Heating Efficiently: Energy Myths for Fall

Heating Efficiently: Energy Myths for FallWith temperatures getting cooler in the Portland area, you’ll soon be using your heating system to warm up your home. Before doing so, it’s important to understand some common energy myths about heating homes. Falling for these myths could end up costing you more money on your energy bills this fall and winter.

Myth: Turn Your Thermostat Up for Faster Heating

Raising the temperature on your thermostat might seem like a good way to get your home feeling warmer more quickly, but all it does is increase your heating bills. Your heater puts out the same amount of heat, no matter what the temperature is set at. When you turn up your thermostat, your heating system just runs for a longer period of time.

Myth: Leave Your Thermostat at the Same Setting to Save Energy

One of the biggest energy myths is that leaving your thermostat set at the same temperature throughout the heating season will lead to less energy use and lower bills. However, you’ll save energy and reduce your bills by lowering your thermostat setting at certain times, such as during the night and during the day when you’re not home.

Myth: Use Your Fireplace for Heat to Save Energy

Relying on your fireplace for heat might seem like an energy-efficient way to reduce heating bills. However, fireplaces don’t do a good job of heating large areas in a home, and you can lose more of your heated indoor air from your furnace as it goes up the chimney. This can result in higher energy bills during fall and winter.

Myth: Close Vents in Unused Areas to Save Energy

Closing off certain vents won’t reduce your energy bills. In fact, you can end up with higher ones and a heating system that has to work harder to heat up areas with open vents. This puts more wear and tear on your heating system, which can lead to repairs or a shorter life span.

If your heating system needs maintenance or repairs this season, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling for help. We offer dependable heating services for Portland 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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Thermostat Settings During Fall Vacations

Thermostat Settings During Fall VacationsFall weather in the Portland area can range from warm to cool, which makes thermostat settings challenging before going on a vacation. Most thermostats don’t automatically switch between cooling and heating, which means that you’ll have to select one or the other before you go and set the temperature accordingly.

Fortunately weather forecasts are more reliable than ever and you’ll be able to look up the weather trends for at least a month in advance. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center publishes weather outlooks from one day to a year ahead.

Before leaving, consult their maps or tables online to find their predictions for the weather and select the heating or cooling function. As a rule of thumb, set the temperature four degrees above or below the temperature you normally keep your home.

If you’re leaving pets at home, you may want to leave the temperature within a few degrees of the temperature you normally keep the home, since they adapt to the temperatures you normally keep.

Making It Simple

Upgrading your thermostat from a manual or programmable unit to a Wi-Fi device will not only simplify thermostat settings, it will give you minute-by-minute information on conditions in your home, like its temperature and humidity, and sometimes occupancy. With a smart Wi-Fi thermostat, you’ll be able to change the function between heating and cooling, along with the temperatures.

You can even reset the temperature to one that you’ll find most comfortable when you’re about to arrive home. However, if you use a heat pump and need heating, you’ll want to reset it 24 hours ahead of time so that the auxiliary heating coil doesn’t turn on. The coil uses much more energy to heat than the heat pump does. A smart thermostat equipped with intelligent recovery technology will prevent the heat pump from using the coil.

The temperature settings for your home while you’re away can affect your home’s interior and the comfort of any pets you leave behind. For more information, 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).

Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall Allergies

Roundup: Top Air Filters for Fall AllergiesPortland ranks high among the worst places for airborne allergies, primarily from trees, weeds, and pollen. Fortunately, the best air filters for your HVAC system reduce the irritations that the widespread proliferation of ragweed pollen causes.

Look for its MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The scale runs from 1 to 16 and higher numbers indicate the filter traps smaller particles. Some manufacturers have simplified the scale and label their filters as “good, better, and best.”

Filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 4 are equivalent to the “good” designation. Those rated between 5 and 8 are better, and the highest for residential purposes range between 9 and 12.

Pollen particles are small and will pass through filters with MERV ratings 7 and below. Higher MERV rated filters will capture a higher percentage of these particles. Choose a filter with a better designation or whose MERV rating is 9 or higher.

Words of Caution

Before upgrading the filter for your HVAC system, consult your owner’s manual for the highest rated filter you can use with it. Denser filters slow the air flowing through the air handler and putting a filter inside it that exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation will raise energy bills and may cause system problems.

Many of the best air filters for allergy relief are pleated. They capture more particles because of their greater surface area and denser weave. Because they’re more effective at trapping particles, they need to be checked and replaced more often than lower rated filters.

Running your system with a dirty filter pulls dustier air through the ductwork, which defeats the purpose of using your HVAC system to control pollen and other airborne allergies. Unless the pollen is trapped at the filter, it can continue to circulate through your home’s air wherever else it lands.

Ductwork, carpet, furniture, and window coverings all hang onto these particulates and when they’re disturbed, your allergies may flare up again.

The best air filters can ease your suffering through allergy season and longer. For more information, 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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When Home Additions Require Upgrading Your HVAC

When Home Additions Require Upgrading Your HVACThe construction of an addition on your home is not something to be taken lightly. There’s going to be a number of decisions you’ll need to make, ranging from the design specs all the way down to the color of the walls. You’ll also need to figure out whether upgrading your HVAC will be necessary for your heating and cooling needs. You actually have a few options, which we’ll discuss right now:

Upgrading Your HVAC

Even though the purchase of a brand new HVAC system will cost you a good deal of money up front, it may be your best option. If your current system has been in use for more than a decade or simply can’t handle the additional heating and cooling loads brought on by your home’s addition, a new one is an option you may have to take. If in doubt, contact a technician for advice.

Extending Your Current System

If your current system can accommodate the additional load and isn’t more than 10 years old, then you want to opt for an extension of that system to take care of the addition’s heating and cooling needs. With this choice, you’ll simply extend your existing ductwork. Just make sure that you have the ductwork evaluated to ensure that it is properly insulated and sealed. We would also recommend that you consider a zoning system so that the new space has its own thermostat.

Installing an Independent System

One last option to consider is the installation of either a traditional forced-air or ductless mini-split for your home’s new addition independent of your primary HVAC system. This choice is typically made when the addition isn’t close enough to the current duct system’s main trunk. If you’re not well-versed on which type of independent system would be best for your home, we advise that you contact a technician for assistance.

For more expert advice on upgrading your HVAC or any other home comfort-related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving the 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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5 Tips for Generator Maintenance

5 Tips for Generator MaintenanceOwning a generator provides peace of mind that your home’s lights stay on, the refrigerator keeps running and essentials like the sump pump are fully operational when a power outage occurs. To ensure that your generator works reliably and efficiently, it’s vital to keep it well maintained. Here’s what routine generator maintenance should include:

Checking and Replacing the Oil and Filter

Oil is necessary to lubricant key components of your backup generator motor, but it breaks down over time, so the oil and its filter need to be replaced periodically. Generators typically need an initial oil change after the first 8–30 hours of run time, and then regular oil changes after every 100–200 hours of use, or at least once a year. The scheduling varies by manufacturer, so be sure to follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual.

Changing the Spark Plugs

Like any other combustion motor, your generator has spark plugs that must be changed out every so often. You should follow your manufacturer’s guidelines, but as a general rule, spark plugs need replacement after 100 hours of run time.

Replacing the Air Filter

If the filter is dirty, your generator motor won’t have adequate airflow to stay running, so you need to replace it according to your owner’s manual schedule. Typically, replacing the air filter is recommended after every 25 hours of run time, or once a year.

Performing a Periodic Visual Checkup

Once every couple of months, give your generator a general visual inspection. Tidy up any debris around the unit, look for oil and fluid leaks, check that there’s coolant visible in the overflow tank, and the battery is clean and free from corrosion.

Scheduling Yearly Professional Maintenance

You can have a pro tackle all of the above tasks, as well as perform a detailed annual inspection and more in-depth maintenance, such as flushing the coolant, checking the control panel, wiring and all connections and clamps, and inspecting and/or testing the battery and its cables and charger, alternator and transfer switch.

To schedule generator maintenance at 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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Fall Plumbing Tips to Follow

Fall Plumbing Tips to FollowThe arrival of fall tells us that winter isn’t far away, so it’s time to get your plumbing system ready for colder weather. Following these essential fall plumbing tips can make the task easier.

Put Away Your Garden Hoses

To keep your hoses in good condition so you can use them next year, disconnect and drain each one. Then, roll them up and store them in a spot where they won’t be exposed to freezing temperatures, like the basement.

Winterize Your Outdoor Hose Bib

If your bib is equipped with an indoor shutoff, close it then go outside and open the bib spigot and let any remaining water drain out. Lastly, cover the bib with a foam insulator for an extra layer of protection against freezing and bursting.

Protect Vulnerable Pipes From Freezing

Adding protection to vulnerable water pipes can prevent freezing and let you avoid the headaches of dealing with ruptures and water damage. First, install insulated foam sleeves on pipes situated in unheated areas, like the garage or basement. If you have accessible pipes running through an exterior wall, you should protect them with heat cable that’s controlled by an automatic thermostat.

Perform Water Heater Maintenance

Since you’re tackling plumbing maintenance, it’s the ideal time to drain and flush sediment from your water heater tank, and make sure that the pressure relief valve is functioning properly. You should also adjust the unit’s thermostat setting to 120 degrees, and install insulated foam sleeves on first four feet of hot water piping coming from the tank. If your appliance is older and not well-insulated, you should also add an insulated tank blanket to limit heat losses.

Check Your Sump Pump

To prevent damage from basement flooding and water intrusions during the fall and winter, this is a good time to test your sump pump’s functionality and clear any accumulated debris from the sump pit. If you don’t already have one, invest in a backup battery so your pump works during a power outage.

For help winterizing your Portland-area home with these fall plumbing tips, 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).

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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