Here’s What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label Means

Here's What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label MeansWhen you’re shopping for HVAC systems, home appliances, and other consumer products, look for the EnergyGuide label. It’s the yellow label attached to most energy-consuming HVAC systems and appliances. The labels are loaded with valuable information about the energy consumption and efficiency of each product for you to compare.

Look for the Yellow Tag

One of the reasons EnergyGuide labels are so valuable is that they give you a clue as to how much a particular HVAC unit or appliance will cost through its service life. Instead of basing your important repair-or-replace decision based solely on the price tag cost, it’s wiser to compare the total costs for owning a product.

Additionally, higher-efficiency HVAC units and appliances generally provide better service, such as greater comfort, quieter operation, and fewer breakdowns. When you reap the rewards of energy savings month after month, you also help the environment!

Interpreting EnergyGuide Labels

The type of information contained on EnergyGuide labels is basically the same regardless of the product. Moreover, the information is current within one year since manufacturers are required to submit a report annually for all applicable products in production.

  • The type of product, features, capacity, and size, such as “Water Heater — Natural Gas, Capacity (first hour rating); 57 Gallons,” is located in the top left corner of the label.
  • Manufacturer, model, and make are in the top right corner.
  • If you’re shopping for a central air or heat pump system, the efficiency rating is expressed as SEER (cooling) and HSPF (heating) in the middle box. Higher SEER and HSPF ratings indicate higher energy efficiency.
  • A bar graphic is displayed beneath the rated product as it compares to the efficiency of similar products. This easily lets you see how efficient different models are for comparison.
  • The bottom third of the label contains information on the estimated annual energy usage of the product, and the estimated annual operating cost of the product.

Let the EnergyGuide label and our experts at Roth Heating & Cooling help you make the best decisions for your Portland-area home’s HVAC installation. Contact us today to learn more!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These Certifications

You Should Look for an HVAC Pro With These CertificationsScheduling professional preventive maintenance is essential for maximizing the performance and efficiency of your HVAC systems. Sooner or later, however, many homeowners experience a malfunction and need to call an HVAC technician. With so many to choose from, you may not know how to decide just who to call. Make your choice easy by working with technicians that carry these vital HVAC certifications.

Environmental Protection Agency 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes rules and regulations regarding refrigerants. This is understandable since refrigerants have historically been harmful to the environment. As a result, the EPA requires that technicians handling refrigerants carry EPA 608 Certification.

As a homeowner, EPA 608 Certification is important to you because refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioner or heat pump. Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs heat from your home to cool it. If you use a heat pump for home heating, the refrigerant runs in reverse and releases heat inside your home.

NATE Certification

Many career-minded technicians seek certification by the NATE (North American Technician Excellence) organization. The NATE organization doesn’t train technicians. They only test and certify technicians. The reason NATE was founded more than 20 years ago was to spearhead HVAC expertise in the field, build a more educated workforce, and promote HVAC technologies through public awareness.

Another point why NATE certification is the gold standard among HVAC techs is that NATE requires re-certification every two years. This may involve re-testing or continued education hours. NATE certifies technicians in core HVAC knowledge and at least one HVAC specialty field.

HVAC Excellence Certification

The HVAC Excellence certification is another respected achievement among technicians, HVAC companies, and customers. The HVAC Excellence organization’s goal has been to promote technical education and set a high bar in the HVAC workforce, and they continually succeed.

If you want a knowledgeable and reliable technician working on your HVAC system, make sure they carry the right HVAC certifications. Since we opened our business in 1976, Roth Heating & Cooling technicians have been the best around!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?

Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?It’s so easy to ignore the plumbing in your home because the pipes are largely hidden from view, and most of the time it works exactly as it was intended. However, the type of pipes your home has may make an impact on how you maintain and use your home.

Supply Lines

  • Galvanized steel — You may find galvanized pipes in older homes. With an average lifetime of 50 years, it’s no longer used in new construction or as replacements.
  • Polybutylene pipes — These were used in new construction during the late 1970s and 1980s and eventually a lawsuit forced the manufacturer to recall it and halt its use. It had a high failure rate, causing serious flooding in attics, walls, and basements. If you suspect you have polybutylene pipes, it’s a good idea to be proactive and have a plumber inspect your home and recommend a retrofit.
  • Copper — Copper is still the pipe of choice for new home construction because it’s durable and dependable. It’s safe, resistant to corrosion, and flexible.
  • PEX — PEX piping has so many advantages when installing new plumbing. It’s as durable as copper, more flexible, and about a third the cost. There’s no need for special tools to connect the pipes together, since they snap together with the fittings to create water-tight joints.
  • PVC — Polyvinyl chloride pipes have been used for supply lines in the past, but some jurisdictions won’t allow them because of leaching problems with hot water lines.

Drain Lines

  • Cast iron — Many older homes use cast iron sewer lines that last for decades, but over time, tree roots can damage them, or they simply rust from the inside out. Plumbers can install plastic liners in aging iron pipes to solve drainage problems.
  • PVC — Today’s homes use PVC almost entirely for drain and sewer lines. It’s impervious to many chemicals, unaffected by soil moisture, and cannot rust.

Knowing the materials that comprise your plumbing system is an important aspect of homeownership. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating and Cooling, providing HVAC and plumbing services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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A Timeline for HVAC Maintenance and Replacement

A Timeline for HVAC Maintenance and ReplacementEstablishing an HVAC maintenance timeline helps you keep your system running dependably and efficiently for the many years they’re designed to last. These systems use many mechanical and electrical parts that need cleaning and adjusting to perform at their best. Without attention from you and an HVAC pro, efficiency and durability decline.

How Long They Last

A well-maintained air conditioner or heat pump should last between 10–16 years, and a furnace between 15–20 years. Exceptions to these parameters do occur, primarily based on usage and maintenance.

Scheduling Maintenance Tasks

Check the air filter monthly when the system runs frequently. Neglecting filter changes is the most frequent cause of high energy costs and premature system failure. Dirt slows the air flowing through the air handler, and it takes the system longer to condition your home. The longer running cycle wears the parts and drives up energy costs.

Keep the outdoor condenser clean. A clean condenser loses the heat from the refrigerant faster and keeps cooling bills lower. Hose the coils off periodically and remove any vegetation that blocks the air flow through it.

Scheduling Professional Maintenance

An HVAC pro should clean, adjust, and inspect your cooling and heating system at least once a year, preferably in the spring or fall before its season starts. These systems create vibrations as they run, use oil, and collect dust, all of which interferes with their efficiency and performance.

The goal of professional maintenance is to bring the equipment back to its original settings as much as possible. The technician will check the refrigerant level, clean and lubricate motors, and verify that all the electrical and safety components work properly.

Improper refrigerant levels drive up cooling costs and contribute to compressor wear and early failure. Gas furnaces need professional servicing once a year for greatest efficiency and safe operation.

Sticking to the HVAC maintenance timeline helps you get the most from your system monthly and prolong its lifetime. To learn more, contact Roth Heating and Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Here’s How You Can Use Solar Shades to Reduce Your A/C Costs

Here's How You Can Use Solar Shades to Reduce Your A/C CostsSure, it’s cloudy most of the time in Portland but even we can have our hot, sunny spells in summertime. Whenever the sun shines, it causes solar gain in the home. In the winter, that’s not a bad thing, but in summer, it can drive the need to turn down the air conditioner and use more power.

In our environmentally minded city. we like to do all we can to reduce power use, so turning to a low-tech, passive means such as solar shades may appeal to you.

What Are Solar Shades?

These shades block sunlight and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. They’re made of special material that stands up to UV rays over the long term while preventing solar gain. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes, designs, and shapes.

Why Install Solar Shades?

Following are some of the benefits of installing UV-blocking shades.

  • These shades can cut down on heat gain from solar radiation as a factor in driving up your summertime energy use, so that you not only use less power, but also lower your utility costs.
  • While regular window shades and curtains certainly do help block sunlight and keep interior temperatures down in summer, UV-blocking shades have an edge by protecting you and your furnishings from UV rays. UV light over time can cause skin cancer, and can make carpets, drapes, furniture, flooring, and home furnishings fade or discolor.
  • These shades allow you to block sunlight but still see outdoors. And, even though you’ve got a view of the outdoors, solar shades inhibit the ability of passersby to see inside your home.
  • UV-blocking shades cut down on glare, so that on too-sunny days, you don’t need to squint in your own living room.
  • While some homeowners are exploring installing solar screens on the exterior of their windows, UV-blocking shades are more convenient, allowing you to leave shades down or roll them up, depending on the weather. These shades are available with manual or motorized operation.

Want to learn more about solar shades? Contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve served Portland since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Troubleshoot Your A/C

How to Troubleshoot Your A/CHomeowners who are conscientious about getting spring HVAC maintenance done every year probably have little to fear when it comes to breakdowns over the cooling season. That said, it’s not impossible for parts on even the best-maintained A/C to wear or even malfunction over the course of the summer, so you don’t want to ignore potential problems.

There are ways to troubleshoot noises and erratic performance issues so you’ll know whether to address the problem yourself or call a pro. Here’s some advice on how to do just that.

What’s That Noise?

Here’s hoping your A/C operates quietly so that you’re never alarmed by any sudden noises, because new noises may indicate a change in how your equipment performs. Here are some of the most typical noises:

  • Booming from the ducts — Most often, this is caused by ductwork expanding or contracting as the air rushes through. It’s usually not serious, but it can be annoying. However, the fix may require a different size or type of ducts, or perhaps installing insulation around them.
  • Rattling from the inside cabinet — Something’s loose, somewhere. It’ll probably take a technician to find what it is.
  • Banging from the inside cabinet — A part on the blower may have come loose.
  • Rattling from the outdoor compressor — Not a good sign. It could be the compressor is failing. Turn off the unit and call for help.

A/C Not Cooling

This is one of the most common complaints, and could involve a simple fix, such as changing the air filter or cleaning the evaporator coils, or calling the pro to recharge the refrigerant. But it could also be a failing compressor. If the outdoor compressor stops working, turn off the air conditioner and call for help.

Fan Not Working

Before calling for help, make sure the power to the A/C is on. Check the controls and the breaker. Make sure that the thermostat setting is lower than the outside air, or the A/C won’t turn on.

For more tips on air conditioner troubleshooting, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve Portland and the surrounding area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Keeping Your Windows Maintained

Keeping Your Windows MaintainedIn the never-ending quest to lower energy bills, sometimes homeowners overlook an important area: their windows. A significant amount of energy can be lost through your windows.

Where does this energy loss come from? Typically, there are two sources:

  1. Air leaks let conditioned air out and unconditioned air in. This forces your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a constant temperature. Air leaks can occur when windows aren’t properly installed. They can also just happen as a result of your house shifting and caulk shrinking over time.
  2. Heat transfer brings the sun’s heat inside in the summer. In the winter, it lets your furnace’s heat escape outside. Since glass has no insulating properties, heat moves through it very easily.

How can you reduce this energy loss? There are several options available.

  • Seal air leaks. This may sound complicated, but it usually just involves caulk and weatherstripping. Apply caulk around your window frames. Since caulk does crack and settle over time, be sure to check your caulk periodically and reapply as needed. Weatherstripping can be used around the window sash to form a seal when it’s closed.
  • Use window treatments. Blinds, curtains, and other types of window treatments make up for the insulation that glass lacks.
  • Shade the outside of the window. Strategically planted trees or shrubs can keep the sun off your window and reduce heat transfer. If plants aren’t an option, awnings provide the same benefit.
  • Use storm windows. Much like caulk and weatherstripping, storm windows help stop air transfer. You can choose from a broad range of different materials, types, and costs for storm windows. Just be sure to install them following the manufacturer’s directions, making sure they’re square with your current windows and form a seal.
  • Upgrade to new, more energy-efficient windows. Not only can new windows give you energy savings, but they can increase your property value, as well. If you decide to investigate this option, use the Energy Star ratings to help you find energy-efficient window choices.

Want to know more about maintaining the windows in your Portland-area home? Contact Roth Heating & Cooling today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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New Features You Should Look for in an HVAC System

New Features You Should Look for in an HVAC SystemLike many products and services, high-tech digital features have been utilized in the HVAC industry to provide more efficient and lasting products. With so many new features introduced in recent years, it can be quite a chore to keep up with it all. Read on to see if the following HVAC components spark your high-tech interest!

Wi-Fi Thermostats

The latest thermostat technologies incorporate Wi-Fi and digital features that put home automation at your fingertips. If you are still using a standard digital thermostat or an antique manual box or dial type, take a look at some of the great features Wi-Fi thermostats offer:

  • Control your home’s HVAC system with your smartphone or computer.
  • Program four or more temperature changes to save energy.
  • Receive text or email alerts regarding HVAC maintenance and malfunctions.
  • Control multiple thermostats in a zoning system from one device.
  • Some Wi-Fi thermostats “learn” your preferred temperature and schedule habits and automatically adjust temperature for best energy savings and comfort.
  • Receive automatic software updates.
  • Receive weather reports.

Variable-speed Technology

Variable-speed technology gives you constant comfort by operating at the exact cooling and heating output needed to keep your home comfortable. Conventional air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces use fixed-speed blower motors that operate at 100 percent capacity.

Variable-speed blower motors adjust airflow speed up or down as needed in as little as one percent increments. The result is lower energy usage, quieter operation, and exceptional home comfort.

Air conditioner and heat pump compressors are also available with variable-speed digital features — producing less noise, less vibration, and lower energy bills!

Electronic Expansion Valve

The thermostatic expansion valve (TXV or TEV) on your air conditioner or heat pump is the device that controls the amount of refrigerant flowing into the evaporator coil. Many high-efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps use an electronic expansion valve (EEV) for greater accuracy, efficiency, and comfort.

To learn more about the best HVAC digital features and components for your needs, contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped Portland-area homeowners make great HVAC system decisions since we opened our doors in 1976!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Consider These Improvements for Your Attic or Basement

Consider These Improvements for Your Attic or BasementAttic and basement spaces are frequently overlooked, especially if they’re not finished or furnished. But if your Portland home has an attic or basement, it may be valuable to invest in improving those spaces — even if you never plan on going into them. Consider these improvements:

  • Add insulation. During the summer, the sun hits your roof and warms it well past the temperature of the outside air – and that heat radiates into attic spaces, and down into your living areas. During the winter, warm air rises into attic spaces, and the warmth escapes. Insulation can help to slow both these heat transfers, keeping you cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Basement spaces can benefit from insulation as well, as the ground beneath your home can easily sap warmth from your home.
  • Seal and insulate ducts that pass through attic and basement spaces. Ducts may be designed to pass through attics and basements, even if those spaces aren’t conditioned. When that happens, they can leak into those spaces, or shed (or take on) heat as they carry air through them. That means that your cooling and heating dollars may be sapped away before the conditioned air ever makes it to your living areas.
  • Add ventilation. Ventilating attic spaces can help to manage temperatures, in the summer especially. Both attic and basement areas can also benefit from ventilation to bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air which otherwise might make its way into the air supply of your home.
  • Manage your humidity. Humid, moist or damp areas can provide a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria, which can eat away at fixtures and threaten your health. If your attic or basement has a humidity problem, a dehumidifier may be necessary to address it.
  • Find and seal any leaks. Air escaping from attic or basement spaces reduces the efficiency of your heating and cooling overall.

If you’re curious about how to improve your attic and basement areas, give Roth Heating & Cooling a call!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Is Your Skylight an Energy Waster?

Is Your Skylight an Energy Waster?A skylight is a practical way to get a little extra sunshine in Portland’s rainy climate. By making sure your skylights are properly weatherized, you can enjoy the light without drafts and energy loss.

How Your Skylight Can Cost You

Windows account for around 10–15 percent of your home’s heat loss in winter and 30 percent of your heat gain in summer. Skylights are even more problematic because they’re hit with more direct sunlight in summer than windows in the wall receive. In winter, they lose around 40 percent more heat than windows because warm air rises, heading straight for the skylights.

To make matters worse, it’s easy to overlook deteriorating caulk and weatherstripping when it’s up on the ceiling. That increases the chance your skylights will develop air leaks that waste your conditioned air, cause drafts, and let in air contaminants.

Improve a Skylight’s Efficiency

In late autumn and late spring, thoroughly clean your skylights. Cleaning before winter ensures you’ll get the maximum amount of sunlight. Get up on a ladder and inspect the caulk and weatherstripping around your skylights. If you notice the weatherization material is deteriorating, remove it completely and apply new caulk or weatherstripping.

Have your skylights professionally inspected once a year. Some issues, such as damaged flashing, might be obvious, but others take an experienced eye to spot.

Install blinds. These let you control how much light you get on hot days and act as insulation in winter. In fact, blinds increase a skylight’s energy efficiency by nearly 40 percent. Blackout blinds used on a fixed skylight can boost energy efficiency by up to 45 percent.

Applying a low-emissivity film is another option for controlling excess heat coming in. On the down side, these films also reduce heat gain in winter when you might actually want it, cut the amount of light you get, and they aren’t adjustable like blinds.

If you’d like some help improving your home’s weatherization, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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