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An Introduction to Residential Central Heating Systems
Posted: September 14, 2017 by Andy
With winter lurking right around the corner, we thought now would be a great time to provide information about the various types of residential central heating systems and the pros and cons of each type, to help you make a well-informed decision. Also, now is the best time to schedule service, maintenance tune-ups, and new furnace installations... you know, before your current obsolete unit lets you down when the weather gets chilly!
With energy bills increasing frequently, as well as the high cost of installing central heating from scratch, it is critical that you carefully consider the different systems available. Although there are plenty of ways to save money on the required components and their installation, what is more, important is the cost of running the system. After all, energy efficiency should be the No. 1 priority both for the sake of both the environment and your wallet.
The most common systems are those that burn natural gas, which is widely available and tends to provide a relatively cost-effective solution. These systems use a gas-burning boiler that heats water for the radiators. Gas boilers are typically about 90 percent efficient, and provided your home is connected to the gas grid, you also won't need to worry about installing a tank to store fuel. However, properties off the grid typically use LPG or heating oil, which needs to be stored locally in a suitable tank.
For homes that aren't connected to the gas mains, oil heating tends to be the most popular option due to its relatively low operating cost. However, you will also need an above-ground or underground tank, and these tanks can be extremely costly. Regarding running costs, oil is much the same as gas, although initial installation costs are much higher due to the necessity of storing the fuel locally. Like gas boilers, oil-burning boilers need to be serviced annually to ensure safe and optimal operation.
Since virtually every home is connected to the electrical grid, an electric central heating system might seem like the obvious alternative. Storage heaters require minimal maintenance, and they are far cheaper and less complicated to install than any other central heating system since no pipe work or fuel storage is needed. However, the running costs, at about three to four times high than gas or oil, usually render electric central heating a costly option in the longer term.
Solid fuels have been used for thousands of years for heating, and with rapidly rising energy bills, they are now making a significant comeback. However, solid fuels, which typically come in the form of coal, logs, biomass or wood pellets, are far cheaper than almost any other fuel available. Although installation costs for a modern solid-fuel central heating system can be high, modern systems feature automatic fuel feeders, and in some cases, combination gas and solid-fuel boilers.
There are various ways to generate your own energy at home to such an extent that energy bills might even become a thing of the past. However, though truly sustainable and cost-effective in the longer term, a central heating system that relies solely on free, renewable resources such as wind and sun is rarely practical and often prohibitively expensive. For these reasons, a biomass boiler is usually a preferable alternative for those who prioritize huge long-term energy savings.
Whether you're putting central heating into a property that doesn't already have it or you're upgrading an existing system, it is essential to take a long-term view. After all, global energy prices are likely only to increase in the longer term. Homeowners will soon have to consider other options rather than succumb to the eye-watering energy rate increases of recent years.
Does a Killer Live in Your Home? Carbon Monoxide and Your Furnace
Posted: September 7, 2017 by Andy
Although you've set your home's security system and locked your doors and windows, there might still be a killer living inside your home. Your heating system may seem safe, but some precautions are needed to make sure that you're not harboring a fugitive gas in your household. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless silent killer, which makes it very dangerous. Keep reading to learn more about your furnace and how to keep your family safe!
Where does Carbon Monoxide come from?
The harmful CO gas comes from your furnace when it is not working properly. Often, you'll find that if you have a broken or cracked line, the gas is leaking into your home. Also, if your furnace is in a poorly-ventilated area, the gas can build up and cause harm to you and your family.
It is imperative that you have your furnace inspected on a regular basis to ensure that none of your pipes are broken, and your heat exchanger is working properly. If you find that there is any damage to your furnace, you need to have it repaired quickly.
Preventing CO poisoning
There are steps around your home you can take to prevent CO poisoning from happening. One of the first things you want to do is install a CO detector. Similar in function to a smoke detector, it will sound an alarm when CO gas is present. A detector is your first line of defense to alert you to a problem.
To keep your home safe, replace or clean your furnace filter regularly. It is important to ensure that the air filter stays free from debris as it allows the CO to remain in your home if the gas can't pass through the filter efficiently.
If you think that you have a CO problem in your home, call your local furnace repair company immediately. Carbon Monoxide is a serious risk and has killed many people. Don't let your family become a victim - stay up-to-date with your furnace maintenance.
5 Great Reasons To Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly
Posted: August 31, 2017 by Andy
Are the air filters in your HVAC system ready for winter? Before long, the snow will begin to fall, and the mercury will start to dip. It's difficult to stay mindful of things like replacing the filters on your heating and cooling system - but you should!
While Energy Star suggests that you should change your air filter every month; at a minimum, you shouldn't let three months go by without swapping your dirty filter out for a clean, new one.
Why is this so important? Here are five benefits you'll receive by regularly replacing your air filter:
You'll extend the life of your HVAC unit.
The most common reason an HVAC system fails is due to a dirty filter. As dirt and debris accumulate, air can't pass through efficiently; or worse, the system will overheat. The motor then has to work harder. If you're lucky, your unit will only need to be repaired. If you're unlucky, or if your system is older, you'll find yourself needing to buy a new HVAC unit. Replacing your unit's air filter is a simple and low-cost way to extend the life of your heating and cooling system.
You'll keep your energy costs down.
When that dirt-clogged filter is preventing airflow, more energy is being used, and when more energy is required to make your heating and air conditioning work, it causes your energy bill to head skyward. The Department of Energy says that the average household spends about $2,200 annually on its energy bill. When you routinely change your filter, you can expect to save from 5-15% on your utility costs.
You'll maintain a healthy air quality.
This is especially important if members of your family suffer from allergies or asthma. Dirty air filters have an adverse effect on your home's air quality and can aggravate symptoms. If you have pets, this is even more important because pet dander will accumulate in your HVAC system and spread allergens throughout your household. It's an easy fix to replace your filter and keep your air quality at its best.
You'll keep your heating and cooling system clean.
Dirt clogging your air filter can lead to polluting your entire HVAC system. That means extra parts, repairs, and service that you probably haven't accounted for in your budget.
You'll maintain your peace of mind.
Replacing your system's air filter is an easy, inexpensive step to take that will save you money, will extend the life of your HVAC system and will improve your indoor air quality. It will also significantly reduce the amount of energy your family uses.
When you're shopping for a new filter, look at its MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) number, which ranges from 1 to 12. The higher the number, the better its filtration is.
In addition to changing your air filter often, it is important to schedule an HVAC system tune-up and regular maintenance before the start of the winter season. Our licensed, local HVAC experts will check your electrical connections, examine your unit for fire hazards, make sure your system is free of carbon monoxide, and inspect and calibrate your thermostat to make sure your system is in great shape to work hard during the cold winter ahead.
Schedule your system tune-up today! You'll stay ahead of the start-of-season rush and save yourself money in the process - call us at 877-247-7661 or schedule online. We're here to help because that's how neighbors should treat neighbors!
Even Do-It-Yourselfers Get Yearly HVAC Inspections
Posted: August 24, 2017 by Andy
Many do-it-yourselfers are going to ask, "Why should I get a professional yearly inspection of my HVAC system when I could do it myself?" This is a good time to honestly explore that question. Are you truly qualified? When inspecting, do you know what to expect from your particular set-up? Finally, what other advantages are there to getting an inspection by a licensed, certified heating and air conditioning company?
Do you know how to do it?
Many people think they can read the report from last year and reasonably figure out the inspection checklist for their heating/cooling system. Certain items like vacuuming out the ducts and changing the filter sound as if they can be done quickly. Some, however, sound easy but are deceptive. For example, a note that says the ductwork was inspected won't indicate how much work was involved in crawling through the crawlspace to check it all out. Most people understand that their system is supposed to be comfortable and energy efficient, but what's a realistic expectation when accounting for your house, and family size? A certified HVAC company will have experienced technicians who know what they're looking for. They also know what to do when finding a problem. Professionals understand both the capacity and productivity of your system and aim to keep it running to manufacturer's specifications.
What is involved with an HVAC system?
The HVAC system itself can be said to include the machine units, the fan and ducting, thermostat and power hookups. However, many other house systems affect its overall efficiency. Drafty doors or windows, old roofs or poor insulation can hurt your heating bill as well. A professional will be able to discern if you have a direct problem, an indirect problem or just outdated equipment. They can check power draw and refrigerant levels for clues to equipment longevity. They can check for duct openings, lines on the ground or do any of the yearly service expected to maintain the system. If a problem is not directly related to HVAC, they can point out what other household systems might need to be addressed.
Even if you're able, should you do your own inspection?
If it's your system, you should inspect it. But, even if you are qualified, you should let a certified, licensed company do your once a year maintenance. Mainly, it comes down to peace of mind. Many manufacturers are going to require a once a year inspection from a certified HVAC specialist to maintain the equipment's warranties. Also, insurance companies often want to see regular service receipts to pay out on claims, especially if the issue is related to the HVAC system itself. Finally, ask yourself. Can you as a homeowner really achieve the same efficiency, promptness and quality? Professionals have the right tools and the right knowledge.
Those who have some experience with HVAC may feel confident enough to do the yearly service work. Invariably, though, those with the most experience will know to have it done by an outside professional. Even for the most committed do-it-yourselfer, getting a yearly service check-up on your heating and air conditioning system is important enough to get help. Make the call; it's the right choice.
Is It Time to Replace Your AC Unit?
Posted: August 17, 2017 by Andy
When your air conditioner breaks down, repairing it is the usual option. If your unit is constantly malfunctioning, wastes too much energy or is simply getting too old, now might be the time for a new central air unit. Here are some questions to ponder when deciding between repairing and replacing.
Are you happy with the system you have now?
Regardless of other factors, if your AC unit usually performs well enough, doesn't cost too much to operate, and hasn't required more than occasional low-cost repairs, replacing it probably isn't necessary.
How often do you use your AC?
If you only run it now and then, repair is probably a better option than replacement unless the unit has suffered a catastrophic failure.
How old is your AC unit?
With regular maintenance, your AC unit should keep running efficiently for many years. Experts agree that air conditioning units typically last about 12-18 years, but there are exceptions. A unit that is properly maintained and only sees light use may last 20 years or longer. On the other hand, if a central air unit has been poorly maintained, used heavily, or was improperly installed initially, it may fail far sooner than 12 years. If your AC is more than seven or eight years old and needs more than the occasional tune-up, it's probably a good candidate for replacement.
How efficient is your air conditioner?
If your system continues to cost you a lot to run even after its annual tune-up, you might think about upgrading to a new Energy Star model. Even if your older unit is performing adequately, it might be worth replacing in the interest of efficiency. According to the EPA, a 20-year-old system might cost 2x as much to run as today's more efficient units.
How much will it cost to repair your unit?
If you're faced with a hefty repair bill of $500 or more just to get your old system up and running again, it's probably more cost-effective to replace it altogether - especially if it's been in service a long time. The same goes if your system always seems to be letting you down; eventually, the smart choice is to replace it with a new, more reliable, and more efficient unit. If you do opt for a replacement, make sure you get an Energy Star verified installation. Doing this ensures that your new AC is designed and sized correctly for your living space, and is professionally installed by the qualified local technicians at Hey Neighbor LLC | Ron the Furnace Man!
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