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Energy Efficient Reasons to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star LogoReplacing outdated HVAC equipment with more efficient pieces can be daunting, but help is at hand.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

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.

Ventilation

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.

Thermostat

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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5 Ways to Maintain Your Water Heater to Keep It Running Longer

5 Ways to Maintain Your Water Heater to Keep It Running LongerThe water heater is one appliance that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves until problems develop. If you’re like most homeowners, you may not realize that maintaining your water heater is critical to keep it running reliably. Ensure your water heater has a long life with these tips.

Maintenance Tips

  • Check the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. Be sure to check the specific instructions found in your owner’s manual before performing any maintenance on the appliance.
  • Test the temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve regularly. The T&P valve is a vital safety feature designed to open and release hot water if the temperature or pressure inside the tank reaches unsafe levels. To keep it functional, test it every six months.
  • Flush the tank twice a year. Minerals in water form turn into sediment deposits during the normal heating process. Over time, they’ll build up on the gas burner or electric elements and decrease efficiency. They can also clog the drain and water lines and shorten the water heater’s life span. To avert these issues, flush out the tank twice a year.
  • Make safety a priority. If you prefer to tackle water heater maintenance yourself instead of hiring an experienced professional, take proper safety precautions like wearing goggles, gloves and protective clothing to prevent scalds and burns.
  • Note the installation date. The expected life span of a water heater is approximately 10 to 13 years. Keeping the appliance’s age in mind can help you plan ahead for the best replacement option so you’re not left in a lurch by an unexpected failure.

Along with routine maintenance, you can take additional steps to keep your hot water costs in check.

  • Lower the thermostat setting to 120 degrees and insulate accessible hot water pipes.
  • If the tank feels warm to the touch, add an insulated jacket.
  • Get plumbing leaks fixed promptly and have low-flow shower heads and faucets installed.
  • When purchasing a new dishwasher or clothes washer, opt for the most efficient model possible.

For more advice about maintaining your water heater, contact the Portland home comfort experts 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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Don’t Let Heat Gain Make Your Air Conditioner Work Harder

Don't Let Heat Gain Make Your Air Conditioner Work HarderThe amount of heat gain in your home has a direct impact on your cooling costs because heat naturally moves from hot to cold constantly. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to slow or block heat gain to maintain indoor comfort.

Windows

Unless your home has Energy Star certified or thermal-rated windows, the windows could be responsible for nearly half the heat entering your home. Glass is a poor insulator, and heat readily flows through windows whether they receive direct sunlight or not.

Closing the window coverings during the hottest part of the day will slow some of the heat transfer. To get the best heat protection, make sure the coverings extend above and below the window frames and sit as closely to the glass surface as possible.

Solar shade screens work well on south- and west-facing windows to cut the radiant heat from entering. You can make them from kits sold at home improvement centers or ask a specialty contractor to make them for you.

Insulation

Although wall insulation matters, most of the heat gain that drives up cooling costs comes from an inadequately insulated attic. Attics reach extreme temperatures during the day, and that heat can penetrate through the ceilings. Consider increasing the insulation to 20 inches for the best heat control.

You can also improve your home’s heat resistance by choosing light roofing and exterior wall colors that reflect much more radiant energy.

Seal the Leaks

Air leaks around the window and door frames increase cooling bills. Caulk, expanding foam and weatherstripping are easy to apply to stop air infiltration immediately.

Internal Heat Sources

While your home’s exterior color, insulation levels and air leaks account for nearly 35 percent of the heat your home gains, indoor sources may account for almost 15 percent. Put off heat-producing activities as much as possible until it’s cooler, and use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to vent warm air.

To learn more about heat gain and keeping cooling costs low, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve proudly served 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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Tips for Troubleshooting Common Dishwasher Problems

Tips for Troubleshooting Common Dishwasher ProblemsThe dishwasher is one home appliance that’s often taken for granted until problems creep up that affect its normal operation. If yours is malfunctioning, you may be able to get it working properly again by troubleshooting common dishwasher problems. If these tips don’t work, it’s time to call an appliance repair expert.

No Lights, Sounds or Water Flow

First, open and shut the door to make sure it’s securely latched. Then check for a tripped circuit breaker in your home’s main electrical panel. If these fixes don’t work, have a repair specialist check for a bad thermal fuse, a faulty door switch or a bad main control board.

The Motor Hums, but the Appliance Won’t Start

You’ll need professional help to identify the source of this problem and get it fixed. The issue may be a jammed pump or motor, a faulty motor start relay or broken drive belt.

Noisy Operation

Check whether the spray arm is hitting a dirty dish that’s sitting too high in the rack. If there’s no obvious obstruction, an appliance technician can check whether a foreign object is lodged in the pump or motor gears, the circulation pump motor bearings are going bad, or the wash or drain impeller is cracked or broken.

Dishes Aren’t Coming out Clean

Simply cleaning any buildup of food debris inside the spray arm and on the drain screen located on the tub bottom may fix this issue. If there’s no improvement, call a pro to look for other possible causes, like a faulty timer motor, a bad selector switch or burned out heating element.

The Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

Try cleaning out the drain basket on the bottom of the tub. If this doesn’t help, look for clogs or kinks in the drain hose running from the dishwasher to the sink drain. If you have a garbage disposal, clean the dishwasher drain hose fitting too. If the dishwasher still doesn’t drain, it’s time to get a professional diagnosis.

For help troubleshooting common dishwasher problems in your Portland area home, contact the appliance repair experts 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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Too Humid in Your Home? Here’s How to Reduce It

Too Humid in Your Home? Here's How to Reduce ItPortland summers mean higher outdoor humidity levels, and that means that conditions inside your home can be affected too. Not only is a humid house extremely uncomfortable, but it can also cause serious damage to your property, compromise your health and cost you more in cooling expenses. Fortunately, managing this issue is easier than you might think. By learning how to detect and reduce indoor humidity, you can save yourself a lot of grief and cash this season.

Signs You Need to Reduce Indoor Humidity

In some cases, excessive indoor humidity levels may be obvious. If you ever feel like you’re living inside of a sauna, you probably already know that you have a problem. Sometimes, though, the issue is less apparent. Be on the look out for:

  • Wood damage
  • Water stains on walls and ceilings
  • Mold and mildew
  • Condensation on windows
  • Allergy problems

How to Reduce Indoor Humidity

There are a number of ways to affordably lower humidity levels within your home. Following are a few suggestions:

  • Assess ventilation – Clothes dryers, kitchen hoods, and bathroom fans should be vented outside.
  • Adjust fan settings – Don’t leave your fan in the “on” position. By setting it to automatic, you’ll prevent re-humidifying your house as a result of air being blown over a wet coil when the condenser cycles off.
  • Seal leaks – Air and duct leaks are a major contributing factor to excess humidity within the home. Take the time to find and seal off these leaks.
  • Use vapor barriers – If the basement or other areas of your home have dirt floors, it’s a good idea to cover the earth with a plastic vapor barrier.
  • Use a dehumidifierDehumidifiers are a great way to reduce moisture levels in specific areas of the house.
  • Cook smarter – On humid days, it’s a good idea to avoid boiling water on your stove. Preparing meals with a slow cooker will result in much less evaporation and humidity.

For more useful tips on how to reduce indoor humidity, get in touch with the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’re proud to serve the greater 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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Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You’re Away

Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You're AwayGetting ready for your summer vacation? Don’t forget to take the time to prepare your home for energy conservation. Keeping your home as energy efficient as possible will help you come home to a comfortable house and a reasonable utility bill. Here’s a look at some of the easiest ways to save while you’re away.

Change Thermostat Settings

Think you should shut down your air conditioner while you’re on vacation? Think again. Doing so will mean that you don’t spend money on cooling your home during your getaway, but it also means your house will become a lot hotter than normal. This can wreak havoc on woodwork and cause your system to work extra hard to restore normal temperatures when you get home.

The smarter solution is to turn the programmable thermostat up by about four or five degrees. This causes the system to cycle on less frequently but won’t allow your home to heat up too much.

Utilize Window Treatments

You can reduce the energy your A/C needs to exude even further by using blinds, curtains and drapes to shade your home and act as a barrier against radiant heat from the sun.

Adjust Refrigerator Settings

For relatively short vacations, consider turning your refrigerator’s thermostat to a slightly warmer setting to save energy. If you’ll be gone for a prolonged period of time, though, it’s probably in your best interest to empty the unit and unplug it entirely. Be sure to leave the door open to prevent mold and mildew.

Unplug Devices

Electrical devices and appliances that are plugged in while not in use are true energy vampires. One of the simplest ways to save while you’re away is to go around and unplug TVs, computers, clocks, and other devices before your departure.

Set Timer Lights

Keep your home safe without wasting energy. Placing security lights on a timer ensures that you don’t build up a hefty bill during vacation.

Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling to learn more effective ways to save while you’re away this summer. We serve the greater 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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