Insulate These Areas in Your Home to Improve Comfort

Insulate These Areas in Your Home to Improve ComfortEven in Portland’s mild climate, heating and cooling can get expensive. Good home insulation helps maintain your indoor temperatures so you can run your A/C or heating less and keep your bills low.

Attic and Walls

When upgrading your insulation, start with the attic. In winter, warm air from your furnace rises and will escape through an insufficiently weatherized attic. In warm weather, the sun hitting your roof can heat your attic to over 100 degrees. This heat passes into your rooms, making more work for your A/C. To minimize unwanted heat transfer, the insulation in your attic should reach a total R-value of between R-38 and R-60.

If your walls feel chilly in winter, they most likely need more insulation. To find out for sure, schedule a home energy audit, during which an HVAC technician will analyze your home’s heat loss and gain. Loose-fill cellulose insulation can be added without the need to tear out the walls.

Floors and Basement

Chilly floors in winter also warrant more home insulation. A layer of loose-fill cellulose between R-20 and R-38 can work well here. To improve your basement’s energy efficiency, insulate the rim joists. Cut rigid foam insulation to fit in the spaces between the floor joists. Run a bead of caulk or apply spray foam around each piece of insulation to seal them in place.

Optimal crawl space insulation depends on whether the space is ventilated or not. An unventilated crawl space can be weatherized with a layer of 6-mil polyethylene sheeting on the floor to create a vapor barrier and rigid foam insulation on the walls.

Don’t Forget the Ducts

Ducts passing through unconditioned spaces, such as the basement, should be covered with either batt-form insulation or duct wrap to an R-6 level. This helps maintain the temperature of the air in the ducts as it travels to your rooms. Before installing duct insulation, make sure the duct joints are securely fit and sealed with mastic or heat-resistant tape.

For more pro tips on optimizing your home insulation, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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Looking to Save Money This Fall? Turn Down Your Water Heater Temperature

Looking to Save Money This Fall? Turn Down Your Water Heater TemperatureSaving energy saves money. It also reduces your Portland home’s carbon footprint, which helps the environment and preserves resources. If you haven’t considered that your water heater temperature can affect energy bills, you may want to reconsider. Read on for easy energy-saving tips for water heating.

Benefits of Lower Temperature

Water heater temperature from manufacturers is generally set to 140 degrees. The reason is to kill or neutralize germs and bacteria. Though, water temperature this hot can cause scalding, increase energy costs, and lend to corrosion of the water heater and pipes.

A hot water temperature of 120 to 122 degrees has been found effective at controlling germs and bacteria, and you can save as much as 10 percent on water-heating costs. Since water heating accounts for up to 20 percent of total household energy usage, you can keep more money in your wallet and prevent scalding with lower temperatures.

Turn Back the Thermostat Dial

Turning down the water heater temperature is a simple task. The thermostat for gas water heaters is on the gas valve. Turn it back toward the “low” indicator, wait a few hours, and test water temperature at the most distant faucet.

For electric water heaters, you’ll need to remove one or two panels on the bottom and top of the tank. Turn off the circuit breaker before you do this. Set both thermostat dials to the same setting. Wait a few hours and test the temperature with a thermometer at a faucet.

More Water Heater Savings

Water heaters offer more ways to save energy and keep more energy dollars in your pocket. Consider these tips:

  • Schedule water heater maintenance each year.
  • Use foam sleeves to insulate the inlet and outlet pipes to the water heater.
  • Continue on and insulate all hot water pipes in your home.
  • Drain one gallon of water from the drain bib every other month to reduce sediment and improve efficiency.
  • If you have an older system, wrap it with insulation designed for your model to reduce standby heat loss.

If you have questions about lowering water heater temperature, 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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UV Lights: What You Need to Know

UV Lights: What You Need to KnowThe cool, rainy weather Portland often sees creates the perfect conditions for mold growth. Ultraviolet (UV) lights help keep that mold and other harmful microbes from taking hold in your home.

UV Lights Protect Your Health

Viruses, bacteria, and mold spores are present to some degree in every home. These tiny microbes circulate through the air you breathe, putting you at risk for illnesses such as cold, flu, and even strep throat. Mold spores trigger allergy and asthma attacks in those susceptible and place even healthy people at risk for respiratory infections.

UV light, the same type of light found in sunshine, neutralizes these microbes by breaking down the microbes’ DNA and rendering them incapable of reproducing. This quickly decreases the number of microbes floating around, leaving you with cleaner, safer indoor air.

The lights disinfect so effectively that they’re used in hospitals, scientific laboratories, food-processing plants, water-treatment plants, and other facilities where sanitation is critical.

Incorporating UV Lights into Your Home

The most convenient way to enjoy these benefits in your home is to have an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system installed in your heating and cooling system’s indoor unit. The UV light shines into the air passing through, neutralizing the microbes in that air and allowing the purified air to flow out to your rooms. Because all the air in your home passes through the system several times a day, you’ll have clean air in every room. This type of UVGI system also prevents mold from forming in your air handler and ducts.

Because both the intensity of the light and the lamp’s position affect a UVGI system’s efficiency, these systems should be professionally installed.

Handheld UV lights are also available. These give you a quick way to disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces. It’s also possible to install a UVGI system in a kitchen exhaust hood to break down grease particles as well as disinfect. These systems are used primarily in commercial kitchens.

If you’d like to start using UV lights to protect your health, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere 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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Best Practices for Air Sealing Your Home

Best Practices for Air Sealing Your HomeAir sealing the leaks around your house keeps your home more comfortable in Portland’s chilly winters and warm summers, and protects your indoor air quality. Learn your options for blocking leaks so you can achieve the best results possible.


Caulk is a viscous substance that hardens after application. It’s typically sold in tubes designed to be loaded into a caulk gun. Caulk is used for air sealing gaps and cracks around non-movable surfaces, such as door and window frames, ventilation and appliance vents, points where pipes and wires penetrate exterior walls, and where the foundation meets the wooden sill on the home’s exterior.

All-purpose acrylic latex caulk is a good option for most interior sealing jobs. If you need to seal leaks in a wet area, such as the bathroom or kitchen, waterproof silicone caulk is a better choice. For outdoor sealing jobs, consider elastomeric or butyl caulk. Before buying caulk, check the product’s label to learn where it can be used.

Spray Foam

Polyurethane expanding spray foam insulation, sold in spray cans, is used to seal gaps between one-quarter inch and 3 inches wide around non-movable surfaces. It’s often applied around furnace flues, pipes, and other large penetrations in the attic and basement. In the crawl space, it can be used to seal a plastic vapor barrier to rigid foam insulation on the wall.

Because spray foam isn’t eco-friendly and is difficult to remove when repairs are needed, consider an alternative such as cellulose or cotton insulation.


Weatherstripping consists of strips of material used to block leaks on movable surfaces. The ideal weatherstripping depends on the surface you want to seal. Foam tape provides an inexpensive way to seal window sash tops and bottoms, as well as the insides of doorframes. For double-hung or sliding windows, use V-strip weatherstripping. Tubular gaskets, available in vinyl, rubber, and silicone, can be applied to window sash tops and bottoms and along doorjambs.

For more guidance on air sealing or to hire a pro for the job, 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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Do You Know How to Take Care of Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home?

Do You Know How to Take Care of Hot and Cold Spots in Your Home?If your home isn’t evenly comfortable throughout, you’re in good company. Many homes have hot and cold spots due to a number of design and aging factors. Instead of managing the discomfort by layering your clothing, you might find solutions by assessing the situation and adapting your HVAC system to the conditions unique to your home.

Common Causes of Uneven Temperatures

Two-story homes can be particularly challenging, since heat rises, and homes with uneven solar exposure have daily thermal variations. Areas with leaky doorframes or windows contribute to disparate temperatures, and the placement of the thermostat affects the comfort in rooms distant from its location, especially in larger, sprawling homes.

How to Fix the Problems

  • Evaluate your home for its sunlight exposure. Unequal distribution of windows causes heat gain or loss. Thermal windows, insulating window coverings, or reflective window films can help ease unequal temperatures throughout.
  • Seal leaky window frames with caulk and check the windows themselves for a tight fit. Fresh weather stripping on exterior doors slows air leaks, and draft blockers at their base stop-air infiltration. Expanding foam can seal places where pipes and wires enter your home.
  • Sprawling and two-story homes almost always benefit from a zoned HVAC system to eliminate hot and cold spots. HVAC experts divide the home into zones and install duct dampers that open and close based on the need for conditioned air. Each zone has its own thermostat that connects to a central control panel that sends the heated or cooled air just to the zones that need it.

    Zoning a home immediately improves comfort and lowers energy bills because you won’t need to condition your entire home to keep a single space comfortable. It’s far better to install a zoning system than alter the temperatures of rooms by closing the supply and return registers, something that will adversely affect the ductwork and mechanical components of the HVAC system.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can help you identify ways to solve the hot and cold spots throughout your home. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC 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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Energy Efficient Reasons to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star Logo

Energy Efficient Reasons to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star LogoReplacing outdated HVAC equipment with more efficient pieces can be daunting, but help is at hand. Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program for testing and rating appliances, products and practices so homeowners can save money and energy while reducing their carbon footprint. The Energy Star logo can guide your search for equipment that will trim your bills significantly.

Leading the Way to Efficiency

Developed 20 years ago, the EPA’s Energy Star program has helped homeowners and businesses nationwide make more efficient HVAC product choices, saving billions of dollars in energy expenses, while preventing an estimated 2 billion metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment.

The Energy Star label, which signifies that the product exceeds government-mandated minimum standards for efficiency, provides information on energy consumption and estimated annual costs to run the appliance.

Earning the Energy Star Logo

The EPA uses a set of strict guidelines for awarding the Energy Star label. Besides delivering features and performance in line with consumer demands, the products must also be energy efficient. Since Energy Star-rated products usually cost more than similar, more conventional models, the product must be efficient enough to allow consumers to recover the difference in cost through greater energy savings within a reasonable time period. Further, performance and energy consumption must be measured and verified through rigorous testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory and reviewed by a third-party certification process.

HVAC-related products that may bear the Energy Star logo include central air conditioners, ductless heating and cooling systems, water heaters, ventilation fans, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, boilers, furnaces and heat pumps.

Finding Energy Star-Rated Equipment

Ask your HVAC contractor about Energy Star-rated equipment, or look for the blue logo when you shop at a home improvement store. You can also shop for Energy Star-rated products online by using Energy Star as part of your search criteria, or visiting the Energy Star website to see a list of approved equipment.

To learn more about the Energy Star logo, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been providing great customer service to our Portland-area customers 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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HRV and ERV Troubleshooting Tips that Keep Your Ventilation Working

HRV and ERV Troubleshooting Tips that Keep Your Ventilation WorkingA few heat recovery ventilation (HRV) and energy recovery ventilation (ERV) troubleshooting tips can keep fresh air moving in and stale, stagnant air moving out of your home. The goal of HRV and ERV is to intake and exhaust air in balanced amounts, without compromising heating and cooling. Heat energy is transferred from the warmer air stream to the cooler air stream. In summer, that means heat in the incoming fresh air is moved to the outgoing air stream to prevent burdening your A/C. During winter, the opposite occurs. Up to 85 percent of heat is recovered from an HRV system. ERV units also transfer humidity in addition to heat, reducing the accumulation of indoor humidity in summer and preventing excessively dry air conditions in winter.

Both ventilation systems consist of small-diameter, dedicated intake and exhaust ducts routed through a central controller that incorporates twin blower fans, filter media and the heat/humidity exchange core. HRVs and ERVs impose minimal maintenance requirements and only a few HRV and ERV troubleshooting tips are generally necessary for proper operation. The following are a few common problems and how to troubleshoot them:

  • No Power: Is a circuit breaker tripped? Reset any tripped breakers and try again. If the tripped breaker recurs, contact your qualified HVAC service provider.
  • Low Air Flow: Reusable filters should be removed and cleaned at regular intervals per manufacturer’s instructions, generally every other month. If air flow is not improved, contact a professional.
  • HRV Leaking Condensate: This is usually a drain issue. Is the condensate drain line kinked or obstructed? Make sure the drain line is routed on a slope to allow gravity flow of water.
  • ERV Unresponsive: If outdoor temperatures fall below 23 degrees, an automatic defrost cycle activates to prevent a frozen central core. While the defrost cycle is active—up to 20 minutes—operation is interrupted. After defrost is completed, normal function should return. If not, call a qualified service technician.

For more HRV and ERV troubleshooting tips and professional service to remedy the trouble, in Portland 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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HVAC Stands for More Than Just Heating and Cooling

HVAC Stands for More Than Just Heating and CoolingIn Portland’s mild climate, it’s easy to ignore your home comfort systems, but doing so can cost you. Learning exactly what HVAC stands for will help you start building the knowledge you need to improve your comfort and lower your bills.


Heating, the H in HVAC, usually comes from either a furnace or a heat pump. A furnace burns fuel, such as natural gas or propane, to create a flame. A fan in the furnace blows your home’s air over a heat exchanger, which moves heat from the flame into the air. The warm air continues into your ducts and out to your rooms.

A heat pump is, in essence, an air conditioner that can work in reverse. In heating mode, it uses the refrigerant it contains to absorb heat from the outdoor air and move it into your home. It’s the most efficient electric heating method available and ideal for our climate.


The V in HVAC stands for ventilation, an easily overlooked part of your home comfort system. Although it doesn’t directly affect something as noticeable as your room temperature, good ventilation has a number of benefits. Simple exhaust fans remove odors and excess humidity.

A balanced whole-house ventilation system goes a step further by removing stale indoor air, which contains contaminants, odors, and humidity, and replacing it with the same amount of fresh outdoor air. These systems are especially important in modern airtight homes, which receive less natural airflow than drafty older houses. With whole-house ventilation, you’ll enjoy healthier, fresher-smelling air throughout your home.

Air Conditioning

The AC in HVAC stands for air conditioning, which can be supplied by either an air conditioner, used when the home also has a furnace, or a heat pump. An air conditioner and a heat pump in cooling mode work the same way, using refrigerant to carry heat out of your home. These systems also reduce humidity as they cool.

Whether your home could use an improvement in airflow, or your heating or cooling system is due for an upgrade, 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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Helpful Advice on Choosing a New HVAC System

Helpful Advice on Choosing a New HVAC SystemChoosing a new HVAC system involves a series of decisions that will affect the comfort and lifetime costs of cooling and heating your home. To ensure you make the best decisions to meet your needs, it’s important to work with an HVAC professional that can provide information on best practices for HVAC sizing, selection and installation.

HVAC System Types

The most popular HVAC systems in U.S. homes are forced-air systems. They use a network of ducts to supply conditioned air to the home, and return airflow is cooled or heated by the system. This cycle continues until the thermostat set point is reached. Following are popular forced-air HVAC systems:

  • Furnace – Most furnaces use natural gas to heat the home. Propane and oil may also be used as an energy source.
  • A/C – Central A/C systems are often paired with furnaces to provide home cooling using an evaporator coil and shared blower.
  • Heat pumpsHeat pump systems operate much like A/Cs. Though, heat pumps work in reverse to provide energy-efficient home heating, in addition to home cooling.

Efficiency Ratings

Efficiency ratings can help you estimate the lifetime costs of HVAC equipment, rather than making a decision based on the initial cost alone. The lifetime cost is the sum of the estimated energy usage, maintenance, repairs, purchase and installation. Keep an eye on the following efficiency ratings when shopping:

  • The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating indicates the efficiency of a furnace as a percentage. For example, a 97 AFUE means that 97 percent of energy input is converted to home heating.
  • The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a factor of energy input to cooling output during the cooling season. SEER is used for A/Cs and heat pumps.
  • The heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) is a factor of energy input to heating output during the heating season.

The higher the rating number for HSPF and SEER, the greater efficiency and energy savings.

For assistance choosing a new HVAC system, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling today. We’ve provided HVAC solutions for Portland area homeowners for nearly 40 years.

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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Insist Your HVAC Technician Check These Things During A/C Maintenance

Insist Your HVAC Technician Check These Things During A/C MaintenanceA/C maintenance plays an important role in keeping your home cool and comfortable throughout the summer. With this in mind, it pays for your HVAC technician to go over your system with a fine-tooth comb, as this can stop potential problems in their tracks.

However, it’s easy for your technician to miss a few critical things during the maintenance process. Here’s what you should insist your technician check during your next maintenance appointment.

Outdoor Condensing Unit

Make sure your HVAC technician takes a look at the outdoor condensing cabinet and all of the components within. This includes the condenser fan, compressor, condenser coil and refrigerant expansion valve. Also, any overgrowth surrounding the bottom of the condensing cabinet, such as tall weeds and grasses, should be removed.


Your HVAC technician should also check the thermostat to ensure it’s working properly. If you have a programmable thermostat, your technician may even be able to help you set it to cool your home efficiently at various times throughout the day.

Air Filter

A dirty air filter can easily drag down your A/C’s energy efficiency and cause other problems in the long run. Make sure your HVAC technician replaces the air filter as part of the A/C maintenance regimen. Most experts recommend the air filter be replaced at least every three months.

Access Panels

Last but not least, your HVAC technician should make sure that all access panels on the indoor evaporator cabinet are securely in place. In addition, all potential obstructions should be removed from around the outside of the unit.

For more information on A/C maintenance, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We proudly serve 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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