Posts Tagged ‘Fircrest’

What Exactly Are High Efficiency Boilers?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

As a Pierce County resident you have already read plenty about how energy costs are rising for most heating systems. You know plenty well that heating your home is a substantial expense, and that the cost of running a boiler is constantly on the rise.

But as technology has gotten better, boilers in Pierce County have also become more efficient at providing heat. It stands to reason that a more efficient boiler is one that costs less to run…but what does “efficient” really mean in the context of boilers? What makes a boiler “high efficiency”?

 What Is a High Efficiency Boiler?

All boilers are rated according to a standardized system of rating efficiency, called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). Essentially, this rating tells you how much heat energy is produced by a boiler compared to how much energy it draws. The higher a boiler’s AFUE rating, the more efficient it is.

For a boiler to be called high efficiency, it must carry an AFUE of at least 90%. For basis of comparison, older systems carry an AFUE of about 70%, while mid-efficiency systems run at about 82%.

In addition, a high efficiency system has a second heat exchanger for capturing and condensing flue gases, as well as a closed combustion system.

These three things — an AFUE of 90% or above, condensing flue gases and closed combustion – define a high efficiency boiler.

The initial investment in a high efficiency boiler can be costly, but the savings over time in heating bills make it well worth the expense.

If you would like a high efficiency boiler installed in your home, call Sound Heating today!

Heat Pump Maintenance in Renton

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Heating and cooling your Renton home is a priority. You need your home and family to be comfortable all year round, so you either got or are considering a heat pump. These machines are great because under the right circumstances, they are essentially all-inclusive and incredibly efficient solutions for all your home heating and cooling needs.

Notice the “under the right circumstances” part. A number of things have to be considered when choosing a heat pump, such as the climate and the size of your home. But these are not the only circumstances that influence how well your heat pump works for you. Proper heat system maintenance is a vital component of heat pump ownership, ensuring that you get the best performance out of your heat pump for the longest time possible.

A major part of properly maintaining any machine is to keep it clean. A heat pump is no exception. Dirt and dust can affect the efficiency of your heat pump, as well as speed up corrosion problems. Keep the compressor and coils clean. Check them monthly or so and remove any accumulated dirt. Also, consistently check and change filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Simple cleaning is an easy and effective first step to heat pump maintenance, but there are some things that you just won’t be able to do on your own. For more intensive maintenance, it is best to call in a professional for an annual inspection.

During a routine maintenance check of your heat pump, a technician will inspect the whole heat pump system for problems. He will clean the compressor and coils, tighten any connections that may have loosened up and change the filters as needed. In addition, a skilled technician will be able to detect any early signs of trouble and make necessary repairs to prevent break downs. These small repairs can prevent big problems later on, thereby preventing some serious discomfort and a possible big expense.

If you are considering a heat pump as a heating and cooling solution for your home, great. If you have already decided on one and had it installed, congratulations on making a smart decision. Now, make another smart decision to protect that investment by keeping your new heat pump properly maintained.  Please call Sound Heating & Air Conditioning with any questions.

Water Heater Guide: Sizing a Tankless Water Heater

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Tankless water heaters are gaining popularity among Sammamish homeowners because of their on demand hot water supply and space-saving design. Although they are more expensive than traditional tank water heaters, on demand water heaters are more efficient, reliable, and easier to install and maintain. Before choosing to install a tankless water heater, however, you will have to decide which size will meet your hot water needs.

Rather than storing hot water in a tank, the tankless models heat the water with individual units located near the application where hot water is needed, such as a shower or washing machine. For larger homes, some of these smaller units cannot heat enough water for several applications running at the same time. You can also install a single tankless water heater for the entire house, or separate ones for appliances that use more hot water.

Finding the proper size and type will depend on the flow rate—measured  by a GPM (gallons per minute) number—that each fixture needs. Every application has a standard flow rate that must be added up in order to calculate the hot water demands for your entire home. For instance, if someone is using a sink with a 1.5 GPM at the same time another person is running a shower with a 2.0 GPM, the flow rate for the tankless unit would need to be at least 3.5 gallons per minute. You will have to add up the flow rate for all the applications in the house to get the minimum GPM figure for your tankless water heater.

In addition to flow rates, tankless hot water heaters are also measured by how much the water temperature needs to rise as it moves through the heating unit. You can determine the temperature rise for each application by subtracting the temperature of water coming in from the desired temperature going out. Once you add those together with the overall flow rates, you will know which tankless water heater can handle your overall hot water needs.

Before you buy an on demand hot water heater, it is best to talk to a professional installer. While the flow rates and temperature rise for most household appliances are fairly standard, these numbers can vary because of several factors that professionals are trained to calculate. Size is not the only factor to consider when shopping for a tankless water heater. Fuel type and efficiency should also be factored in to your purchase, which is another reason to talk to a licensed Sammamish installer.

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.

What to Do About an Ice and Snow Covered Heat Pump in Tukwila

Monday, December 5th, 2011

It’s very common for heat pumps in Tukwila to ice over in the winter time. It can be due to freezing temperatures and icing outside or it could be due to constant running of the heat pump or excess moisture on the coils. However, while a bit of ice on the heat pump is relatively normal, the entire unit should never be covered in ice – such a thing is not only hard on the machinery; it can result in no heat for your home.

How to Handle Ice and Snow on the Heat Pump

Should your heat pump become covered in ice or snow in the winter time, there are a few things you can do and some things you should not do. First, check to make sure the problem isn’t related to a broken defrost cycle timer. The heat pump should go into a defrost cycle every 30-90 minutes to keep excess ice from building up. If this doesn’t happen, it should be inspected for a thermostat or sensor problem.

To actually remove the ice from the unit, never use a sharp object to pick the ice clear. You can easily damage the coils or another part of the unit and leave it permanently broken. The best way to remove ice from your heat pump is to rinse it off with a hose – even cold water will remove ice. Just be sure the defrost cycle is ready to come back on so the water used to rinse away the ice doesn’t freeze.

Remember to check your emergency heating source and make sure it is switched on while this is happening. Your heat pump likely won’t work properly while iced over and if it is left in the on position, excess stress on the device will cause damage.

To avoid this kind of damage, turn off the heat pump and turn on your emergency heating source, then clear away the ice and check the defrost timer. If everything works properly, turn the heat pump back on, but if you find any problems, call a heating contractor to do a more thorough inspection of the device before you use it again.

How Much Can I Expect To Save On Energy If I Have A Solar System? A Question From Fircrest

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Everyone in Fircrest knows about the benefits of solar energy for the environment. It reduces carbon emissions, preserves nonrenewable natural resources, reduces dependence on oil, etc. That is all well and good, but in tight economic times the question always comes down to one thing: how much will you save. People want to know how much going solar can really save them on costs, and if you are reading this, then you are probably wondering the same thing, and with good reason.

Savings Are Variable

Somewhat disappointingly, that’s the answer. There a number of factors to consider in the cost of using solar energy and the subsequent savings, and after considering all of them you may decide solar isn’t right for you. There is no one right answer, but below you can see some guidelines which ought to give you a better idea:

  • Energy costs for an average American household are estimated at about $195 per month, and rising at a rate of about 3.75% each year.
  • The cost of installing a solar panel system is between $8 and $12 per watt (or $8,000 to $12,000 per kilowatt).
  • If your family uses 7 kilowatts of electricity per month, a solar panel system to offset 100% of your energy use will cost about $63,000. You can opt to get a less robust system to offset, say, 50% of current usage, however, for a lower cost. This is not set in stone either. Costs fluctuate depending on where you live and current component prices.
  • Despite the high initial cost, many solar systems are under warranty for 25 years, meaning you can expect them to last at least that long.
  • Depending on the utility price structure in your area, using solar for 50% of your household energy consumption may reduce costs by as much as 60%. Over 25 years, assuming the steady rate increase of 3.75%, your savings can be upwards of $60,000.

Keep in mind that these are only rough estimates. Research utility costs in your area and get estimates before installing. Solar energy calculator utilities are available online. You may find that there is a definite savings with solar, or that you can use a smaller system to offset a portion of your energy use. Or, you may even find that solar energy is not the right option for you. The important thing is to do your homework and choose the home energy solution that is best for you and your family.

Why Install a Ductless Air Conditioner? A Question From Tukwila

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

As you explore your options in terms of a new home air conditioning system in Tukwila, you will probably have to decide whether you want a system that uses ducts to get the cooled air around the house or one that is considered ductless. Each type of air conditioning system is appropriate in certain situations, so it is important to understand the benefits of each before you can make a decision.

Duct air conditioning systems are the more traditional type on the market today. They generally consist of an outdoor compressor and condenser unit and an indoor air handler. The outdoor unit passes the cooled air through ducts to the air handler, which then takes over circulating the air through the house and back out to the condenser again.

It makes sense to install this type of air conditioning system if you have a large house or if you have ducts already in place. Duct air conditioners can cool a moderate to large sized house quite effectively and they can also be coupled with zone control systems to give you multiple climate zones within your house.

Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not rely on a system of air ducts to get cooled air distributed throughout your house. These types of systems use refrigerant lines to transfer coolant from the outdoor compressor to the indoor, wall mounted units. Each of these indoor units can take care of cooling one or two rooms, but in order to cool an entire house with one of these systems, you will need to install multiple indoor units.

However, these multiple indoor units can all be connected to the same outdoor compressor, and they can also be controlled independently. That gives you much greater control over which parts of your house are cooled and how much energy you are using to cool areas that may or may not be occupied.

Ductless air conditioners are generally more energy efficient than ducted ones, but their real advantage comes from the facts that they can be installed even in places where air ducts do not exist or cannot go. If you do not already have ductwork in your house, installing a duct system will add considerably to the price of installing a ducted air conditioning system. In a case like this, a ductless system is much easier and cheaper to install and certainly makes more sense.

A Maintenance Tip From Sumner: Cleaning Your Conditioner Coil Will Save You Headaches Later

Monday, August 1st, 2011

You have plenty of things to clean all over your house in Sumner. But do you really have to clean your air conditioner too? Well, if you want it to keep working well, you do. In fact, cleaning the coil of your air conditioner is a quick and easy process, especially if you do it on a regular basis, and it can save you a great deal of frustration later on.

Like any machine, your air conditioner needs a tune up from time to time in order to continue to function properly. While a lot of this is taken care of if you have an annual maintenance service performed by a professional, your air conditioning coil will benefit greatly by being cleaned more often than that.

In fact, during your annual maintenance visit, your air conditioning technician can easily demonstrate for you how to get to the coil and clean it. This is a relatively easy task that you can carry out every month or so when your system is in use to help ensure optimal health and functioning for your system.

Of course, your air conditioning system will still run whether you clean the coils on a regular basis or not. For now, that is. Allowing more and more debris to build up on the coil, however, can have a big impact on the overall energy efficiency of your unit. An air conditioner with a dirty coil will have to work harder to keep your house cool, and that will be reflected by an increase in energy consumption.

Also, an air conditioner with a dirty coil that is having to work harder to keep your house cool will wear out more quickly than one that is working properly without added impediments. The added wear and tear that this causes to various other parts within your air conditioner can cause them to malfunction and need to be replaced sooner than they should.

This means more costly repairs, even if they are minor ones. It also means that your entire air conditioning system will probably not last as long as it may have with proper care. You will have to replace it sooner, adding even more to the cost of having and running the equipment.

Cleaning your air conditioner coil regularly is a simple and effective way of helping to keep the entire system running smoothly and efficiently for many years to come.

What Is SEER?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

If you’ve been looking at air conditioners, you’ve probably noticed that they all seem to have a SEER rating. But what does this actually mean?

The SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measure of how energy efficient a particular air conditioning model is. So when you’re shopping around for the best deal on an air conditioner for your home, this is something you’ll absolutely want to pay attention to.

Interpreting SEER Ratings

The SEER rating system is relatively simple – the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the product. But because a higher price tag typically comes with a higher SEER rating, it’s important to know just how much more efficient a higher rated unit will be. It helps you decide whether paying significantly more for a higher rated unit is worth it in long term savings. Will it actually save you enough each month to make up for the difference in price?

Evaluating Your Energy Usage

A big factor here is how much you will use your air conditioner. If you live in a place with very hot and humid summers where the air conditioning runs constantly, you’re probably best off with the highest SEER you can find. When you consume that much energy to keep your home cool, you want to get as much as possible out of it, and that’s what a high SEER model can do for you.

On the other hand, if you live in an area that doesn’t have the harshest summers, you may be better off with a slightly less efficient (and therefore cheaper) model. Keep in mind, too, that the actual percentage increase in energy efficiency goes up by smaller and smaller increments the higher in SEER ratings you get. For instance, while a 10 SEER unit may be almost 20% more efficient than an 8 SEER model, a 12 SEER is only about 10% more efficient than that 10 SEER.

Finding the Right Balance

The best way to decide what SEER rating is best for you is to determine the annual cooling costs with your current unit and then calculate your savings in dollars based on the percentage each model would improve your efficiency. If you don’t currently have an air conditioner, this can be a bit tricky, but a professional contractor or air conditioning salesman can help you estimate your total monthly cooling costs with the various units.

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.