Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters — The Pros & Cons

Categories:
Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters -- The Pros & Cons

A new water heater for your home is a substantial investment and choosing the right one is a decision you will live with for years. Whether you are replacing an old water heater or choosing what to install in a new home, knowing your options is an important first step. Start by determining which type of water heater is best for your situation: tank (storage) or tankless (on demand).  Each offers benefits and trade-offs. The main considerations are cost, efficiency and longevity.

As the name implies, tank water heaters work by storing water (typically 30-50 gallons) in an insulated tank and heating it continually so it is ready when you turn on the faucet. As the water is used, fresh water refills the tank and is heated.

Tankless water heaters do not store water. Instead, when needed, high-powered burners heat the water as it passes through a heat exchanger on its way to the faucet.

Here’s how both types of water heater measure up.

A tankless water heater is significantly more expensive to purchase initially, both for the unit itself and for the installation, particularly if you are replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless system. However, a tankless system will cost less over time, both in lower energy costs and replacement costs. Tankless water heaters can last twice as long as a water heater with a tank.

Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient because instead of continuously heating a large amount of water (whether it is used or not), the tankless system only heats the water as needed. How efficient the water heater is varies based on the amount of water used. For less than 41 gallons per day tankless systems are 24-34% more efficient than tanks. That percentage drops with more water used, but efficiency still remains greater for tankless water heaters. Homes that use natural gas will save more over those that use electricity to heat water.

Other considerations:

  • Tankless water heaters take up less space than a tank heater, which may be a consideration in new construction or if you are looking to remodel.
  • With a tankless system, there is no waiting for hot water. Less water is wasted because you don’t need it to run until it heats up.
  • Tankless heaters have difficulty heating water for multiple uses at once, such as two people taking simultaneous showers or using the dishwasher and the washing machine at the same time. However, an inadequately sized water tank can also result in hot water running out after several showers or other uses.
  • Storage tank systems are simpler and repairs are less costly.
  • Talk to your Rheem Pro Partner about ways to increase the amount of hot water your tank water heater produces using mixing valves and other accessories.

Colorado and Wyoming homeowners, contact a Rheem Pro Partner to determine which water heater is right for you… Contact us today!

What’s the Difference Between a Single Stage, 2-Stage & Variable Speed Furnace?

Categories:
What's the Difference Between a Single Stage, 2-Stage & Variable Speed Furnace?

Choosing the right furnace for your home begins with evaluating several factors including heating requirements, existing ductwork and insulation, the size of your home and the number of levels, and, of course, your budget. Armed with that information, your HVAC professional can help you determine which type will best meet your needs: single stage furnace, 2-stage furnace or variable speed furnace.

Here is an overview of these three types:

1. Single-Stage Furnace

The single-stage furnace, also called a one-stage furnace, operates with only two settings: “on” or “off.” When it is on, it is at the maximum level of heat output, with no adjustment for how warm or cold it is outside or within different areas of your home. Because this type of furnace is always on “high,” it lags in energy efficiency behind the other options.

2. Two-Stage Furnace

The two-stage furnace is a step up in efficiency from the single-stage furnace, with two stages that allow for some adjustment for changes in temperature. Most (about 75%) of the time, this type of furnace operates in the first stage which is approximately 65-75% of the furnace’s capacity, saving on energy. When the temperature drops and more heat is needed, the second stage engages to meet the current heating requirements for as long as necessary. Once the temperature warms up again, operation returns to normal, so you are only paying for the additional energy when you need it. Because of the lower output most of the time, the furnace does run longer, but this also allows for more even heat distribution.Two-stage furnaces have quieter operation, are more efficient and are better for the environment.

3. Variable Speed Furnace

The variable speed furnace offers the most flexibility in terms of operation and energy use. Instead of stages, this furnace relies on a fan motor operating at different speeds to adjust the amount of heat output produced. Increased airflow results in greater comfort, because temperature is more consistent throughout the home, and better air quality because more air goes through the filter. Even when the furnace is not heating, air can continue to circulate, which actually reduces the need for it to turn on as often. This results in energy savings and lower utility bills. An added bonus: the variable speed furnace is quieter than the single-stage or two-stage furnaces.

Rheem manufactures all three types of furnace.

Find the new furnace that is best for your Colorado or Wyoming home. Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today!

How to Know When It’s Time to Repair vs. Replace Your Furnace

Categories:
How to Know When It's Time to Repair vs. Replace Your Furnace

Your furnace is a big investment, one that’s crucial to your family’s health, comfort and safety. Whether repairing it or replacing it is the best option is a common question. The answer? That depends. Multiple factors determine which course is right for your particular situation. An HVAC professional can help you evaluate your specific needs and equipment in order to help you make the right choice. In the meantime, these guidelines can help you make an initial assessment.

When Repairing is Best

  • Furnace is less than 10 years old.
  • Furnace is still heating your home efficiently and evenly .
  • Your heating bills haven’t been increasing over time.

A furnace that is under 10 years old most likely still has years of useful life. If your heating bills have remained steady, and you generally experience even heating throughout your home, then your furnace is still operating with efficiency. Some problems with uneven heating may be resolved with a furnace repair, or by addressing other issues such as duct leaks, insufficient insulation, or weatherproofing. A NATE-certified HVAC technician can help you find ways to improve the performance and efficiency of your system that will allow you delay replacing it for a few more years..

A general rule of thumb is, weighing the cost of the repair against the cost of a new furnace, if the repair is less than one-third the cost of a new heating system — and your current system meets the criteria above — then doing the repair makes good economic sense.

When Replacement is Best:

  • Furnace is more than 15 years old.
  • Your furnace was built before 1992.
  • Frequency of repairs is increasing.
  • Utility bills are increasing.
  • Original furnace was improperly installed and not the correct size.
  • You have a cracked heat exchanger and the warranty has expired.

A furnace that is more than 15 years old is nearing the end of its useful life (typically 15-20 years) and the money you would put into continued repairs is probably better spent investing in a new, more efficient heating system. If your furnace was built before 1992, this is definitely the case because, compared to today’s models, those much older furnaces are only 65% efficient. This means they also cost significantly more in energy costs each month.

If you are experiencing the need for more frequent repairs or if you’ve seen your utility bills increasing, replacement is most likely the better option. The cost of repairs that don’t keep your system running smoothly for any length of time can quickly add up, and then you still have have an old, inefficient furnace that is expensive to operate.

In some cases, age is not the issue. A heating system that was improperly sized or poorly installed can be costing you money while not providing adequate comfort. Many small fixes over time will cost more than a new system that is sized and installed correctly. If you’ve inherited a furnace that is under 10 years old, but was not properly maintained you may also find replacing it will be more cost effective than undoing existing damage.

A system that needs a major repair that is no longer covered by the warranty, such as a cracked heat exchanger, needs to be replaced. The heat exchanger itself cannot easily or effectively be replaced and cannot be repaired.

Have a highly trained and qualified technician give you an honest assessment of your equipment. Contact a Rheem Pro Partner in Denver today for a free consultation!

5 Benefits of Having Your Furnace Maintained Before Winter Hits

Categories:
5 Benefits of Getting Your Furnace Maintained Before Winter Hits

Rheem Pro Partners recommends furnace service and maintenance be done at least once a year to prevent breakdowns and costly repairs during the cold winter months when a furnace is needed the most. Having a furnace go out in the middle of the night, or on a weekend or holiday, is even more frustrating and expensive if you have to pay overtime rates. Why risk it when there is a simple, cost effective solution that provides peace of mind as well as the tangible benefits outlined below? And keep in mind that by calling early — before the winter rush — you have a better chance of getting the appointment that best fits your schedule.

Here are 5 benefits of getting your furnace maintained before winter hits:

1. Ensure Proper Airflow

Over time, dust and debris in your heating system, as well as other factors such as duct leaks or needed minor repairs, can limit or restrict the amount of airflow. This decreases energy efficiency, compromises your furnace’s performance (and your comfort level), and causes greater wear and tear on your furnace.

2. Reduce Repairs

In addition to thoroughly cleaning your system, your HVAC technician is trained to spot and correct small issues before they become costly repairs. This keeps your furnace running smoothly and prevents those annoying and inconvenient breakdowns.

3. Maintain Your Manufacturer’s Warranty

Many manufacturers require annual maintenance in order for their warranty to remain in effect. In the event of a major defect or problem you don’t want to discover your warranty has been voided because of a lack of proper maintenance.

4. Maintain or Improve Furnace Efficiency

Furnaces have many moving parts and how well those parts operate affects its efficiency, and subsequently, your energy bills. Annual maintenance will save you money throughout the heating season by keeping your energy costs down.

5. Keep You Safe

Any time combustion is involved, there is some risk. A well-maintained furnace will ensure that your home and family are safe by preventing gas and carbon monoxide leaks.

Don’t wait to find out there is a problem with your furnace! Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today to schedule your fall maintenance. We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.

10 Easy Ways to Conserve Energy at Home

Categories:
10 Easy Ways to Conserve Energy at Home

Owning and operating a home can be expensive, but one way to save money is to save energy. Saving energy doesn’t have to mean huge sacrifices in comfort or quality of life. Today, many savvy Colorado and Wyoming homeowners take these simple steps to keep their homes operating efficiently and economically. By giving a little attention to your HVAC system, including your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, and heat pump, as well as addressing other common energy guzzlers, you can save, too!

Here are 10 steps you can take today:

1. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees).
Most water heaters come from the factory with a default setting of 140 degrees. Lowering the setting to 120 degrees not only saves energy, it also prevents scalding. This is especially important in homes with young children.

2. Make sure your water heater has an insulating blanket.  
Installing an insulating blanket is a quick, inexpensive fix that will pay for itself within a year in energy cost savings.

3. Make sure your air conditioner, furnace or heat pump receive professional maintenance each year. Look for the ENERGYSTAR label when replacing your system.
Regular professional maintenance can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your HVAC system by preventing costly breakdowns, as well as by keeping your equipment operating at peak efficiency. When it is time to buy a new system, the ENERGYSTAR label will help you determine the models that are most energy efficient. This is an important consideration when making your buying decision because it directly impacts the overall cost. As a general rule, purchasing the most efficient system you can afford will give you the greatest savings over time.

4. Replace your incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LEDs.  
CFLs and LEDs are more expensive to purchase than the standard incandescent bulbs but can save three-quarters of the electricity used. Start by replacing incandescents that are 60-100W and are used several hours a day.

5. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
Consider installing timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors to make turning off lights in empty rooms and spaces effortless.

6. Turn off your computer when you are not using it. 
Turn off the monitor if you aren’t using it for more than 20 minutes, and turn off both the CPU and the monitor if they won’t be used for more than 2 hours.

7. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use.  
Many appliances use energy even when they are not turned on such as cell phone chargers, fans, televisions and coffee makers.

8. Install a programmable thermostat. 
A programmable thermostat is an inexpensive device that makes your HVAC smart by only heating and cooling your home when you need it. While you are at work or school during the day or sleeping at night, the temperature setting adjusts so your home is comfortable, but you are not paying for energy that you don’t need.

9. Clean or replace filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump.  
Replacing (or cleaning) your air filters every 30-60 days (depending on need) will keep your system clean and efficient, and help prevent unnecessary wear and tear.

10. Caulk leaky windows and doors.  
Improve the comfort of your home and stop paying for wasted energy by sealing air leaks and adding sufficient insulation.

The experts at Rheem Pro Partner are ready to answer all your home energy questions. Contact us today to learn more!

How to Change Your HVAC Filters in 3 Easy Steps

Categories:

Prolong the life of your HVAC system and keep it functioning with one simple maintenance task: regularly changing the air filter. You count on your air conditioner and furnace to work when you need them, and the air filter is a small but vital component that greatly impacts your system’s performance and longevity. Take care of the filter, and you’ve done a lot to protect your entire heating and cooling system.

Why it’s important to change your filter on a regular basis.

The air filter protects your indoor air quality by preventing dirt, dust and debris from circulating back into your home and it also protects your HVAC equipment. When the filter is dirty, however, it doesn’t adequately clean your air, and the dirt that clogs the filter restricts the airflow through the system. This makes your furnace and air conditioner work harder, which has several consequences that affect your wallet. First, it compromises your system’s ability to operate at peak efficiency and that means higher energy bills for the same or poorer performance. Second, it can result in costly repairs that are easily avoidable. Lastly, It shortens the useful life of your equipment, and that means purchasing a replacement sooner. To prevent these problems and additional expenses, simply check your air filter once a month, and replace or clean it (depending on the type you have) as needed.

Change your filter in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Determine what kind of filter you need.

Turn off the furnace and remove the filter, which is located inside the furnace or the return air vent. Pay attention to which direction the arrows on the frame are facing. These indicate the direction of the airflow. For easy future reference, mark the direction with a permanent marker on the outside of the furnace.

2. Get a replacement filter.

If it is a disposable filter, make a note of the filter size indicated on the cardboard frame, and buy a replacement. (Filters are available to purchase from Rheem Pro Partner.)
If the frame is plastic, it is a reusable filter that needs to be cleaned periodically with a vacuum and water. (This should be done outside, if possible.)

3. Install the new filter.

Insert the new filter, or reinsert the reusable filter once is it completely dry, into the furnace. Make sure it is facing the correct way.

Replacing your filter is the simplest, most cost-effective way to protect your HVAC system, your home’s air quality, and your peace of mind.

A Rheem Pro Partner can help with all your HVAC needs. Contact us in Colorado and Wyoming today!

5 Key Questions to Ask When Hiring a HVAC Contractor

Categories:

Your heating and cooling system is a major part of your home and a big investment. Every day you count on it to run smoothly, and when it doesn’t, the concern over the cost and inconvenience of someone coming out to fix it is real. The HVAC contractor you hire should be an ally, not an adversary, but that means knowing how to choose the right person and company for the job. Rheem Pro Partner assists homeowners in Colorado and Wyoming and we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service. Regardless of who you hire, however, it’s important to know what to look for when choosing someone to work on your system.

Here’s what you should ask every HVAC technician before hiring them:

1. Are you licensed and insured?

Most states require that HVAC technicians are licensed. Ask for the license number and look it up with through the state licensing board. Be sure to also see proof of insurance and make sure it is current. The contractor should have both liability and worker’s compensation insurance. This protects you in case something goes wrong on the job.

2. How much experience do you have in the industry?

Hiring someone who has been in the business for a long time can give you added peace of mind. As with most trades, an experienced HVAC technician has likely encountered a number of problem situations and learned how to prevent them or handle them efficiently if they happen again. In addition to asking how much experience they have, ask how they gained their experience. Have they worked on your specific brand or type of system? What kind of ongoing training have they had? Are they NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified?

3. Can you provide references from past customers?

Ask for references and then follow up with them to find out how the technician works. Was the technician courteous, respectful and professional? Was the work was done in a timely manner? Did he leave a mess? Were the details of the job, including all costs, explained well up front and given in writing? Would the reference hire this person/company again?

4. How do refunds, warranties and guarantees work?

If your current system is still under warranty, the technician should follow that warranty. If there is no longer a warranty, find out what guarantee the technician provides for the work. Ask about the refund policy, and what will be done if the equipment doesn’t work after the repair or installation.

5. Can you provide a written quote (and is it free)?

As a best practice, most HVAC technicians will provide a written quote that outlines the responsibilities of both the contractor and the customer. This should be done after the technician has inspected your equipment. Ask in advance if the initial inspection and quote is free.

Reputable contractors will gladly show you their credentials, provide references and answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Rheem Pro Partner has experienced, professional, NATE-certified technicians serving Colorado and Wyoming. Contact us for all your HVAC needs today!

9 Ways to Save Money on Your Air Conditioning Bill

Categories:

The best thing about air conditioning is how it keeps you cool and comfortable even on the hottest days. The worst thing is how much it can cost to operate. According to Energy Star, the average American household spends $2,000 a year on energy bills. Here are some simple steps you can take that will save money by making your air conditioner more efficient. Here in Colorado and Wyoming, air conditioning is more than a luxury in the heat of summer. Rheem Pro Partner is pleased to share these tips to help you keep your cool!

1. Close the blinds and curtains

Use window treatments over large windows, and keep blinds and curtains, particularly on south-facing windows, closed during the day. This will make your home easier to cool and your air conditioner won’t have to run as much.

2. Clean or replace the air filter regularly

A dirty air filter requires your system to work harder, using more energy. It can also lead to breakdowns and early replacement. Cleaning or replacing your filter regularly (every 30-60 days) is an easy and economical way to keep your air conditioner running efficiently, prevent avoidable repairs and extend the life of your system.

3. Get an annual check-up

Regular maintenance at the start of the cooling season may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will save you money over the life of your air conditioner. Your HVAC technician can spot and correct small problems before they become big, expensive problems and potentially leave you without air conditioning when you need it most. Keeping your system in top shape extends its life and maximizes efficiency, which saves money on energy bills.

4. Use a programmable or smart thermostat

In addition to closing the blinds and curtains during the day, if no one is at home turn the thermostat setting up enough during those hours (and at night) so your air conditioner doesn’t turn on as often (or at all). A programmable thermostat does this automatically, making it an effortless process, and saves the average home up to $150 a year.

5. Use fans to promote better air flow

Fans use less energy than your air conditioner and can reduce your energy consumption overall. By circulating the cool air, a well-placed fan can reduce the need for your air conditioner to push more air into the room.

6. Increase the temperature

An air conditioner will run at optimal performance at 78 degrees — cool enough for you to feel comfortable, but not so low that your air conditioner has to work overtime.

7. Make sure your home is sealed and insulated well

Air leaks around doors, windows and fireplaces send your cooled air right out of your home, along with your money. Check for drafts and spaces where air is escaping and seal them with caulk or weatherstripping. The proper amount of new insulation can also greatly reduce your energy costs.

8. Keep your vents clean

Dust, dirt and debris in your air vents can clog your air conditioner and keep it from functioning efficiently. Make sure furniture and other items aren’t blocking air vents and restricting airflow.

9. Check your ductwork for leaks

Leaks and improper insulation can result in your air conditioner wasting energy by cooling your attic and crawl spaces. Make sure the energy you are paying for makes it into your living areas.

Make sure your air conditioner is operating most efficiently. For more information, contact a Rheem Pro Partner today!

5 Ways to Troubleshoot Your AC & Furnace Thermostat

Categories:

If your air conditioner or furnace isn’t working properly, the issue could be with the thermostat. Before scheduling a service call, there are several ways you can troubleshoot the problem to determine if this is the case, and even resolve it on your own. Of course, if you need assistance in Colorado or Wyoming, Rheem Pro Partner is always available to answer your questions and provide help.

1. Check the batteries

Electronic thermostats are generally very reliable, so the issue could be as simple as old batteries. Replace the batteries when the low-power light comes on and this may well get your system functioning properly again.

2. Check for loose wires

Wires can come loose or not have a proper connection. Turn off the power and carefully remove the thermostat cover to check the connections. Tighten any loose screw terminals. If a wire is loose, place it back on the terminal clamp and tighten the screw.

3. Check for dirty components

Dust and dirt can get inside the thermostat and cause it to malfunction. With the power off, remove the thermostat cover and gently clean the components, especially the bimetallic coil and the switch contact surfaces. Dust inside with a soft brush. Clean the contacts by rubbing a slip of paper between them.

4. Check the anticipator

In mechanical thermostats, the anticipator controls how often the furnace or air conditioner cycles on and off. If yours is cycling too frequently or not frequently enough, the anticipator — a flat metal pointer on a disc — could be in need of a slight adjustment. Remove the cover and move the pointer one calibration mark closer to the word “longer” on the disc if the cycle is too frequent, or one calibration mark away from the word “longer” if it isn’t cycling often enough. In a few hours, you will know if the problem has been resolved.

5. Check the circuit breaker/fuse

The thermostat may have lost power due to a flipped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Test the circuit breaker or replace the fuse to resolve the problem. If this happens repeatedly, call your HVAC professional to see if there is a bigger problem causing the overload.

In Colorado and Wyoming, contact a Rheem Pro Partner for all your air conditioner and furnace needs! We’re happy to answer your questions.

5 Simple Things That Will Maximize The Life Of Your Air Conditioner

Categories:

Regular maintenance keeps your air conditioner functioning properly, protects your investment and ensures that your home will be cool and comfortable throughout the warmest months of the year. Colorado and Wyoming homeowners can rely on Rheem Pro Partner for professional maintenance, but here are five simple ways you can extend the life of your air conditioner.

1. Regularly replace the air conditioner filter

Making sure your air conditioner has a clean filter is, perhaps, the simplest and most cost effective way to keep your system working efficiently and effectively. The filter prevents dust, dirt and debris from clogging the condenser and damaging the equipment. When the filter is dirty, the air conditioner has to work harder to cool your home, using more energy for the same or worse result. Your energy costs go up and your air conditioner wears out faster, not only increasing operating costs, but incurring costs for repairs and possibly for a replacement sooner than necessary. Check your filter once a month. Replace it when necessary to save 5-10% on your energy costs and for your peace of mind.

2. Clean and inspect your home’s ductwork

Over time, through normal operation, the ducts and registers in your home become dusty and dirty — and maybe even clogged. This impedes the performance of your air conditioner, causing it to work harder to cool your home. If they are very dirty, have your ducts professionally cleaned.

3. Make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated

Cracks, leaks and insufficient insulation waste energy and increase your energy costs. Check around doors and windows for leaks. Seal any cracks or gaps with caulk or weatherstripping.

4. Don’t overwork your system

Overuse will shorten the lifespan of your air conditioner. Install a programmable thermostat to easily control when the air conditioner turns on and off, so it is not running when no one is home or at night when the outside air is cooler. Opening windows to take advantage of natural breezes during these times allows your air conditioner to rest.

5. Have your air conditioner inspected and maintained each year.

Even with the other steps that you can do yourself, annual professional maintenance is necessary to keep your air conditioner performing efficiently and effectively. Your HVAC professional can prevent problems and address any issues before they become costly. Keeping your air conditioner in good shape each year will keep it working well year after year, extending the life of your system and saving you money in the process.

Contact a Rheem Pro Partner to schedule your maintenance appointment today!