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Posts Tagged: HVAC

AC vs Heat Pump: The Cooling Battle!

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Ductless heat pump, Heat pump 103 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

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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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Healthy credit = great loan rates!

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit No Comments on Healthy credit = great loan rates!

It makes sense to have your credit in the healthiest possible condition when you go looking for a loan. Here are some tips to help you polish up your credit score and possibly lower your interest rate:

  1. Pay all bills on time! Late payments really impact your score, and that hit can last awhile. If you are a “frequent forgetter,” set yourself up for automatic bill pay and never be late again.
  2. Have a good mix of credit. Having installment credit (mortgage, auto or student loans) mixed with revolving credit (credit cards) demonstrates your ability to handle both kinds of credit responsibly.
  3. Stay below 30% of available credit. This is called your “balance-to-limit ratio” or your “utilization rate,” and it’s the difference between the amount of credit you have available and the amount you’ve used. For example, if you have one credit card with a limit of $1,000, it’s best if you don’t charge more than $300—that’s a 30% utilization rate. Even better, don’t charge more than $100. The lower the ratio, the better, as far as your credit score is concerned.
  4. Don’t close “old” credit cards, particularly if you’ve kept current on payments and you’ve had the card awhile. The length of your credit history matters, so those “old” cards can be valuable. You might want to put small charges on these cards (and pay them off immediately) so the card issuer doesn’t close the account.
  5. Don’t open a bunch of credit cards to get a higher utilization rate. Having too much available credit can make you look risky, especially if you get a whole lot of credit at once—it might look as if you’re stockpiling credit in advance of expected trouble.
  6. Check your credit history! You can get a free copy of your history from each of the major reporters (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Check for errors and report them to the agency immediately for correction.
  7. Be cautious of businesses that claim to give you a “free” credit history, but which may charge your credit card a subscription fee for credit tracking or other costly programs.

If your credit history is non-existent or tarnished enough that you find it difficult to get credit, there are ways to begin rebuilding. First and foremost, pay all bills on time, no matter who the bills are going to. Even your cell phone company reports to the credit agencies!

Second, consider a secured card—these are credit cards secured by money you keep on deposit with the card issuer. You can usually charge up to the amount you have on deposit. As you demonstrate responsible behavior, the limit will generally increase until you are able to get an unsecured credit card. These cards are reported to the credit agencies, so your stellar behavior will help you begin building or rebuilding a solid credit history and a great rate-earning credit score!

Article courtesy of Salal Credit Union. All Salal loans and accounts are subject to approval. This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

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Getting your ducts in a row

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Heat pump No Comments on Getting your ducts in a row

 

 Getting yearly maintenance performed on cooling equipment such as air conditioning or heat pumps.

Focusing on the air delivery system or ducts.

Can you imagine if you tried to eat soup out of a bowl with holes in it? You’d likely go hungry. EnergyStar ® says that 20% of the air that moves through a typical duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts – and that’s the average. This means the conditioned air is not being delivered to areas where it should be going.  So it’s easy to imagine how these leaks can affect utility bills and home comfort.

How do you know if you have poor performing ducts? You might notice your utility (gas or electric) actual usage is higher than expected. If you spent a lot of money on your high efficiency furnace or heat pump but still don’t feel comfy, this could be why. Or if some rooms with ducts in them are difficult to heat or are stuffy as air is not getting to them. Even if you don’t have air conditioning but run your furnace on a fan setting to cool your house you could benefit from better performing ducts.

What can you do? You can either do some sealing yourself or call a professional. To do it yourself, you can find some easy tips on the energystar.gov website. Many homeowners choose to work with a professional contractor. Heating equipment or service companies can now test for duct leakage and determine if your ducts need to be sealed. Duct testing takes about 1 to 2 hours.

I had my ducts sealed and insulated last year and have seen a dramatic increase in efficiency. My equipment does not have to run as hard to cool/heat my home. The increased efficiency means my equipment will last longer and save me even more money. Now, how is that a bad deal?

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Go with the air flow

Posted On: Filed Under: Air conditioning, Heat pump No Comments on Go with the air flow

I do understand that years ago the utility companies instructed customers to close the registers in the rooms not being used. This was okay for the systems in the 1960’s but not today, not in Seattle.

Since about the late 60’s the products installed in homes have been forced air furnaces. These are designed for a specific amount of air to flow through the furnace while operating. The ductwork is designed for this amount of air also. When air registers are closed it reduces the airflow and allows heat to buildup in the system. That heat has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is up the flue and out of your house. Closing 1 or 2 registers is fine in small rooms that get too hot. Keep as many registers open as possible so your furnace can operate at maximum efficiency. The same is true for heat pumps and central air conditioning. Airflow is key to efficient heating and cooling system and saving money.

As we approach the end of another winter, don’t forget your heating system and all the hard work it has done for you. It has been heating for 5 months… have you checked/changed your filter? You would be very surprised to hear how many service calls could have been avoided by performing this one simple task. If your filter is difficult to change, have a professional service organization install a filter box or rack in your system that allows easy access. When a technician comes out for your annual service ask them about this upgrade.

To find a qualified furnace service technician in your area, contact Washington Energy Services at 800-398-4663.

Our services also include duct cleaning and filter maintenance, and we can install air purification systems that will reduce indoor air pollution in your home.

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