How to Achieve Home Comfort Between Air Conditioner Season & Heat Season

More than half of the utility bill of your home is comprised of heating and cooling costs. The HVAC system uses more energy than any other system. You would want your home to be very comfortable, perfectly warm during the winters and suitably cool during the summers. At the same time, you would also want to keep the energy costs in check. The best way to do this is to make sure that the HVAC system installed in your home is maintained & in fine working condition.

There are many wonderful advantages of having air conditioning and heating. Home air conditioning keeps a home cooler during the summer months than fans. Using fans in a home sometimes just keeps the warm air circulating throughout a home. But with an air conditioner unit you do not have to worry about that problem. Home air conditioners will keep every room in a home nice and cool. Similarly, heating systems keep your home warm and comfortable for not only you, but your children and visitors to your home.

It is best to set home comfort systems at a set temperature this will keep the comfort level of a house consistent throughout the day and night. You do not want to constant change the temperature or turn the unit on and off, this can cause a huge change in your electric bill. Keeping it set on the same temperature will regulate the temperature and your bill.

How to Maintain Your HVAC System

Just as you do with your vehicles or other appliances, you must ensure periodic cleaning and servicing of your heating and air conditioning systems. Ideally, maintenance services must be performed on the system at least twice in a year. Consider these items that you can handle on your own to-do list:

  • Clean your system. The outside unit must be cleaned to prevent the buildup of mold and mildew within the fins.
  • Monitor your air filters. It is most important to clean the air filter on a monthly basis. Your system can have a permanent filter or a disposable one. With use, the filter gets clogged with debris, dust and pollutants, hampering the amount of air moved by the system. This reduces the efficiency of the system even as it increases the energy usage. While a dirty disposal filter can be replaced, the permanent filter should be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Clean your vents. Cleaning the vents is another thing to be done. The buildup of dust and debris blocks the air from reaching your rooms and the indoor air quality suffers. The vents must be dusted or vacuumed every month to keep them free-flowing.
  • Seal leaks. Make sure that all possible places of air leaks in the home are sealed. The attic is a key area for cooling or heat loss and you must see to it that it is properly insulated. The crawlspaces, basement and spaces around the windows and doors should also be checked.
  • Stay up-to-date. If your home has an old HVAC system, you can think about getting it replaced with a new, more efficient, energy star rated system.

Timely repairs and regular maintenance services help you have an efficient HVAC system and enjoy a comfortable home. It is better if you don’t rely on DIY methods to handle the heating and air conditioning issues. You must hire the specialized services of a certified, trained and experienced HVAC professional. To find the leading HVAC companies in our area, you can search online and you’ll find our site among our competitors’. By contacting us, you will get all the information required to help you decide what your system needs this year.

What is Radiant Floor Heating?

There is a method of providing heat for a home that will not push allergens around the house, nor result in stratified layers of warm and cool air in the home – radiant floor heating. Those two issues are the main complaints in forced air systems. If you’ve ever noticed that your feet are cold and your head is warm when you’re in your home in winter, you’ve gotten a feel for the stratified air effect. So how do you heat a home without blowing dust around and getting cold feet?

Radiant Floor Heating Systems

Heated floors are not a new concept. Wealthy Romans used to have slaves tend to fires that would direct hot air underneath the marble and tile floors. And even as far back as 5,000 BCE in Manchuria and Korea, fire was used to heat stone or ceramic floors with hot air via flue. These days we can accomplish this without the ridiculous fire hazard or forced labor.

While hot air can still be used for heating floors, there are two main methods of modern floor heating: electric and hydronic systems. Each method is best suited to specific applications and scenarios in order to be cost effective and efficient. Although either method can be used for whole-house or room-specific heating. They can be installed in a variety of ways depending on budget, heating needs and whether being installed as the home is built or post-construction.

Electric Floor Heating

Using electricity in a radiant floor heating application is accomplished through electrical resistance wiring that can be cast into poured concrete (“wet system”), installed underneath the floor covering (“dry system) or even installed directly to the wood subfloor.

If you just want to heat a specific room, and not install a system across the entire house, electric systems are a good choice for this. The installation complexity is low and the cost of installation for one or two rooms is usually much less than a hydronic system.

Their main disadvantage is that their operation can be much less efficient than in a hydronic system.

Hydronic Floor Heating

As with electric floor heating, hydronic systems can be either “wet” or “dry” installations. Hot water or a mixture of propylene glycol and water is pumped through tubing either in the concrete slab of the home or underneath the floor covering. These systems are most often more efficient than electric ones and can utilize the boiler in a home to provide the heated water.

If you would like to discuss your options in radiant floor heating, give us at AB & B Heating and Air Conditioning a call today!

What are Heat Pumps?

The Heat Pump

Does your HVAC system lack electric-resistance or gas heating? Does it have a reversing valve? Then that is a heat pump! Technically speaking, all AC units are heat pumps. But when we say ‘heat pump’ what we mean is a device capable of using the refrigerant cycle to extract usable heat from one area and transfer it to another area where it is desired.

Obtaining Heat From Cold Air

The heat pump cycle is able to extract usable heat energy from places that are ordinarily considered cold to us. Even in winter, an HVAC system with reversing valve, or a dedicated heat pump, is able to extract heat from the winter air. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Any substance above absolute zero has heat energy in it. So the winter air in a good portion of the continental United States has a lot of heat energy in it, even if it feels cold to us.

A good way to understand how a heat pump works is the refrigerator-door analogy. Suppose that to cool your house all you have is a refrigerator and a door frame that fits it perfectly. During the summer you’re going to turn the refrigerator so that the inside faces in and blows cool air inside, and puts the hot air from the coils on the back, outside. During the winter you’re going to turn the refrigerator around and use the coil on the back to heat your house. The heat pump and heating cycle on a modern split system or package unit, functions very much like that.

Other Style Heat Pumps

The heat pump above is an air sourced heat pump, or ASHP. There is another type of heat pump that is very similar, but instead of using the outside air, it uses an antifreeze solution that has been circulated through the ground known as a ground source heat pump, or GSHP. The ground maintains a more steady temperature throughout the year than the air does and is better at absorbing or dissipating heat, and makes for a much higher-efficiency unit. Some of them are even able to obtain above 100% efficiency ratings!

Heat pumps aren’t a terribly complex issue but they can be a little confusing as most people are familiar with them working one way – bringing cool air inside and moving hot air outside. If you can imagine the reverse of that then you have a good working understanding of what a heat pump is and how it works.

Remember to keep up on all the latest HVAC information and technology by subscribing to the A B & B Air Conditioning and Heat blog.

Heat Pump Vs. Furnaces For Heating

You have many things to consider if you are in the market for a new residential heating system. Heat pumps and furnaces are the two most popular options with homeowners in America. Each is reliable and effective but they have their own unique advantages and disadvantages to think about before making a final decision.

A furnace may use propane, natural gas, oil or electricity as its energy source. Most homes in urban areas are connected to natural gas lines or electricity for heating purposes while houses in rural areas typically rely on propane or oil. Gas and electricity are delivered continuously and homeowners pay for usage on a monthly basis. If you use propane or oil, you will have to pay to fill the tank and refill it when it is empty.

Heat pumps are powered by electricity. They usually have an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. Unlike fuel-based furnaces, heat pumps do not produce carbon monoxide and there is no risk of the fuel igniting or exploding.

Furnaces operate by detecting changes in temperature and responding according to where the user sets the thermostat. When the furnace turns on, it produces heat that is blown through the ductwork and vents by an air handler. The system returns the air to the furnace, which filters, heats and redistributes the air until the indoor temperature reaches the level set on the thermostat.

A heat pump circulates refrigerant through copper coils located inside the outdoor and indoor units. When the unit is set to heat, the refrigerant in the coils in the outdoor unit evaporates into gas and absorbs heat. The gas travels indoors where the gas is condensed back into liquid. The condensing process releases the heat and the air handler distributes the heat throughout the building.

In most cases, a furnace is suitable for even the coldest climates while heat pumps are less efficient in sub-freezing temperatures. Most heat pumps have backup heating systems that kick in when outdoor temperatures are below freezing. When this happens, operating costs are significantly increased.

Doing the proper research can help you make the right decision when you are purchasing a heating system for your home. If you are having trouble determining whether your home is better suited for a furnace or a heat pump, a local HVAC contractor can help you make the right choice.

Follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Tips For Winterizing Your Water Heater

Winter is the one season of the year when you’ll be using hot water for almost everything due to the below-freezing temperatures. Therefore, it is crucial you prepare your hot water heater for the cold season to avoid any disappointments in the future. The following is a detailed guide on winterizing your water heater.

How to Winterize Your Water Heater

Use the tips below to winterize your water heater in order to avoid breakdowns:

  1. Before you start working on the water heater, remember to unplug it from the power outlet if it’s an electric heater. If you’re using a gas heater, turn off the gas valve. After all, you do not want to get burned while servicing the water heater.
  2. Turn off the main water inlet. To do this, you will need to identify the incoming water line. In some homes, the main shut off valve may be located in the basement where the main water pipe enters the house. In many cases, however, the shut off valve is located at the exterior hose connection. Once you’re sure no water is getting into the tank and no heating is taking place, you can move on to the next step.
  3. Every water heater tank has a drain at the bottom. Before opening the drain valve, be sure to connect a garden hose to the connector of the drain. Use a bucket to collect water from the tank. Ideally, you should close the drain valve when the bucket is full and empty it before repeating the same process until the tank is completely empty. This should not take more than half an hour. Remember to open the air vent at the top of the tank. If you don’t, water will not come out of the tank.
  4. Open all faucets in the house, including faucets in the bathroom, basement and kitchen sink, and leave them open. They should drain some water before stopping.
  5. Insulate the water heater system properly to prevent heat losses. Use duct tape to hold the insulation material in place around the inlet and outlet pipes of the water heater. The hot water tank should also be covered with an insulating blanket and duct tape used to hot it in place. This will help to improve the energy efficiency and performance of the water heater.

Consider winterizing your water heater a few weeks before the onset of winter. Follow our blog for more articles that keep your HVAC system running efficiently and saving you money.

Temperature Control Tips & Tricks For HVAC Systems

With the right maintenance and settings, HVAC systems can control indoor temperatures much more precisely and efficiently. Homeowners may achieve this goal with the help of these handy HVAC tips:

1. Clean the evaporator coils on air conditioning units. It will ensure that they can efficiently reduce the indoor temperature. This component should be free of dirt, dust and moisture.

2. Place covers on condenser units in the winter. Use care not to accidentally turn on an air conditioner when Fahrenheit temperatures fall to less than 60; this can harm the equipment.

3. Trim nearby trees and bushes to ensure that they remain a minimum of 24 inches from HVAC grilles. Do not allow leaves or mowing debris to accumulate on them.

4. During the summer, turn up the air conditioning temperature. Energy expenses may fall by about one-eleventh when it is set just one degree higher.

5. Try to cool outdoor compressors by keeping them in the shade. This can cut cooling costs by as much as one-tenth and enable faster indoor temperature changes.

6. When condenser fans sound like they are hitting other components, they might be bent. It is much safer to replace the fan blade instead of attempting to straighten it.

7. Schedule tuneups of HVAC systems before cooling and heating seasons begin. This will promote optimal efficiency and dependability, helping to keep indoor temperatures under control at all times.

8. If possible, remove the oil port caps and apply a detergent-free lubricant to the motor in a condenser fan. Ten drops of oil is quite adequate.

9. Some HVAC filters can be washed monthly; this improves reliability and efficiency. A system’s printed directions normally provide specific instructions. Always fully dry a filter after cleaning it.

10. It is generally necessary to change air filters every 90 to 120 days. Be sure to use a high-quality replacement product, and keep in mind that different filters fit different equipment.

A skilled contractor can help you maintain dependable HVAC systems. Please contact our staff for equipment tuneups, filter replacements, repairs and all of your home’s cooling and heating needs.

What Is The Difference Between Electric Heat Pumps And Furnaces?

Heat pump and furnace are two different types of devices. The term heat pump may give the impression that it is used to generate heat but it is used mainly to transfer or circulate ambient heat. Such a device can be used for both cooling and heating. That is not the case with the furnace which burns fuel to generate heat and is used only for heating. A variety of fuel sources like LPG, coal, natural gas, wood or fuel oil are used to operate the furnace. Common furnace devices and machines include boilers, ovens and kilns while the heat pumps include devices that use some type of refrigerant. Following are some other differential factors.

Energy Efficiency
The heat pump simply distributes already available ambient heat so it is 30-40 percent more energy efficient compared to gas furnaces that burn fuel to generate heat. A heat pump consumes less energy because it does not have to generate new heat. At the same time, in areas where the temperature varies greatly between summer and winter months, the heat pump is not that efficient. If a unit with appropriate size is selected then a heat pump can be efficient. Manufacturers are now making energy efficient furnaces.

Safety Issues
The pilot light of the furnace poses some risk. It should not be operated near combustible items. It burns fuel and releases carbon monoxide. There is no such risk with electric heat pumps.

Convenience
If you need both heating and cooling then you have to buy two different devices – one device to heat and another to cool. The heat pump can be used for both heating and cooling purposes. A heat pump is better for places that see moderate climate while the furnace is better for places that are in cold climate area.

Cost
You can manage heating and cooling needs with only one heat pump device. If you buy furnace for heating then you have to buy another device for cooling. Consider prices of electricity and gas in your area to decide which type of device is better for you.

If you need guidance on deciding what type of device is best for your purpose then take help of an expert in this field. Call for all your heating and furnace needs.

Purchasing A Service Agreement: Benefits And Considerations

Air conditioners are very important contributors to the comfort of a household. This is why you should schedule up regular service for the AC. This will include taking out a service agreement with a reliable provider. There are several benefits of a service agreement for these conditioners. The useful life of the conditioner is increased by regular service. This ensures that the unit serves you for a longer period and therefore you will stay on for long before you replace it.

The service provided reduces the chances of a breakdown. The technician involved ensures that all blockages are removed, any leaks are repaired, all the parts involved in motion are lubricated using quality lubricants and all the belts that show signs of worn out are replaced. In addition, they ensure wire connections are tightened, the refrigerant is replaced or recharged. All this serve to reduce the chances that the AC will breakdown any time soon.

The coil freeze, a very common problem with ACs, can be detected before it puts pressure on the compressor. This means that you will be able to avoid a very expensive repair. It also ensures that your comfort is not disrupted. Well, there are several factors that you should consider before you enter into an agreement with a service provider.

What to consider when purchasing a service agreement
Reliability of the dealer is very crucial. You will require a service agreement that is carried out as scheduled and with the required level of expertise. You should avoid providers who have a reputation of rescheduling their visits. This will prevent excessive disappointments.

The experience of the technicians involved should be evaluated to ensure it is in line with the kind of work required. A highly experienced worker is more likely to do the job at a very short period of time and with great expertise and skills. This will save both you and the company a lot of time and money.

The cost of the service agreement should be favorable to you. The service provider should not be very expensive for you to avoid straining your budget. It should also not too cheap as this may lead to extra expenses in the long run. A quality and cost favorable service is what should be paid for.

For your HVAC needs, call us today!

What Are Some Signs My Furnace Isn’t Working Properly?

Furnace users can easily identify some of the signs that indicate their furnaces are not working properly. Some of these furnace warning signs to look out for include strange flames, strange smells and noises, furnace age and or irregular room temperatures. Being always on the lookout for these warning signs can save clients excessive energy bills, inconveniencing furnace breakdowns and human health/ life.

Warning signs of an Improperly Functioning Furnace

Here are some of the warning signs that your furnace is functioning improperly:

Strange Flames

Most furnaces, except electrical furnaces, emit flames from burning fuel. If and when a gas furnace burns flames, other than on the burner, or has a yellow, green, red or orange flame, it is an indication that the furnace is not working properly. Yellow or orange flames indicate inadequate gas burning, whereas other colored-flames indicate combustion of other things, other than the gas. Any flames on an electric furnace indicate something wrong; switch off main power and call an HVAC professional. Wood burns bright yellow flame, which later turns into a red glow. Other coloured flames or smells indicate a problem with the furnaces oxygen inlet or presence of other burning materials.

Strange Smells

In most cases, burning gas does not emit any smell. Smelling gas is an indication of gas leakage, which compromises your furnace’s effectiveness and endangers life. Burning or other smells on other furnaces also indicate improper furnace functioning. The smell of smoke from your coal or wood furnace indicates obstructed airflow, where smoke does not get fully emitted.

Abnormal Sounds

Knocking, grinding and or other sounds from your furnace indicate a furnace in trouble. A qualified HVAC technician can conduct a furnace inspection to detect the source of the noise, and fix it appropriately. Normal sounds comprise gas-burning sound, humming of your electric furnace’s mortar and wood-burning crackling sound.

Contact AB&B Heating & Air Conditioning

Some furnace problems can be detected easily through human senses. Unusual flames, sounds and smells from the furnace indicate improper furnace function. Urgent responses should comprise switching off the furnace or power source, and calling HVAC professionals to do advanced check-ups and appropriate service. Feel free to contact your local HVAC contractors for HVAC services.

Taking Care Of Your Gas Furnace

There are several checks that homeowners must make in order to prepare for the winter season. One of the most important of these is the overall maintenance of gas furnace. Taking good care of your furnace is an important part of getting your home ready for winter, and regular maintenance will increase the overall longevity of your heater.

Usually, your gas furnace will be situated in a sealed off section of your home, such as your basement or your closets. While their maintenance may be daunting, the truth is that they are very easy to maintain, so long as special attention is given to certain tasks. Some may feel that as long as the heat is working, the furnace is functioning as it should, but homeowners are strongly urged to perform all of these maintenance checks as well.

Observe your heating system and make sure that it is not making any strange noises on each thermostat setting. Check to see if there are any signs of water around the area. Even a small drop can spell big problems further down the road. Always keep the overall surrounding area clean. While the space may be tempting to utilize for storage, it can be dangerous to store flammable materials next to the furnace. As an added safety precaution, install a carbon monoxide detector in the room in which the furnace is located. This can help you add an extra layer of safety for your family.

Additionally, even after performing all of these necessary checks, homeowners are encouraged to call in a licensed and certified technician to finish the process. Professionals like A B & B Air Conditioning & Heating in Austin, TX can offer annual service contracts for their clients and can help them feel safer about the state of their heating system. Most experts recommended having an expert perform maintenance roughly once a year, after you perform your own check up. A licensed professional will be able to make sure that all of the electrical power is moving as it should be, and that the gas valve is carefully closed and maintained. They will assess individual parts and wires and see where it is necessary for replacements or repairs to be made. A simple visit from a professional can help you save a lot of money in the long run.

Typically, the methods of payment include a flat fee that will be paid up front for the visit, with an hourly fee calculated afterwards depending on the assessments and overall checks made. Any and all replacement parts must be paid for by the homeowner, but it is a small price to pay compared to the extended service that will come from a heating system that is running like new, especially in an older home.