Category Archives: Energy Evaluations

What’s Affecting Your Energy Bills?

What's Affecting Your Energy Bills?Some, but not all, of the hardworking appliances inside your home raise energy bills as they start to wear out. If you are concerned with keeping your home’s energy costs low and you depend on the conveniences they offer, keep an eye on these vulnerable appliances:

Water heater

Next to your HVAC system, the water heater uses the most energy, and if it isn’t energy efficient to start with, its consumption could be high. As water heaters age, mineral solids in the water solidify at the bottom of the tank and the appliance starts to lose its efficiency.

It’s also the one appliance that can do a lot more damage if it isn’t replaced as it starts to fail. A leaking or burst water heater will flood the area around it, and water damage isn’t cheap or easy to repair. If yours is over 12 years old, it’s time to think about replacing it.

Refrigerator

The refrigerator is another appliance that runs 24/7 and it will lose efficiency over time. Since it pulls air from the surrounding area, its components are often covered with dust. The gaskets around the refrigerator and freezer doors can start to leak, a sure sign the refrigerator is driving up energy bills. While you can replace the gaskets, they are expensive, and often cost more than the appliance is worth.

Microwave

Over time, microwave ovens do wear out. The magnetron inside them will lose power over time. Most microwaves also use a mica plate that diffuses the microwave energy that will deteriorate over time, especially if it’s dirty.

HVAC systems

Like anything mechanical, HVAC equipment will wear out and as they do, energy costs rise. The lifetime of most systems ranges between 12 and 20 years. Although this appliance is the most expensive in most homes, replacing it increases comfort and lowers energy consumption.

It’s important to stay on top of the maintenance these appliances require to keep energy bills low and prolong their lifetimes. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland area homeowners.

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

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Tips to Reduce Pool Energy Use This Summer

Tips to Reduce Pool Energy Use This SummerPool energy use is a substantial part of the expense of owning a pool. While other costs include routine maintenance such as chemicals, repair and cleaning, the energy component — mainly circulating water, filtration and lighting the pool — is vital. Compared to a house next door without a pool, for example, a pool owner can expect to spend about $500 per year in added energy expenses. However, this is not a fixed figure, steps can be taken to cut pool energy use and the cost of paying for it. Consider these ways to save:

  • Replace the pool pump. If your pool incorporates an older, single-speed circulation pump, you’re paying more for electricity than necessary. New energy efficient variable-speed pumps do a better job of pool water circulation and filtration while using far less electricity. A variable-speed pump can reduce electrical consumption as much as 75 percent compared to the obsolete single-speed pump.
  • Upgrade to LED bulbs. Lighting a pool can be expensive, especially if you’re still using incandescent light bulbs that were the standard equipment of yesteryear. Today, LED pool lamps use only 10 percent of the electricity consumed by old-school incandescents, yet they last more than 20 times longer. LED pool lights also provided enhanced aesthetic options as many can be programmed to generate a wide range of colors.
  • Utilize a pump timer. Studies show that most pool owners run the circulation pump far more hours per day than is actually required to maintain proper circulation and filtration. This results in unnecessary electrical expense. A pool or plumbing professional can calculate the exact amount of hours required for optimum filtration using a formula that incorporates the total volume of the pool in gallons, the capacity of the pump and the type of filter. With that figure, you can set a timer to run the pump only the number of hours per day actually required to maintain water quality.

For more advice to reduce pool energy use this summer, in Portland ask 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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How to Conduct Your Own At-Home Energy Tests

How to Conduct Your Own At-Home Energy TestsIf you’re looking for ways to reduce your household utility bills, performing some basic energy tests can help you identify areas where energy is being wasted. Here’s a brief guide to help you find and address energy inefficiencies in some of the most common problem areas:

  • Air leaks. Leaks in your home’s conditioned envelope can account for 10-20 percent to your total energy consumption. The first step in reducing this waste is finding leak sources and sealing them with an appropriate caulk product, expandable spray foam insulation or weatherstripping. Indoors, look for leaks along the baseboards, where walls and ceilings meet, at switches/electrical outlets on exterior walls, and around any penetrations between the living area and attic. Outdoors, check around window and doors, where different building components meet, the sill plate, and at penetrations for pipes, vents, and wires.
  • Lighting your home accounts for roughly 10 percent of your energy usage. You can reduce this by replacing inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
  • For optimal energy efficiency, the Department of Energy recommends that home attics in our regions are insulated to R-60 between the floor joists. To ensure that your attic is properly insulated, check whether there’s a vapor barrier against the floor and that it’s covered with enough insulation to hide the floor joists from view. Additionally, make sure the access hatch is weatherstripped and insulated on the attic side.
  • HVAC ductwork. Leaky, uninsulated ductwork can waste up to 1/3 of your HVAC system’s output. If your accessible ductwork isn’t sealed and insulated, you can improve its efficiency by applying metal-backed tape to all the joins and seams, then wrapping the ducts in R-6 insulation.

For an in-depth assessment of your home’s efficiency, you can have a professional energy audit performed. An energy auditor uses specialized testing tools like blower doors and thermographic scanners to pinpoint air leaks and poorly-insulated areas so you can make targeted improvements.

For more advice about conducting energy tests and other ways to improve efficiency in 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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Lower Energy Bills are a Great Gift to Yourself

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

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

Having lower energy bills not only benefits you financially, it also lightens the load on the environment and your home’s major appliances. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating & Plumbing, proudly serving Portland-area homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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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). 

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Learn What a Home Energy Rating Is and Why It’s Important

Learn What a Home Energy Rating Is and Why It's ImportantSavvy shoppers compare items, especially high-ticket items, to ensure they’re getting the best possible deal. Few investments are more important and as costly as home ownership, but it’s not always easy to determine the best value between homes. The home energy rating system (HERS) has changed the landscape for home buying, selling and upgrading in recent years, as more people are taking advantage of HERS scores.

Home Energy Ratings

The HERS Index is a home efficiency evaluation system that determines the energy efficiency of a home. In fact, HERS is the nationally recognized home evaluation system used by realtors and home sellers to highlight a home’s efficiency benefits, and it’s appreciated by home buyers as a method to determine estimated lifetime energy costs between homes in consideration.

Using HERS

Implemented by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a home’s HERS assessment and score is compared against homes constructed to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code. The home being assessed goes toe to toe with a qualified reference home with similar design characteristics, such as square footage and the number of rooms and floors.

The reference home has a static HERS score of 100. A score above 100 means the assessed home is less efficient percentage per point to the reference home. For example, if an assessed home has a HERS score of 120, it’s 20 percent less energy efficient than the DOE’s reference home.

Following are important situations in which to use HERS scores:

  • Selling a home: A good HERS score can be a deal maker. Conduct a HERS assessment and make any suggested efficiency upgrades to leverage your selling position.
  • Buying a home: A HERS score can help you determine the best value of your new home investment. A low HERS score helps ensure a comfortable home with reasonable energy bills.
  • Upgrading home efficiency: A HERS assessment is similar to an energy audit in that it reveals energy waste in home systems, and offers methods for improvement.

For more information about a home energy rating, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve 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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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Home Energy Audits

What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Home Energy AuditsHomeowners who take advantage of home energy audits learn about the overall energy efficiency of their homes and where to make improvements that cut energy costs year-round. Audits are performed by licensed HVAC contractors or energy auditors who identify all the factors that contribute to an inefficient and potentially unhealthy home.

What’s Involved in an Energy Audit

The HVAC professionals may start the audit by reviewing your energy bills over the past year and asking questions about how you use energy.

The central component of the audit is a blower door test that involves a large fan. The tech places the blower door in an exterior door frame. Once your home is ready, the professional will turn on the fan and watch how fast the air pressure falls using gauges on the blower door. If it falls quickly, it tells the auditors that your home has few air leaks. If it loses pressure slowly, it indicates you have air coming indoors from gaps, hole, or cracks to compensate for the air pressure your home is losing.

The auditors will use infrared cameras to pinpoint where the leaks are based on the thermal differences between the incoming air and your home’s surfaces. The cameras also tell the team where insulation may be lacking in the walls, foundation and attic of your home.

Additional Services

Home energy audits often include a ductwork inspection to evaluate possible leakage. Even the tightest home can have high energy bills if the conditioned air blows through leaking ducts, since the conditioned air is lost to places where it’s not needed.

Depending on the extent of your home energy audit, the professionals may evaluate your home for safe wiring and pinpoint any water leaks or plumbing problems.

If you’d like to learn more about home energy audits and their benefits, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided top-notch 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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A Professional Home Energy Audit Can Locate Those Hidden Inefficiencies

A Professional Home Energy Audit Can Locate Those Hidden InefficienciesWith more people trying to make every aspect of their homes more energy and fuel efficient, the idea of a home energy audit is starting to become more appealing. On your own, you probably can find and fix some of those energy sinks in your home. But it’s not always possible to find all the problem spots by yourself. For most people, there are things going on in the home costing them money that they would never suspect. Continue reading

A 3-Step Process To Increasing HVAC Efficiency

A 3-Step Process To Increasing HVAC EfficiencyIncreasing HVAC efficiency is a key part of conserving energy and lowering your energy bills. There are three very effective steps that you can take, including sealing air leaks to prevent energy loss, Adding new or additional insulation to your home  and performing regular maintenance on your HVAC equipment so that it runs optimally and efficiently.   Continue reading

A Whole-House Energy Efficiency Strategy Should Emphasize Air Sealing

A Whole-House Energy Efficiency Strategy Should Emphasize Air SealingHaving a whole-house energy efficiency strategy provides a road map to energy savings throughout the year. When you’re prioritizing the elements of the strategy, it’s a good idea to put air sealing at the top of the list, since air infiltration raises your energy bills. Air sealing is relatively easy, inexpensive and long lasting.  Continue reading