Posts Tagged ‘Orting’

AC Question: Can I Choose Environmentally Friendly Coolants?

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Air conditioners are indispensable in many parts of the country, but their environmental impact has long been a source of controversy. In particular, the coolants that were used in the earliest air conditioners, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have done quite a bit of damage to the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

When this affect was discovered, countries all over the world acted to have them phased out of production and use in air conditioning. While CFCs have not been produced since 1995, there are still many air conditioning units functioning today that use CFCs. As these units wear out, of course, the CFCs will gradually disappear from use altogether.

Another type of coolant that is commonly used in air conditioners is hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These have a slightly lower environmental impact than their cousin CFCs, but they are still not ideal in terms of preserving the ozone layer and impeding the progress of global warming. HCFCs are gradually being phased out as well, and they will no longer be produced at all by 2030.

However, it is still possible to buy air conditioners that use HCFCs as a coolant, and if you can avoid this, you should. HCFCs are not nearly as environmentally friendly as some of the other options on the market, and if you are concerned about the effect that these types of chemicals can have on our environment, it is best to steer clear of air conditioners that use HCFCs.

So what coolants are considered environmentally friendly? Well, there are actually two options in this regard. The first are hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). Although they are quite similar to CFCs and HCFCs, HFCs do not contain chlorine and so do not do the type of damage that their predecessors were capable of. You can find air conditioners that use HFCs relatively easily by looking for an “ozone friendly” label on the box.

Refrigerant blends are also becoming a more and more popular environmentally friendly coolant solution for air conditioners as well. Although these types of coolants typically cost more to produce and so can drive up the cost of the air conditioners that use them, they should begin to come down in price as they are more widely adopted across the industry. Just as with HFCs, look for the “ozone friendly” label to identify air conditioners that use refrigerant blends as coolants. For more information about how to choose an air conditioning system in Puyallup, give Sound Heating & Air Conditioning a call today!

Federal Energy Efficiency Rebates Explained for Tacoma

Friday, March 16th, 2012

As a Tacoma resident you’ve probably seen the advertisements and heard the sales pitches. Upgrade with a heating system installation, air conditioner, tankless water heater, or insulation and receive a federal rebate on your taxes for a percentage of the installation cost. The government is seriously invested in improving the energy efficiency of the country, cutting electric bills and helping people stay comfortable. Here’s a quick look at some of those rebates and how you can tap into them.

Energy Efficiency Credits

There is a standard tax credit of 10% of the cost up to $500 or a specific amount between $50 and $300 for any upgrade made to your existing home for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, insulation, roofs, or water heaters. These upgrades must be made on an existing home in which you currently live – rentals and new construction homes are not eligible.

Green Energy Credits

Even better credits are available if you plan on installing a geothermal heat pump, wind turbine or solar system – either PV panels or solar heating. The tax credit here is 30% of the cost with no upper limit. This applies to any existing or new homes and can be applied to both primary and secondary residences.

Are the Tax Credits Worth It?

The big question is whether these credits are worth the investment in a brand new system? For the most part, it depends on your particular situation. If you have a 30 year old furnace and are planning on an upgrade anyways, why not take advantage of a nice rebate and get a more energy efficient system to go with it? However, if you just replaced your furnace three years ago and it works very well with a high energy efficiency rating, it might not be worth the investment.

Learn More

The Energy Star program run by the EPA contains detailed breakdowns of the 2011 tax credits, including what systems are eligible and how to go about claiming them on next year’s taxes. Learn more by visiting their official page, or calling Sound Heating

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.

Warning Signs of a Broken Furnace: A Guide From Renton

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

How do you know when your furnace in your Renton house is “on the fritz?” There are warning signs of a broken furnace and some are recognizable – but not all. A broken furnace not only deprives your home of heat and comfort, it also can be deadly, too.

Let’s look at some of the warning signs.

Each year, hundreds of people die and many more are injured from the most common household poison: carbon monoxide. This colorless and odorless poisonous gas comes from several sources and the furnace is the most common source of all; more precisely a broken or malfunctioning furnace. Carbon monoxide is a result of incomplete combustion of a fossil fuel, which is when a fuel does not burn correctly or completely. In a furnace, carbon monoxide gas comes from a poorly operating burner or a cracked heat exchanger. A properly tuned and maintained furnace greatly reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Since carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless, it can go undetected. It can make people sleepy and create flu-like symptoms. Sometimes a person may fall asleep and never wake up. But there are warning signs. Drowsiness, vomiting, or flu-like symptoms are a warning sign. Regularly scheduled maintenance of your furnace by a qualified heating and cooling professional and installation of carbon monoxide detectors can reduce the risk of falling ill to carbon monoxide gas.

Another warning sign is a higher energy bill. Sometimes you can’t detect a problem right away because, like carbon monoxide, there may be no obvious signs. Higher utility bills can be a sure sign of a furnace that is working too hard and running more than usual. This may be a result of clogged or dirty air vents, or dirty filters. If your monthly bills are higher than those of the previous year, it may not just be because gas prices are higher.

There are other warning signs of a broken furnace, too. The most obvious is the failure of your furnace to bring your home up to the desired thermostat settings or to maintain an even temperature. Cold or uncomfortable houses are sure signs of a broken furnace. The furnace may cycle on or off, causing an uneven or inconsistent flow of heated air. This can be because of a poor blower or a clogged furnace filter. If you don’t feel any moving heated air or detect any unusual odors or smells coming from your heating vents, that’s a sure sign of a broken or malfunctioning furnace.

A broken or cracked gas line can emit odors and can cause a furnace to malfunction, too.

Don’t take a chance of losing heat and comfort this winter. At the first possible warning sign, call your local heating and professional for a heating system tune-up.

Things You Should Have Inspected: A Guide From Snoqualmie

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Life would be great in Snoqualmie if we could just depend on things to work and last without requiring any sort maintenance or upkeep. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As good as modern manufacturing and engineering are, our devices, appliances and machines still need attention in order to stay in peak condition.

The Body Is a Machine

To illustrate this, think about the human body. We put a lot of wear and tear on ourselves, which can lead to minor illnesses, injuries and the like, especially when combined with the effects of aging. One way we attempt to stay ahead of the game is to get an annual physical. Once a year, we pay a visit to our doctor to make sure everything is in tip top shape. He checks everything out, lets us know what’s going on, helps us treat anything that may be acting up and then off we go, ready to go for another year.

And So Is Your Furnace

Likewise, your furnace needs annual attention as well. Although newer electrical furnaces can go up to three years without regular maintenance, gas and oil models should be inspected every year, as should older systems. During an annual inspection, an HVAC professional will:

  • Clean out fuel lines, keeping every flowing freely and efficiently.
  • Check for parts that are wearing out or need to be replaced.
  • Clean and inspect the heating ductwork as well as the vents.

These simple and routine maintenance tasks can extend the life of your furnace by years, keeping your home warm and your heating costs low.

The Best Time for Inspection

The best time to get your furnace inspected is in the late summer to fall months. Although you may still be trying to squeeze every bit of enjoyment from those last warm days, the cold weather comes not far behind, and you will want your furnace ready when that happens. A fall inspection ensures that your furnace will be all set when those temperatures start to drop, so your family won’t have to tolerate any chilly nights.

Annual inspections and maintenance are important for health and longevity, both for you and your furnace. You can even schedule your physical and your furnace inspection around the same time so you don’t forget. Make an appointment for your car while you’re at it, too. That makes three things you won’t have to worry about during those cold winter months.

Window and Through Wall Units – Benefits and Disadvantages in Kent

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

When you’re trying to decide what type of air conditioner to get for your Kent home, you’ll first have to determine whether a central air conditioning system or smaller individual unit is best for you. These smaller air conditioners are generally installed either in a window or through the wall of your home, and they can provide excellent cooling under the proper conditions.

If you’re still on the fence about what type of air conditioner is right for your home, here are a few items to consider:

  • Ducts – If your home already has ductwork installed for a central forced air heating system, it should be relatively easy to hook up a central air conditioner. But if there are no ducts currently in place, your installation costs will be a lot lower with window or wall mounted units.
  • Portability – Most window units are designed to be removed and stored at the end of the summer, so you can have your windows back and not have to look at that unit all winter long. Through wall units aren’t generally removable, but because they don’t take up window space and provide a more thorough seal against the elements, that’s not as much of a concern.
  • Aesthetics – With both window and through wall units, you’ll have something protruding into your room at least a few inches. These types of units are hard to hide, particularly when compared to the simple air ducts that central air conditioning systems use.
  • Flexible Sizing – No matter how big or small your room is, you should have no trouble finding a window or through wall unit to match it. A central air conditioning system needs to be sized to fit the entire house. If you’re only inclined to use air conditioning in two or three rooms during the hottest months of the year, you may not want to pay to cool the entire house all of the time. Smaller units provide that type of flexibility.
  • Affordability – Installing a central air conditioning system, even if you already have ducts in place, is a large undertaking and likely to cost you several thousand dollars up front. On the other hand, small window and through wall air conditioners are available for as little as $200 and you can buy more whenever you’re ready to spend that extra money. You can also usually install a window unit yourself, and the cost of having a through wall unit installed is minimal compared to that of a central AC unit.