Archive for the ‘Energy Savings’ Category

Have You Tried Either of These Energy Saving Tips?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

energy-savings-tipsWhen it comes to running your heating or cooling system, naturally you want to do so in a way that doesn’t waste energy—and subsequently, money. The good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to save energy. Instead of switching off your HVAC system to reduce energy usage there are many other options to do the same job.

For example, did you know that running your ceiling fan can reduce the energy expended from your air conditioner enough to turn the temperature up as much as 10 degrees? Your cooling system therefore doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job. And in the winter, you can switch it to reverse direction to have the same impact on your heating system. There are many little tips and tricks like this, but today we want to talk about two very specific ways you can reduce your energy usage and cut costs. (more…)

Why You Should Consider Installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Over the past few decades, homes have been designed to be more and more airtight. This was to help improve the efficiency of insulation, to make climate control easier. Unfortunately, this had the unintended side effect of cutting off the interior of the home from fresh air flow. Without fresh air flowing into the home, indoor air quality can become substantially degraded due to an imbalance in humidity. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem in the form of energy recovery ventilators. Read on to find out more about the benefits of installing an energy recovery ventilator. (more…)

Save Energy and Save Money This Summer

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Some of the quickest ways to waste energy in Des Moines is by over using your air conditioner or using it inefficiently.  Many people are guilty of coming home and trying to create a cool environment as fast as possible by cranking up the air conditioner.  By asking too much from your cooling system you will not cool your house faster, and because of the heavy demand you are putting on your AC you will need air conditioning maintenance more often.  For more ways to save money on energy costs this summer keep reading.

Households throughout the US will spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200 per year on energy costs.  With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately.  Please call Sound Heating to learn more ways you can save money on your energy bill.

Why Are Clean Filters So Important to AC Efficiency?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Air conditioners cost a lot of money to operate in Seattle – even more when they don’t work at 100% efficiency. So, it is important to perform the various regular air conditioning maintenance tasks that ensure the system uses as little electricity as possible. The first thing on your list (and the easiest) is cleaning those filters.

Keeping Filters Clean

The Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website states that you can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by as much as 15% simply by keeping the air filters clean. Why do they matter so much? Consider the nature of a filter.

The filter on your AC unit is designed to capture any dust, debris and sediment in the air supply. If that dust and sediment was allowed in, not only would it gum up the mechanical workings of the device, it would get into your ductwork and reduce the air quality of your home. So, filters are used to capture such things. However, when a filter gets clogged, the system must work harder to draw the air in. As it works harder, the motor turns faster and more electricity is used.

It takes very little to clog the filter of an AC unit, especially if it is running 24 hours a day for two or three months out of the year. So, it’s best to check your filters once every 30 days regardless of what type of filter you are using.

Which Filters to Check

The main filter on your AC unit should be checked along with any air handler filters and any air cleaner filters you have installed in your system. Another thing to consider is the condition of your home and the area around your outdoor condenser. If you have pets, lots of plants or your condenser is located in a dusty area, you may need to check and change those filters even more often.

Most filters are located along the return length of the ductwork – sometimes in ceiling ducts and walls, though they may also be located in your furnace’s air handler or inside the air conditioning unit. If you have window units or mini splits, the filters are frequently in the unit.

Clean air filters are important for your health, your wallet and the longevity of your AC system. Stay on top of them and you will save money in more ways than you might expect.  Please contact Sound Heating if you have any questions.

The Most Effective Environmentally Friendly Heating Methods

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Protecting the environment is a priority for many Puyallup homeowners these days. The problem is that it can’t be as a high a priority as heating your home. Sure, you want your home to be environmentally friendly, but you need it to be warm.

So, it seems you are forced to run your electric or fuel-powered furnace as much as is necessary and hope that it’s not too much for the environment — or your wallet — to take.

Beyond the traditional heating methods of electricity, gas, oil and what have you, there are some alternatives out on the market these days that can keep your home warm while also being green.

Geothermal

One solution is geothermal heat, which harnesses the natural heat of the Earth to warm your home. Pipes filled with coolant run through the ground outside your home, absorbing the warmth of the Earth. Then, the warm coolant is pumped into your home through a network of pipes that radiate heat.

This method is effective and requires no additional fuel or energy.

Micro Combined Heat and Power (MCHP) Systems

Relatively new to the game are so-called MCHP systems. These heating systems have on-board power generators with high-efficiency computer modules attached. The power module interfaces with the thermostat, calling for heat when necessary. That activates the generator system, which quietly and efficiently generates all the necessary power to run the heater.

These systems are incredibly efficient and can slash the cost of your heating bill. As an added benefit, they continue to work during power outages, which has obvious utility in areas that experience harsh winter storms.

Solar

Then, of course, there is the most obvious and readily available source of heat to the whole planet: the sun. Solar heating systems can be either active or passive, which essentially just depends on whether additional specialized equipment is to be installed.

Obviously, solar heating systems are a better choice for areas that get a lot of sunlight year round.

Whichever environmentally friendly heating solution you choose, they have the added benefit of lowering your heating bill, which is always welcome.  If you have any questions about these environmentally friendly heating methods please contact Sound Heat & AC

Air Conditioning Tips: How to Clean Your Outdoor HVAC Unit

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

That big metal box in your backyard or on the side next to your Kirkland home plays a vital role in air conditioning your home and keeping you comfortable. That box is called the outdoor condensing unit, the key component in your home’s central air conditioning system. The condensing unit houses the compressor, which converts gas into fluid before sending it to the condenser coil, where it is cooled and sent to an indoor evaporator coil.

What you need to know is that the entire outdoor operation runs smoothly when the area inside and around the condensing unit is clean and free of debris. In some cases, the outdoor unit will fail to work if there is too much debris or dirt build-up. That can cost you a lot of money in repairs or a total replacement. Keeping the condensing unit clean is not a difficult chore – and here are some steps you can take.

First of all, try and avoid blowing leaves or grass clippings near the unit. And regularly cut down or remove any weeds or grass that may grow up around the base of the unit.

To clean the inside of the unit, first turn off the electrical power to it. Check for an on-off switch on the unit or on a separate box nearby. Remove the grille from the unit and carefully remove the fan in order to gain access to the coil and other moving parts. At this point, you should be able to clean out any debris from inside the unit using your hands. You can also use a vacuum hose to remove debris. A soft brush or cloth rag can be used to other areas of the HVAC unit.

The fins on the coil require a gentler approach as they can be easily bent or damaged. If you notice a bent fin you can straighten it out by using a simple dull knife or a special fin “comb” which you can buy at your local hardware store. While you are in the unit, check the fan belt on the motor to ensure it is not damaged or cracked. You can also add extra oil to lubrication ports on the condensing unit, if any are available.

Use a garden hose to clean the coil and the grilles on the condensing unit. Do not use highly-pressurized water as it may cause some damage to the fins. Once this last task has been completed, reinstall the grille, switch on the condensing unit, and start up your air conditioning. You should notice if your house is cooling down quicker. If not, you may want to do some more cleaning.

If you have any doubts about cleaning your outdoor condensing unit or if you find any damaged parts that may need repair or replacement, call your local qualified heating and cooling (HVAC) contractor and schedule a service call.

Good luck – and stay cool.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For An Electric Solar Power System in Tacoma?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Aside from determining cost, knowing how many solar panels you need to potentially power your home in Tacoma helps you picture what the finished product will look like. After all, you want your home to be energy efficient, but you also want it to not be an eye sore. Estimating how many panels you will need involves some research and math, but it can be done simply enough and is worthwhile. Below are some steps to help you estimate how big your array will need to be:

Researching Solar Panels

First up, decide how much of your energy needs you want a solar array to provide. For example, you may choose to keep your home on the utility grid, but plan to have 50% of your home’s energy come from solar. The steps below assume 100% solar energy.

You should also determine your current energy usage. You can do this by looking at old utility bills. It is best to look at usage over a span of 6-12 months in order to get an accurate estimate. You will usually find this figure in kilowatt hours (kWh). Estimated energy use for an average American household is about 740 kWh per month.

Another important step is to find the insolation value for your area. This number reflects the number of hours in a day that a solar panel will perform as rated. You can find reference tables of insolation values online.

Calculations for Your Solar Panels

Now comes the fun part – a little bit of math. First, you need to figure out the desired wattage output of your system. To do this, divide the number of kWh to be produced in one day and divide it by the insolation value. Using the average monthly usage from your research, you can see the daily average usage is about 24 kWh per day. With an insolation value of 4 hours (for example), a solar array needs to generate 6 kilowatts per hour. Because the system is not 100% efficient, raise that value by 30% to account for possible energy loss. This system will need to generate 7.8 kilowatts per hour. Since large solar panels produce about 130 watts per hour each, this system would require about 60 panels.

Note that this is an extreme example, as most homes won’t use solar for 100% of their energy needs. You will almost certainly use fewer panels; these steps are just meant to help walk you through the process. There are also calculators available online to make the estimation process a little simpler.

Is Your Kent Home More Valuable with Energy Efficient Appliances?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

It’s impressive the things people do to improve the value of their Kent home. We’re talking about crown molding, new floors, new siding, upgrades to the landscaping and much more. The cost of upgrading these things can grow out of hand quickly and if the boost to your home’s value isn’t equally exponential, it’s hard to justify the expense.

So, it’s always nice to find a simple upgrade that can be performed for a few hundred dollars that will save you money immediately and improve the value of your home in the future. Your appliances are one such upgrade.

The Value of Energy Efficiency

An energy efficient washing machine can save upwards of $150 per year on water costs. An energy efficient toilet cuts consumption by as much as 150%. Low flow shower heads cut water costs by one third to one half and your heating and air conditioning systems can be improved by 10-35% depending on the upgrades available to you.

When you add up all those savings, the result is a tremendous amount of money that can be saved each year on everything from your water bill to your cooling needs. Imagine what happens when someone looks to buy your home. They see that there are all new appliances with energy efficient ratings that will save them money.

It’s not just lower bills; it’s a decrease in upfront investment. On the surface, it’s unlikely that your energy efficient appliances will directly increase the value of your home, but they can increase the likelihood of someone paying what you’re asking for the home. They add value to the livability of the home, if not the property itself and in today’s housing market, that’s a major plus.

Best Upgrades

The best upgrades to your home’s appliances are the ones that save money without additional work. Water saving appliances should top your list since they are used throughout the year. A new toilet, a new washing machine, a new shower head and sink faucets all designed to cut down on water use are valuable upgrades. Major upgrades to your heating and cooling are good if you need an upgrade anyway or you plan on staying in your home for a few years.

To Zone or Not to Zone My Home Comfort: A Tip From Bellevue

Monday, September 19th, 2011

There are a lot of decisions to make related to your Bellevue home’s comfort system. You must decide what type of heating you want, how you’ll implement air conditioning, and then how to keep all of that heated and cooled air clean and healthy in your home.

On top of everything else, you have the option to implement zone control in your house to provide multiple comfort levels for each member of your family. Zone control systems are growing rapidly in popularity because they allow home owners to enjoy an enhanced level of comfort throughout the day, while not negatively impacting any one person.

For example, if it’s chilly outside and you need to turn your heater on, that doesn’t mean everyone in the house wants the thermostat set to 72°F. There are a few reasons for this. You may be in the kitchen, working over the stove or doing dishes where there is plenty of heat to keep you warm. More warm air coming through vents or radiators isn’t going to make you comfortable.

The second floor of a home traditionally needs less heat because warm air on the first floor rises and fills that space. The same is true in the summer when cool air settles in lower floors. Having a zone control system allows you to set specific temperatures in each room which are then controlled by your home heating system. You can even turn off the heating and cooling in a specific room like your office or the attic if it will be empty for long periods of time.

Other Considerations

A zone control system is good for comfort, but also for the overall air quality of your home. Too much conditioned air moving through your ducts carries more allergens and contaminants into your home and causes your air quality system to work harder. Your ventilation system will be asked to work harder as well.

Ideally, a good home air quality system is designed to use as little conditioned air as possible to keep everyone comfortable. A zone control system does this very effectively. When talking to a professional about a new installation, check to find out about programmable thermostats as well. These can make it easier to set and forget the temperature in rooms that are only used for a few hours each day.

How a Thermostat Works: A Guide From Covington

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Your thermostat is designed to closely monitor and maintain the temperature in your Covington home. When you flip the switch, you want your furnace or air conditioner to respond immediately. So, it’s a good idea to learn how it works so that if there is a problem, not only will you know better what needs to be fixed – you can decide whether to call a professional in for help.

Thermostats shouldn’t need input from you other than to set the initial temperature. From there, they are automatic switches. A thermometer inside the thermostat measures the indoor air temperature. When it gets above or below the limit you’ve specified, it triggers the thermostat to send a message to your home comfort system and keep things nice and comfortable.

Types of Thermostat

Thermostats come in two forms –electromechanical and electronic. An electromechanical thermostat is the simplest and has been used for decades to regulate temperature in homes. It has a simple strip or coil of metal that expands as the temperature rises and contract as it lowers. A mercury thermometer is placed on top of the strip. The coil’s movements cause the vial to tip as the temperature changes. There is a pair of electrical contacts on either end of the vial. The mercury can absorb that electrical current when the electrical contacts touch the thermometer. The mercury then acts as a switch to turn on your comfort system.

An electronic thermostat simply has an electronic sensor that measures the indoor air temperature. You set a temperature for your room and when it changes significantly, the switch inside your electronic thermostat is triggered, causing it to turn on your comfort system.

Ways to Upgrade Your Thermostat

Most homes only need the bare minimum in their thermostats. However, there is some very exciting technology on the market these days that can add quite a bit of value to your system. Not only can you install a programmable thermostat, you can opt for zone control systems that allow multiple thermostats in different rooms of your home.

Programming allows you to set temperatures for certain times of the day. This is especially great if you are gone from the house for long periods of time each day. Why heat or cool a home when it is empty? And if you have multiple people with different temperature needs, zone control temperature control allows you to set specific temperatures for specific rooms in your home – a very enticing option for large families or multi-story homes.