Heating Maintenance Archives

Heating Costs

how to save on heating costsEven as natural gas prices hold steady, saving on heating costs can be a big plus for your pocket book. If your home happens to be heated with heating oil,  you may wish you’d gone for the natural gas, but we can still probably save you something this winter.

Prices for most home heating fuels, including natural gas and heating oil, are expected to hold steady. Nevertheless, using less fuel is in everyone’s interest and it’s not difficult to achieve.

Natural gas prices are expected to remain relatively low and electricity or propane heating should remain relatively affordable too. The fact is, only a small percentage of homeowners are using heating oil and heating oil prices are expected to stay as high as ever. They’ll bear the brunt of higher heating costs and will benefit the most from a thorough review of their furnace and heating system.

No matter if your burning heating oil or far more affordable natural gas, the most important thing to do is to plan to dress warmer during the coldest months and turn that thermostat down. Even with dirt cheap natural gas prices it just doesn’t make sense to burn natural gas you don’t need to burn.

These are some very easy ways of saving on heating costs and fending off higher heating oil prices. Even with affordable natural gas prices, they’re not the kind of things anyone should ignore.

  • Check all of the vents, fans and windows in your entire house including any weather stripping, and seal them up. Be careful of the furnace intake vent and be sure that is clean and unobstructed.
  • Saving on heating costs with a fireplace can be significant and even pleasant, but as soon as there’s no smoke, you need to close the damper. Be sure it’s completely closed when you haven’t got a fire going.
  • Take advantage of the sun – everyday. Open drapes or curtains for the earliest sun, and close them when it’s no longer shining.
  • Lowering the temperature of your water heater even slightly will also use less gas or electricity without costing you much by way of hot water.

We’ve found that despite high heating oil prices, many customers using heating oil are using their furnace in combination with a wood burner or fireplace. It’s a good strategy for customers to far from a good gas line. Though natural gas prices will remain low, the cost of connecting to a natural gas source will probably prevent many would-be gas customers from switching, even despite high heating oil prices.

If you’re combating high heating oil prices and saving on heating costs with a fireplace or wood burner, remember, carbon monoxide risks are just as significant. Safety precautions need to be followed carefully and a thorough furnace inspection – as well as regular vent and damper inspections – will go a long way toward keeping your family safer, and warmer, even while you’re saving on heating costs.

Don’t Forget Humidifier Maintenance

humidifier-maintenance

Humidifier maintenance is just as important as maintenance on your furnace, regular filter changes and annual HVAC inspections. A furnace humidifier or a whole house humidifier is a life saver for many of our best customers. Though not every forced air system includes one, for those complaining that air is too dry, a humidifier is the answer. Still, humidity between 30% and 50% is recommended for most homes and setting your humidifier too high can create serious health and structural problems.

As with any other system in your home, humidifier maintenance is a rather simple series of steps that need to be followed. A whole house humidifier is no more complicated than the other parts of your heating or air conditioning units.

Both a furnace humidifier or a more advanced whole house humidifier need to be cleaned annually.

Hard water or rust can wreak havoc on humidifiers and you’ll want to carefully follow the manufacturers instructions to do a thorough job. Remember, hard water deposits can usually be cleaned with vinegar and distilled water is preferred when it is available. Ironically, most dehumidifiers work as distillers so using this water in your whole house humidifier or furnace humidifier instead of hard water or tap water is preferable.

A water tank or reservoir should be drained and cleaned at least two times per year. You may want to add an antibacterial solution to eliminate any bacteria from the water, and potentially, from the air, too.

Humidifier maintenance normally includes a filter or pad change, and depending on the make and model of your whole house humidifier or furnace humidifier this can be another simple step. Some models will simply require that you rinse and clean the humidifier filter. A furnace humidifier turning a drum will need to be cleaned slightly more frequently. But again, check the manufacturers directions for exact humidifier maintenance instructions.

The difficulty and complexity if your humidifier maintenance can depend in large measure on the “hardness” or mineral content of the water you’re feeding into the system. Hard water will usually present some more problems, but remember, hard water can become system safe distilled water relatively easily with much the same technology that you’re already running. Getting the two systems to work together will save you not only on humidifier maintenance, but on home health and headaches too.

What is a Heat Pump?

what is a heat pumpHeat pumps are relatively new and inventive in a world that’s been burning fuel for heat for the past 100,000 years or so. We meet New York City property owners who have been running a heat pump for better than a decade and still have not even the slightest idea how they work. Normal heat pumps don’t operate by burning anything and that presents something of a puzzle to even experienced fuel burners.

Any heat pump is designed to move heat from one place to another using a little electricity. In the New York City area, they are generally being used to pull heat out of the air or the ground to heat homes, apartment buildings and offices. The same machines will easily switch into reverse and pull the heat out of the same building, exactly the way an air conditioner does.

How often do heat pumps need to be serviced?

The New York City area climate and weather mean that you really need to schedule a maintenance and service visit at least once a year. Proper upkeep and safe operation mean you can’t really skip that visit. Heat pumps that aren’t serviced at least once a year really won’t last but with a yearly visit a heat pump will easily last between 10 and 20 years.

Why is my heat pump steaming ?

Heat pumps defrost when the outdoor coils get cold during winter months. Steam is just that defrost cycle kicking in. It shouldn’t last more than about 15 minutes and it shouldn’t be cycling on and off too often. Blocked air vents might need to be opened but if they are blocked for any length of time they can lead to more serious problems with the compressor and those will need to be serviced.

What’s the most common problem with heat pumps in New York City?

The most common issue we see in the city is with heat pumps that get buried in leaves or snow or similar debris. A yearly maintenance visit to clean the coils and the outdoor unit is as important as anything we do. While keeping the air intakes and the general area clean, a proper cleaning procedure requires some knowledge of the wiring of the heat pump. We’ll be happy to schedule an affordable service visit at your convenience. Contact us today at 646-783-2475.

 

Home heating tips, when followed correctly, should be safe, efficient and affordable. 99% of the problems we encounter with winter home heating are because homeowners simply ignore obvious warning signs and let problems go on far too long. Energy efficiency is not expensive or time consuming, but simply a thoughtful use of home energy that maximizes it’s effective use while minimizing cost.

home heating tipsWinter Home Heating Tips

These winter home heating tips are designed to provide you with basic guide line should reduce your costs and give you a good guideline of when to call in help.

A check up prior to every winter is important for the continued, safe and uninterrupted use of your natural gas furnace or heating oil burning furnace through the winter season.

Your thermostat should be set to 68 degrees during the day and 55-60 degrees at night. Modern programmable thermostats will do this automatically, raising the temperature in the morning and reducing it overnight. They’ll automatically regulate the use of home energy when you need it and reduce it when you don’t. We do a fair amount of business setting customers up with programmable thermostats for just this reason. The savings and increased energy efficiency make the initial cost well worth it in savings.

We can also deliver enough furnace filters for your natural gas furnace or whatever model you happen to be using. You’ll want to mark a calendar or remember to change your furnace filter on the first of every other month through the winter home heating season. Some natural gas furnace models will need to have the filters replaced monthly. We can let you know what’s best for yours or check the manual that should have come with your natural gas furnace or what ever type of furnace you’re using.

In most cases, furnace filter replacements are the only cleaning that needs to be done. But you should review the condition of baseboards and vents. Home energy use can also be affected by blockages and build ups of debris that occur normally during the course of the year.

The fall season is a good time to consider adding extra insulation in your basement or attic crawl spaces and in any outside walls to increase energy efficiency and simply to keep more home energy inside. At the same time, review the window caulking and weather stripping on all the doors and windows. Make sure everything is clean and that caulking or weather stripping is pliable and providing a good air seal. If not, you’ll need to replace it.

It’s also a good time of year to thoroughly review the energy efficiency of your entire home, and not just your natural gas furnace, and the elements of your home heating system. If there’s any kind of fireplace, for example, you should be sure the damper is in good working order and closed whenever it’s not in use.

You should also be able to easily open drapes or curtains to let the sun in during the day and close them at night to keep heat inside. These are some of the easiest steps that can be taken to increase home energy efficiency.

Move furniture away from all of your heating vents and review what furniture or other obstacles were moved during the summer months. Make sure all of your vents are unobstructed and you’re already a good way toward achieving energy efficiency without doing anything else.

Lastly, when your home is sealed up for the winter home heating season, you should test your home for radon with one of the widely available home test kits. Immediate steps to address dangerous levels can prevent serious threats to health. We’ll be happy to provide resources to that will help to address the situation.

If you have you’d like more home heating tips, please call on of our certified HVAC technicians at 646-783-2475

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