Category Archives: Heat Pumps

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.

Installing a New System? Take Advantage of Those Tax Credits in 2014!

tax-5January isn’t just the start of a new year – it’s also the start of tax season. While tax season fills some of us with excitement (who doesn’t love refunds?) and others with dread of all the paperwork, it helps to keep on top of new measures and tax credit programs that may help you save money when you file. Here at Home Comfort, we love to help our customers save money, and we’re here to keep you informed whenever we hear about new measures and changes to tax credit programs that apply to energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

First, the bad news: the federal Department of Energy (DOE) has some incentive programs that have changed with the start of the new year. Homeowners should take note that the Residential Energy Efficiency tax credit expired on January 1st, 2014. Homeowners had previously been able to claim a tax credit of up to $500 for installing qualifying energy efficient equipment, which included energy efficient furnaces, ductless heat pumps, water heaters, insulation materials, and windows.

If the expiration of this credit put a damper on your plans to upgrade your heating and cooling equipment this year, don’t give up yet! There are still lots of incentives available for Oregon homeowners who wish to purchase a more efficient HVAC system in 2014. The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) recently released their new tax credit rates on energy efficient heating and cooling equipment for the new year, and many of the systems that no longer qualify for the federal credit are still available at the state level. Check out this chart outlining the new rates here – with the installation of the right equipment, you can see some serious savings down the road!

And don’t forget that there are still some tax credits available at the federal level, even if you can’t claim it for all forms of HVAC equipment. The DOE’s Residential Renewable Energy tax credit program is still in effect this year, and you can take advantage of this credit if you install equipment powered by renewable energy sources, such as geothermal heat pump systems and solar water heaters. This incentive allows you to claim a credit worth up to 30% of the cost of the project, and remains in effect through December 31st, 2016. Geothermal systems tend to cost more than traditional HVAC systems, but the long term energy savings are significant, and with another three years to claim the credit, you still have plenty of time to decide if a renewable energy system is right for you!

Home Comfort is always keeping track of tax credit incentives for heating and cooling equipment. If you’re thinking of installing a new system, contact us and ask us what incentives are available. We’re here to help you get rewarded for going green!

Sources:

www.oregon.gov/energy

http://energy.gov/savings/residential-energy-efficiency-tax-credit

http://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit

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.

Decoding HVAC Jargon: HSPF Ratings Explained

hspf

Welcome back to our series on common terms in the HVAC industry! Last week, we discussed the meaning and importance of SEER ratings. We mentioned that an air conditioner’s SEER rating is especially important for naturally hot climates like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. But if you live in a mild climate like states in the Northwest, you should know the meaning of an equally-important HVAC term: the “Heating Season Performance Factor,” otherwise known as a unit’s HSPF rating.

When it comes to weather, places like Western Oregon and Western Washington tend to sit right in the middle of things. This area’s periods of hot summer weather are less intense and usually won’t last as long as the Southwest’s, where air conditioning may even be needed year-round. And unlike the Midwest, whose winters last longer and are very cold, Northwest winters are relatively mild. This makes the Northwest an ideal location to install and utilize heat pumps, which perform heating and cooling operations within a single unit depending upon the demands of the weather.

That being said, cooler weather is definitely more prevalent in this area, which makes the HSPF rating potentially more important to consider than the unit’s SEER rating when shopping for a heat pump system. After all, if you expect your heat pump to be warming your home far more often than you expect it to be cooling your home, its HSPF rating could make a greater difference on your utility bills than the unit’s SEER rating.

HSPF is also more important than SEER in the Northwest if you plan on claiming tax credits for purchasing and installing a heat pump system in your home. Oregon’s residential energy tax credit applications for both ductless and traditional air-source heat pumps both currently require the system in question to have a minimum HSPF rating of at least 9.0. In contrast, neither of the applications have a minimum SEER requirement. In an area where summer seems to speed by in the blink of an eye, it’s easy to see why focusing on maximizing your system’s heating efficiency would lead to bigger energy savings.

For those who can’t or aren’t interested in claiming tax credits after purchasing a heat pump system, it’s still a good idea to take a look at the system’s HSPF ratings to anticipate how much energy it will use during heating season. Keep in mind that the lowest HSPF rating available on the market is 7.7, but that trusted HVAC sources like energyvanguard.com recommend buying a heat pump with an HSPF rating of 8.0 or higher if you anticipate your system operating in heating mode the majority of the time.

And of course, just like a professionally, properly installed air conditioner will typically perform truer to its advertized SEER rating, your heat pump is more likely to live up to its advertized HSPF rating if it’s installed by a trained and licensed mechanical contractor like Home Comfort. We’ll help you choose and install the perfect heat pump system for your home.

Energyvanguard.com, “Know Your Terms – Heat Pump Efficiency Ratings SEER & HSPF”Works Cited

www.oregon.gov, “Heat Pump Systems”

www.oregon.gov, “2013 Residential Energy Tax Credit Rates”

 

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.

 

Mitsubishi Electric’s Ads May be Playful, but Their Ductless Heat Pumps are Serious About Energy Savings

Recently Home Comfort has been featuring the following Mitsubishi Electric advertisement on our ductless mini-split webpage:

The advertisement, which has seen a lot of air time lately on national television networks, is playful in tone but makes a good point about the frustration that a lot of us face when periods of very hot and very cold weather force us to take a closer look at our thermostats. For many families, especially those with an older or inefficient system, a thermostat adjustment of just a couple degrees can translate to a noticeably higher utility bill at the end of the month.

Mini-split systems, or “ductless” heat pumps, have become the solution that a growing number of families are turning to when they make the decision to retrofit their existing heating and cooling system. When installed and used properly, ductless heat pumps can use between 25 to 50 percent less energy to operate than traditional systems, translating to lower energy bills and a higher level of comfort in summer and winter.¹ When your system operates more efficiently, suddenly a temperature adjustment of “only two degrees” doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

But ductless heat pumps aren’t just efficient; they’re convenient, too! Since no extra construction is needed to create or modify a network of air ducts, which can be quite expensive, this type of system is a good upgrade for homes that were originally built with a form of electric resistance heat, such as baseboard heaters, ceiling heat, or wall heaters.²

Home Comfort is listed as a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, which means that our technicians and installation crews have undergone extensive training for the proper installation, repair, and maintenance of Mitsubishi’s ductless systems. More importantly, it also means we stand behind these units as our number one choice for ductless installations due to their efficiency and reliability.

And we’re not the only company or organization that is excited about the rise of ductless technology in the Northwest—for the last few years, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has been working with regional utilities on the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, which has been campaigning for higher consumer awareness about this alternative heating and cooling system. The Ductless Heat Pump Project works to set interested homeowners up with the resources and incentive programs they need to install this efficient home comfort system.

If you think installing a ductless heat pump system is a good option for your family, check out their website to learn more. And look for Home Comfort on their list of contractors – we’re a participating Master Installer!

Sources:

¹ Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, “Frequently Asked Questions,” http://goingductless.com/consumer/about-ductless-heating-and-cooling/FAQ

² Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project, “Where they are Used,”  http://goingductless.com/consumer/about-ductless-heating-and-cooling/where-used