Maybe you’ve gotten through some of your fall cleaning or your home maintenance list. What’s next? Well, of course that’s slaying your energy vampires…After all, Halloween is right around the corner so it’s the perfect time to do so.
Beyond improving your heating and cooling systems to bring your family ultimate comfort, these are 3 steps that are also commonly taken to make sure your entire home is as energy efficient as it can be:
- Improve insulation and seal air leaks
- Seal ductwork, ensuring it is proper connection/insulation
- Energy audits to see a “big picture” view of the home, including areas where energy efficiency could improve
What to Know About Energy Audits
Often times we can describe how the air in our home feels—and we can see evidence of air leaks or insulation issues with our energy bill, but an energy audit gives us diagnostic testing to make recommendations we know will help.
Energy audits help you see how your home uses energy and in what ways you can reduce that consumption. We want to ensure you are not wasting energy—or said another way, not wasting your money. Again, beyond looking at your heating and cooling system, other steps can be taken to decrease consumption, including sealing of air leaks, sealing of ductwork, replacing of windows, and installation of renewable energy systems.
Another layer of complexity is that just because a home is designed in a way that is energy-conscious, doesn’t mean your getting the highest air quality that you’re after.
For example, if you have a highly efficient HVAC, you’ve improved your insulation and sealed your ductwork throughout the home, and you know you have no need to replace windows in your home, that actually may mean your home could have limited ventilation. In other words, many homeowners find that a trade-off can exist between energy-efficient measures and the kind of ventilation your home has. Ventilation is important because it helps us better manage and eliminate particles in the air, so if we limit our ventilation too much, that can affect our air quality.
One Solution: Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV)
But this is where Heat Recovery Ventilators can be of use. Take for example when the temperature gets especially low and your heating system runs constantly for days at a time. Many of us will experience a stuffy house, or certain rooms that seem to have air that is more stale than normal.
The problem is if we were to open a window or door—even just for a few minutes at a time—you’re quickly losing valuable heat. You’re also not necessarily bringing more healthy air into the home. Instead, you’re opening your home up to allergens and pollutants and therefore you’re not necessarily improving air quality at all.
Second, opening up a door or looking to rely on a fan is not actually going to evenly deal with the air in your home, and it’s certainly not a whole-house solution. In the end, turning on a fan or relying on opening a window or a door is not an effective or practical way to get rid of the stale air that you’re experiencing.
What many people with very airtight homes incorporate is a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV), which is specifically designed to transfer heat between indoor and outdoor air as ventilation occurs. The result is that you can breathe fresh new air and you no longer have certain places in your house with air that’s uncomfortable or unhealthy for you and your family. With this solution, you haven’t “undone” all the sealing or insulation that you’ve worked hard for: you can still save money, but also avoid any stale or stuffy air.
Consider how normally, when ventilating air from your home, a fan blows air out of the house and vents allow new air in to offset the pressure change. This works well when the temperature outside is mild and your HVAC system is not on. However, when it is very cold (or very warm), your HVAC system turns on and the ventilation process removes conditioned air, replacing it with outside air, which is either too hot or too cold.
A Heat Recovery Ventilator can use a heat exchanger to retain heat in whichever environment you want it to be. For example, during this time of year, a Heat Recovery Ventilator will transfer indoor air into a chamber where heat is then transferred to outdoor air. In summary, the stale air can be removed from your home, air is circulated back into the home, and energy is not wasted.
Call us to Learn More about Natural Ventilation
Installation of a heat recovery ventilator can be a simple process. Because you’ll want to take into account your entire home’s energy use and design, it’s best when done by an experienced professional. Call us today at 859-491-4915 or toll free at 844-491-4915 to learn more about a Heat Recovery Ventilator that will keep your air fresh without inviting all the pollen, pollutants, and allergens into your home.
As a homeowner, you know that heating and cooling your home will consistently take more energy than other systems in your home. Even if you have a brand new system that’s highly efficient and sized right for your home, you still want to do your part to lower the energy bill as much as possible—while still maintaining a comfortable living (or working) environment.
Follow these tips and you can save a great deal on your energy bill each month.
Get More Informed About Your Heating & Cooling System—And Your Other Options
It’s best to know some of the options about upgrading or replacing an HVAC system before we really need to make that decision! When it comes to replacing or upgrading your heating and cooling system, you’ll be taking into account the life of the system, any issues or repairs that are required, your home’s design, and the underlying efficiency it’s delivering, which is indicative of how well its been maintained and how long it has left to “live.”
When you work with the experts at Greater Comfort, we can help you upgrade to a system by letting you compare makes and models, including the associated system designs. We can then show you how this can benefit your home—both comfort-wise and how it will impact your up-front costs and your energy usage on an ongoing basis.
Even if you aren’t looking for any kind of replacement or upgrade right now, you want to be able to know the answers to these questions. It may be too soon to ask these questions, but when the time is right, be equipped to ask some of these questions:
- What all does your installation estimate include?
- What are the benefits of the brands (makes and models) your company offers? How are these different than other brands?
- Can you share your warranty specifications I should be aware of?
- What size system does my home need—and what does that mean for any other recommendations you have?
It’s worth your time to know as much as you can about other issues, including how much your system could cost over a lifetime, before you make any decisions.
Put Your Tune-Ups on the Calendar
Getting in your annual home heating and cooling tune-ups is one of the most significant ways you can ensure your system lasts for as long as possible. Because it can be easily forgotten if you need to, add a reminder to your calendar so that you don’t forget.
Another easy solution is to ask us about our maintenance program that you can enroll in. Our preventative maintenance agreement includes two inspections per year—in April and in October, to reflect the cooling start-up season and then the heating start-up season.
It’s just one more simple way to make sure your system is operating efficiently and safely on an ongoing basis.
Beyond an inspection of the system, we’re looking for any signs of issues or deficiencies such as leaks or corrosion or “wear” that’s not normal. We also want to make sure the system is operating safely, we will change the filters and we’ll ensure ventilation is occurring properly. Again, ongoing maintenance helps prevent emergency repairs, but it also just keeps the system working as economically as possibly. These tune-ups are also a great time to continue to talk to us about the life of your system.
For the heating tune-up specifically, we’re able to do the following:
- Check evaporator fan motor amp draws
- Verify proper manifold gas pressure
- Check induced draft motor amp draw
- Clean flame rod (if applicable)
- Check heat exchanger
- Inspect flue and fresh air make–up
- Inspect contractors
- Electric resistance heating elements
- Disconnects & wiring
- Tightening all electrical connections
- Verify proper thermostat operation & program
If you ever think you’ll be fine by skipping a professional tune-up entirely, know that many warranties only apply if you’ve had a certified professional perform this list of services.
Have a question?
At Greater Comfort, we encourage you to ask questions!
We have no issue with explaining what we’re doing, or further explaining any recommendations we have for you. We take each inspection as another opportunity to be able to educate you as much as possible as to what you can be doing to preserve the life of your system, and what you can be doing to have ultimate comfort, all year long.
Our furnace and air conditioning experts proudly serve all of Northern Kentucky, Greater Cincinnati and Southeastern Indiana. With over 60 years of experience, our highly trained technicians bring our special brand of expertise and customer service to every job we perform. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915 or toll free at 844-491-4915.
What are the benefits to replacing your furnace?
When it comes to an emergency situation, as homeowners, we might be faced with the question: should we really replace our furnace?
Just like with changes we make to our house in terms of air quality, windows and other changes to insulation, and even roofing—greater efficiency can mean lower monthly bills. With that said, sometimes it can still be difficult to know if comfort at a lower ongoing cost is worth paying up-front for an upgrade. Here’s more information to help you make the decision with confidence.
Whether you have a gas furnace, heat pumps or air handlers, we know that you will make the best decision when you are fully informed. Ask us to hear all the options you have in terms of installation, replacement and ongoing maintenance for your system.
Here’s what you should talk over with your experienced HVAC:
- How old your system is
- Whether or not the technology is still best for your home
- Cost of repairs relative to cost of a new furnace that fits your needs
Even if you’re system seems to be working fine, if you see an increase in your monthly bills (month to month or year over year) that’s unexplained, it could be a sign your system is not as efficient as it used to be. With air conditioners and heat pumps lasting up to 12 years, on average, and furnaces lasting up to 20 years, on average, it’s safe to say that many people see problems before the end of the life of their furnace. It’s also important to remember these are averages.
That’s where we come in to give you expert advice on whether or not it is likely that you will have (costly) repairs in the future—based on the current “health” of your system, including factors such as the age of the system.
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that HVAC technology is constantly advancing. When you upgrade to a new model, an added benefit is that you get the latest technology available to keep your air as comfortable and healthy as possible. Not only does better technology mean more even temperature, and less noise, it also means greater savings in terms of your utility bill. Be sure to see if there are any rebates such as tax rebates that you might be able to utilize when getting a new furnace.
We’ve talked about before that if your estimated repair costs are going to exceed 30 to 50 percent of the cost of your system’s current value, then you want to consider getting a new system. Many people also prefer, at that point, to put money into a new system, rather than a system that could have more, ongoing issues due to age and normal wear.
If the estimated repair costs are less than one third of the value of the system and you know you have many years left in your system, in many of the cases you’ll want to repair the system. These kind of repairs can include airflow issues, thermostat problems, cycling, noise issues, problems with your blower, over-heating or under-heating, dirty air filters, or other issues.
Of course your course of action also depends on the actual problem you are experiencing!
We are able to work on every major brand of heating system, making sure we are able to get your system back in top condition as quickly as possible.
If you choose to install a new furnace, whether you have traditional forced air heating with a gas furnace, use a heat pump, or your home has its original boiler, Greater Comfort will help you select a new heating system for optimal efficiency and comfort. We will work with you to ensure you get exactly what you need to stay warm all winter, and so that you have a high quality, dependable system.
Installing a New Furnace: Worry-Free Heating for Years to Come
We can install any major brand or type of furnace, dual fuel system, hybrid system, heat pump, boiler or rooftop packaged unit. High efficiency furnaces available today consume more than 30 percent less fuel than older furnaces. We want you to find a high efficiency model that makes the upgrade a long-term fit for your home and family. It might make sense to ask us for home energy audit to see where there is opportunity to save energy throughout the home.
Call us to Help You Consider the Options for Repair or Replacement
A new furnace is about safely heating your home—now and into the future. Call us today if you want to learn more about year-round comfort for your home. Contact us for 24-7 emergency service at 859-491-4915.
During the holiday season, we often have close friends and family come and visit us. It’s also the perfect time of year to give consideration to your air purification and cleaning system.
We may think of allergies as being worse in other seasons, but just as many contaminants and pollutants build up in the fall and winter months inside our home.
In fact, indoor air quality is an issue we should be aware of throughout the year.
Indoor Air Quality: Not Just for Those With Allergies
One of the biggest myths about indoor air quality is that only those people with severe allergies have to be worried about pollution inside the home. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In winter, as people turn on their heating systems and as people utilize their fireplaces, we can see an uptick in indoor allergens.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks we have today—and that’s consistent throughout the year. Also according to the EPA, some of the indoor air pollutants we have can include:
• dust mites
What’s more is that the source of these pollutants can vary greatly. We see pollutants enter the air from adhesives, paint, varnishes, products we use on the body, cleaning products, pesticides and building materials. Pollutants are broken down into two categories: particulate matter (like dust, smoke, pollen, dander, tobacco) and gaseous pollutants (like gas cooking stoves, paints or vehicle exhaust.)
Air cleaning systems can clean out particles and gaseous pollutants. Still other air cleaners actually destroy (or convert) pollutants via UV light technology. Increasing ventilation in the home also support removal of pollutants in our air.
Air Cleaning Technologies: What to Know
You may wonder: what are some of the questions you should be asking when it comes to selecting your air cleaning technology? Here are a few of the questions to consider:
• Does this air filter remove large particles, and if not, what can be used in combination with it to ensure large particles in the air can be removed and/or destroyed?
• Does this filtration system apply to gases in the home?
• Will this be effective in dealing with bacterial and/or mold in the air?
• Can you verify that none of these systems produce any lung irritants?
• How do you describe the performance of this air cleaner—and why is this superior to other solutions?
• Do these cleaning systems/devices handle odors in the air as well?
Your HVAC expert can help you find air cleaning technologies that, when combined, can work effectively and be a solution that has longevity.
What Kind of Air Cleaners or Purifiers Should My Home Have?
Mechanical filters use a media filter made of carbon, fiberglass or another porous material to capture particles as air passes through them. The highest rated media filters (HEPA) can capture up to 99.9% of all contaminants 0.3 microns or larger. Many mechanical air filters can be measured in terms of MERV, or minimum efficiency reporting value. On a scale of 1 to 20, this allows people to compare the efficacy of air filters across brands. Ask us for more specific information or about specific filters you have. In general, there will be three factors we will take into consideration:
• Size of Pollutants: Air testing is highly recommended to determine which allergens and pollutants pose the greatest risk in your home. Common allergens like dust and pollen can be captured by many filters, but smaller particles like mold spores or smoke particles cannot.
• Whole House Options: This option means your whole house is effectively working to remove and destroy contaminants, making sure that allergens and pollutants do not circulate back into your home’s air supply. For homes without air handlers, there are standalone options or single–room options available.
• Multi–Stage Air Cleaning: Air cleaners and purifiers come in many forms, so it is best to decide if you want to have a single device or multiple devices that can clean air effectively.
When it comes to installation, your experienced and professional HVAC will guide you so you meet install requirements and so you know what kind of maintenance your system requires. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915 to learn your options on how you can find allergy relief and more pure air through air cleaners in your home.