G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Archive for April, 2012

6 tips to Saving on HVAC Repairs in Kenmore

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Maintenance tips every homeowner should know

With summer fast approaching and the temperatures beginning to climb in Kenmore, there are a few things that homeowners should investigate that will save them money in costly air conditioner repairs.  Before you can investigate those elements though, you must have a basic understanding of the components in a residential HVAC system.  There are a few main components, and there are relatively few standardized locations for each one.

First you have your exterior unit sometimes referred to as the pump.  This piece is outside, and is usually made up of a few components that cycle the refrigerant and send it through the coils.

The next component is the air handler which circulates the air that needs to be cooled over some coils or a grid of tubing that has refrigerant cooling the tubes that transfers that chill to the air that is circulating.  This element is often in a utility area or garage or in an area above the garage, but always has a pan to catch excess condensation.  The condensation that accumulates in this pan also has a pipe that leads to the exterior of the house to allow the condensation to flow outside before it overflows into your living space.

The third element is the duct work, and this would also include the vents, the insulated tubes or ducts, the returns and the connective elements that hold it in place.

The final piece is the programable thermostat which is the control and monitoring component that manages the temperature and the length of the cycles that the unit will have to complete before shutting down.  I will give two (2) examples below of each component on how to maintain and save money on possible costly repairs in the future.

1)     The Exterior Unit –

  1. Always cut brush and shrubbery at least 12 inches away from the perimeter of the outside unit.  This will allow the unit ample area and air flow to keep from overheating.
  2. Always have the exterior unit protected from electrical surges or lightning.  As infrequent as it may be, lightning can be very dangerous to the circuit that allows the unit to run, and so you may want to ask about any surge protection or breakers that can be installed from your power company to prevent blown circuits.

2)     The Air Handler –

  1. Clear the drip pan overflow tube regularly.  You can place a suction end of a shop vac on the exterior end of the tube to draw any mold or mildew that has grown in that tube, and you can also ask your plumber or a/c tech to install a “T” in the pipe with a short section of tubing and a cap for the section.  It should be easily accessible and not interfere with the flow of the piping.  This tube should be used to keep the pipes clear by pouring a cap of bleach into that “T” to prevent further growth that would obstruct the flow.
  2. At least once per year have a trained professional technician service the coils in the handler to check for leaks and clean the coils.

3)     The Duct Work –

  1. Be sure once your system is running, go into the accessible crawlspace or ceiling areas where your ducts are running, and feel the length of the ducts and especially the seams for any cold air leaking out.  This is the sign of faulty seams that may have worked loosened or separated tape or sealant on those seams, and it may need to be repaired by an a/c tech.
  2. Clean your ducts at least annually.  This will lessen the likelihood of spreading or harboring mold, mildew or cold germs in the minute layer of grime that accumulates on the inside of your ducts.  It is also worth repeating here that you should be changing out your filters on your air return vents regularly – check on the labeling of the filter you choose because some can go as long as three months between replacements, but if you are not sure, plan to change the filters monthly.

4)     The Thermostat –

  1. If you still have a mercury-based thermostat, do everyone a favor and take it to a recycling facility that will properly dispose of the mercury and recycle what can be re-used.  Also, this is when you need to consider a programmable thermostat.  They allow you to plan to reduce or turn off the a/c when you are not at home or if you plan to be away for a while.  You do not have to suffer because of that choice because you can set it to turn prior to your arrival home, and cool the house to comfortable by the time you come in.
  2. Annually, have your thermostat calibrated.  You may be setting you’re a/c to a certain temperature, but you may not be aware that your thermostat is over-cooling to a new temperature, or under-cooling and thus never getting your house comfortable.  The calibration will allow you a little more control over your temperature and finances you need to pay for that temperature difference.

I hope these are helpful to you as a consumer, and most importantly give you a few techniques to prolong the life of your unit as well as save money on costly repairs that could have been avoided.  To be clear, the above recommendations are for a Heat Pump style unit, and you should verify this is what you have at your house prior to inquiring about some of the more permanent suggestions in this article.  If you have any questions about this blog please call G & S Heating, Cooling, & Electric

These home savings tips were sent by Joe Schembri with U Fill or We Fill, a Tampa dumpster rental company.

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Spring Newsletter

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Check out our Spring Newsletter for informative articles, along with promotions, a highlighted client testimonial, a “did you know” fact, and a delicious spring recipe for you to try!

 

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Window Units vs. Ductless Splits for Air Conditioning in Seattle

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

If you cannot afford or do not have duct work to support a central air conditioning system, there are two options – window units or ductless units in Seattle are a great alternatives. But, which is better? It depends largely on your budget, whether you rent or own and if there are any risks inherent in either choice.

Window Units

First let’s look at window units. Window units are the least expensive form of air conditioning systems on the market and don’t require any work on your home to install. They are good for single rooms and smaller apartments as well, and they can usually be installed by one or two people without professional assistance.

The downside of a window unit is that it cannot cool your entire home, even in an apartment. Also, window units tend to block an entire window and they pose a security risk, especially on the first floor. They are easy to remove from the outside and therefore should only be used in extreme circumstances if the window is easy to access.

Ductless Systems

Ductless systems offer benefits that counter all of the downsides of a window unit. Specifically, they don’t block the windows and are mounted inside on the walls. They are also more efficient than window units, using 30% less energy on average than a comparable window unit. They can be sized to cool your entire home and they still don’t use ductwork so extreme installation methods are not needed.

The major drawback is cost. A ductless system costs much more than a window unit, usually by 5-10 fold. They are more efficient, quieter, and less obtrusive, but they require a professional installation and the units themselves are pricy. Another issue to consider is whether you rent or own your home. Renters may not be permitted to have a system installed like this as it takes up more space and requires some work that could alter the building.

Which Is Better?

So, which should you choose? It depends on the specific needs of your home. If you have two or more zones to cool and can afford to have a ductless system installed, it is a great long term solution. However, if you are a renter, only have one or two rooms to cool or you live on a higher floor of a shared building, a window unit may be sufficient for your needs.  Call G & S Heating, Cooling, & Electric to learn more about ductless splits for air conditioning.

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How Often Should a Geothermal System be Checked in Edmonds

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The amazing thing about a geothermal system in Edmonds is that the maintenance that it requires is very minimal. Geothermal systems have less moving parts than most other heating systems – and the majority of the mechanism is contained underground or inside, so these essential portions of the machine are not exposed to the elements. The tubbing, which is where the system gets its heat, is made to last for 25-50 years, and the heat pump portion above ground are very easy to access if you ever need to service them.

Nonetheless, maintaining a geothermal system working at peak efficiency is very important. If the geothermal system loses some of its efficiency, it will cost home and building owners money in energy costs, which makes little sense since geothermal system installation costs are higher than most other heating systems.

Its key component is the ground loop system, polyethelene tubing which carries refrigerant from below the Earth’s surface and back to an above-ground compressor. When installed correctly, the buried ground loop can last for decades. A leak in the metal tubing is usually the only problem if the ground loop is not installed correctly. In the case of a leak, it may be necessary to dig up the tubing – often installed at least ten feet below the surface – and repair the leak.

Other geothermal system components include its air handling unit, compressor, and pump. These components require periodic system checks by qualified professional heating and cooling technicians. Maintenance normally requires filter changes and component lubrication, to name the most common. In some cases, building owners can perform their own filter replacement and refill of lubricants. However, it is recommended that call G & S Heating, Cooling, & Electric to perform a multiple-point inspection of the geothermal system components, usually during regularly scheduled annual or bi-annual service calls.

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Up to $3200 Off a New Heat Pump System

Friday, April 13th, 2012

The greater Puget Sound area Heating, Cooling, and Electric specialists at G&S Heating are now offering up to $3200 Off your purchase of a New Heat Pump System.

G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric has all of the latest heat pump models available, and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have about them. We aim to carry only the highest quality heat pumps as well, so you can be sure that if you buy a heat pump from us, you are getting a product that will serve you well for many years. Whether you are sure that a heat pump is what you are looking for or you are still exploring your options, we always welcome your questions and patronage.

Give our Comfort Consultants a call or request an estimate online today!

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The Growing Popularity of Geothermal Heating and Energy in Carnation

Monday, April 9th, 2012

It’s no secret that use of alternative energy sources is on the rise in Carnation. Solar panels, windmills and hybrid cars have been heavily publicized over the past several years as people and governments try to employ energy strategies that are more efficient, friendlier to the environment and more cost effective.

One alternative energy option that you may have overlooked amid the press that the above topics have received is geothermal heating. That is, using the existing energy of the Earth as a means to heat and cool your home.

If you have in fact been unaware of geothermal heating cost benefits and energy thus far, it is rapidly growing in popularity as an alternative energy source. According to an article in GOOD Magazine, there are projects currently underway that would double the United States’ capacity to produce electricity from geothermal energy. In the summer of 2011, the U.S. Congress approved $70 million in funding to research geothermal energy.

It’s not just the government getting in on the act, either. Some contractors report anecdotally that over the past five years or so, demand from customers for geothermal heating installations has risen noticeably.

What’s all the fuss about? Well, for starters, geothermal heating can lower heating costs dramatically by reducing reliance on electric or fuel-based heat. Anyone that has received a staggeringly high home heating bill knows that any relief would be welcome.

Additionally, geothermal heating has the advantage of being hidden from sight. Unlike solar panels that have to be mounted on your home or a towering windmill that dominates your property, geothermal pipes run underground. Once they’re installed, no one even knows they’re there.

It’s not all great news about geothermal. You’ll need some extra land to house the underground coils, and the cost of installation is usually higher than other heating systems.

So, geothermal may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for an alternative energy solution, you have some land and you can invest some money upfront to see savings each month, then it might just be for you.

For more information, give G & S Heating, Cooling, & Electric a call today!

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$650 Off a New Gas Furnace

Friday, April 6th, 2012

G&S Heating of the greater Puget Sound area is now offering this outstanding deal when you purchase a new furnace. Receive up to $650 Off your new system!

The furnaces that we carry are top of the line in every way. They’re compatible with multiple types of air conditioning systems and heat pumps, so you should have no trouble finding a furnace that works with the system you currently have in place. We only carry furnaces that are among the best performing and most fuel efficient available. We are proud to offer a wide range of these great products to all of our Puget Sound area customers. We know they will provide an excellent overall heating experience and help to keep your family comfortable all year long.

Give our Comfort Consultants a call today or request an estimate online today!

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Seattle Heat Pump Tip: SEER vs. HSPF

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

When it comes buying a new Seattle heat pump, there are two different ratings you’ll often see – the SEER and the HSPF. So, what does each of them mean and which rating is more important when purchasing your new device? Here are a few things to consider:

 SEER

The acronym SEER is short for “seasonal energy efficiency rating” and is used most commonly to measure air conditioner efficiency or in this case, the cooling capacity of your Seattle heat pump.

 HSPF

The HSPF is short for “heating seasonal performance factor” and is a measurement of how efficient the heat pump is in producing heat during the cooler months of the year.

 The Difference Between the Two

Every heat pump will have both of these ratings, allowing you to see how efficient each is. This is important because you need to know for certain how well your heat pump will perform under certain situations – both in the winter and summer.

However, if you live in a colder climate where the summer rarely calls for air conditioner, your focus should be on the HSPF first. And if you live in a warmer climate where your heating needs are minimal, the SEER is most important. Another thing to consider is your supplemental heat. If the cost of your supplemental heating system is high, you’ll want an HSPF that is as low as possible to balance it out.

 Choosing an Efficient Heat Pump

Heat pump efficiency directly impacts the price of the device you purchase but is almost always worth the difference. The key is to find a device that provides what you need based on where you live. Keep in mind as well that, like most HVAC upgrades, you won’t immediately recoup the cost of the device in your energy savings, so if you plan on moving soon, you should purchase a more affordable device now and upgrade later.

Purchasing a heat pump is an important step in making your home more energy efficient. If you are unsure which rating you need or how to analyze their meanings, contact G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric to learn more.

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