Choosing the right heating system for maximum efficiency

Getting the right heating system allows homeowners to enjoy their homes in better comfort. Getting the correct heating system also allows for maximum heat output that won’t lead to filing for a bankruptcy. There are lots of different heating units available in the modern HVAC market.

Making the decision to replace or have a new heating system installed can be a bit stressful because not everyone is educated on the pros and cons of each type. It’s important to know about a product before it is installed. Heating types:

Heat pumps
Radiant heating

There are lots of different furnaces available for today’s homes. A furnace is a device that accepts air from a home through a series of ducts and vents. The air is then stored into an area where it is warmed and eventually circulated throughout a home.

A majority of furnaces are powered through gas or electric sources. They can also be adapted to be used in conjunction with oil, coal or wood. Size also matters when it comes to a furnace because there’s no need to heat a 2500 sq ft. home when some don’t even own half of that.

Heat pumps are another form of heating. They come in two different types: an air source and a ground source. An air source heat pump utilizes warm outer air as a main source of heat. They are great for homes in milder and warm areas.

Ground source heat pumps are often referred to as geothermal heat pumps. They pull the heat from below a surface in order to heat a home. Installers of this form of heating often cite better energy savings as well as possible use of a water heater.

Radiant heat also comes in many different forms. It can be found in radiant baseboard heat, hydronic systems, and radiant ceiling or floor heat. This type o heat utilizes long metal units with electrical systems attached to the inside.

Each radiant heating unit is controlled separately through the use of a thermostat. The thermostat will not normally show the room’s temperature though. They can be used as a primary source of heat or as a secondary form in colder portions of a home.

Depending on the area in which one lives, the best options for heating systems may be:

Natural gas

Electricity runs through heating elements where the resistance causes heat to become generated and spread throughout a home or office building. The heating elements are usually contained in a furnace and in some cases a baseboard that’s installed on the bottom of a wall.

Electrical service may need to be modified depending on the load requirements of the new heating system. A licensed electrician may be required for proper installation of a baseboard heater. Hiring an electrician will keep a home and family members safe.

Natural gas is efficient. The Annual Fuel Utilization (AFUE) indicates how resourceful the system is over the course of the heating season. A furnace with an AFUE of 95% will deliver 95% of the natural gas energy the home throughout the heating months.

Boilers create heat by boiling water. It is then distributed to other areas in the home through the heat exchange units. Boilers are available in various levels of effectiveness. There are the mid-efficiency boilers which have a AFUE rating of 85%. High- efficiency boilers are rated at a whopping 90%.

Modern heating systems can be very effective in homes. Modern systems are adapted to take on comfort control whenever an individual is not home. This is normally doe through a thermostat. A thermostat will learn an individual’s particular desired temperature and set it for when they arrive home.

A home heating system, no matter how well it has been maintained will eventually wear out. When it does it need to be replaced. A majority of people find it much easier to replace their heating systems with the same type.

There are a number of options for choosing a heating system for a home. One can chose two separate delivery systems or one that can provide warming and cooling functions. Knowing which type of heating works best will provide the home and family with desired comfort levels.

How Often Do We Need To Clean Furnaces?

For those people who live in area’s of the country that gets cold, it’s time to think about your heating equipment. With the technology new furnaces have today there isn’t much to do on them as far as setting them up for winter. In the old days (10 years ago and before) we were told to have our furnaces and boilers checked once a year. But now furnaces and boilers have electronics doing most of the work. There are only a couple of things that a service tech needs to do in today’s furnaces and boilers as far as a “clean and check” goes.

The old days:

In the old days when a service man (politically correct term today is “service tech” this term started about 21 years ago) when out on a “clean and check,” he had all kinds of things to do. First he pulled out all the burners and blew them out with co2, then he checked the heat exchanger for cracks using a mirror, then vacuumed up any dirt he found. He also changed the “thermocouple” (on a standing pilot, where the pilot flame burns all the time, the thermocouple tells the gas valve there is a pilot light, and it’s ok to open, and start the heat sequence) on the “pilot light” and blew out the pilot light assembly to make sure it would burn clean and that the pilot flame was positioned correctly on the thermocouple, and on the burner pilot runner.

After that he pulled the blower, and if it was a belt drive blower, oiled the squirrel cage bearings, motor bearings, and checked the belt for cracks . On a “direct drive blower” all he had to do was just oil the bearings on the motor.

Now all the burners are cleaned and the heat exchanger has been checked for cracks and everything is back in place, including the blower. On to the next step.

Now, if the service man was worth his salt, he checks the most important part of the furnace, the “limit switch”. There’s a limit switch in every; gas, oil, electric, or propane furnace, or boiler. It’s main function is to turn on the blower (usually 200′) and shut it off (around 110 or 100′ any cooler, and you would feel like there was a draft) and the most important job it has is to tell the “gas valve” to shut down the burners incase the blower fails. It keeps the furnace or boiler (boilers also have a “safety relief valve” like hot water heaters) from over heating and starting a fire.

What the better guys did was pull the blower wire off the limit switch and start the furnace burners. With the blower wire pulled off the limit switch, the blower can’t start, and when the furnaces gets to about 200 degrees, the burners should shut off and not relight again until the furnaces cools and lowers it’s temperature to about 140 degrees. Some guys just checked the limit switch by rotating the dial on the limit switch and blower settings until the burners shut off. I liked taking the wire off the limit switch and testing it that way because it was more real life working conditions in the event of blower failure.

One of the last things, and just as important as checking the limit switch, was to check the “flue pipe” to make sure it, or the chimney, hasn’t been blocked by soot or birds. It wasn’t uncommon to find dead birds in the flue. Some even made it into people’s basements. This doesn’t happen anymore with the new furnaces. And the very last thing that was done was to check for gas leaks.

Furnaces 10 years ago to the present:

Today’s furnaces and boilers don’t need the kind of attention from the service man like furnaces of the past did. On most modern furnaces all that needs to be checked is the “flame sensor”. The furnaces of today pretty much watch themselves. The burners almost never get dirty now a days because they are working in a mostly closed (80 plus furnaces are not, but the 90’s are) environment. The blower, gas valve, and all the safety controls (including the “limit switch” and “blower switch”) are run by a circuit board. The blowers are all sealed now too. They don’t even need to be oiled!

So how often do we want our furnaces and boilers checked?

That’s a tough question. It all depends on the environment your furnace is running in. It your furnace or boiler is running in an environment that has a lot of dust or animal hair, then it mite be worth it to have your furnace checked once a year. If your furnace is running in a relatively clean environment, you can probably get away with 2 or 3 years of not having to have to spend the money to have a clean furnace checked.

Don’t forget that these new furnaces shut down when they spot the slightest problem. Some tech guys feel the only real time for home owners to have their furnaces ( don’t forget where’re talking new furnaces not the old clunkers) checked, is when they don’t start. They don’t think the cost justifies what your getting in return.

But in the end, it’s the choice of the home owner to decide how often they have their heating equipment checked.

Attic Insulation is Important in Every Climate

As energy costs continue to increase, more and more homeowners are looking for ways to reduce costs without compromising the comfort that comes from a properly heated or cooled home. Regardless of where you live, attic insulation can help you save on energy bills by reducing the amount of electricity you use to heat or cool your home. Attics are often one of the easiest places in your home to insulate, as they only require a few tools to get the job done.

There are two main types of attic insulation, batt insulation and blown insulation. Batt insulation is usually available at home improvement stores and lumberyards, whereas blown insulation requires a professional for installation. Both types of attic insulation accomplish the ultimate goal of helping you trim costs on energy bills.

Whether to Add Attic Insulation

Before adding more insulation to your attic, always check to make sure your attic is not already properly insulated. The best way to determine this is to look across the floor of your attic. If the current attic insulation is level with or below the floor joists, you will benefit from adding more insulation. It is also important that the attic insulation is evenly distributed throughout the floor with no low spots.

How Much Insulation to Add

When determining how much attic insulation to add to your attic floor, it is a good idea to look for several things. The R value of insulation measures the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher this value, the more protection the insulation will provide against heat and cold air. Most professionals recommend an insulation level of R-38, which equals about 10-14 inches of insulation.

What Kind of Attic Insulation to Add

When adding insulation to your attic, it is not necessary to use the same type of insulation that is currently in the attic. It is possible to add blown insulation on top of batt insulation or vice versa. If you decide to add blown insulation, it is best to contact a professional, as this type of attic insulation requires professional installation and equipment.

Whether you live in an extremely warm or cool climate, attic insulation is an excellent way to save money on energy bills. Attic insulation keeps warm or cool air in your attic so it does not escape through the roof, which means your heating and air conditioning system does not need to run constantly to keep the attic air at room temperature. Regardless of the type of attic insulation you decide to install, it is often best to consult with a professional to determine the best type of attic insulation for your home.

So that’s why you need a humidifier

We often associate winter with dehydrated skin and chapped lips, but there are more health consequences of the season’s frigid temps. Believe it or not, winter dryness can affect everything from your teeth to your throat and even contribute to the onset of the flu virus. Yuck.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution to these cold weather woes. Using a humidifier at home can help combat winter’s negative impact by adding moisture to your living environment.

Humidifiers release water vapor into the air, increasing the moisture levels of the surrounding environment. The devices generally come in two types, warm and cool.
After consulting with a doctor, dentist, dermatologist and aesthetician, we found that humidity deserves way more credit for positively influencing your health. From opening your nasal passages to relieving dry, itchy skin, check out what the experts have to say about how the devices impact your whole body.

Your Teeth And Mouth

According to celebrity dentist Dr. Sherri Worth, humidifiers help support saliva production, a process that preserves the health of the oral cavity, gums and throat. Staying hydrated also prevents mouth-related soreness: “When the gums and throat become dry, simple things like swallowing can be painful.”

A hydrated mouth is a happy mouth as far as Dr. Worth is concerned. When your environment is properly humidified, your mouth is able to retain moisture.
Adding moisture to your environment also keeps bacteria build-up at bay and fights dry mouth, a condition that makes you mouth feel constantly parched. A humidifier can help undo the damage of this uncomfortable ailment that can be brought on by stress, medications and diet.

Your Throat And Nasal Passages

“Humidification provides a number of health and comfort benefits such as temporarily relieving chest congestion, soothing a sore throat and helping to alleviate dry, itchy skin,” says Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai.

These benefits are especially noticeable at night. Most commonly, humidifiers are used at nighttime for added comfort and improved sleep, notes Dr. Trachtenberg. The devices have also been linked to a decrease in snoring, which is good news for both those personally suffering from the breathing obstruction and the partners who lose shut-eye over their loud bedmates.

Dry climate-related allergies can also contribute to frequent nighttime snoring. If you struggle with allergy-caused nasal congestion, try sleeping with a humidifier for a week or so to see if you notice a difference in how you breathe.
Perhaps the most interesting topic mentioned by Dr. Trachtenberg is the relationship between humidifiers and the flu. According to a study published in Environmental Health, humidifiers can help create an environment in which the flu virus cannot thrive: “Homes kept at 40-60 percent relative humidity…are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces like sink faucets, door handles, and countertops compared to lower relative humidity levels,” says Dr. Trachtenberg.

Your Skin

“In the cold and bitter winter months, skin is unable to hold onto moisture in the same way it can during warmer seasons,” says Dr. Emily Wise, medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatologist of Krauss Dermatology, a private practice in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

“Both lower humidity in the cold outdoor air and dry heat inside our homes lead to an increase of water loss from the skin,” Dr. Wise adds, which, in turn, leaves us feeling itchy and dry. Humidifiers can help replenish this moisture loss and even soothe harsh skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Skin dryness doesn’t just stem from icy temperatures. Blasting the heat can also cause itchy, flaky skin, too.
Eliana Restrepo, Skin Therapist at Erno Laszlo, adds that the device’s humidification of the air helps the skin “breathe better” by opening up the pores. This is related to a common step in the facial practice when aestheticians use steamers to deeply cleanse the complexion. Better skin with the push of a button? We’ll take it.

Does My A/C or Heat Pump Use Up Refrigerant(freon)?

The answer is no , If you have to add refrigerant you have a leak some where and need to have a professional technician find and repair it. Why you ask? Because an a/c unit or heat pump is a sealed system and letting refrigerant leak out and constant recharging is bad for the environment and your system. If a system is getting recharged all the time it is probably getting contaminants in it which can cause your system to fail prematurely. Nobody wants to replace their system unless they have to. Also refrigerant is being restricted and some phased out which is causing the prices to skyrocket, its much cheaper and alot less headache to have it repaired properly. So stop recharging your system and save money in the long run by having the leak repaired, save the environment and save money and headaches.

Airflow Problems!

Sometimes you find you have a room that is too hot or too cold this may be an airflow problem. Is your blower on the right speed setting? Is it sized correctly? Are the blower, filter and coils clean? Are there return air grills in each room? Is the ductwork sized correctly? These are all things that will cause airflow problems. Sometimes air flow can be adjusted or Balanced to help if the blower is ok and sized correctly, Sometimes it takes more like changing ductwork. The first thing is too try to adjust the airflow by partially closing some registers or dampers and try to force more air to the problem areas. If a room is too hot usually you can partially close the register and see how that does. Sometimes it takes a few adjustments to get it right.

Ken s

Have allergies? dry home?

These are all terrible things to deal with on a daily basis, But there are solutions to these problems.
Humidifiers help with static shock, dry air, allergies, and make your home feel more comfortable in the dry winter. It makes a big difference believe me. For allergies or asthma, breathing problems you can try electronic air cleaners, hepa filters, electrostatic air filters or uv lamps. these will usually get 99% of the dust particles and pollen out of the air and do a good job. The uv lamp and electronic air cleaners do a good job of getting rid of odors also.

ken s

How long will my hvac equipment last?

Gas, oil furnaces and air conditioners can last from 15 to 20 years. Heat pumps can last 12 to 15 years. If properly maintained, if not maintained they wont last as long and will be inefficent. Cost more to operate. If your system is over five years old its not near as efficient as whats available these days. Gas furnaces can be 96% efficient. Oil furnaces 80% and heat pumps and air conditioners can be over 16 seer nowadays. Something to think about since utility costs are always rising,

Ken s

Should i invest in a maintenance contract?

Having a maintenance contract is very valuable for the homeowner. With a maintenance contract your equipment gets checked before each season. A good technician will not only make sure its clean and operating properly. He will also find problems before they actually break causing you to call for an emergency service call. Also this keeps your equipment running efficiently and it will last longer. A dirty system will definitely cost more to run. Most companies also give discounts on services for maintenance agreement customers. So call your favorite company and invest in a maintenance agreement.

Ken s

Air Filters!

always change or at least check your air filters every 30 days. Airflow is very important and reduced airflow can keep your system from heating or cooling properly. So remember to do this task and your system will run more efficiently and mor reliably for many years.
Kens Heating & Air Conditioning

Service your hvac equipment every season!

why should you service your equipment every year? ill tell you why 1. it keeps your system running efficiently. Dirt causes airflow problems and your system will lose efficiency and cost more to operate. 2. A professional technician will check all system components and prevent failures from parts that are worn and can cause your system to fail when you need it most. 3. A professional technician will make sure all critical components are clean and not causing reduced airflow, clogged drains and other problems. airflow is critical so dirty coils, blowers, filters can cause problems. So call your professionals and have your system serviced at th start of every heating and cooling season.

ken schaupp

Kens Heating & Air Conditioning

The change is upon us!

your old r-22 unit is obsolete, if you need a new condensor or coil your probably out of luck. r-22 is no longer being manufactured but still available. unfortunately if you need to replace your unit they are being replaced with r-410a , what does this mean? it means you will have to change the whole system to a new 410a unit for it to be compatible and efficient. converting is not a good option.most components are not compatible with 410a and will not be efficient so replacement of the whole system is the only way to go.

i have been asked about converting and it is very expensive and really just a bad idea. why do that when you could have a brand new efficient system instead of your old inefficient system. besides the newer units are alot more efficient than they were even 5 years ago.

Those pleated filters you bought at the hardware store!

if you buy those pleated filters at the hardware store that say they last for three months, think again, they only last a month ,dont believe the three month thing. Dont get me wrong ,theyre very good filters,very efficient and catch alot of dirt but they are not good for three months.


Before you call out a service technician!

always check your air filters ive ran into this many many times where people have clogged filters and thats all that wrong. they could have saved themselves a lot of money if they wouldve just checked this first. Also check to make sure the power switch and breakers are all on and maybe try to reset the breakers and see if it stays on if not you need to call your favorite service tech.