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Posts Tagged: heat pump

The many benefits of maintaining your A/C

Posted On: Filed Under: Cooling, Air conditioning, Ductless heat pump, Heat pump No Comments on The many benefits of maintaining your A/C

In our last couple blog posts, we’ve discussed cooling systems: why spring is a great time to finally install a cooling system and why the PNW can benefit from ductless air systems. Here are a few benefits of performing regular maintenance on this summer-saving workhorse.

Less repairs mean less cost.

Regular air conditioner maintenance can catch small problems before they become major. This can potentially save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on future repairs or replacement of your unit. Invest a bit now to save a lot later.

Your unit will last longer.

When you take care of your cooling system, it will take care of you—oftentimes for the long haul. Maintenance, including changing your air filters often, promote longevity for the system. In short, maintain your system and it can last for years to come.

You’ll have peace of mind when you need it most.

We don’t need to remind you—sometimes it gets HOT here in the PNW. Don’t put off maintenance until your unit fails. If this happens in the summer, a busy time for cooling maintenance professionals and installers, you could be trapped in a very warm home. Maintain now to stay cool this summer.

So what does maintenance look like?

Here’s a snapshot of the cooling system maintenance services provided by Washington Energy Services:

Heat Pump or A/C Tune Up: Whether you have a heat pump or air conditioner, a Precision Tune Up is the gold standard when it comes to keeping your system running efficiently. Our NATE certified and factory trained technicians service most makes and models of heat pumps and air conditioners including Bryant, York, and others.

Split System Tune Up: If you have a split system, meaning your heat pump or air conditioner are connected to a furnace air handler inside your home, this tune up services both units to ensure they keep working harmoniously.

Guardian Maintenance Club: As a member of the Guardian Maintenance Club, you’ll receive annual tune ups at discounted membership rates. We’ll remind you and schedule your appointment when you need it.

You know you’re going to use your A/C this summer. Perform maintenance now to protect your investment, prolong the life of your unit, and ensure your summer will be a cool one.

Book a service today

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Five reasons why you need a smart thermostat now

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Cooling No Comments on Five reasons why you need a smart thermostat now

Think about how often your heater or air conditioner is running when you’re not at home. Now, consider this: Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the average homeowner’s energy bill. A smart thermostat can help cut the waste while keeping your home comfortable year round.

Some of the advantages of these devices include:

  • Energy bill savings – Having greater control over your thermostat and avoiding unnecessary operation can save you significant sums on your power bill. According to Forbes, a high-tech thermostat can save homeowners about 15 percent on their energy bills. On average, that’s a savings of about $131 to $141 per year. People who are very diligent with their new thermostats can save up to 30 percent each year.
  • Great for second homes – If you own a vacation home or other rental property, a high-tech thermostat can help you manage climate settings even if you’re hundreds of miles away. Use your device to ensure your property is comfortable for renters when they arrive, and that it doesn’t run unnecessarily when they leave.
  • Drill down – Many smart home thermostats can provide a wealth of data about your a/c system’s energy use, including peak times and lulls. Some reports will even let you know how your energy usage stacks up to other users. Armed with this information, you can make smart decisions about when to run your heating and cooling system, and whether it’s time to upgrade to a new energy efficient unit or heat pump.
  • Email alerts – High-tech thermostats can be programmed to send email alerts when temperatures inside the home rise or fall outside of pre-determined ranges. This can help you better manage the thermostat and alert you if there’s something going wrong, such as a heating and cooling system malfunction.
  • Stay comfortable – Many people have traditional thermostats but try to save energy by turning them off while they’re at work, and then come home to uncomfortably hot or cold houses. A smart device allows you to program the thermostat to heat up or cool down the house when you’re on your way home, allowing you to avoid shivering or sweating the first hour or so after you arrive.

Smart thermostats are a hot tech item and make an excellent gift for homeowners. Technology companies continue to refine these devices, making them more efficient, user-friendly, and capable of providing energy efficiency data.

Smart thermostat

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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Heat pump and air conditioning maintenance

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Heat pump No Comments on Heat pump and air conditioning maintenance

 

Below are simple actions you can take to help prevent any system breakdowns during the hot days of summer!

Cooling conservation

  • To comfortably cool your home, your heat pump or air conditioner must remove both heat and humidity. Don’t turn your system off even though you will be away all day. On a hot day, your system may have to operate between 8 to 12 hours to reduce the temperature in your home to a normal comfort level.
  • Keep windows closed after sundown. While the outdoor temperature at night may be lower than indoors, the air is generally loaded with moisture which is soaked up by furniture, carpets, and fabrics. This moisture must be removed when you restart your system.
  • The hotter the outside temperature, the greater the load on your system. Therefore do not be alarmed when your system continues to run after the sun has set on a hot day. Heat is stored in your outside walls during the day and will continue to flow into your home for several hours after sunset.
  • Use your kitchen exhaust fan when cooking. One surface burner on HIGH requires one ton of cooling.
  • Turn on your bathroom exhaust fan while showering to remove humidity. However, exhaust fans should not be run excessively. It would decrease efficiency by removing conditioned air.
  • You can also help your system in the summer by closing drapes or blinds and by lowering awnings on windows that get direct sunlight.

Coil care

  • Keep the outdoor unit free of loose snow, foliage, grass clippings, leaves, paper, and any other material which could restrict the proper air flow in and out of the unit.
    The coil may be vacuumed to remove any debris from between the fins. However, don’t knock ice off the outdoor unit’s coil surface following an ice or severe snowstorm. The blows could mash the coil fins shut (blocking air passage), or break the refrigerant tubing allowing the refrigerant to escape.
  • If the coil becomes excessively dirty, turn the main disconnect switch to OFF and wash the coil with your garden hose. Avoid getting water into the fan motor and control box. Flush dirt from base pan after cleaning the coil.

Filter care

  • Inspect the air filter(s) at least once a month. If they are dirty, wash reusable filters with a mild detergent per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace disposable filters with new filters.
  • Install the clean filters with “air flow” arrow in the same direction as the air flow in your duct. Filters should be clean to assure maximum efficiency and adequate air circulation.
  • Drapes, furniture or other obstructions blocking your supply and return air grilles will also decrease efficiency.

Annual maintanence

  • A periodic inspection, cleaning, lubrication and adjustment of your heat pump or air conditioner is recommended.
  • The owner/user should not attempt to disassemble the equipment nor perform the periodic maintenance unless they are experienced and qualified to do so.

To schedule your systems annual maintenance call us today at 1-800-398-HOME (4663) and check out our Guardian Maintenance Club!

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Cash for energy clunkers

Posted On: Filed Under: Windows, Heating, Cooling, Siding, Heat pump, Tankless water heaters, Gas fireplace 4 Comments on Cash for energy clunkers

But first things first: products don’t last forever. As your home’s comfort systems get older, they become inefficient and costly.

That’s why for a limited time (Until 11/30/2015) you can trade in your old heating and cooling systems, windows, siding, tankless water heaters, generators, and gas fireplaces for 20% off replacements and installation from Washington Energy Services.

Not sure if it’s time to replace your aging item? Here are a few tips.

Heating and cooling systems

dirty filter

Furnaces, heat pumps, and central air conditioners can vary in life expectancy, but 15 years is standard. Keep in mind that as your heating or cooling system gets older, the energy efficiency can decrease dramatically. In fact, aging heating and cooling systems can cause a 15-30% increase in your utility bills.

If you’ve noticed your bills creeping ever-higher, consider replacing your clunker with an energy efficient option from Washington Energy. Our furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners make economic sense—especially with 20% off and free removal of your old system.

Windows

window

Dealing with windows that are consistently drafty, covered in condensation, or leaking? Now is the time to replace them. While the average life span of windows varies depending on material types (vinyl, aluminum, wood, etc.), replacing your windows with an energy efficient solution will not only save on energy costs—it can greatly reduce maintenance and improve the beauty and curb appeal of your home. With cost effective vinyl windows, eco-conscious composite windows, and elegant wood window options, WES has the vast selection and installation expertise you need to start enjoying your windows again.

Siding

siding-clunk

Nothing protects your home to the same degree as siding. Siding failures can result in water damage, rot, mold, and more. If you see widespread cracking, warping, fading or rotting in your siding, it’s time for it to go. Protect your home with James Hardie fiber cement siding—the #1 siding used by residential markets in America. Or consider low maintenance composite vinyl siding.

With an incredibly long life expectancy, a variety of styles and colors, and premier installation from Washington Energy Services—all at 20% off—replacing your siding couldn’t be simpler or timelier.

Water heaters

Winter is a time that you do want to find yourself in hot water. With an average life span of 8-12 years, water heaters are one of the most common home improvement investments. If your water heater just isn’t cutting it, it’s time to trade in and trade up to an energy efficient tankless water heater from WES. Our tankless water heaters provide endless hot water and peace of mind that your busy home’s faucets won’t go cold.

Generators

The purpose of generators is to provide comfort, consistency, and of course, energy when the unexpected happens. An aging generator may not be able to provide these elements when you need them most. Take a look at generators from WES and consider replacing your “it might work” generator with an “it’s got my back” generator.

Gas fireplaces

Cozy. Beautiful. Efficient. If these words don’t describe your fireplace, it’s time for a change. With traditional, classic, and modern designs made to offer optimum efficiency and warmth, Washington Energy can help you select the right gas fireplace for your unique home and decor, and provide installation and removal. Stay warm (and stylish) this winter.

Take stock of these items in your home and consider starting fresh with energy efficient solutions from Washington Energy Services. With 20% off, there’s never been a better time to replace your clunkers and become acquainted with lower energy bills and year-round comfort.

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From the Washington Energy mailbag: heat pump vs. propane

Posted On: Filed Under: Ductless heat pump, Heat pump 2 Comments on From the Washington Energy mailbag: heat pump vs. propane

“I’ve been reading your articles on heating and cooling with a heat pump vs. AC with great interest. Being from Northern Nevada and now living in Graham, WA, I’m rather suspicious of heat pumps. My wife and I just bought a house that needs renovation which includes replacing the heat pump. I’m used to the traditional furnace / central AC systems. I don’t understand how running a 230 volt, 30 amp compressor all the time along with electric heating coils is more efficient than propane. When I do a cost comparison of BTUs I find that propane generates 91,000 BTUs per gallon. To convert electricity to BTUs there is a multiplier of 27x the current electrical rate per kilowatt hour. This equals approximately $2.50 per gallon for electricity as opposed to currently $1.59 per gallon of propane. In this vein, propane is much cheaper to us. Plus when the power goes out, I can’t heat my house, whereas if I had a propane furnace that runs a simple 110-volt blower, I can plug into a small generator and be toasty. I don’t see where electric only is such a good advantage. I would think multi-fuel would be a better advantage to cost and survivability. Please help me out where I may be wrong.” – Roger in Graham, WA

Roger, thank you for the comment. It is clear you have done a tremendous amount of research into this and are very well versed in the same types of comparisons we look at. We use a slightly different approach, where we apply various “costs per unit” of energy (kwh – electricity, gallon – propane, therm – natural gas, etc) to equations that factor in equipment efficiency to get all the choices on the same page of “cost to product one million BTUs of heat”.

One of the challenges with propane and oil is that they are free market commodities that can swing pretty wildly from one year to the next. If you can consistently get propane around $1.59 per gallon, that certainly makes that a strong contender, as you have outlined.

Electricity and gas are obviously regulated, so they are a bit more predictable over time. That being said, it certainly warrants a full look at any given situation to get the full picture.

As a starting point, a heat pump is generally preferred in this area over just propane, oil, or electric resistance heat due to our electric rates. A heat pump is rated with a variety of “efficiency ratings” (SEER, HSPF, COP), but the one that is the easiest to look at is COP. This is the “coefficient of performance”, which is an exact efficiency at a given outdoor temperature. When it gets colder outside, a heat pump is a bit less efficient. Even at 32 degrees, a heat pump can often have a COP of 3. This means it is three times as efficient as electric resistance heat (baseboard or electric air handler “furnace”), or uses one third of the electricity. If you apply that to your math, you will see why heat pumps are more efficient that propane.

With our fairly consistent electric rates, it would take propane dropping below $1.00 per gallon to be cheaper than a heat pump.

The second part of your question is around the “back up” heat source – propane vs. electric resistance air handler “furnace”. You need one or the other (or a gas furnace) as the fan the heat pump hooks up to and as the back up heat source for when it drops below roughly freezing. Since you can add a heat pump to either, this is point of personal preference.

Some people live in areas or have had experiences where they can’t get propane consistently and affordably, so they prefer the predictability of all electric. Other people live in areas where there is not good place for a propane tank or they don’t want a tank on their property.

propane tanks for heat pumps lynnwood washington

However, in circumstances as you have outlined, a propane furnace as the “back up” may be the best choice. You can much more easily use it with a generator when the power is out, and if you can get affordable propane, it is indeed more efficient than “electric resistance” back up. In a case like yours, it is very likely we would suggest a heat pump with a propane furnace as a very viable solution to consider.

Bryant Heat Pump Installed and sold lynnwood washington seattle area

The trick beyond that is choosing which furnace and heat pump – as there are many choices of each and how they match up. For that, we offer free in-home estimates, no obligation, so we can better match them with your specific home and other possible preferences.

Schedule your free estimate

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Heat pumps vs. AC infographic

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Heat pump 11 Comments on Heat pumps vs. AC infographic

seattle heat pump service

 

Heat Pump vs AC’s – An infographic by the Green Team at Washington Energy

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Words of wisdom from your heat pump

Posted On: Filed Under: Ductless heat pump, Heat pump No Comments on Words of wisdom from your heat pump

(courtesy of our Service Manager who has thumbs and can pen this)

Hello, heat pump here; did you enjoy your winter?

I have been working hard all winter, taking heat energy from outside and bringing it into your house. By the way, I have been delivering heat in the most efficient way for the PNW, saving you money on your utility bills.  To do that, I have been enduring wind, rain, sleet and even a little snow and whoa, what’s that bird leaving behind there!

I’m looking forward to providing you some air conditioning this summer too.  But to ensure that we get the winter wear behind us and are cool to cool, how about having a certified service technician come out and give me a tune-up.  Without it, I can lose up to 5% of efficiency per year and that costs more than the tune – up in the long run.

Here’s what the tech would do:

  • Remove dust, dirt and debris.
  • Test all operative parts in a 37 point diagnostic.
  • Go over my health with you.

It takes about an hour or so for a technician to tune me up.  They go through a 37 point diagnostic testing everything from the coil to the reversing valve to make sure everything is in tip top shape.  They will give you a detailed report on how I have been running and any issues that may reduce my useful life or lead to part failures.  It’s cheaper to maintain or repair than replace me.  If you could be so kind to give me a tune-up I promise to keep delivering the comfort, efficiency and reliability that you invested in!

Best,

Your Heat Pump

PS: My sister the Air Conditioner says, “me too”.

 

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AC vs Heat Pump: The Cooling Battle!

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Ductless heat pump, Heat pump 106 Comments on AC vs Heat Pump: The Cooling Battle!

To start, let’s examine some similarities between heat pumps and air conditioners. Both systems are powered by outdoor units. They use the science of thermal energy to transfer heat in the air from one place to another. The units connect by a line-set charged with eco-friendly refrigerant to a coil that is placed above your furnace.

Air conditioning

An air conditioning system, like your fridge, absorbs heat from air that passes over the coil, and the resulting cool air is moved into your ducts and through your home. The collected heat is expelled through an exhaust process. Okay, there’s more science than that, but you get the idea (or check out http://home.howstuffworks.com/ac.htm). There are room air conditioners that hang out your window and cool one room and air conditioning systems, aka central air, which is what we are comparing to heat pumps today.

Heat pumps

The heat pump’s main advantage is it can cool and heat, so you can use it all year round. A heat pump pulls heat out of the outside air when it heats your home but can be reversed to pull heat out of your house and cool. In fact, our climate is one of the most efficient for heat pump operation. Heat pumps provide an economical source of heat (the air, it’s free!) down to freezing, when you’ll want to have a back up heating system kick in. If your home is currently heated by an inefficient heat source, for example oil, you’ll see much lower heating costs with a heat pump. The investment could pay for itself on the heating costs alone – and your air conditioning would be free! Our local Washington utilities offer rebates for heat pumps because of the real energy savings they provide. The heat pump is also one of the ‘greenest’ ways to heat and cool your home because it is powered off of renewable electricity.

But don’t count air conditioners out just yet! The largest advantage is an air conditioner will give you a cool, comfortable home in the summer with less upfront cost than a heat pump. If you already have an energy efficient way to heat your home, such as a high efficiency gas furnace, then perhaps a heat pump will not yield a high enough return on investment. Or, if space is an issue then an air conditioner may be the right choice as they are more compact and fit into tighter spaces.

Ductless heat pumps

There are also other options out there. Ductless heat pumps can provide super-efficient cooling and heating to homes with no or insufficient ductwork. A ductless heat pump can lower energy costs 25-40% when replacing electric baseboard heat. If you are an electrically heated home, chances are your utility is offering $800-$1200 rebates on these units. They are great for combined heating/cooling of the whole house or just for one room. Another option for a lot less money is a Solar Attic fan. These will use solar power to run a whole house fan. They don’t cool off the house per se, but pull the heat right out of the house and reduce upstairs temperatures but as much as eight degrees.

The important thing here is that you do not need to suffer through those hot summer nights and prices can be reasonable to cool down. Washington Energy Services’ home energy specialists can help you choose your best cooling option. Call 800-398-4663 or

Get a free estimate

Learn more with our infographic about Home Heating and Cooling and how it works

Coil Rumble: Heat Pump vs Air conditioners in Seattle Tacoma Lynnwood WACoil Rumble: Heat Pump vs AC for lynnwood washington homes

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Heat pump maintenance

Posted On: Filed Under: Ductless heat pump, Heat pump No Comments on Heat pump maintenance

 

Common problems with heat pumps include low airflow, leaky or noisy ducts, temperature problems, using the wrong refrigerant charge, rattles, squeaks and grinding noises. If you can, try to isolate the location of the problem. Is the airflow only low coming out of one register, or do all registers have low airflow? Is the offending noise coming from the air ducts or within the heat pump unit itself?

There are a few things you can do to identify and possibly fix a heat pump problem before calling for professional help. First, if the unit isn’t working, try resetting the motor on the unit. Check the pump ignition system for problems, and make sure you don’t have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Check the thermostat to make sure it is working properly. Change the filter if it’s dirty, and make sure there are no airflow blockages. If the air ducts are making noise when they expand and contract, you could try putting a dent in the side of the duct to make the surface more rigid. Rattles may be fixed by fastening loose parts, and if you’re hearing squeaks inside the unit, you may need to replace or adjust the fan belt connecting the motor and the fan. A grinding noise may indicate that the bearings on the motor are worn out, which will require the help of a professional to fix.

Because heat pumps can contain hazardous materials, don’t try to fix a major problem with your heat pump without professional assistance, as you may cause a chemical leak or injure yourself handling a broken device.

A heat pump should last between 10 and 30 years.  Keep in mind that technology may change before your heat pump has worn out. New technologies may make heat pumps safer or more efficient, so you may wish to keep an eye out for new kinds of heat pumps.

For more information:

How heat pumps work

Pros and cons of heat pumps

 


Article by: Cowan, Laura.  “How Heat Pumps Work”  13 May 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com. 18 May 2011.

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What to look for in a heat pump

Posted On: Filed Under: Heat pump No Comments on What to look for in a heat pump

 

  • SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and is a ratio of how much energy (measured in BTUs) is pumped outside in cooling mode divided by the electricity used (in watts) for cooling. Look for a SEER rating between 14 and 18.
  • HSFP stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. It calculates the ratio of energy pumped indoors for heating to energy used for heating, but it’s a more complicated equation than the SEER rating because it also takes into account supplemental heating needs and the energy used to defrost the unit. Look for an HSFP rating between 8 and 10.

Heat pumps often feature options that make them more efficient. These include:

  • Dual-mode compressors and motors that save energy by adjusting up or down according to the level of heating or cooling needed.
  • Scroll compressors that are quieter, more efficient and last longer than traditional compressors.

Though many of these features can only be found on more expensive heat pumps, they make up for the initial expense by helping heat pumps work more efficiently and save more energy throughout the pump’s life.


Article by: Cowan, Laura.  “How Heat Pumps Work”  13 May 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/heating-and-cooling/heat-pump.htm>  18 May 2011.

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