Read these 12 HVAC - Heating Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about HVAC tips and hundreds of other topics.
Variable-speed heating is a common-sense approach to saving energy and money. It allows you to better control the airflow and costs of your heating system.
Here's how it works: "Variable speed" is a technical term that refers to how a furnace's indoor blower motor runs. When it can operate at different -- or variable -- speeds, you can better control airflow in your home. Better control increases your comfort and eases heating bills. Variable speed motors use less electricity than standard one-speed motors.
Plan to do cooling and heating system maintenance four times a year -- twice each winter and twice each summer. Keep this checklist handy for your routine maintenance:
* Inspect belts and blowers. Change worn-out belts. Oil blower bearings.
* Clean or replace filters. Some filters need to be cleaned monthly. Check your owner's manual for guidance.
* Clean and clear drains, traps and drip pans.
* Clean outdoor and indoor coils.
If your HVAC system runs 24 hours a day, evaluate the reasons why. Automated controls allow for high-efficiency heating and cooling systems to turn and off during pre-set hours. Seven-day programmable thermostats let you automatically vary temperature settings throughout the day.
Consider variable speed heating for continuous flow of warm air. It keeps humidity levels down, making your house feel more comfortable. Furnaces that use a two-stage, variable speed operation run at the lower speed most of the time. Your heating system does not need to cycle on and off as frequently, and your home does not experience significant drops and increases in temperature.
A new heating system must meet minimum energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy. There are many products available that exceed the minimum for energy savings. Look for EnergyGuide labels and fact sheets to show how new heating systems performed in efficiency tests.
Whether your business is a restaurant or retail shop, the cooling and heating system has an immediate effect on customers. Customer comfort can determine how long consumers stay in your shop, whether they return, and if they choose to make a purchase.
The most common way to heat your home is with a furnace or boiler. But there are a variety of other technologies available. Stay informed about the choices. There may be a time that you need to replace or upgrade your existing heating system.
* Active solar heating. The sun heats air or liquid. Homeowners often use solar heat as an additional heating source.
* Electric resistance heating. A costly way to heat your home, it converts the energy in electricity to heat. Electric heat is often more expensive than heat produced in the home using natural gas, propane, and oil furnaces.
* Heat pumps. Heat pumps draw heat from a cool area to a warm area, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps are energy efficient.
* Radiant heat. These systems heat floors or panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. They may use a variety of energy sources -- electricity, boilers, solar energy or wood and pellet-fuel heating.
* Space Heaters. Portable heaters or small space heaters are often used when the existing heating system is not adequate for a home or apartment. Small space heaters can be affordable to use if you heat one room or supplement heat in one area.
* Wood and pellet-fuel heating. This is an alternative home heating method that uses biomass or waste sources for fuel.
Reduce heating costs the natural way. Plant trees and shrubs that provide your home protection from the wind. These plantings are commonly referred to as windbreaks. Effective windbreaks lower the wind chill around your home. As trees and shrubs grow, costs to heat your home will go down.
Here's what you need to know and do to plant a windbreak:
* Find out which types of protective trees and shrubs grow best in the climate where you live.
* Keep in mind the mature height of the trees and shrubs when planting a windbreak, and allow enough room for their growth.
* A general rule of thumb is to plant evergreens and shrubs on the north and northwest side of your home for the best protection from cold winds.
* Plant trees, bushes, and shrubs close together to block wind from ground level to the treetops.
* Landscaping your yard with evergreens and a wall or fence may block the wind or lift it over your home. Shrubs next to your home will keep away snowdrifts.
* Don't plant evergreens on the south side of your home, if you want the sun's warmth for heat, especially in the winter.
If you have a traditional masonry fireplace but lack the time or desire to build a fire, consider the alternatives. Go faux with a 3-D simulated fireplace, complete with HDFV -- high-definition fireplace vision -- and a space heater to provide warmth.
The exciting choices today in hearth heating take the quaint charm of traditional fireplaces and add a modern twist. They include the Reflections-brand simulated fireplace that uses a DVD player and a digital audio system to create the real look, feel and sound of a crackling home fire.
Another popular option are gas fireplace inserts installed in traditional masonry fireplaces. There is no wood, fire-starting, smoke or ashes involved. Some even come with remote controls to turn the flame up or down. A thermal blower provides the warmth. A lot of homeowners add gas fireplace inserts to complement existing furnace heating in their home.
Look for the EnergyGuide label on new heating systems. The label provides quick information on the product's energy efficiency. The more efficient the heating system is at using energy, the less it costs to operate. Lower operation costs translate into lower monthly utility bills for consumers. Using less energy also helps the environment, reducing air pollution and conserving resources.
No one wants to linger in a building that is too cold or stuffy in the winter, or that feels clammy in the summer. Here are some tips for achieving the optimal environment for customers:
- Make sure you have the right size heating and cooling system for your shop. The tendency of business owners may be to buy an oversized unit to keep up with the heavy use of a store or other commercial building. In reality, an oversized system will cycle on and off frequently, and can damage a facility or its products.
- Don't let employees open windows or prop open doors, which can freeze pipes or cause moisture buildup in the winter.
- Restaurant and grocery store owners need to make sure that heating and cooling systems can handle the use of stoves, freezers and refrigerators. Cover freezer cases when the store closes at night.
- Consider investing in high-efficiency commercial air quality systems that are more effective at dehumidifying the air.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|