Category Archives: Air Conditioning

The Weather is Warming Up – Schedule Your Spring HVAC Maintenance Today!

flower toolboxIt’s that time of year again! We’ve had our first string of sunny, mild days in months, which means that Spring has officially hit the Willamette Valley. So break out those shorts and sundresses, get that summer garden started, and call your mechanical contractor!

Wait – mechanical contractor? But who cares about that when there is so much yard work to do, so many walks to take, and so much sunlight to soak up?

That’s the funny thing about Spring. The weather is great, but not so extreme that we give much thought to our heat pumps and air conditioners – after all, many of us won’t even need to kick them into full gear until Memorial Day Weekend. But ask yourself this: when was the last time you had your heat pump, air conditioner, or furnace serviced?

Don’t remember? If it’s been awhile since your system had a tune-up, this is the perfect time of year to consider having Home Comfort come out for a routine maintenance service. We’ll clean and adjust the moving parts of your system, check that everything’s operating properly, and replace your air filter to ensure that your heating and cooling equipment is operating optimally before it has to start working hard during the summer months.

When the weather is mild, we may not give much thought to our HVAC systems. But the milder months of the year – March through May, and September through October – are probably the best windows of opportunity a homeowner has to devote some time to care for their systems. If any part of your system isn’t operating properly or optimally, a licensed mechanical contractor can spot and fix the issue before it becomes a bigger, costlier problem. If you have an HVAC maintenance appointment now, while the weather is mild, you may be able to prevent your system from breaking down at the moment when you need it the most.

Need a Spring HVAC maintenance? Call Home Comfort today so you won’t worry tomorrow!

Interested in learning more about HVAC, electrical, plumbing, or insulation? Like our Facebook page for more helpful information and tips from Home Comfort.

Fall Freebies at Home Comfort!

gift_certificate_largeFall is a busy time for homeowners. Sure, the summer yard work season is winding down, and you may be putting away the sprinklers, mulch, and pool toys, but it’s more than likely that your work gloves, rakes, and tool boxes are sticking around for a little while longer. Fall is home maintenance season, that milder time of year when homeowners take time for the little-but-necessary home improvement projects and start prepping their houses for winter. Along with the do-it-yourself projects, you may be calling in the experts to start winterizing your home – chimney sweeps, electricians, plumbers, and yes, maybe even an HVAC technician.

The cost of all those little projects can add up quickly, but they’re also necessary to maintain a safe and comfortable home.  Here at Home Comfort, we want to celebrate our customers and the hard work that goes into keeping their homes cozy. Now through November 15th, if you like our page on Facebook your name will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate! The gift certificate can be used toward the cost of any maintenance, service appointment, or air filter purchase.*  We’ll announce the winner on November 15th – leaving plenty of time to schedule that fall HVAC maintenance before winter really starts to set in.

Remember, you can only win if you like our page before November 15th! Check out our profile here and get connected today. Happy Fall!

* For complete gift card drawing rules, please visit our policies page. You’ll find all the details at the bottom of the page.

Get Help Going Green! EWEB Offers Eugene Homeowners New Incentives

On October 17th, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) had an exciting announcement for homeowners: for the rest of the 2013 heating season, they are offering rebate and loan programs for a variety of energy conservation projects! Among the programs that they offer, Home Comfort is particularly excited about the following programs that are available to Eugene homeowners once again:

Ducted Heat Pumps: If you’ve been looking to install a new ducted heat pump, EWEB can offer homeowners the choice of receiving a $500 rebate off the price of your new system, or the flexibility of a zero interest loan.  Manufactured homes can qualify for loans up to $7,000, while site-built homes may receive a loan up to $9,000!

Ductless Heat Pumps: The savings are just as good for ductless heat pump installations! The available rebate for a new ductless system is now $750.00; some homeowners may also qualify for the option of a zero-interest loan up to $4,000, with the possibility of additional funding (depending on how many indoor units your new ductless system requires).

Insulation: Along with heat pumps, EWEB’s Weatherization program has also returned! By upgrading your insulation, you can cut down on energy bills and take advantage of the option of a rebate or a loan. EWEB offers a rebate of $0.40 per square foot of upgraded insulation, which may cover up to 50% of the price of your project. And of course, they also offer generous zero-interest loans of up to $4,000 for single-family residences.

With the rollout of these new energy conservation programs, there are many opportunities for savings. Besides the financial assistance offered by these programs, many of these heating and cooling systems qualify for state and federal tax credits. And in addition to saving money on your energy bills, upgrading to a more efficient heating and cooling system and updating your insulation can add to the value of your home!

Remember, the project must be performed by a qualified participating contractor like Home Comfort to be eligible for funding from the program. For complete information on EWEB’s current energy conservation programs, please visit www.eweb.org/saveenergy/home.

Surge Protectors: Basic Protection Against Costly Repairs

surge protectorIf you’ve surfed past the Weather Channel lately, you may have noticed forecasts for thunderstorms in several parts of the country. When you hear that a thunderstorm is coming your way, you probably feel relieved knowing that you’ve done your best to protect your television, stereo system, and other major electronics by plugging them into a surge protector first. It makes sense, after all – in the event that your home does experience a rare power surge, replacing a flat screen television, desktop computer, top-of-the-line stereo system (or all of the above) can cost thousands of dollars! However, there may be one crucial appliance in your home that has missed out on this basic form of protection. How about your heat pump, furnace, or central air conditioner?

As we’ve mentioned in the past, a well-designed HVAC system can cost as much as a new car. At the very least, it is an investment of at least a few thousand dollars. And in the event of extreme weather, a blown-out heat pump can be far more inconvenient than a burned-up television.

Obviously, you can’t just plug your HVAC system into a power strip like the rest of your electronics. But fortunately, there are plenty of HVAC surge protectors on the market, and they may be able to provide basic protection against the kind of damage that can occur in electronics during a power surge. An HVAC surge protector works in a similar fashion to the power strips protecting your television and computer. In the event of a power surge, the surge protector can detect dangerous levels of electricity and divert that electricity to a ground wire before it can reach and damage your equipment’s electrical components. No surge protector can protect against the most powerful of surges, but in the event of a normal power surge, the protector can save a great deal of worry. And even if you don’t live in an area that’s prone to thunderstorms, installing a surge protector can be a good precaution. The most common power surges can be caused by a number of issues, including utility work, problems with a generator, or a sudden electrical glitch in an appliance that consumes a lot of power, such as a refrigerator or your HVAC system itself.

HVAC surge protectors aren’t built like your average power strip, and the best way to ensure proper installation and operation is to have it installed by a licensed mechanical contractor. Your technician can select the right surge protector model for your HVAC equipment and can safely and professionally install it, all for a reasonable price. The next time the weatherman forecasts a lightning storm in your area, you can rest easy knowing that all of your major appliances have some protection against damage.

Do you need a surge protector installed in your home? Give the experts at Home Comfort a call to schedule an appointment today!

Is Your Heating and Cooling System Ready for Winter?

Fall-Leaves-beautiful-AutumnFall is fast-approaching in the Pacific Northwest! The leaves on the trees are starting to change colors, cafés are rolling out their lines of pumpkin-flavored drinks and pastries, and, little by little, the weather is definitely getting chillier. Here at Home Comfort, we can always tell that summer is ending when our schedule begins to fill up with HVAC maintenance appointments. At this time of year, the extreme heat of summer is ebbing away, and the cold winter days have yet to set in. The beginning of fall is a great time of year to consider scheduling a routine maintenance visit for your HVAC equipment.

Routine maintenance is a service mechanical contractors perform to clean, lubricate, and adjust the many moving components of your HVAC system, as well as replace air filters and test basic equipment operations. Routine maintenance visits are performed in order to optimize the system’s performance before it has to operate in periods of extreme weather. During a maintenance visit, your HVAC technician can also point out any components that are due for replacement and notify you of issues that need to be addressed. Fixing minor issues between summer and winter can reduce the likelihood of a major breakdown occurring when you need your equipment the most – like a frigid winter day!

Whether the onset of fall or spring prompts you to call your mechanical contractor, or you’re already set up with a prepaid maintenance plan, scheduling routine HVAC maintenance can provide peace of mind and help you keep on top of caring for your heating and cooling system. If you think your equipment is due for a maintenance visit, give Home Comfort a call. Our technicians can help you make sure your family is ready for those long winter nights.

Understanding HVAC Design: Manual J Load Calculations

blueprint

Installing a new HVAC system is a hefty investment; depending on the type of equipment you choose to have installed, as well as the size of your home, some new systems can cost as much as a brand new car or truck! With the price tag in mind, and the comfort of your home hanging in the balance, the overall design of your system can be just as important as the installation process itself. One particularly important component HVAC designers take into consideration is called a Manual J Load Calculation.

A home’s Manual J Load Calculation measures how much conditioned air each room of your home will need to maintain a consistent level of comfort during hotter and cooler periods of the year. It does this by taking into account a number of factors, including the size of the individual rooms, different types of surfaces, the location of your home’s duct system, and even the number of appliances in your home! Manual J Load Calculations help an HVAC designer determine how powerful your HVAC system needs to be to properly heat and cool your home.

Determining which system will have just the right amount of power to maintain the temperature in your home is important, mostly because of our human tendency to overestimate our energy needs. There are plenty of newer homes on the market that have an HVAC system that is simply too powerful for the size and layout of the building. In some cases an over-powered system can be just as bothersome as an under-powered system – over-powered systems may encounter a problem called “short-cycling,” which means that the system is so big that it can heat or cool your home too quickly, causing the system to turn on and off at a frequent rate. Short-cycling can waste energy, and in some cases can shorten the overall lifespan of your system, costing you even more on top of your initial investment. Determining your home’s heating and cooling needs with the Manual J Load Calculation is a smart way to help you choose an efficient and long-lasting system for your home.

Choosing an efficient HVAC system doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Call Home Comfort today and our team of HVAC estimators and designers will help you make the most of your heating and cooling investment.

Works Cited:

http://www.energyvanguard.com/hvac-load-calculations/

Decoding HVAC Jargon: SEER Ratings Demystified

Jackson-7.30.2013

Industry-specific jargon can be rampant in just about any field, and the heating and cooling industry is no exception. Here at Home Comfort, we sometimes even need to catch ourselves and make sure to explain when we tell friends we work within the HVAC industry; after all, not everyone will know off the top of their heads that “HVAC” is shorthand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. For the next few weeks we’ll be decoding some much-used but infrequently-explained terms that you may hear in a discussion about heating and cooling technology.

When it comes to central air conditioning, one of the most common industry-specific terms you might see in an advertisement will be the unit’s “SEER” rating. It comes up in radio, television, and newspaper advertisements all the time – next to a splashy photo and company logo, you may see something like: “We have 20-SEER air conditioners in stock!” In addition, a savvy friend or neighbor may have told you that it’s not worth your while to buy an air conditioner with a SEER rating of anything less than 13. But what, exactly, does SEER stand for, and what do those numbers really mean? Gaining a greater understanding of SEER ratings and their applications can help you make a more informed decision the next time you go out to shop for a central air conditioning unit.

Let’s start with what the term “SEER” stands for. SEER is an acronym which stands for “seasonal energy efficiency ratio.” This term was defined and developed by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, an organization that sets the standards for the heating and cooling industry in the United States. SEER is a mathematical calculation that divides the unit’s entire cooling capacity during normal periods of operation by its entire electric energy input during the same period of time. Simply put, the higher a unit’s SEER rating is, the less electricity the system is using to keep you cool. And if the system is using less electricity to keep you cool, it usually means that the unit is more energy-efficient. A system’s SEER rating is especially important to families living in warmer climates, such as Arizona or Texas, where air conditioning season typically lasts much longer than other parts of the country.

If you’re going to use your knowledge of SEER ratings to your advantage, you should also know some industry and government standards. First, keep in mind that in 2006, the United States government issued a requirement that all air conditioning models manufactured from that point forward have a minimum SEER rating of 13. If you have a unit manufactured before 2006, there is a chance that its SEER rating may not be that high. And while a SEER rating of 13 meets government standards, an air conditioner cannot be labeled an ENERGY STAR® model unless it has a SEER rating of 14 or higher.

Finally, in order to make sure your central air conditioning unit is living up to its full SEER-rating potential, it is important to have a licensed and trained mechanical contractor help you select and install your new HVAC system. A mechanical contractor like Home Comfort will make sure that your air conditioner is matched with the right HVAC components and installed properly, so that you can be sure your air conditioner is operating as efficiently as the advertisements claim it to be.

Shopping for Filters Just Became More Affordable: Introducing Our New Local Pickup Option!

Back in May, everyone at Home Comfort was happy to announce the roll out of the new and improved version of our online filter store, with more brands, styles, and sizes to choose from than ever before. Changing your air filters regularly is an important part of the overall maintenance of your HVAC system, and we believe that stocking up on filters should be easy and affordable.

Last May we wrote an article about the benefits of having a case of filters shipped right to your door, and today we’re happy to announce that we’ve begun to offer our local customers an additional online purchase option. Now, when you add filters to your shopping cart, you have the option to bypass pesky shipping charges by selecting “Local Pickup” at the time of checkout. Simply shop for the filters you need, pay online with “Local Pickup” selected, and pick them up at our office in Eugene, Oregon. We’ll call or email you as soon as your order is ready. Like many retail outlets, our local pickup option simply requires showing a valid photo ID and your order number when you come to our office to pick up your purchase. To see the full details on how our local pickup option works, look for our complete policy under “Local Pick Up” on our terms of use page.

If you live near our Eugene office, consider trying this new option the next time you shop for filters. It’s simple, it’s affordable, and it supports the local economy – now that’s a sustainable way to take charge of the care of your HVAC system!

Is My Ducted Heating and Cooling System Outdated?

Ducted System ObsoleteThat’s a valid question since it appears we are in the middle of a ductless heat pump revolution.

If you’re a homeowner that has an older ducted system that needs to be put out to pasture, you’ve probably developed some pretty respectable calluses thumbing through all the publications and articles touting the highly efficient ductless units. Nearly every advertisement shows these sleek beauties mounted in every type of room a home can have. The overall message seems to be saying ductless systems are the best choice for when that old ducted system needs replacing.

Not so fast…Before you decide to go ductless, and convince yourself you can convert your ductwork to deliver laundry to the hamper the way a suction tube at the bank delivers your deposit to the teller, you have a little more info to absorb.

While they are an excellent choice for many applications, ductless systems are not one size fits all. The typical ductless system is best suited for small apartments, room additions and retro fit applications where adding a network of ducts would not be feasible.

Installing a ductless system that is comparable in all aspects to your existing ducted system would be an expensive blow to the family budget. And the operating characteristics are vastly different from that of your current system. For a household that is accustomed to having the heating and cooling system working in a sort of out of sight out of mind manner, the ductless system’s center of attention approach will take some getting used to.

A portion of wall space in most if not all of the rooms will need to be designated as the permanent location for the air handling unit, commonly referred to as the “head.” Large rooms may require the installation of multiple heads to adequately heat and cool the space.

Choosing the best location to mount the heads may require annexing prime real estate that is currently occupied by the prized family portrait or the shadow box shrine show casing the memorabilia of your glory days. That is if you have a choice; in most cases the unit’s operating requirements dictate where the head will need to be mounted.

Okay, so maybe you’re starting to realize that ductless is not the best option for replacing your aging HVAC equipment. But you really wanted that remote control… every time you see an ad for the ductless system there’s the awesome all controlling remote.

You’ve imagined yourself standing on the couch, waving that remote control at your new ductless unit; changing the temperature with just a click of a button..Hotter…Colder…Summer then Winter..The kids and dog watching you in total amazement, so in control of the seasons within your own living room that Mother Nature herself is taking notes.

Well that’s just weird… But having a ducted system doesn’t mean you can’t have the toys, or reap the benefits of modern technology.

Today’s air handlers, gas furnaces and heat pumps from manufacturers such as American Standard are built utilizing all the latest technology. Fully communicating systems, inverter compressors, modulating gas valves, electronic expansion valves, variable speed blower motors…What’s that? You’re in technology overload… just get to the thermostat information.

Well brace yourself…Honeywell offers thermostats that give you the power to control your heating and cooling system from far beyond the limits of both the traditional remote controller and your living room…Just imagine the look of amazement from the family when you’re commanding your heating and cooling system from five hundred miles away…with your smart phone…while standing on your Mother-in-law’s couch. Okay odds are “amazement” wouldn’t accurately describe the look on your Mother-in-law’s face. But she’ll come around when you demonstrate the full array of thermostat features that can be manipulated using your laptop, smart phone or desktop computer.

Call the experts at Home Comfort Heating to learn about all the features and options available from American Standard and Honeywell. We’ll help determine the best equipment to fit your needs and budget.

We can also help you understand the applications and benefits of a single or multi head ductless system available from manufacturers like Mitsubishi.

We’ll help you determine if a ductless system is right for your home or business.

 

Routine Maintenance: Long-Term Care for a Hard-Working HVAC System

 

On an average day in Oregon, you never know what the weather will bring!

On an average day in Oregon, you never know what the weather will bring!

It is mid-June, and the first day of summer is literally hours away, but here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the sunny weather we usually expect at this time of year has been interrupted by periods of gloomy skies and chilly rain. In fact, in the time it took to write this paragraph the weather changed from warm, clear blue skies to driving rain and back again — all in a span of five minutes!

The unpredictable weather that comes with the changing of the seasons can put us in front of our thermostats a lot, sometimes prompting us to manually adjust our temperature settings multiple times in the span of just a few days. At moments like this, think about how hard your system works to keep you comfortable! Whether you expect your system to be working hard in heating or cooling mode, it is good to be sure that everything is working properly in order to reduce the chance of unpleasant surprises on a particularly hot or chilly day.

In the same way that a car needs regular oil changes and tune ups to continue operating properly, your HVAC system is comprised of moving mechanical and electrical parts that can wear or break down over time and continued use, and can benefit from routine maintenance services. Many major repairs are related to the excessive wear or failure of a minor component, and can be avoided when detected during a routine maintenance service.

If you want to turn your HVAC maintenance into a long-term investment, you may want to consider purchasing a prepaid maintenance plan from a licensed mechanical contractor like Home Comfort. Our maintenance plans offer regular maintenance for a variety of HVAC systems over a span of one, three, or five years. The prices of a single maintenance visit under these plans are usually less expensive than a one-time maintenance visit, since you are essentially purchasing your maintenance services in bulk. Not only can a maintenance plan save you money over time; it can be especially helpful to homeowners with a busy schedule! When you purchase a maintenance plan from us, our office calls to remind you when an upcoming maintenance is approaching, so that you never forget to have your appointment scheduled.

If you’re not sure what kind of plan you should purchase, or how frequently your HVAC system should have maintenance performed, our staff is always available to explain the details of our maintenance plans and answer your questions. Contact Us and we’ll work hard to find the right maintenance plan for you!