Posts Tagged ‘Des Moines’

How Can Heat Pump Reversing Valves Help Heat Homes in Kirkland?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

As conventional energy resources dwindle and become more expensive, alternatives increase in popularity.  Heat pumps in Kirkland, like the natural heat they harness, are fast rising to the surface.

Tapping the stored energy of the greatest solar collector in existence, ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered systems that tap the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide cooling, heating, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings. Simple, efficient and abundant, heat pumps are best used in moderate to hot climates where the differential of temperatures is not extreme.

In General

Functioning on the same principle as refrigerators, the heat pump uses a liquid to absorb heat as it turns into a gas and release heat as it returns to a liquid state. During the summer, the heat pump operates as a standard central air conditioner, removing heat from the house and venting it to the outside.

In the winter, the heat pump reverses this process, extracting heat from the cold air outside and releasing it inside the house. The heat pump is very efficient when the outside temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but it becomes less efficient as the temperature drops.

The Heart of the Matter

The reversing valve in the heat pump switches the process from absorbing heat from the inside to evacuate outdoors like an air conditioner to extracting heat from cold temperatures outside and redistributing it indoors.  The thermal energy at play is the natural force of heat to move toward cooler temperatures, releasing energy in the shift.  Heat pumps take care of both and the reversing valve controls the direction of the flow.

The reversing valve has two states of operation: relaxed and energized.  In the relaxed state, the heat pump can be programmed to introduce either heated or cooled temperatures into the conditioned space, depending on the direction of the flow of refrigerant through the closed loop.

By applying a 24 volt charge of AC current (a low voltage typically used in HVAC systems), the valve becomes energized and reverses the flow, producing the opposite conditioning.  The reversing valve may be driven by the heat pump through the use of a control board or directly by a thermostat.

As energy resources rapidly change in cost and supply, heat pumps utilizing geothermal energy are looking like a viable alternative in today’s market.  To learn more about this heating option please call Sound Heating

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.

Indoor Air Quality Tips: Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Homes if Des Moines can develop microbial volatile organic compounds, which are chemical agents produced by organic materials like mold that can have a potentially dangerous effect on your nervous system. In fact, some MVOCs have an equal or even worse effect on the human body as petroleum based VOCs which have long been labeled as dangerous to inhale by the EPA.

The problem of course is that there are too many talking heads out there telling you that MVOCs will kill you or that they can be ignored. The truth is in between, and for your family to remain safe and healthy you need to keep a close eye on the effects of potential black mold patches in your home.

Handling MVOCs

The first step to reducing MVOCs in your home is mold abatement. Proper removal will reduce the volume of mold that can off gas these chemicals. Additionally, you should reduce your use of such chemicals as aerosol sprays, paints and paint thinners, hobby supplies, air fresheners and other chemicals compounds that produce manmade or petroleum based chemicals that feed mold.  Make sure that your home has proper ventilation and air filtration.

Finally, make sure you have your home inspected as soon as you suspect the presence of mold. Regardless of the mold’s color and the smell you notice, it should be checked by a professional in the mold detection and abatement field. It might be nothing, but if it is something, you want someone you can trust to take care of it immediately.  Ask a professional what type of air purification appliances you should utilize.

Toxicity in Many Molds

The most commonly cited “toxic” mold is black mold or stachybotrys. This mold produces a mycotoxin that can quite literally poison anyone who breathes or ingests it. However, other forms of mold which might appear as red, white, green or grey produce MVOCs that are equally dangerous. Many people with mold have these dangerous chemicals in their home and don’t even realize it.

Typically, MVOCs can be smelled as a musty, organic gas that develops from the mold as it matures. Mold produces a variety of chemicals including benzene, aldehyde, tulolene, more. These chemicals create that musty scent and are all quite dangerous to the human body. Just because a chemical is organic doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous to your health. Imagine if man made formaldehyde or benzene were in the air near your children – what would you do?

Please contact Sound Heating if you have any questions.

Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Wishes Tacoma Residents a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Everyone at Sound Heating and Air Conditioning wishes you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!  We hope your day is full of love and laughter! Valentine’s Day is a time to really appreciate all of the wonderful people in your life, including your significant other, your family, and your friends. Take a moment today to let each of them know how special they are to you. Even something simple, like a handmade card, can really make someone’s whole day!

While your HVAC system might not seem like the most romantic place to start your gift giving, a few simple upgrades can make your house more comfortable, which is something your whole family will appreciate! A HEPA Air Filter can keep dust and allergens out of your air, and a new furnace or heat pump can keep your house at more consistent temperatures and cut down on your energy use. An upgrade to your HVAC system is truly a gift that keeps on giving!

For more information about easy ways to improve your home, give Sound Heating and Airconditioning a call! And to help make your Valentine’s Day as happy as it can be, here is a recipe for Ghirardelli Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Hearts

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • Cheesecake:
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Raspberry puree (recipe below)
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Raspberry puree:
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • Chocolate Ganache (optional):
  • 8 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Additional Garnishes (optional):
  • Fresh raspberries
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. CRUST: In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the chocolate graham crackers, ground almonds, and sugar and mix until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  3. PUREE: In a saucepan, combine raspberries and sugar. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 3-5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and set aside.
  4. CHEESECAKE: In a small pot over low heat, bring the whipping cream to just boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Set aside for 5 minutes and then stir until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Remove approximately 1 1/2 cup of this batter and place into a smaller bowl and add 1/2 cup raspberry puree. Blend until combined. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining batter and mix until combined. Pour the chocolate cheesecake batter into the pan. Very carefully layer the raspberry cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool in pan, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before removing from pan.

For more details, visit allrecipes.com.

5 Reasons to Replace the Furnace in Your Buckley Home

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Many Buckley homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your Buckley furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your Buckley home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

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.

A Guide from Des Moines: Surprising Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Indoor air pollution is a major problem for millions of homeowners throughout the country each year, and some of them even live in Des Moines. In fact, the EPA estimates upwards of 20 million households may have problems caused by mold, radon, humidity, exhaust or any number of other pollutant problems. However, not all of the indoor air pollutants out there are so obvious. Some are things you probably have in your home right now and don’t realize it. Here are some of the more surprising sources of indoor air pollution and what you can do about them:

  • Incense – Incense releases both carbon monoxide and benzene, two chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health. Cancer, skin irritation and asthma risks are all increased in people who spend a lot of time around incense.
  • Laser printers – Laser printers that use toner can release a number of harmful chemicals into the air. That toner is very fine and releases particles into the air that are equal to or in some cases worse than second hand cigarette smoke. If you have a laser printer, consider putting it in a well-ventilated, infrequently used space.
  • Kitchen Stove – If you have a gas stove, it releases Nitrogen Dioxide when on, an unsafe gas that is odorless and fills your home quickly. This gas is bad for respiration and can cause asthma attacks. To solve this problem, simply make sure you stove is ventilated properly when cooking.
  • Spackle – Old spackle – the kind used before the 1980s often contained asbestos which can still be there, waiting to be disturbed. Old asbestos, while not inherently dangerous, will become so if you start doing work in your home or if the spackle starts to wear away. To solve this problem either call an abatement firm or cover the offending wall with a new layer.
  • Drapes – Those drapes are filled with contaminants that cling there, especially if humidity is a problem in your home. Dust mites in particular are bad for your health and can cause asthma and other allergies. Blinds are better than drapes for this reason.

Your home is filled with potentially dangerous problems, but you can avoid them simply by taking care to ventilate, clear away unsafe products and keep things like drapes clean (or remove them). If you’re still concerned about your air quality, call an expert to investigate.

How Much Maintenance Do Solar Panels Require? A Question from Des Moines

Friday, November 18th, 2011

The most commonly cited benefits of solar panels are that they are eco-friendly and cost effective. Many resources on the subject are quick to point out that despite high upfront costs, solar panels pay for themselves over time by being durable enough to provide cheap energy for a long time. You know all this, but as a Des Moines homeowner, you also need to know what kind of maintenance is involved in a solar system. In short, after investing your cash, how much work will you put in?

The amount of maintenance required by solar panels is fairly low, as they are quite durable and the only truly vulnerable component is the glass face. There are some steps that you can take to maintain and extend the life of your solar system, though. Below are some routine maintenance tips.

Cleaning

There are quite a few things you can do to keep your solar panels in tip top shape. For example, you should clean your solar panels regularly with water and dish soap to remove any surface grime. There are also surface sprayers available which allow you to clean your panels effectively from the ground.

You should avoid installing panels in a location where they will attract dust, grime and bird droppings, such as near trees, branches, or other growth. Remember that your solar panels are only as good as the energy they can capture, so keeping them clean is much more than a simple cosmetic measure.

Inspecting

To ensure they continue to work properly, you should examine your solar panels regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean away any dirt or debris and tighten any loose connections. Should your panel become damaged in any way, for example by severe weather or blown down branches, have it repaired immediately.

If your system has a backup battery, be sure to replace the batteries as they wear down. There will be a noticeable decline in performance when this happens. Also inspect the connections on both the batteries and the inverter to ensure they are tight.

Generally speaking, solar panels themselves don’t require much maintenance. Simply keep them clean and inspect them regularly and they should last a good long while. Other components, such as backup batteries or generators, inverters, and additional arrays will require extra maintenance as well. For the most part, installing a solar system will not add much to your usual household maintenance tasks.

What Happens if My Heat Pump Loses Power? A Question from Edgewood

Monday, November 7th, 2011

One of the advantages of having a heat pump in your Edgewood home is that they operate on electricity, so you don’t need to worry about having maintaining a supply of fuel to keep yours running. Where a furnace or boiler might call for you to purchase supplies of oil or natural gas, and a wood stove means keeping potentially messy firewood around, a heat pump runs cleanly on electricity.

Heat pumps are good at using electricity, too. They are often able to produce heat energy that can be as much as three times the electricity they draw to produce it. This means not just convenience, but also a big savings, just by virtue of using electrical power.

The risk there, of course, is that if and when the power goes out, so does the heat pump. That means when a big winter storm drops a tree on the local power line, things can get cold inside mighty quickly. For these situations, you should have a backup heating solution on hand to keep everyone comfortable in the short term. And, as a responsible homeowner, you likely already have this taken care of.

But what happens when the power comes back on? Can you just fire your heat pump right back up without missing a beat?

The short answer is “no.” You should not do that, for at least two reasons. First of all, after any power outage, you should always take care to turn on appliances gradually over a period of time rather than all at once in order to avoid a spike in demand at the power company, which can blow a grid. That’s just a general tip.

Specific to heat pumps, though, there is a unique concern. If the heat pump loses power for more than 30 minutes, the refrigerant can get too cold to flow properly, so turning it right back on can cause the whole thing to conk right out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Make sure the heat pump is off. You can do this during the power outage.
  2. Once power comes back on, turn the heat pump to the “Emergency Heat” setting. This will allow the compressor to warm up slowly and get the refrigerant warm enough to start flow freely again.
  3. Wait. The time you need to wait varies depending on the size and manufacturer of your heat pump, so refer to the manual. In general, you should wait at least 6 hours.

After this process, your heat pump should be ready to resume normal operation without issue.

What is the Emergency Setting on My Heat Pump? A Question from Lacey

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

While installing or inspecting your Lacey home’s heat pump, you may have noticed that little switch or button labeled something like “Emergency Mode.” And then, you probably scratched your head and thought, “what is that for?”

Hopefully, the emergency setting is not something you will ever have to use. But, it is there for a reason, so it’s possible you may have to resort to it at some point. In that case, it makes sense to know what it is first.

The emergency setting on your heat pump interrupts the normal operation of the device. The compressor shuts off, so the heat pump no longer pumps heat from the outside into the home. Instead, the internal heating element is activated. This backup system is designed to provide a sufficient, albeit minimal, amount of heat when the heat pump is not working properly. The idea is that the element can keep your home warm enough while you get the heat pump fixed.

That’s what the emergency setting is, but when would you use it?

It’s not a trick question. As the name implies, you only want to use this setting in an emergency. For example, if the heat pump has frozen and isn’t operating, the best course of action is to switch on the emergency mode and call a professional to repair it.

You would also want to use the emergency mode when recovering from a power outage. Any time a heat pump is without power for more than thirty minutes the refrigerant can cool and get too thick to properly flow through the coils. Turning the pump back on in this situation can damage it, so instead you would use the emergency mode for a while to warm the refrigerant back up, then return to operating the heat pump normally.

The emergency setting is not to be used in place of a supplemental heating system. If there is an uncharacteristic cold snap, and your heat pump can’t keep up, then it makes sense to use the emergency setting to keep the house warm. However, if you live in a colder northern climate, where temperatures routinely drop below 30 degrees in the winter, you should have a supplemental heating system in addition to the heat pump. Using the emergency heat setting regularly is not a good idea.