Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Blog: Archive for November, 2012

Heating Tips: What to Think About Before Switching to a Solar Energy System

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Before you switch to solar energy in your Fife, WA home, you should think about a few factors that will affect the performance of your heating system. While active solar energy can help lower heating cots, sometimes providing up to 75% of your heating needs, it isn’t always the best option in some situations.

Backup Heat

Keep in mind that all solar energy systems will require some type of backup heater. Also, how much use you get out of the solar heat as opposed to the backup heat depends largely on how much sunlight you get in the winter. You can store energy with a solar heating system, but it is important to know that shading from trees around your home and other factors, such as weather patterns, will determine the cost-effectiveness of using solar heat.

You will also need regular maintenance for your solar energy system. Just like with any sort of HVAC system, preventive maintenance will help prevent problems and also help maintain the efficiency of the new system. Solar panels need to be checked for hairline cracks as well, since small cracks can quickly turn into a replacement need.


The one mistake many people make is not updating their home before installing solar panels. If your home isn’t properly insulated, you won’t get as much out of the savings from the solar energy source. It’s also important to get a home energy audit that can pinpoint areas where your home needs improvements, such as more sealing or ventilation.

Local Restrictions and Building Codes

One of the main factors you will need to consider involves knowing the local restrictions and building codes. Some areas will not allow for the installation of solar panels due to regulations that limit certain improvements that do not maintain the character of the neighborhood. Some zoning laws restrict anything that is considered a private nuisance. That’s why it is important to hire a contractor who is familiar with local codes.

Call the Fife, WA solar energy experts at Sound Heating, and we’ll go over all the factors with you and help you decide whether a new active solar energy system is right for your home. Contact Sound Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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Heating Tip: Getting the Most out of Your New Thermostat and Other Upgrades

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Are you considering installing a new programmable thermostat or other upgrades to your Tacoma home this heating season? Make sure you get the most out of your home improvements with these energy-saving tips. You can always call Sound Heating & Air with questions, but here are a few tips to get you started.

Thermostat Upgrades

Whether you’ve recently upgraded your heating system, or you want to install a programmable thermostat as an easy way to help save energy, make sure you know how to operate the new device for optimal savings. Depending on how many thermostats you have in your home, consider wireless models if you have thermostats hard-wired in places that are near natural light or heat sources. This can provide false readings due to the heat from the light. Wireless models give you the option of installing them anywhere in your home.

Other Upgrades to Consider

Do you have an old water heater that works but just isn’t as efficient as you would like it to be? Instead of upgrading to tankless immediately, consider some minor adjustments to the old equipment. Make sure the storage tank on your hot water heater is insulated properly. Ask a plumber if you aren’t sure how to tell. One rule of thumb is the amount of heat you can feel coming from the tank. If you can feel excess heat radiating from your water heater, it may need a water heater jacket.

Upgrading to double-paned windows and installing heavy storm doors is one option, but you can also add caulk to seal the cracks in places where there’s an air leak. Try the candle test if you haven’t received a home energy audit. Hold a lit candle near windows and doorways to see if it flickers. If it does, you need weathers tripping or some type of sealant around the cracks.

Lastly, installing ceiling fans can actually help in the winter. If you reverse the direction of the fan, it will push down all the warm air that rises to the ceiling. This also helps circulate the warm air from a forced air heating system.

You can count on Sound Heating & Air to provide you with professional advice and tips on how to increase overall home efficiency. Call us any time to speak with one of our Tacoma heating experts.

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How Does a Fife Hydronic Boiler System Work?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Do you know how the boiler in your home in Fife works? Boilers are a very popular heating system in the United States yet some people aren’t familiar with how they actually work. Knowing how your heating system works is critical to knowing if it is operating properly. Below, we’ve outlined a very basic explanation of how hydronic boilers work. If you have any questions about boilers or if you suspect that your boiler needs repair, contact Sound Heating and Air today.

What is Hydronics?

Hyrdonic systems in Fife use water to transfer heat to the air in your home. Pretty simple right? Hydronic systems are some of the oldest heating systems in the world. They include radiant floor heating, steam and hot water radiators.

The Boiler

Unless you have a steam system, your boiler doesn’t actually boil the water. It heats it to between 130° F and 160° F. The temperature should not exceed 200° F.

The Pump

The pump actually circulates the hot water to the rest of your house.

The Expansion Tank

The expansion tank is a critical part of your boiler system. Have you ever boiled water in a tea kettle? When the water is hot enough, it actually expands and starts shooting steam out the lid of the kettle. That’s what makes that high-pitched squeal. The expansion tank exists to account for the property of water that makes it expand when it heats up. Without the expansion tank, your pipes, pumps and valves would burst from the pressure of the hot water. The expansion tank looks like a propane gas tank that you would use for your barbeque.

The Radiators

Hot water radiators are actually the components that are responsible for distributing the heat into the air in each room. One some newer models, they have a temperature control on each of them.

For all your boiler system needs, contact the heating professionals at Sound Heating and Air. We have experience working with all types and brands of boilers. If you need boiler repairs in the Fife area, we’re the company to call. We’ll be at your as quickly as possible to diagnose and fix the problem.

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Heating Tip: Smart Thermostat Options

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Many people in Tacoma underestimate the effect that their thermostat can have on the efficiency of their heater and air conditioner. An improperly placed or poorly calibrated thermostat can wind up costing you more money for less performance from your home comfort systems. Likewise, a quality thermostat properly used can help boost energy efficiency. Smart thermostats have many features that allow you more control over the way in which energy is used in your home. If you’re considering upgrading to a smart thermostat here are some features you may want to consider.

  • Programmable Features: There are a lot of programmable thermostats on the market allowing you to create different temperature control programs and schedules. This lets you maintain specific temperatures throughout different times of the day without having to be at home, even when away on vacation. You can come home to a comfortable environment without having to run your home comfort systems at high levels throughout the day to do so. Smart thermostats offer more programmable features with many added capabilities.
  • Remote Temperature Control: If programmable settings aren’t offering you as much control as you’d like over your heater and air conditioner, many smart thermostats allow you to access your system remotely using a laptop or even your smart phone. Adjust temperature settings no matter where you are in real time for true home comfort control.
  • Track Energy Usage: If you want to see exactly where your utility costs are being used a smartphone can help you do so. By tracking energy use in your home you can determine where inefficiency is a problem and energy is being wasted. Use this energy to fix problems and decrease energy costs.
  • Occupancy Detection Sensors: Some smart thermostats have the option of controlling temperatures on their own. With occupancy detection sensors your smart thermostat can determine when rooms are unoccupied or even when occupants are sleeping and will adjust the temperature accordingly. This takes manually setting your thermostat out of the equation.
  • Review Energy Reports: Your new smart thermostat can provide you with valuable information, compiling energy use data over a period of time, as much as 10 days on some models. Use this information to better understand your home heating and cooling habits. Look for recurring energy spikes or wastefulness, tweak your habits, and save energy.

When properly used a smart thermostat can be a great tool in the fight for energy efficiency. If you have any questions about their function or available models in your area call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning. We have the information you need to start heating and cooling your home more efficiently.

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