heat from the inside air can be moved to the air being brought in from the outside, which is much more cost effective than opening windows. Filters are used to capture dust, pollen along with other air substances from entering with the fresh air. An HRV can be very useful in the summer months as well but they are most helpful in the winter months.

Interested in learning more? Contact your local HVAC company

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

6 Steps to Reduce Your Winter Heating Bills

It has been another difficult year economically but now it's time to gear up for the holidays and plan for next year. We spend a lot to heat our home, now it's time to come up with a plan to reduce those heating bills. I know you don't like throwing your money away. A family spends approximately $2000 a year for winter heating, this amount can be even more if you do not take care of little things that can increase efficiency of your heating system.
The first step you should take is making sure your home is properly insulated.  Proper insulation will keep your indoors warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are various forms of insulation like spray foam, fiberglass, rigid foam and cellulose and many others. Once your home is properly insulated your winters will be more comfortable and you will be saving money on the cost on heating for those cold days.
Plugging Air Leaks
Whether your home is new or old, before winter hits you should check every window and door for air leaks. A leaky home will allow cool air to get inside and warm air to go outside and that will increase your heating bills. Your HVAC system will have to overwork to keep your home warm which will mean more fuel and maintenance expenses for you.
Here's a few quick tips to check and fix the air leaks in your home.
1) Check out the weather stripping around the windows and doors
2) If your insulation has leaks then use the insulation tape to seal them.
3) If there are rooms in your home that you do not use frequently, make sure to apply sheeting to the doors leading to them.
4) Install vent blocks in the rooms your don't use.
5) Seal all the cracks in the walls.
6) Try to prevent constant running in and out of the house (remember your parents constantly reminding you to stop running in and out of the house when you were a kid?). Everytime you open the door you are letting in cold air and letting out warm air. 
These are some simple tips that can greatly reduce winter heating costs. You should also call your HVAC company to come in and do a routine winter servicing of your heating system and make sure that there are no leaks in your duct work. Don't forget that lowering your thermostat by even 1 degree will save you money over the long term. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Test Your Heating & AC Ducts for Leakages

Developing a home that's energy-efficient has numerous benefits. It'll lower your carbon footprint, therefore making your house more eco-friendly. It'll make your house more energy-efficient, therefore costing you less every single month in your energy bill. There are many areas within your home that you should pay attention to in order to find air leaks that wreak havoc on efficiency and your wallet. Certainly one of the individual areas is the air conditioning (heating, ventilating, and ac) unit's ductwork. Even when your house is new, but particularly if it's old, air leaks can exist through the system.

Checking and repairing any air conditioning leaks within the ductwork is crucial to keeping the system, as well as your home, efficient. A lot of the ductwork inside a house send either heated or cooled air in to the different spaces of the house. Usually, there's one large duct that functions as the return to the heating/cooling unit itself. Each one of these ductwork should be correctly sealed from air leaks to be able to function correctly and effectively. Many houses, however, frequently have significant problems like shredded insulation, damaged duct junctions, even holes chewed with the insulation and ductwork by rats and/or rodents.

Air conditioning ductwork are pressurized, so leaks which exist could be far worse and much more pricey than other air leaks around your home. The quantity of air that escapes via a leak inside a duct is magnified due to that pressurization.

Being able to access all your ductwork could possibly be the trickiest part, although fixing the leaks could be relatively easy. Leaks many times can be seen with just a flashlight. You may also make use of the "wet hands" technique - turn the air conditioning unit on therefore the ductwork become pressurized and ready: a wet hand may lead you directly to the leak. If you have trouble finding the leaks yourself then I suggest calling a qualified HVAC specialist to come out check the ducts for you. If you were able to find the leaks yourself then continue on with how to repair the leaks.

Hardware stores carry various kinds of sealing kits for ductwork. Prior to going towards the store, though, you will need to have the ability to tell the sales representative assisting you what material your ductwork are, and just how they're suspended to be able to find the appropriate repair package.

Duct tape can be used for  a lot of things, however this is somewhere the title states everything! Easily repair rips or tears in ductwork with duct tape. Take this into account when you use duct tape - it doesn't adhere well to dusty surfaces. When the surface where your leak is provides extensive dust (also it most likely will), then you've two options:

1. Clean off the dust (much more difficult than you think)
2. Wrap the duct tape around and round the section in which the leak is and just hide the dust - much simpler than the first option!
If while you are checking the ductwork you see the insulation appears thin, it is simple to add more to the surface of the existing insulation.

Caulk works effectively to seal the air leaks that are commonly found at the junctions between ducts and the registers where the air is pushed out into your home.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Heating Alternatives to Reduce your Heating Costs

With the winter season upon us, most people are researching ways to help lower their heating bills. There are many ways to do this, and they can be as simple as a few quick do-it-yourself home improvements or a call to your local HVAC company.
The three most effective and simple steps can be completed in as little as a few hours. 
1. Lower the temperature on your thermostat. 3 to 5 degrees may not feel like much but can make quite a difference in terms of saving money over a period of time, and if you start to get a little chilly add an extra layer of clothing before turning up the thermostat. 
2. Space heaters are fairly inexpensive and can be very energy efficient if you do some research. Heating the 1 or 2 rooms you use the most instead of your whole house can save money on heating bills, and is often recommended by government departments. 
3.  Winterizing your home by adding window seals where needed or using caulk to stop leaks is a simple and effective way to ensure your heating system is not working in vain. If you don't already have them you may want to consider  double-paned windows, although you may need to call a professional to have him install them for warranty purposes.
While the above tips will increase efficiency and lower bills, sometimes it is necessary to discuss some steps that include a larger investment. They are long- term solutions that  will pay off by lowering your heating bills. Here are four heating alternatives to look into.
Natural Gas Conversion: While a natural gas heating solution is a financial investment to install it does have other advantages, such as its ability to be used to run appliances, fuel a fireplace and heat water. However since natural gas is provided by local utility companies it may not be available in all areas so be sure to call your local supplier.
Ground (Geothermal) Heat Pump Systems: Geothermal Heat Pumps have become quite popular as an alternative way to heat residences and businesses alike. They work by relying on the relatively constant temperature of the earth 3-5 feet below the surface. While the upfront costs can be daunting, it is possible to recoup your investment in as little as five years, and to reduce your energy consumption by 44-72% according to the EPA.
Solar Heating Systems: Solar power is economical, renewable, and environmentally friendly, making it appealing to many consumers. While the initial costs can seem to be staggering the long term benefits are worth the work, as the Department of Energy estimates that a properly designed and installed solar system can provide 40-80% of a home's heating needs.
Wood or Pellet Burning Stoves: Wood burning stoves have become more efficient and operate much safer than they did five to ten years ago, and with the increase cost of gas and oil have also been able to provide an economical solution for many homeowners.  The Environmental Protection Agency states that they are one of the "cleanest-burning heating appliances available today" and exempts them from smoke-emission testing requirements.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ways to Winterize you Home

 As the winter months approach, it truly is time to turn our consideration to what we are able to do to insure the safe operation of our heating appliances at the same time as look at different ways to assist conservation of power. Here are a handful of ideas which can insure a secure, warm and efficient winter season in your house.

1. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather stripping and caulk. Even the tiniest of leaks can add as a great deal as much as 10% to your heating bill.
2. Cleaning your gutters is really a chore no one looks forward to, but an excessive buildup of leaves & other debris may cause water to seep back into your home, resulting in unwanted water damage. As the winter season approaches, it's a excellent time to inspect and clean your gutters to insure their optimum performance through the wet, cold winter months.
3. Have your furnace inspected by an HVAC  professional to insure it can function properly when required, and don't foget to replace the filter. A dirty filter will cut down on the overall effectiveness of your HVAC system.

4. Check your fireplace to insure it is going to operate safely and correctly - this might include things like contacting a chimney sweep if it has not been cleaned recently.
5. Be sure to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your whole house. If you don't have detectors currently, it is highly recommended that you get them installed. Check the batteries with a battery tester  to ensure they have most of their life left and and replace them if they are not good.

6. Drain outdoor hoses, faucets and sprinkler systems to help reduce the risk of pipes bursting. For those who have unprotected pipes in your attic, it is a excellent time to wrap them to help prevent a rupture of these pipes.

7. Look into a programmable thermostat. Current models let you to set your heat to allow the house to become warm while awake in the daytime and allow for reduce temperatures when you are asleep or away from the house in the daytime.