Tag Archives: home comfort

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.

Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your Home

Ways to Fix Uneven Cooling in Your HomeThere are many factors that can contribute to uneven cooling in your home. The ductwork may need attention that requires sealing leaks or cleaning duct runs. Or, your A/C could just be getting old coupled with heat gain/loss due to your home’s orientation to the sun. Following are common reasons and solutions to help you fix cooling problems and help you save energy.

Duct Problems

The ducts are the lungs of your home — taking in warm air through return grilles and pushing cooled air out of supply vents. Here are some solutions to help your home’s lungs breathe easier.

  • Leaks: Loose duct joints, damage and holes allow cooled air to escape before reaching the living spaces. Duct air leaks should be wrapped with metal duct tape.
  • Insulation: Cool air quickly takes on heat through thin duct walls. Make sure the ducts located in the attic or basement are insulated.
  • Sizing: If your ducts weren’t sized correctly, you’ll need to install a zoning system or retrofit the ducts.
  • Dirty: Dirty vents and air ducts should be cleaned to allow free airflow and to improve indoor air quality.

A/C Issues

The central air system itself could be the problem for uneven cooling. If your A/C is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading. Room additions increase the cooling load of your home, and the extra load could be too much for your A/C. Installing a ductless mini split or upgrading to a larger A/C unit may be in order.

Sun-facing Rooms

Heat gain/loss occurs in every room, and in every room it’s different. Sun-facing rooms take on heat quicker than north-facing rooms. When coupled with other HVAC issues, such as leaky ducts, you are going to have substantial comfort problems.

Window treatments help curb heat gain/loss issues by slowing heat gain into sun-facing rooms. Installing awnings provide shade for sun-facing rooms and substantially reduce heat gain. A simpler method is to install window film and layered drapes, which also help with heat loss during the heating months.

For professional service to address uneven cooling in your Portland home, contact 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). 

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).  

How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in Winter

How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in Winter

How to Stay Warm in a Power Outage in WinterWhen the snow and freezing rain of a typical Portland winter storm blow in, a power outage is often close behind. Take some time to prepare, though, and you can stay comfortable no matter the weather.

Staying Cozy Without Heating

If you have a propane or kerosene heater designed for use indoors and a very well ventilated room, this is your best bet for staying warm. If you have any suspicions that the room might lack good airflow, however, don’t risk it or you’re liable to end up ill from carbon monoxide exposure.

A safer bet is to make sure everyone in your household is dressed in layers of warm clothing and equipped with a warm blanket, then bring everyone into a small room. Your body heat, taken together, will keep the room warm.

When you know a storm’s coming, raise your thermostat temperature around 10 degrees so your home will take longer to cool down if the power goes out. If you have a fireplace, bring in extra firewood. Before winter hits, make time to seal air leaks around doors and windows, put up insulating drapes, and make other improvements that will help your home hold in warmth.

When a Generator is Worth It

A generator is always a nice convenience, but when your household includes a young child, elderly person or anyone else vulnerable to hypothermia, a generator can be a literal lifesaver. Depending on its size, a gasoline- or diesel-powered portable generator can power one or more circuits in your home. A smaller model can at least power an electric space heater.

If you prefer to have your whole home powered, consider investing in a standby generator. This is wired into your home’s electrical system and starts up automatically when a power outage occurs, then turns off when the power comes back. It’s connected to the natural gas mains, so it won’t run out of fuel.

For more ideas on staying cozy and safe during a power outage, talk with us at Roth Heating & Cooling in the 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). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “ehendel/Pixabay”

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance Tasks

New Year, New HVAC Maintenance TasksNow that the hectic holiday season is over, you have a chance to catch your breath and enjoy some downtime. This mid-winter lull is also a good opportunity to give your HVAC system some attention. Here’s a handy checklist of HVAC maintenance tasks that can keep your system operating reliably and efficiently throughout the remainder of the winter:

Replace Your Air Filter

Ideally, you should be checking the filter once a month over the winter and putting in a fresh one whenever you see signs of debris accumulation. This is a chore that’s easy to neglect when you’re busy getting prepared for the holidays, so if you missed your December check, make it a priority now. A clean filter is important because it keeps your heating system running efficiently and lowers the risk of airflow restrictions that can cause overheating and an unexpected system shut down.

Clean Up Around Your Outdoor Unit

If you have a heat pump, now’s a good time to get rid of collected debris around the outdoor unit that might negatively affect its performance and energy efficiency. Pick a mild day and head outdoors to clear away any dead vegetation, missed fallen leaves, twigs or broken branches. Then, rinse off the condenser coil with lukewarm water to remove any buildup of dust that can interfere with efficient heat transfer.

Give Your HVAC Registers Some TLC

Clean, open and unobstructed vents and cold air returns ensure even heating and consistent temperatures from room to room in your home, and they help maintain good system airflow so your heating equipment operates efficiently. Giving the vents the attention they deserve is easy: simply take your vacuum along and visit each room to clean and check each vent/return grille.

Replace Your Thermostat Batteries

Your thermostat runs on electricity, so it’s easy to forget about replacing its backup batteries. Putting fresh batteries in periodically is important, though, because it lets the thermostat retain your programming and temperature settings when there’s a power outage.

For more expert advice about HVAC maintenance for 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). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “TeroVesalainen/Pixabay”

Prevent Water Heater Damage This Winter

Prevent Water Heater Damage This WinterPortland winters can take a toll on your water heater, leaving you with cold showers and icy baths when temperatures plummet. The good news is that you can take steps now to lower the risk of water heater damage this winter. Keep the following prevention tips in mind to protect your water heater.

Flush Sediment From Your Water Heater

Sediment can build up inside your water heater as minerals accumulate in the bottom part of it. Over time, this sediment can make it more difficult for your water heater to work properly, since it needs more energy to heat your water. Have a technician inspect your water heater for sediment buildup and flush it as needed. This helps prevent you from running out of hot water this winter.

Insulate Your Water Heater

Just as you can insulate your pipes to stop them from freezing, you can also insulate your water heater to help save energy and protect it from damage. If you have an electric water heater, consider covering it with neoprene foam to insulate it this winter. For gas water heaters, you’ll most likely need to use fiberglass pipe insulation, along with aluminum foil tape to secure it. Insulation helps prevent water heater damage and also keeps the water in your heater warmer than usual. This reduces wear and tear on your water heater and lowers your energy usage.

Schedule an Inspection

Having your water heater checked for faulty parts helps lower your risk of losing hot water this winter. A technician can check your gas or electric water heater parts for any signs of damage and replace or repair them as needed.

Watch for Rusty Water

If the water coming out of your sinks and other fixtures has a rusty color, this can indicate a problem with your water heater. Have a technician check your water heater to determine if it needs to be fixed or replaced.

If your water heater needs maintenance or repairs this winter, please contact Roth Heating & Cooling. We offer dependable heating and cooling services for homeowners in the 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). 

 

Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season

Why the Gift of Home Comfort is Ideal This Season Whether it’s for yours or another’s, why not give the gift of home comfort this holiday season? It’s easy to take for granted when the furnace is working and the energy bills are reasonable. If someone you know could use a hand to lower heating bills or creating a more efficient home, why not consider one of these suggestions.

A Maintenance Contract

Professional HVAC maintenance improves the performance of HVAC systems, lowers energy bills and reduces the risk of system breakdowns. Maintenance contracts offer convenience, discounts on repairs and labor, as well as preferred appointment scheduling.

Programmable Thermostat

If someone on your gift list has an aging or outdated thermostat, consider giving them a gift certificate from an HVAC contractor for a new thermostat. The contractor can help them select and install the best thermostat to use with their system. Programmable thermostats give them precise control over home temperatures and take the effort out of managing temperatures based on their daily schedules.

An Energy Audit

If you know someone who is struggling with high energy bills, consider hiring an HVAC contractor or licensed energy auditor to evaluate the home. They might find a high rate of air infiltration or inadequate insulation in parts of the home. If you’re handy, you could volunteer to seal the leaks and help them add more insulation, both of which are affordable ways to increase home comfort.

Temperature Gun

A digital temperature gun is a point-and-shoot device that measures surface temperatures instantly. Using one to find energy losses throughout the home will provide a good starting point to find leaks and inadequate insulation. They’re inexpensive and fun for the curious. Besides learning home temperatures, they reveal outdoor conditions, and temperatures inside kitchen appliances.

Helping others with gifts that enhance home comfort are rewarding for both the giver and receiver. If you’d like to learn more about these gifts and ideas, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing 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). 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? 

Holiday Fire Hazards: Are You at Risk? The holiday season is a time for colorful decorations and get-togethers with family and friends. Unfortunately, the holidays are also a risky period when an average of 47,000 house fires occur that cause 500 fatalities each year. For a safer home this season, use these tips to avoid holiday fire hazards.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Have smoke detectors installed in strategic areas on each level of your home, such as in the kitchen and near sleeping areas. Press the test button on each device once a month to ensure that it’s fully functional, replace the batteries in early winter, and you can cut your risk of becoming a fire-related statistic in half.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

Buy a fire extinguisher for each floor of your home, learn how to use it properly and place each one where it’s easily reached in the event of a fire. Choose A-B-C rated extinguishers that can put out fires caused by the three most common causes: combustibles like wood and paper, flammable liquids/gases and electrical sources. Opt for the largest-capacity extinguisher that you can easily lift and carry.

Take Precautions With Supplemental Heat Sources

If you plan to use a space heater for extra warmth this winter, make sure it’s one with an auto-shut off that kicks in if the unit tips over, and place it several feet away from combustible materials, like upholstered furniture, window coverings and the Christmas tree. If you use the fireplace, make sure the damper is open when you light it, and have a protective firescreen in place to prevent sparks from escaping.

Get Safety-Wise With Holiday Decorations

Switch to LED holiday lights that emit very little heat, replace any frayed/damaged extension cords and don’t overload your electrical outlets. Real trees can become a fire hazard as they dry out, so opt for an artificial, fire retardant-treated tree, and use a sturdy, stable tree stand. And, don’t forget to unplug all your holiday lights each night before you head to bed.

To learn more about preventing holiday fire hazards in your Portland-area 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). 

Green Heating for a Sustainable Winter

Green Heating for a Sustainable WinterWhen you think of sustainable heating, alternatives like active solar and geothermal systems might come to mind. Even if it’s not feasible to make major retrofits like these, you can still take steps toward green heating so you have a more sustainable home this winter.

Here are some suggestions on how to heat greener to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your utility bills:

Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

If sustainability is your goal, you’ll want to tighten up your home’s envelope to reduce energy waste. This is essential, regardless of the method you use to heat your home. Having an energy audit performed is a good place to start, because it can pinpoint exactly where heat loss is occurring, and your inspection report will list recommended solutions, like:

  • Air sealing the attic and adding more insulation between the floor joists
  • Weatherizing the exterior to limit air leakage
  • Upgrading to double- or triple-pane gas-filled windows

Optimize Your Existing HVAC System’s Efficiency

If your current heating equipment is relatively new, or a replacement isn’t in the budget, you might think it’s impossible to go greener but that’s not the case. Since sustainability is all about reducing reliance on fossil fuels, making sure your heating system uses the least amount possible is a step in the right direction. To do so, have the equipment professionally tuned-up before heating season starts, make sure all your heating vents stay open and unobstructed, and check the air filter monthly and replace it as soon as you see any build up of dirt and debris.

Make the Most of Today’s Technology

If you’re considering replacing your existing equipment, you have an opportunity to take advantage of efficiency-boosting technological advancements like a smart thermostat that learns your habits and automatically fine-tunes your energy consumption, or zoning for greater control if you have a large or multi-story home. A variable-speed air handler, and an ultra-efficient heat pump paired with a two-stage gas furnace are other green heating options worth considering.

For expert advice about green heating solutions for 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). 

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