Monthly Archives: June 2013

Is My Ducted Heating and Cooling System Outdated?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!

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

Replacing Your Water Heater? Let Us Help You!

Go ahead and fill up that tub! We'll help you find a water heater that's energy efficient and ready for a high-demand household!

Go ahead and fill up that tub! We’ll help you find a water heater that’s energy efficient and ready for a high-demand household!

Choosing the source of hot water in your home may seem simple, but there are many choices on the market thanks to advances in technology. Should you choose a conventional tank heater, or go with a tankless model? Is initial investment an important factor, or are you interested in a long-term savings strategy? Home Comfort sells and services water heaters regularly, so we are happy to share some of our strategies with you.

The most common water heating method on the market today is still the traditional storage tank-style water heater. In this type of water heater, the water stored in the tank is ready for use throughout the house, but will lose heat while sitting unused. Installation is cheap, but it typically uses more energy than other methods. In this case, installing a well-insulated tank can make a world of difference. When choosing a tank-style water heater, look for R12 through R15 insulation classifications.

If long-term energy savings is a priority, then a demand water heater, also known as a “tankless” water heater, is a better option. These models use the same energy sources as the storage tank heaters, but instead of storing hot water, they heat the water on demand and send it throughout the building. There is no energy being lost from a storage tank, but it also means that there can be a limit to the amount of water that can be used at once. Check out our website to learn more about our tankless water heater offerings, where you’ll find links to product specifications and available models.

Other types of efficient systems are available, such as solar or geothermal heating systems. Whatever method you choose, it is always important to choose an Energy Star-approved system and a licensed contractor like Home Comfort to install it.