Tag Archives: energy efficiency

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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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).

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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).

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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).

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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).

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Tips for Reducing Energy Costs During Cooler Weather

Tips for Reducing Energy Costs During Cooler WeatherThe major components of winter comfort include a home’s heating system, the water heater and the windows. Increasing the energy efficiency of each of these will cut energy costs without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

  • Have your heating system serviced. Having an HVAC professional maintain your furnace or heat pump will cut energy consumption. The cleaning and adjustments technicians make improve efficiency and safety. Running a system that’s dirty or out of adjustment not only increases energy bills, but it also creates premature and unnecessary wear.
  • Turn down the thermostat. The ideal indoor temperature ranges from 68 to 78 degrees. In the winter, consider lowering the daytime temperature to 68 and reduce it even more at night. Use warmer bedding and clothing to make up the difference. A programmable thermostat will take all the effort out of adjusting the temperature daily.
  • Tend to the water heater. Depending on your family size, heating water could be the second-highest energy expenditure during the winter. The water heater is often the most neglected appliances in homes, but it’s easy to improve its energy efficiency by turning down its temperature to 120 degrees. Not only will it consume less energy, it will also last longer.
    Draining a few quarts from the bottom of the tank two or three times a year also improves its performance and increases its durability. Wrapping it with an insulating blanket, found at home improvement centers, cuts its energy usage.
  • Deal with the windows. Unless you have Energy Star or thermal-rated windows, you can lose a lot of heat through the glass and frames. Glass has almost no ability to resist heat transfer, and metal frames conduct heat outdoors readily. Closing the window coverings at night and opening them when it’s sunny will help cut those thermal losses. Poorly sealed windows let in cold drafts that caulk or weatherstripping can stop.

The pros at Roth Heating & Cooling can improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. We’ve provided top-notch HVAC and plumbing 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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Energy Efficient Reasons to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star Logo

Energy Efficient Reasons to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star LogoReplacing outdated HVAC equipment with more efficient pieces can be daunting, but help is at hand. Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program for testing and rating appliances, products and practices so homeowners can save money and energy while reducing their carbon footprint. The Energy Star logo can guide your search for equipment that will trim your bills significantly.

Leading the Way to Efficiency

Developed 20 years ago, the EPA’s Energy Star program has helped homeowners and businesses nationwide make more efficient HVAC product choices, saving billions of dollars in energy expenses, while preventing an estimated 2 billion metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the environment.

The Energy Star label, which signifies that the product exceeds government-mandated minimum standards for efficiency, provides information on energy consumption and estimated annual costs to run the appliance.

Earning the Energy Star Logo

The EPA uses a set of strict guidelines for awarding the Energy Star label. Besides delivering features and performance in line with consumer demands, the products must also be energy efficient. Since Energy Star-rated products usually cost more than similar, more conventional models, the product must be efficient enough to allow consumers to recover the difference in cost through greater energy savings within a reasonable time period. Further, performance and energy consumption must be measured and verified through rigorous testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory and reviewed by a third-party certification process.

HVAC-related products that may bear the Energy Star logo include central air conditioners, ductless heating and cooling systems, water heaters, ventilation fans, dehumidifiers, air purifiers, boilers, furnaces and heat pumps.

Finding Energy Star-Rated Equipment

Ask your HVAC contractor about Energy Star-rated equipment, or look for the blue logo when you shop at a home improvement store. You can also shop for Energy Star-rated products online by using Energy Star as part of your search criteria, or visiting the Energy Star website to see a list of approved equipment.

To learn more about the Energy Star logo, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We’ve been providing great customer service to our Portland-area customers 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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Helpful Advice on Choosing a New HVAC System

Helpful Advice on Choosing a New HVAC SystemChoosing a new HVAC system involves a series of decisions that will affect the comfort and lifetime costs of cooling and heating your home. To ensure you make the best decisions to meet your needs, it’s important to work with an HVAC professional that can provide information on best practices for HVAC sizing, selection and installation.

HVAC System Types

The most popular HVAC systems in U.S. homes are forced-air systems. They use a network of ducts to supply conditioned air to the home, and return airflow is cooled or heated by the system. This cycle continues until the thermostat set point is reached. Following are popular forced-air HVAC systems:

  • Furnace – Most furnaces use natural gas to heat the home. Propane and oil may also be used as an energy source.
  • A/C – Central A/C systems are often paired with furnaces to provide home cooling using an evaporator coil and shared blower.
  • Heat pumpsHeat pump systems operate much like A/Cs. Though, heat pumps work in reverse to provide energy-efficient home heating, in addition to home cooling.

Efficiency Ratings

Efficiency ratings can help you estimate the lifetime costs of HVAC equipment, rather than making a decision based on the initial cost alone. The lifetime cost is the sum of the estimated energy usage, maintenance, repairs, purchase and installation. Keep an eye on the following efficiency ratings when shopping:

  • The annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating indicates the efficiency of a furnace as a percentage. For example, a 97 AFUE means that 97 percent of energy input is converted to home heating.
  • The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is a factor of energy input to cooling output during the cooling season. SEER is used for A/Cs and heat pumps.
  • The heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) is a factor of energy input to heating output during the heating season.

The higher the rating number for HSPF and SEER, the greater efficiency and energy savings.

For assistance choosing a new HVAC system, contact the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling today. We’ve provided HVAC solutions for Portland area homeowners for nearly 40 years.

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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Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You’re Away

Going on Vacation? Consider These Ways to Save While You're AwayGetting ready for your summer vacation? Don’t forget to take the time to prepare your home for energy conservation. Keeping your home as energy efficient as possible will help you come home to a comfortable house and a reasonable utility bill. Here’s a look at some of the easiest ways to save while you’re away.

Change Thermostat Settings

Think you should shut down your air conditioner while you’re on vacation? Think again. Doing so will mean that you don’t spend money on cooling your home during your getaway, but it also means your house will become a lot hotter than normal. This can wreak havoc on woodwork and cause your system to work extra hard to restore normal temperatures when you get home.

The smarter solution is to turn the programmable thermostat up by about four or five degrees. This causes the system to cycle on less frequently but won’t allow your home to heat up too much.

Utilize Window Treatments

You can reduce the energy your A/C needs to exude even further by using blinds, curtains and drapes to shade your home and act as a barrier against radiant heat from the sun.

Adjust Refrigerator Settings

For relatively short vacations, consider turning your refrigerator’s thermostat to a slightly warmer setting to save energy. If you’ll be gone for a prolonged period of time, though, it’s probably in your best interest to empty the unit and unplug it entirely. Be sure to leave the door open to prevent mold and mildew.

Unplug Devices

Electrical devices and appliances that are plugged in while not in use are true energy vampires. One of the simplest ways to save while you’re away is to go around and unplug TVs, computers, clocks, and other devices before your departure.

Set Timer Lights

Keep your home safe without wasting energy. Placing security lights on a timer ensures that you don’t build up a hefty bill during vacation.

Contact the experts at Roth Heating & Cooling to learn more effective ways to save while you’re away this summer. We serve the greater Portland area.

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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