Design Comfort Blog: Archive for the ‘heating system’ Category

Hot Air or Radiant Heat: How to Make the Right Decision for Your Home

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Heating options in Salt Lake City aren’t limited to the traditional gas furnaces or boilers than many people are used to. True, a lot of homes still use forced-air systems to stay warm in the winter, but you’re just as apt to see other homes using heat pumps, geothermal systems and radiant heating systems instead of those older systems. Radiant heating, in particular, makes an attractive choice for a number of reasons. But which one is right for you: hot air or radiant heat? Here’s how to make the right decision for your home.

Radiant heating means running tubes or coils underneath the floor of your home. The heat comes up through the floors, warming the furnishings and people in the room in question. Contrast this with hot air: generated in the furnace and blown through your home via a system of ducts. Strictly speaking, the radiant system is more effective. It generates no breeze, it doesn’t create drafts or warm spots, and because there are fewer moving parts, it runs less risk of breakdown that a forced-air system. It’s also much more efficient, which translates to significant savings on your monthly heating bill.

On the other hand, the start-up cost tends to be much higher than a traditional gas furnace. It also involves considerably more disruption, since your floors will need to be altered in order for the system to work. Some homes simply cannot support a radiant heating system, and homes which already have an existing duct system may not consider such a radical change worthwhile. Those less efficient, forced-air systems still do a good job of heating many homes, and the installation fees may not be worth the slow, gradual long-term savings.

Educating yourself about the specifics is a good way to make the right decision for your home, and the experts at Design Comfort can help. We’ll explain the details of each system, and stand ready for installation whether it be hot air or radiant heat. We understand all the heating options in Salt Lake City, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today!

Continue Reading

Green HVAC

Monday, April 16th, 2012

“Air conditioning accounts for nearly 50% of the energy use in the United States during peak summer months, and air conditioning is responsible for nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year,” says the Rocky Mountain Institute in one of its White Papers.  In the winter, while northern cities, like Salt Lake City, change over to the production of heat, southern states continue to rely on cooling their climate, raising America’s reliance on HVAC systems despite rising energy costs and the impact to the environment.

We know this trend can lead to irreversible damage to our climate and style of life, but are just beginning to learn the little steps that can be taken to minimize the impact.  From house to house, one by one, we can make a difference.

Regular Maintenance Avoids High Costs

No matter the energy rating of a heating appliance, a schedule of simple heating maintenance and replacement of filters can make a significant difference in its longevity.  Most heating systems in Salt Lake City rated at 95% efficient will burn nowhere near that great a rating if the air is blocked and unable to pass through the filter without effort.

Fan belts on the blower motor can loosen over time and become ineffective, forcing the heater to burn longer and hotter to distribute air that should normally breeze through the ductwork.  Working so hard, parts break and the furnace might need replacement.

Programmed Thermostat

If left to our own habits, furnaces and air conditioners might run for hours under unnecessary circumstances because we are not thinking to turn our thermostats up or down.  At the change of seasons, in particular, it may feel warm enough to open a window while the heat is still adjusted to come on at those fresher temperatures that now seem so inviting.

In older homes, the replacement of the old dial thermostats with the newer programmable versions can save hundreds of dollars annually on energy costs.  Smart phones allow adjustments to thermostats from anywhere in the world for the instance that a cold snap may threaten frozen pipes while we are away on vacation.

Changing World

Tax incentives, climate change and the economics of energy dictate that we look closely at our habits and find ways to conserve our resources.  Simple steps taken by each of us can lead to a wealth of improvements and create communities of action.  Please call Efficient Systems with any questions.

Continue Reading

Q/A: What Is an Electronic Ignition?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

When faced with the many options Salt Lake city residents have for heating system installations, many residents chose the complicated gas furnace. Modern ones in particular are designed to use as little gas as possible, and to recapture as much of the heat generated from burning that gas as can be done safely. One of the many safety and energy-efficient advances in furnace technology in the least twenty years is the electronic ignition.

The Purpose of Electronic Ignition

In older furnaces and boilers, a pilot light would stay lit continuously whenever the heating system needed to be available. That meant continuously burning gas throughout the fall, winter and spring months for those times when heat was needed. It was inefficient and unsafe, especially in older devices that didn’t have safety valves.

Today, furnaces are built with electronic ignitions – small devices that only ignite the gas supply when the thermostat is on. there are two types of electronic ignition used in boilers and furnaces today.

  • Intermittent Pilot – An intermittent pilot is unique in that it releases a spark through an electronic component to the gas pilot, lighting the gas burners.
  • Hot Surface Ignition – Hot surface ignition uses an electronic filament (like a lightbulb) to heat up and ignite the burners when the thermostat calls for heat.

Both devices are designed to use a very small amount of electricity and reduce the amount of gas needed for continuous operation of your furnace.

Safety Benefits of an Electronic Ignition

While gas efficiency was a big part of the transition from pilot lights to electronic ignition, safety was an equally big component. Whereas before, the pilot light was continuously lit, meaning gas was continuously flowing into the furnace, today’s furnaces are essentially off when not in use. This means less of a chance that gas will flow unburned or that the pilot will get dirty or burn too soft, releasing carbon monoxide.

If your furnace or boiler still uses a traditional pilot light, consider having it upgraded to electronic ignition, not just to save gas but to keep your home and family safer.  If you have any questions about this process please call Design  Comfort.

Continue Reading

How to Monitor Heat Flow from Furnace Registers

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Of the many kinds of heating systems, forced air furnaces are among the simplest in Salt Lake City and monitoring the flow of heat is as simple as checking the registers and feeling the flow.

The Basics of Hot Air

At the furnace, usually in the basement or a central location, air is heated to a temperature set by the thermostat.  Once large and dominant, over the years, technological improvements have enabled furnaces to be much smaller and fit into closets.

With a fan, the warm air is circulated through a system of ducts and distributed at registers or grates usually in the floor.  A second grate takes the cooler air back to the furnace to be heated.

Water can be added at the furnace to humidify the air and filters are able to remove some of the dust that typically floats invisibly throughout a home.

Going With the Flow

While a forced air system tends to fluctuate between cycles, temperatures should be consistent throughout the home from room to room.  As heat is distributed, rooms get quickly warmer, then cool several degrees as heat dissipates until the thermostat setting starts the cycle over.

If there is poor circulation, the efficiency of the system is greatly reduced.  The furnace runs more often, adding strain and cost to the heating of your home.  Some rooms remain comfortable while the rise and fall of temperatures in others may be more radical or remain too cool.

Monitoring the Flow

By turning the thermostat higher, the furnace will engage and begin to force air to the registers.

Most registers have adjustable slats that can be rotated to allow more or less flow.  Checking to make sure all are fully open is the first step.  There is usually a lever or gear in obvious view.

Make sure all registers are free to allow air movement and not blocked by furniture or carpets.

After testing with your hand to see if there is adequate air flow, using an infrared or dial thermometer will more accurately identify if there are differences from register to register which could indicate a blockage of some sort in the vent or a problem with the system at the furnace.


You should perform heating system maintenance on a yearly basis by contracting with a company like (Your Company) who can regularly change the filters, inspect the internal elements and ensure proper and efficient functioning of this most important part of your home.

Continue Reading

Causes of Delayed Furnace Ignition

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Delayed ignition in Salt Lake City is usually accompanied by a loud banging or booming sound that resembles a small explosion in your gas appliance. In a furnace, this can be terrifying and should never be ignored.

What Causes Delayed Ignition

Delayed ignition usually happens when you first turn on your furnace, often after a long delay between use, so usually early in the fall or late in the spring when you don’t necessarily have it on every day of the week.

What happens is moisture builds up over the course of a period of inactivity and begins to corrode the firebox in your furnace. That corrosion builds up to the point that it starts to block the ports that feed gas into the burners. When these ports get blocked, the burners down the line cannot light and when you flip the switch, they won’t light immediately.

Of course, while rust and corrosion are a risk, lint and dust can be equally problematic (and are more common if you don’t heating system maintenance properly each fall). Sulfur build up is also a possibility, as it is left behind by burning natural gas. It will appear as a layer of white on the surface of the burners or the pilot light.

When all of this happens and the ports are not cleaned properly, gas will build up in the chamber after it is turned on and, when it finally ignites, create the small boom sound. It doesn’t just sound like an explosion – it is one – and if ignored, it can become incredibly dangerous.

Solving the Problem

Delayed furnace ignition is an easy problem to avoid. All you need to do is have your furnace cleaned properly before turning it on each fall. A technician will clean the burners and ports and remove any dust, lint, rust or sulfur buildup that might block ignition and cause a delay.

When replacing your furnace, look for a device with corrosion resistant materials. You can learn more about these when it comes time to replace your furnace from a technician. Most importantly, be careful. It may be a small problem now, but if left to build up over time, that small boom can become a much larger one.  For help with this issue please call Design Comfort.

Continue Reading

HVAC Experts Answer “What Is Forced Air Heating?”

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

As a Salt Lake City resident chances are that you’ve heard the term forced air heating before, particularly if you’re in the market for a new home heating system. But what does that actually mean? The truth is that if you’re asking this question, you’re not alone. There are so many types of home heating systems out there that it’s common to be a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is that a forced air heating system is simply a heating system that distributes heat throughout your house using air to carry it. In this type of system, heated air travels through a system of ducts and is expelled through vents into the different rooms and areas of your home in order to maintain a particular temperature. That temperature, of course, is whatever you set your thermostat to, and when the desired temperature is reached, the heat will shut off until the temperature drops down again.

The main difference between the different types of forced air heating systems is the type of equipment that heats the air. For instance, you could have a gas furnace, an electric furnace, a heat pump or a hydronic coil. All of these are capable of heating air, and when paired with a fan, blower or air handler, can distribute heated air throughout your home.

Many forced air heating systems are remarkably energy efficient and can effectively keep you home comfortable all winter long. Additionally, they are generally made to be incorporated with central air conditioning systems for year round temperature control. Heat pumps are especially convenient in this way, as they’re able to both heat and cool your home depending on the season and your home comfort needs.

Particularly if you already have ductwork in place or if you’re choosing a heating system for a new construction home, it can make a lot of sense to opt for some type of forced air heating. However, if you’re looking to replace an existing heating system in a house that doesn’t already have ductwork in place, the need to put it in can add a lot to the overall installation costs of the system.  Read more about the heating systems that Design Comfort Co services in our Heating section, or contact us today with any questions.

Continue Reading