What Size Heat Pump Do I Need?

Getting the wrong size heat pump not only costs you more money, it can cause notable temperature differences inside your house, lead to poor humidity control, and put stress on the pump’s motor because it cycles on and off too frequently. There’s a lot to consider when you’re choosing a heat pump, but getting the right size is absolutely vital.

How Heat Pumps Are Sized – The Manual J Method

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America has established a nationwide approach to ensuring that all of the important factors are taken into account when contractors size heat pumps. This method is called Manual J, and it looks at eight aspects of your home and surroundings:

  • The overall climate in your area.
  • Your home’s size and layout.
  • Your home’s insulation and how effective it is.
  • The number of windows you have and where they are.
  • The amount of air infiltration (how much outside air leaks in through cracks and doorways)
  • The number of people living in the home.
  • The temperature preferences of the people living there, and how they use the home.
  • Other sources of heat in the home and the lighting.

Finding Out the Right Size for Your Home

You’ll need a contractor to accurately size a heat pump for your home. During the sizing, the contractor will spend a lot of time inputting numbers into a dedicated software program, but should also actively evaluate your home, for example, checking your insulation and asking about your family’s habits and preferences when it comes to temperature.

In some cases, your contractor might make suggestions in order to maximize the efficiency of your heating arrangements. For example, adding some insulation might be advised to reduce the size of the heat pump you need.

We use the Manual J method whenever we size heat pumps, but this isn’t the norm for every company. Some homeowners have to actively request Manual J evaluations, and may be met with blank stares. The approaches used instead generally lead to over-sizing, reducing the efficiency of the system and leading to poor control of humidity in the home.

This is why it’s important to request a proper evaluation rather than settling for a “rule of thumb” calculation: getting the wrong size for your heat pump can lead to a range of problems.

Conclusion

Software programs have made choosing an appropriate size heat pump look pretty easy, but getting an evaluation by a licensed, reputable contractor is still essential if you want an accurate result. If you want to save money and maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, you can’t depend on rules of thumb or amateur evaluation: you need an expert.

If you’re looking for a new heating system, call our friendly, knowledgeable HVAC heating technicians on (408) 899-8878 to discuss your options, or follow us on social media for information on heating and cooling your home.

Heat Pump Vs. Furnaces For Heating

Most homes in America either use heat pumps or furnaces as the primary source of heat. Because both types have distinct features, it is worthwhile to know their pros and cons. This is crucial as it may guide households into purchasing reliable and efficient systems. The following information may inform homeowners better before buying an appropriate heating equipment.

 

Source of Heat

Furnaces use fossil fuels including natural gas, oil, and propane. They are supplied by utility companies and billed monthly. Natural gas is readily available and provided continuously through the gas lines. The problem with these fuels is that they are dangerous if not handled properly. Furnaces are self-contained when fuel is readily available. Heat pumps use electricity to operate at its desired level. Electricity is environmentally friendly since there are no emissions. Heat pumps have an indoor and outdoor unit that serves different functions depending on the temperature conditions at home.

 

How they Work

The thermostat installed in the home guides how the furnace works. When home temperatures go down, the thermostat senses and signals the furnace to turn on. If the temperature meets the thermostat setting, it shuts down until the thermostat signals the furnace to turn on in an endless process. Heat pumps, on the other hand, facilitates cooling and heating by extracting heat from the cold or warm air. The outdoor unit is used to raise room temperature by extracting heat from cold air while the indoor unit cools the home by removing heat from the warm air inside the home.

 

Energy Efficiency and Reliability

Both types are energy efficient and reliable, but heat pumps efficiency is typically higher than that of the furnaces. Furnaces, on the other hand, are highly reliable because they work continuously regardless of the temperature conditions outside. Heat pump efficiency falls once surrounding temperature falls to negative. If both heating methods have AFUE ratings of more than 90%, they are highly efficient. This shows that small percentage of energy goes to waste.

 

Choosing the Right Heating Equipment

While choosing a heating equipment, consult with your preferred HVAC contractor. The right size is essential in providing adequate heat for your home. If you are conscious about the environment, choose a heat pump whereas if you have an air conditioner, a furnace may be a better option.

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What Regular Maintenance Do Heating And Air Conditioning Systems Need?

HVAC maintenance is crucial in preventing frequent breakdowns, improving energy efficiency, ensuring maximum comfort and extending the lifespan of the system. While some maintenance works can only be undertaken by a qualified HVAC contractor, some of them can be done by the average homeowner. They include:

i) Lubrication

HVAC systems consist of several moving parts, including the fan and blower motors. These parts need to be lubricated on a regular basis to reduce friction and noise from the unit. Be sure to use manufacturer-recommended lubricants during maintenance.

ii) Cleaning

HVAC systems consist of air handling units and stationery components that may trap or accumulate dust over time. For instance, the evaporator and condenser coils may accumulate dust and form a coating or insulation over the coils, thereby reducing their ability to absorb and release heat into the surroundings. Therefore, HVAC maintenance should involve cleaning of the evaporator coils in the indoor unit and the condenser coils where heat is dumped. Be sure to also clean the blower and adjust it accordingly. The condensate pan and drain pipe should also be checked and cleaned to prevent clogging.

iii) Replace Filters

If the filters in your HVAC unit are still in good condition, you can clean and fit them back in the unit. However, if they are damaged, you can replace them with new air filters with the same ratings. Ideally, a filter should be cleaned several times before it is replaced.

iv) Make Adjustments

During maintenance, you need to check the thermostat setting and adjust it properly according to your needs. Be sure to tighten all loose electrical cable connections. The level of refrigerant in the cooling system should also be checked and refilled if necessary.

While these maintenance works may seem easy to some people, there are many homeowners who do not have the time or technical ability to perform these procedures by themselves. In such cases, a qualified HVAC contractor should be hired to do the maintenance. Only licensed professionals with a long history of excellence should be given any consideration. Follow us for more great articles on heating, air conditioning and home needs.

How Does Humidity Affect Air Conditioning And Heating

During summer, excess humidity can make you feel hotter. This is because humidity has a big effect on both heating and cooling systems. Depending on the level of humidity inside the house, achieving the desired room temperature can be quite a challenge. This is the main reason why modern HVAC systems come with both humidifiers and dehumidifiers to control humidity levels inside the building and ensure optimal heating or cooling.

The Effects of Humidity on Air Conditioning

The main purpose of air conditioners is to cool indoor spaces during hot weather conditions. This is achieved by passing warm air over cold metal tubes containing the refrigerant. The expanding refrigerant in the tubes absorbs heat from air and goes to the condenser unit, where the heat is dumped. When the moisture content in indoor air is high, the A/C will not only be required to cool the air, but also the water molecules. As a result, the unit will have to work harder and consume more energy to cool the room. If your A/C has a low cooling capacity, it may not be able to cool the room, making you feel uncomfortable.

Common Signs of Excess Humidity

If there is high humidity in your home, your skin may feel clammy. Your windows may also become cloudy while a musty odor may be felt in your home. If you notice these signs, must call in the experts because high humidity can also damage the structure of your building in addition to causing problems to your HVAC system. We can give you recommendations on how to deal with the problem once and for all.

Humidity Control

Since you want your HVAC system to operate efficiently and your home to be comfortable, it is crucial that you install a digital hygrometer in your home to monitor humidity levels. There are several methods of controlling humidity at home. The first is using a dehumidifier, which extracts excess moisture from air. The second method entails using a humidifier, which increases humidity levels when there is low humidity. Lastly, the A/C can extract excess humidity from air by condensing water vapor.

We can help you deal with humidity problems in your home or office.

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How is the Efficiency of Heating and Cooling Equipment Measured?

 

HVAC systems are typically the largest consumer of energy inside a home or a business establishment. Ensuring that they run efficiently will go a long way towards saving on utility costs. The industry measures efficiency ratings in a number of different ways. Each of them provides users with a distinct angle from which to view the machine’s capacity to utilize energy for temperature management.

Energy Efficiency Ratio

The EER provides a numerical value that quantifies the amount of cooling that can be expected from a system for every dollar spent on power. As actual output may vary depending on the conditions, EER is routinely measured on the hottest day of the year. People are thus seeing the efficiency at the highest level of stress. Both the output cooling energy and the incoming electrical energy are measured with the former being divided by the latter to get the ratio.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

SEER is very similar to EER with one important distinction: The measurement of SEER is based on the average temperature throughout the year. It may not be a stress test, but it provides a good indication of how a unit will perform throughout the changing seasons. The values range from 13 to 22 for modern systems. Higher values indicate better efficiency.

Energy Star

The U.S. government has stepped in to promote the use of energy efficient systems for both environmental and economic advantages. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has used the “Energy Star” label as a reward for HVAC systems that pass its efficiency requirements. Before a unit can wear this badge, it first needs to show that it contributes to nationwide energy savings. The premium paid by the buyer to acquire unit, rather than a less efficient option, should be small enough to enable a quick return on their investment.

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor

The HSPF is relevant to heat pumps, especially their heating component. It is a measure of its efficiency and typically ranges from 6.8 to 10.0. Those who are looking for a highly efficient option should not go below the 7.5 mark. It is computed by a division of the output heating energy with the input of electrical energy.

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3 FAQs For Home Heating, Ventilation And Water Heaters

Most furnaces are designed to automatically shut down when the air in your home is comfortable. In most cases, you won’t even realize when this process takes place. However, if your system keeps turning on and off constantly, it could mean that something is wrong. Before you get all worried, you can try some of these troubleshooting tips before calling a professional. Here are some frequently asked questions about heating systems.

Why does my heater keep shutting off?

Your furnace will usually turn on and off as a result of something called “short cycling”. This basically refers to problems within your system. When short cycling is left unattended for an extended period of time, it usually leads to break down or higher energy bills. When troubleshooting your furnace for short cycling, the first thing you should do is check the air filters. Air filters wear off after a while, and will require cleaning or replacing if your system is to resume normal function,

The next step will be to check your thermostat. A faulty thermostat can cause short cycling. Make sure your thermostat has the right settings and that it is switched on. In some cases, placement of the thermostat can affect normal operations. For instance, if the thermostat is comes in direct contact with another source of heat, such as sunlight, it might assume your home is too warm and shut down.

Other causes of short cycling may include; presence of debris in air vents or chimney, improper sizing of heating system or corrosion on flame sensors.

How are Heaters Rated?

AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency is the measurement used to rate how efficient heaters are. The higher the AFUE rating, the more efficient the heater is. A higher rating means that your heater will not only serve you better for an extended period of time, but will also save you money on utility bills.

Why is it that My Heat Pump Never Shuts Off?

If your heat pump remains on even in the hottest of seasons, then you should probably consult a professional. But before you do that, you can try troubleshooting it yourself. Make sure the thermostat is placed correctly and the outdoor unit is operating normally. You should also check whether the air filter is clean and that all doors and windows are closed when this problem arises.

You call us to learn more about efficient heating, air conditioning and water heater options.

Improve Efficiency With Annual Furnace Maintenance

Have you ever wondered if there was a solution to the high cost of heating your home? While you could certainly regulate the temperature and keep your home a little cooler, many people have already taken this step, but the monthly heating bills still seem to climb. Fortunately, there is something you can do.

Industry experts recommend annual furnace maintenance. This is an excellent way to not only ensure you have reliable heating throughout the season, but it can also provide a longer life expectancy for your furnace in addition to more energy efficient operation. A professional HVAC contractor often offers a number of maintenance plans designed to protect your equipment and ensure you have dependable heating, regardless of the weather.

An experienced heating technician will be able to inspect your furnace and heating system, often spotting potential problems before they cause major repair issues. A heating technician will also make adjustments to your system, lubricate necessary components and make sure the furnace filter is clean. Not only will a clean furnace filter help provide the most energy efficient operation, but it can also protect your family. A dirty air filter makes your furnace work much harder than necessary. This means, less efficient heating; however, a dirty air filter can also release mold spores and other airborne contaminants that can contribute to asthma, allergies and other health problems.

Whether you want to improve efficiency or not, annual furnace maintenance is an essential component of making sure your furnace is operating safely. When you hire a licensed HVAC professional to perform annual furnace maintenance, they will be able to test your furnace to make sure it is operating properly. Detecting leaks or other problems that prevent your furnace from properly venting dangerous carbon monoxide fumes is an important safety factor that should not be ignored. Carbon monoxide is odorless, making it hard to detect until it is too late. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide can also be deadly. Protect your family and yourself with professional furnace maintenance.

When you need any type of furnace or heating system repairs or maintenance, be sure to contact your local HVAC professional.

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

A furnace is, perhaps, the most important HVAC equipment during winter and cold seasons. Irregular functioning or the breakdown of a furnace can cause premise users untold inconveniences including extremely low indoor air temperatures, which can cause respiratory health problems. Learning how to identify possible faults with your furnace, as well as conducting regular furnace inspection, can help you mitigate any potential problems that might disable your furnace completely.

Furnace warning signs

Age

Older furnaces are more likely to function less effectively than new ones. This, while not a definite reason to assume your furnace if failing, may be a key factor in predicting the life of your furnace, hence its efficiency throughout the years. Furnaces that have many years of manufacturer’s warranty function efficiently longer than those with short duration warranty. If your furnace is approaching eight years of service and has a manufacturer’s warranty of eight years, chances are most of its parts have worn out or do not function as effectively as when the furnace was new. However, if the furnace is approaching eight years of service with at least 20 years manufacturer’s warranty, chances are that it is still in perfect shape.

Out-of-place flames, noises or smells

It is important to learn your furnace over the years, months or the duration you have been using it. Understanding its regular functioning sounds and smells is paramount to identifying strange smells, noises and even sparks or flames. For your information, gas furnace’s flames should appear on the burner, in a steady and blue flame, and without smoke. Smoke, any flame that is not blue, and the smell of gas should warn you to switch off your furnace urgently as one or more parts of the furnace are not functioning properly, and can endanger your life.

Conclusion

A properly functioning furnace heats your indoor air, adequately, and saves you money in energy bills. You can ensure your furnace works properly at all times by looking for warning signs such as strange flames or sounds. Such abnormalities can be caused by loose, dirty and worn out parts, as well as obstructed airflow. Always contact your local HVAC contractors for your heating, furnace and other HVAC services.

Ways Of Bringing Down Your Home Energy Costs

Despite advancement in energy production, the rising demand of energy and supply constraints are resulting in soaring energy prices. According to the Energy Information Agency, approximately 90% of 116 million homes in America will receive higher heating bills, particularly this winter. The challenge for homeowners is to seek for effective ways of reducing their heating costs, including:

• Energy Review
An energy audit entails inspecting and analyzing the flow of energy in a building, system or process. The process aims at reducing the level of energy input in the system, without compromising the output. In addition, to identifying the source of energy, an energy audit is geared towards prioritizing energy uses from the most effective to the least effective opportunities to ensure energy savings. A professional HVAC technician, like Air Quality Heating & Air, Located inSan Jose, CA, can evaluate the energy efficiency in a house using professional equipment like infrared cameras and blower doors, in order to recommend better ways of improving energy efficiency of the system.

• Heating System Upgrade
With natural gas and oil costs rising, a heating system that can reduce future energy consumption is a smart investment. If the heating costs have been on the rise it may be time to consider upgrading the heating system. Today’s new furnaces are energy–efficient, and can capture as much as 97% of the energy; however, it costs anywhere between $2,500 and $14,000 to purchase and install one. A professional HVAC technician can assist homeowners in determining the potential savings of upgrading the furnace, by figuring out the time it will take the cash savings to pay off the cost of the furnace.

• Thermostat Setting
Experts understand that keeping heating costs low can be challenging. Raising the heat level on the thermostat by a single degree can increase the costs by 3%, while lowering the thermostat very low can cause problems; therefore, it is important for homeowners to keep an eye on the thermostat setting, since turning it too low could easily freeze the pipes. Many of the new furnaces feature a programmable thermostat, which allows people to control the house temperature better.

• Home Insulation
For a homeowner with a furnace that still has a significant working life, buying new furnaces may not be practical. Such a person should consider other ways of improving fuel efficiency. A professional HVAC technician may recommend insulating the attic, blowing insulation into walls and replacing weather stripping on windows & doors. Air leaks around windows and doors can make the home drafty, thereby increasing the costs of heating. An energy audit, conducted by an energy provider can provide information about where the home’s drafts are coming in, giving the homeowner the ability to find the best methods of insulating the home and lowering the heating costs in the process.

Cleaning Gas Furnace Filters

In order to keep the temperature inside a house conducive during winter, one must install a heating system. There various kinds of heating systems available in the market. A good example is the gas furnace heating system. Just as the name suggests, it uses gas as fuel to heat up the house through vents and in-wall piping systems. This system is very important during the winter. Therefore, it has to be in superb condition at all times. This can only be achieved through regular maintenance and cleaning.

Gas Furnace Cleaning

Cleaning the gas furnace is not a difficult job. In fact it can be done by the homeowner. It should be performed on a monthly basis to ensure that the heating system operates efficiently.

One of the important parts that need to be cleaned is the filters. They normally get clogged with dust since they filter the air that enters the furnace. There are three types of filters that are used: plastic filters, cardboard filters and electronic filters. Each of them is cleaned using a different method. So, it is important for one to know all of the methods.

Plastic Filters

To effectively clean plastic filters, the homeowner should start by getting the dust out with a vacuum cleaner. It sucks dust off the filter. Once the dust has been removed, the homeowner should then wash the filters with water and detergent and then air dry them before fixing them back on the gas furnace.

Cardboard Filters

Cardboard filters are not washable. However, this does not mean that nothing should be done when they get dirty. When they get clogged with dust they should be discarded and other new ones put in place. If one does not know how to do that, he or she should hire a licensed and certified technician to do it.

Electronic Filters

Electronic filters are quite complex and not as easy to clean as the previous two types. There is usually a manual that shows one how to remove the filter from the furnace and clean it. However, it may prove to be technical to some people. Therefore, the best cause of action to take when electronic filters get dirty is to hire a licensed and certified technician to clean them. He or she has the know-how and skill to do the job.

Apart from cleaning, there are many other maintenance practices that should be done. Some of them include lubricating the motors and moving parts, checking the thermostat setting and repairing the burner and heating components. All these things should be done regularly to ensure that the gas furnace operates properly all the time. This way, one will be assured of a warm winter.