Low-Cost Ways to Heat Your Home

September 29th, 2014

home

 

Heating your home can be extremely expensive, especially if you live in an area that is known for cold winters. While the majority of people use traditional heating methods such as gas or oil, there are other alternatives that can prove to be far more cost-effective while also helping the environment. Many of today’s best heating alternatives rely instead on such sources as solar power and recycled materials to help keep costs down when the temperature dips.

Wood-pellet heating has seen a resurgence in recent years as a cost-effective home heating option. The pellets, roughly the size of rabbit feed, are made from a variety of recycled materials such as sawdust, dried plants and wood chips. Costing an average of $150 per ton, the average-sized house will use about three tons of pellets per year. Similar to using a traditional wood stove, pellets burn much cleaner and are much more convenient to handle than big pieces of firewood. If a wood-pellet stove is used, make sure to clean your chimney on a regular basis to ensure creosote or other substances have not built up and could potentially catch fire.

Air-solar heating is becoming more popular as homeowners start to take solar heating options seriously. By heating a tank of air with the sun’s rays, the warm air can then be pumped throughout the house using the existing ductwork. One advantage of this heating system is it can be formatted to easily work with existing home heating systems, and can provide heat in the house on cloudy days. Many government grants exist for those wanting to install solar power units in their homes, so while the initial outlay may be expensive the grant money can eventually let the system pay for itself.

Radiant heating, which is the slow transfer of heat into a home’s walls or floors, works best in homes that have deep concrete floors or thick walls. It’s done by using electric cables to spread heat throughout the home. A solar heating system can be used in conjunction with the electric cables, while many people choose to use a standard furnace to heat the water or air used in radiant heating. To make sure this system proves to be cost-effective in your home, it’s best used in those homes that do have very thick walls and floors.

As winter approaches, people everywhere will be looking for ways to stay warm while also keeping money in their pockets. By investing in any of these methods, staying warm inside while Old Man Winter keeps things cold outside will be much easier and affordable.
Written by Tim Smith for Modernize.

Tricks of the Trade: Installing Ductwork

October 18th, 2013

Getting your home to stay at a reguler temperature; that you can enjoy, can be a bit bothersome. After a while, you can only take so much of being uncomfortable in your own home. There is a solution. And we’re here to help. Try the art of installing ductwork. Ductwork is the relief that you and your family are looking for. It will allow your home’s air to flow smoother and easier; creating a comfortable environment. Now, when it comes to how to install ductwork; well that’s all your choice. You can either hire a HVAC professional, or you could step up and do it yourself. Personally I think you should make a call to hire a technician. But if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, you should know; you’re in for a tricky job.
You are going to have to do some calcualtions throughout your home. These will allow you to know how much of the materials you will need and how to construct your diagram for your transformation.
Step 1: The very first step in your venture is the most important. Without this you won’t be able to determine where the ductwork should go our how much of the supplies you will need. Load Calcualtion is going to be your best friend. This will help you know hthe heat gains and loss’s of each room in your house. By knowing this you can know where the ductwork should go throughout the home.
Step 2: You should construct a model of the ductwork for your home. You will need do some very detailed planning for this extreme project. your model needs to include what rooms you will be installing in and precisely where. Also, you need to keep note of where your air return ducts should be placed. Keep your findings very accurate and in order. You don’t have any room for mishaps.
Step 3: Now that you have all of your findings; it is time for you to gather all of you materials.
registers, plenum ducts, flex ducts, return grills, sheet metal tees and colors (4 inch beaded collars for 2 ducts and 2 inch minimum to attach the ducts to vents). You will also need, plastic and metal clamps along with their fasteners also, metal straps/hangers so you can attach ductwork to the basement or attic ceiling. And just a few more simple things; pliers, gorilla tape, size 8 sheet metal screws, variety of screwdrivers, wire cutters, scissors, hammer and nails, tape measure, goggles, helmet, work gloves
Step 4: Now it is time to begin rennovation. You will need to start by cutting out holes and building up a frame. Every roo, that a vent is going to be placed will need to have holes cut into the floor. Hvac units are going to need two holes, one for the returning air and the other so air can be let into the desired room. These holes need to match with the ones you are cutting on the basement’s ceiling. Doing so will allow air to flow properly. You will then need to start building your framework for the ductwork. This will keep the ductworl secure. next, fasten hangers to the studs of the basements ceiling. Framework is complete.
Step 5: The ducts need to be sized and cut accordingly. As you pile up your sections of ducts you need to keep them close by for easy handling. At this time, also cut holes into plenum ducts so air may pass.
Step 6: Now attach plenum ducts to your HVAC system. Two will be attached one for returning air and the other for exhaust. Then, lay out the plenum ducts into receiving collars on fan couls of system; make sure they’re tight. Make certain that the metal tabs are flat against the duct unit; while using the ducts pins and screws to make everything fully secure.
Step 7: The ducts will now be attached. Start with the exhaust and attach ducts to plenum ducts. Keep everything at least 5 ft apart. Also each duct attachment needs to be supported by their hangers.
Step 8: The return box will now be installed. Using the air intake box and plenum ductworking attach them the same way you would in step 7. The cover all the holes with the corrosponding cover.
Step 9: Now that everything is complete you need to do a run through, you need to be sure that there arent any major leaks and that circulation is at its prime. If you need to ajust the HVAC unit do do with gorilla tape to block excesse air.
You now know how to build your own ductwork. Now, let’s see you put it to the test.

When the Eerie Sets In

September 23rd, 2013

Do you ever wake up in the morning to a particularly eerie feeling lurking through your home? The floor creak, you air enwraped in a crisp breezes; as wafts in your ears, and the windows drip with icy droplets. What if I told you that we could out an end to that dreary morning routine? You could awaken to clear and bright windows and your air conditioner keeping your home at a perfect temperature.
In order to keep from freezing, you need to put an end to your cold drafts. All you have to do is seal up the cracks in your home. You can find little opening to the outside world through your doors. You should find a means of closing that up. You could use strips, storm seals, etc. just take a trip to your local hardware store. Taking care of this will keep your home at a regulated temperature. This will also, help with your cooling costs.
You can take care of the windows by simply chamois them down. The condensation that builds up on the windows can cause many problems. Such as mold, once you have mold you are in for a whole field of issues. Take care of the issue early. Give your windows a good wiping.
By tackling your cold drafts and cleaning up your windows you can wake easy knowing your home won’t be creeping up on you.

Common HVAC Technician Mistakes

September 16th, 2013

Trusting your home to a HVAC professional can and will be a particularly tedious task. Just jumping into hiring a HVAC professional, to come in and maintenance your home’s air conditioning system is not something that you want to subjected yourself to. Doing so will open up a huge oppurtunity for your home to be terribly wrecked. Just because someone has earned their HVAC license does not mean that they can perform air conditioning maintenance and repair to a precise expertise. You need to be able to assure yourself that your home is in the hands of someone that is there to help you and repair your air conditioner for the years to come. We have a few markers to look for that HVAC professionals, without the proper training and experense tend to mess up on. These mistakes can cause you detremental destruction to your air conditioner and your life directly.
Many contractors do not take advantage of the oppurtunity to fully inspect your home’s indoor air quality. A quality contractor would be sure to check the air sealing of your home, all crawl spaces, insulation, crawl spaces, attics, and basements. The professional would do so to look for any indecation that is in need of improvement. The HVAC contractor that you hire should be one that has your best interest in mind. A professional that gets down to the grind with your home’s indoor air quality is one that you should be sure not to let go. If you run into a contractor that is there to be in and out, you can be sure you will have a few or more problems around the corner.
The contractor should always check the ventelation in your home. Many contractors over look this. Contractors need to make a run throuh your home to be sure that you have proper ventelation. You should expect your professional to want to check your kitchen and bathrooms. If this is not on your contractors to do list then your home has not be properly maintenanced.
As unfortunate as it sounds, it’s true; you aren’t going to want to hire a low priced HVAC contractor. Your home’s air conditioning performance is not something that should be taken lighlty. Many bargain contractors tend to do sloppy work. They have to keep all of their tools, assistance, and labor to a minimum, so they tend to not have your greatest interest in mind. You don’t have to spend and arm and a leg, but you should just be sure that you are getting what you are paying for.
By finding a HVAC professional, like those at Air National, that will do a worthy job is vitally important. After every maintenance you recieve you should be sure to do a scope through of your home. If you find anything that causes you any concern you should be sure to call your HVAC contractor or his supervisor as soon as possible. Anything that is left unattended or mishaped can and will lead to major future issues.

 

Survive the Texas Heat

September 9th, 2013

Being subjected to the harsh and terrorizing nature of Houston, Tx can be highly stressful. Texas is naturally a scorching hot atmosphere; but being a Texan, you know that living in Texas can be unpredictable. The weather changes from day to day; kind of just going with the wind. One day you may be enjoying the brief cool breezes of the world and the next you are begging for a nice ice cold water bottle to help you cool down. If you run into the unfortunate event of your air conditioning failing on you, you are in for a real miserable time. I have a few tips for you to help yourself survive the destructive heat of Texas.
If you are in a situation where you are in dire need to fight heat exhaustion, due to lack of air conditioning; or for any situation at all, you should make it vitally to stay hydrated. When you experience air conditioning failure you should be sure to stock up on tons and tons of water. Water is going to be your best friend; in your time of need.
You may be very tempted to want to hop into your shower and take a cold shower to get the heat off. This is not advised. You see, that cold shower may have been relieving for the time being, but you have just done yourself a disservice my friend. Once you step out your body is now forced to start warming you up internally. So you step out to a blazing home and an internal body temperature rising. You should, take a light warm shower, so that when you step out into your over heated home, your body will be forced to lower your internal temperature. This will contribute to cooling yourself off.
Keep as many fans going as possible. The more air circulation the better. You want to have an open atmosphere. You should raise the windows to let fresh air in and out. Keep all doors open. All of these things will contribute to cooling your home and continuing positive air circulation.
You can always keep cool clothes on yourself. It may be odd, but keeping your clothing refrigerated before you wear it is a way to lower the heat. Keep a glass of ice on you so that you can suck on ice cubes to keep yourself cooled and hydrated.
If your air conditioning situation is going on for a prolonged period of time, you should seek help from loved ones to try and sleep comfortably for even just a night.
Living with no air conditioning can be dangerous. It is not something that should be taken lightly. Heat exhaustion can lead to devastating outcomes. So seeking professional HVAC help is vital.
All of these are ways that you can keep yourself comfortable in a situation that can be overly overwhelming. Getting immediate assistance for your air conditioner is strongly advised; for without the miracle of indoor air conditioning life will gradually become more and more irritable.

Crafty Texas Tips: Create Your Own Humidifier

September 6th, 2013

In Texas we can get a just a little bit crafty. And hey why not, figure out a cost effective way to air condition and humidify your own room? Being innovative can allow you to improve many aspects to your life, including the quality of your home’s temperature. Here is a simple trick to creating your own humidifier.
You will need:
Table Fan
String
Water Bottle
Sheet/unneeded t-shirt for a cover.
Quick How-to:
You will start by holding up your choose of a cloth that you will use as a cover for the fan. On the top RIGHT side of your chosen cloth you will need to tie a string around it nice and tight.
Next, you will need to wrap the string around the safety shield of your fan. From this you will use your chosen cloth to cover the entire front shield of your fan, leaving just a bit of spare space to hang freely. You will then need to fasten the cloth neatly to your fan.
Lastly, after you have your cloth securely fastened to the fan you must use the excess cloth that should be hanging from the bottom of the fan to set into a cup of water. You need to be careful to change the cup of water daily. If you neglect to the water will become stagnant and start to produce bacteria that will start to be filtered into your air. But If you change the water daily you will avoid this and nicely cool your home.
You have now created your very own humidifier. The water is useful for extra moisture in your home’s air.

Guide to a completely cool home

September 5th, 2013

We all know that Houston can be pretty steamy place, especially during the summer. This summer of 2013 is sure to be one of the worst ones yet. Temperatures are already reaching highs of over 103 degrees. This brings much pain and suffering for your poor outdoor air conditioner unit. The heat will cause your air conditioner to over work itself to great extent. And what that means for you is a definitively hotter than wanted house; this will result with inclining electric bills. Having to shovel more money out of your pockets is nothing you want to be burdened with as well as the Houston heat you’re forced to endure on a regular bases. I have a few tips for you that will help you stay cooler this summer season. By using these leads of advice you can be sure to benefit your air conditioner, which will allow you to have a cooler home and regularly low electric bills, giving you the power to beat the heat.
Tip 1: Invest in multiple fans. Making a trip to your closest department store is going to be a lifesaver. You should pick up a few fans and place them throughout your home. They don’t necessarily need to be fixed on high at all times. A steady air flow will allow the warm air building up in your rooms to be utilized and help to cool your home.
Tip 2: Houston summers are blessed by its subtle breezes. Keep the windows open to continuously circulate natural air flow. This will also provide extra cooling for your home.
Tip 3: I know keeping the doors closed to the rooms in your home may be a habit, but it’s a habit worth breaking. Keeping the doors in your home open will allow great air flow.
Tip 4: Lighter sheets on your beds and such will keep heat from being absorbed, building up, and getting trapped in the house.
Tip 5: Do continuous checks throughout the day to keep off the lights and unplug all unused electric appliances. This will reduce the amount of energy your home is consuming.
Tip 6: You should do your best to refrain from cooking on a stove or oven. Waiting to use these appliances during the cooler hours will help your home reduce its heat consumption.
Tip 7: Keep your blinds closed to trap the sun’s rays from caressing the indoors of your home. You could also try to cover the windows with aluminum which will reduce extra heat from entering your home.
Utilizing these tips can and will help you with your day to day struggles over heat exhaustion. If your air conditioner is not functioning properly you should give Air National Houston a call; they will be sure to get your air conditioner up and running to your expectations. You should never have to suffer from the summer heat in your own home. Let Air National Houston make your home your own personal heat escape.

Air Conditioning Performance

August 30th, 2013

An air conditioning system is your home or business’s backbone to your own and personal indoor air quality, so it is undoubtedly crucial that you maintain your air conditioning system’s cleanliness to ensure that you are being provided with a proper functioning unit. Your air conditioner needs to have consistent, scheduled, and routine personal provided cleaning and maintenance that is provided by an HVAC professional technician. During a typical visit a professional HVAC technician, like the team at Air National, will do a standard check-up and tune up to rid your air conditioner of all built up debris and ensure that the unit is functioning at its maximum potential, with no haphazard arising. When your system is full of the everyday hazards it is harmed by, such as; pollution, dust, debris, leaves, rocks, and etc. the system is left hindered from being able to achieve working at its optimum potential. But if you are responsible and put your best foot forward to devote yourself to the upkeep of your air conditioning system, your home will reward you with advanced performance.

There are a few key factors to consider when checking the overall performance of your air conditioning system.

Your air conditioner comes equipped with drain lines. These are used to help your system excrete all of the unnecessary filth that tends to get lodged into the lines over time. The drain lines can become clogged with all kinds of pollutants. Dust, dirt, mites, insects, debris, and even rocks can fill the line(s) and cause them to backup. If your air conditioning drain lines are clogged you may be noticing that your home feels much more humid than usual. This is because, since the drain lines are jammed, it is causing your air conditioning system to stress and over work; which will greatly reduce your indoor air quality.

Your air conditioner could be malfunctioning and you may not even be aware of it. You should always check that your system turns on and off properly. Listen for any odd sounds, improper noises could be a sign that your air conditioner is on its way to disaster. This could be a sign that your air conditioner is clogged; there is a leak, or a pan overflow.

When your air conditioner becomes too clogged and it has gone untreated for too long, you may and can start to experience water leakage and air conditioning pan overflow. This will show up by creating water stains on your ceiling.

If you start to experience any symptoms of a clogged drain, a/c water leak, or a/c pan overflow you need to be sure to contact a professional at Air National Houston as soon as possible. Air conditioning repairs should not be taken lightly and should always be handled by a professional. Tune-ups from an Air National Houston professional need to be conducted every six months to a year to ensure reliable functioning for your indoor air quality.

Insulation Installation

January 22nd, 2013

Insulate Your House and Your Checkbook

 insulation

It’s hard to calculate how much money is pouring through your roof when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Some experts have estimated those costs to be as high as 45 percent! If you don’t have insulation in your attic, it’s easy to loose about half of your heat, basically doubling your heating bill. You can significantly reduce these costs just by adding insulation, which you can do yourself if you’re willing to get a bit dirty.

You will initially need to determine the type of insulation that will best suit you, then how much of it you’ll need. If you do already have some insulation, it’s not especially good to compress things like fiberglass or to put different materials on top of each other, such as cellulose (a blown in material) over fiberglass or vice versa. It is better to stick with corresponding materials; fiberglass on fiberglass, cellulose on cellulose, etc. Batts, a blanket type of insulation material, on the other hand, can be used with more batts or with loose-fill material like fiberglass.

If you do compress the loose-fill material, that will decrease the R-value of its insulating properties. R-value is the insulation rating for its ability to reduce the amount of heat that can escape through it, whether coming into or out of your home. A high R-value means that you are better insulated and saving money on you heating and cooling costs. The optimal R-value is between 38 and 49. Batts are approximately R-3 to R-3.8 per inch of thickness, loose-fill cellulose is R-3.13 to 3.7 per inch and loose-fill fiberglass is R-2.6 to R-3.0 per inch. You can find the R-value recommended for your region by going to:

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table.

After you have decided what material works best for you and how much of it you will need, you should next figure out whether or not you will need help for this project. Some local insulation dealers also may rent the equipment needed to install the materials. It is best to have some help in projects like this though for safety reasons.

Here are some safety precautions to follow:

  • Wear long sleeve shirts and use gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask to avoid contact with the materials.
  • Use walk boards across the ceiling joists when working in the attic.
  • Make sure to pick up the boards you used so they do not damage the insulation and reduce your R-value.
  • Unless you’re also an electrician, it is best to avoid working close to electrical wiring unless you have turned off the power to the home. It’s recommended that you have the wiring inspected and repaired if needed by a licensed electrician. Be cautious with spliced wires too, they should be in a junction box for safety.
  • It is very important that you NOT cover any boxed or recessed light fixtures with insulation unless it has already been approved for insulation.
  • Also avoid covering ventilation areas to and from the attic and roof.
  • Another area to avoid covering is vent fans. The fans pull moisture which will damage the insulation and roof structure. They are supposed to be vented to outside.
  • Keep all insulation inside the attic. Do not allow it to touch the underside of the roof where it can form condensation causing damage to the insulation as well as the roof decking.
  • Batts, or blanket insulation, covered with paper or foil should not be used on top of existing insulation. These are vapor barriers which hold moisture against existing insulation. If you already have paper or foil insulation exposed to the attic you can just peel the facing off of the batts before you add more insulation. Be sure to take the flammable paper or foil out of your attic.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to plan on insulating your attic access cover and apply self-adhesive foam sealant to the access way when you’re done with the insulation.

Call your local heat and A/C experts today for more information. Many places offer free estimates or second opinions and often run specials for purchasing services and or materials, especially during the winter seasons.

New Twist on Heating

January 15th, 2013

          Wood/Coal FurnaceThere are several school districts in Northern areas now switching to new systems of heating their schools to keeping the students warm and save funds at the same time. One School district in Maine is installing biomass boilers to which will be used to heat three of their district schools. They will be using only locally produced wood pellets to fuel these boilers which will aid in the growth of local economy as well.

             This particular district (SAD 54 in Skowhegan,Maine) is pioneering this effort in that this system will be heating multiple schools, and is using exclusively local fuel source of wood pellets. The equipment for the district had a cost of $1.7 million and the boiler alone set them back $500,000 which was set up in the high school basement. One may wonder what they are going to use all those funds for that they will be saving on heating costs, though it may take a season or two to break even, the savings will probably add up quickly afterwards.

             This massive heater is fed by an auger from a 42 ton silo located near the high school football field. It runs off of a 3,500 gallon hot water tank heated by the wood pellets and circulates to every room of the three schools it heats.

             Brent Colbry, Superintendent of SAD 54, said that the wood pellet project was paid for with a low-interest federal loan under Obama’s stimulus package. “The payback will come from the savings from the oil,” he said. “You take the cost of the loan, you take the cost of the pellets and the cost of the boiler, compared to what we were spending on oil before — we’re saving between $60,000 and $100,000 a year.”

            Maine Woods Pellet Co inAthensprocured a 5 year contract to supply the boiler with about 600 tons of wood pellets per year at $175 per ton. This averages out to be about $105,000 annually, where the oil equivalent would be twice that cost. At this rate, the entire loan should be paid off in about 10 years, that on average is a third of the time it takes many of us to pay off an home at the fraction of that cost.

             Just in case those plans don’t work out as planned, the school board has already authorized additional connections for natural gas. The previous two oil fired boilers also remain in place as a precautionary back up plan. The plan is to have the system test fired by the end of January 2013. They’re keeping the propane for hot water for now though.