The home improvement industry is expecting to boom this year as both new home building and older home retrofits and additions are being ordered by customers all over the country. You can tell this by the price of framing lumber and OSB (particle or wafer board), which is going up about 26% for the former and 80% for the latter this past year alone.
If you are building an addition, that construction material cost could be blunted by some things that can be installed to make the addition more energy efficient. One way to increase the efficiency is by choosing where the larger windows may be placed. South facing will get you more heat gain in the winter and the use of shades will keep that passive heat at bay during the summer.
More Options to Increase Energy Efficiency
A favorite item for many additions, the skylight, has been improved to make it more than just a show piece. Tubular skylights gather sunlight from the roof and transport it through a system of tubes that reflect light into a diffuser on the ceiling. This makes the light available but cuts down on heat gain in the summer. If you prefer the regular skylight, it should be no more than 10% in size compared to the room it is in as that too will reduce heat gain.
The ductless mini-split systems available today are so energy efficient that using one for an addition will save money and reduce cost, as there will be no ductwork to install. The new room(s) should also be insulated with the best R values available to again keep energy expenses to a minimum.
Contact our experienced Lorain County HAVC techs for more information on the ductless mini-splits and other items like ventilators. These highly efficient pieces of equipment can make your new additions the most comfortable rooms in the whole house.
photo credit: robertjosiah
The ventilation of the average home was simple enough before the oil crisis of the seventies. You need some fresh air to breathe but letting in that fresh air has started to get expensive. The seventies saw the beginning of the battle that still goes on today - improving the building envelope as best you can and keeping windows and doors closed tight. Insulation, caulk and weather stripping are the weapons of choice in this battle, but when it comes to ventilation these tools have some drawbacks.
The Green Building Advisor looked at super insulated homes recently and examined the need for better ventilation. The experts there revealed a few practical findings we’d like to share.
First, if you want the most effective way to both ventilate your home and lose as little heat as possible you will want an HRV (heat recovery ventilator). These systems take air in that it is heated by the warmer air the ventilator is sending out. An ERV (energy recovery ventilator) can do this plus exchange cooler air in the summer.
The coldest areas of the country tend to see the most savings for such systems and Lorain County would certainly be on that list. The savings in heating fuel costs can be reduced though by the extra electricity that the fan in the unit requires.
In some areas it could take as many as twenty years of accumulated savings in heating costs to offset the additional electricity cost and to see a return on your initial investment of an HRV. Still many customers like the idea of getting fresher air and not seeing the heat or AC sent out by an exhaust only ventilation system and going to waste.
Wondering if one of these systems might be able to save you money or make your home more comfortable? Visit our website and schedule an appointment with one of our Lorain County HVAC technicians to discuss your air quality options today. An HRV, ERV or ventilation system could all make your home more comfortable and our HVAC experts can help you pick the best one for your unique home situation.
The winter drive that ends with opening the garage door and getting out in relative warmth is a great convenience to a Lorain County resident. Your garage can be a place that does cost you money though if it isn’t properly insulated.
Sealing up of this part of the house has another benefit as well - you can keep carbon monoxide fumes (along with that gasoline and oil smell) from getting into the house. A blog on the Energy Vanguard website brings this point home along with some advice on how to accomplish sealing up this drafty space.
One item of particular interest when you see the picture of the garage ceiling is that there is some exposed ductwork that is most likely being used to warm an upstairs bedroom. First things first - the duct should be checked for leaks. In this case, since it is flex duct, the connections should be looked at carefully. Flex duct should be held in place by straps that do not interfere with air flow and there should be no crimps in it. Some builders like the versatility of flex duct but shoehorn it into some areas, bending it needlessly, which can hurt the efficiency of your heating system.
The solution to this insulation task was to blow foam insulation into that area holding the flex duct to seal it tight. Insulation could be placed below this area and drywall placed below that using the joists to hold drywall in place and thereby sealing the entire area off.
Building envelope improvements always work to help reduce energy costs. Another simple way to reduce costs would be to improve the unit that pushes the air through those ducts. Visit our website today and schedule an appointment for a heater performance check. We are currently offering $15.00 off the cost of this valuable service and our HVAC experts can inspect your ductwork while in your home to ensure everything is properly sealed and secured.
The federal tax credits that have been extended for the coming fiscal year are highest for those who have installed or will be installing “split systems” for air conditioning. The split system refers to the idea that there is a compressor that cools the air and then circulates it in the house while the outer unit sends the warm air into the atmosphere. Another split system, the heat pump, is also getting the larger credit of $300.
How the Heat Pump Works:
A heat pump can work the same as an air conditioner. It pulls the heat and humidity from the air in your home and expels it to the outside. In the winter it can reverse the process and take heat from the air or groundwater and send it through the ductwork to keep you warm.
These units require less energy than other heating systems, but they do have a back-up electric heater added for use in colder areas of the country. These systems do require a certain a level of efficiency to qualify for the credit. Our Lorain County HVAC technician can supply you with information on these products.
The good news is the government is going all the way back to 2009 when examining the systems that will qualify for a rebate. If, in 2009, the system you choose reached the highest efficiency score achievable for that type of unit in that year it will qualify. This can help to put some money back in your pocket in addition to the savings that you have enjoyed since the unit was originally installed.
Schedule a Service:
Visit our website to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our Lorain County HVAC experts to discuss the savings you can expect from one of these split systems. We have the latest information on all of the available tax credits and can help you choose the best unit for your home.
Early this year, the President extended tax credits for heating and air conditioning upgrades for homeowners as part of the legislation designed to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff.” The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute has reported that the signed bill included retroactively extending tax credits that had expired December 31, 2011.
What This Means for You:
The homeowner who has had a more efficient heating, air conditioning system or water heater installed in the past year may qualify for a credit. Information from the IRS in this matter can be found in Section 25C of the tax code. Oil, natural gas and propane fired boilers and heat pump credits were all extended with certain qualifications as well so a review of these units could lead to tax savings in addition to the utility savings you have already enjoyed.
There is even a $50 credit if you have had a new circulating fan installed in your furnace that uses less than two percent of the overall energy of the unit. This tax break for a small and affordable improvement shows that just about everyone can get some help when it comes to reducing energy usage.
How Raymond Plumbing Can Help:
Our experienced Lorain County HVAC pros have been giving their own break to those interested in improving their heating and air conditioning system’s overall efficiency. We have recommended better circulating fans to many customers and would be glad to help anyone who had our techs install a circulating fan get that tax break.
We also have all the latest and most efficient heating equipment available for you to take full advantage of these extended tax breaks. Visit our website today to schedule an appointment for our HVAC pros to come out to take a look at your existing unit. Our experienced techs will be able to tell you if you need to consider an upgrade or if a thorough cleaning and tune up will help lower your utility bills and keep your home comfortable this winter.
Every year in Lorain County, the bare trees are a constant reminder that colder temperatures should be our everyday expectation. The average homeowner must make sure to make the necessary checks on the heating system to make sure it will work during the cold weathered days. These checks should include changing the filter and cleaning the unit up inside and out.
Time does go by fast these days and you may not realize it, but your heater could be over 15 years old. The age of your unit may be costing you some additional money due to poor performance and cleaning up the unit and putting in new filters may not be much help in reducing your utility bills.
New Age Heating Systems
The energy efficiency of your furnace can be estimated using its AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. The Federal Trade commission requires this rating to be displayed so you can compare new units on what efficiency to expect. The Department of Energy has a table that you can use to estimate how much you may save when choosing a new furnace along with other helpful ways to evaluate whether a new unit is a good fit. The DOE suggests that you have an HVAC professional come out and inspect the furnace - this expert can inform you about how efficient your current unit is.
Our experienced Lorain County HVAC techs can perform this inspection for you while we are there doing a heater performance check. Visit our website and schedule a heating system performance check today and you will get a $15.00 discount off the cost of the service. Our techs will clean the unit, change the filters, check the fan and look for leaks along many other services that will improve your current heater’s efficiency. We also can suggest the most appropriate new unit for your home if an upgrade is in order and install that unit to further increase the amount of money you will save now and in the future.
If you notice that your heating bill is higher than last year, a simple explanation may be that heating fuel costs are higher. Even if the cost of heating fuel has gone up though, your bill may be higher than necessary due to other factors.
Causes for a Higher Bill
The increase in the bill may be due to the heater having some trouble performing to its usual standards. Oil and gas fired furnaces are both burning fuel and that means deposits can build up in and around working parts of the unit. The ducts also may have sagged somewhere and could be letting warm air out before it gets to the registers.
Another issue may be hurting your heater and you could possibly have even heard evidence of it. Sometimes the burner bar gets clogged and the result can be a buildup of gas in the unit that ignites very loudly making a booming noise. If you have heard this “boom” a professional should be called in immediately. This noise may also mean the pilot light isn’t in a proper position. In an older unit it there may be rust or dirt from the heat exchanger clogging the burners.
Another problem that can be seen more than heard is an orange flame in the heater as opposed to the blue flame that is currently present when your heater is running. This could mean the air mixture isn’t adjusted properly. Any of these problems could pose a danger to your family while robbing you of money on top of it.
What You Can Do
Whether you have these problems or not, a heater performance check is always a great idea when the winter is coming. Our experienced Lorain County HVAC pros can clean the burners; check the fuel line and pilot position and so much more to ensure your unit is running properly. Safety and lower utility bills are just an appointment away - visit our website and schedule now and you can receive $15.00 off of our regular price of this valuable service.
The home owner that is adding on a new room or two has some choices to make and those choices can have a tremendous effect on future bills. One of the most important decisions involves the comfort system of your new room or rooms.
An older home with one duct system that does the heating and air conditioning will probably just extend the ducts to the new areas. A home with two duct work systems can either extend the air conditioning ductwork to the new room or put in a mini-split air conditioning system. The mini-split system uses the same approach as a central air unit with the condenser on the outside and air handler inside, but there is no ductwork – which improves energy efficiency. This option can give you more individual control of the room temperature because it is independent of the central unit.
The upfront cost of this type of system can be higher than just adding more ductwork- unless of course your current unit would need to be upsized in order to handle the larger living area. If this is a room that will see a good deal of traffic, a split system may be less costly over the long run as the rest of the house would use less air conditioning. This solution could save you a substantial amount of money every month on your utility bill.
Difficult choices like this are quite a bit easier when you’ve got an experienced professional on your side. One of our experienced Lorain County HVAC experts can price both solutions for you to help you make the most informed decision for your situation. Contact us when you are planning on remodeling so we can help you make the most cost efficient choices to heat and cool your entire home.
Discussion of the design of your home’s HVAC system should include controlling the moisture levels appropriate to the climate in which you live. The addition of moisture (humidification) may be required in colder climates during the winter season and removed (dehumidification) during the summer months. Extreme moist warm climates may require additional dehumidification beyond what your air conditioner can provide.
Your ACCA contractor of choice is the professional who understands the building science of your home and applies the design principles contained in the ACCA design manuals and practices.
Relative humidity (RH) is the percent of moisture in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture this air can hold at the same condition. Warm air will hold more moisture than cold air, and as cold ventilation air mechanically or naturally (by infiltration) enters your home, it can be drier than the driest desert and seriously lower the humidity levels in your home. The psychrometrics of air show us that at 70 ° F air can hold about 12 times as much moisture as 10 ° F air, and when 10 ° F outside air is heated to 70 ° F the humidity level goes from 70% to 7%. Normal household functions (such as cooking, showering, laundry) also have an impact on the relative humidity within your home and hence on your comfort.
Dry air tends to pull moisture from the occupants, the wood and home furnishings causing effects as seen on the left side of the humidity level chart.
The effects of bacteria, viruses, fungi, respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and asthma, and ozone production can be minimized by higher humidity levels. Studies have shown that wintertime operation at 68 ° F / 60% RH provides the same level of occupant comfort as does 72 ° F / 30% RH; so lower utility bills also results with the addition of moisture to your home. Check out the ways homeowners in Lorain County can improve indoor air quality!
Automatic, computer controlled humidifiers can control the right humidity levels in your home, providing enough moisture for a healthy comfortable home and within the limits to prevent window and cold surface condensation.
Earth Day as we know it today was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 1963 Nelson convinced President John Kennedy to go on a five day, eleven state conservation tour speaking about the state of the environment. The senator spoke out several times throughout the sixties about this important issue. He found that many people were concerned about the environment but that politicians didn’t seem to be quite as moved.
In 1969 Nelson announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration to bring pertinent environmental issues into the political limelight. The event was a rousing success with unprecedented support that the senator did not anticipate.
Today it is possible to contact the Earth Day organization directly in order to get information and support with your plans to help the environment. Many schools are organizing activities to become a part of the "billion acts of green" campaign and any individual can do the same.
We at Raymond Plumbing have long been in favor of aiding the environment. In the 70’s our area had been in rough shape with events like the Cuyahoga River fire and cleaning up our act seemed hopeless. There has been quite a turnaround though and the work we continue to do contributes positively to the future of our children and grandchildren.
Our experienced Lorain County HVAC contractors have ways to serve the environment with better more efficient heating and air conditioning systems. Today’s government seems completely on board with projects and upgrades that reduce energy consumption and improve the environment. In fact there are still a number of rebates available to our customers to help offset costs when they participate in their own "act of green."