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Posts Tagged: furnaces

Heat pumps vs. furnaces

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace, Heat pump No Comments on Heat pumps vs. furnaces

Furnaces are the traditional means of heating buildings. These devices use fuel to generate heat and then use a fan to circulate this heat through the building. There are gas furnaces, oil furnaces and electric furnaces.

Heat pumps act as sort of a reverse air conditioner. Instead of transferring heat from inside the building to its exterior, these machines absorb heat from the air or ground outside and transfer it inside the building. Even in cold outside air, heat energy is present. This heat outside is absorbed into a refrigerant that is evaporated at a low pressure and piped inside the facility. Once inside, the refrigerant is compressed back into a liquid. This process releases the heat that is then distributed throughout the building.

Pros & Cons of A Furnace

Perhaps the chief advantage of furnace is the start-up cost. These devices are fairly simple machines that use a very well-established technology. As such, they are inexpensive to install. Also, the effectiveness of a furnace is not impacted by the weather. As long as the machine has fuel, it will have no problem in producing heat. These machines do have some drawbacks, however. Depending on local power rates and your source of fuel, they can be expensive to operate. Furnaces also produce carbon emissions that can be harmful to the environment. These machines also typically have more maintenance needs than heat pumps.

Pros & Cons of A Heat Pump

Heat pumps’ greatest advantages are their energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Heat pumps are incredibly energy efficient, requiring less energy to use than traditional furnaces. This results in less carbon emissions and lower power bills. They also do not dry out the air the way furnaces do, so property owners won’t have to purchase humidifiers to add moisture back into the air.

Heat pump devices are more expensive to install than traditional furnaces, but credits or rebates from utilities may be available to help defray the cost of installation. Heat pump devices also do not work as well at very low temperatures, as there is less heat in the air for them to absorb energy from. Washington’s climate is mild, meaning that in all but the coldest of conditions, heat pumps should work fine. In parts of the country where heat pumps don’t work as well, they are often supplemented by an electric furnace. Heat pumps that draw heat from geothermal energy in the ground are also a solution to this problem.

Whether to purchase a furnace or a heat pump is largely a question of how much property owners want to spend up front and the climate of their area. How environmentally friendly property owners want their homes and businesses to be also plays into the decision.

About Washington Energy

Washington Energy Services is a family-owned business providing home energy efficiency solutions to Seattle area clients. Founded in 1957, Washington Energy Services has generations of experience in providing heating and cooling and other energy-related services, including sales, installation and service. A member of the Puget Sound Energy Contractor Alliance Network, Washington Energy Services has an excellent local business reputation.

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Eight tips for upgrading heating in Seattle homes

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating

Seattle is gifted with a fairly mild and temperate climate. We don’t have the same harsh winters as cities on the same latitudinal parallel on the East Coast. However, it does get cold here for a few months, and during that time you certainly want a heating system that efficiently gets the job done. For property owners seeking to upgrade home heating systems in Seattle, consider these options:

  • Get an energy audit. Heating and cooling contractors can check out your home and determine whether you’re getting optimum performance from your HVAC system. They can then recommend improvements and changes to help you save money and be more comfortable in the winter.
  • Seal your home. One of the least expensive ways that you can cut costs and improve the performance of your home heating system is to ensure your windows and doors are properly sealed. The latest technology can help detect air leaks around windows and doors, and some good old-fashioned caulking will take care of the rest.
  • Check your ducts. Leaky ductwork can result in diminished performance by your home HVAC system. Have a professional check your ducts and repair leakages. It’s not uncommon to find that faulty ducts are leaking 30 percent or more of your heating and air conditioning, so getting your ducts checked is definitely a worthwhile investment.
  • Upgrade to a heat pump. If you’re using a traditional furnace or air conditioning system, consider upgrading to a heat pump. Heat pumps cool your home in the summer by extracting heat from the air within your home. In the winter, heat pumps warm your home by taking thermal energy from outside air or the ground and transferring it into the home. Heat pumps typically use less energy than traditional air conditioning units and heaters.
  • Install a new furnace. Older heaters are far less efficient than modern models. A new unit can greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs and improve performance. Find units with high Energy Star ratings for the best performance and energy savings.
  • Add floor insulation. For homes that have crawlspaces, adding insulation to the subfloor can greatly help to reduce heat loss and improve the performance of its heating system.
  • Add wall insulation. If you’re living in an older home, its wall insulation may not be as good as that of modern homes. Adding new insulation to the walls can help make your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Adding insulation to your attic can also help improve HVAC performance and efficiency.
  • Add a gas fireplace insert. Beautiful and function, a gas fireplace insert is a very desirable addition to your home.

Heating upgrades don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Some tax breaks may be available to help you pay for the cost of making your home more energy efficient. Talk to us to learn more about programs available.

Washington Energy Services is a family-owned heating and cooling home improvement contractor.  Founded in 1957, Washington Energy Services has generations of experience in providing comprehensive home heating and cooling solutions, including sales, installation, and service. A member of the Puget Sound Energy Contractor Alliance Network, Washington Energy Services has an excellent local business reputation.

Contact us today for a free estimate.

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