How to Upgrade Your Kitchen Ventilation

How to Upgrade Your Kitchen VentilationHow’s the ventilation in your kitchen? Consider yourself lucky if your kitchen range is ventilated to the outdoors. That’s the best way to get rid of irritating smoke and water vapor, which can add humidity in your home, making you feel uncomfortable and even causing issues with mold and mildew. If you don’t have adequate kitchen ventilation, maybe it’s time to look into it.

Types of Kitchen Ventilation

The most favored type of kitchen ventilation is of the updraft design. These use a blower to inhale cooking vapors, then push them through a duct which, we hope, exhausts the vapors through the roof rather than the attic. These are likely to be in the form of hoods or canopies, purchased separately from the stove.

The downdraft type draws cooking vapors across the surface of the range, and down through a duct that exhausts to the outdoors. These are likely to be integrated into the cooking appliance’s surface. The main drawback in using them is that they do not rise more than 10 inches above the surface of the range, and so cannot capture steam from a tall pot. They are usually chosen when they are to be incorporated into an island where the homeowner doesn’t want a view blocked, or in a kitchen with a high ceiling, where ductwork would be too high to work effectively in the updraft model.

Whichever type you choose, be sure that it can move the volume of air you will need to move in relation to the heat output of your range. Your ventilation specialist can help you calculate this.

Installing Kitchen Ventilators

If you have an older house, you may already have ducts in place that can accommodate the installation of new, upgraded kitchen ventilation. If the ductwork isn’t in the right position to accommodate a new range hood or canopy, you will have to move it. Unless you’re an accomplished DIYer, you may need a ventilation and ductwork specialist to advise you on installation.

For more on kitchen ventilation, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We serve Portland and the surrounding area.

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 Naturally Reduce Humidity in Your Home

How to Naturally Reduce Humidity in Your HomeIn our region, high humidity in the home can be a problem. In summer when the air is warm, it will hold more moisture and make us feel warmer than we need to. That means turning the air conditioner down just to feel comfortable. Any time of the year, high humidity can encourage the growth of mold, mildew and fungus, which can destroy paper, drywall, paint and other materials — plus, it’s unhealthful to breathe these pollutants.

The best way to control humidity is to install a whole-house dehumidifier. Under most circumstances, your A/C performs that function adequately, but if you have an excessively moist home, it can be overwhelmed.

Learn how to reduce humid conditions with the following tips and maybe you’ll see results that will help you until you can plan for a dehumidifier.

Tips for Reducing Too-Humid Conditions

  1. Sequester plants. Having lots of plants in the home is a lovely way to decorate and to improve air quality, but plants also raise moisture levels. Round them up and move them to one room.
  2. Keep your air filter clean. A dirty air filter won’t do as good a job allowing proper air flow into your HVAC system. Slower air flow can mean the system won’t dehumidify the air as effectively. Change the air filter frequently.
  3. Take shorter showers. If you live with several people, long and frequent showering can up moisture in the air significantly. Ask people to take shorter showers. Crack the window and run a fan so the humidity can escape.
  4. Install kitchen or bathroom ventilation. Ventilation exhaust fans are not expensive to purchase or install, and they do a a great job of removing moisture from bathrooms and around the kitchen range.
  5. Fix leaks asap. As soon as you realize a faucet, a pipe, the attic or ceiling is leaking water, fix the leak so you prevent flooding and lower moisture levels. Also be vigilant about the HVAC’s condensate drain; a plugged drain can also boost air moisture.

To learn more about lowering humidity, contact Roth Heating and Cooling of Portland.

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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The Importance of Having an HVAC Inspection by a Pro

The Importance of Having an HVAC Inspection by a ProBuying a home is a complicated process from the legal process to the mechanical aspects of the home. While you can turn over some of the details to the experts involved in the process, it’s a good idea to have an independent Heating and Cooling inspection from a contractor you trust.

Most lenders require a licensed home inspector go through the structure to evaluate the building’s integrity, along with its mechanical systems. The inspector will look over the Heating and Cooling system for obvious problems, but may accidentally overlook important indicators that affect its condition.

The most common claim homeowners make after moving into a home they’ve recently purchased covers the HVAC system. Of all the appliances in a home, the heating and cooling system is the most complicated and expensive to fix or replace.

By insisting that you have a licensed HVAC technician go through the home as part of your due diligence process, you can avoid these expensive and often uncomfortable breakdowns.

In addition to scheduling an HVAC inspection from a professional contractor, ask the seller to provide:

  • The brand and model number of the system, along with its age. You can do some online research to find out what kind of equipment it is and its energy efficiency ratings. Higher ratings are always better for air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps.
  • Maintenance records. Under ideal conditions, the homeowner should have had the HVAC system maintained once or twice a year. Ask to see the receipts or paperwork the contractor provided.
  • Energy bills. While there’s no way to break out the electric and gas charges attributable solely to the HVAC system, it’s helpful to look at the seasonal swings in their energy costs. Most of the time, the HVAC system is responsible for 40 to 50 percent of the energy use during the winter and summer.

As the most important and expensive appliance in a home, requesting an HVAC inspection and understanding its result will help you make a decision or negotiate a price for the home. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling,Plumbing & Electrical providing trusted Heating and Cooling services for Lake Oswego 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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Here’s Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Here's Back-to-School Maintenance Tips for Your HomeIt’s that time of year again — back-to-school! Which means every homeowner out there needs to conduct a little maintenance on his or her home if they hope to keep costs under control. Here are a few quick tips that we suggest:

Replace Your Air Filter

Typically, an air filter needs to be replaced every 1-3 months. If you’ve been neglecting it a little over the summer because you’ve been too busy soaking up the sun, now’s the time to get it switched out for a new one. This will ensure that your heating and air conditioning equipment continues to work at an optimal level.

Seal the Ducts

Cooler temperatures are just around the corner, soon you’ll need to switch from air conditioning to heating. Before that happens, it’s essential that your ducts be checked for leaks and tears. This will keep the air circulating throughout your home without wasting energy.

Pick Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Over the summer, leaves and dirt can collect around your system’s outdoor unit. This can create a clogging situation, which can be a detriment to your heating and cooling efforts. This is an easy fix. All you have to do is remove any debris around the unit. Using a water hose is even more effective.

Perform Annual Maintenance

Once a year, it’s important that you enlist the help of a professional to make sure that your heating system is running properly. An annual maintenance (Precision Tune-up) will not only keep your equipment efficient, but can also prolong its operational life.

Clean the Condensate Drain

Your HVAC unit’s condensate drain can quickly become clogged with mold, algae, and other foreign substances. This can be cleaned by a water and bleach mixture two or three times a year to prevent any bigger issues from developing.

For more expert advice on back-to-school maintenance tips or any other home comfort questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We’ve been serving the Sherwood 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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How Ceiling Fans Affect Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

How Ceiling Fans Affect Your Home's Energy EfficiencyIn Portland’s mild climate, your ceiling fan can do a lot to help you stay comfortable efficiently. To get the most out of your fan, keep these tips in mind:

A Little Help for Your Air Conditioner

On days that aren’t too hot, stick to using your ceiling fans for as long as you can before turning on your air conditioner. Once you do turn on the A/C, don’t turn off the ceiling fan. A ceiling fan can make you feel around 4 to 5 degrees cooler, allowing you to raise your air conditioner’s thermostat temperature by the same amount with no loss of comfort.

Every degree you raise your A/C temperature can cut your cooling bills by around 3 to 10 percent. Make sure the fan blades are set to spin counterclockwise as seen from below. Spinning in this direction, they blow a cooling breeze downward over your skin. If the blades aren’t set correctly, look for a small switch on the motor housing that lets you change their direction.

Comfort in Winter, Too

When the cool fall weather moves in, set your fan blades to spin clockwise and run the fan on the lowest speed. When spinning this way, the blades create an updraft that pulls cool air from the lower part of the room toward the ceiling. This air pushes the warm air near the ceiling out towards the walls and down to where you are. The warm air in your room will circulate around you rather than pooling near the ceiling.

Maximizing Your Fan’s Efficiency

Fans make you feel more comfortable, but they don’t change the air temperature so they don’t help when you’re not in the room. To save energy, turn off the fan when you leave the room.

To move air efficiently, your fan must be the right size for the room. For a room of less than 144 sq. ft., a 42-inch fan is enough. For a room of up to 225 sq. ft., choose a 50-inch fan.

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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Purifing Indoor Air Quality with UV Lights

Purifing Indoor Air Quality with UV LightsThe lights are placed within the ductwork or air handler of HVAC systems where nearly all the air in your home passes over it. UV light is hazardous to eyesight and they’re out of sight inside the HVAC equipment.

How UV Systems Compare

Compared to other kinds of air purification equipment, UV lighting offers:

  • High energy efficiency. The new generation of UV lights use LED technology and require annual replacement. Air purifiers rely on filters that need replacement as often as semiannually that can cost much more than the UV light bulbs.
  • Low maintenance. Since they’re out of sight, UV lights require little maintenance, especially if you keep the air filter for your HVAC system clean.
  • Protection against VOCs. These gases are among the most common airborne pollutants in the typical home. They come from products made from hydrocarbons and have varying degrees of toxicity. The lights are the only way to reduce the VOC load in the air without relying on year-round fresh air ventilation, which isn’t realistic during the summer or winter.
  • Odor-free. UV rays eliminate much of the need for disinfecting air sprays that have overpowering scents that may even include VOCs. Air sprays only offer spot protection from the spread of infectious germs, while UV lighting systems protect the whole home.
  • A cleaner HVAC system. The lights will eliminate mold growth inside the air handler and the ductwork. When mold grows inside the air handler on the evaporator coil, cooling efficiency drops and air quality declines.

Cleaner, healthier air is easy to achieve by using UV lights in your HVAC system. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, proudly serving homeowners in the greater Portland area.

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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Benefits of A/C Surge Protectors

Benefits of A/C Surge ProtectorsSurge protectors commonly protect valuable electronics like computers and home entertainment systems, but have you thought about your central A/C? Today’s air conditioners incorporate vulnerable microprocessors and circuit boards, all of which can be damaged by a transient voltage surge originating from external causes or from sources within your house. The most expensive single A/C component, the system compressor, also incorporates circuitry that could be damaged and necessitate costly replacement or perhaps even an entirely new system.

Power surges have many causes. Lightning striking as far as a half-mile away can send a surge through utility wires that damages household circuits. Common disruptions on the utility grid such as brownouts and blackouts typically include voltage irregularities that can also zap sensitive A/C components. Power surges in indoor wiring can occur due to indoor sources, as well, such as defective appliances or short circuits.

Here are two ways surge protectors installed by a qualified professional electrician can shield your A/C from expensive damage and/or early replacement due to voltage surges:

At The Main Electrical Panel

A central air conditioner is hard-wired directly into a dedicated circuit. Therefore, the primary level of surge protection must be installed at the main electrical panel. A whole-house surge protector will defend all household circuit from voltage irregularities that occur on the utility power line where it enters the house. As an alternative to whole-house protection, a surge protector can be installed at the main panel only on the dedicated circuit that serves the A/C unit.

At The A/C Unit

Surge protection installed at the main electrical panel may not protect against voltage spikes triggered by indoor sources. For maximum defense, a second dedicated surge protector can be installed at the power disconnect switch that controls power to the outdoor A/C condenser unit.

For more information about a surge protector to defend your air conditioner against damaging voltage spikes, 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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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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3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your HVAC System

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your HVAC SystemWhile Portland might not have the most challenging climate, you can still run up high heating and cooling bills if you don’t plan ahead. With a few simple steps, though, you can help your HVAC system perform more effectively and efficiently.

Invest in an Energy Audit

Your furnace and air conditioner will have a hard time keeping you comfortable if all the warmth or cooling they provide is quickly lost through your walls and ceilings. Areas with insufficient insulation and air leaks around the windows, doors, utility line penetrations, and other areas waste energy, forcing your system to work harder and use more energy to maintain the temperatures you want.

During an energy audit, your technician will bring in equipment to zero in on points of energy loss so you’ll know where to invest in improvements. For example, using an infrared camera, your technician may discover you’re losing energy through the roof. You’ll then know to air seal the attic and add more insulation.

Keep up on Maintenance

During just one season, your furnace or air condition sustain minor wear and tear issues that have a major effect on their efficiency. Loose wires and corroded contacts increase electrical resistance, dust on the indoor evaporator coil makes it harder for the coil to cool passing air, and incorrect motor voltage and amp draw can cause excessive energy use.

As part of an annual maintenance inspection, your technician will find and correct problems like these to keep your HVAC system at maximum efficiency and prevent sudden breakdowns.

Upgrade Your System

If your furnace or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it’s nearing the end of its life expectancy. With each passing year, HVAC equipment drops in efficiency and newly manufactured models are more efficient that older models were even when they were new. Upgrading to new, Energy Star-qualified models could cut your heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent, assuming the system is correctly sized and installed.

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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5 Common Energy Myths You Need to Know

5 Common Energy Myths You Need to KnowIf you’re looking for ways to lower your household operating costs, curbing your energy consumption is a good place to start. Before you implement any tips for reducing consumption, it’s good to recognize energy myths like these:

Myth 1: Run the Ceiling Fans to Make Your Home Cooler

Fans simply move air, they don’t cool it. The feeling of air moving across the skin makes a body feel cooler, but you can’t feel the effect unless you’re in the same room. So, running fans in unoccupied rooms wastes energy instead of saving it.

Myth 2: Dial Back the Thermostat Setting to Cool the House Faster

Your cooling system runs at a steady pace to reach the thermostat’s temperature setting, no matter how low it’s set. If you set it too low, you’ll only end up wasting energy and your home will feel uncomfortably chilly.

Myth 3: Shut the Registers in Seldom-Used Rooms to Save Conditioned Air

Your HVAC system relies on balanced airflow to operate efficiently, and shutting some registers can upset the balance and cause a pressure increase within the system. The equipment then has to work harder to compensate, so it consumes more energy instead of less.

Myth 4: Leave the Thermostat Temperature Setting Constant to Save Energy

There’s a misconception that raising the thermostat setting at night or when no one is home is inefficient because it takes a lot of energy to bring the temperature back down again. Regular temperature setbacks of eight hours or more during such periods are a proven way to save energy, and it’s easy to accomplish with a programmable thermostat.

Myth 5: Use Sleep Mode to Reduce Your Computers’ Energy Consumption

If your computers are set to go into sleep mode whenever they’re not in use, you’re wasting energy. Sleep mode is fine for short periods, but you should put your computers on power strips and shut them down completely during longer periods while you’re at work and overnight while you’re sleeping.

For help debunking energy myths and advice on ways to reduce consumption in your Portland-area home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling today.

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