Is Radiant Flooring the Best Choice for Your Home?

Is Radiant Flooring the Best Choice for Your Home?
In Portland’s chilly, wet winters, a heating system that infuses your home with an even, draft-free warmth can be a real comfort. While radiant flooring is a good choice if you want this kind of warmth, it’s better suited to some situations than others.

Why Choose Radiant Floor Heating?

A forced-air system, such as a furnace, blows warm air into the room, which quickly rises to the ceiling. A radiant floor system gives off heat that directly warms people and furniture. This type of heat makes you feel warmer overall, allowing you to set a lower thermostat temperature to save energy.

No blowing air also means fewer airborne contaminants such as dust and mold spores, a plus if you experience allergies or asthma. With no motor or air moving through ducts, radiant floors are also quieter than forced-air systems. With no air vents to worry about, you can place your furniture and rugs anywhere.

Consider Your Options

Most homes with radiant flooring use either a hydronic (water) or electric design. A hydronic system uses tubes under the floor to circulate hot water produced by a boiler. The energy-efficiency of boiler heating makes hydronic systems suitable for heating the whole house. If the pipes aren’t installed during the home’s construction, however, the floor must be removed to install them.

In an electric system, pads embedded with electric heating cables are installed under the floor. Considering the relatively high cost of electric heating, these systems are best kept to a limited area, such as the bathroom. Some designs can be installed without removing the floor as long as the floor is accessible from underneath via the basement or crawl space.

Radiant flooring systems require a floor covering that holds and transmits heat well without suffering heat damage. Tile, stone, laminate, some types of vinyl flooring and even concrete are all options. You’ll want to avoid hardwood and thick carpet, though.

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 Reducing Energy Costs During Cooler Weather

Tips for Reducing Energy Costs During Cooler WeatherThe major components of winter comfort include a home’s heating system, the water heater and the windows. Increasing the energy efficiency of each of these will cut energy costs without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

  • Have your heating system serviced. Having an HVAC professional maintain your furnace or heat pump will cut energy consumption. The cleaning and adjustments technicians make improve efficiency and safety. Running a system that’s dirty or out of adjustment not only increases energy bills, but it also creates premature and unnecessary wear.
  • Turn down the thermostat. The ideal indoor temperature ranges from 68 to 78 degrees. In the winter, consider lowering the daytime temperature to 68 and reduce it even more at night. Use warmer bedding and clothing to make up the difference. A programmable thermostat will take all the effort out of adjusting the temperature daily.
  • Tend to the water heater. Depending on your family size, heating water could be the second-highest energy expenditure during the winter. The water heater is often the most neglected appliances in homes, but it’s easy to improve its energy efficiency by turning down its temperature to 120 degrees. Not only will it consume less energy, it will also last longer.
    Draining a few quarts from the bottom of the tank two or three times a year also improves its performance and increases its durability. Wrapping it with an insulating blanket, found at home improvement centers, cuts its energy usage.
  • Deal with the windows. Unless you have Energy Star or thermal-rated windows, you can lose a lot of heat through the glass and frames. Glass has almost no ability to resist heat transfer, and metal frames conduct heat outdoors readily. Closing the window coverings at night and opening them when it’s sunny will help cut those thermal losses. Poorly sealed windows let in cold drafts that caulk or weatherstripping can stop.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC and plumbing services for Portland-area homeowners since 1976.

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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Ways to Solve the Issue of Heat Loss in Your Home

Ways to Solve the Issue of Heat Loss in Your Home
You can view heat loss as money flowing out of your home because in many ways, that’s exactly what it is. Every fall and winter, many Portland homeowners experience high energy bills, many of which could be lowered by better winterization of the home. Here are steps you can take to keep your home warmer and your bills lower.

Keep the Heat in Through Insulation

Poorly insulated homes lose heat in winter via conduction through the walls, ceiling, floors, and attic. This occurs because heat travels towards cooler temperatures, which means warmed indoor air will seek the colder outdoor air. Without good insulation, this process is unimpeded.

Insulate these areas to prevent this type of heat loss:

  • Attic – Attic insulation is the most important because so much heat can be lost in winter through this area. Make sure you also insulate the attic access hatch.
  • Exterior Walls – Additional insulation can be professionally blown into exterior walls if this is needed.
  • Floors – Floors over unconditioned areas, such as those over garages, should be insulated.
  • Ductwork – Ducts that are in unconditioned crawl spaces or attics should be insulated to prevent heat loss from the ducts to the cooler surrounding air.

Prevent Warm Air from Escaping Through Leaks

Your home’s heated air can exit through any openings leading to the outside. Prevent this by doing the following:

Look for air leaks by conducting a visual inspection for leaks around pipes or ductwork entering the home, around window and door frames, flues, and fireplace dampers. You can also check for leaks that aren’t so visible, such as drafts beneath baseboards, by holding a stick of lit incense close to the area, and by having your HVAC contractor conduct a test for air leaks, called a blower door test.

  • Keep fireplace dampers closed when you aren’t using the fireplace.
  • Winterize windows, doors and flues with weatherstripping, caulk or foam sealant.
  • Seal around skylights and other openings in the roof, exterior walls or floors.

For more information about protecting your home from heat loss, 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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What You Should Consider When Purchasing a New Furnace

What You Should Consider When Purchasing a New FurnaceReplacing your old furnace with an efficient model available today involves more than just picking one out of the same size. There are installation details to consider, such as making your home more efficient, correctly sizing your new heating system, inspecting the ducts and more.

Use this guide to help you choose and install your system the correct way and to ensure the greatest return on your investment.

Tighten Up Your Home

Your new heating system is going to work a lot better if it’s installed in an efficient home. Air leaks in the thermal envelope and inadequate insulation levels increase the heating load and your energy bills. Ask your HVAC provider to perform an energy evaluation, which shows you exactly where caulk, weatherstripping and insulation is needed.

Heating Efficiency

New, high-efficiency furnaces convert nearly 100 percent of fuel to home heating. That’s a remarkable improvement from old furnaces, which often delivered 65 to 75 percent heating efficiency.

If you’re undecided between a new standard furnace with 80 to 85 percent efficiency and a high-efficiency system, ask your HVAC provider to conduct a lifetime cost analysis. The lifetime cost of your new heating system is the sum of purchase, installation and the estimated operating and maintenance expenses from day one. Then, you can determine which heating system is the right investment for your home and needs.

Furnace Sizing

Another great reason to button up your home is that it may actually reduce the size of heating system you need. A heating load calculation of your home should be conducted using HVAC industry best practices to determine precisely how many BTUs your new furnace should be. Otherwise, you could end up spending extra money on an oversized system that won’t run as efficiently.

How’s Your Ductwork?

A quality ductwork system is essential to maximizing the performance and efficiency of your new heating system. After all, it’s your air ducts that convey heated air throughout your home. Your ductwork should be inspected for leaks, damage, and correct sizing.

If you need assistance selecting the right furnace for your Portland area home, contact Roth Heating & Cooling today.

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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How You Can Reset Your Programmable Thermostat

How You Can Reset Your Programmable Thermostat
With the summer cooling season over, now is the time to think about how to keep your home warm this coming winter. Of course, you may still have summertime settings left over in your programmable thermostat. The following shows how you can reset your thermostat for optimal savings and heating comfort this winter.

Resetting Your Thermostat

You can start off by wiping your thermostat’s slate clean through a reset, which will clear all settings and return it back to its factory state. Thermostat controls tend to vary among manufacturers and models, so you may need to consult your thermostat’s user guide for more detailed steps.

Temperature Setbacks for Cooler Weather

Temperatures of around 68 to 72 degrees are not only comfortable with the right amount of clothing, but they’ll also help you keep your heating bills to a minimum. You can set your thermostat at these temperatures while you’re at home for maximum comfort.

Just as you would during the summer, you should program your thermostat to set itself back 10 to 15 degrees during periods when your home is empty (for example, while you and your loved ones are away at work or school). You can also use these setbacks as you sleep, since you’ll be in bed and won’t need as much heat from your HVAC system as you’d normally would while you’re up and about.

You’ll be able to save a significant percentage on your annual heating bills, especially if the setback period lasts for eight hours.

Contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling to discover more programmable thermostat savings. We proudly serve Portland and the surrounding 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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Preparing Your Home for Fall by Using these Maintenance Tips

Preparing Your Home for Fall by Using these Maintenance TipsAs you get your home ready for the fall season, take time to perform a few essential home maintenance tasks that will help your HVAC equipment work better. In a well-maintained home, heating equipment will operate more efficiently and economically while keeping your living spaces more comfortable. Here’s a brief list of some of the home maintenance projects you should consider.

  • Find and seal air leaks: Air leaks in your home’s structure can let hundreds of dollars worth of heated air escape unused. Worse yet, you’ll have to pay more to heat enough air to make up for the loss. Locate air leaks and seal them appropriately. Most cracks, holes and gaps can be sealed with caulking. Check for leaks in common areas, such as around door and window frames, at points where pipes or wires penetrate the walls, and in areas where the foundation and attic floor connect with the house frame. Contact your HVAC professional for information about a home energy audit that can locate hard-to-find leaks.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts: Make sure your home’s gutters are clean and free of debris and blockages, such as leaves, sticks, and mud. This will reduce the possibility of water leaks during rainstorms or when ice and snow melts off your roof.
  • Check and repair roofs: Inspect your ceiling carefully for any damage that could create holes or openings in the roof. Look for loose or missing shingles, damage to flashing or seals around chimneys or roof penetrations, and obvious holes in the roof’s surface. This type of damage can lead to water leaks and can allow substantial amounts of energy and heated air to escape. Contact a roofing professional to correct these problems.

For nearly 40 years, Roth Heating & Cooling has served Portland, Hillsboro, Canby and the nearby Oregon communities with high-quality HVAC sales, maintenance, and service. Contact us today for more information on fall home maintenance and what you can do to ensure your home and HVAC system are ready for the cooler months.

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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Installing Water-Efficient Plumbing Fixtures Can Lower Your Water Bill

Installing Water-Efficient Plumbing Fixtures Can Lower Your Water Bill
Thanks in part to water-efficient plumbing fixtures, home water consumption in the U.S. is declining. However, if your home is more than 10 years old and hasn’t been upgraded, your monthly water bill may not be as low as it could be. The average household in this country still uses about 300 gallons of water every day — far more than most other developed nations. Experts report that this number could be cut by as much as 30 percent by updating to water-efficient plumbing fixtures.

Here are a few efficient options to cut home water costs:

Water-Saving Shower Heads

A standard shower head can use up to four gallons per minute (gpm). Since the average American spends eight minutes in the shower, that’s a substantial amount of water going down the drain. You can cut usage in half by installing a water-saving shower head that uses just two gallons per minute.

Low-Flow Faucets

If your bathroom and kitchen faucets are older, they may dispense up to seven gpm. Standards adopted since then have lowered faucet output to 2.2 gpm. However, current water-conserving faucets with certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program go even further, delivering 1.5 gpm.

Next-Generation Washing Machines

Washing machines manufactured 15 years ago consumed as much as 40 gallons of water to wash a single load of laundry. Today, next-generation washers with the highest efficiency ratings use only an average of 13 gallons per load. What’s more, they also consume about 25 percent less electricity.

High-Efficiency Toilets

Toilets are the biggest water users in most households. Toilet flushing alone accounts for 27 percent of total water consumption. Because they tend not to wear out, toilets in older homes are often original equipment, still delivering water consumption that belongs to a bygone era—as much as five gallons per flush (gpf). Post-1994 toilets reduced that figure to today’s standard maximum of 1.6 gpf. However, installing a high-efficiency toilet certified by WaterSense can bring that figure down even further to just 1.29 gpf.

Ask the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling for more information about water-efficient plumbing fixtures.

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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How to Check and Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

How to Check and Test Your Carbon Monoxide DetectorAlong with your smoke detector, your carbon monoxide detector may be the most important safety device in your home. Now that it’s time for fall seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system, it’s also time to check your carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they will continue working throughout the year. Here’s why this is important.

The Risks of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that is released as a byproduct of combustion. This means that anything that is flammable, such as natural gas in your furnace, will release carbon monoxide when it burns.

Most of the time, the CO gas is safely vented to the outdoors by your heating system, but problems with the ventilation equipment or issues such as cracked heat exchangers can allow carbon monoxide to escape into your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors are necessary because CO is invisible to human senses: it is odorless, colorless and tasteless. A person can be exposed to dangerous or even fatal amounts of carbon monoxide without even knowing the gas is present. For this reason, it is essential to have a functional carbon monoxide detector in your Oregon home.

Checking and Testing Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

  • Give your CO detector a visual inspection to make sure it is clean, not obviously damaged and has not come loose from its mounting.
  • Install fresh new batteries in the detector, even if the current batteries are still working. This will prevent a battery failure during the colder months when the CO detector may be needed the most.
  • Test the unit by pressing the “test” button on the outside of the case. This button is usually on the face of the detector. The device’s alarm should sound a few seconds after the button is pressed. Replace any detectors that fail this test.

Roth Heating & Cooling is a premier provider of HVAC sales, maintenance, and service in the Oregon communities of Portland, Canby, and Hillsboro. Contact us today for more information on checking and testing your carbon monoxide detector and keeping this important safety device working properly.

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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How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?

How Important is Air Filter Quality When it Comes to HVAC Performance?Air filters are not all equal. Generally speaking, most low-end fiberglass filters barely do an adequate job of keeping the largest airborne particulates out of your HVAC system. The particles that do get through not only end up as dirt inside your system, causing it to work inefficiently, but also recirculating in the supply air and lowering indoor air quality. Here’s why a better quality air filter might be good for your home.

MERV Ratings

Better quality air filters for residential HVAC systems are usually pleated and made of dense material to do a better job of capturing particles. Filters rated by the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) system usually fall within the following categories:

  • MERV 1-4: Filters capture only the largest particles.
  • MERV 5-7: Filters do a somewhat better job of trapping smaller particles, and may be adequate for most households.
  • MERV 8-12: Filters do an excellent job of capturing most particles found in a typical household, and also do not significantly slow down airflow.
  • MERV 13 and above: These filters are usually found in residences where an occupant has a health issue requiring filtration of even the smallest particles. Higher efficiency filters may be found in research, hospital or manufacturing settings. HVAC systems that use this level of filtration must be modified to allow for reduced airflow.

The key in selecting the right filter for your home is to balance keeping the smaller particles out of your system’s machinery and out of your home’s air, while maintaining correct air flow. A filter that is too dense will cause a condition called pressure drop, and your equipment will work inefficiently. Pressure drop can also lead to system breakdown.

Electrostatic Filters

Besides the mechanical filtration types described above, you might also consider electrostatic filters, which catch particles with an electrical charge. These filters are washable and reusable, so they generally cost more than mid-level efficiency mechanical filters.

For more on the importance of air filter quality, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. Our customers recognize us as the top heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, drain and appliance service in Portland.

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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The Importance of Getting a Pro to Seal Your Ductwork

The Importance of Getting a Pro to Seal Your DuctworkThe typical furnace or A/C blower in a residence moves over 1,000 cubic feet of air every minute. Professional duct sealing is what ensures all of that air gets where it needs to go. Leaky ductwork is a problem in most residences; in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that aging residential ductwork leaks an average of 20 percent of the conditioned air it conveys. In many homes, that figure is much higher.

Over the years, joints between spans of duct loosen and deteriorate and ductwork materials rust and corrode. Where proper duct sealing is neglected, two things happen—both of them bad:

  • Conditioned air gets out. Heated or cooled air escapes from supply ducts under positive pressure. When supply ducts leak, you’re paying high monthly bills to heat or cool your attic, crawl space or the inside of wall voids, instead of the rooms that are supposed to be kept comfortable.
  • Tainted air gets in. Return ducts operate under negative pressure. That means leaky returns actually suck air into the system. Unfortunately, that air is drawn from unconditioned places you’d probably rather not be breathing, like the attic or inside of walls. It may be contaminated with mold spores or bacteria, or could introduce excessive humidity into living spaces.

Test, Then Seal

Since most ductwork is routed through areas inaccessible to the average homeowner, visual inspection of ducts is problematic. A qualified HVAC contractor can pressure test the ducts and calculate the extent of total leakage relative the total airflow through the system. While the ducts are pressurized, the technician can also pinpoint leaks for sealing.

Professional duct sealing involves sealing all joints with mastic and foil tape, then permanently securing the connection with metal screws. Any segments of ductwork that are collapsed or corroded beyond repair will be cut out and replaced. Where a large number of pinholes makes individual repair impractical, aerosol sealant can be injected to coat the interior of the ductwork.

Ask the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling about pressure-testing and duct sealing to restore full efficiency and performance to your HVAC system.

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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