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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gas Furnace vs. Heat Pump: The Battle For Supremacy

Probably the most common question we get in the hvac business is this; which is better, gas furnace or heat pump?  Well folks, it all pretty much comes down to your location.  If you live in a colder area of the country, a gas furnace may well be the best thing for your home, whereas in areas of the country that are typically moderate to warm(our area) a heat pump can be much more cost effective.

An older gas furnace with a pilot light has an efficiency of only 65 percent, modern gas units have an efficiency of 80 percent. A heat pump is often up to 50 percent more efficient than a furnace. If a heat pump is sized to run continually, more money will be saved as efficiency will be maximized as it will not cycle on and off too often. Too much cycling produces wear on the components. The main loss of efficiency with a ducted gas system is loss of heat through ducts. If your ducts are well insulated, the heat loss can be minimized.

A heat pump may be much cheaper to run than a gas furnace, depending on the costs of electricity and gas in your area. A heat pump may be slightly more expensive to install which may not make installing one cost efficient if you already have a working gas furnace. If you are installing from scratch, a heat pump will be a lot cheaper than a new gas furnace.

Life Span
Gas furnaces have an average life span of 15 years, which is only slightly longer than a heat pump.  Because a heat pump is used all year round, it usually has a shorter life span than a separate furnace and central air conditioner.

Bottom line is that for our area, a heat pump is probably going to be more cost efficient.  Plus, you're not going to have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning from a heat pump.  But as mentioned above, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages so it's ultimately up to you and what you think will give you the most bang for your buck!


Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Thermostats

September 24, 2010

The HVAC industry of today is making technological advances leaps and bounds faster than any previous time period.  Co-owner Ryan Profitt and I experienced a great example of this yesterday when we installed a 2.5 ton heat pump split system at a business near downtown Raleigh.  We were all the way done with the installation, and the business owner explained to us that sometimes when they go out on jobs that they might not come back to the office for a couple of days at a time and with the temperature becoming quite moderate in the next couple of months it would be hard to set the thermostat for the right temperature so that when they get back to the office it wouldn't be freezing cold or boiling hot.  So with a quick explanation of how his new programmable thermostat operated and how he could not only program in the desired temperature for certain days, but also set the hours of that day for the desired temperature to be in effect.  Technology is crazy!
  Also, keep in mind that the older mercury filled thermostats can often prove to be quite inaccurate at sensing temperature.  Now, it may seem unnecessary to fix something that you think isn't broken but little do you know, that old thermostat can actually cost you a lot of money in the long run due to it's horrible efficiency.  So if you think your energy bills are starting to be unusually high for some reason, it might be a good idea to check out whats going on with your hvac system.  Alright folks, that's all for now but stay tuned for some more blog droppin'!



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An interactive blog for you, the customer...

First things first, I created this blog to try and help out you the customer with questions and comments you may have.  As for my background, I have been an employee at Environmental now for a little over a year and it has been quite a learning experience to say the least.  Before Environmental, I was in the Air Force for 8 years and my job had many elements of hvac work involved with it.  I was able to travel all around the world and experience things that most Americans will probably never have the chance to experience, I am one lucky individual.

I digress,  to those of you who might be unfamiliar with the acronym 'hvac', it stands for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.  Now that you are well on your way to impressing all your friends with this hip new lingo that will surely make you sound like you know all the ins and outs of the heating and air industry, just remember that the best thing to do with your system at home is to use common sense and keep it simple.  By keeping it simple of course I mean:

  1. Keep those filters changed!  (especially if you have pets, animal hair and dandruff can dirty up a filter in not much time at all.  Having a dirty air filter can put a huge strain on your system, leading to higher energy bills and shortened lifespan.  Also, make sure and always buy pleated filters, don't settle for the cheap fiberglass filters as they barely filter anything out of the air.)
  2. Keep the area around your outdoor a/c free of obstructions, i.e. shrubs, grass trimmings, anything that would block airflow from flowing freely through the coils.
  3. Be sensible with your thermostat, depending on the season, you can't turn it up/down or off all day while you're at work and then come home and turn it back on and expect your house to be immediately cool or warm because it's not gonna happen even with the best of systems.  To do it right, just set the temperature for just a few degrees apart from what you will want it to be later, so that way when you do go to set it to the desired temperature it only takes a little while to get it there with less strain on your system.
  4. It never hurts to sign up for a yearly contract for preventative maintenance, it's only going ensure that your system is in fact working at peak efficiency.  No this was not a sales pitch, that's not the intent of this blog I assure you.

I came to my bosses at Environmental with the idea to create an interactive blog to make it easier on the customers with questions and allow them to maybe pick up some helpful tips in the process, Ryan and Chris(owners) said that this was a great idea!  So with all this stuff said, I would genuinely like to field some questions and pass on some knowledge to you the customer from someone on "the inside."  I'm here for you folks so let it fly...