G & S Heating Cooling & Electric Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Island County’

Seattle Air Conditioning Q/A: Why Replace Your Indoor and Outdoor AC Components at the Same Time

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Do you need to replace one of the main components of your Seattle split AC system? If so, you are probably tempted to just replace whichever unit is failing in order to fix the problem quickly and cheaply. This is not always the best way to go, however. Here are six reasons why you should replace both the indoor and outdoor units at the same time.

#1: Cost

Although replacing just the failing component – whether indoor or outdoor – will be less expensive up front, that choice often proves more costly overall. You will see just what that means in the rest of these reasons.

#2: Advances in design

Heating and cooling technology is always advancing, so since you purchased your AC system, the products on the market have gotten quieter, more efficient and better overall. By replacing just the failing indoor component, you won’t reap all the benefits of this new technology, as the older outdoor component will still lag behind the times.

#3: Higher efficiency

When both units are replaced at the same time, and with models that have the same technology, they work together more efficiently. That means more savings on your bills and a more comfortable home.

#4: Matched system

Split AC systems are designed such that the indoor units are engineered to work best with a matching outdoor unit. When the system is matched, you get optimum performance and efficiency. By replacing just one component, you lose the benefits of that matching, meaning degraded efficiency and performance.

#5: Warranty considerations

A new system means new warranty coverage. Replacing both units at once means a whole new warranty that covers your whole cooling system, so you won’t have to worry about paying for any more replacements jobs for a long time.

#6: Wear and tear

Finally, think about the wear and tear your Seattle air conditioning system has undergone since it was installed. Maybe only your outdoor unit needs to be replaced now, but since your indoor unit has tolerated the same number of hours of use, it may be on its way out sooner than later. It’s like when you buy new tires for your car– you don’t buy one or two, you buy a whole set of four so that the whole system starts fresh. That way you only do it once, and not again in six months or a year.

For all these reasons, replacing both components of a split system is often the best and least expensive route to choose when facing a replacement. For more information about air conditioning system replacement in Seattle, give G & S a call!

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Water Heater Upgrades for Your Arlington Home: Comparing Solar and Hybrid Water Heaters

Monday, June 4th, 2012

When deciding if a water heater upgrade is right for your Arlington home, you will first need to compare the different types of energy-saving water heaters. Hybrid and solar water heaters are some of the most efficient water heaters on the market; however, there are many factors to consider before purchasing one of these new models.

It’s always a good idea to call a water heating expert for professional advice. To help you get started, here are some basic features and considerations for each type of water heater.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Instead of using a direct heating source like gas or oil, a hybrid water heater has a built-in heat pump, which uses a compressor and evaporator to draw in the heat from the indoor air surrounding the water heating unit. With dual variable fan speeds, the heat pump can generate enough energy to heat your water with up to 60% less of the costs per year.

In addition to using less energy and drawing heat directly from the ambient energy inside your home, some hybrid models have multiple settings and a digital interface to make changing temperatures and adjusting the operating mode much easier. On the lower setting, the water heater only uses the heat pump, but on a high demand setting, you can tap into the direct heating elements for a greater supply of hot water during times of more hot water usage.

You can also lower the standing temperature on most hybrid water heaters to save money, and some even have a vacation setting that will turn the hot water heater off when you are not home. The control that you have over the basic operation of the hybrid water heater makes it incredibly easy to save energy and ensure you have reliable hot water throughout the year.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar technology is one of the most sustainable methods for homeowners to help protect the environment and save money. Given the right conditions, installing a solar water heater could decrease your heating bills up to 80%. Because solar water heating systems are one of the most efficient ways to meet your the hot water needs in your home, you pay less in utilities, produce fewer emissions, and decrease the overall maintenance costs.

Taking full advantage of the savings from installing a solar water heating system involves various factors that every Arlington homeowner should consider. Solar water heaters will save money for homes located in areas where there’s a high amount of daily sunlight, and where certain fuel sources are not available or the cost of fuel is high. The need for reliable and consistent hot water, typically in larger homes, is another cost-ratio variable to consider.

While there’s the initial investment to consider, installing a solar water heating system could pay for itself within 10 to 15 years in energy savings. In addition to these savings, you can reduce your emissions and help preserve the environment by switching to solar power for your hot water needs.  Call G & S Heating Cooling and Electric today to get started.

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Stanwood HVAC Question: What Will an Energy Audit Do?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

With costs constantly on the rise, Stanwood homeowners are looking for new ways to save money on their energy bills, such as conserving electricity, using less heat and exploring alternative energy sources. One great way to see how you and your family can use energy more efficiently is to get a home energy audit.

The goal of an energy audit is determine how energy is being used in the home in order to identify and correct any inefficiency. By finding ways to use energy more efficiently, you can reduce the energy used in your home without sacrificing comfort. Efficient use of energy reduces costs and environmental impact.

How It Works

To conduct an energy audit, a professional will use special instruments to inspect various aspects affecting energy use in your home, including construction, occupancy, appliance use, number of windows and doors, and so on. In this way, you can see how well your home is retaining heat and note any places where inside air may be escaping, making your home cooler or warmer than desired. For example, since a lot of heat can be lost through them, upgrading windows and skylights is an inexpensive way to gain a lot in terms of efficiency. Making sure windows are properly sealed, repairing worn weather stripping, and installing new windows with energy efficient certifications (such as LEED or Energy Star) are simple but effective first steps to making your home more affordable and eco-friendly.

Another aspect of energy audits includes prioritizing energy needs in order of importance, in order to reduce the use of energy on less critical functions. This may include collecting data on the local climate and past energy use. This data can be analyzed in order to identify and predict times when higher usage may be necessary, so that you and your family can prioritize according to your budget. For example, if the results of your energy audit show that July is historically the hottest month of the year and the month when you use the most electricity, you can make up for increased cooling costs by using other electrical appliances less. This way you can stay cool without going outside your utility budget.

Other solutions stemming from your energy audit may include installing insulated curtains, unplugging “vampire devices” like cell phone chargers, and avoiding the use of large appliances during warmer times of the day.

If you are one of the many interested in cutting energy costs, while helping the environment, a home energy audit is the first step.

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Preston Water Heater Tip: How to Extend the Life of Your Water heater

Friday, January 27th, 2012

To avoid having to pay for replacing your Preston home’s water heater, your best course of action is to take care of the water heater you have. Many homeowners forget about this simple part of household maintenance, probably because water heaters are so often out of sight that we take them for granted. For a simple start on water heater maintenance, try this three-step annual routine:

  1. Lower the temperature on your water heater to somewhere between 115 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than adequate for all household functions, and it will keep the water heater from overheating. Locate the knob on your unit (refer to the manual or manufacturer website if you have trouble) to dial it down. You’ll never notice the difference in temperature, but your water heater will have to work less and your energy bills will be lower.
  2. Test the temperature and pressure valve by lifting the valve lever part of the way up, then allowing it to snap back into place. This should be followed by a gurgling sound as water is briefly released from the tank into the drain tube. If not, the valve may need to be replaced.
  3. Flush the tank on a smaller scale. Rather than doing a full flush of the water heater, you can do a smaller one in much less time. To do this, just put a bucket under the drain valve and release the valve. When the bucket is full, close the valve back up and drain the bucket outside or into a sink. This will help get rid of sediment, but takes much less time than draining the whole tank.

It is also recommended that you get a professional inspection of your water heater on a regular basis, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This three step plan is a good interim measure, however, and it only takes a few minutes each year.

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Duvall HVAC Contractor Tip: Energy Saving with Your Water Heater

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

If you want to lower the energy costs for your Duvall home, the water heater might not be the first place you’d think to save energy. However, when you add up the savings from a few easy steps that can improve your water heater’s efficiency, it can make a significant difference in your utility bills.

Here are some of the ways you can reduce the use of hot water in the home and increase your energy savings.

Saving Energy by Using Less Hot Water

Even if you own an energy-efficient, tankless water heater, and you try to conserve water as much as possible, hot water usage can always be reduced in other areas. Installing low flow faucets and fixtures can provide up to 60% in water savings because they reduce the flow rate (gallons per minute) for each fixture. Tankless water heaters are also more efficient when they are used with any application with a lower flow rate.

Replacing older appliances that require a lot of hot water with more energy-efficient models is worth the money and effort because of the energy savings you will get in the end. Make sure you fix any leaks on older hot water faucet or fixtures. A leak that costs a dollar or two extra per month doesn’t seem like much, but it will add up over time.

Lower the Temperature on Your Hot Water Heater

For every 10°F that you lower the water temperature on your hot water heater, you save between 3% to 5% in energy costs. The manufactured setting for most water heaters is 140°F, but most homes only require a maximum temperature of 120°F. Check your owner’s manual before you lower the temperature on your water heater to find out what the recommended settings are and how to change them.

Insulate Your Water Heater Tank and Water Pipes

Whether you have a gas or electric hot water heater, you can find fairly inexpensive and easy-to-install insulators or “jackets” for your water heater tank. Every tank has an R-value that determines how much heat it loses, so unless it is a high value, your water heater tank needs insulation. Call a professional or check your owner’s manual for the R-value of your hot water heater, but the general rule is that if the tank is warm when you touch it, you need more insulation.

You can reduce emissions and your energy costs simply by paying more attention to how much hot water you are using in your Duvall home. For more tips and expert advice, call us today to speak with one of our technicians.

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Question from Stanwood: Why Do Heat Pumps Need Refrigerant?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Despite its name, a heat pump is not designed solely for heating your Stanwood home. In fact, the technology in your heat pump was originally designed for air conditioning and is used today in air conditioners, refrigerators and cooling units in vehicles and airplanes. And the entire process relies on refrigerant – a chemical compound that is compressed and expanded to move energy from one environment to another.

How Refrigerant Makes Heating and Cooling Possible

Your heat pump has multiple components designed to transfer refrigerant from one state to another. The compressor, for example, compresses the refrigerant into a liquid. The liquid is then moved through the expansion valve to the evaporator coils where it expands into a gas. Because refrigerant evaporates at much lower temperatures than water, it does this rapidly and in the process draws heat from the surrounding environment.

That’s how an air conditioner or your refrigerator cool a space. However, in the case of a heat pump, the process can work in both directions. In cooling mode, your heat pump extracts heat from the air going into your home. In the case of heating mode, the heat pump extracts heat from the outside air. Because the heat is transferred into the refrigerant, it can then be recompressed by the compressor. The heat is then is then released in the condenser coils, where the gas returns to liquid state. A blower then distributes air blown across the condenser coils into your home as heat.

Troubleshooting the Process

A heat pump is a complex piece of machinery, but once you know how it works, you can perform quite a bit of troubleshooting should anything go wrong with the device. For example, if you notice cold air coming from your vents, you can check to make sure it isn’t in cooling mode and that there is enough refrigerant in the device.

Keep in mind that if any service needs to be performed on the heat pump involving refrigerant, you should call a professional due to the volatile nature of the chemical. In most municipalities, you must have a license to distribute or dispose of refrigerant and even if not, it can be dangerous to both you and the environment.

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Kenmore HVAC Tip: Improving the Energy Efficiency of Existing Windows

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

There is a lot to be gained by purchasing energy efficient windows for your Kenmore home. They can help keep your temperature regulated air in and prevent outside forces from causing your HVAC system to work harder to keep your home comfortable. In some cases, it may make a lot of sense to replace your existing windows with newer, more energy efficient ones, but that is not always a viable option.

So what can you do instead? There are actually quite a few steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of the windows you already have. For starters, it is a good idea to make sure that all of your windows also have storm windows in place. Storm windows are not necessarily the best, most insulating things you can buy, but they do provide an important extra barrier against air moving between the indoors and the outdoors.

And not all storm windows are created equal. You can certainly opt for the cheapest kind out there, or you can pay a bit more for a product that actually offers a bit more protection against the elements. You will also have to decide whether you want to go for the type of storm windows that are installed on the outside of your existing windows or on the inside. In general, the indoor windows are the best choice, particularly for windows above the ground floor because they are easy to put in and take out and they provide a better seal against the outdoors.

That is not the only thing you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your existing windows, however. Another important step to take is adding weather-stripping around the windows and caulking any areas where air could come through. Even the smallest cracks can cause large losses of heated air in the winter and cooled air in the summer, so making sure there is a good seal all around should be a top priority.

Another option worth considering is the application of one or more different window treatments. There are high-reflectivity films you can put on your windows that will help bounce the sun’s heat away from your home. You can also opt for more traditional sun blockers like awnings and blinds. A well insulated house with energy efficient windows will make your heating system more effective and save you money in the long run.

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Mountlake Terrace Furnace Repair: Air Flow Problems

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Whenever you notice furnace air flow problems in your Mountlake Terrace home, you can usually do a little troubleshooting and solve the issue on your own. Most air flow problems can be fixed easily and quickly. Here are a few guidelines to get you started, but if you need help or notice other problems with your furnace, call a qualified G & S heating technician.

Furnace Filters:
Checking the furnace filter is the first step you should take when there are any issues with your furnace, but especially with air flow problems. If a filter is dirty enough, the furnace will not come on at all. Ultimately, a clogged or dirty filter restricts the air flow, and this is the source of air flow problems ninety percent of the time.

Supply Registars and Cold Air Returns:
Once you’ve replaced or cleaned the filter, check your cold air returns, which are the vents that draw in the cold air in forced air systems. When a cold air return is blocked  by furniture or other obstructions, they cannot draw in enough air to allow the furnace to put out an adequate amount of hot air. Make sure they are open if nothing is blocking them.

Next, check your supply registers, which are the vents that supply the warm air, and make sure they are open as well. Whenever your heat is on, all of your supply registers should be open. Closing some vents will not increase the air flow in other vents in the house. Closing off one or two in areas where heat is not always needed will not hurt your system; however, when you close too many supply registers, it can cause problems with the ductwork and eventually damage the furnace if the air pressure is not correct.

Clean Your Vents:
You should have a qualified HVAC technician professionally clean your ducts and vents at least once a year, which is another reason it’s important to schedule annual maintenance visits. A professional cleaning is typically part of the yearly heating system inspection. You can help by vacuuming your vents regularly, particularly during the months the heating system is not in use, or at least before you turn it on in the fall. Simply cleaning your vents can help air flow and extend the life of your entire heating system.

If you continue to experience air flow problems, call a certified heating technician at G & S. There could be a more serious issue, or if you have a newer furnace, your original ductwork could be the wrong size for that furnace model.

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Question from Mukilteo: What Are the Different Types of Furnace Maintenance?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

If you haven’t done so already, take your automobile owner’s manual out of your glove box and check out the section where it lists regularly scheduled maintenance. You will probably see that the most frequent maintenance tasks are changing the oil, checking fan belts, changing windshield wipers blades, checking all fluids, and checking tire pressure. These are regular, routine tasks. You will also see other tasks like changing fuel filters, flushing radiators, and changing transmission fluid.

Depending on its frequency, there are different types of maintenance tasks associated with keeping your automobile in tip top shape. Did you also know there are tasks that can be performed at various intervals to keep your Mukilteo home’s furnace in peak running condition?

For example, the most frequent maintenance task is checking the filters in your air handling unit. These are often called furnace filters but in reality, they serve the same function to filter air to and from your air conditioner, too. It might be easiest to just call them air filters. The frequency of replacing or cleaning air filters usually depends on the type of indoor environment you live in – like humidity levels, number of household pets or occupants, etc. In general, filter maintenance should occur every one to three months.

A less frequent maintenance task is cleaning the moving parts of the internal mechanism. You may only need to have your furnace cleaned every six months to a year, depending on its use. In some cases you can perform the cleaning yourself or it is included in an annual cleaning as part of a service agreement with a qualified heating and cooling contractor. A furnace can typically run at peak efficiency when it is cleaned on an annual basis.

You can also make it a regular habit of checking the motor bearings and fan belt, too. You can lubricate the bearings and tighten or replace the fan belt on a same schedule as cleaning the moving parts.

Other maintenance tasks related to your furnace, which may require longer interval times include ventilation system cleaning, or more commonly known as duct cleaning. Some homes don’t require this type of maintenance more than every five to ten years – perhaps longer. Unless there are unusually high levels of dust, allergens, or contaminants in the air, most ventilation systems can remain clean for several years.

Of course, you can turn all of your maintenance tasks over to a heating and cooling contractor – and have the most peace of mind.

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Wallingford HVAC Tip: How to Tell if Your Air Ducts Are Leaking

Monday, December 26th, 2011

There are lots of ways for your Wallingford home to lose energy – through leaky door frames, cracks in window trim, loose or missing insulation, etc. A lot of your indoor heating and cooling winds up outdoors and drives up your utility bills.

One part of your home that is susceptible to leaks and energy loss is your ventilation system, typically metal or flexible ductwork. Older homes generally experience more duct leakage because seals and joints may have loosened over the years or may have not been properly connected when they were installed. There are some ways to check and see – or hear – if the air ducts in your home are leaking.

The most obvious way to check is by listening. Stand, sit, or kneel close to your ductwork. Listen for any hissing noises when the furnace, air conditioner, or blower motor is in operation. A hissing noise is usually an indication of a leak in a seal or joint. Since ductwork comes in a variety of lengths and contains a number of different connectors, there are likely many joints where pieces have been connected. Some joints are sealed with small sheet metal screws while other joints are sealed with duct tape or mastic. Whatever the connection is, the joints may have come loose over time from vibrations, settling of the home’s foundation, previous repairs, or by someone simply bumping into the ductwork.

Another way to check for a leaking air duct is by looking at insulation which may be wrapped around the ductwork. If an air duct is leaking it will leave dark stains on the insulation over time – giving an exact location of the leak.

Leaks in your air ducts can cause areas like your crawlspace, attic, or garage to be abnormally cold or hot. If you are conditioning unused parts of your home inadvertently, it may be because your ductwork is leaking in those areas.

Finally, a not so easy way to check for leaking ducts is to compare utility bills. If there is a big spike in your heating or cooling costs, it may be because of temperature extremes – but it also may be because your ductwork is leaking. You may not be able to see a big difference in your bills unless there are large leaks or breaks in your ductwork, but keep an eye on your energy costs anyway.

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