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

Seattle Geothermal Installation Guide: What You Need To Think About Before Getting Geothermal

Monday, September 17th, 2012

With energy costs rising and supplies dwindling, people are taking much more serious looks at alternatives that in the past have seemed unfeasible and too “weird” to realistically contemplate.  Available since the formation of the Earth, geothermal heating and cooling is one such resource.

Geothermal energy is being used to provide more than 30% of Iceland’s electrical needs and it is fast becoming a viable option to provide heat for your home as well.  Before digging straight down, however, it is important to look around and consider some important points.

Geothermal 101

Thermal energy is a force that is produced from the movement of warm temperature to cooler.  The term “geo” is from the Greek word for Earth.  From harnessing the energy of hot springs in ancient times to technological advances to create electricity today, geothermal has long been considered, but often was ruled out as an expensive and unnecessary alternative to other cheaper forms of energy.  Now that those are harming the environment, more expensive and harder to get, geothermal has grown attractive.

Location, Location, Location

Difficult to retrieve from deep within the Earth, geothermal is most often considered for large production where natural breaks in the crust such as volcanoes, hot springs and faults are close to the surface.  Just ten feet below the surface, however, there is enough temperature difference to make available enough to efficiently heat a home.

Still, it’s not a guarantee of success, however.  The density of the bedrock, the water table and the balance between extreme hot and cold temperatures with the temperatures of the thermal energy are all factors to be considered.

Dollar for Dollar

For new construction, geothermal is a great alternative because after the more expensive installation, the cost from month to month can produce enough savings to quickly pay for the system.  The savings are potentially so significant, there are situations where the cost of replacing an old inefficient conventional system can be neutralized by the savings in just two to ten years.

To learn more about the benefits of installing a geothermal system in Seattle, give G & S a call!

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Monroe Geothermal Guide: Geothermal Installation Steps

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Are you interested in geothermal heating and cooling? Are you considering using the natural heating and cooling energy of the Earth as a way to keep your Monroe home at a comfortable temperature?

If you are, you probably have a lot of questions, not the least of which have to do with the installation process. You may assume that it is complicated, but in most cases it is quite simple. Here is a simple summary of the steps involved in installing a geothermal system:

  1. The very first step, before any kind of installation can even be planned, is to evaluate the ground on which your Monroe home sits to be sure it can support a geothermal system. The area must be evaluated for soil and rock composition, availability of ground and surface water and availability of land.
  2. Once you have determined that your yard can handle a geothermal system, it is time to choose the type of system you need. This depends a lot on the evaluation from step 1, as well as some other factors. For one example, if you have very little land available, you may need to opt for a vertical loop configuration. For another, if you are fortunate enough to have a small body of water on your property, you can take advantage of a pond loop installation.
  3. Your contractor will dig and/or drill trenches for placement of the geothermal pipes. Try not to be nervous. This only takes a couple of days and they will disrupt your yard as little as possible.
  4. With the trenches prepared, pipes can be placed in accordance with the configuration you chose.
  5. Your contractor will fill the trenches back in to cover the pipes loosely. You may want to work with a landscaper to fully “re-assemble” your yard where the pipes were installed.
  6. Finally, the installation team will hook up the geothermal system to your home, make any necessary final adjustments, and you are good to go!

If you’re interested in geothermal heating for your home, consider contacting G & S today to discuss the installation process for your home.

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Will My North Seattle Air Conditioning Work Better with Dehumidification?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

There are a number of common misconceptions about humidity and air conditioning and how one affects the other. In truth, humidity is a major part of the discomfort we feel when the mercury rises. It can be 78 degrees outside but feel miserable simply because the humidity is high. So, many people wonder whether a dehumidifier is a good solution to moderate heat and how it will work in tandem with your North Seattle air conditioner.

Humidity and Your Air Conditioner

First, remember that air conditioning naturally lowers humidity because it cycles air through its condenser and evaporator coil. Conditioned air is naturally lower in humidity, regardless of what’s going on outside. So, if it is hot outside and humid, an air conditioner alone is very effective. On the other hand, a dehumidifier is useful is when the temperature isn’t that high but the humidity is.

Dehumidification not only lowers the relative humidity in your home, it reduces the need for cooling because you will feel more comfortable. Not only that, but a dehumidifier costs significantly less to run. So, when the temperature outside isn’t that high, there is no need to use thousands of watts per day of electricity just to stay comfortable.

This also reduces the overall wear on your air conditioner. Since it doesn’t need to run 24 hours a day to reduce humidity, wear and tear on the device is reduced and you save a tremendous amount of money on repairs and eventual replacement costs.

When to Use a Dehumidifier Alone

Generally, the Department of Energy recommends setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and using a combination of a dehumidifier and fans to stay cool while it is off. If the temperature rises above that level, the air conditioner will turn on and supplement your dehumidifier. Consider too that a dehumidifier will reduce the burden placed on your air conditioner to pull humidity from the air. Humid air takes more energy to cool than dry air. Despite the fact that dehumidifiers will often raise the air temperature by 1-2 degrees, they save energy and make you more comfortable.

So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your energy bill and enhance the longevity of your North Seattle air conditioner, look no further than a quality dehumidifier. Call G & S Heating, Cooling & Electric today to learn more!

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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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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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Furnace Control Boards for Seattle Residents

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

One way to be a truly responsible homeowner in Seattle is to familiarize yourself with the major systems and appliances in your home. By having at least some understanding of how, say, your refrigerator or toilet work, you gain understanding of how to use them efficiently and detect when something goes wrong.

The same is true of your furnace, which can appear to be a complicated piece of machinery. In order to help you get acquainted with your furnace, we will discuss one of its main control components, the furnace control board.

As the name suggests, furnace control boards are responsible for governing the operation of the furnace. At a minimum, a simple furnace control will control the furnace ignitor (e.g., a spark generator or glow coil), the gas valve and the furnace thermocouple, also called a flame sensor.

More complex furnace control boards will also have control over the blowers and/or the built-in diagnostic system.

To simplify things, you can think of the furnace control board as being a driver and the furnace as its car. Just as the driver oversees all the functions and operation of the car from ignition to shutting off the engine, likewise does the control board for the furnace.

A typical operation sequence for a furnace control board goes something like this:

1. The control board receives a signal from the thermostat that the temperature is too low.

2. It starts the ignition system, whether that be a spark generator, glow coil or pilot light.

3. Once the ignitor is hot, the furnace control board initiates the flow of gas through the burners, where it is ignited.

4. The control board keeps the furnace running until it is signaled by the thermostat that the temperature is now high enough, or until it detects something is wrong.

(An example of a malfunction where the control board would get involved is a thermocouple that is not detecting enough heat. In this case, the control board would shut off the gas flow to prevent a leak into the home.  If this shows up you might want to consider minor heating maintenance for your furnace.)

Furnace control boards are an essential part of your home’s HVAC system. And now, as a responsible homeowner, you know just how important.  If you have any questions about this article please contact G & S Heating, Cooling, & Electric.

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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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Marysville Heat Pump Maintenance Guide

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Just like any HVAC system, the heat pump in your Marysville home needs routine maintenance and yearly check-ups to operate as efficiently and safely as possible. You also don’t want your heat pump to wear down to the point of a major malfunction or breakdown, which can be costly to repair or may require a complete system replacement.

Here are some things that could go wrong and cost you a lot more in the end if you don’t keep up with the regular maintenance of your heat pump.

Damage to the Compressor

The compressor in a split-system heat pump works whether you are heating or cooling your home. In the winter, the compressor reverses the flow of the refrigerant to defrost the outdoor coils, and in the summer it supplies the refrigerant to cool the home, as well as cooling the outdoor coils. Proper airflow is vital to keeping the compressor running smoothly. Filters that are not changed regularly, dirty coils, and dirty fans can all restrict airflow, which will damage the compressor. Debris around the outside components should also be cleared to allow proper airflow.

Decreased Efficiency

When dirty or broken components restrict the airflow, this damages the compressor and decreases the heat pump’s efficiency levels.  Not only is it important to clean your heat pump regularly, but you should also have it checked by a certified heating technician once a year. This will also prevent safety hazards and other hidden issues with the heat pump.

Improper Refrigerant Levels

Most heat pumps are charged with refrigerant at the factory; however, if models that are charged when they are installed are not given the right amount of refrigerant this can also affect performance levels. Refrigerant leaks and other common problems can be prevented by scheduling an annual maintenance visit with one of our qualified Marysville technicians.

Don’t wait until the heat pump in your home stops working, call to schedule your yearly check-up.

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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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How Much Ventilation Do I Need for My Mercer Island House?

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

By now you’ve probably heard how important it is to have good ventilation in your Mercer Island home. Especially if your home was built in the 1980s or early 1990s when ventilation issues were prevalent, you may not have enough clean air moving through your home. But, how much ventilation do you need? What is enough and if you don’t have it, how do you ensure your home is retrofitted properly?

How Much Ventilation?

Most recommendations for ventilation come from the Home Ventilation Institute, which provides a series of standards of measurement for builders and contractors retrofitting homes for better ventilation. Here are some of their recommendations and how they might apply for your home:

  • Bathroom – Small bathrooms (less than 100 sq. ft) need 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom. The number goes up for each fixture if you have a large bathroom.
  • Kitchens – Your kitchen range needs at least 100 CFM if against the wall and upwards of 150 CFM if on an island.
  • Ventilators – If you have an HRV for your home, you should have at least 100 CFM for 2,000 square feet and another 50 for every 1,000 square feet of home size being ventilated.
  • Home Ventilators – The actual volume of CFM for ventilators depends on the type of ventilator being used. For example, a whole house ventilator needs upwards of 6,000 CFM for a 2,000 square foot home. Attic ventilators need 1,400 or more.

So, what does this mean for your home? It means in general that you need a lot of ventilation and that the best way to get it is through mechanical ventilation techniques combined with your air handler and ductwork.

Especially if you recently added insulation and weather proofing to your home but have not yet updated your ventilation, you might have a major air quality problem, so have a professional measure your home’s air flow as soon as possible.

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