What is a Modulating Furnace?

A modulating furnace is the perfect gas furnace for our climate in the Willamette Valley. A modulating furnace has the ability to run at a very low heat setting, a high heat setting, or anywhere in between. By running at a lower heat setting the modulating furnace can use less gas and electricity to heat your home, and deliver a higher level of comfort. The heat setting that a modulating furnace operates at is determined by factors like outdoor temperature, and the set point of the thermostat. The colder it is outside, the more heat the furnace will need to put out to maintain the desired temperature in the home. On a more mild day, the furnace can run at a lower heat setting to achieve the desired indoor temperature. This ability to ramp up and down makes for a very comfortable home, because the furnace will not heat the home too fast under lighter operating conditions. How often do you find your furnace turning on and off? If it is happening constantly, that’s because it is putting too much heat into the home too rapidly. The set point of the thermostat is achieved before the home is able to be heated evenly. This makes for hot and cold spots in the home, causes excess wear and tear on the furnace, and costs you more money to heat your home. We also discussed the advantages of a two stage furnace in the post, What is a Two Stage Furnace?. The two stage furnace offers a lot of the same advantages as a modulating furnace, but the modulating furnace takes it to another level. It offers a greater range of operation, therefore a greater comfort level, and better energy efficiency. If you would like to learn more, feel free to Contact Us to set up a free comfort consultation.

WiFi Connected Thermostats Offer Greater Control

Nest-Thermostat-195x187In today’s world everything is becoming connected, so why would your thermostat be any different? WiFi connected thermostats for your home allow you to monitor and control your heating and cooling system from anywhere in the world. Free apps from thermostat manufacturers have allowed you to transform your iPad, iPhone, or Android device into a control center for your comfort. You can adjust the set point on your thermostat, set up programming, adjust your fan settings, as well as monitoring energy usage. There are a number of different WiFi connected thermostats to choose from, and that number is sure to grow.

The Nest

Certainly the thermostat with the biggest amount of buzz surrounding it, the Nest is a great option as a connected thermostat. The Nest has built in WiFi, and has a very user friendly set up, and programming feature. The Nest learns your patterns for temperature adjustments, and develops a schedule based on that pattern. It is also equipped with a motion sensor, which kicks in an Auto Away feature when no motion is detected for a period of time. The temperature it reverts to in Auto Away mode is adjustable, and this can be an easy way to save money on heating and cooling costs. My favorite feature on the Nest is the Energy History display on the app. You simply click the Energy History button, and it shows a bar graph of the hours of run time for your heating and cooling system each day. It shows you each day back about a week and a half. This enables you to see how changes you make to operation can affect your energy costs. The Nest is also a cool looking, smaller thermostat, and the simple turn dial to adjust temperature is a very natural feel. The Nest Protect is an additional accessory that can be added to your Nest thermostat. It is a Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detector that is wireless. They also have a hard wired version as well. Nest Protect is also connected, so you can get an alert on your phone if the unfortunate strikes your home while you’re away. Nest is capable of controlling gas furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, oil heat, and electric.

Honeywell

Honeywell has been making thermostats for nearly 130 years, so they kind of have it down. They offer a full line of connected thermostats, some with WiFi built in, and some that can be connected through a wireless Internet Gateway that connects to your modem. Honeywell thermostats haven’t gotten the publicity that the Nest has recently, but in many cases they can be better suited for a particular heating and cooling system. Honeywell offers better control options for tying in indoor air quality products, such as humidifiers and ventilation systems. Honeywell also has sensors that can be mounted on the supply and return sides of your duct system to monitor incoming and outgoing temperatures. The difference between these temps (Delta T) is monitored to make sure the system maintains an accepted performance. If the Delta T dips, the thermostat will alert you that there is an issue with the system. You can have up to 5 email addresses tied in for these alerts, so you can know there is an issue, as well as your trusted heating contractor, if you set it up that way. Honeywell has multiple wireless accessories that can tie into their thermostats, including a Portable Comfort Controller, which can be moved throughout the home to control and sense temperatures from different rooms. They also have wireless outdoor temperature sensors, which not only display outdoor temps on your thermostat, but can also aid in the efficient operation of a heat pump system w/ a back up heat source.

Honeywell Prestige IAQ

Find Out More

WiFi connected thermostats are a great way to help you maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, as well as making sure that you are comfortable when you want it most. These thermostats are a great addition to any home. If you would like any additional information on any of these thermostat products, please email us using one of the Contact Us forms on our site, or you can always feel free to give us a call.

What is a Two Stage Furnace?

Have you heard of a two stage furnace, but are not quite sure what that is? A two stage furnace is simply a gas furnace that has two heat settings, low and high. Furnaces should be sized using a load calculation program, which takes into account the home’s efficiency (windows, insulation value, etc.), as well as cubic footage, and weather data for the area. The design temperature is generally pretty low, 23° for Salem,OR, so with the mild temperatures that we generally see in the Willamette Valley, a furnace sized at 23° will be oversized majority of the time. A two stage furnace allows us to size for those extreme temperatures, while being able to run at a lower heat setting on a more mild day. This feature not only saves you money on energy costs, but also makes for a much more comfortable home. The best two stage furnaces not only have a very high gas utilization efficiency, around 96%, but they are also equipped with variable speed fans that have an electronically communicated motor (ECM). With this feature, these furnaces qualify for a $352 state tax credit for the 2014 tax year, which is a nice bonus. Our two stage furnace of choice is a Rheem R96V. This furnace is very quiet, very efficient, and very reliable. If you would like to set up a free in home consultation to learn more about this furnace, or any others, please click here, and fill out the request form.

 

Lower Your Energy Costs on St. Patrick’s Day

5 Ways to Save Green with Lower Energy Costs on St. Patrick’s Day, and Beyond

First of all, happy St. Patrick’s Day to you. Hope that you are having a great day, and that if you are partaking in some green adult beverages, I hope you do so responsibly. The following is a list of 5 ways that you can lower your energy costs, thus saving you some of your favorite green item, MONEY! These energy saving tips are not the only ways to save energy of course, but I just wanted to list 5 relatively simple, and low cost ways that you can lower your heating and cooling costs.

1) One of the most simple ways to lower your energy costs is to make sure that your furnace filters are clean. Some furnace filters are washable, and some are replaceable. If you have a replaceable style filter, we recommend that you replace it with a good pleated filter. There are a lot of products out there that claim to be high efficiency, electrostatic filters, but they end up doing more harm by slowing down airflow, than they do good. Your furnace filters are more than likely either located right at your furnace (above or below), or they could be located in your cold air return vents in the house.

2) Another low cost, energy saving tip would be to have regular maintenance performed on your heating & cooling system. As part of maintenance your furnace filters would be replaced, but a good maintenance should also include a thorough cleaning of both your indoor unit (furnace & coil), and your outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump). The cleaning should include, but is not limited to the burners and blower wheel on a gas furnace, and the indoor and outdoor coils on an air conditioner or heat pump. Your heating and cooling system generally is the highest energy user in your home, so by making sure it is running efficiently, it can help lower your energy costs.

3) Program your thermostat if you have gas or oil heat. A simple program to set back the temperature when you are away, or sleeping, can save you money. I limit this to gas furnaces or oil heat, because these furnaces recover from a setback quicker than a heat pump system, and therefore it makes sense to use a setback with them. A heat pump system has to work too hard to recover from a setback most of the time, and can actually consume more energy by trying to recover, than if you had just left it running. There are some great options available for programmable, and even smart connected thermostats that know when you’re away via motion sensors, and can learn your programming habits.

4) Adding to the insulation in your attic can be a great energy saver. I personally had this done recently, and it has made a big difference in the operating hours of my heating system. Insulation will settle over time, and if your house was built prior to the 90′s, the energy codes were a bit more relaxed to begin with. Adding attic insulation is a relatively low cost way that you can make a big dent in your heating and cooling costs.

5) Having your ductwork sealed and insulated can also be a big help. Most duct systems in Oregon are located in a crawl space or an attic, where they are exposed to harsh environments. Again, if your house is a little older the insulation may be very poor, or non-existent. Most ductwork is also very leaky, so a lot of the heating and cooling that your system produces is being lost to the elements. Ductwork can be sealed using mastic paste, which once it dries, forms a hard, almost rubber texture. This holds up much better than duct tape. Imagine that, duct tape is good for almost anything, except sealing ductwork. As for duct insulation, we recommend using insulation with an exterior barrier (vinyl or foilback). This will help to keep rodents out, and holds up better over time than open faced insulation.

Hopefully you find at least one of these tips helpful, and you can continue saving the green beyond St. Patrick’s Day.

 

WiFi Connected Thermostats for Your Home

WiFi Connected Thermostats Offer Greater Control

In today’s world everything is becoming connected, so why would your thermostat be any different? WiFi connected thermostats for your home allow you to monitor and control your heating and cooling system from anywhere in the world. Free apps from thermostat manufacturers have allowed you to transform your iPad, iPhone, or Android device into a control center for your comfort. You can adjust the set point on your thermostat, set up programming, adjust your fan settings, as well as monitoring energy usage. There are a number of different WiFi connected thermostats to choose from, and that number is sure to grow.

The Nest

Certainly the thermostat with the biggest amount of buzz surrounding it, the Nest is a great option as a connected thermostat. The Nest has built in WiFi, and has a very user friendly set up, and programming feature. The Nest learns your patterns for temperature adjustments, and develops a schedule based on that pattern. It is also equipped with a motion sensor, which kicks in an Auto Away feature when no motion is detected for a period of time. The temperature it reverts to in Auto Away mode is adjustable, and this can be an easy way to save money on heating and cooling costs. My favorite feature on the Nest is the Energy History display on the app. You simply click the Energy History button, and it shows a bar graph of the hours of run time for your heating and cooling system each day. It shows you each day back about a week and a half. This enables you to see how changes you make to operation can affect your energy costs. The Nest is also a cool looking, smaller thermostat, and the simple turn dial to adjust temperature is a very natural feel. The Nest Protect is an additional accessory that can be added to your Nest thermostat. It is a Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detector that is wireless. They also have a hard wired version as well. Nest Protect is also connected, so you can get an alert on your phone if the unfortunate strikes your home while you’re away. Nest is capable of controlling gas furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, oil heat, and electric.

Honeywell

Honeywell has been making thermostats for nearly 130 years, so they kind of have it down. They offer a full line of connected thermostats, some with WiFi built in, and some that can be connected through a wireless Internet Gateway that connects to your modem. Honeywell thermostats haven’t gotten the publicity that the Nest has recently, but in many cases they can be better suited for a particular heating and cooling system. Honeywell offers better control options for tying in indoor air quality products, such as humidifiers and ventilation systems. Honeywell also has sensors that can be mounted on the supply and return sides of your duct system to monitor incoming and outgoing temperatures. The difference between these temps (Delta T) is monitored to make sure the system maintains an accepted performance. If the Delta T dips, the thermostat will alert you that there is an issue with the system. You can have up to 5 email addresses tied in for these alerts, so you can know there is an issue, as well as your trusted heating contractor, if you set it up that way. Honeywell has multiple wireless accessories that can tie into their thermostats, including a Portable Comfort Controller, which can be moved throughout the home to control and sense temperatures from different rooms. They also have wireless outdoor temperature sensors, which not only display outdoor temps on your thermostat, but can also aid in the efficient operation of a heat pump system w/ a back up heat source.

Honeywell Prestige IAQ

Honeywell Prestige IAQ

Find Out More

WiFi connected thermostats are a great way to help you maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, as well as making sure that you are comfortable when you want it most. These thermostats are a great addition to any home. If you would like any additional information on any of these thermostat products, please email us using one of the Contact Us forms on our site, or you can always feel free to give us a call.

To Double Space or Not to Double Space?

How many of you out there were taught to type with a double space after the punctuation to end a sentence?  <- See example. With the exception of the double space after that question mark, this post will contain only single spaces after each sentence. This is a big change for me, as I was taught like many of you, to double space after each sentence. The more we dive into the digital world, the more we see that this rule may no longer apply. Have you noticed that when you double space to end a sentence, that if that sentence is at the end of a line, the next line will have an unintended indent? It drives me crazy! You can try to correct it by removing the extra space on that one line, but what happens if you look at what you have typed on a different screen, such as going from an iPad to a desktop? Your indent may be in a different location. After discussing this topic with a couple fellow persnickety personalities, I have decided to scrap the double spacing. It seems that it no longer serves a purpose in the digital world we live in today, and only creates issues with uniformity in the layout of emails, blog posts, or web pages. One could argue over whether or not it is the proper way to type; in fact, many argue that it is not proper, and that it was just a way to overcome the shortcomings of the typewriter’s abilities. Either way, I am officially over it. Single spacing works for me, and if it means keeping all of the  text to the left of the page, then problem solved.

By the way, I will not be indenting the beginning of my paragraphs online either. Thank you for reading my rant, that has absolutely nothing to do with heating and air conditioning.

 

Ductless Heat Pump Rebates

There have been some great ductless heat pump rebates available from utilities in Oregon and Washington for a few years now. Homes that have electric zonal heat, such as baseboard, or electric ceiling heat, as well as forced air electric furnaces, can qualify for a sizable rebate through the NW Ductless program. Currently most utilities participating in the NW Ductless program are offering rebates of anywhere from $800 to $1500. Some utilities have even offered multiple incentives, if you have multiple systems installed. When you couple these incentives with the state and federal tax credits that are currently available, you have an extremely efficient heating and cooling system, with a relatively small price tag. While the tax credits are a year to year proposition, we have not had any definitive deadline on the utility incentives expiring. There has however, recently been some utilities that have scaled back their rebate to a lesser amount, and last week we received notice of two more incentive decreases that are on the way. Clark PUD, in Washington State, has announced that on March 3, 2014, their incentive will be reduced from the current $1,000 down to $750. McMinnville Water & Light, in McMinnville, Oregon, just announced that their incentive will be “significantly reduced” from the current $1,100 they offer. They have not announced how significant that decrease will be, but it is set to take effect April 1, 2014.

While it doesn’t appear that these incentives are completely going away any time soon, they are certainly going to be less in some areas going forward, and I would venture to say that this is a sign of more reductions to come. If you or someone you know has thought about having a ductless heat pump system installed, there may not be a better time than now. Take advantage of these incentives and tax credits while they are here.  If you would like more information on ductless heat pump systems, click here to visit our Ductless page.  If you would like to set an appointment for an in home consultation, or to just ask a few questions, click here for our Contact Us page.  We have financing options available, and we take care of the rebate paperwork for you, to make the process as easy on you as possible. Contact us if you would like a quote on a new ductless heat pump system, and we will get you taken care of. Our in home consultations are always no cost to you.

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Introducing New Furnaces From Rheem

It has been long awaited, but the wait is coming to a close, and it appears to have been worth it. Rheem is rolling out their new furnace line, and we had the privilege of installing one of the first released units in the Pacific Northwest. We are very excited about this release, and we are looking forward to keeping people comfortable coming up this fall, and moving into winter time. I know, I know, who is thinking about winter right now? Well, we can still help you out with all of your cooling needs this summer, but lets talk a little about these new furnaces.

The first round of furnaces being introduced by Rheem is the R95P. This is a 95% efficient, single stage gas furnace. One distinct advantage to Rheem’s new design is it’s adaptability. They have designed the new furnace to fit nearly any situation. It is a multi-positional furnace, meaning that it can be installed in any configuration, up flow, down flow, or horizontal. It’s also set up to allow venting to be installed in multiple configurations, making for easier access to filters. In designing the new furnace line, Rheem looked at positive design characteristics of other brands, and enhanced them, while also improving on the weaker characteristics. As a long time Rheem contractor, one thing is always certain with a Rheem product, it has been tried and tested before being put to market. They always take a little longer to release a product, but once they make it available, they have worked out most of the kinks.

Coming in about another month, Rheem will introduce the R95T, which is also a 95% efficient furnace, but it also comes equipped with a constant torque fan motor, which runs more efficiently than a standard motor, and will also boost the efficiency of any air conditioner or heat pump that is paired with it.

After that, Rheem will roll out their new 96% efficient, two stage gas furnace with a high efficiency, variable speed fan. Around this same time, the release of the mother of all furnaces, the new Rheem modulating furnace. Rheem introduced the first modulating furnace over 15 years ago, and this will be the first major overhaul since. The new modulating furnace will exceed 98% efficiency, and like before, will be designed to deliver the ultimate comfort for your home, and save you a good amount of money on your gas and electric bills. We will go into greater depth and detail on these furnaces in future posts, once they become available.

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Ductless Mini Splits – Whole House Heating and Cooling

Ductless Mini Splits to Heat & Cool Your Whole House

We are continually impressed with the heating and cooling abilities of ductless mini split systems. We have done entire houses in the 1200 square-foot range with single ductless heat pump units, and have had consistently great results. The ability of ductless mini splits to bring the home to temperature, and then scale back to a lower setting to maintain that temperature, is unparalleled with any other type of heating and air conditioning system. Multi-zone ductless systems can also be installed, for those homeowners who would like to have indoor units in different areas of the home. The indoor units can be controlled independently for precise temperature control throughout the home. Many homeowners choose to have one ductless unit in the main living area, and one in their master bedroom. With this type of system, you could keep the bedroom a couple degrees cooler than the rest of the home, which people generally like. We have also installed single zone ductless systems in conjunction with a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). A HRV is a system designed to remove stale, dirty air from the home, and exhaust it to the outside, while bringing fresh air from outside into the home. The heat from the air being pulled from inside the house is used to heat the incoming air from the outdoors. Think of it as an open window that doesn’t allow the heat in the house to escape to the outside. HRV’s allow fresh air into your home without the security issues of leaving windows open. They provide very efficient, safe ventilation, and also allow us to recirculate the heat from a mini split system to other areas of the home. The HRV & single head ductless method is what we used to heat & cool the home featured in the video above. Ductless mini splits are very adaptive to almost any home, and there are many different options available to make your home as comfortable and efficient as it can be. If you are interested in learning more about them, or finding out how they can be used to heat and cool your home, then contact us for a free comfort consultation.

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Heating and Cooling Talk

Let’s Talk Heating and Cooling

Wanting to learn more about Clean Energy Comfort, or have general questions about heating and cooling?  We will be featured on the Home & Garden Show on 1430 KYKN tomorrow, Saturday, 6/22 from 9:00 to 10:00.  We will be discussing the ins and outs of heating and cooling, from different products that are available, to the process that is involved in purchasing a new system.  We will also be talking about the importance of maintenance for your heating and cooling system, and the steps that we take during maintenance to ensure that your system will continue running efficiently, and that you will get the maximum life out of it.  You can listen to us on 1430 AM if you are in the Salem area, or you can listen live at www.kykn.com.  This is a great way for us to present what we do as a company, and let people know what is available in the way of comfort products.  Please listen if you have a chance.