Take Advantage of Tax Credits Before the Year Ends

Take Advantage of Tax Credits Before the Year EndsThe end of 2016 may bring with it planning for next year’s taxes. If you want to save on your tax bill and your home energy bill at the same time, you can install certain types of high-efficiency HVAC equipment that qualifies for tax credits. Here are some details on these credits and what kinds of equipment earns them.

Tax Credit Details

Federal income tax credits for energy efficiency are available for certain types of HVAC systems and construction features. The credits can be applied directly to your income taxes. The credits are available for purchases made in both 2015 and 2016. The credits expire on December 31, 2016.

Consult with your tax professional for details on limitations and applications.

Tax Credit Facts

Credits for certain HVAC systems and construction features qualify only for your principal place of residence. These credits do not apply if the equipment is purchased for a rental unit or a second home. Credits are for 10 percent of the cost of the equipment — as much as $500 — or for a specified amount between $50 and $300.

  • Air source heat pumps (both split and package systems): $300 credit.
  • Central air conditioning (both split and package systems): $300 credit.
  • Gas, propane, or oil furnaces and fans: $150 for furnace, $50 for advanced main air circulating fan.
  • Insulation (does not include installation): 10 percent of cost up to $500.
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt roofs with coatings designed to reduce heat gain): 10 percent of cost.
  • Windows and doors: 10 percent of cost up to $200 for windows and $500 for doors.
  • Non-solar water heaters: $300 credit.
  • Geothermal heat pumps: 30 percent credit, including installation.

State Tax Credits

You may also be eligible for some types of state-level tax credits or efficiency incentives. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for Oregon.

Roth Heating and Cooling has been a top choice for HVAC services in Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the surrounding Oregon communities for 40 years. Contact us today for more information on energy efficiency tax credits and for the HVAC equipment that will qualify for them.
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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Signs It’s Time for Thermostat Replacement

Signs It's Time for Thermostat ReplacementIf it’s time for thermostat replacement, will you recognize the warning signs? Thermostat malfunctions may be very conspicuous or they may be quite subtle, like simply poor efficiency and diminished indoor comfort. While a few DIY fixes may remedy simple problems, thermostat replacement is usually the more cost-effective way to deal with major malfunctions. In many cases, it’s also an opportunity to upgrade to a more advanced, digital thermostat, as well.

Here are some common issues that may warrant thermostat replacement:

  • Thermostat actuates at wrong temperature. If your thermostat activates the A/C or furnace at some temperature other than the one it’s set for, the thermostat sensor is out of calibration or defective. Some units have an adjustment that allows you to adjust thermostat calibration by plus or minus 5 degrees. However, if the difference between the thermostat setting and the temperature where it actuates is more than 5 degrees, replacing the thermostat is the only option.
  • Rapid on/off cycling. Temperature changes caused by a nearby exterior door opening and closing, or exposure to direct sunlight, may turn the HVAC system on and off too frequently. Relocating the thermostat may help. An over-sized furnace or A/C may cycle frequently, as well. If neither of these explanations applies, the issue is almost certainly thermostat-related and replacement is indicated.
  • Functions run nonstop. If the Heat or Cool functions stay on continuously without cycling off, first make sure the thermostat is set to Auto and the desired thermostat temperature setting is correct. If those check out, replacing the thermostat is probably the right call.
  • Thermostat is obsolete. An outmoded manual thermostat is a throwback to a bygone era of cheap energy and less convenience. The price of a new digital programmable thermostat will be compensated by lower monthly heating/cooling costs in the first year of operation. The user-friendly features offered by a digital model are also a vast improvement over the old-school manual model.

If your seeing signs that it’s time for thermostat replacement, contact the 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 to Understand Energy Star Guidelines

Lowering Bills with Lower Water Heater Temperature

How to Understand Energy Star GuidelinesFinding ways to save energy is on the minds of many homeowners these days. One area of your home that you may need to take a second look for savings is your water heater. After all, energy consumed for water heating in the average home is second only to the HVAC system. Use these tips and information for how and why you should lower your water heater temperature.

Lower Energy Bills and More

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), water heating accounts for approximately 18 percent of the energy consumed in the average home. By turning back your water heater’s factory temperature of approximately 140 degrees, or higher, to 120 degrees, you may expect to save 10 to 12 percent of water heating costs.

Additionally, water temperatures in excess of 140 degrees can cause scalding in a matter of seconds — especially in the very young, elderly, and physically or mentally impaired populations.

A lower water heater temperature reduces or slows corrosion and wear on your water heater and pipes, too. The higher the temperature, the faster that mineral deposits accumulate, which reduces efficiency and additionally increases energy bills.

Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

It may take a few tries and a few hours to adjust your water heater temperature just right. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of hot water at the tap most distant from the water heater.
  • For gas models, turn back the thermostat dial located on the gas valve to the “low” setting.
  • For electric models, remove the bottom and top panels that cover the thermostats (some models have only one thermostat located on the bottom). Turn back the thermostat dial a few notches.
  • Give your water heater four hours for the temperature to fall.
  • Using your thermometer, measure hot water temperature again at the most distant tap.
  • Repeat as necessary until the temperature is at 120 degrees.

If you haven’t scheduled water heater maintenance in more than one year, contact Roth Heating & Cooling for an appointment, and we’ll take care of adjusting your water heater temperature for you!
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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Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Your Home’s Envelope

Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Your Home’s EnvelopeIn the average home, more than half of the conditioned air inside leaks out every hour, and an equal amount of unconditioned outdoor air gets drawn in to replace it. Finding and sealing air leaks in the envelope is vital to control that air exchange to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency and boost your comfort.

Identifying Where Leaks Occur

Air leakage usually occurs through gaps and cracks in the envelope that added together can have the same effect as leaving a window wide open year round. To find leaks, hold up a smoke pencil or burning stick of incense and watch the smoke column. If the smoke wavers in any of these areas, you’ve located a leak that needs sealing:

  • Window and door frames.
  • Crown moldings and baseboards.
  • Electrical outlet plates and light switches.
  • Appliance ventilation and exhaust fans.
  • Penetrations for pipes and wiring.
  • The fireplace.
  • In the attic, check around knee-walls, a chimney or furnace flue, plumbing vent pipes, dropped ceilings, and recessed light fixtures.
  • In the basement, check the spaces around the rim joists as well as any windows.

How to Seal Different Leak Sources

The most effective sealing method depends on the type of leak:

  • Leaks around fixed window frames and narrow gaps around attic and shell penetrations can be sealed with caulk. Use all-purpose latex caulk indoors, and a more durable silicone or siliconized latex product outdoors.
  • For leaks around moveable components like doors and window sashes, use weatherstripping. Vinyl gaskets are best around an older door, while tension-seal or V-shaped weatherstripping are ideal for tight-fitted doors and casement or double-hung windows.
  • For larger spaces around the rim joists and penetrations through the exterior envelope, use expandable spray foam.
  • Around a chimney/flue and recessed lights, install metal flashing then apply heat-resistant caulk.

If you’re concerned about locating all the air leaks around your home, schedule an energy audit. A trained and experienced auditor uses specialized equipment that’s able to pinpoint even tiny leaks so they can be sealed effectively.

For help sealing air leaks in 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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How to Save Energy by Using All Parts of the HVAC System

How to Save Energy by Using All Parts of the HVAC SystemSaving energy in your home is good for the environment, and it’s also good for your comfort, HVAC efficiency, and energy budget when done correctly. That means saving energy by using all the parts of your HVAC system. Even better, you can use these free or low-cost tips to maximize energy savings!

Your HVAC System and Energy Savings

  • Thermostat: Fiddling with the thermostat to find the right temperature just gets frustrating after a while. That’s also not a very good plan for saving energy. You’re better off upgrading to a programmable thermostat so that you can program comfort temperatures and energy-saving set-back/up periods when you’re asleep or away.
  • Temperature settings: The key to saving energy with temperature settings is consistency. Choose a temperature that’s comfortable to you, such as 78 degrees for cool mode and 68 degrees for heat mode. Turn up/down the temperature 5–12 degrees at night and when no one is home. Additionally, use your ceiling fans to help stay cool and save even more energy.
  • Air filter: Check your air filter on a regular basis, and change it when it gets dirty. You’ll save energy, reduce wear on your HVAC system, and help improve your indoor air quality.
  • Ductwork: You won’t be very comfortable or save much energy if your ducts have problems. Check your ducts for damage, disconnected seams, tangled flex ducts, and holes. Mastic paste and metal tape are excellent for sealing leaky ducts. Crushed duct sections should be replaced.
  • Vents and grilles: Clean the vents and grilles each month or two. Remove a few of the vents and look inside the ducts. Are they dirty? Ask your HVAC contractor about the health and efficiency benefits of a professional duct cleaning.
  • Clean the coils: Your evaporator and condenser coils can’t exchange heat efficiently if they’re caked with dirt and grime. Use a can of coil cleaner to clean the coils and fins, and you’ll boost cooling and heating efficiency.

If you need assistance with any of these steps for maximizing HVAC energy savings 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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Conserve Water With These Plumbing Fixtures in Your Home

Conserve Water With These Plumbing Fixtures in Your HomeWhen you take steps to conserve water, you’re not only lowering your utility bills, you’re helping save an irreplaceable and vital resource. One effective way to reduce your household consumption is by installing water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Here are some different types of fixtures to consider:

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Water Filtration Systems: Here’s What You Should Know

Water Filtration Systems: Here's What You Should KnowPoor water quality can cause myriad problems for a homeowner, such as mineral scale accumulations, sediment buildup, exposure to a variety of biological contaminants, or an unpleasant taste and odor from added chemicals like chlorine and ammonia. Fortunately, there are whole-home water filtration systems available to address these issues and improve your water quality.

Water Filtration Systems Offer Many Benefits

The first benefit you’ll experience when you have a filtration system installed is a boost in water quality throughout your home. A whole-home unit is installed where the supply enters the structure, so water gets routed through it before it’s piped to all the different fixtures and appliances. There are three main methods used to improve water quality: filtering, chemical processing and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. Before you choose a system, have your water tested to identify the exact problem that needs correction, then get the input of a knowledgeable, licensed plumber about whether the ideal solution is:

  • A reverse osmosis system to trap sediment.
  • An ion exchange unit to soften hard water.
  • A UV unit to kill bacteria, viruses and other biological contaminants.
  • An oxidizing or activated-carbon filtering unit to correct bad taste and odor.
  • A multi-stage unit that offers a combination of treatment methods.

With the right whole-home system in place, you can enjoy:

  • Good tasting water that doesn’t pose a health risk. When chlorine and chemicals are removed, or contaminants like bacteria and viruses are destroyed, your water will smell and taste better and be safer for your family to drink.
  • Longer plumbing system and appliance life. Softening the water to prevent mineral buildups can extend the lifespan of water-using appliances like your clothes washer, dishwasher and water heater, and help you avoid clogged plumbing pipes and reduced water pressure.
  • Fewer worries about city supply problems. You’ll have a flow of clean, safe water in your home and peace of mind if the Water Bureau’s supply gets contaminated or a main breaks.

For expert advice about whether you can benefit from having a water filtration system installed in your Portland-area 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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How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain Issues

How to Solve Common A/C Condensate Drain IssuesAs part of its function, your air conditioner provides a measure of dehumidification while also cooling your living spaces. The water from this dehumidification process is usually removed through the system’s condensate drain. When this drain develops problems, however, it can result in several different types of moisture-related issues.

Condensate Drain Problems

  • Clogs and blockages: The environment inside a condensate drain is consistently moist and moderate in temperature, which creates a perfect place for mold and algae to grow and create partial or total blockages of the drain.
  • Leaks and overflows: Blocked drains can cause water to overflow and drip into your walls, onto flooring and carpets, and into areas where it can cause unseen damage. The amount of water involved may not be substantial, but the damage can still be very real and very annoying.
  • Odors: Unpleasant odors can sometimes come from the condensate drain, especially if it dries out and loses the layer of water that blocks odors from deeper in the drain line.

Solutions to Condensate Drain Problems

  • Pressure cleaning: Pressure can be used to blast away clogs inside a condensate drain. A wet-dry vacuum hose can usually produce enough pressure to remove most blockages.
  • Physical cleaning: Physical force from a piece of wire or other object may be needed to literally break apart a drain line clog. Simply inserting the wire inside the drain and moving it around should be sufficient to break up common clogs.
  • Professional cleaning: If the clogs are sufficiently extensive, you may need help from your local plumbing professional to clear the drain line. Your plumber will have the right equipment for getting rid of stubborn blockages.
  • Algaecide: It may be necessary to apply an algaecide or other inhibitor to your drain line to reduce algae and mold growth. Ask your plumber if this would be a good idea in your situation.

Roth Heating and Cooling has served Portland, Hillsboro, Canby, and the neighboring Oregon communities for nearly 40 years. Contact us today for more information on what to do when you have condensate drain problems in your air conditioning system.

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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Understanding Ratings for Air Conditioners

Understanding Ratings for Air ConditionersYour central air conditioning system contains some of the most costly equipment you’ll buy for your home, and with a service life of 10 to 15 years or more, it’s a long-term investment. If you’re considering replacing your older equipment, it makes good sense to compare different models within your budget to help you make the wisest choice.

Why Comparing Air Conditioner Ratings Matters

It takes a lot of energy to run an air conditioner during a typical cooling season, so the equipment’s efficiency has a big impact on how much you spend to keep your home comfortable. This makes it vital to understand how equipment efficiency is measured. Every new A/C has an EnergyGuide label that’s in place to help consumers compare energy usage and features when they’re shopping for new equipment. One of the key pieces of information you’ll find on an air conditioner label is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.

What is the SEER Rating and What Does it Tell You?

An air conditioner’s SEER rating is assigned by the U.S. Department of Energy. This numerical rating measures the efficiency of the equipment over a single cooling season, and a higher number indicates greater efficiency. Essentially, SEER tells you the equipment’s total cooling output in British thermal units (Btu) compared to its total energy consumption in watt-hours. Air conditioners on the market today are more efficient than ever before with ratings ranging between SEER 14 and 26.

The Other Air Conditioner Rating: EER

Another A/C rating that you’ll find mentioned in Energy Star specifications is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). This rating is a snapshot of the efficiency of an air conditioner operating at peak conditions with an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees, an indoor temperature of 80 degrees, and 50 percent humidity. More efficient equipment will have a higher EER.

Both of these ratings are valuable when you’re comparing air conditioners, because they tell you how efficient the equipment is in different operating situations.

To learn more about air conditioner ratings when choosing new equipment for your Portland home, 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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