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Posted by on in Heating

We recently wrote a blog post giving an overview of the different types of heat pumps that are commonly used by homeowners to heat and cool their home. It’s important to point out that there can be some limitations or weaknesses in using heat pumps depending on where you live. In colder climates where winter temperatures regularly fall near or below freezing, heat pumps may not be the most effective heat source. A great deal of energy could be required to render them useful in such an environment. They are much more suited for a more modest area like the Northwest region.

While all homes are certainly not perfect for heat pumps, they can be very beneficial for those with the right fit. These benefits include:

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Posted by on in Heating

Perhaps much to many people’s disbelief, the final days of Summer are fast approaching. As the seasons change, homeowners must think about getting ready to transition to the next. Colder days are ahead, which means it’s time to start thinking about the heating source for your home. If it is time for a heating system upgrade in your home, it’s important to remember that you have many different options when it comes to home heating systems. One in particular is a heat pump.

A heat pump is a heating and cooling system that, rather than burning fuel to create heat, transfers heat from one area to another.  By its nature, heat tends to flow from an area of higher temperature into an area of lower temperature. A heat pump turns that process around and pulls heat from lower temperature sources, like the ground or air outside your home, and pumps it into your home.

There are a few different kinds of popular heat pump systems. The first, as described briefly above, is an air-to-air heat pump. This system pulls heat from the air outside your home and uses ducts within the home to blow hot air into different areas of the home. A system of cools heats the air before it makes its way through the duct system.

In a ground-source heat pump, the heat is pulled from an underground source—either from the ground itself or from an underground body of water. In this system, water (or a refrigerant) runs through either an open or closed-loop system to change its temperature, then heat is extracted from the water and used to heat your home. For an extra boost of efficiency, there are also absorption heat pumps, which use natural gas, solar power or even sometimes geo-thermal energy to heat rather than electricity.

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Posted by on in General

As a follow up to our most recent blog post on improving the air quality inside your home, here are a few more tips we’d like to share with you. As always, we highly recommend consulting with a professional prior to any major indoor air quality improvements in order to maximize your efforts and budget. Now for the tips!

·      Keep your floors and surfaces clean. While this may seem like a no-brainer in the context of this article, many don’t automatically associate dirty floors and surfaces to poor indoor air quality. By properly cleaning these surfaces (yes, mopping included), you’ll give the air less of a chance to pick up dust, dirt and allergen particles and help keep your inside air fresh and easy to breathe. This also includes vacuuming carpets!

·      Maintain a healthy humidity level in your home. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. You can use a dehumidifier to effectively lower your humidity levels.  Fixing faulty plumbing is another great way to reduce the humidity levels or your home. Many HVAC units also have humidity settings—learn these settings and adjust according to your home’s needs. Doing some simple things such as opening windows is also a great way to keep humidity down in most cases.

·      Test for harmful chemicals and gases. While harmful gases and chemicals such as carbon monoxide and radon are byproducts of poor indoor air quality, not causes, they are extremely important to point out in this post. Regularly testing (or testing constantly in the case of a CO monitor) can help keep you and your family safe in your home.

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Posted by on in General

We’ve probably all experienced it—whether in our home or someone else’s—that stuffy, stale feeling of the inside air. It can be a bit of a burden on not only our comfort in the home, but also on our overall health and safety.  Fortunately, there are ways to increase the indoor air quality. In this blog post series, we’ll examine a few tips and improvements that can be made, from simple to complex, to increase the air quality in your home.

·      Maximize overall ventilation and air exchange. Unless there is an efficient and effective way for outdoor air to exchange with indoor air, the indoor air quality will likely be very poor in your home. Think of outdoor air as a cleanser for inside your home, as it replaces dirty, dusty and uncomfortable indoor air. It’s a great idea before starting any indoor air quality improvement project to consult with a professional and have an indoor air quality assessment.

·      Turn on the fan! If you think this may seem like a bit of a simple fix, then you’re exactly right. Fans in your home, whether ceiling units or portable standup fans, can greatly reduce the humidity inside your home and provide circulation that is crucial to keeping the quality of air inside your home high. Remember to also turn on bathroom fans when showering or stove hood fans when cooking to help move the wet or combustion byproduct-full air out of your home.

·      Install advanced air exchange equipment. There are numerous air filtration, ventilation and exchange systems available that can be installed to help with your indoor air quality. Vent fans and systems, timed fresh air intakes and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) / Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) are a few options that can really take your indoor air quality to the next level.

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In our last home energy blog post, we started discussing ways to use your thermostat to maximize your energy savings when you are heating or cooling your home. A thermostat can be such a valuable resource when it comes to home energy and performance and we highly recommend getting the most out of its features.

Below, you can find a few more tips for your thermostat use. Once you get done reading, go try a few (or all) of these tips out!

·      If you are going away, turn the system down/off. If you’re going on a trip in the summer, it’s a good idea to turn your thermostat all the way down or off, as there’s no need to cool down a home when nobody is there. If you’re going on a trip in the winter, lower the thermostat setting as much as is safe to avoid freezing pipes. Depending on your location and climate, you can probably get away with a lot lower setting than you think (if not turning it completely off).

·      Protect your thermostat from anything that would give it a false reading. Thermostat placement in the home is key to accurate readings and maximum comfort. Don’t place a thermostat near a fireplace, heat register or drafty windows/doors. It’s also a good idea to avoid placing a thermostat on the inside of an external wall, as that can give false readings as well. If this occurs, you’ll have a very tough time adjusting appropriately to ensure the rest of your house remains at the desired, comfortable temperature.

·      Having a party? Lower the temperature. Having a large group of people in your home can be a heat source all on its own. Make sure you adjust accordingly. Whether it’s just before your guests arrive or while they are there, adjusting the thermostat setting down will not only keep your guests more comfortable, it will help save you energy. It doesn’t take many people in a contained area to generate a great deal of heat. Take advantage of that free source!

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