Design Comfort Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

Your HVAC System and the Gas Line – Salt Lake City Air Conditioning

Friday, June 8th, 2012

What happens if you lose your gas line? What relationship does that simple copper pipe have to the comfort control of your home? It depends largely on the scope of your HVAC system and what time of the year you lose gas, but the answer is almost always that it will have a pretty big impact.

What Uses Gas in Your Home?

There are a number of components that use gas in your home. The first and most common is your furnace, but you will find that your water heater may also use a gas line and some packaged air conditioning systems use gas for heating components.

  • Heating – If you have a gas line, it’s very likely that your heating system uses gas as an energy source. It’s the least expensive of the three major energy sources (oil, gas and electricity) and gas furnaces and boilers are extremely efficient. In terms of how much gas you will use, one cubic foot of gas contains 1040 BTUs of heating energy per hour.So, if your furnace offers 100,000 BTUs of heating capacity, it would use 96.15 cubic feet of natural gas when running at full capacity. Keep in mind, though, that a gas furnace is rated with an AFUE rating. This is the percentage of the fuel consumed that is actually converted to heat. So, if your AFUE rating is 90%, your actual BTU production would be 90,000 for the same 96.15 cubic feet of gas. The cost of natural gas varies by location, but is generally around $1 per cubic foot.Boilers are very similar in their gas consumption rates. Boilers are rated for maximum output – so if you have a 15kW boiler – meaning it will burn the equivalent of 15 kWh of gas per hour when running at full capacity. Keep in mind that this is the maximum output. If you only have one radiator open, the actual rate may be much lower.
  • Water Heating – For a water heater, gas rates are charged by kWh, just like your boiler. The total is usually significantly less than for a boiler, but the same mechanics apply. Your water heater should have a placard or sheet that lists its maximum production per hour so you can determine how much gas it uses per hour when your hot water is in high demand.

Gas is a highly volatile substance and while there are a number of safety measures implemented in your home to protect your family, it’s important to ensure the gas lines are well maintained. Annual maintenance is a must to keep the gas working properly. If you do notice a leak or sudden loss of gas, don’t call a contractor – call the gas company immediately as it could be an emergency.

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Salt Lake City Heating Tips: What do These Noises Mean Coming From My Furnace?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

During a bitterly cold winter night, in the luxury of our homes, we have the ability to adjust the temperatures to comfortably walk barefoot down the hall.  It is easy to take our heating systems in Salt Lake City for granted, but without proper maintenance, they can become noisy and irritable, growling with mysterious sounds of dissatisfaction and ominous groans, warning that slippers and more blankets may soon be necessary.

This does not have to happen to you.

At the beginning of each season, it makes good sense to care for the furnace that is going to take care of you.   Scheduling regular heating systems maintenance and filter change with Design Comfort ensures a longer life and increased efficiency.

Rattles and Bumps in the Night

At the first sound of trouble, checking the filter can often be a quick relief.  As air passes through the furnace, a filter picks out much of the dust and some heavier particles that have come along, gotten snagged and accumulated over time to create a solid blockage.

This filter can become clogged and force the furnace to work much harder to push the air through the blocked passage. Located just inside the front panel of the furnace, the filter is very accessible and easily exchanged for a clean one.  This should be the very minimum of regular maintenance and is simple enough to do that it can make anyone feel handy.

Deeper Trouble

Heated air and cold air returning to and from the furnace travel through ductwork which is often metal (those long, silvery boxes tucked up between joists in your basement and covered by a nasty layer of cobwebs).  The vibration of footsteps across the floor overhead or even of just the air movement through the ducts can loosen the fasteners and rattle the metal like a rumble of thunder.

Internally, there are fans and lots of moving parts in the motor.  A noise coming from this area portends a repair of a more complicated nature and should have the inspection of a certified technician, a service easily provided by Design Comfort.

With proper care and maintenance, furnaces are built to last for decades, providing heat and comfort to the home or office and improving the quality of life for the people inside.  Call Design Comfort to ensure the efficient operation.

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Green Your Salt Lake City 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.

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Types of Air Filters for Salt Lake City Homes

Monday, February 13th, 2012

When choosing an air filter for your Salt Lake City home, there are many options. Each type of material is designed to capture a different type of particle to a different degree, so make sure you choose carefully based on the specific air quality problems your home has.

  • Disposable – Disposable filters are the simplest and least expensive option on the market but they are usually rated as low as 1-5 MERV and don’t last very long. These types of filters are usually designed for basic mechanical filtration to stop debris from causing problems for your furnace or air conditioner and are therefore not ideal for actual air quality improvement.
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass filters are very common in almost all HVAC systems and are more permanent than disposable filters. They come in MERV ratings of between 4 and 12 and are highly efficient at capturing larger particles like dust, pollen and dander. These can be dangerous, however, as they fragment and can send fibers into the air.
  • Polyester – These have a higher resistance rating than most fiberglass filters and are therefore more durable against larger particles like dust and pollen. They also don’t fray like fiberglass and are more durable over time.
  • Electrostatic – Electrostatic filters have a charge to help collect dust particles and are usually made with multiple layers of polypropylene material.
  • HEPA Filters – This is a completely different category of filters and is designed to capture everything as small as 0.3 microns – well below the threshold most commonly provided by standard HVAC filters. They can be purchased for your HVAC system or as standalone filters for individual rooms.

There are a number of different filter types to maintain the air quality in your home. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your home’s air quality control system, make sure you do it with the best possible device available to your system. Contact Design Comfort if you’re not sure what options will suit you best.

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Why Fall Maintenance is Important for Your Heating System: A Tip from Utah

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

When it comes to heating equipment maintenance and repairs in your Utah home, it does not pay to procrastinate. The longer you put off the maintenance, the higher the probability that your heating system will break down or your heating and cooling contractor will be unable to make an emergency repair when you need it. That’s why fall is the best time of the year to have maintenance and repair procedures performed.

Consider this: when do most people call a heating and cooling contractor? The answer: when they need a repair. The call could come in the middle of the night when a furnace stops working or during a family party on a weekend – both times when it is hard to find someone to do the repair work. Has this happened to you? If so, there are ways you could have prevented this from happening – and could have saved from cold nights and embarrassing situations with house guests.

You can avoid this aggravation and extra expense by scheduling fall maintenance for your heating system. Fall is often the “slow season” for heating and cooling professionals and many schedule their routine service and maintenance appointments during this time.

Most heating and cooling contractors offer service or maintenance agreements, which lock in at least one or two visits a year for furnace or air conditioner inspection. It is rare to find a contractor who will schedule a furnace inspection during the cold winter months. They know that time is usually saved for people with real emergencies. If you don’t have a service agreement with a contractor, you may want to consider signing up for one and avoid the risk of waiting in line for a furnace repair in the dead of winter.

During fall maintenance, your heating equipment will be switched on and inspected. That may sound routine but by running your heating system early, you may be spared the expense of repairing your system when it fails to operate or run smoothly during the cold months. If there is a problem, it is better to fix it ahead of time.

There is no guarantee that a furnace that is tuned up in the fall will last throughout the winter without needing service. But a little preventive maintenance ahead of time will save a lot of heartache – and dollars – when a real emergency comes up.

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How Heating Zone Control Can Save You Money: A Tip from Salt Lake City

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The costs of heating your Salt Lake City home have risen dramatically over the past couple of decades, thanks to higher energy costs and price increases for heating equipment. Despite the strides made in energy efficiency, there seems to be no end in sight for the steady rise in heating equipment operating costs.

Now add in the cost of heating unoccupied areas of your home, such as basements, hallways, or extra bedrooms, and the energy costs go even higher. Most of these costs are unnecessary and avoidable if you have the time and a small investment in a well-planned heating “strategy” for your home. This strategy involves using heating zone controls to make the most efficient use of your heating system.

In a nutshell, here is how heating zone control works. The rooms in your home are connected to your heating system by a series of ductwork, which carries heated and conditioned area to all corners. But some of these areas may not need to be heated as much – or possibly at all – compared to other rooms in your home. For example, do you need heat in your kitchen but not in your basement? Most people would answer yes. Or they may say they need more heat in the kitchen and some, but not very much heat in the basement.

Or try this: do most people in your house spend more time in one room, such as the family room, and less time in their bedrooms? If so, why would it be necessary to heat the bedrooms all of the time? In order to deliver heat to areas in your home that need it the most, the ductwork to these rooms should always be “open.” Ductwork to other unused areas of your home can be “closed” during various times of the day.

Opening and closing of ductwork and airflow is achieved by zone controls. A zone control is installed in the home which electronically or wirelessly opens and closes “dampers” in the ductwork, depending on the heating demand. You can divert heat to areas of your home using zone control and dampers while decreasing the heating load on your furnace. This type of heating zone control will move heated air to where you want it. Simply put, you are not heating areas of your home that don’t need the heat.

The heating zone controls can be programmed for various times of the day, too. For example, you may not need any heat in your basement while you sleep or when you are away from home. You can program the damper in your basement’s ductwork to remain closed or partially open during these times. In a sense, the heating zone control in your home acts like a programmable thermostat – only it uses a series of dampers to control indoor temperatures.

The next time you walk into an unused part of your home, think about how much money you are spending to heat it. It makes sense to consider heating zone controls. The initial costs of installing zone controls and dampers are minimal and the payback in energy savings and comfort are substantial.

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Maintenance Really Does Save Money in Utah

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

When it comes to your home heating and cooling systems in your Utah home, you really cannot go wrong with proper annual maintenance. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if your systems are relatively new, you will save a lot in the long run if you pay that small fee once a year for each system.

During a maintenance visit, a technician can thoroughly clean out your heating or cooling system and check all parts to make sure they are not showing signs of excessive wear and tear. If they do find a problem or a part that needs to be replaced, they will be able to make the necessary repairs quickly and you will not have to worry about calling someone out later for an emergency visit.

Also, catching problems early like this means that repairs will likely involve fewer parts and cost much less than they would if you let the problem go and it became more widespread. The truth is that your heating or cooling system can continue to work when one or another of its parts is not working correctly, but that means that other parts of the system have to work overtime to create the same result.

Your heating or cooling system will also be much more energy efficient if it receives regular tune ups and attention from a professional. Even the best new systems lose a small percentage of their efficiency each year that they are in operation. While this is not much from year to year, the cumulative effect will soon cause your energy bills to climb higher than necessary.

Paying for regular maintenance, then, can actually save you money because it will mean you pay less each month to run your system. And it is never too late to start. Even if your heating or cooling system is not new, it will benefit from a thorough cleaning and tune up. You may be quite surprised how much your energy bills go down after this type of service has been performed.

Annual maintenance can also help you to get more for your money by extending the useful life of the heating or cooling system. Many systems that are properly maintained can last even beyond their expected life span, meaning that you will not have to replace it as soon as you would have otherwise. For all of these reasons, the minimal cost of an annual maintenance visit is well worth paying over the long term.

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Indoor Air Quality Options in Utah

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Maintaining high indoor air quality is always worth investing time and money in your Utah home. After all, if the air inside your home isn’t healthy, it can cause all kinds of health problems for you and your family. The state of the art home heating and cooling systems we have today make it possible to enjoy a perfectly temperature controlled indoor environment all year long, but they also trap indoor air pollutants and contaminants inside without proper ventilation.

Choosing a System that Works

Luckily there are a number of great products out there designed to remove these pollutants before they cause you and your family discomfort or illness. Before you run out to buy a new system, however, you should first consider what each has to offer and what pollutants you need to remove. You might have some idea about this already, but the best thing to do is talk to a professional who can help assess your indoor air and determine which types of contaminants are most prevalent in your home.

Different types of indoor air cleaners are better at targeting different types of contaminants. For instance, HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of particulate contaminants that measure 0.3 microns or larger. This includes things like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold spores, so if these are the things you want to target, an indoor air system that uses HEPA filters is probably right for you.

However, if you’re more concerned with getting rid of smoke odors and cooking fumes, you probably want a system that targets even smaller particles. Air ionizers are more appropriate for these types of indoor air quality issues, as they can effectively remove much smaller particles than most HEPA filters. On the flip side, ionizers aren’t as efficient at removing the larger contaminant particles, so if you want to target both small and large contaminants, you need a system that combines both of these technologies.

Bacteria and viruses are also a problem when they find their way into your indoor air and they can be particularly tricky to get rid of. HEPA filters and air ionizers both have trouble completely eradicating these pathogens, but UV germicidal lights can be incorporated into your indoor air cleaning system to tackle biological contaminants effectively.

No matter what type of home air quality problem you have, there is a system on the market that will target and remove the pollutant. The key is to know which pollutants effect you the most and which products will do the best job of removing them from your home.

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