Posts Tagged ‘Fife’

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.

Insulation

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!

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.

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

Heating Installation Tip: Load Calculations

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Do you ever feel that your Kent home just doesn’t get cool enough during the warm months or warm enough during the cold months? You have tried to adjust your thermostat to the right comfort level but it just never seems right. And on top of that, you notice that your utility bills keep going up and up. Even when you dial up the thermostat in the summer and dial it down in the winter to saving on energy usage, your bills are still about the same.

You could try adding fans and shedding clothes during the warm months or wearing sweaters and crawling under a pile of blankets in the cold months. But do you really enjoy living that way? There must be another solution as to why your heating and cooling (HVAC) system is just not keeping you comfortable – and affordable.

That air conditioning condensing unit sitting in your backyard and the furnace in your basement should be making your home as comfortable as possible. But in many cases, they are not. That’s because whoever installed those HVAC system components didn’t do their homework on your home. The components were sized incorrectly. If a furnace or air conditioner is sized incorrectly, it usually cannot keep up with the demand for heat or cold and often puts such a burden on the equipment. As a result, regular failures and repair bills are commonplace.

And it may not be the fault of the installing HVAC contractor. Over the years your home may have undergone renovations including additions and new windows, which have increased the square footage or demand for more heating or cooling. Those renovations may not have included upgrades to your home’s HVAC system.

So how do you check for the right size? Call a Kent HVAC contractor and ask for an energy audit for your home. The audit will include several key checks including a load calculation, which adds in the size of your home’s living space, number of door and windows where heat loss or gain could occur, and a check of heat loss or gain through leakage in cracks, roofs, crawlspaces, etc. An energy audit will determine what size of furnace or air conditioner is needed to meet the heating or cooling needs of your home and its own individual characteristics. Your HVAC contractor may also factor in the number of building occupants and normal usage patterns, i.e. having a home office or stay-at-home parent versus a working family where your home is occupied mostly at nights or on weekends.

All of these factors are considered when determining the equipment size. In air conditioning jargon, you will hear about tonnage of cooling capacity. An example may be a 2.5 ton air conditioning unit for a 2,000 square foot home. In furnace jargon, you will learn about Btu ratings, which are British thermal units. Most furnaces are sized in 20-25,000 Btu increments. Each is matched to the cooling or heating needs of your home. Your HVAC contractor will likely recommend using a programmable thermostat, too. That way, you can set the temperature of one or more zones in your home to when each zone is occupied.

Make sure you don’t hire someone who “guesstimates” how much cooling or heating capacity you need for your home. Find a qualified professional who will make the correct calculations and who will qualify their recommendations. A properly sized HVAC system will equate to manageable utility bills and above average indoor comfort. You can live with that.

How Often Should I Replace My Furnace Filter? A Question from Tukwila

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Just like the filter in your air conditioner, replacing your furnace filter is the key to keeping your Tukwila home healthy and comfortable. By keeping a good filter replacement schedule, you will reduce wear and tear to the furnace and keep your home warm, while keeping your family healthy and controlling energy costs all winter.

But when does your furnace filter need to be changed? Well, each system is different, but there are some general guidelines and recommendations to follow that can help you keep it all straight and stay on top of your furnace filter situation.

Conventional Wisdom

The long-standing rule of thumb on furnace filters is to change them every month. This is good practice if you are using older fiberglass filters, but for newer, more efficient filters, you should do it a little differently. These should be inspected and cleaned at least once a month, but you may need to replace them that frequently also.

Sometimes it is a little more complicated than these general guidelines, so it pays to be aware of some factors and conditions in your home that may affect how frequently you need to change your filter.

Things to Consider

As mentioned above, the first thing to consider is the efficiency of the filter. Because new filters are so efficient, when they get dirty or clogged with dust and debris, they actually restrict airflow, making your furnace bog down and work harder. So, it is important to stay on top of a monthly inspection and cleaning schedule with these filters.

Also take into account air quality and sources of allergens both inside and outside your home. If you live in an area with a lot of pollutants in the air, you’ll want to replace your filters often to keep those out of your home. If you own a lot of pets, the dander and hair will wind up in your furnace filter and you may have to replace it more often.

Complicated enough for you? It doesn’t have to be. Simplify the whole process by doing the following: check your filter monthly and be prepared to change it that often, clean high-efficiency filters regularly, replace the filter at least every three months and again at the start of heating season.

If you do those things at a minimum, you will be in pretty good shape.

Do I Need Battery Backup For My Solar Panels? A Question from Olympia

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Solar power is a great energy source for your Olympia home – clean, cheap, readily available in near infinite supply. But what happens when the sun doesn’t shine? Sure, UV rays still reach the Earth and provide solar energy on a cloudy day, but not as efficiently as in bright sunshine. What if it rains for a few days? What about the winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply?

These are all logical questions for anyone considering switching to solar energy. After all, without sunlight, your home could be without power and then what do you do? There are a few solutions to these issues, including a battery backup system. Before deciding one way or the other on a battery backup, there are a few things to consider.

Are You Staying On The Grid?

If you plan to keep you home connected to the local utility grid and use the two energy sources to supplement one another, then there is no real reason to have a backup system. Effectively, the electric company serves as your backup system, so if your solar supply runs low, you can use “regular” electricity by buying power as you need it and selling back any excess. If you are getting off the grid, however, and using solar or other alternative energy sources for 100% of your energy needs, then you will need to have some kind of backup system in place.

Battery or Generator?

Aside from battery systems, using a generator as a backup is another option. Generators work well and can produce enough electricity to power a home, but they can also be rather noisy and require you to have a fuel supply (usually propane or gasoline) on hand. They are best suited to short periods of use.

If you want to get completely off the grid, and you plan on needing backup power more frequently that a generator would be convenient for, then a batter backup system may be for you. Such a system requires installation of additional components, including not just the batteries but also an inverter and extra wiring. This means extra cost to you, and extra maintenance down the road. The batteries will also need to be replaced as they become depleted and unable to hold a charge.

These are many issues to be aware of in deciding whether a battery backup system is right for you. Strictly speaking, most home solar energy won’t need a battery backup, but it may be appropriate or necessary depending on your needs.

Benefits of Replacing Your Furnace in Fife

Monday, October 17th, 2011

You are about to make one of the largest purchases in your life – a new furnace for your Fife home. Maybe your old furnace is on life support and needs immediate replacement or you are looking for a better, more efficient furnace that will raise the comfort level of your home while reducing utility bills and carbon emissions.

If the furnace in your basement, crawl space, or attic is 15-20 years old, it may be a single-stage 80% percent efficient model, which doesn’t meet the higher efficiency standards of today’s models. It uses more energy, i.e. gas, oil, or electricity, to operate. And a single-stage furnace does not always provide even heating to all rooms in the home, based on the varying winter weather conditions. There may be large temperature variations from room to room.

Your new furnace will likely be more efficient and environmentally friendly than the one it is replacing – which are the two biggest benefits to replacing an old furnace. So, let’s take a closer look at these benefits, which link energy efficiency to the latest technology – namely two-stage furnaces and variable speed motors.

Two-stage furnaces start out by running in a first stage, which uses less than 70% of its capacity. This stage works well on moderate winter days. On colder days, the furnace will meet your extra heating demand by adjusting to the second stage in the heating cycle. Since the furnace spends most of its time operating in its lower capacity (first or single stage), it burns less fuel than a traditional furnace that always runs at full capacity and then shuts off when heating demand is met. You will see lower utility bills and a shorter payback period on your new furnace investment.

Variable-speed motors can actually save you money on your energy bill as they consume less electricity than standard motors. Variable speed furnaces save you money by having a higher SEER rating. SEER is the abbreviation for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit. The low operating costs of a variable speed furnace can allow you to run your furnace blower. With the low operating costs of the variable-speed furnace you can constantly run your blower without the worry of driving up your utility bill, allowing for continuously filtered air.

The U.S. government, as well as local governments are making it more tempting for homeowners like you to purchase new energy efficient furnaces, too. Government agencies have been offering tax credits to homeowners who switch to energy-efficient appliances, including heating and cooling products. Utility companies also offer rebates to homeowners who wish to lower their utility bills by using high-efficient appliances. Chances are, your local utility has some type of rebate program in place.

And when you shop for a new furnace, look for add-on equipment such as electronic air filters and programmable thermostats. Each will raise the comfort level you will be enjoying from your new furnace.

When Should You Check Your AC Filters: Some Pointers From Eatonville

Friday, September 9th, 2011

The filters on your air conditioning unit are vital for keeping out the dust and debris that make things like illness, allergies and air quality worse in your Eatonville home. And it’s important that you take personal responsibility for checking those filters. Sure, you have a professional visit your home once a year to check the air conditioning, but you should also check the system yourself on a semi-regular basis for possible filter degradation.

Monthly Checks

So, how often should you check? Think of it this way. There is no such thing as checking too much, but you can easily not check often enough. So, we recommend checking your filter at least once every 4 weeks. It may not always need to be changed during that four week checkup (sometimes it can last 6 weeks or longer), but it’s good to take a peek.

Why is this so important? Because filters that haven’t been checked and changed as needed have a habit of building up excess sediment and debris. Not a problem when it comes to actually working, but a huge problem when it comes to your energy bill. The harder a system has to work to keep you house cool, the more energy it draws and the more you pay to have cool air in your home. And it will break down much faster as a result of overwork and dirty filters.

Changing an AC Filter

If your filter is ready for a swap, here are some quick tips to get the job done:

  • Find Your Filters – If you don’t know where your filters are, ask your contractor on the next visit or look near the return grills by the thermostat.
  • Remove the Filters – Open the latches and pull the old filter out to check it. You should be able to see clearly through a permanent filter and a disposable one should still be white. If this isn’t the case, it’s time for a cleaning/replacement.
  • Clean the Area – Clear the grill and area of any debris and sediment that might make the filter worse after replacement.

Proper filter maintenance only takes five minutes and it will save you money every month you run your AC – not a bad deal for a few minutes’ work.

New Thermostats – Are they Worth the Investment? A Question From Yelm

Friday, August 12th, 2011

When you are trying to save money around your Yelm house, a new thermostat is definitely worth looking into. Sure, your old thermostat works fine. But there are a lot of features available on newer models that can help you save money on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

And you do not need to wait until it is time to replace your home comfort system to upgrade your thermostat. Most thermostats can work with many different types of heating and cooling systems. So no matter what type of HVAC system you have or how old it is, you should be able to integrate some type of new thermostat into it.

But how can a new thermostat save you money? Well, they simply offer a lot of features that you can use to your advantage. For instance, even the most basic programmable thermostat can let you set different temperatures for different times of day. You can program the thermostat to turn the heat down during the day when no one is home and then you can have the heat switch back on just before you get home.

That way, you can come home to a nice, warm house without having to pay to heat it all day long when it is empty. Many newer thermostats also are more accurate and can provide more pinpoint control of your heating and cooling system. That means that you will not be wasting money because your heating system gets the actual temperature in your house up to 75°F when you only really need it to hit 72°F.

Newer thermostats help you to save money in a variety of ways, and that savings will more than pay for the cost of having a new thermostat installed. That is because thermostats are actually quite cheap and easy to install. A relatively basic programmable thermostat should not run you more than $100, and even if you opt for one of the more advanced systems out there, you will not pay more than a few hundred dollars.

That is a small price to pay considering the increased comfort possible with a state of the art thermostat and the potential for savings every month on your heating or cooling bills. Plus, you likely paid a considerable amount to have that state of the art HVAC system put in. It is worth paying just a bit more so that you can get the most possible out of it.

Energy Recovery Ventilator – What Is It and When Do You Need It?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

It isn’t cheap to heat and cool the air you circulate through your home every day. In fact, heating and cooling can be the most expensive energy related systems you operate. So, the last thing you want is to open a window and pour all of that conditioned air into the great outdoors.

That’s why most modern homes are sealed up so tightly. The heated and cooled air you enjoy so much needs to be retained, both to save money and to reduce your energy use. It’s why the government offers credits for things like insulation upgrades and the purchase of more energy efficient comfort systems.

But, while sealing everything saves you money and reduces your energy use, it can negatively impact your indoor air quality. Without proper circulation and ventilation, the air in your home grows thick with indoor contaminants like pet dander, pollen, dust, and possibly even bacteria or gasses. Normally, these things would be circulated outside through traditional ventilation. But, because of your heating and cooling system, the age old method of cracking a window to let a little fresh air in just doesn’t work anymore.

An energy recovery ventilator solves this problem. Instead of just pouring heated or cooled air outside and replacing it with fresh air, an energy recovery ventilator passes the air through a series of chambers. Within those chambers the heat is transferred from the warmer air to the cooler air.

In the winter, this means the indoor air passes its energy to the incoming air, retaining the heat your furnace or boiler generated. In the summer, the air coming in from outside passes its heat energy to the cooled indoor air as it leaves and only cool air enters your home.

In effect, an energy recovery ventilator works to reduce the cost of both heating and cooling. It is true that most indoor air quality systems are designed to remove many of the contaminants you flush outside, but relying solely on your air purifier or filter puts undue stress on the equipment. Not only will you need to replace filters and cartridges more often, you may need to replace the entire system earlier than you would otherwise. If you’re tired of losing all that conditioned air just to get a fresh breath, look into these amazing machines for your indoor air system.