Space heating is the largest energy expense in your home. Understanding how your home heating works can help you get the most benefit from your system in terms of comfort, efficiency and energy cost savings. Here is an overview of the different available systems.
Furnace / Forced air
A central gas heating system relies on a cycle of warming cooler air. The furnace burns natural gas or propane to generate heat in the furnace’s burner. The heat then passes through a heat exchanger. This makes the heat exchanger hot enough to heat the air. Air is directed through return vents into the home’s ductwork and is blown over the heat exchanger where it is warmed. The furnace’s blower then forces the air into the supply ductwork where it is distributed throughout the home via the supply vents.
Similar to furnaces, boilers can use a variety of fuels, including natural gas, propane, heating oil, or electricity. Newer model boilers can be very energy efficient. The biggest difference is that rather than heating air, a boiler heats water. The heated water or steam is distributed throughout the home through a series of pipes. The heat from the water seeps into the house through convectors, cast iron radiators, baseboard radiators or, sometimes, air handlers. Some boilers can provide hot water as well.
Heat pumps take heat from outside and release it inside during the cold months. One of the benefits of a heat pump is that it can operate in reverse in the summer months, taking the heat from inside and releasing it outside in order to cool the home. Air-source heat pumps transfer warmth from the air. Ground-source, also called geothermal, heat pumps rely on warmth from the earth or an underground water source. Both types of heat pumps can be installed in a home with ductwork or can be installed as ductless systems.
Radiant heat systems circulate water as steam or liquid. They are silent and don’t create blasts of air into a room. They warm up the room more slowly than forced air heating systems, but can be more efficient because no heat is lost as the air travels throughout the home’s ductwork. They also tend to be better for people with allergies because without constant air circulation, allergens aren’t stirred up. Radiant heat can be installed with passive solar (the cleanest and least expensive to operate), with a boiler-based system that includes radiant floor heat, or with a baseboard system.
Baseboards that operate exclusively with electricity are typically used as supplemental heat, although they can be installed in every room. As a supplement, for example, a baseboard heater in a bedroom can run at night while the main heating system is at a low temperature setting. Baseboard heat is usually installed below a window. As the cold air falls from the window, it enters the heater through a vent. The air is warmed by metal fins heated by electricity. The warm air rises to heat the room, creating a convection current. Baseboard heaters can also work with water or oil, but still require some electricity to operate.
Rheem Pro Partners can help you sort through the various heating options available for your home. Contact us today throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Purchasing a new HVAC system is a big decision with a big price tag, and should not be taken lightly. HVAC systems have likely changed a bit since you last purchased one, so it is important to understand what is new in the industry. With a little preparation and research, you can be sure to maximize your investment and choose the system that is best for your home and family, while avoiding the common mistakes homeowners make when replacing their heating and AC systems.
Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid when shopping for and purchasing a new HVAC system.
1. Going with the lowest quote
Some less reputable companies offer enticing discount offers that turn out to be phony. Promises of HVAC installation and replacement at very low costs often end up costing homeowners more as the companies add on unexpected charges. In some cases, the work is simply done poorly and needs to be corrected, or the system never works properly costing homeowners more to operate without providing sufficient comfort. To avoid this, do some research to understand the reasonable cost of a new system.
2. Only considering the biggest companies
Choosing the biggest company often means paying more unnecessarily. Determine your budget before you begin shopping. Look for systems that best fit your needs. This will likely not be the least expensive, but it certainly doesn’t have to be the most expensive. A good rule of thumb is to choose the most efficient system you can afford. Don’t forget to ask about available rebates.
3. Not getting a written guarantee.
Be sure to get everything in writing, including all the specifics of the guarantee. Include the installation completion date, with a penalty if the contractor fails to meet the agreed upon deadline. Make sure you understand everything in the agreement. Ask questions and don’t sign until your questions have been answered satisfactorily.
4. Hiring a disreputable contractor
The quality of the installation is as important as the system itself. So much of the performance and efficiency of the equipment you are investing in hinges on a proper, professional installation. Be sure to choose a trusted, reliable company for installation and service to avoid headaches down the road.
Choosing a new HVAC system can be overwhelming. You can trust the experts at Rheem Pro Partners to help you get the best system for your home. Contact us today throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
What’s the best way to ensure the convenience and reliability of hot water in your home? Most homes rely on a conventional water heater that stores water in a tank and heats it continuously. If you are in the market for a new water heater, it may be time to consider a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater does not store hot water, but rather heats the water on demand. Although the upfront cost can be much more than for a regular water heater, when sized and installed properly, a tankless water heater can be an economical solution for providing hot water to your home.
Here’s why a tankless water heater may be right for you.
1. Save energy and money
Keeping water hot all the time takes a lot of energy. A conventional system heats and reheats 50 or more gallons of water to ensure that hot water is always available. In contrast, by only heating the water when it is needed, tankless water heaters can lower a home’s energy cost by 30 to 50%. A tankless system is also more energy efficient. As much as 97% of the fuel consumed goes directly to heating the water.
2. Provide a continuous hot water supply
Despite continuously heating water, depending on the size of the water tank and how much hot water your family uses, a traditional water heater can run out of hot water. Because a tankless system works on demand, it provides an endless supply of hot water. No more cold showers or long waits for the tank to recover.
3. Require less space
Tankless water heaters are compact — about the size of a small suitcase, and are mounted on the wall, saving floor space.
4. Work with different types of fuel
Tankless water heaters can operate on natural gas or propane, or electricity. Electric systems are the most efficient, although a gas system may be cheaper to operate and will typically last longer.
5. Reduce the likelihood of leaks or flooding
Because the water isn’t being stored, there is far less chance of developing leaks. Tankless water heaters also eliminate other problems associated with water tanks, such as sediment buildup, tank noises and recovery time.
6. Last longer
While tankless water heaters cost more to purchase and install, they last up to twice as long – as long as 20 years, compared to 8 to 10 years for a conventional system.
7. Provide cleaner, fresher water
Because the water is not sitting in the tank for long stretches of time, but rather comes directly to your faucet, it is as clean and fresh as your water supply.
Questions about a new water heater? The experts at Rheem Pro Partners are here to help. Contact us today throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Sometimes taking care of your home means knowing what not to do. This applies to your central air conditioning system. To protect your home and your investment in your HVAC avoid these common mistakes.
1. Choose the wrong size AC
HVAC professionals size air conditioning units through careful calculations, taking into account a variety of factors. These include square footage; number of levels; the home’s layout, orientation and window placement; the number of occupants; and your lifestyle. An incorrectly sized air conditioner will work harder to cool the space, wear out more quickly, and operate at lower efficiency than it is designed for.
2. Skip proper cleaning of coils and fins
The coils and fins help the evaporator and condenser absorb and release heat. Layers of dust and grime get in the way of this process, making your system lose efficiency and costing you more to operate it.
3. Let the air filter become clogged and dirty
Clogged air filters are the main cause of air conditioners breaking down and wearing out prematurely. Dirt and debris cause restricted airflow, which is harmful to your system and compromises its performance. Changing the filter is also the easiest, most economical way to keep your system operating efficiently and effectively.
4. Forget to program or set your thermostat
Your thermostat is a key component in the function of your air conditioner. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat, if you haven’t already. Regardless of the type of thermostat you have, make sure to check the settings, particularly as the seasons change.
5. Set the temperature too low
Lowering the temperature setting does not cool your home faster. Doing so just makes the system run at full power longer, resulting in greater wear and tear. Simply set the thermostat for the temperature you want, and let the system do the work efficiently.
6. Allow drains to clog and overflow
Surrounding floors and walls can sustain permanent damage if water is allowed to collect and overflow. Clean the drain line and snake the drain every year to keep it clear and open.
7. Wait too long to replace an old unit
HVAC technology improves rapidly, so investing in a new system can be more affordable than continuing to repair and run an old, inefficient system. With a new system, you instantly begin saving on monthly energy bills and frequent repairs. New equipment, compared to an old unit, can save quite a bit over its lifetime, perform better and give you peace of mind.
8. Skip annual, professional maintenance
Annual professional maintenance will keep your system running at peak efficiency, greatly reduces the risk of unexpected breakdowns and extends the life of your system, saving you money overall. Some manufacturers require regular service to maintain the warranty.
9. Run AC when no one is home
Cooling your home when no one is there wastes energy and money, and increases wear and tear on your system. Today’s air conditioners cool your home quickly, and programmable thermostats can help you control when the system turns on automatically.
10. Forget to close blinds, drapes and windows
Proper use of window coverings can assist your HVAC system. Keeping your home cooler in this way means your system doesn’t have to work as hard. Opening windows occasionally for fresh air is a good idea, but be sure to close them.
11. Put the outside unit in a hot spot
Having the outside unit in a sunny spot on the south or west side of your home will make your AC work too hard. Instead, locate it in a shady spot on the north or east side of your home.
12. Block the unit with shrubs or plants
Debris from trees, shrubs or plants can get inside the unit, hinder ventilation, clog the condenser coils and result in inefficient operation or even cause breakdowns. Keep the area around the unit free of anything that could get inside it.
13. Close unused vents
Closing the vents in unused rooms may seem to make sense but doing so is actually counterproductive. It often reduces the efficiency of the system.
14. Improperly locate the thermostat
To function properly, the thermostat should be located away from any heat sources such as windows, appliances or lamps, that can affect the temperature reading.
Rheem Pro Partners are here to address all your HVAC needs. Contact us today! We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Colorado is known for its dry climate, which has benefits but can take a toll on your skin and sinuses. The ideal humidity level is about 40% for optimal comfort and health. One of the best ways to maintain that level in your home is with an energy-efficient whole house humidifier.
How a whole house humidifier works
A whole house humidifier can be installed directly into your HVAC system, introducing humidity and moisture in the form of water vapor into your home through your air ducts. You can use a thermostat to easily monitor and adjust, not only your indoor temperature, but the humidity levels, as well.
Benefits of a whole house humidifier
Viruses, like the flu, flourish in low humidity environments and dry sinuses make people more susceptible to getting sick. Very dry air is hard on people’s respiratory systems, and can worsen allergy symptoms and asthma, as well as causing sore throats and dry, cracked skin. Bringing the right amount of humidity into your home keeps you and your family healthier.
Along with relieving the discomfort of dry skin, noses and throats, moisture in the air decreases static electricity, and the annoying shocks and clingy clothes that come with it.
Unlike a portable humidifier that only works in a limited area, takes up space, and needs constant refilling, a whole house system works behind the scenes to keep your entire home comfortable. The humidity level is easily and conveniently controlled with your thermostat.
A humidifier protects electronics against harmful static shocks. Humidity keeps wood furniture, flooring, trim and structural components from drying out, cracking and splitting.
Save energy and reduce monthly utility costs
In the winter, a whole house humidifier can save as much as 4% on energy costs for every degree you lower your thermostat because humid air feels warmer than dry air.
How much maintenance does a whole house humidifier require?
Very little. If your model uses a humidifier pad or filter, the media typically needs to be replaced about once per year. If you have a steam humidifier, it simply needs to be cleaned annually. Your HVAC technician can perform the annual maintenance on the humidifier along with your regular yearly HVAC service.
Learn more about how a whole house humidifier can benefit your home. Contact Rheem Pro Partners today. We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Funny or unpleasant smells emanating from your air conditioner can negate the comfort you normally experience when you enter your home on a hot day. Odors can also be a sign of a more serious problem.
There are several potential causes of odors from your air conditioner. The type of smell is a clue to its origin. Learn more about what different smells mean.
Dirty socks or feet = mold, mildew, fungus
This is a common occurrence with air conditioners and is most likely the result of water accumulating in the drain pan, drip lines or ducts. The standing water can cause fungus, mold or mildew to grow. Dirty air filters can also create the smell as they accumulate moisture. Contact a professional to thoroughly clean the lines and ducts, and repair the source of the leak to prevent further problems.
Exhaust fumes = fluid leaks
If your air conditioner smells like your car’s exhaust it could mean a fluid leak. Some of the fluids in your AC, when heated, can give off that smell. Most likely it is a leak in the refrigerant line, which can impact the performance of your unit and cause hazardous environmental exposure.
Rotten eggs = gas leak
This smell is highly concerning. Gas distributors add that sulphuric/rotten eggs odor to otherwise odorless gas to alert homeowners to a gas leak. It may also smell like skunk spray. Immediately turn off the gas supply, contact your utility company or the fire department from a safe location outside your home.
Trash smell = dead animal
A foul or rotten smell could be dead rodents. Other critters, such as birds and insects, can nest in the system and become trapped in the equipment. Over time they emit these unpleasant odors. Pest-proof your equipment to avoid this scenario.
Cigarettes = odor from smoke accumulating in the filter and evaporator coil
If you or someone else smokes in your home, your AC can absorb the odors from embedded tobacco particles in the filter and evaporator coil. When the system turns on, the particles are knocked loose and travel back into your home. Change the filter often and restrict smoking to outdoors.
Burning = overheating motor, wiring or mechanical problem
The smell of burning gunpowder or plastic could mean that one or more electrical components are burning or there is a short. These could be circuit boards, power wires, fans and compressors, or others. Alternatively, the smell could be the result of dust on a system that hasn’t been used in a long time. If the smell doesn’t go away on its own once the system has been running for a while, or if it gets stronger, turn off the unit and call for service right away.
Don’t stress over odors in your HVAC! Contact Rheem Pro Partners to troubleshoot and resolve the issue. We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Because children are still developing, good indoor air quality at home is even more important for them than for adults. A child’s lungs and immune system are more susceptible to the negative effects of allergens and pollutants. Some toxins can even compromise brain development.
To protect your children, and your whole family, choose an air purifier that is most effective at removing the pollutants that are most harmful to kids.
Pollutants that cause problems for kids
Indoor air quality is impacted by a number of pollutants that come into our homes. They can be in the form of particles or in gaseous form. Many air purifiers can successfully remove both types, but if one is a particular problem, be sure the purifier you choose can handle that. Some common types of indoor pollutants include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Volatile organic compound (VOCs)
- Tobacco smoke
Why you should install an air purifier
An air purifier provides many health benefits for your family.
- Ensures your family is breathing clean air.
The EPA estimates that indoor air is two to five times dirtier than outdoor air.
- Removes unpleasant odors.
Odors from cooking or other sources can overtake your home.
- Traps airborne allergens.
Airborne allergens, such as pet dander, contribute to a number of unpleasant symptoms.
- Neutralizes smoke.
Smoke from tobacco or a fireplace can linger and make your home smell unpleasant.
- Traps dust.
Air purifiers keep your home cleaner.
- Removes 99% of airborne bacteria.
Today, we are all more conscious of the spread of airborne illnesses. Air purifiers can keep you healthier at home by removing bacteria.
- Combats seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are uncomfortable and annoying. Eliminating the source from inside your home contributes significantly to your family’s wellbeing.
- Protects lung health.
Contaminants in the air can compromise respiratory health.
Best air purifier for kids
Choose an air purifier that can handle both particles and gaseous pollutants. Here is a look at some popular types.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrest ace) filters remove 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger from the air. They are the gold standard for allergen and airborne particle removal.
Activated carbon captures pollutants as they pass through the filter’s small, absorbent pores. They remove odors, chemicals and smoke, but not dust and allergens.
Ionizing air purifiers, UV air purifiers and other ozone emitters
A side effect of these types of air purifiers is the release of ozone, a toxin that can cause damage and development problems to the lungs of young children. Ionizers and electrostatic precipitators create ozone due to their high-voltage charge. UV air purifiers also emit ozone.
PECO (photo electrochemical oxidation)
PECO technology can destroy allergens and harmful airborne chemicals at the molecular level, rather than simply trapping them on the filter surface.
For more information on the right air purifier for your home, contact Rheem Pro Partners today! We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Air conditioning is a relatively new invention and didn’t become a fixture in American homes until after World War II. We’ve all experienced the relief of air conditioning on an extremely hot day — upon arriving at home after a day outside or when ducking into a store or restaurant to escape the heat. In many areas, however, air conditioning is more than comfort, it also increases health and safety.
A brief history
The first “air conditioner” was created by naval engineers for President James Garfield in 1881 when he was dying. It consumed half a million pounds of ice in two months.
In 1902, Willis Carrier, an American engineer, made the first machine that resembles modern air conditioners. In the 1920s and 1930s, mechanical cooling appeared in theaters, the first places to adopt the idea. Air conditioning was brought into homes after WWII.
Benefits of home air conditioners
By the 1950s, air conditioning had begun to be considered essential for modern living. Manufacturers claimed multiple benefits:
- better sleep
- healthier air quality
- cleaner interiors
- reduced risk of dehydration and heat stroke
- reduced asthma attacks
- ability to exercise indoors
Consequences (good and bad)
The widespread adoption of air conditioning changed the design of homes and led to the demise of the front porch, wide eaves and high ceilings. Thick walls, attics and cross ventilation were also no longer necessary for natural cooling.
Air conditioning changed how Americans live, work and play. Families spend more time indoors, perhaps leading to the rise of the television industry and indoor entertainment centers. Geographical difference became insignificant in terms of environment. Homes in sunbelt cities became more popular. The development of the IT industry was only possible with the advent of air conditioning to keep computers and other electronics cool.
On the downside, energy use increased dramatically. Today, the push to make all devices more energy efficient is critical to many industries.
It is unlikely that anyone wants to give up the many benefits of air conditioning. Thankfully, HVAC technology is constantly improving and equipment is more efficient than ever. If your A/C is more than 10-15 years old, upgrading your equipment can provide better performance, more convenience, and greater savings over the life of the system.
Contact Rheem Pro Partners today for all your air conditioning needs. We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Smart HVAC leverages environmental sensor technology to improve performance and efficiency. Many homes already use programmable thermostats, but with today’s ever-evolving technology, these devices are only the beginning.
Smart HVAC conveniently brings many benefits to your home.
Smart HVAC systems can send homeowners notifications to schedule regular inspections and cleanings. Smart systems can also use analytics to predict breakdowns and repairs in advance. Taking care of your equipment before something breaks down is better for you, your home and your HVAC equipment as well as for the environment and your energy bills.
Automatic adjustments and geofencing
Programmable features automatically adjust temperature settings based on the time or day. Some smart thermostats use geofencing technology, tied to your smartphone, to determine when residents of the home are approaching or leaving and automatically adjust the heating and cooling in your home.
Improved energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is a big concern with HVAC equipment. Smart thermostats and other measures already help with this. In the not-too-distant future, fully sensored systems could potentially detect problems such as energy losses due to leaking air ducts or an improperly sealed attic, which cause your system to be less efficient and cost more to operate.
Vents control the amount of hot or cold air let into each room of your home. Traditional vents must be manually opened or closed to allow or prevent airflow. Closing one vent forces more air out of the other vents, but doesn’t change the total amount of airflow. Smart vents add energy efficiency by working with the smart thermostat, which controls the total airflow. The smart vent detects activity and automatically redirects the air where it is needed, signaling the thermostat when less airflow is needed overall. Smart vents can be programmed and adjusted to accommodate individual preferences.
Smart humidifiers and air purifiers
Smart humidifiers and air purifiers can address a major issue in your home: air quality. These smart appliances can detect humidity and pollution levels in the air and respond accordingly. Purifiers can help reduce airborne allergens, while humidifiers improve air quality and make your home more comfortable. Whole home versions can be wired into your smart thermostat.
Smart window treatments
Smart windows and electronic window shades work with your smart home system to control how much light and heat come into your home through the windows with the touch of a button. Traditional windows can be converted with state-of-the-art technology for convenience and energy efficiency.
Learn more about the latest smart HVAC technology for your home at Rheem Pro Partners. Contact us today! We serve homes throughout Colorado and Wyoming.
Central air conditioning is a pleasure for homeowners during the hot summer months, but it can also be a big expense. An air conditioner that runs constantly is using more energy unnecessarily. Finding the cause is important for both your comfort and your wallet.
Here are some of the common issues that cause an air conditioner to run excessively.
Improper size and installation (including wrong duct size)
When it comes to air conditioners, bigger is not always better and smaller is not always less expensive. A unit that is too big will not be able to remove the moisture from the air effectively and, as a result, will have shorter run times while using excessive amounts of electricity. A unit that is too small will have to work harder to cool your home, increasing wear and tear without reaching the desired coolness. For optimal performance, the system must be sized correctly. That said, a properly sized, efficient air conditioner is designed to run continuously in order to maintain the desired temperature, but will do so with maximum efficiency and minimum wear and tear.
The ductwork must also be sized relative to the unit in order to properly distribute the air throughout your home for comfort and efficiency.
Dirty or restrictive air filter
The air filter should be changed regularly (every one to three months for a standard one- to two-inch filter) in order to protect your HVAC system and keep it working properly. A clogged filter blocks airflow, causing the system to work harder. To achieve the desired temperature, that can mean running more often. All that extra work can lead to breakdowns and premature replacement, as well as higher energy bills and less comfort.
Dirt and debris, such as leaves, grass clippings and mud, that collects on the evaporator or condenser coils can diminish the performance of your air conditioner. Condenser coils are exposed to the elements and need to be cleaned. Periodically, turn off the electrical power to the system and hose down the unit.
The evaporator coils are continually exposed to airflow circulated by the blower and can build up dust and dirt. A layer of dirt on the surface of the coils can affect their ability to transfer heat from the air to the refrigerant, causing longer “on” cycles. A visual inspection of the evaporator coils can determine if they are in need of maintenance.
Blower motor and fan issues
One possibility is that the fan speed needs to be adjusted. If, however, your air conditioner is older, the blower motor and other mechanical components may be showing signs of wear. At 15 years, the system is nearing time for replacement. Age and wear are two contributors to decreased performance and could be the reason your system runs more often.
The issue may not be with the air conditioner itself, but with the thermostat. A faulty thermostat prevents the system from turning off once the desired temperature is reached. Compare the actual temperature in the room to the thermostat setting. If it is lower, then the thermostat likely needs to be replaced.
Air leaks or poor insulation
Leaks in the air ducts allow the cooled air to escape before reaching the rooms of your home, so even though the air conditioner is working, the living spaces are not reaching the correct temperature and the system keeps running. Poor insulation and air leaks around doors and windows can have the same effect.
Lack of maintenance
Most problems can be easily resolved — and prevented — with proper maintenance. A professional technician will thoroughly examine and clean the system, as well as correct any issues before they turn into costly repairs. Foregoing annual maintenance can lead to airflow problems and inefficient cycling, and may also void your warranty.