How Can a Zoning System Make You and Your Home More Comfortable?

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How Can a Zoning System Make You and Your Home More Comfortable?

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.

7 Tips to Help You Stay Warm & Save Money this Winter

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7 Tips to Help You Stay Warm & Save Money this Winter

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.

Understanding Efficiency Ratings for Heating and Cooling Systems

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Understanding Efficiency Ratings for Heating and Cooling Systems

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.

Furnace Blowing Cold Air? Here’s What You Can Do

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Furnace Blowing Cold Air? Here's What You Can Do

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.

3 Furnace Noises You Shouldn’t Ignore

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3 Furnace Noises You Shouldn't Ignore

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.

2. Loud bang or pop when furnace turns on

Dirt on the furnace burners could cause a delay in ignition. When this happens, excess gas builds up and once it does ignite there is a small explosion. Eventually, these explosions can crack the heat exchanger, which is very expensive to replace and usually results in replacing the entire furnace. If you hear this sound, have a professional check it out right away. Regular maintenance, however, will prevent this from happening.
Another cause of this type of noise could be expanding and contracting metal ductwork. This occurs when the air ducts are not the correct size or are too flimsy, if vents are closed or if the air filter is clogged.

3. Squealing or whining noise

A high-pitched squealing noise is not as serious as the first two noises, but should be checked out by a professional to keep it from turning into a bigger problem. This type of sound may indicate a loose or damaged blower belt that should be adjusted or replaced by a technician. It could also by caused by a shaft bearing that needs lubrication; a technician can apply a lightweight oil where needed. Or, it could mean the blower motor is malfunctioning and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Don’t let furnace noises keep you up at night! Contact a Rheem Pro Partner today in Colorado or Wyoming, to schedule your annual maintenance check, and sleep peacefully all winter long.

Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters — The Pros & Cons

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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!