Here’s How to Reduce the Load on Your Furnace

Here’s How to Reduce the Load on Your FurnaceYour home’s heating load indicates the amount of energy your furnace needs to use to keep you warm and comfortable. If you lower the load, you will save energy and potentially help your heating system last longer with fewer repairs. Help make your furnace’s job easier with these tips.

Regular Filter Changes

Start with an easy one first by checking your air filter. A dirty filter makes your heating system work much harder to pull airflow across the heat exchanger. Further, you’ll save energy by staying on top of filter changes.

Thermostat Settings

Frequently changing the thermostat temperature can reduce heating efficiency. Your best bet for saving energy and maintaining the comfort level you desire is by upgrading to a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat.

Check Ductwork

In addition to increasing your energy bills, duct leaks increase the stress and load on your furnace. If you find a disconnected duct seam or locate a leak, you can make a quick repair by wrapping it with heat-resistant metal tape.

Air Sealing and Insulation

Air sealing and insulating your Portland area home is a great and practical way to lessen the load on your heating system. Additionally, sealing and insulation lasts for many years and you will save energy and be more comfortable year-round.

  • Air sealing — Use foam and silicone weatherstripping to seal your attic door and entry doors respectively. A thin line of caulk seals window frames from the outside. Caulk rope and tension strips seal your windows from the inside.
  • Insulation — If you use fiberglass insulation in your attic, it should be higher than the joists. Energy Star recommends attic insulation as high as R-60, which is about 15 to 18 inches of standard fiberglass.

Professional Maintenance

Schedule professional preventive maintenance each spring and fall seasons to keep your furnace, A/C, and ducts in great shape. Professional cleaning, system inspection, and testing ensures that your furnace is operating efficiently and safely.

Make easy work of reducing the load and stress on your furnace by contacting the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling today! We’ve proudly served Portland area residents and businesses 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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Don’t Fall for These 6 Saving Energy Myths

Don’t Fall for These 6 Saving Energy MythsMost people want to cut energy costs and live comfortably. This desire has led to some wise actions as well as some unwise actions. Here are common energy-saving myths.

Myth: Ceiling Fans Cool the Home

Ceiling fans do not cool the home. What they can do is make you feel cooler. An indoor breeze removes heat from your skin surface and creates a wind chill effect. Keep ceiling fans on only when someone is in the room to benefit.

Myth: Using a Fireplace Reduces Your Home’s Heating Load

When you have a fire in your fireplace, a lot of the heat escapes through the damper, which must remain open while you have a fire burning. This doesn’t mean you cannot use your fireplace. What it does mean is that it won’t increase the overall warmth within your home. To reduce your furnace’s heating load, seal drafts and add insulation.

Myth: You Should Close Registers to Rooms You Don’t Use

This myth is based on the false presumption that your HVAC unit won’t have to work as hard. However, the opposite is often true and closing registers can cause problems, such as increased pressure within your HVAC system. Instead of closing vents, consider adding a zoning system.

Myth: Unplugging Electronics is Not Necessary

Electronics use less energy when they are off. However, they continue to use some energy as long as they are plugged in. To conserve energy, unplug your devices when they aren’t in use.

Myth: Turning the Thermostat to the Lowest Setting Cools the Fastest

Your HVAC system will cool the home just as fast at higher air conditioning settings. If you lower the temperature setting, it will only run longer and waste energy. Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home comfortable and more energy efficient.

Myth: Turning Lights Off and On Wastes Energy

Leaving lights on uses more energy than shutting them off. To save energy, get into the habit of turning off the lights to rooms each time you exit.

For more information about energy-saving myths and your Portland home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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 Need to Invest in Preventive HVAC Maintenance. Here’s Why

You Need to Invest in Preventive HVAC Maintenance. Here’s WhyPreventive HVAC maintenance is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a comfortable home, and doing so with the most efficiency and lowest costs. HVAC systems contain many mechanical, electrical and moving parts that need to work together precisely. With routine maintenance performed both by you and your trusted HVAC professional, your equipment will:

  • Use less energy.
  • Run more safely.
  • Have lower repair costs.
  • Last longer.

What’s Involved

  • Homeowner maintenance — The best thing you can do for your HVAC system is to check the air filter monthly when it’s running routinely and change it when it’s dirty. A dirty filter contributes to higher energy bills, increased chance of system breakdowns, and a shorter lifetime.

    Keeping the outdoor condenser clean and free from dust and debris also improves performance. If you use a heat pump for wintertime heating, it’s important to maintain the condenser throughout the year.

  • Professional maintenance — When HVAC professionals perform preventive HVAC maintenance, they clean, lubricate and adjust all the system’s components to bring the equipment back to its original condition as much as possible. They spot small problems that could develop into serious issues if left unattended, which saves money on repair costs and part replacements.

    Checking the refrigerant level is particularly important for a heat pump, since low refrigerant increases energy costs and taxes the vital parts of the system. If you have a gas furnace, they’ll also inspect the gas lines, venting, and the quality of the flame inside the burner. They’ll make adjustments to the gas to air ratio, which helps the furnace burn fuel efficiently and safely.

If your system has a warranty, the underwriter may require proof of professional maintenance to keep the coverage active, especially if the mechanical failure is largely preventable through regular cleaning, adjustments and filter changes.

When you want the most from your HVAC equipment, it’s essential to perform filter changes and regular cleaning. Preventive HVAC maintenance from a licensed contractor pays off lower operating costs and an increased lifespan. For more information, contact Roth Heating & 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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Fireplaces: Which Type is Right for Your Home?

Fireplaces: Which Type is Right for Your Home?The warmth of a roaring fire is one of the most enjoyable ways to keep the Portland area’s damp winter chill away. A gas fireplace can provide this kind of comfort, and there are several types available to fit your needs.

Inserts — These models are designed to be installed in an existing fireplace space to convert it from wood-burning to gas. Because gas fireplaces are typically more energy efficient than wood-burning models, inserts give you a way to improve your home efficiency without giving up your crackling winter fires. While the existing masonry chimney can be used if it’s in good repair, it must be re-lined first. On the downside, most of these models are natural-vent designs, which are less efficient than direct vent, but direct-vent models can be found.

Free standing — This type doesn’t require an existing fireplace space because it’s entirely self-contained. Freestanding fireplaces can be mounted on legs or pedestals, in a hearth or even on a wall. These models are easier to find in direct-vent designs. Either top or rear-vented, they can be vented through the wall, through a factory-built chimney or through an existing chimney.

Free-standing fireplaces are ideal for use in a room addition that isn’t sufficiently heated by the existing heating system. Because they can be placed nearly anywhere, they also allow you more freedom with your interior design.

Factory built — Also known as zero clearance, this design can be safely enclosed by combustible material, such as walls with wood studs, without risk of damage. This allows zero-clearance models to provide more heat than conventional masonry fireplaces. Instead of a masonry chimney, they use a stainless steel flue. Although these models are usually installed during a home’s construction, they can also be retrofit as part of a home renovation project.

Whatever type of gas fireplace you choose, it should be professionally installed to ensure that it performs safely and efficiently.

For help choosing or installing your new heating equipment, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the Portland area.

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

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Here’s How You Can Avoid Frozen Pipes in This Winter

Here’s How You Can Avoid Frozen Pipes in This WinterOrganizing a plan to avoid frozen pipes this winter will help you combat one of the most dreaded plumbing emergencies during cold weather. When pipes freeze, the water inside them can expand to the point where they burst. Not only will the water damage take a toll on your home, you could lose the convenience of indoor plumbing until the problem is fixed. You can easily prevent the pipes from freezing with little effort or cost.

  • Learn where your home’s water shutoff valve is and how to shut it off.
  • Note where the pipes are that lie inside or next to exterior walls or the attic. A kitchen or bathroom sink that lies on an exterior wall could have pipes that originate near the exterior. If you can access them, wrap them with foam sleeves that will keep them warmer.
  • If your home has a crawl space or basement, seal all the cracks that let cold air enter with caulk or expanding foam. You can also wrap the pipes with loose fiberglass insulation to keep them warmer. You’ll need gloves, a dust mask, and goggles to protect yourself from the tiny particles this type of insulation emits as you handle it. You can also use heat tape to prevent frozen pipes. Some of these wraps are thermostatically controlled and they’ll turn on and off as needed.
  • When you’re leaving your home for an extended period, set the temperature to 55 degrees and open the cabinet doors for the kitchen and bathroom sinks. The pipes will stay warm enough to prevent freezing.
  • In the event of severely cold temperatures, let a faucet trickle overnight. Choose a faucet on the second floor if you have a two-story home, preferably one whose pipes sit near an outside wall.
  • Invest in pipe sealing kits that will stop or slow a frozen pipe leak. Your local home center or hardware store may stock them, or find them online.

To learn more about preventing frozen pipes, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC and plumbing services for Portland area homeowners.

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

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Tips for Being Prepared if a Power Outage Occurs

Tips for Being Prepared if a Power Outage OccursThe chances that you’ll experience a power outage lasting longer than one hour increase every year. Our residences have become increasingly technology-dependent and our reliance on uninterrupted power is more critical than ever. When the electricity goes out for a lengthy period, some homes can become almost uninhabitable.

Here’s what to do to be prepared for power outages in your household:

  • Stock up on the basics. Keep a supply of flashlights with fresh batteries, candles, matches, and a battery-operated radio. Also make sure you have a first-aid kit. Keep a multi-day supply of canned food and bottled water on hand.
  • When the power goes out, shut down your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump to protect against damaging power surges common when the electricity is restored. Most gas-fired furnaces don’t work when power is out anyway.
  • During winter, stay warm by adding extra layers of clothing and moving everyone into one room, preferably with southern exposure that receives solar heat through windows. If you light a fire in the fireplace, make sure the flue is fully open beforehand and burn only firewood — not paper or other combustibles. If the house becomes too cold, relocate elsewhere.
  • If the power outage is caused by severe weather including heavy rain, be alert to possible basement flooding. Electric sump pumps that lack battery backup will not function.
  • If you utilize a portable generator it must be located outside, a safe distance from the home. Carbon monoxide fumes from generators are deadly. Consider installing a whole-house backup generator that monitors grid power continuously and automatically activates to restore electricity to household circuits.
  • Frozen pipes may occur in an unheated home. If temperatures drop below freezing, open indoor taps to allow a continuous trickle of water and prevent pipe ruptures.

For more tips on making it through a winter power outage, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

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Why is a Heat Recovery Ventilator Beneficial in Your Home?

Why is a Heat Recovery Ventilator Beneficial in Your Home?Modern homes typically are tightly constructed, with a prime focus on energy efficiency. This is a good thing for saving energy, and it saves your household on electric and gas bills. There is a potential downside to an airtight house, though. Unless the home has an effective ventilation system, there’s no way to exchange stale inside air with fresh outside air, other than opening windows. This is where a balanced ventilation system — for example, a heat recovery ventilator — can play an important role in preserving indoor air quality. The bonus with an HRV (or its close relative, an energy recovery ventilator), is that it also helps with home heating and cooling.

In any ventilation system that draws fresh outside air into the home, a problem arises when the outside air adds to the heating or cooling load inside. A heat recovery ventilator (or HRV) addresses this issue by maintaining separate but parallel airstreams, incoming and outgoing. As the air moves in both directions, heat energy from one airstream is transferred into the other. In the winter, heat from outflowing air transfers over to the incoming cold air, making the injection of outside air less of a challenge for your heating system. In the summer, heat from inflowing outside air is transferred over to the air that’s leaving the house.

An HRV has an additional capability: It not only transfers heat energy but also transfers moisture. As a result, during cold winter weather, when the air gets especially dry, some of the marginally more humid indoor air that’s being exhausted will transfer over to the dry inflowing air to help maintain a comfortable humidity level inside. To a limited extent, an ERV may serve the opposite purpose during hot, muggy summer weather, helping your A/C dehumidify the indoor air.

HRVs and ERVs don’t work in every climate (they’re less effective in areas with mild winters and summers), and they can be relatively expensive to install.

For more information on the benefits HRV/ERVs can provide your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

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Want to Save Energy and Money? Consider a Zoning System

Want to Save Energy and Money? Consider a Zoning SystemIf your home is like most with just one thermostat, it has some rooms that are more difficult to heat or cool than others. While that lone thermostat might do a great job controlling temperatures near where it’s installed, that’s not a big help for floors or areas of your home that have different heating and cooling requirements. A zoning system is an effective way to address this costly predicament.

How Does a Zoning System Work?

Once the home is divided into two or more zones — areas with unique heating or cooling loads — each zone is outfitted with its own programmable thermostat and automated duct dampers. When that room or area requires heating or cooling to achieve its set temperature, conditioned air is routed from the home’s HVAC equipment to that zone. Other zones that don’t require heating or cooling won’t get any conditioned air.

Examples of conditions that would benefit from a zoning system include homes with multiple floors (warm air rises, so upstairs bedrooms tend to get warmer than the main floor or basement); big rooms with lots of window coverage, especially if they face the afternoon sun; rooms with high ceilings; and rooms added onto an existing house.

Benefits of a Zoning System

  • Energy savings. When your HVAC system is only directing conditioned air to rooms that need it, you’ll save energy and money by not providing conditioned air to the entire house.
  • Improved comfort. In some single-thermostat homes, certain rooms never receive enough cooling or heating, since the home’s HVAC system — controlled by a thermostat on the main floor — cycles off long before those rooms get comfortable. For similar reasons, some rooms may routinely receive too much cooling or heating.
  • Accommodating preferences. With household zoning, if one person requires more heat in one part of the house, it doesn’t have to affect another family member in a different area who has a different idea of comfort.

To discuss obtaining a zoning system for your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

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Tight Ducts are Important for Keeping Heat Inside Your Home Where it Belongs

Tight Ducts are Important for Keeping Heat Inside Your Home Where it BelongsYou can have the highest-quality furnace or A/C in the world but if your home’s ductwork is defective, you’ll still waste money on energy and not be as comfortable as you’d like. Your indoor air quality might suffer as well. Find out why tight ducts are so essential to effective heating and cooling.

The Importance of Tight Ducts

Most American homes have forced-air heating and cooling systems. A main HVAC system (usually a furnace, A/C or heat pump) creates warm or cool air, and a powerful fan blows that conditioned air throughout your home. It reaches its destination via a network of ducts and registers. Supply ducts take the conditioned air to your rooms, while return ducts and registers draw the air back into the equipment to be heated or cooled all over again. Of course, you want to avoid faulty ductwork, where ducts aren’t well connected to each other, to registers, or to the furnace plenum. Negative consequences of ducts that aren’t tight include:

  • Wasted energy, as conditioned air leaks out into unconditioned areas such as crawl spaces, the attic or garage, and wall voids. When this happens, your HVAC equipment must work all the harder to move air to rooms that need heating or cooling.
  • Certain rooms that never seem to be cool or warm enough, because so much conditioned air is being lost before it ever gets there. This issue is exacerbated with rooms at the end of long duct runs that are leaking air.
  • Indoor air quality that degrades as dirty air from crawl spaces and other unconditioned areas gets sucked into leaky ducts, as a result of negative air pressure. That dirty air winds up circulating throughout your home with the conditioned air.

Achieving Tight Ductwork

While you can find and seal accessible and obviously leaking ducts yourself using mastic sealant and/or metal-backed tape, your best bet is to hire a professional to inspect your ductwork, seal leaks, and apply insulation where necessary

For a professional ductwork inspection in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

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Proper Attic Insulation Can Help Save You Energy This Season

Proper Attic Insulation Can Help Save You Energy This SeasonPerhaps more than any other part of your home, the attic is where insulation can do the most good. You want effective attic insulation for all seasons, since a poorly insulated attic can drive up heating bills in the winter and cooling bills in the summer.

Why is Attic Insulation Important?

First it’s important to realize that insulation’s main purpose is to resist the movement of heat from one place to another — from outside to inside in the winter and vice versa in the summer. While some types of insulation also will block air movement, in most cases, you’ll need to seal openings in your home’s outer perimeter (and between the attic and living spaces). Air sealing works in tandem with insulation to keep your home comfortable warm in winter and cool in summer.

If the attic lacks proper insulation, air sealing and ventilation, heat that builds up all day in the summer will transfer down into living spaces, forcing your HVAC system to work harder. In the winter, heat from living spaces will transfer up into the attic, which, once again, makes the chore of your HVAC system all the more difficult (and energy inefficient).

Attic Insulation Options

  • The most common insulation is fiberglass rolls (batts or blankets) that you can lay down between beams and joists in the attic.
  • Rigid-foam insulation can be cut to fit whatever requirements you have in the attic, though this option isn’t the best one for complete coverage. Some heat is bound to move through openings between the foam boards.
  • Loose-fill insulation, made of fiberglass or some other material, can be blown into whatever space you need to have insulated. This provides complete coverage, though it can be expensive. You might also need to hire a professional who has the proper equipment.
  • Spray-foam insulation differs from the other types in that effectively stops the movement of both heat and air. Spray foam can be expensive and isn’t as widely used as other types of insulation.

To discuss attic insulation for your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

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

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