Replacing Your Furnace Motor: Deciding Between ECM and PSC

Replacing Your Furnace Motor: Deciding Between ECM and PSCFurnace motor replacement presents an opportunity for improvement. Both your heating costs as well as the comfort level inside your home can benefit by upgrading from an outmoded PSC unit to an ECM furnace blower motor.

It’s a good bet that the motor inside your existing furnace blower is a PSC (permanent split capacitor) type. Though it was the standard for decades, PSC motors had two major drawbacks:

  • Excessive electrical consumption. Your furnace may be gas-fired, but an outmoded PSC blower motor may consume 500 watts of electricity or more while the system’s running. This represents a substantial contribution to your electric bill.
  • On/off operation. A PSC blower delivers 100% output when it turns on and zero percent output when the system cycles off. On/off operation means hot air surges into rooms under full output when the furnace cycles on and temperatures spike uncomfortably, often several degrees above the thermostat setting. When the system cycles off again, output drops to zero and rooms rapidly cool and become chilly again. These yo-yo temperature swings degrade indoor comfort and make living spaces usually too warm or too cold.

Here’s why furnace motor replacement with a new ECM unit is better:

  • Short for electronically commutated motor, ECM technology sips electricity instead of guzzling it. Upgrading to an ECM blower will cut furnace electrical consumption from 500 watts down to about 80 watts, substantially reducing the load on your monthly utility bill.
  • Indoor temperatures are more consistent. An ECM unit is programmed to run almost continuously across a variable range of speeds keyed to heating requirements. As the furnace cycles on, the blower gently circulates a low volume of air to avoid the “blast furnace” effect in rooms, gradually ramping up to higher output to meet the thermostat setting. ECM circulation then declines to lower volume sufficient to continuously maintain the temperature at a very consistent, accurate level. Temperature spikes and sags associated with on/off PSC motors are eliminated, indoor comfort is enhanced and electric costs drop.

For professional advice about upgrading to an ECM furnace motor replacement, contact 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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Lower Energy Bills are a Great Gift to Yourself

Lower Energy Bills are a Great Gift to YourselfAlthough it might take a small investment of money and time, it’s possible to lower energy bills quickly and easily before the heating season is in full swing. Besides cutting your overhead, these tips increase home comfort and enjoyment through the holidays and beyond.

  • Switch to LED holiday lights. These lights are widely available, affordable, and use a fraction of the electricity that older strings of lights use. The LED bulbs emit far less heat, which also makes them a safer alternative should you use them next to flammable trees or decorations.
  • Have your heating system serviced. Not only does professional cleaning and adjusting save energy dollars, it also promotes safety. Heat pumps also need maintenance for winter heating to maintain their efficiency.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat remembers to turn down the heat at night and when you’re away. You can set it to heat your home just before you return home or awaken.
  • Have a professional change the air filter for the furnace or heat pump regularly. Checking and changing the air filter cuts heating costs and extends the life of the furnace or heat pump.
  • Flush the water heater. This appliance uses nearly 20 percent of your home’s energy, and a clean tank heats water faster. Lowering the water temperature to 120 degrees F will also lower energy bills and prevents scalding injuries. Mineral solids are also less likely to form at the bottom, which increases the lifetime of a storage tank water heater.
  • Seal air leaks. Cracks, crevices, and gaps in your home’s envelope drive up energy costs and for the most part, are easy to seal. Check around the exterior window and door frames, look under sinks for gaps around pipes, and the exterior walls. Caulk seals small cracks effectively, and expanding foam will stop air infiltration around pipes. Fresh weatherstripping stops drafts around exterior doors.

Having lower energy bills not only benefits you financially, it also lightens the load on the environment and your home’s major appliances. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating & Plumbing, proudly serving 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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Cold Weather Calls for New Thermostat Programs

Cold Weather Calls for New Thermostat ProgramsThe change in seasons calls for a change in how you manage your home’s internal climate. While your programmable thermostat’s summertime settings have kept your home cool without wasting energy, they’re not as effective at keeping your home warm while keeping heating costs at a minimum. Resetting the programmable thermostat for the winter can help your home remain comfortable while maximizing your energy usage.

Choosing the Best Settings

So what settings should you use as you reprogram your thermostat? Here are some basic guidelines you can follow:

  • For the hours when you’re most likely to be up and about in your home, program your thermostat to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees.
  • For the hours when you’re asleep, program a setback temperature that’s 7 to 10 degrees lower than your daytime temperature.
  • You should also program a setback temperature for the hours when you’re most likely to be out of the house.

However, the above guidelines aren’t meant to be ironclad. Striking a balance between personal comfort and energy efficiency can be difficult during the winter. In the end, you should set your programmable thermostat so that it’s in line with your own comfort needs.

Indoor humidity can also play an important role in the comfort of your home. The drier winter air tends to lower perceived indoor temperatures, making a room feel colder than its actual temperature. Consider using a humidifier to maintain a relative humidity level of 30 to 40 percent throughout the winter months.

Other Tips

In addition to resetting the programmable thermostat, there are other things you can do to save energy and still maintain a comfortable environment:

  • Set your thermostat so that it begins heating your home 30 minutes before you wake up in the morning and 30 minutes before you return home.
  • Have your thermostat gradually lower your heating at least 60 minutes before you go to bed.

For more tips on resetting the programmable thermostat or if you need HVAC service for your Portland home, contact us at 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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Saving Water With Your Shower

Saving Water With Your ShowerThe great thing about saving water in the home is that you’re accomplishing two goals at once — conserving a valuable natural resource and saving money on your water bill. It’s a win-win situation. Nowadays, not only does technology offer low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets to help reduce water use; the federal Environmental Protection Agency runs a program, WaterSense, that certifies fixtures that reduce water use below designated levels.

The following are some WaterSense approved methods to save water in your home:

  • In the shower. Save water by taking shorter showers, and when deciding between a shower and a bath, opting for the shower. It uses a lot less water. Avoid running the shower before you’re ready to step into it. Install low-flow showerheads. These fixtures spray less than 2 gallons of water, whereas an industry-standard showerhead will deliver 2.5 gallons or more. In the shower, you likely won’t notice that the low-flow showerhead is delivering significantly less water than one that’s not rated as low-flow.
  • Toilets. More than 60 models of WaterSense-certified toilets are available for purchase. Most water-efficient models flush 20 percent less water than a standard 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilet. Dual-flush models are available that provide two flush options – 0.8 gallons for removing liquid waste and 1.6 gallons for removing solid waste. WaterSense-certified toilets, in a typical household, can save 5,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Bathroom faucets. Low-flow bathroom sink faucets are limited to delivering 2.2 gallons or less per minute, and most spray between 0.8 and 1.5 gallons per minute. This is a big improvement over faucets as recent as the early 1990’s that delivered 3-7 gallons per minute. As with low-flow showerheads, they still provide the impression of decent water pressure. When using the bathroom faucet, save water by not keeping it flowing full-blast when you’re not using it (such as the whole time you’re brushing your teeth).

For more advice on conserving water with low-flow showerheads and other plumbing fixtures, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide quality plumbing, electrical and HVAC services 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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Ventilation: Keeping Your Home’s Air Fresh

Ventilation: Keeping Your Home's Air FreshAdequate home ventilation plays a significant role in your family’s health, during the heating season when all the doors and windows are closed. Indoor air pollutants build, especially in energy efficient, air-tight homes, that can cause mild to serious illnesses.

Increasing the amount of fresh air indoors reduces bad air quality that may come from:

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that come from common household products. Burning candles, using perfumed soaps, air fresheners, dryer sheets or cleaning products introduce potentially harmful VOCs, as do home improvement products like flooring, furniture and upholstery fabrics.
  • Combustion byproducts from gas stoves, malfunctioning furnaces or gas dryers, or exhaust fumes and VOCs entering through small air leaks from an attached garage.

Keeping the air fresher is possible by using:

  • Kitchen and bathroom fans. Whenever you use a gas stove or oven, turn on the exhaust fan as long as it vents outdoors. A re-circulating fan just blows the gases back into the kitchen.
  • Use bathroom fans to remove excess humidity while and after showering. Running all the ventilating fans at once also helps clear the air after using products high in VOCs.
  • Supply-only fans. Window fans and whole-house fan pull fresh air in directly. They’re an excellent solution when outdoor temperatures are comfortable enough to bring indoors, although they introduce allergens when pollen counts outdoors are high. Using them when it’s cold outside increases heating costs.
  • Balanced ventilation systems. These types of mechanical systems combine the benefits of removing stale indoor air and replacing it with fresh air without changing the indoor temperature. They use innovative technology that exchanges the thermal energy of the outgoing air and puts it into the incoming air.
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) deliver fresh air into your home’s forced-air HVAC system or direct it into a specific room or area. They’re the most energy efficient and effective way to improve air quality year-round.

Fresh air ventilation is essential to good health the enjoyment of your home. To learn the best options for your home, 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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HVAC Comfort Solutions to Be Thankful For

HVAC Comfort Solutions to Be Thankful ForIf you’re planning to replace your aging HVAC equipment soon, you should take the time and learn about the latest efficiency and home comfort solutions. When you’re aware of different options like the following, you can choose equipment with features that provide the greatest return on your investment.

Variable-Speed Air Handlers

These air handlers have electronically commutated blower fan motors that can adjust their speed to match the changing comfort needs in a home. They also operate on the lowest speed possible, and cycle for longer periods. As a result, a variable-speed blower uses less energy and provides better temperature and humidity control, and enhanced air filtration.

Zoning Systems

Zoning the HVAC system can boost efficiency and comfort, especially in a two-story or larger home. An experienced HVAC pro installs powered dampers in the ducts and a programmable thermostat to set up separate heating and cooling zones. One central panel is installed where you can control comfort and energy use in all the zones.

Fan-Only Switch

With this feature on the HVAC system, you can use just the blower for air circulation at those times of year when cooling and heating aren’t needed.

Whole-House Dehumidifiers

These units can keep excess moisture under control, so your home doesn’t feel as hot and sticky and you’re more comfortable. When humidity is dealt with, your A/C or heat pump doesn’t have work as hard, so it uses less energy. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy better air quality and fewer issues with allergens and mold.

Automatic Fan Delay

A blower fan with automatic delay stays running temporarily at the end of each HVAC equipment cycle. This ensures that all of your conditioned air gets pushed out of the ducts, instead of being wasted.

Variable-Speed Compressors

These compressors are built using inverter technology so they’re able to adjust their speed incrementally to utilize the system capacity needed at any given time. This reduces energy consumption and equipment wear, but you’ll experience no loss of comfort.

To learn more about these and other home comfort solutions, contact the Portland HVAC experts 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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How You Should Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How You Should Check Your Carbon Monoxide DetectorsWhen you being running your heating system and close your home against the winter air, the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure increases. You can lessen the threat it poses to your family’s well-being by keeping your furnace professionally maintained. For complete protection though, you also need to know how to check and maintain the carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Why Checking Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Matters

Carbon monoxide gas is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of any fossil fuel, so it can be produced by your gas furnace, hot water heater or kitchen range. In small amounts, CO causes flu-like illness. Exposure to a high level of the gas can render a person unconscious and quickly cause death. Since CO has no color, taste or odor, you won’t know you’re at risk unless a carbon monoxide detector sounds a warning alarm.

Advice for Testing and Maintaining Your CO Detectors

Here’s some helpful advice on how to test and maintain well-functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home:

  • Read the manual for each detection device you own and follow any brand-specific guidelines from the manufacturer for proper use and care.
  • In general, it’s wise to check the functionality of your detectors monthly by holding down the “test” button for a few seconds. If you don’t hear a beep, put in new batteries and test again. If the device makes no sound, it needs replacement.
  • Replace all device batteries twice a year. You might find it easier to remember if you do this when you’re changing the clocks for daylight saving time.
  • CO detectors lose the ability to sense the gas after five years of use, so replace all of your devices when they reach that age. So you don’t forget to do so, choose a model with a replacement alert feature.
  • If you want plug-in or wired detectors, buy detectors with battery backup so they’ll still function if a power outage

Contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling for more advice about keeping your Portland home protected by checking your carbon monoxide detectors and properly maintaining your heating equipment.
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 Furnace Ready for Winter?

Is Your Furnace Ready for Winter?Now that the weather is getting colder, it will soon be necessary to run the heating system to maintain comfort in your home. Before heating season arrives, make sure the furnace is ready to go by taking care of these tasks.

Install a Clean Furnace Filter

Putting in a fresh filter ensures good system airflow, which promotes energy efficiency. To maintain that good efficiency all winter, check the condition of the filter every month and replace it when you see debris starting to accumulate, or at least once every three months.

Schedule a System Tuneup

Before you start up the furnace this year, have an HVAC professional perform routine maintenance. A certified technician can inspect and clean the various components, and tackle other vital tasks like checking for heat exchanger damage, lubricating the blower motor, adjusting the burner, tightening the electrical connections, testing the safety controls and making sure the thermostat is working properly.

Optimize the Thermostat Programming

If you need to make setback adjustments on your programmable thermostat, now’s the time to get them done. If you still have a manual thermostat, have your technician install a programmable one that matches your equipment and usual weekly schedule. Then, you can program in energy-saving temperature setbacks during the periods when you’re usually sleeping or away from home.

Give the Air Vents Some TLC

Remove all your vent covers and wipe them down, then use the vacuum hose to suction any debris and dust from the open ducting boots. As you’re replacing the clean covers, make sure the louvers are open and clear away any items that might block airflow at the vents.

Get the Flue Cleaned Out

Have the flue swept out to get rid of soot deposits and any debris that might block proper combustion fume venting, like rodent/bird nesting materials, dead leaves or broken branches. With a clean, unobstructed flue, there’s less danger that fumes containing carbon monoxide can’t exit the house properly.

To get the furnace in your Portland home ready for the coming heating season, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling to schedule a maintenance visit.

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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Why Shouldn’t You Shut Rooms to Save Energy?

Why Shouldn't You Shut Rooms to Save Energy?When you’re looking for effective ways to reduce your household utility bills, don’t get taken in by the myth that shutting the air vents in unused rooms saves energy. The truth is, shutting a room won’t lower your energy consumption, and it can cause some serious issues in your home such as:

  • A decline in air output. When some vents are closed, airflow gets restricted in the ducts and pressure increases in the HVAC system. If you have a standard blower with one speed, the fan slows down as the pressure rises, so conditioned air output drops at the open registers.
  • Possible compressor failure. When system airflow slows down, ice will start to build up on the cooling coil of your A/C or heat pump. Coil icing can cause the compressor to overheat and eventually fail, which means you’ll have to replace your HVAC system’s most costly component.
  • More duct leakage. Higher system pressure and airflow restrictions can make any unsealed ductwork leaks worse and even create new ones. The loss of conditioned air makes it harder to maintain comfort and increases your energy costs
  • Lost energy savings. If you upgraded to a system with a variable-speed air handler, its electronically computated motor speeds up in response to a system pressure increase. Since it’s using more energy, you lose the savings you’d expect to gain with variable-speed equipment.
  • Heightened safety risks. The higher pressure that results from closing some air vents when you’re operating the furnace can cause damage to the heat exchanger, which increases your risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

Zoning: A Better Energy-Saving Alternative

Having your HVAC professional install a zoning system is a better way to control your energy use in different areas of your home. Independent heating and cooling zones are created with motorized dampers in the ductwork and dedicated programmable thermostats. The equipment is then connected to one central panel where you program in your desired comfort settings for the entire house.

Contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling to learn about better energy-saving alternatives to shutting a room in your Portland home.

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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Learning About the Energy Star Guidelines

Learning About the Energy Star GuidelinesHeating and cooling your home to maintain comfort consumes a lot of energy. In fact, it accounts for roughly half of your household’s total energy usage. When the time comes to replace your existing HVAC equipment, it’s wise to look for ways to save energy and lower your utility bills. Learning more about the Energy Star program and the efficient products that meet its guidelines is a good place to start.

Energy Star Program Basics

The Environmental Protection Agency introduced the program in 1992 with the goal of helping consumers find products that meet higher energy efficiency standards. These products also cost less to operate and have less of an impact on the environment.

Program Guideline Overview

Products with the Energy Star logo have met the program’s strict guidelines, which include:

  • Passing stringent tests performed in a program-approved laboratory, with the results verified by a third party.
  • Belonging to a product category that generates energy savings across the country.
  • Performing efficiently at a level consumers expect, and having features that are in demand.
  • Providing enough savings through increased efficiency so consumers can recoup the higher up-front cost over a reasonable time period.
  • Being clearly labeled so they’re easily identified as Energy Star-qualified products.

The HVAC-related products that carry the logo include furnaces, air-source and geothermal heat pumps, room and central air conditioners, dehumidifiers, ductless mini-splits and ventilation fans.

Benefits of Purchasing Energy Star-Qualified Equipment

Investing in Energy Star-qualified HVAC equipment offers numerous benefits:

  • Energy cost savings: Certified products use up to 20 percent less energy than the least efficient comparable unit.
  • Fewer repair and maintenance problems: Qualified products are better constructed from higher-quality materials in order to meet the program’s performance guidelines.
  • Longer service life: When it’s properly maintained, durable, well-built equipment is more likely to exceed its expected lifespan.
  • Tax credits and other incentives: Qualifying for Federal tax credits and product rebates can help you save money on Energy Star-certified equipment.

To learn more about the benefits of investing in HVAC equipment with the Energy Star logo for your Portland home, contact us today 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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