Archive for December, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from Your Puget Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor!

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Happy New Years! We hope you have a great time tonight welcoming in the New Year and saying goodbye to the old. Forty-five percent of people make New Year’s resolutions; ours is to serve our customers even better than we did last year! If one of your resolutions is to make your home more green, remember that improving your insulation, sealing up any air leaks, and upgrading your HVAC system can have a big impact on your energy usage. A makeover for your house is great way to start off the year; it will make your home more comfortable and more environmentally friendly!

Heating Installation Tip: Pros and Cons of Various Heating Systems

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

When it comes time to install a new heating system in your Tumwater home, there are a lot of options to consider. Many people get overwhelmed when confronted with all of the furnaces, boilers and heat pumps on the market these days. So, to help you get a handle on what each has to offer and which will offer you the best benefits, here is an overview of the modern heating system market.

Furnaces

Furnaces are the core of a forced air heating system and use gas, oil or electricity to heat air which is then circulated through your home by a blower in your air handler. Furnaces are among the most fuel efficient heating systems on the market today with options available at up to 95% AFUE (meaning it uses up to 95% of the fuel consumed to produce heat). They are also inexpensive to install and while they don’t last quite as long as boilers, they are highly efficient when well cared for.

Boilers

Boilers use gas, oil or electricity to heat water or steam which is then circulated through your home into radiators or baseboard heaters. The heated water or steam releases heat into your home and heats it in turn. While not quite as energy efficient as a high efficiency furnace, boiler heat is perfect for homes with existing radiators and no room for vents and ductwork. It also has less of an impact on indoor air quality since there is no air movement and boilers tend to last a very long time when well maintained.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular, especially in milder climates where it rarely gets below 40 degrees F. A heat pump uses the same technology as an air conditioner to extract heat from outside using a compressor, evaporator coils, and condenser coils with refrigerant.

It is most efficient in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, but it uses much less energy than either a boiler or furnace and it can be used in the summer to cool your home. When properly maintained, a heat pump will last 10-20 years and save quite a bit of money, though it is recommended that you have an emergency heat source for days when the temperature outside gets below 40 degrees F.

Heating Guide: Where to Place a Thermostat for Accurate Heating

Monday, December 26th, 2011

It’s easy to forget that with your furnace in the basement churning away all day to keep your Sumner home warm, but your thermostat is the single most important device in ensuring your home is heated to the temperature you want. If it stops working or it misreads the temperature inside your home, your furnace won’t know what temperature it actually is and will turn on and off at the wrong time.

Where Not to Place Your Thermostat

To avoid inaccurate readings, avoid placing your thermostat in the following locations:

  • Direct Sunlight – Direct sunlight will almost always increase the perceived temperature of the thermostat. Unless you live in a greenhouse, this will be very uncomfortable for everyone in your home.
  • Windows – Windows can result in direct sunlight and breezes. If the windows are not properly sealed, cold air can blow in and make it seem cooler in your home than it really is. In any of these cases, your thermostat will misread the indoor temperature.
  • Drafts – Drafts from improperly sealed doors, windows, or anything else in your home can negatively impact the thermostat.
  • Heat Vents – Don’t place your thermostat near a radiator or heat vent where it is likely to be warmer than anywhere else in the house.
  • Kitchens – Kitchens tend to be warmer than other rooms in the house, especially when in use. Avoid placing a thermostat here unless you have a zone control system and your kitchen is separate from other rooms.

A properly placed thermostat will ensure your home is heated or cooled to the temperature you desire regardless of outdoor conditions. If you’re unsure whether your thermostat is calibrated properly, check the temperature with a separate thermometer in a different location in the same room. If it is significantly warmer or cooler in one place than another, try to determine which is more indicative of the actual comfort level in your home. When properly located, your thermostat should never be an issue again.

Merry Christmas Eve from Your Tacoma Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Everyone at Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. wishes you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you all have an amazing day tomorrow full of wonderful presents and great food. The holidays are a time be thankful for everything you have, we are grateful for all of our customers who make our business possible. Have a great weekend with your friends and family! Here is a recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cookies to make your Christmas a little sweeter:

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

“These cookies have a sweet peanut butter cup center.”

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

40 miniature chocolate covered peanut

butter cups, unwrapped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

For more details, go to allrecipes.com.

Des Moines Heating Tip: What to Expect in a Low, Medium or High Efficiency Furnace

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When buying a new furnace in Des Moines, you have many options. You can purchase a low end model to save money up front and you’ll still get exceptional fuel efficiency, but as you go up the scale, more innovative, money saving features become available. Here is a brief look at what you can expect based on which type of furnace you purchase.

Low Efficiency Furnace

This is a bit of a misnomer as even entry level furnaces have efficiency ratings of at least 80%. For comparison, if you’re still using an old gravity furnace, your efficiency rating could be lower than 50%. Modern furnaces are built to conserve, and while you won’t receive all of the bells and whistles that tend to accompany high efficiency models, you will get a durable, affordable furnace that will last for 10-20 years.

Medium Efficiency Furnaces

Furnaces in the mid-efficiency range have AFUE ratings of between 85% and 92% and are therefore significantly better than those in the entry level range. They also have some of the higher end features available in high efficiency models like programmability and the option for zone control. Because they are still mid-range, they are affordable without skimping too much on features too – a must for any homeowner wanting to save money on both ends.

High Efficiency Furnaces

The highest efficiency furnaces on the market are very different from those you would have purchased even just 10 years ago. Top end furnaces can carry AFUE ratings of up to 95% with a boat load of added features to conserve energy. These features include two stage gas valves so you can maintain a low BTU heating system for most of the year but crank up the heat when the temperature outside drops too low. They are also programmable, which allows you to easily change the temperature settings, fan speed and more from anywhere in the house.

And while they cost more to install, high efficiency furnaces use less energy over their lifespan, last longer and are more environmentally friendly than any other furnaces on the market today.

Happy Hanukkah from Your Tacoma Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Everyone at Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc wishes you a Happy Hanukkah! Have a great holiday with your friends and family. This time of year is all about being thankful for what you have, and we want to thank you all for making our business possible! Enjoy celebrating eight days of gift giving! Here is a great recipe for Vegetable and Feta Latkes that will make your Hanukkah even better:

Vegetable and Feta Latkes

“Try this colorful take on traditional potato pancakes. Stir shredded zucchini, potatoes and carrots into a batter of eggs, matzo meal, parsley and feta cheese. Fry until golden brown. You’ll love the creamy bite of feta with the tender veggie crunch.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup matzo meal

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander, place paper towels or a cheesecloth over the top and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and let them drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze vegetable again in paper towels.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vegetables, salt and pepper. Mix well. Stir in matzo meal or flour, parsley and feta.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Place vegetable mixture, formed into pancake sized cakes in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. (Cook two to three minutes per side). Add more oil as needed to keep cakes frying up well. Drain fried latkes on paper towels.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

Heating Repair Service – Another Happy Customer!

Monday, December 19th, 2011

As weather gets colder and colder, you want to make sure that your heating system is working properly and at peak efficiency. The best way to ensure that your equipment is working as it supposed to is by having an annual maintenance visit from a qualified HVAC technician. They will make sure that your system is working as efficiently as possible and take care of any potential problems.

With all repairs, it is always better to catch any problems early. If you wait until your equipment is completely inoperable, it will be much more difficult (and expensive) to have it fixed. If you need any repairs this winter, give Sound Heating a call! We are dedicated to superior customer satisfaction, and we will give you the highest quality service possible. Here is what P. Mittelstaedt in Tacoma wrote to us about his heating repair:

I would like to commend my repair technician “Mitch” for the great job he did repairing and brining my York unit back into operation. His professional expertise and friendly manner was greatly appreciated. He identified a potential problem with the electrical feed, suggested a solution and helped me make a maintenance plan for the system. Please extend my thanks to Mitch. Sound Heating will be my HVAC recommendation to my friends.

– P. Mittelstaedt

If you have any heating problems, such as uneven heating or higher heating bills, get it fixed as soon as possible. Nothing can ruin your holiday more than a broken heating system! And make sure that your equipment is inspected each year.

Question from Eatonville: What is a Gas Furnace Draft Hood?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

As every Eatonville HVAC contractor knows, a draft hood is a necessary part of any gas burning appliance. For a gas furnace in particular it ensures steady air flow to the burners to avoid flares or the pilot light being put out by fluctuation in temperature and air flow.

What the Draft Hood Does

The draft will change in the chimney as exhaust vents towards it – especially when going from cold air to hot. A draft hood is placed above the upper most part of the gas furnace to draw air into the chimney and makes it possible to draw more or less air through the chimney as necessary to create a constant flow.

This makes it possible for the burner to enjoy consistent air flow without any wind gusts or sudden temperature spikes or drops. Hot air, if not put through a draft hood would create a strong air flow through the burners.

A draft hood cools the air as it is released by the burners from 500 degrees F to between 300 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The cooling needs to be carefully calibrated to avoid condensation build up in the chimney however – a problem that occurs when the temperature gets too low.

Maintaining Pressure

The draft hood is a part of a larger system designed to maintain air flow to the chimney. For every cubic foot of gas burned, the furnace needs to have 15 cubic feet of air for combustion and another 15 cubic feet of air for dilution. A draft hood and the rest of the ventilation system make it possible to put a furnace that has many thousands of BTUs in the basement of your home and still supply it with enough air to burn gas and dilute the exhaust before it enters the chimney.

For all of these reasons, if you see your pilot light flickering irregularly, notice a backflow of exhaust or a burning smell in your furnace room, it’s important to call a professional who can inspect and repair the problem before it becomes any worse. Not only can gas burner exhaust contain high levels of carbon monoxide, it can be bad for the device and the chimney if it doesn’t vent properly.

Guide from Sammamish: How to Maintain High Efficiency Filters to Reduce Stress on Your Heat Pump

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The filter on your heat pump is an integral part of your Sammamish home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

Heating Tip: EnergyStar Rated Heat Pumps

Monday, December 12th, 2011

You are almost certainly familiar with EnergyStar ratings. They are those little stars you see on a lot of common household appliances, consumer electronics and other products for your Puyallup home. EnergyStar is a government program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to identify and clearly label products that meet strict efficiency guidelines. Products that carry the EnergyStar logo have been shown to be among the most highly efficient out there.

This labeling is important and arguably becoming more so every day. Homeowners want the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the appliances in their homes are running efficiently, helping the environment and saving them money.

But have you ever wondered how a product gets to wear that EnergyStar logo? What are the guidelines it has to meet or exceed in order to be approved?

The short answer is that it varies across product lines, as you might expect. An air conditioner is very different from a personal computer. For heat pumps, though, there are some pretty simple and consistent specifications to meet.

Heat pump ratings are based on two numbers—one for cooling and one for heating. Cooling efficiency is rated on a scale called the seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. This number simply describes in a nutshell how efficiently a unit can cool the area it’s installed in. Most heat pumps these days have a SEER of at least 10, and the most efficient ones carry a SEER of around 18. To meet EnergyStar requirements, a heat pump must carry a SEER of at least 14.

The second number involved in rating the efficiency of a heat pump is the heating season performance factor, or HSPF. This number describes the heating efficiency of a heat pump by dividing its estimated heating capacity by the amount of electricity it draws. Most new heat pumps have an HSPF of at least 8, which is what is required for EnergyStar approval.

A third rating criterion for heat pumps is the energy efficiency ratio, or EER. This is like SEER, except that it is an instantaneous measurement rather than one over a whole heating season. This rating is less commonly considered by consumers, but it is part of the EnergyStar criteria, so it’s worth mentioning. EnergyStar requires heat pumps to have an EER of at least 11.

Only when a unit meets or exceeds all three of these specifications is it eligible for EnergyStar approval. Keep in mind that the requirements vary for split systems versus single package systems, and that they may change over time. Consult with a professional during the purchase process to be sure the unit you want is EnergyStar approved.