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Ways to Save Money with a Smart Home

Ways to Save Money with a Smart HomeNowadays, homeowners are able to enjoy greater comfort and convenience thanks to advancements like smart home technology. Equipping your home with the following upgrades can provide you with significant smart home savings on your energy bills, too:

Intelligent HVAC Controls

Compared to programmable thermostats that make adjustments based on the schedule you input, a smart thermostat fine tunes your HVAC system output by learning your routine and gathering occupancy intelligence. It can tell which rooms are occupied and by how many people, and when no one is at home.

Perceptive Kitchen Appliances

Imagine the potential for smart home savings on energy if you have remote communication with your kitchen appliances. Your fridge could send you an alert if the door gets left open, and the range can warn you if the oven is left on. Plus, all your kitchen appliances can work together to improve efficiency by switching to power-saving mode when they’re not being used.

Energy-Wise Window Treatments

Solar radiation coming through your windows can increase your home’s cooling load considerably, but you may not always remember to close your curtains and blinds. Today, you can have smart film installed that lets the light in but limits heat gain by blocking UVA and UVB radiation, and control it via a smartphone app.

Intuitive Light Bulbs

If you’re concerned about energy waste from lights left on around the house, you can have WiFi-enabled bulbs installed and turn them off remotely from your favorite device. Plus, you can customize your lighting preferences to turn certain lights on before you normally wake up, turn all the lights off when no one is home, or even adjust the brightness at different times of day.

Clever Laundry Equipment

When you own a smart washer, you won’t waste energy rewashing loads of laundry because the appliance senses when you’ve forgotten and tumbles the load so it stays fresh. If the dryer’s energy usage increases due to restricted airflow from a plugged-up lint filter, the machine can alert you instantly.

To learn more energy-smart money-saving tips 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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Summer is Over: Change Your Air Filter

Summer is Over: Change Your Air FilterThe end of summer means it’s time to change air filters before the heating season starts. If you haven’t used your furnace since spring, why do you need to put in a new filter? Here are some important reasons for changing your air filter after summer:

Dust and Debris Buildup

Dust and debris can build up on your furnace filter, especially if it shares the same ductwork as your air conditioner. Putting in a new HVAC filter removes this buildup and prevents it from being blown around your home, which would lower your indoor air quality. A brand new filter helps keep the air in your home clean and healthier to breathe.

Improved Efficiency

A dirty air filter means that your HVAC system has to work harder to cool or heat your home. This can end up causing damage that shortens the life span of your system. Changing air filters helps keep your HVAC system running as efficiently as possible. This has the added benefit of reducing your monthly energy bills, since your HVAC system uses less power overall.

When to Change Air Filters

How often do you need to change your air filter? This depends on certain factors, such as whether or not you have pets in your home. If you have pets, you should check and change your filter every one or two months. If you don’t have pets, you should be able to wait and change it every three months.

Reminders to Change Your Air Filter

It’s easy to forget to change your air filter, especially during summer. You can set a reminder for yourself on your phone or tablet, so you’ll remember. Another way to remember is to buy an extra filter and place it close to your HVAC system as a visual reminder. Consider putting a note on it with the date that it needs to be changed. This should help you remember to check your air filter and change it as needed.

For information on maintenance services and plans for your HVAC system in your Portland home, please contact Roth Heating and 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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4 Ways to Change Seasons with Your HVAC

4 Ways to Change Seasons with Your HVACNow that the seasons are changing, it’s almost time to make the switch from cooling to heating your home. By transitioning seasons wisely, you can have your home and HVAC system primed for maximum comfort and efficiency throughout the fall and coming winter. Here are four ways to make the transition go smoothly:

1. Check Airflow at the Registers

Closed or obstructed registers can upset pressure balance within the HVAC system and cause a loss of efficiency or even an unexpected equipment shutdown due to overheating. To prevent these issues, make sure that your registers are open and not blocked by furniture, area rugs, long curtains or similar items.

2. Switch Ceiling Fan Direction

During the summer, you likely had your ceiling fan blades set to spin counter-clockwise and push cool air down. Now, you need put the fan speed on low and switch the blade direction button on the housing. This gets the blades turning clockwise, so cooler air at floor level gets drawn up, and warm air is sent back down along the walls.

3. Replace the Air Filter

Transitioning seasons is also the perfect time to check the air filter and replace it if it shows any visible dirt accumulation. Having a fresh filter in place ensures that air can flow freely through the HVAC system, which helps avert the problems caused by restricted airflow.

4. Schedule Heating System Service

A thorough furnace checkup by a certified technician can verify that key components including the blower motor, gas burner, heat exchanger and ventilation flue are working safely and reliably, so your home stays comfortable and there’s less risk of exposure to deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Allow Ample Time When Transitioning Back and Forth

If you need to switch between cooling and heating to match the fall weather, allow a five-minute break in between mode changes on the thermostat. This lets the system’s refrigerant pressure equalize and averts a sudden shutdown or compressor lockup that trips the breaker.

For help making sure that transitioning seasons goes smoothly in 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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Tips for Preparing Your Home’s HVAC for Winter

Tips for Preparing Your Home's HVAC for WinterWhen the air turns cold and you switch on your heating equipment for the first time in nearly a year, the last thing you want is for it to not be operating properly. To keep you from being unprepared, here are a few quick winter prep tips that’ll allow your household to continue running smoothly:

Call a Technician

Annual maintenance of your heating equipment will keep it operating at peak performance for many years. A professional HVAC technician will ascertain any potential problems that might arise and make suggestions that will improve its energy efficiency. This means a more robust system that saves you money.

Test the Thermostat

If your thermostat isn’t working properly, your entire household – and its energy bill – will suffer. Before the winter season kicks into full gear, we suggest that you switch on your heating equipment to test it out. If it takes longer than expected to warm up your home, then it may be time to invest in a new thermostat, preferably a wi-fi or other advanced model.

Fix Ductwork Leaks

When air leaks occur due to holes and tears in your ductwork, the heating equipment is forced to work harder to deliver the same amount of comfort throughout your home. You can choose to either fix these problems yourself or contact a professional technician for assistance. Either way, tend to this immediately.

Check the Vents

You’d be surprised how many heating and cooling issues come down to blocked or clogged vents. It isn’t uncommon for vents to become clogged by dirt and debris, which is an easy solution to fix in a matter of minutes by removing the vents, wiping them down, and cleaning out the debris. It’s also possible that vents in certain locations may be blocked by boxes and similar items that can be removed.

For more expert advice on the winter prep needs for your HVAC system, or if you have any other questions related to home comfort, please contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving the HVAC needs of Portland and the surrounding area since 1976.

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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Ways Rain Could Affect an HVAC System

Ways Rain Could Affect an HVAC SystemThe ways rain affects an HVAC system are mostly indirect. After all, the only outdoor portion of your heating/cooling system is the outside condenser coil and compressor unit of the air conditioner, typically situated just behind or to the side of the house. That component is designed and engineered resist normal rainfall. The remainder of the air conditioner and all of the furnace are indoors. Nevertheless, there are still some ways rain affects an HVAC system. It’s a good idea to be aware of them if water-related issues occur.

Flooded Condenser Unit

While the outside half of the central air conditioner is rain-resistant, it’s not designed to be submerged in water. Localized flooding due to unusually heavy rains can swamp residential areas with standing water. Generally speaking, if flood water exceeds a depth of 15 inches, it may damage internal electrical components including circuit boards and connectors inside the external condenser/compressor unit of the central A/C. Moving flood waters may also undermine the concrete pad on which the outdoor unit is mounted.

Wet Ductwork

Heavy rain can also inundate HVAC ductwork if it floods the crawl space under the house where system ductwork is often routed. Ductwork is typically not waterproof. Water entering the ducts may remain contained inside duct segments long after the flood itself has receded. This water will deteriorate ductwork as well as form an environment for toxic mold growth inside the ducts.

Roof leaks during rainfall can occur unnoticed in the attic for some time. Chronic leakage into the attic can seep into HVAC ductwork installed there. This ongoing moisture will rust and corrode ducts as well as trigger mold growth. Rain leakage into the attic also saturates attic insulation, severely reducing its insulating properties. Insulation compromised by moisture allows increased heat transfer into and out of the attic and causes your furnace and air conditioner to run longer cycles to compensate.

For more info about how rain affects an HVAC system, contact the professionals 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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Plumbing Upgrades You Need This Season

Plumbing Upgrades You Need This SeasonNow that summer is waning and you’re spending more time indoors again, it’s a good opportunity to make some beneficial plumbing upgrades around your home. Here are five upgrade suggestions that can lower your water and energy bills, increase your comfort and help the environment too:

Invest in a New Water Heater

If your water heater is 10 or more years old, it can be up to 20 percent less efficient than the new appliances on the market. Today’s gas-fired storage tank water heaters are better insulated to reduce standby heat losses, and they offer features like electrical igniters and flu damper controls to curb your gas consumption.

Install Low-Flow Fixtures

Did you know that faucets and showers account for about one-quarter of the total household water usage in an average home? Installing low-flow fixtures can cut that consumption by 30 to 50 percent and bring you significant savings on your water and energy bills.

Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Toilet

Replacing the water-guzzling older toilets in your home with high-efficiency models is a great way to reduce your water bills and help the environment too. The latest models include dual-flush toilets that use jet-powered siphonic flushing action to empty the bowl completely while using as little as .9 gallons of water.

Have Pressure-Compensating Valves Installed

Do you notice a distinctly unpleasant pressure and temperature change when you have the shower running and someone flushes or turns on a faucet elsewhere in your home? If you have a pressure-compensating valve installed, you can set it and never experience more than a three-degree temperature change again.

Install a Water Filtration System

If the taste or quality of your home’s water supply is less than ideal, consider adding a point-of-use or whole-house filtration system. A licensed plumber can test your water and help you choose the right system, such as activated-charcoal to remove odors and improve taste, reverse-osmosis to filter out sediment, UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, or a multi-stage system with combined capabilities.

To learn more about plumbing upgrades 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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Find Out How a Variable-Speed Furnace Works in Your Home

Find Out How a Variable-Speed Furnace Works in Your HomeA variable-speed furnace offers quiet, energy efficient comfort using advanced motor technology. Instead of only running on top speed, a furnace equipped with an electronically-commutated motor (ECM) will adjust its running speeds based on your home’s need for heat. They save energy because ECMs use much less electricity than the standard motor, and its slower running speed helps distribute the heat more evenly.

What a Variable-Speed Furnace Does

Conventional blower motors, known as permanent split capacitor motors (PSCs) use alternating current (AC) while an ECM uses direct current (DC). Since our power supply is AC, the variable-speed furnace motor has an inverter that changes the power flow to DC, which is a more efficient use of electricity.

These motors also include high tech components that work with the HVAC system to sense how much heated air your home needs, and adjust their running speeds accordingly. If it’s just a few degrees, the motor will run at a slower speed. The ECM is also capable of sensing the airflow through the blower, making adjustments for constricted airflow from dirt filters or blocked return registers.

Variable-Speed Advantages

  • Cleaner air. Since a variable-speed furnace runs more slowly, it removes more airborne particulates, which creates a healthier home. Anyone who suffers from allergies to pollen, dander or mold may breathe easier.
  • Less electrical consumption. Although combustion furnace efficiency isn’t measured by its electrical use alone, your monthly energy bills will drop. If the furnace is equipped with an air conditioning system, your summer cooling costs will also decline. These systems also remove more humidity in the cooling mode since the air handler runs longer.
  • Quiet operation. These systems start and stop their cycles slowly. Even at top speeds, these motors are quieter than PSC motors.
  • Durability. HVAC systems with variable-speed motors tend to last longer since they avoid the stress and wear that frequent starts cause.

To learn more about a variable-speed furnace, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted 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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Want to Do an Energy Evaluation on Your Home? Use this Checklist

Want to Do an Energy Evaluation on Your Home? Use this ChecklistEven though American homes are becoming increasingly energy efficient these days, there’s still lots of room for improvement in most households. Most homeowners are more than willing to invest in improving energy efficiency, both for altruistic and financial reasons. The main obstacle isn’t a lack of will but rather knowledge about what needs to be done. That’s where a home energy audit comes into play. A professional energy evaluation will reveal where energy is being lost in the home, and then tell you how to stop it.

What’s Involved in a Home Energy Evaluation?

  • The energy auditor(s) will inspect your home, checking out likely spots for energy waste, such as windows, doors, and the attic. He or she will inspect your heating and cooling system, including the ductwork. He or she will likely ask to look at previous years’ utility bills to better understand energy usage in your home and detect any patterns over time.
  • Diagnostic tests are undertaken to confirm where energy is being lost. The most common is the blower-door test. A powerful fan and housing is installed in a main exterior door frame, after all windows, doors, and vents have been closed. As the fan blows outward, it depressurizes the house. A gauge measures how quickly air rushes back into the home via air leaks. This measures your home’s airtightness.
  • During the blower-door test, the auditor, using thermographic scanning equipment, will detect where air is leaking, plus locate where insulation is insufficient.
  • A test similar to the blower door also may be done inside your ductwork, to determine how much air is leaking during the heating and cooling process.

After the evaluation, you’ll receive a detailed report listing areas of improvement. While some of the recommendations will be tasks that you can do yourself, other recommendations, such as replacing windows, repairing ducts or upgrading HVAC equipment, will require professional help.

To discuss scheduling a professional home energy evaluation for your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Michael D Brown/Shutterstock”

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air Cleaning

How to Decide Between Air Filtration and Air CleaningIf you’re concerned about maintaining indoor air quality in your Portland area home, it’s important to understand the difference between air filtration and air cleaning. While all forced-air heating and cooling systems have some form of air filtration, not all households have dedicated air cleaning systems. If you have family members who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory ailments, you’ll want to consider an air cleaning system.

First it helps to understand how basic air filtration works in an HVAC system. In most households, this involves a cheap, flat-panel fiberglass (or other synthetic) filter that goes into a slot in your furnace compartment, usually where the ductwork attaches. Before air is drawn into the furnace or A/C for conditioning, the filter removes some proportion of the solid particulates in that air. However, the main purpose of a low- or standard-efficiency air filter is to protect HVAC components rather than clean indoor air.

This doesn’t mean that higher-efficiency air filtration can’t achieve cleaner and healthier air. High-efficiency HVAC filters can remove the vast majority of airborne particulates. This is accomplished with denser (or more) filtration media removing a wide range of contaminants, large and small. However, the denser filtration media also may restrict airflow. Adverse effects may include wasted energy, stressed system components, and uneven heating and cooling. A forced-air system can be modified to work with a high-efficiency filter, though this may be costly. Consider a whole-house air cleaning system instead.

A whole-house air cleaner is connected directly to your HVAC system, and like an air filter treats all of the air that circulates through that system. But rather than simply capturing airborne particulates with fiberglass or some other filtration medium, an air cleaner typically employs a combination of technologies to clean the air. These might include ultraviolet light, electrostatic attraction or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filtration. A quality air cleaner can remove more than 99 percent of the particulates in your indoor air.

To talk to a trained technician about cleaning or filtering the air in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your Home

Dealing with Common Furnace Problems in Your HomeDuring the winter, there’s always a chance your home’s heating system will act up or stop working entirely. Either way — the sudden loss of heat or a furnace that’s not heating adequately — this is something to avoid. Try learning some basic furnace troubleshooting steps. With that knowledge, you’ll have a better shot at figuring out what’s wrong and either fixing it yourself or knowing what to tell the HVAC service technician you call.

If Your Furnace is Struggling to Heat Your Home

This could the result of any of numerous issues. The air filter may need to be change; ductwork might be dirty or leaking air; the burners in your combustion heating system might be clogged; the blower motor might need to be cleaned and lubricated; or your heating system might be so old that it no longer can keep up with the challenge of heating your home. Each of these issues has a different solution, from the easy (changing the air filter) to the most difficult and expensive, replacing your heating system.

If the Heating isn’t Working at All

  • Check that your HVAC system is getting power. Do this at the circuit-breaker box or at the on-off switch if your heating system has one. Is the thermostat set to “heat” and that the setting is above the temperature in your home? If the thermostat is battery operated, check the batteries.
  • Ignition might be the problem, especially if you have an older furnace with a pilot light. Re-lighting the pilot might be all that’s necessary, though if the light keeps going out, or the electronic ignition (in a newer heating system) is malfunctioning, you’ll need a professional service call.
  • If you hear banging or rattling in the furnace compartment before the system goes dead, it might be loose or detached parts in the blower motor, or a slipped belt. While you might be able to put the belt back on, you’ll need professional help for a faulty motor.

For help fixing your Portland area heating system problems this winter, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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