Air Mechanical, Inc Blog : Archive for September, 2011

Most Commonly Asked Questions About Heat Pumps: A Guide From Andover

Friday, September 30th, 2011

If you’re thinking about buying a new heat pump for your Andover home, chances are you have some questions about these types of products and how they work. In fact, because these types of home comfort systems are relatively new to a lot of people, there are a quite a few misconceptions out there about how effective and efficient they can be.

Recently we’ve gotten some good questions from our readers, so we thought we’d like to pass along the answers so that others can benefit from the information as well.

If I Buy a Heat Pump, Do I Have to Buy an Air Conditioner Too?

That heat pumps are only able to heat your home is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about this type of equipment. Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air in one place and transferring it to another. That means that in the winter, your heat pump is able to heat your home by taking heat from the outdoor air and moving it inside.

However, in the summer, the heat pump is able to do the same thing only in reverse. When you switch on your heat pump’s cooling function, it will be able to take the heat out of your indoor air and transfer it outside. In this way, the same heat pump system can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without you needing to purchase an air conditioner or other supplemental comfort systems.

If I Choose a Heat Pump System, Will I Also Need to Install Supplemental Heat?

That depends on what the climate is like where you live and how warm you like to keep your home. In general, heat pumps can keep any home comfortable as long as the outdoor temperature is above 32°F or so. If the temperature outside drops below that, you may want to have some type of supplemental heating system just in case. However, a heat pump will still be able to provide some warmth at these lower temperatures and you may be able to keep yourself comfortable with a simple space heater or too.

Also, remember that these colder temperatures are most common at night when you would probably have turned your heat down anyway. As long as you live in a relatively moderate climate, heat pumps can do a great job of keeping your home comfortable all year long.

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Home Energy Myths: Some Information From Bloomington

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Measuring and controlling your Bloomington home’s energy consumption is a little tricky. There are plenty of talking heads and information resources on the Internet that tell you how it’s supposed to work, but in most cases you’ll find that so called common knowledge about your home’s energy use isn’t always true. Here are some of the most common myths and how to differentiate from the truth.

  1. Conservation and Efficiency Are Different – Many people think that by getting an energy efficient appliance, they are conserving energy and helping the environment. To some degree this is true. However, in reality, you are merely reducing how much energy it takes to complete a task. Conservation is finding ways to actually stop using energy for common tasks. Taking baths instead of showers, not watering your lawn, and turning off lights completely are all examples of conservation.
  2. Turning Off an Appliance Saves a Lot of Energy – Regardless of whether an appliance is physically on or not, it still consumes power as long as it is plugged in. The only way to completely stop your energy consumption is to unplug an item completely or use a power strip that blocks access to electricity when the switch is turned to off.
  3. Turning on Items Creates a Power Surge – While turning a computer on and off uses a bit more electricity than simply leaving it on all the time, it isn’t a significant difference. In fact, the longer you leave an appliance on, the more it wears down and the faster it starts to use extra power to remain effective.
  4. One Energy Source is Cheaper than Another – This depends largely on the type of energy source you have for heating and cooling, the cost of that source and how much heating and cooling you need. A single portable electric heater is cheaper than running your entire oil heating system. But, electric heaters are rarely cheaper if you use them to heat your entire home.

Myths abound when it comes to energy use around your home. Make sure to get all the facts before making decisions that could end up costing you more money in the long run.

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Home Repairs You Don’t Want to Ignore: A Guide From Rogers

Monday, September 26th, 2011

There are a lot of things you need to take care of around your Rogers home. But, everything costs money so many homeowners will put off certain home repairs for weeks, months or even years until they can afford them. However, there are certain things around the house you simply should not put off. Not only can they cost you more money in the long run, they can put your home and your family at risk if you wait too long.

Dirty Filters

Dirty filters in your air conditioning, heating, or air quality system are a problem. Not only do they force your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a good temperature, they are frequently a major cause of airborne contaminants and pathogens. Imagine it this way; those filters are meant to remove something from your air. If they get dirty and are not replaced or cleaned, they probably aren’t working any longer and you can get sick. Dirty filters are inexpensive and easy to fix. Both you and your HVAC repairperson should see to them regularly.

Dryer Vents

Clogged dryer vents are more than just an inconvenience – they are dangerous. If your home has dirty dryer vents, the exhaust from your dryer isn’t able to escape. When this happens, heat will build up in the ducts. Not only can exhaust backup into your home, the risk of a fire goes up significantly. Have your dryer vents cleaned at least once a year and if you live in a two or three family house, make sure it is more often – closer to every 6 months.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are more than just messy – they can cause damage to fixtures and floorboards and over time can lead to the growth of mold and the weakening of your entire home. Especially in concrete or foundational walls, water leaks need to be seen to immediately. Even just a small leak can cost you money and put your home at an increased risk of damage.

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Regular Duct Cleaning Will Reduce Allergens: A Tip From Fridley

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

One of the biggest problems many families face with indoor air quality in their Fridley home is the ever persistent presence of allergens. Especially if you have pets or plants, allergens will be in your home from the day you move in. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many ways to reduce them – especially in the case of duct work.

Allergens in Your Duct Work

How do so many allergens get into your ductwork? It starts with how the ductwork circulates air in your home. Because air only flows one way and because the ducts are not being used continuously, the air circulated by your air conditioner or furnace leaves behind all sorts of unwanted residue.

In both cases, the air drawn into your comfort system is usually the same air from inside your home. That means it is full of things like dust, pollen, dander and more. Even if the air is drawn from outside, often the case with an air conditioner unit, there are plenty of allergens outside.

How do you stop all of these allergens from working their way into your home and then your lungs? It starts with regular cleaning. You can’t ever truly stop allergens from coming inside or circulating in your air ducts, but you can take big steps in removing many of the contaminants that linger in your ducts.

Annual cleaning of the ducts by a professional will remove excess build up in places you cannot normally reach. Between those cleaning visits, you should supplement the cleaning by dusting and vacuuming vents and the areas of your ducts you can reach.

Going Beyond Cleaning

Cleaning your ducts is a great way to reduce allergens in the house. That alone, along with quality ventilation will take care of the most common allergens. However, if people in your home suffer from asthma or more severe seasonal allergies you may want to upgrade your preventative measures with an air filtration and purification system.

An air filter alone, equipped with a HEPA filter, is capable of removing particles and allergens as small as 0.3 microns – far smaller than dander, pollen or dust. For those with more advanced allergies or too many outdoor contaminants, a purifier works wonders by removing excess gas, smoke, or mold from the air with ionization.

Whatever your concerns, it is possible to live comfortably in your home despite allergies.

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What Happens if You Put Your Air Filter in the Wrong Way? Some Advice From Isanti

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Air filters are important pieces in your overall Isanti home’s comfort system. They keep unwanted debris and sediment out of your indoor air and they help your system run smoothly for years to come. However, if you’re not careful, an air filter put in backwards can lead to quite a few problems with your heating and cooling system.

The Most Common Problems

The most common problem you will face with a backwards facing filter is simple inefficiency. If your furnace is forced to blow air through the non-porous end of a filter, it will take more energy to do so. The blower will be overworked and you will pay more money for your heating. The same is doubly true for an air conditioner which has multiple filters in place to keep outdoor contaminants out of your indoor air.

Beyond the cost of improper filtering, you will likely suffer from a decrease in indoor air quality. The filter is designed to remove a lot of unwanted debris, but only when installed in a certain direction. If you set your filter up backwards, the normally collective end of the device will not face the air supply. In effect, your filter will help keep debris in the air.

This results in a clogged filter and improperly cleaned air when it reaches your lungs. If you have a home indoor air quality system it will help to supplement this problem for a while, but the clog will eventually become too much for your system.

Avoiding the Problem

There are two ways to avoid improper installation. First, you can have a professional install the system for you. Whenever you need a new filter ask someone to come and take care of it. When they do, though, pay close attention to how they set the filter and any other steps they take. By carefully watching you can ideally learn what it takes to do this step yourself and hopefully keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

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New Thermostats – Are they Worth the Investment? A Question From Bethel

Monday, September 19th, 2011

When you are trying to save money around your Bethel house, a new thermostat is definitely worth looking into. Sure, your old thermostat works fine. But there are a lot of features available on newer models that can help you save money on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

And you do not need to wait until it is time to replace your home comfort system to upgrade your thermostat. Most thermostats can work with many different types of heating and cooling systems. So no matter what type of HVAC system you have or how old it is, you should be able to integrate some type of new thermostat into it.

But how can a new thermostat save you money? Well, they simply offer a lot of features that you can use to your advantage. For instance, even the most basic programmable thermostat can let you set different temperatures for different times of day. You can program the thermostat to turn the heat down during the day when no one is home and then you can have the heat switch back on just before you get home.

That way, you can come home to a nice, warm house without having to pay to heat it all day long when it is empty. Many newer thermostats also are more accurate and can provide more pinpoint control of your heating and cooling system. That means that you will not be wasting money because your heating system gets the actual temperature in your house up to 75°F when you only really need it to hit 72°F.

Newer thermostats help you to save money in a variety of ways, and that savings will more than pay for the cost of having a new thermostat installed. That is because thermostats are actually quite cheap and easy to install. A relatively basic programmable thermostat should not run you more than $100, and even if you opt for one of the more advanced systems out there, you will not pay more than a few hundred dollars.

That is a small price to pay considering the increased comfort possible with a state of the art thermostat and the potential for savings every month on your heating or cooling bills. Plus, you likely paid a considerable amount to have that state of the art HVAC system put in. It is worth paying just a bit more so that you can get the most possible out of it. If you have questions about getting a new thermostat installed, talk to your local Bethel contractor.

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Geothermal Myths: A Tip From Blaine

Friday, September 16th, 2011

As with any misunderstood technology, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions concerning geothermal heat pumps and how well they work in your Blaine home. While these types of systems certainly have their limitations, the same is true of just about any type of heating and cooling system you could have installed in your home. But if you are really trying to evaluate whether or not a geothermal heating system is right for your home, you need to know exactly what is true about these systems and what is just not true.

For instance, there is a widely held belief that geothermal energy is not a viable heating option in areas with harsh winters. The fact is, though, that even when the air temperature outside is below freezing, the temperature several feet below ground can be as high as 55°F.

With a ground temperature like that, a geothermal heat pump will have no trouble extracting enough heat to keep your home comfortable even when it is well below freezing outside. And even when the ground freezes, the frost usually only extends three or four feet below the surface. Since the pipes for your geothermal heat pump will be at least four feet down, the frost should not affect them at all.

Also, it is common for people to assume that geothermal heat pumps will always need to have a regular heating system in place to serve as a backup. In fact, a geothermal heat pump is quite capable of providing consistent and adequate heating for your entire house as long as it is properly sized and installed. Make sure you are dealing with an experienced and qualified contractor and you will have no problems along these lines.

There are also plenty of myths floating around out there that geothermal heat pumps are just too expensive to make sense as a home heating solution. The truth is that geothermal heating costs almost nothing to operate.

While it is true the geothermal systems are quite a bit more expensive to install than many of the other options, alternative heating systems will still cost a significant amount to install and you will also have to pay much more to operate them on a regular basis. With a geothermal heating system, you pay quite a bit up front, but it is a one-time cost and there will be minimal monthly heating bills after that.

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Heat Recovery Ventilator – What Is It and When Do You Need It? A Question From Stillwater

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

While the design of modern homes is to retain as much energy as possible while minimizing the cost of heating and cooling, that very design can have a negative impact on your Stillwater home’s indoor air quality. Because air cannot pass freely between indoor and outdoor environments, you are stuck breathing the same air day after day.

Luckily, there are t options that will exchange the heat in your indoor air to the outdoor air as it enters your home. In effect, you can retain all of the heat your home produces each day before it leaves the house. It works equally well in the summer to retain the cooled air your air conditioning units produce.

How Heat Recovery Works

Heat recovery ventilators come in many forms, including simple ventilation, heat exchange, or air exchanging. There are even some indoor heat pumps that will carefully draw heat from the air as it’s removed from your home and recirculate it through your air ducts.

The idea is the same no matter how the system is installed. As air leaves your home through a ventilator, a counter-flow heat exchanger transfers energy between the air leaving and entering your home. So, instead of warm air leaving and cold air entering, the air coming into your home takes the heat from the air leaving your home. Air comes and goes, but heat stays inside.

In the summer, the same system works in reverse to remove heat from the air coming into your home and keep it outside. The one thing to keep in mind with a heat recovery ventilator is that it doesn’t retain the humidity in your home as an energy recovery ventilator would. If you live in an area with very high or very low humidity during summer or winter, an ERV may be a better solution for your needs.

Air Quality Benefits

The goal of a good heat recovery ventilator is not just to retain the heated or cooled air in your home. It is also to ensure you have clean, fresh air to breathe each day. Most people don’t realize, but when you don’t circulate your air and your home is sealed up with enhanced weather-stripping and high quality insulation, unwanted contaminants begin to build up. A heat recovery ventilator makes sure you not only get fresh air, but that it’s properly filtered and the heat or cooling your comfort system produces is retained. No money is lost, energy is saved, and your family stays comfortable and healthy – everyone wins.

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Will Switching to Geothermal Save Me Money? A Question From Chanhassen

Monday, September 12th, 2011

There are simply a ton of different types of heating systems in Chanhassen and they are each more appropriate in different situations. However, some are certainly always going to be cheaper to operate than others, although that alone may not make one or the other right for you.

In the case of geothermal heating systems, the operating costs are definitely quite low. But those are not the only costs you will have to think about when you are considering what type of heating system to put in your home to keep your heating bills down.

Geothermal heating systems do not actually generate heat – they absorb it from the ground. Because of this, they actually use very little energy when they are running. All you are really paying to power is the fan that blows the heated air around your house. Also, because geothermal heating systems are more efficient at extracting heat in below freezing conditions than traditional heat pumps, they can continue to keep you warm on their own in more extreme conditions.

Traditional heat pumps, while they also cost very little to operate, do sometimes need to be supplemented by more conventional forms of indoor heating like a furnace when temperatures outdoors get too low. This is not the case with geothermal heat pumps, so if you live somewhere that has colder winters, a geothermal heat pump may be just what you are looking for. Of course, you can always opt for a furnace instead, but these will definitely cost more to run than either type of heat pump.

When you are trying to assess whether or not switching to a geothermal heating system will save you money, you first have to start with the heating bills you currently have. Then, factor in the cost of the geothermal heat pump installation as opposed to the installation of a more conventional system.

You are then in a position to see whether or not the amount the geothermal system will save you each month is enough to offset the higher cost of installation within a reasonable amount of time. Of course, the savings will always eventually add up over time, but if the length of time it will take you to break even is the same or longer than the expected life of the system, it is probably not worth it to invest in this type of heating.

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Different Types of Room Air Conditioners in Vadnais Heights

Friday, September 9th, 2011

If you are like most people in Vadnais Heights, you probably picture the air conditioner hanging out of the window when you think of room air conditioners. However, while these are by far the most popular type of room air conditioners, they are not the only option. When you are shopping for a room air conditioner, it is a good idea to explore all of your options before you make a purchase.

The traditional window mounted air conditioners have plenty of advantages, and that has helped to keep them at the top of the room air conditioner market for a long time. These types of units can be installed in windows of multiple sizes and you can just about always get them in yourself. These units are available in a wide variety of sizes too, so you will be able to match the unit to the size of the space you need to cool.

No matter what type of air conditioner you get, it is very important to make sure it is the right size for the task you have laid out for it. Bigger is not always better and you do not want an air conditioner that is too powerful for the space any more than you want one that is too small. Also, be sure to check the energy efficiency rating of the air conditioner you are considering before making your purchase. That can save you a lot of money over time as well.

Another type of room air conditioner to take a look at is a wall mounted unit. Many of the window mounted units can actually be used in this way as well, but the installation involves actually making a hole in the outer wall of your home so you will most likely need some professional help to get it in place.

Just like window mounted units, wall mounted air conditioners come in all sizes and with all different energy efficiency ratings. Always take care to check out the specifics of the model before you buy it to make sure it is the right choice for your home.

Portable air conditioners are a third option in the room air conditioner category. They typically have wheels so that they can be easily moved from one room to another and they have an exhaust hose that must be hooked up to a window to ensure adequate ventilation. These types of room air conditioners are usually more expensive than wall or window mounted units, but it is definitely convenient to be able to move them from one place to another.

If you are not sure which type of air conditioner is right for you, contact your local air conditioning professional.

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