Tag Archives: energy efficiency

Air Flow: How Pet Doors Affect HVAC Efficiency

Air Flow: How Pet Doors Affect HVAC EfficiencyIf you have a furry family member, a dedicated pet entry can make outdoor trips less of a hassle for everyone. If your pet door isn’t efficient, though, it can have a negative effect on your heating and cooling budget. Whether you’re considering adding a pet door, or you have one already in place, it’s good to know how it impacts energy efficiency.

How a Pet Door Correlates to Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling your home represents almost half the energy your family uses annually. Air leaks through the exterior envelope can drive up your consumption and monthly utility bills, and waste your energy dollars. A pet door creates a large opening through the envelope, so making it as energy efficient as possible is vital to keep heated air inside during the winter, and hot air out in the summer.

Aim for Efficiency When Choosing a Pet Door

If you’re shopping for a new pet door, you’ll find a wide array of choices available, from basic ones with plastic frames and flaps, to durable ribbed-steel units with built-in electronic sensors. Regardless of a model’s bells and whistles, only consider energy efficient pet doors that :

  • Feature rigid materials and ample insulation.
  • Seal securely against the elements.
  • Function smoothly regardless of the outdoor temperature.

Reduce Air Leaks Around Your Existing Door

If you have a pet door that’s a source of air leakage, here’s how to make it more efficient and airtight:

  • Remove the pet door’s frame and add adhesive-backed weatherstripping around the cut-out in your entry door. Then, put the unit back in place and seal around it with a bead of caulking.
  • Measure and cut a piece of flexible rubber insulation to fit each flap and install it on the door’s interior side. To boost the door’s wind resistance further, add magnets on the flap’s interior corners and sides if possible.
  • Install self-adhesive brush strips all the way around the door’s opening to help limit air leakage even more.

To learn more effective ways to improve energy efficiency around your Portland-area 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). 

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Outdoor Power

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Outdoor PowerThere are lots of reasons why you may need a reliable power source outside your Portland home. Perhaps you want to install a hot tub, power a garden pond water feature, or add lighting in an outbuilding. Maybe you simply need a short-term power supply for an outdoor event, or you want a convenient spot to plug in your electric yard equipment. Whenever you’re dealing with electricity, safety is paramount, so be sure to follow these smart tips for specific types of temporary and permanent outdoor power:

Outdoor Outlets

Strategically-placed outdoor outlets can give you a convenient source of power for all sorts of purposes. To meet the national electrical code standards, ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are required in any area exposed to moisture, including the exterior of your home. Outdoor GFCI outlets have a spring-loaded cover that keeps them weatherproof, and they automatically trip to prevent shocks and electrocution. If your existing outdoor outlets aren’t GFCI, or you need extra ones installed, it’s wise to consult a licensed electrician.

Extension Cords

When you need temporary power anywhere outdoors, an extension cord that’s plugged in to a GFCI outlet is an ideal solution. Extension cords aren’t all created equal, though, so make sure you choose one that’s:

  • Designed for outdoor use. Outdoor extension cords are ruggedly constructed with durable covers and extra insulation to resist moisture, temperature variations, and sun damage.
  • Rated correctly for your equipment. Only use a cord that can easily handle the amp rating of the device or equipment you’ll be operating, based on the wire gauge and length.

Permanent Power

In certain situations, you may want to install a permanent power source remotely, such as lights and outlets in a workshop, or a post lamp to illuminate your driveway. To ensure safety, the electrical wiring for this kind of outdoor power must be integrated into your home’s breaker panel, and run in a conduit that’s buried underground, so it’s a job for an experienced electrician.

For expert assistance with any outdoor power needs for your Portland-area home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Energy Efficiency Room-by-Room Savings

Energy Efficiency Room-by-Room SavingsMost homeowners are regularly on the lookout for ways to save money with more efficient practices in their homes. One way to discover ways to save through energy efficiency is to go through your home, room by room, and see where you can put the following efficient practices into play.

Bedroom

  1. Get rid of the incandescent light bulbs. Replace them with efficient LED bulbs, which use 70-90 percent less energy.
  2. You don’t need lots of general lighting in a bedroom. Focus on spot lighting, such as a table lamp for reading.
  3. Turn all electronics off when it’s time for bed. You’ll sleep better and save money on electricity.
  4. Turn the thermostat back a few degrees when it’s time to sleep. You’ll want to initiate this practice for when the household is away from home as well.

Living Room

  1. Purchase more efficient electronic appliances. TVs, DVD players, routers and other appliances rated by the Department of Energy’s Energy Star program should be your top choice.
  2. Plug all appliances into a power strip. Turn it off when appliances are not in use so that they are not still draining power.
  3. Use a ceiling fan with reversible blades to cool off in the summer, and to push heat down from the ceiling in winter. Flip a switch and run blades counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter. This allows you to set your thermostat up in summer and down in winter.

Bathroom

  1. Install exhaust ventilation to the outdoors to move moisture out of the bathroom. This helps prevent mold, and in summer, will keep the relative humidity down. You’ll feel cooler when the humidity is lower.
  2. Install efficient, low water use fixtures, including low-flow toilets and showerheads.
  3. Install an efficient water heater.

Kitchen

  1. Install Energy Star-rated appliances, including refrigerators and dishwashers.
  2. Use the microwave whenever possible to cook.
  3. Keep the lid on pots while cooking and reduce cooking time.

For more on practices promoting energy efficiency in your home, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve served Portland since 1976.

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy Efficiency

How Paint Color Choice Affects Energy EfficiencyMaintaining a comfortable home year-round costs less when its energy efficiency is high. While insulation, Energy Star appliances, and an airtight structure all help, so does its exterior color.

Colors absorb or reflect heat. By some estimations, a dark exterior absorbs 90 percent of the heat from the sunshine that strikes it. Light colors reflect the heat, which keeps the building cooler.

Portland has more heating degree days on average than cooling, which means that your home needs more heating than cooling.

Unless you prefer cooler indoor temperatures year-round, your choices for exterior colors are broad in this climate. Neutral to darker hues will warm your home during the heating season, which lasts longer and requires more energy than summer cooling.

Why Colors Matter

Matching colors to the local climate does contribute to the home’s overall energy efficiency. If you live east of Portland in a lower elevation, more solar radiation will strike your home and roof, and summer temperatures are warmer. Lighter exterior colors and roofing materials will cut some of the heat gain that occurs in the summer.

Conversely, a home closer to the coast with a dark roof and exterior will absorb more heat, making the home easier to warm in the winter. The sun’s heat will warm the exterior that will penetrate through the walls and into the rooms.

Benefits of an Efficient Home

Optimizing your home for efficiency cuts energy costs and reduces the wear and tear on your heating and cooling system. Besides lower electric and gas bills, your system may require fewer repairs and could last longer. HVAC systems use the most energy and are the most expensive appliance in the typical home.

If painting your home isn’t in your plans, you can increase its energy efficiency by having your HVAC system serviced by a pro annually to maximize its performance. For more information, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, 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).  

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for Less

Winter Furnace Efficiency: Achieving Comfort for LessIn the chilly, rainy Portland winters, any steps you take toward improving furnace efficiency pays off in terms of comfort and savings. Better yet, most of the improvements you can make are easy and affordable.

Help Your Furnace Do its Job

One of the best things you can do to improve your furnace efficiency is to seal up any leaks in your duct system. In the average home, the ducts lose as much as 20 percent of the air they carry through leaks. Inspect your exposed ducts and make sure the sealing around the joints is free of damage. Replace any damaged sealing. Look for holes in flexduct and fiberglass ducts. These should be patched or the flexduct replaced.

If you’re not using a programmable thermostat, consider switching. These themostats let you set energy-efficient temperatures for certain times of the day so you won’t waste energy by forgetting to turn the heat down when you’re out or in bed.

If a hard-to-heat part of the house is making you turn up your thermostat more than you’d really like, consider having a zoned system installed. This will let you direct more heat to the parts of the house that need it.

Stay Current on Maintenance

Even one season of neglecting maintenance will affect your furnace efficiency. Change your air filter on time, which is usually once a month for low-efficiency fiberglass models. Once or twice a year, take the covers off your air registers and vents, and clean them to remove dust buildup. Then vacuum out the inside of the duct behind them using your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment.

Every year, schedule a professional furnace inspection. Over the heating season, your furnace collects dust and can develop issues such as loose wires, a dirty burner, a wobbly blower fan, and other wear that brings down its efficiency. A heating and cooling technician can access areas of your heating system you can’t to clean and make repairs.

For help maximizing your furnace efficiency, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling anywhere around 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). 

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay”

Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Your Home’s Envelope

Learn How to Find Air Leaks in Your Home’s EnvelopeIn the average home, more than half of the conditioned air inside leaks out every hour, and an equal amount of unconditioned outdoor air gets drawn in to replace it. Finding and sealing air leaks in the envelope is vital to control that air exchange to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency and boost your comfort.

Identifying Where Leaks Occur

Air leakage usually occurs through gaps and cracks in the envelope that added together can have the same effect as leaving a window wide open year round. To find leaks, hold up a smoke pencil or burning stick of incense and watch the smoke column. If the smoke wavers in any of these areas, you’ve located a leak that needs sealing:

  • Window and door frames.
  • Crown moldings and baseboards.
  • Electrical outlet plates and light switches.
  • Appliance ventilation and exhaust fans.
  • Penetrations for pipes and wiring.
  • The fireplace.
  • In the attic, check around knee-walls, a chimney or furnace flue, plumbing vent pipes, dropped ceilings, and recessed light fixtures.
  • In the basement, check the spaces around the rim joists as well as any windows.

How to Seal Different Leak Sources

The most effective sealing method depends on the type of leak:

  • Leaks around fixed window frames and narrow gaps around attic and shell penetrations can be sealed with caulk. Use all-purpose latex caulk indoors, and a more durable silicone or siliconized latex product outdoors.
  • For leaks around moveable components like doors and window sashes, use weatherstripping. Vinyl gaskets are best around an older door, while tension-seal or V-shaped weatherstripping are ideal for tight-fitted doors and casement or double-hung windows.
  • For larger spaces around the rim joists and penetrations through the exterior envelope, use expandable spray foam.
  • Around a chimney/flue and recessed lights, install metal flashing then apply heat-resistant caulk.

If you’re concerned about locating all the air leaks around your home, schedule an energy audit. A trained and experienced auditor uses specialized equipment that’s able to pinpoint even tiny leaks so they can be sealed effectively.

For help sealing air leaks in your Portland 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Name of Artist/Shutterstock”

Here’s What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label Means

Here's What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label MeansWhen you’re shopping for HVAC systems, home appliances, and other consumer products, look for the EnergyGuide label. It’s the yellow label attached to most energy-consuming HVAC systems and appliances. The labels are loaded with valuable information about the energy consumption and efficiency of each product for you to compare.

Look for the Yellow Tag

One of the reasons EnergyGuide labels are so valuable is that they give you a clue as to how much a particular HVAC unit or appliance will cost through its service life. Instead of basing your important repair-or-replace decision based solely on the price tag cost, it’s wiser to compare the total costs for owning a product.

Additionally, higher-efficiency HVAC units and appliances generally provide better service, such as greater comfort, quieter operation, and fewer breakdowns. When you reap the rewards of energy savings month after month, you also help the environment!

Interpreting EnergyGuide Labels

The type of information contained on EnergyGuide labels is basically the same regardless of the product. Moreover, the information is current within one year since manufacturers are required to submit a report annually for all applicable products in production.

  • The type of product, features, capacity, and size, such as “Water Heater — Natural Gas, Capacity (first hour rating); 57 Gallons,” is located in the top left corner of the label.
  • Manufacturer, model, and make are in the top right corner.
  • If you’re shopping for a central air or heat pump system, the efficiency rating is expressed as SEER (cooling) and HSPF (heating) in the middle box. Higher SEER and HSPF ratings indicate higher energy efficiency.
  • A bar graphic is displayed beneath the rated product as it compares to the efficiency of similar products. This easily lets you see how efficient different models are for comparison.
  • The bottom third of the label contains information on the estimated annual energy usage of the product, and the estimated annual operating cost of the product.

Let the EnergyGuide label and our experts at Roth Heating & Cooling help you make the best decisions for your Portland-area home’s HVAC installation. Contact us today to learn more!

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Public Domain/Wikipedia”

Keeping Your Windows Maintained

Keeping Your Windows MaintainedIn the never-ending quest to lower energy bills, sometimes homeowners overlook an important area: their windows. A significant amount of energy can be lost through your windows.

Where does this energy loss come from? Typically, there are two sources:

  1. Air leaks let conditioned air out and unconditioned air in. This forces your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a constant temperature. Air leaks can occur when windows aren’t properly installed. They can also just happen as a result of your house shifting and caulk shrinking over time.
  2. Heat transfer brings the sun’s heat inside in the summer. In the winter, it lets your furnace’s heat escape outside. Since glass has no insulating properties, heat moves through it very easily.

How can you reduce this energy loss? There are several options available.

  • Seal air leaks. This may sound complicated, but it usually just involves caulk and weatherstripping. Apply caulk around your window frames. Since caulk does crack and settle over time, be sure to check your caulk periodically and reapply as needed. Weatherstripping can be used around the window sash to form a seal when it’s closed.
  • Use window treatments. Blinds, curtains, and other types of window treatments make up for the insulation that glass lacks.
  • Shade the outside of the window. Strategically planted trees or shrubs can keep the sun off your window and reduce heat transfer. If plants aren’t an option, awnings provide the same benefit.
  • Use storm windows. Much like caulk and weatherstripping, storm windows help stop air transfer. You can choose from a broad range of different materials, types, and costs for storm windows. Just be sure to install them following the manufacturer’s directions, making sure they’re square with your current windows and form a seal.
  • Upgrade to new, more energy-efficient windows. Not only can new windows give you energy savings, but they can increase your property value, as well. If you decide to investigate this option, use the Energy Star ratings to help you find energy-efficient window choices.

Want to know more about maintaining the windows in your Portland-area home? Contact 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Hans/pixabay”

Simple Ways to Conserve Water this Spring

Simple Ways to Conserve Water this SpringYou’re on the right track when you’ve found a way to save both water and money in your everyday life. This is definitely something you can accomplish when you develop an effective plan to conserve water in your household. This endeavor can be helped along considerably by referring to the federal WaterSense program, whose whole purpose is encouraging the conservation of water in homes and businesses. Check out some WaterSense ideas for saving water at home:

  • Toilets — Toilets use the most water (and waste the most) in most homes. WaterSense-certified low-flow toilets do much better (by 20 percent on average) than the industry standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Not only do low-flow toilets use less water these days, modern technology also has made them so they’re much more effective at expelling waste in one flush. You’re not saving water if you need to flush the toilet twice. Moreover, the new dual-flush toilets just use 0.8 gallons per flush for removing liquid waste, while consuming more for eliminating solid waste.
  • Showers — Another way to conserve water is by altering your shower habits and installing low-flow, WaterSense-approved showerheads. These shower heads output less than 2 gallons of water per minute, as compared to standard shower heads that deliver more than 2.5 gallons per minute. The good news is that the low-flow showerheads, in most cases, don’t change your shower experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to notice that less water is spraying out the shower head.
  • Bathroom faucets — Nowadays, household faucets cannot exceed a minimum standard of outputting 2.2 gallons per minute. This is a big change from 25 years ago, when faucets sprayed water at 3-7 gallons per minute. And like with shower heads, the user won’t notice that less water is coming out.
  • Just use less water — Don’t water your yard or garden any more than necessary, for example.

For more advice on how to conserve water in your Portland area home, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We have nearly 40 years of experience providing plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services to Portland and the surrounding communities.

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

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “cglandmark/Shutterstock”