Heat Pumps Explained

Heat pumps operate in a way that might sound counter intuitive at first, but can be easily understood through a couple analogies.

What is a Heat Pump

A heat pump’s job is to take heat from one area and move it to another area. In this case, it’s going to be taking heat from a cold area and moving it to a warmer area. Now, I’m sure you’re asking, “How can you get heat from a cold area and move it to a warm area?” and that’s a very good question.

Every substance above absolute zero has heat energy in it that can be used. Using the refrigeration cycle, the heat pump is able to draw energy from cool, winter air, and move it to the inside of your house. Even that cold, brisk, winter air is going to be considerably warmer than the refrigerant in part of the heat pumps lines. Just like in your refrigerator where the coils on the inside pull heat from that cold air and move it to the coils at the back of the unit to be released into the atmosphere, the heat pump does the same.

At the beginning of the cycle, refrigerant enters the evaporator coil where its pressure and temperature drop, greatly reducing its temperature. The refrigerant is warmed by the air around the coil and from there it travels to the compressor.

In the compressor the warmed refrigerant is compressed and heated further and then travels down the lines to the condenser coil. The coil will absorb the heat from the refrigerant and via air being blown over the coil will put that heat into the house.

Can a Heat Pump Save You Money?

Heat pumps a are very efficient means of heating your home. Depending on the type of system, efficiencies can be extremely high with these. They will be far more efficient than any sort of electric-resistance heating system and can even be less expensive to operate than gas. However, they function best in climates with winters on the mild side.

Follow the Philadelphia Gas & Electric blog for to stay up to date on all HVAC technology.

8 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

When it’s time to replace your air conditioner or furnace, you may feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to you. By avoiding the following pitfalls, you can make a wise decision that will be worth the expense.

1. Going For the Lowest Price

Most often, a higher efficiency model can save you more money over time than will the cheapest option. With a high efficiency model, you can save about $300 per year for the 12 to 15 years your system is likely to last.

2. Getting Just One Estimate

Since every HVAC company’s fees are different, you’ll want to get more than one estimate in order to compare service contracts, permits and installation costs.

3. Buying the Wrong Size Equipment

Quite a few homeowners get the wrong size heating and air conditioning equipment, which results in high utility bills, mold buildup, damaged equipment and an inefficient system that creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

4. Ignoring SEER

The SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating lets consumers know how efficient a particular HVAC system is. Go for a SEER rating of at least 13, and ideally 16 or higher. This can cut your energy bills significantly.

5. Missing Rebates

Many manufacturers and states offer rebates to those who purchase energy efficient HVAC systems. These rebates can be significant and can sometimes be up to $1500. Ask your contractor about rebates or visit www.dsireusa.org.

6. Not Getting a Maintenance Contract

Annual maintenance is important in order to keep your HVAC system working its best. Dirt, dust and debris build up in a system over time, and when these aren’t cleaned out, your system can become less efficient. This can result in parts breaking down and an increase in your energy bill. A maintenance contract ensures your company will perform thorough maintenance every year.

7. Getting Outdated Refrigerant

Any new unit produced after 2009 is restricted from using R-22, often called Refrigerant®, due to its ozone-depleting properties. Make sure your new system uses an approved refrigerant like R-410A.

8. Not Using Professionals

Some companies use high school students to work with mechanics, but neither the mechanic nor the student specializes in the type of system being installed. When this happens, either your estimate or the installation may be delayed. In case you get a company that doesn’t follow through with the job in time, include a 5% penalty in the agreement.

If you’re looking to invest in a new heating or air conditioning system, avoid these pitfalls and make a smart purchase that will keep your home feeling comfortable.

Follow us for additional information on heating, cooling and more.

What Is Two-stage Heating?

ThermostatSingle stage heating is common in areas experiencing humid, hot and extreme cold. Because air conditioning will only be necessary during specific months, HVAC systems may have to work harder even when not needed. To solve this issue, a two-stage heating system was born to save energy and money as well as increase efficiency and comfort. Basically, a two-stage heating system utilizes two methods of heat output to provide desirable room temperatures during extreme and mild cold.

How it Works

Unlike the single-stage heating method, two-stage heating operates in two stages that is, high and low. The first heating stages works mostly when temperature requirements are lower. For instance, in the morning or during winter, the systems works at the high stage to provide extra heat. When temperatures are average or the home heat requirements have been attained, the system switches to lower heat mode. At this stage, less energy is consumed as the system is not running at full capacity-about 65%. When shifting between these two temperature outputs, a smooth transition occurs.

Advantages of Two-stage Heating

As opposed to the single or standard heating method, two-stage heating gives continuous comfort by eliminating temperature swings to about 1 degree of the thermostat setting. Two stage heating starts slowly when less heat is needed then shifts smoothly to the next stage when higher heat requirements are required. In essence, the system does not operate at full capacity. Because the system operates at lower speeds, more dust and dirt particles are trapped therefore improving the quality of air. In addition, it operates at lower capacity than normal therefore consuming less energy hence increasing efficiency.

Choosing Two-stage Heating for Your Home

When selecting a furnace for your HVAC system, be sure to consider the amount of time you will spend with your family at home and the amount of money that you are willing to spend on a new heating system. If you want comfort, be sure to spend on a two-stage heating system as you stand to save money.

For these reasons, follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Reduce Home Heating Costs This Winter

This article shares information on some of the most effective ways to reduce home heating costs.

 

Types of Heating Fuel

Some of the most common fuel types include electricity, propane and oil. With the constant price flux, it would be wise to choose a fuel type that saves you money on energy cost. According to research, average households in the U.S. spent around $600 on energy cost last winter when using oil as fuel for their heating system. If the same households were using propane or electricity, they would have spent around $1500 and $1700 respectively. If your home or business still uses an older heating and cooling system, then you’d be better off switching to a more energy efficient model.

 

Cleaning Your Ductwork

Accumulation of mold, dust and vermin inside your ducts is likely to raise your heating cost. By hiring a professional, your ducts can be fixed of leaks and cleaned to ensure they operate more efficiently. Traditional methods of sealing ducts included the use of mastics and ducts. However, a newer technology known as aerosealing has proven more effective when it comes to sealing ducts of leaks.

 

How Often Should You Service your Heating System?

Having a professional service your heating system at least once a year is highly recommended by experts. To ensure proper servicing is done on your unit, it would be wise to go for a contractor that has received proper training and possesses North American Technician Excellence certification. The cost of servicing your unit may range between $100 and $400 depending on various factors. You are also advised to change your filters every now and then, especially if you are using a forced-air system during the winter season.

 

Do You Have Enough Insulation?

Laying proper insulation on your attic and floor can save you a lot of money and trouble. When warm air is lost through plumbing vents and electric boxes, then your heating bill is likely to go up. You may also experience stack-effect which usually leads to drafty rooms. Follow us for more articles that keep your HVAC system running efficiently and saving you money.

Should I Leave Interior Doors Open Or Closed During Heating And Cooling?

Many people think that they can simply shut the doors to their bedrooms, laundry room, home office and other interior rooms and they’ll be able to save a little money on heating and cooling bills. Unfortunately, while this practice is fairly common, the homeowner is setting in motion an inefficient and, even, dangerous situation.

Today’s HVAC systems move a great deal of air during the normal process of heating and cooling a home, and proper air flow is crucial to energy efficiency as well as personal comfort. When one or more interior doors is closed, air flow is interrupted and serious problems can arise.

For example, when a bedroom door is closed, the HVAC system will still be putting air into the room, but the air is trapped and pressure begins to build up. Of course, the air that you have paid so much to condition is then forced to find a way to escape. It will be forced back out of the house, following any escape path it can find.

Unfortunately, for every cubic foot of conditioned air that is forced out of a room, an equal amount of unconditioned air will be drawn back into the home from outdoors. The more interior doors that are closed, the more conditioned air will be forced out with more hot or cold air from outside being brought into the home. In fact, the draw of unconditioned air can increase by 300 to 900 percent depending on how many doors are closed. This not only dramatically increases utility bills, but indoor comfort decreases and health problems can occur.

As the HVAC system requires large amounts of air to replace the air that is forced out from the pressure of closed doors, outdoor air finds its way in through the easiest path. This is typically a reverse air flow from the furnace flue, fireplace flue or chimney. As this air comes into the home, it brings outdoor pollutants, increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and a greater risk of mold and mildew due to higher humidity.

So in short, we recommend keeping your doors open or only shutting them for as short of a period as possible when your HVAC unit is running.

Keep following our blog for more great air conditioning and energy efficiency tips.

Purchasing A Heat Pump Versus A Furnace For Your Home

Deciding between a heat pump and a furnace for your home’s heating needs can be complicated. There are several factors you should consider before making a decision. First consider your needs. Then consider the costs of the unit and energy prices, the unit’s efficiency and the unit’s safety.

You will also need an air conditioner if you buy a furnace, the heat pump, however will serve to cool and heat your home. A furnace uses gas, while a heat pump uses electricity, so consider the gas and electricity costs in your area of the country. Another factor to consider is the efficiency of the unit. Heat pumps tend to be 30-40% more efficient that gas furnaces. The safety is yet another factor to seriously weigh. The gas furnace is far more dangerous to operate than the heat pump. The gas operates using a pilot light which must be lit 24 hours a day and gas has the potential of emitting carbon monoxide, which can kill when it rises to dangerous levels.

Living in a Mild or Extreme Climate

Depending on your home’s location, either warmer climate or colder climate, you may prefer a furnace which can compensate for the colder outdoor air by heating it directly. A heat pump merely moves existing heat around. This makes furnaces appropriate for homes in cold regions and heat pumps ideal for homes in mild climates.

Costs: Gas versus Electricity

If the cost of energy in your region is low for electricity, you may prefer a heat pump. And if gas prices are also low a furnace may serve your needs well. If there is a marked difference in electricity costs versus gas costs, you can base your decision on which ever energy source best fits within your financial means.

Efficiency of the Unit

Heat pumps are far more energy efficient than gas furnaces. They can reach efficiency levels that far outweigh the initial investment in their installation. The energy savings can pay for the cost of the unit in as little as three and one half to five years, but throughout the life of your heat pump you will continue to save significantly on your energy bills.

Safety

Heat pumps are safer because they are operated with electricity, not gas. When using gas, you always run the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Heat pumps on the other hand are preferable if you live in a milder climate.

When choosing between a heat pump and a furnace, examine all the above considerations. For assistance in making the right choice, call us for all your heating and furnace needs.

How To Replace A Water Heater

Determining when to replace a water heater is a fairly straightforward process, and a few preliminary checks can help you determine if your heater requires total replacement or merely some minor repairs. Water heaters can in two different types, and the process of troubleshooting each one is somewhat different.

Gas vs. Electric Heaters

The type of water heating unit you have will most likely be replaced with a similar model. Gas-powered water heaters are installed in homes that are already equipped with gas line systems for stoves and other appliances. An electric water heater can be installed in any kind of building, whether or not the residence is already equipped with gas lines. If you have a growing family or have recently acquired more roommates, you may want to consider upgrading your water heating unit if in fact it does need to be replaced.

What to Look For in a Replacement Heater

If you need a new water heater and want to upgrade your current model, a few pre-purchase considerations include:

– Total gallon capacity
– The average number of gallons heated per hour
– The total measurements needed to fit in the space you have in your home

Before removing your old water heater, check the nameplate on the side of your current unit for important information on the model number and total gallon capacity. The time to replace a water heater largely depends on the age of your old heater, your current budget and the condition of your water heater. A few signs that you need to replace your water heater include:

– Collection of sediment in the tank
– Sizzling or hissing noises from the heater
– Leaking pipes
– Loose pressure valves

If you choose the DIY approach to replacing your water heating unit, mark all installation lines with tape ahead of time to make the job easier. Also check the manufacturer’s manual carefully for instructions on how to loosen and detach each water and electrical line safely. Some tools you’ll need for water heater replacement include pliers, screwdrivers and a good wrench for detaching lines.

Determination Of The Qualification Of A Technician

HVAC is an important technology for any home. It is responsible for the normal lives in places where extreme temperatures are a norm. This technology has developed over time and is very complicated as it stands today. This necessitates the employment of qualified technicians to do the job perfectly.

The level of experience
The greater the length of time the technician has been working, the better he is to perform the job. It is custom in some states to have a certain level of experience in order to be licensed. This ensures that the levels of injuries or even fatalities caused by accidents brought about by inexperience are eliminated.

Recommendations
These repairs are quite common in many homes. Therefore, your friend or family member may have used a very reliable dealer before. If you can get such recommendations, the better placed you are at finding the best technician. If you do not have any referrals, you may make use of the databases online for finding a technician with the best reviews.

Check the license
If you need to determine the qualifications of technician, it is wise to check their licenses. If they do not have licenses, do not hire them. If they have the license, check where they were certified and make sure you see the company he is representing. Sometimes, the license may not be a very reliable piece of evidence because they are forged sometimes. Therefore you may countercheck the story to see if it adds up.

Be inquisitive
You may find out the technician qualifications by asking them questions. This will help you determine their suitability to the job at hand. Questions like whether there is some insurance cover covering them, ask them for references of work done or their payment schedules. People lie sometimes but it is good to try this out.

Well, it may seem easy to find a good technician for the job at hand but it may not be too much of a downhill task. It will require creative thinking to determine whether or not a technician is who he says he is. It is also better to deal with companies that have good reputation all the time. Ensure that your system is repaired by the same company all through in order to understand full what is needed.For any certified HVAC experts, please contact us.

Exciting Heating And Cooling Technology Trends

With the construction industry gradually undergoing an overhaul, related sectors are bound to feel the effect. The heating and cooling technology sector, in particular, is expected to see new trends in the forthcoming years, both in new tech and sector growth.

Smarter Systems

Technological upgrade is an ongoing trend in the repair and construction sector, more so in the HVAC industry domain. Smart technology is causing a historic shift in HVAC configuration. With many manufacturing firms embracing the trend, staying abreast with the latest developments has become more a requirement and less an option. The several leaps taken by general cooling and heating tech along with thermostat is becoming the norm in recent HVAC trade shows and events.

With better and refined technology, the new system options increase, enabling installation firms expand their services list. However, the major appeal remains with the systems. The newer HVAC units are far more efficient and need less maintenance than older HVAC systems. As technology is bound to refine and evolve with time, one can only expect more intriguing stuff in the near future.

Housing Market

The stable real estate market surge has meant growth for the HVAC industry. In fact, the housing sector is projected to grow at a swift pace, meaning equal growth in HVAC requirements. While a major chunk of the trend can be attributed to demands from new housing, restoration projects are also likely to positively impact the industry. Reconstruction efforts in both public and private industries are growing, and the larger footprint of newer technology has forced builders and contractors to erect housing with updated heating and cooling systems.

Green Projects

While the phrase ‘green technology’ is losing momentum in recent years, the move towards technology in favor of the environment is moving ahead strong. The HVAC industry is not escaping this drift; the newer systems and models reflect the positive approach the HVAC industry has taken towards the green initiative. The demand for such systems is on the rise and manufacturers are more than happy to oblige to this market trend. Lesser energy consumption translates to increased savings – a trend catching consumer attention in private and commercial sectors alike.

Call us to learn more about the latest in HVAC technology.

The Annual Furnace Exam: Why It’s So Important?

The annual furnace maintenance program is one of the most important ways of ensuring that the furnace in your home is working properly. Surprisingly, some homeowners do not actually know why this program is important. The only way to improve efficiency of your furnace is to inspect it regularly and fix any problem that arises. When you look at it from a wider perspective, this is basically the main reason why furnace exam is carried out.

Furnace exam is meant to ensure that the furnace in your home is working properly as expected. It involves routine inspections, lubrication of moving parts, repair, replacements and maintenance. Furnaces that are inspected regularly tend to work better than those that are not.

You should also bear in mind that there are some costly consequences of ignoring the importance of furnace exam. For example, when your furnace is leaking and no one notices it on time, it might lead to serious respiratory diseases. When you calculate the cost of treating such diseases and compare it with that of hiring a professional HVAC technician for routine inspections, you will eventually discover that the latter is more expensive yet it can be avoided in advance.

Probable suffocation or death is also another consequence of ignoring the importance of the annual furnace exam. Since the furnace emits carbon monoxide outside the house through an exhaust pipe, the same toxic gas may be released into your house if the furnace leaks. This is an invisible and odorless gas that can choke you to death or suffocation. Therefore, when you hire a HVAC technician, you will be able to notice such faults and prevent them when you still have time.

Furnace exam has never been and will never be a waste of your time or resources. You will soon realize this fact the moment you fail to regulate the temperature of your furnace or get the right level of warmth you need. Remember, prevention is always better than cure and that is why you need to rise up today, pick up the call and get in touch with your local HVAC contractors for quality heating system and furnace service.