Heating Tips

Heating Tips (17)

Learning Thermostats, or smart thermostats, have been around for a while now, and they keep getting smarter. Here are some of the features you will find that can help keep your home more comfortable while also reducing your energy usage.
  1. Learns your routine. Built-in sensors track activity in the home and use algorithms a custom, auto-adjusting temperature schedule based on those movements in the home. If you turn down the heat before bed, the thermostat learns this routine.
  2. It knows when you're away. Using your smartphone's location and sensors in the home, a learning thermostat can switch to economy mode to save energy.
  3. Tracks energy usage. Knowing your energy usage history can help you better manage your heating and cooling schedule and save on your utility bill.
  4. Early warning of an emergency. If the temperature drops unexpectedly when it's below freezing because your furnace is not working, you will be warned before pipes freeze and your home is damaged.
Upgrading to a learning thermostat is easy, and can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.
As the cold, dry winter air arrives in Colorado, a whole house humidifier can make the air in your home healthier and more comfortable. However, an unmaintained humidifier can have the opposite effect, making the air less healthy. Here's how to ensure your whole house humidifier is ready for winter.
  1. Check the Drain Line – Ensure it is clean and free of obstructions. Over time minerals and algae can buildup and clog the line.
  2. Replace the Media Panel - The media panel, or water panel, works by mixing water with the flow of air from the furnace or fan. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the water panel at least twice a season. If you allow the media panel to stay in the humidifier for too long, it will reduce the performance of the unit and potentially harbor unhealthy mold and bacteria.
  3. Clean the Humidifier Fan. Also clean off the fan’s intake vent and enclosure.
  4. Solenoid Valve – When turned on, the solenoid valve allows water to flow through to the humidifier. Turn the unit on a high setting and ensure the the valve is opening and that water is flowing.
In the spring, turn off the humidifier and discard the used media panel. Need help with your home's heating and indoor air quality system? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, we're here to help.
With the heating season just around the corner in Colorado, now is the time to be thinking about ways to save energy and increase comfort in the home. Adding insulation to your home offers several advantages.

1. Save Energy
With home heating costs increasing over 40% during the last 12 years and expected to increase again this year, one of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to rising energy costs is to insulate your home.

2. Improve Comfort
Along with sealing leaky windows and doors, attic insulation will help your home's heating and cooling system maintain even temperatures year round.

3. Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams form when heat escaping from a home's roof cause snow on the roof to melt, as it refreezes it can create a "ice dam" that can cause water to backup and seep into the home.
Combined with attic air sealing, insulation can help to prevent the formation of ice dams in the winter by preventing heat from escaping through the roof.

One of the most important advances in home heating and cooling over the last decade is the introduction of variable speed blower technology.

"Variable speed" simply refers to the operation of the blower motor, which operates at varying speeds to more precisely control the flow of conditioned air throughout the home.
Traditional central heating and cooling systems operated at one or two speeds.

Variable speed systems offer several advantages.

1. Improved Comfort and Air Quality
Regulated airflow provides improved control of temperature, humidity, and air distribution throughout the home. By allowing for continual airflow even when the system is not heating or cooling, air can be circulated and cleaned more effectively.

2. Quieter operation
When a single stage furnace turns on, you'll know it! There is a burst or air that blows out of heat registers at full force. A variable speed motor comes on gradually and operates very quietly.

3. Better Efficiency
Variable speed motors consume about 75 watts of energy per hour, while a conventional blower will consume around 400 watts per hour. This adds up to significant savings over the course of a year.

Have questions about upgrading to a variable speed furnace? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a Call, we can help.
As the spring arrives in the Grand Lake area and trees, grass and plant pollen fill the air, many allergy sufferers will spend more time inside their home than outside. While the pollen levels are lower indoors, overall air quality can actually be worse indoors. The reason is our homes are tightly sealed, trapping allergens like dust, pet dander, mold, cooking fumes and household chemicals. Dirty air ducts and furnace filters can make the air even unhealthier.

To keep the air in your home as clean and healthy as possible, Grand Lake Plumbing recommends taking the following steps:
  • Have your carpets and window coverings professionally cleaned at least once a year
  • Change your furnace air filter at least once every month
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filtration system
  • Keep windows closed during the day if possible, this is when airborne pollen levels tend to be highest
  • Maintain proper humidity levels using a humidifier or dehumidifier to manage moisture levels if needed
If their are family members with severe allergies or respiratory problems, consider installing a high efficiency air cleaner. Whole-home air cleaners works with your central heating and cooling system, employing a sophisticated media filter to capture and remove dust, pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, viruses, pollen, bacteria, smoke, odors and more. The key to effective air filtration is the use of a polarized-Media electronic air cleaners. As microscopic sub-micron particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) enter the filter, they become polarized. The polarized particles get larger as they join together with other polarized particles and collect on a disposable low-static polarized media pad with an activated charcoal center screen.

This allergy season start enjoying the cleanest air possible, with a whole house air filtration system installed by Grand Lake Plumbing. Call today for an in home consultation.
Homeowners in Colorado mountain communities routinely ask us if geothermal energy could be a cost effective way to heat and cool their home. Geothermal offers significant advantages over conventional electric, gas and oil based heating systems, as well as a few disadvantages.

Geothermal is not new, it operates on the principle of heat exchange and the fact that the temperature underground is a more or less a consistent 55 degrees. To tap this energy potential, pipes are installed underground to circulate water underground. Water is circulated to an energy pump inside the home that takes advantage of the temperature difference to extract the energy from the water.

During the warmer summer months, cooling with 55F water is more efficient than utilizing a conventional condenser powered by electricity. During the cold winter months, generating heat from 55F water is more efficient than heating 15F air with fossil fuels. Sounds simple enough, right? So what's the catch?

The Disadvantages of Geothermal Systems

The main disadvantage of home geothermal systems is the initial installation cost. Depending on the conditions for drilling, the average residential geothermal energy system can cost between $10,000-$25,000. It's a significant investment that can take many years to pay off.

Another disadvantage to geothermal systems is that the geothermal pump that circulates the water requires a conventional power source, although the power consumption is relatively low.

Advantages of Geothermal Systems

The primary advantage of residential geothermal systems is that they offer homeowners a truly renewable, green energy source that will never run out and is virtually cost free. Geothermal is among the most environmentally friendly ways to heat and cool your home, with a very small carbon footprint.

Geothermal energy is also reliable. Because the temperature of the ground will always be consistent, energy costs and output will be reliable from the minute the system goes online and for many years down the road. Compared this to the unpredictable nature of wind and solar energy and even fossil fuels that can fluctuate in cost based on market conditions, geothermal is a safe bet for home energy savings.

Interested in learning if geothermal is right for heating and cooling your Colorado mountain home? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, we can help answer all your questions.

Radiant floor heating has long been a popular choice for heating homes in Colorado. By utilizing hot water tubing or electric conduit hidden underneath the floor, radiant floor heating provides soft, even heating through thermal radiation. Compared to other types of home heating, radiant floor heat offers the following advantages:

1 It's cleaner - There are no air ducts to trap and blow dirt and dust around the home.

2 It's quieter - There are no fans or clanking radiators to announce the heat has just turned on.

3 It's efficient – Most of the energy is converted directly into heat, not used to power a blower.

4 It's zoned for comfort - While most forced air systems operate best when utilizing all the air volume in the home, radiant heat can simply be turned on where it's needed most.

5 It's comfortable – Unlike forced air heating which can dry the air out, radiant heat makes it easier to maintain proper humidity, a real bonus in Colorado's dry climate.

Have questions about Radiant Floor heating? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, we're Colorado's oldest, most experienced heating company.

Being the lowest space in the home, heating a basement can be a challenge. When finishing a basement a common heating option is to simply use the existing central heating unit, by expanding the home's ductwork and ventilation system.

Another option for homeowners looking to provide heating as well as ambiance is to install a gas fireplace. If an existing chimney is available it's a straightforward installation process. Otherwise, a ventless gas fireplace is another option.

Other basement heating options include mini-split system (also called ductless systems) and radiant baseboard heating. Keep in mind that while electric baseboard heat can be less expensive to install, depending on how much volume you're heating, it can cost more to heat with electric heat than natural gas.

Have questions about heating your basement? Give Grand Lake Plumbing a call, we can help.

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:10

Grand Lake Winter Heating Checklist

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Winter is here in the Colorado mountains! If you haven't done so already, call us to schedule your heating system tune-up. Keeping your furnace maintained will keep it running longer while helping it operate more efficiently. To keep your home warm and safe on your heating bill, here are a few tips:
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  1. Replace your furnace filter. If it's been in use for more than a month, replace it.
  2. Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.
  3. Program your thermostat. If you're on a regular schedule, set your thermostat to turn the temperature down when you're not at home.
  4. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to direct the warm air downward towards the living space.
  5. Check your smoke and CO detectors. Replace the batteries as needed.
  6. Ensure that air ducts are not covered or restricted by rugs or furniture.
  7. Seal air leaks around windows and doors.
  8. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.
If you have problems with your heating system, give us a call anytime.

Over the last decade or so gas furnace technology has advanced considerably, with AFUE efficiency ratings now exceeding 95 percent. Many furnaces manufactured in the 1990s had efficiency ratings in the 60 percent range. One of the main reasons for this dramatic increase in efficiency is modulating gas furnace technology.

Traditional single or two-stage furnaces operate at fixed rates and will often exceed the preset temperature before shutting off, resulting in wide temperature swings. A modulating furnace is able to adjust it's gas input, inducer speed, and blower airflow to operate at 1 percent increments from 35 to 100 percent, providing more accurate control over temperature. While it may run more often, it can do so at a lower rate than a two-stage furnace.

The advantages of modulating furnaces include increased comfort, reduced operating costs and quieter operation. With a two-stage furnace you may notice a change in temperature right before your furnace turns on and right after the furnaces shuts off. With a modulating gas furnace, the temperature change will be imperceptible.

Have questions about choosing the right gas furnace for your home? Call Grand Lake Plumbing. We offer a full line of high efficiency furnaces for every home.

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