According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the concentration of air pollutants inside the typical American home is two-to-five times greater than what the average American is exposed to outside, and in many homes pollution density is much higher.
The good news is that this problem is solvable, through an expanded use of ventilation.
What is Ventilation and Why is it Important?
Ventilation means air movement, specifically the removal of stale, polluted indoor air and its replacement with cleaner, fresher air from outside.
Indoor living spaces contaminated with dust, dirt, moisture, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, smoke, fumes from nearby roads or adjacent garages, chemical traces from cleaning products, bathroom and kitchen odors, and other sources of airborne unpleasantness require frequent ventilation. But if your home is like most, chances are your ventilation is inadequate.
Our homes are a refuge. Nevertheless, maintaining acceptable air quality inside of them is a constant challenge. Without proper ventilation unclean air can fill your lungs and nasal passages, putting you and your family at risk for allergy attacks, asthma, skin problems, bacterial infections, and eye, nose and throat irritations.
Ventilation is preventive medicine, and if you neglect to provide proper ventilation in your living area you can pay a heavy price for your neglect.
Three Types of Home Ventilation and How They Can Work for You
There are three sources of ventilation that can clear your home’s air: natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation, and air infiltration or exfiltration. The first two can be powerful allies, while the latter can help you as well if you give it a little boost.
Windows and doors (especially screen doors) are your natural ventilators, and if they are kept open and unblocked they can do good work. To increase natural venting efficiency, you should keep windows and doors open on opposite sides of the home and on separate floors. This will draw air through and maximize air flow.
To boost flow further, electric fans can be strategically placed near windows to increase the speed of the air’s movement.
If you can’t keep your windows open all year long, you can supplement natural ventilation with one of four mechanical ventilation system options:
- Supply ventilation systems. Supply fans bring fresh air from the outside through intake vents placed at various locations around the home’s perimeter, piping it throughout the home via ductwork. Supply ventilation systems aren’t suitable for cold climates, since they can pressurize indoor air and increase indoor heat loss through air leakage in winter.
- Exhaust ventilation systems. These systems use exhaust fans to expel air through outtake vents, depressurizing indoor spaces and making it easier for fresh air to re-enter the home. Exhaust ventilation systems are not ideal for hot, humid climates, where penetration of outside air can create moisture problems on the interior of the home.
- Balanced ventilation systems. Exhaust and supply fans are both installed and operated in unison, to keep air constantly flowing in and out. Because of their four-season efficiency, balanced ventilation systems work well in any climate.
- Spot ventilation. Exhaust fans placed in bathrooms, kitchens or garages can ventilate specific rooms vulnerable to odors or other types of contamination.
Mechanical ventilation systems must be properly sized to meet the ventilation needs of each individual home, and trained indoor air quality professionals can help assist with that task.
Infiltration and Exfiltration
Infiltration and exfiltration refer to air leakage into and out of your home through cracks, holes, and crevices in walls, floors and ceilings, or under and around doors and windows. This air movement helps but is not sufficient to fully cleanse indoor air, and you should supplement its action by purchasing air cleaners or air purifiers.
Air cleaners use fans to pull in air, which is then passed through a filter to remove microscopic (or larger) particle contaminants before the air is recirculated into the room.
Air purifiers work similarly, and some models use filters. But other models use ultraviolet light (UV) to neutralize living bacteria and other microorganisms, and still other models use an absorbent material (often activated carbon) to “soak up” the pollen, spores, dust particles, chemical traces and so on that can make your home’s air virtually unbreathable.
Air cleaners and purifiers come in a broad range of sizes, capacities and prices, depending on your needs and preferences.
At Rheem Pro Partners we specialize in the restoration and preservation of indoor air quality. We can offer advice about ventilation and solutions for your air quality needs, and if you are in Colorado or Wyoming we invite you to contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Rheem air quality expert.
You can get everything online these days, including a full range of HVAC equipment. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and that is certainly true if you need a new furnace or air conditioner.
You may think you’re getting a discount, but in the end all you’ll get out of the deal are headaches and heartache. And in truth you won’t even get the discount: with utility and manufacturer rebates included, the total costs of purchasing from a local dealer will be equivalent to buying online, and without the extra risk.
Purchasing HVAC equipment online is a bad idea, and if you’ve been thinking about it you really need to think again.
Here are three reasons why this option is a recipe for disaster …
1. Manufacturers’ warranties won’t cover online purchases
HVAC manufacturers have the right to void their warranties if their appliances are purchased from questionable sources, and that’s exactly what they’ll do to you if you buy your furnace or air conditioner from an online dealer.
Major HVAC manufacturers are happy to offer guarantees on their equipment, on the assumption that it will be professionally installed. But when furnaces and air conditioners are purchased online, quality assurance in installation services is lacking, since the best installers generally won’t get touch equipment that has been shipped in by truck, sight unseen, from some distant warehouse.
2. If you buy a new furnace or air conditioner online, your purchase can’t be customized for size
Professional HVAC installers rely on Manual J protocols to calculate the exact heating and cooling loads HVAC equipment must meet in order to properly function in a particular home. These calculations should be performed onsite before you purchase a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump, and if you order your equipment from an online dealer you’ll just be guessing about the size and are likely to make a mistake.
But can’t I buy equipment that’s the same size as my old equipment, you ask? No, because your heat and cooling load may have changed significantly since your last furnace or air conditioner was installed. Any remodeling or other structural changes to your home, or alterations in your living patterns, or even changes in the landscaping outside can impact your heating and cooling requirements, and possibly by a substantial degree.
3. Quality contractors avoid HVAC equipment purchased online like the plague
Good contractors have their reputations to worry about, and they won’t be anxious to install HVAC equipment that doesn’t carry a warranty or has not been carefully chosen based on Manual J estimates (which they’ve had the chance to perform). And they won’t be willing to come to your home for repair and maintenance work, either, should your HVAC system start to break down at some point in the future.
If you purchase a furnace or air conditioner online, your only options for installation will be discount, fly-by-night operators who don’t stand behind their work and are only in it to make a fast buck. Is that really what you want?
That last is a rhetorical question, of course it isn’t.
Want Guaranteed Excellence? Choose Rheem Pro Partners
In Colorado and Wyoming, you can’t go wrong if you purchase your HVAC equipment package from Rheem Pro Partners. We’re licensed, insured, experienced, employ highly trained experts, and offer superior and highly affordable installation and maintenance services to support your purchase of a high-quality furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump. Get your equipment from us and we can guarantee you strong, reliable, consistent performance from day one. Please contact us today to speak with one of our representatives, and to find out more about our excellent products and services.
In the average American home, heating and cooling costs can account for up to 50 percent of a family’s utility budget. In places like Colorado, where winter weather is more extreme than summer weather, a furnace may be responsible for most of these charges.
In heating and cooling energy efficiency is what matters, and if your current furnace isn’t efficient you may want to make a change.
AFUE: The Gold Standard of Furnace Efficiency
AFUE is an acronym that stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency, and it is the primary measuring standard used to determine the energy efficiency of a natural gas furnace. AFUE is expressed as a percentage; specifically, it is the percentage of useful heat produced (in British Thermal Units, or BTUs) for each BTU of natural gas consumed during the normal operation of a furnace.
A modern, superior-quality, high-efficiency gas furnace may have an AFUE rating of 95-98.5, which means that only a small percentage (1.5-5 percent) of the natural gas it consumes is wasted during the combustion process. The rest is converted directly into useful heat that can be distributed throughout your home. From a cost-benefit standpoint, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 98 would only produce two cents of waste for every dollar you spent on heating bills.
Many people choose to buy gas furnaces with AFUE ratings in the 78-81 range. These units are widely available and cost less than true high-efficiency models.
But folks who choose the cheaper option often fail to consider the savings that higher efficiency furnaces can bring. A furnace with an AFUE rating of 98 could save them up to 20 percent on their heating bills each and every month during the heating season, which can last for as long as six months in northern or mountainous regions.
Needless to say, over time savings like this can really add up, enough to make the high-efficiency furnace a much better investment in the long run.
If your existing furnace was purchased any time within the last 15 years, it should have a yellow label attached that will reveal its AFUE rating plus specific data about how much energy it might be saving you in comparison to less efficient models. If your furnace is older and has no such label, you can safely assume it is operating at far less than 80 percent efficiency and is needlessly costing you money.
The Importance of Furnace Maintenance
Unfortunately, AFUE ratings are only theoretical if regular furnace maintenance is not made a priority. Research shows that operating efficiency can drop by up to five percent for every year that basic furnace maintenance is neglected, so this is not a minor consideration.
Before every heating season, you should contact your HVAC contractor to schedule an appointment for a tune-up and maintenance. During these annual visits, a trained HVAC technician will clean, test and inspect your furnace and ductwork from top to bottom and everywhere in between, and if any additional repairs are needed they can be arranged at that time. Clean ductwork is essential for good air flow, and you shouldn’t forget about having your ducts checked from time to time.
Proper furnace maintenance is your responsibility as well, and you can contribute to the health of your appliance by changing your HVAC filters at the beginning of every heating season. Clogged filters will force furnaces to work harder, and that can cause your heating bills to climb rapidly. To guarantee reliable performance you should avoid cheap fiberglass filters, which get dirty quickly and don’t work efficiently even when they’re brand new.
Rheem Pro Partners is Pro-Energy-Efficiency
Furnace maintenance is a Rheem Pro Partners specialty, so we invite you to contact us today to arrange your annual tune-up and inspection. In Colorado and Wyoming we are the premier dealer of high-quality, high-efficiency gas furnaces from Rheem, the preeminent name in the HVAC industry, and if decide you’d like to purchase a new energy-efficient furnace we can help you select the best option for your home and budget.
To cut down on the high cost of heating your home, you have two options. You can either lower the temperature in your home or increase the efficiency of your heating system. Nobody wants to freeze so increasing efficiency is definitely the better option. One way you can improve your energy efficiency is by installing a heat pump. Heat pumps are heating and cooling systems that many people overlook.
How a Heat Pump Works
Rather than having separate heating and air conditioning units, a heat pump does both. By collecting the heat in the air and pushing it in and out of your home, it can regulate the temperature during any season.
During the winter, your heat pump pulls in the air from your home. It forces the cold air outside and releases the warmer air back into the house. In summer, it reverses the process. The hot air is forced outside, and the cold air is pumped back into the house.
Advantages of Heat Pumps
There are several advantages (and disadvantages) to installing a heat pump in your home. Here are the pros.
- You can accomplish both your heating and cooling with one unit.
- Heat pumps deliver double the energy that they consume, thus saving you money.
- If you have asthma or allergies, a heat pump may help reduce your symptoms because it pumps out cleaner air than other HVAC systems.
- Your house will have a more balanced temperature because heat pumps offer better air circulation.
- If you need to sell your home, your heat pump installation may net you a higher appraisal value, giving you greater long-term value.
Disadvantages of Heat Pumps
Now let’s take a look at a few of the cons associated with heat pumps.
- Heat pumps are less efficient in colder areas and you may need to install a backup heat source, such as a small gas furnace.
- When temperatures drop below freezing, then a heat pump has to work pretty hard to separate the cold air from warmer air. Over time, this can shorten its life.
- A heat pump costs more to install than a separate heating and cooling system. However, you should ask your supplier for information about tax credits and rebates.
- Heat pumps don’t heat air like a furnace. Therefore the ambient temperature might feel less warm. Some people don’t care for the more moderate temperatures.
- Heat pumps need regular maintenance throughout the year, and repairs need to be done by a trained technician who understands heat pumps and how they work. This generally means higher maintenance costs.
All systems have their advantages and disadvantages. However, despite a few minor drawbacks, heat pumps are the best for energy conservation. If you need to lower your heating bills, then consider a heat pump. They represent a long-term investment that can save you money over time and increase the value of your home.
For more information, contact your Rheem Pro Partner in Colorado or Wyoming today and find out if a heat pump is right for your home and needs.
Our homes are becoming ‘smarter’ every day. Most of the newer small appliances you purchase have Wifi built in and can be controlled with remotes, smartphones, or a tablet. Why shouldn’t you have the same access to your heating and cooling system? With a WiFi Smart Thermostat, you can control the temperature of your home from anywhere, as long as you have access to the internet.
Why would you want to do this? Let’s say you go on vacation. Most of us turn down the thermostat while we are gone to save money on the heating bill. However, that means that when you get back, you have a chilly house. If you are returning from a tropical getaway, ‘chilly’ will seem more like ‘cold.’ With a WiFi Smart Thermostat, you can turn up the heat right before you get on the plane home and know you’ll arrive at a comfortably warm house without the extra heating costs.
How do WiFi Thermostats Work?
The difference between a WiFi thermostat and a traditional thermostat is its ‘brain.’ A Wifi Smart Thermostat connects to your home’s router through your WiFi and receives its instructions from an app you download to your devices. Rather than walking over to the control box on the wall, all you have to do is pick up your smartphone and adjust the temperature. There are even models on the market that respond to voice command.
Apart from the input, a WiFi thermostat turns your heating and cooling system on and off in the same way that your old thermostat did. It connects to the HVAC system with wires and cycles the unit depending on the ambient temperature.
Honeywell WiFi Thermostats
To better understand the benefits of using a WiFi Thermostat, let’s take a look at what Honeywell offers.
You can program your thermostat with the push of a button using any smartphone or tablet.
Anwer a series of questions and the thermostat will intuitively pick the best program based on your needs and the upcoming forecast. Yes, it can adjust to changes in the weather.
Peak Hours Savings
A Honeywell smart thermostat accesses records from your utility company and uses them to determine the hours when electricity is most expensive. A Honeywell WiFi Thermostat uses that information to adjust your heating and cooling schedule to minimize energy consumption during that time.
You might say that the Honeywell thermostat can ‘learn.’ Over time, it will keep track of which temperatures you program each week. As trends develop, it will start adjusting the controls for you based on experience. This feature can be turned off if needed.
WiFi Thermostats provide convenient control of your heating and cooling system from anywhere there is an internet connection. Plus, it can save you money on your utility bill.
If you live in Colorado or Wyoming, contact one of the thermostat experts at Rheem Pro Partners to learn more. They can ensure that the thermostat is properly installed and set-up for maximum comfort and savings.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to cool off that one super-hot bedroom and warm up the basement without using space heaters? Up until now, regulating the heat to individual rooms required shutting off air flow by closing vents. Unfortunately, reducing air flow this way can shorten the life of your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump.
Zoning fixes all that issue AND saves you money.
What is a Zoned HVAC System?
Zoned HVAC controls the temperature for each section of your home independently of the others. You can keep the upstairs bedrooms cooler than the downstairs living area and even turn off the heat to your basement when it’s not in use.
An HVAC zoning system uses dampers inside the ductwork to redirect air from your furnace to the rooms you wish to heat. This customization gives you increased comfort and efficiency and saves money on heating bills.
Typically, we divide a home into zones that have similar heating and cooling needs. The zones will vary for different households, but for most, it will be the bedrooms, living areas, and basement.
How Does an HVAC Zoning System Work?
Your HVAC company will install motorized dampers inside the ducts. These dampers open and close based on signals from the thermostat. A control box holds several zone thermostats. These are wired to the thermostat connections on the HVAC unit. So, instead of one central control, your furnace is now controlled by multiple thermostats.
The dampers open and close when the thermostat for that zone senses a temperature fluctuation. Once all zones have reached the desired temperature, then the furnace or heat pump cycles off.
The Benefits of a Zoned HVAC System
- Enhanced Comfort – Create as many as four temperature-controlled “zones” within your home.
- Convenience – You can change the temperature of a zoned system with a remote.
- Conservation – On average, a zoned system can save you up to 30 percent off your utility bill.
Is a Zoning System Right for Your Home?
Almost every household, both new or old, can benefit from a zoned HVAC system. Accommodate different comfort levels, while saving energy. You should also consider zoned HVAC if you have large windows in your home, a top floor that’s always warmer than lower floors, rooms that you seldom use or that feel stuffy, or special areas like a home office or gym that need additional cooling.
An HVAC professional, such as a Rheem Pro Partner can install a zoning system in your home. If you live in Colorado or Wyoming and want more information about how zoning can save you money, contact a Rheem Pro Partner, a group of elite independently owned heating and cooling contractors serving Denver since 1992.
When cold weather hits, the heating bill goes up. That is just a fact of life. However, nobody wants to see their hard-earned dollars just fly out the window. So, here are 7 tips for helping you stay warm this winter AND cut down on your heating bills.
#1 – Schedule a Fall Tune-Up for Your Furnace
If you haven’t already done so, call Rheem Pro Partner, and have them inspect your furnace. Regular fall maintenance can identify potential problems before they become costly disasters. A technician will clean the unit and replace the furnace filter, increasing the efficiency of your furnace.
#2 – Install a Programmable Thermostat
There is no point in keeping your house toasty while you are away from home. A programmable thermostat allows you save money by adjusting the temperature according to your schedule. Set it and forget it. It’s that easy!
#3 – Make Windows and Doors Air Tight
We meant it when we said nobody wants to see their money fly out the window. Unfortunately, that is what happens in most homes. If your windows or doors are letting precious heat outside, use caulk or weather stripping to fill gaps and prevent drafts.
#4 – Install a Zoned HVAC System
Zoned HVAC systems give you more control by splitting your building into two or more zones. Each area can be heated separately using a programmable thermostat, cutting down on wasted energy.
#5 – Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater
Just by turning down the temperature 10 degrees on your water heater, you can save you up to 10% on your heating bill. We suggest setting the temperature to 120 degrees. If you have an electric water heater, install a time clock. This turns the heater on only during the hours you plan to shower, saving you even more money.
#6 – Conserve Water with Low-Flow Showerheads
You can still enjoy a warm shower and save money just by installing low-flow showerheads. Limiting baths and taking short showers will help reduce the amount of hot water used. For large families or those with teenage boys (who need those showers), cutting down on the flow of hot water can save lots of dollars.
#7 – Request an Energy Audit
Finally, request an Energy Audit. An HVAC professional, such as a Rheem Pro Partner, or your gas company can conduct a thorough home energy audit and identify ways to maximize efficiency and keep you more comfortable this winter.
If you live in Colorado or Wyoming and need to schedule a Maintenance Visit or a Home Energy Audit, contact a Rheem Pro Partner, a group of elite independently owned heating and cooling contractors serving Denver since 1992.
Why should you consider purchasing an energy efficient heating and cooling system? Money, that’s why. New units can save you upwards of 20% on your heating costs over HVAC systems as little as ten years old. It’s true that a higher-efficiency furnace or air conditioner can cost more initially. However, manufacturer or local utility rebates may be available. You can always check with a Rheem Pro Partner for pricing on a new energy efficient unit.
So what is an energy-efficient furnace or air conditioner? Let’s take a look at some of the terms used to rate HVAC systems.
Dictionary of Efficiency Rating Terms
Understanding the different rating methods can help you make a more informed purchasing decision when shopping for a new heating and cooling system.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
SEER measures the efficiency of your air conditioning equipment and the relation between input and output. When considering SEER measurements, higher numbers are better. Look for a unit that is 13 SEER or more.
EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio)
The EER is similar to the SEER. However, EER is the cooling rating used by most geothermal heat pump manufacturers. It also takes into account the seasonal changes which will result in an air conditioning unit having to work harder in hotter weather. Therefore an EER measurement is lower than a SEER measurement for the same unit.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency)
Manufacturers use the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency to rate the energy consumption of natural gas furnaces. Regulations require that all heaters have a minimum AFUE rating of 80% and like with SEER, the higher the number, the better.
COP (Coefficient of Performance)
COP indicates how much of the input energy transforms into heat by your heating system. This measurement is typically used to rate geothermal heat pumps and like other measurements, you want the higher numbers.
CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute)
CFM stands for Cubic Feet Per Minute. It indicates the volume of air moving through fans and ducts. SEER ratings are based on an air volume of 400 CFM per ton of air conditioning. This rating is more important for air conditioning than it is for heating.
BTU (British Thermal Unit)
British Thermal Unit (BTU) denotes cooling or heating capacity. You can expect one ton of air-conditioning to equal 12,000 BTUs,
Ask for a Home Energy Audit
Please keep in mind that these ratings do not take into account the size and condition of your ductwork. For heating and cooling efficiency, you should call a professional HVAC company to do a home energy audit. They can help you select the right unit for your home and, if needed, upgrade your existing delivery system.
If you would like more information on high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, contact someone who can help. Rheem Pro Partners are HVAC experts who have served in Colorado and Wyoming since 1992.
Brrr! Why does the furnace quit on the coldest day of the year and always on a weekend?
We feel your pain! So, to help, here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem before you have to call for an emergency repair.
Top 3 Reasons a Furnace Blows Cold Air
#1 – Your Thermostat Is in the ON Position
Your thermostat has an ON and AUTO switch that runs your blower. If the switch is in the ON position, then the blower keeps running, even when the furnace is not heating. As soon as the furnace cycles back on the air will warm up again. All you have to do is switch the thermostat to the AUTO position. Then, the blower only comes on when the furnace heats.
#2 – The Pilot Light Is Out
A gas furnace has a small pilot light that stays on all the time. When the furnace cycles on, then the pilot light provides the flame that lights the gas and warms the air. If the pilot light goes out, then there is nothing to light the gas that fires the furnace. Lighting a pilot light is not hard but there are a few safety measures you need to follow.
Never try to light a pilot light if you smell gas in the room. Call your gas company’s emergency line and they will send someone to inspect your furnace lines.
If you don’t smell gas, then find the pilot light assembly. Most furnaces have a sticker with instructions on how to light the pilot light. If yours does not, then try to locate the gas valve. Switch it to the PILOT setting. Hold a lighted match to the pilot opening. If there is a reset button on the control panel, hold the button until the pilot light burns. Once it is going, set the valve to the ON position. If the pilot light won’t stay lit, then you may have a faulty thermocouple or a dirty port. You can try cleaning the port with a piece of wire. If the thermocouple is bad, you will need to call a professional to make the repair.
Some furnaces have an electric starter instead of a pilot light. If you cannot find a pilot light, then an electric heating element is probably what ignites your furnace. When an element malfunctions, you will need to call an HVAC professional.
#3 – The Furnace Has Overheated
If you can’t get your furnace to blow any air, hot or cold, it’s possible it has overheated. Safeguards are in place that shut off the burners when the unit gets too hot. More often than not, the problem is a dirty air filter. Furnace filters should be checked frequently for dirt and debris. If you have pets you may find that you have to change out your filter as often as once a month. Once the air flow is no longer restricted and the unit cools down, the furnace should start blowing warm air.
If none of these fixes takes care of your furnace problems or you are not comfortable troubleshooting the issue, contact a professional. Rheem Pro Partners are HVAC experts and have been serving Colorado and Wyoming since 1992.
Most of us are accustomed to the sounds our furnaces make. We barely notice the hum of the blower running or the little pops from the air ducts. These are normal, but what about the noises that get our attention because they aren’t what we’re used to hearing? Sounds that are suddenly loud or increasingly loud over time, or have a different quality than the typical sounds could be a signal that it is time to call a professional for a repair or maintenance. Don’t ignore them. Delaying service could result in loss of service, more expensive repairs or premature replacement.
Here are three furnace noises you should never ignore:
1. Loud scraping sound
A scraping, metal-on-metal sound is likely a problem with the blower wheel. One possibility is that the wheel has come loose and is scraping against the blower casing. If caught early, before there is much damage, your HVAC professional can tighten the wheel. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix. Another possibility is that the blower wheel is broken and needs to be replaced. Lastly, the most serious cause would be that the motor mount has broken and the entire blower assembly has dropped so that it is hitting the housing.