Frequently Asked HVAC Questions

HVAC Questions

Homeowners often have a lot of questions regarding HVAC systems, energy efficiency, and energy savings. To address some of these questions, here’s a compilation of the five most common HVAC-related questions homeowners have:

  1. How Can I Save on Energy Costs?

There are a few ways to accomplish energy savings. Here are some surefire ways to save:

  • Change the furnace filters regularly
  • Schedule annual maintenance
  • Use a programmable thermostat

 

  1. What Size HVAC Do I Need? Should I Size Up?

Bigger is not always better when it comes to HVAC systems. A system that is too large can lead to issues later. To find the right size, technicians need to measure the home to find the square footage and heating/cooling needs.

  1. Should I Repair or Replace?

There’s a lot of variables that go into this answer, but here’s a basic answer: If the system is over the age of seven and has required frequent repairs, it’s best to replace the system. Continuously repairing the HVAC system gets expensive and homeowners could save money by investing in a newer system.

  1. How Often Do Filters Need Replaced?

Dirty filters are the most common cause of system breakdowns. Simply changing out the filter is the easiest way to combat this issue. How often that should be done depends on the system and type of filter being used. In general, filters should be changed every 1-3 months. More often during winter and summer when the system is working harder.

  1. How Often Does The HVAC System Need Serviced?

For the best efficiency and energy savings, both the air conditioner and furnace should be serviced once a year. It’s optimal to get them serviced before they will be used for the season.

Hopefully this list of frequently asked HVAC questions is helpful for homeowners needing some answers about HVAC systems. For any other questions, just give Diamond Heating and Cooling a call!

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How Wood Burning Stoves Impact IAQ

Stoves

In an effort to save money on the energy bill, many turn to their wood burning stoves for heat during the colder months. While they have a positive impact on the energy bill, they can have a negative impact on the indoor air quality.

Using a properly vented, clean-burning wood stove usually isn’t harmful enough to cause symptoms such as headaches, coughing, and asthma attacks. It’s when the stove is old, hasn’t been properly cleaned, and the chimney is clogged that using the fireplace becomes potentially harmful.

This can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles in the air. These can be very dangerous, causing health risks and in some cases death. Here are a few ways to prevent indoor air pollution from wood burning stoves and fireplaces:

  • Choose a properly-sized wood stove or insert certified as meeting EPA emissions standards
  • Check that the door gaskets are in good shape, the door fits tightly, and the stove is free of leaks
  • Make sure the flue is the correct diameter and height, and have it inspected and cleaned annually
  • Use wood that has been split and dried for six months minimum and do not overload the stove.
  • Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in the room where the stove or fireplace is located.

Doing these things can help ensure that the stove burns correctly, is properly vented, and minimizes the amount of pollutants inside the home. Improving indoor air quality isn’t just about cleaner air, it’s about creating a healthier environment for everyone.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling for more tips and products that can help improve indoor air quality all year long. We also have a media air cleaner and UV lighting system that can remove pollutants and bacteria in a residential setting.

Safely Using Space Heaters

Space Heater Safety

Space heaters can be a great way to lower energy bills while staying warm. While they are good at warming up a room, they can be dangerous if not used safely. To avoid potential issues, follow these safety tips:

  1. Plugging It In

Space heaters need to be plugged directly into an outlet. Plugging them into an extension cord or power strip increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.

  1. Clearance

When finding a spot to put the space heater, make sure it will have at least three feet of clearance around it. This means it is three feet away from furniture, window treatments, rugs, and anything else combustible. Proximity to these items will increase the chances of a fire. Space heaters also needs to be set on a hard, level surface.

  1. Turn Off

When leaving the room or going to bed, the space heater should be turned off. Many models now have programmable timers for those who might forget.

  1. Avoid Water

Space heaters should not be used in damp or wet areas like bathrooms or humid rooms unless they are specifically designed for that purpose. Using them in these areas increases risk of electrical shock.

  1. Safety Features

When purchasing a space heater, look at the safety certifications. Also, finding one with a tip-over switch that automatically shuts the heater off if it falls over and an overheat protection switch can minimize the chance of fire risks and injuries.

In drafty houses, space heaters can be a lifesaver if they are used safely. However, a well-insulated house with an efficient heating system will heat the home better and with less energy usage. For help staying comfortable and warm this winter, talk to the HVAC system experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling.

 

Finding Your Perfect Fit

Furnace Efficiency

Having a well-running, efficient furnace makes Idaho winters a lot more bearable. An efficient furnace starts with size. Bigger isn’t always better, and finding the right size is the best way to stay warm without breaking the bank. Here’s what happens when the furnace doesn’t fit the home:

Too Large

When furnace shopping, remember that bigger isn’t always better. A furnace that is too big for the building it is heating will continuously cycle on and off. This can lead to several problems. First, it creates hot and cold spots in the home because the air closest to the vents will actually become too warm while other areas, where the thermostat is located, still may not be up to temperature.  The over-sized furnace will also need maintenance more often and is likely to have a shorter life span because of the constant cycling.  It will also be costlier to operate because the furnace is least efficient when it first fires up and the constant cycling means it will be firing up more often.

Too Small

Homeowners trying to save money might consider purchasing a smaller furnace than they really need. A furnace that is too small won’t be able to heat the home comfortably. It will constantly run trying to reach that desired temperature, using up energy and costing homeowners a fortune. It will also require more maintenance over its shortened lifespan.

Finding the right size is easy with the help of Diamond Heating and Cooling. Their HVAC professionals take into consideration a number of variables to find the right size furnace. These variables are the home’s building materials, windows, size, insulation, the direction of the home and more.

One size does not fit all when it comes to furnaces, which is why the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling is here to help find the perfect fit for any home in the Boise area. Don’t go through the fall and winter with the wrong size furnace.

Call Diamond Heating and Cooling about furnace sizing, finding the perfect fit, and yearly maintenance once the furnace is installed.

Optimal Fall Thermostat Temperatures

Fall Thermostat Settings

Fall will be here in no time, switching the air conditioner off and the furnace on. Before you really need that furnace, be sure to call Diamond Heating and Cooling for annual maintenance to prepare the HVAC system for the seasonal change.

As Boise residents prepare for the cooler weather, they’ll have to figure out how to best set the thermostat for comfort and optimal energy savings. While the best thermostat setting relies largely on personal comfort, there are some guidelines.

The US Department of Energy recommends having the thermostat set at 68 degrees on cooler days while spending time at home. It’s warm enough to be comfortable while doing chores or being active, but not so warm that it wastes energy.

While everyone is away from the home during school and work, the thermostat can be set at a lower temperature to save energy. Also consider lowering it while sleeping. With everyone in warm clothes and under blankets, they won’t miss a few degrees of heat.

It’s thought that turning the thermostat down 10 degrees while away or asleep can save homeowners 15%-20% on energy bills each year. However, 10 degrees might be a bit of a stretch and could make the system work harder to regain a comfortable temperature. Even turning it down 3-5 degrees will make a difference, just not quite a 20% savings.

Turning the temperature up and down while coming and going can get tedious and someone might forget if they are in a hurry. Combat this by investing in a programmable thermostat. It will change the temperature at the same times each day as it is programmed, keeping energy savings up, and the house comfortable.

It might not seem like a few degrees makes much of a difference, but the savings can add up throughout the year. Having a smoothly running HVAC system will increase the energy savings as well.

Be sure to call Diamond Heating and Cooling to schedule annual maintenance before cold weather arrives in Boise.

Don’t Close Air Vents

In an effort to save more money by using less energy, many people close their air vents in rooms that get little or no use. However, instead of saving money, it could cause some serious issues. Read on to learn why closing vents does not have the desired effect on air distribution.

The blower in the HVAC system pulls air from the house through the return ducts, cools it, and pushes it back out through the supply ducts. The blower in high-efficiency HVAC systems is powered by an electronically commutated motor, also referred to as an ECM. This type of motor can adjust its speed. Those that are not high-efficiency are permanent split capacitor or PSC powered, which cannot adjust speeds.

Both systems are designed so that the blower pushes against some maximum pressure difference. If the filter is dirty or the supply ducts are restricted, the blower has to push against a higher pressure.

In the ECM system, this will make the motor increase in intensity to maintain proper air flow. As it works against the higher pressure, all efficiency is lost. A PSC motor will keep spinning, but its speed will decrease as the pressure increases.

When air ducts are closed in some rooms, the system becomes more restrictive. A higher pressure in the system will either ramp up the ECM blower, or move less air with a PSC blower, while also creating duct leakage.

This can also have an impact on the coil or heat exchanger. Lower airflow means a lower rate of heat exchange will occur. This will cause less heat to flow over the coil, making it colder, and possibly freezing. The refrigerant may not properly evaporate either, meaning it would come back into the compressor,  possibly ruining it.

In summary, here are 5 problems that can come from closing air vents:

  • Duct Leakage
  • Lower Air Flow/Increased Energy Use
  • Comfort Issues
  • Frozen Coil
  • Dead Compressor

Don’t close vents to save money. Instead, use an adjustable thermostat and be mindful of the energy being used.

Celebrating Earth Day

EarthDay

April 22 is Earth Day, which is all about bettering Earth through reducing energy usage, planting trees, and more. When it comes to energy usage, the HVAC system is the biggest energy user in the home. To celebrate Earth Day and make an impact, check out these tips:

  1. Skip the Car

Every now and then, walk or ride a bike to the grocery store or elsewhere. Using a single gallon of gas sends about 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air. This is almost double the amount of carbon dioxide spit out when using the central air conditioning for a day. If it’s feasible, skip the car and choose a different mode of transportation.

  1. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Use Earth Day as an excuse to get that programmable thermostat. Not only will it make life easier, but it will cut down on energy usage and decrease the energy bill as well. That’s less carbon dioxide being put into the environment.

  1. Volunteer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a page for events and volunteer opportunities. There’s a whole list of Earth Day Activities for the area. Whether it’s cleaning up a park or doing a walk for a “green” charity, it will feel good helping the community.

  1. Schedule AC Maintenance

The better the HVAC system runs, the less energy it will use. As Boise and the Treasure Valley nears warmer weather, the time to get the system checked before turning it on is dwindling. Call Diamond Heating and Cooling now to set up an appointment.

  1. Plant a Tree

Planting trees has been a tradition on Earth Day for quite some time. Trees, plants, and bushes put oxygen into the air and absorb some of the carbon dioxide in the air as well. Celebrate by beautifying the yard with some new landscaping this Saturday.

Make an impact this Earth Day and call Diamond Heating and Cooling for any HVAC needs.