How Does A Heat Pump Work?

heat pump

In recent years heat pumps have become increasingly common in newly constructed homes or as an add-on to older homes, but how they work is a mystery to many.  There are two types of heat pumps, those that use air and those that draw from a ground-source.  Essentially, those that use air work to pull any available heat from the cold outdoors in the winter, then by using an electrical system it distributes that heat inside the house, essentially the inverse of how an air conditioning unit works in the summer.  The heat pump is generally connected in to a forced air heating system to distribute the heat throughout the home.  Air-source heat pumps are the more common of the two heat pumps, primarily because they are cheaper to purchase and easier to install, however the ground-source heat pump is by far the more efficient option.

Homeowners who are looking to live more sustainably or those that intend to remain in their home for a long period of time should consider the more expensive ground-source heat pump.  As the name implies ground-source heat pumps get their heat from underground.  Ground temperatures are more consistent than air temperatures allowing for a higher degree of efficiency for the heat pump.  As previously stated a ground-source heat pump requires a more involved installation process and would generally only be completed by a certified HVAC professional.  Depending on the terrain, either long trenches 3-6’ deep, or vertical boreholes, will need to be dug to lay the necessary “loop” of piping.  Consumers also have the option with these systems of using groundwater to pass through the heat exchanger rather than refrigerant. That groundwater can then be returned to the aquifer.  Setting this up would be part of the standard ground-source heat pump installation.

It may initially seem counter intuitive that using electricity with the heat pump will actually be any cheaper for the homeowner than just running a standard gas heating system, however because the electricity is only being used to move heat rather than to actually generate it there will be a savings.  The heat pump definitely delivers more energy than it consumes. Because the ground temperature stays warmer than the air temperature in the winter, a ground-source (or geothermal) heat pump will be the highest level of efficiency.

A heat pump can then be reversed in the summer months to pull heat from the air inside the home and move it outside, thus further increasing its value.  Most homeowners see an energy savings of 30-40% year round after installing a heat pump.  It’s also interesting to note that the heat pumps sold today are more than 3x more efficient than those sold 30 years ago.  So if you looked at heat pumps in the past but had trouble justifying the initial cost, it might be worth giving it another consideration.

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A World Without Air Conditioning

AirConditioning

Air conditioning has had a huge influence on many activities in the United States since its invention. There are many events and event cities that wouldn’t exist without the introduction of air conditioning. Here are some examples:

  1. Summer Blockbusters

Willis Carrier convinced Paramount Pictures Corporation to install air conditioning in New York City’s Rivoli Theater. As a result, people soon began heading to the movies to escape the heat during summer. Film makers quickly caught on, and began scheduling their biggest movies to come out during summer.

  1. Medical Advances

Air-conditioned hospitals helped defeat malaria, decrease infant mortality, inhibit bacteria, and advance developments in surgery. The introduction of air conditioning has therefore helped the American population to live longer and more comfortably.

  1. Industrial and Technological Progress

Having the ability to maintain a cool and safe temperature has helped with the development of computers, data centers, and more. These temperature-sensitive systems needed a way to stay cool to function properly, which air conditioning has provided.

  1. Country Growth

Many areas in the United States were unbearable to live year-round before air conditioning was introduced. The South has made huge economic jumps since AC became available. Populations exploded in cities like Las Vegas and the states of Arizona, Florida, and Texas have shown tremendous growth since the air conditioner was invented.

  1. The Demise of Summer Vacation

Before air conditioning made offices comfortable, many American workers took month-long August vacations. Even the government shut down sometimes due to the heat. Now, everyone can work in a comfortable environment throughout the year and vacations can be planned on different schedules.

Without air conditioning, the United States would be a much different place. Thankfully, most homes have central air or single-room air conditioning to keep residents cool during the warm summer months.

Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about updating the air conditioner, or any problems it may be having this summer. The phones lines are open 24/7 for emergencies, and we will come out to fix the issue as soon as possible with no after hour fees.

Reducing the Effects of Smoky Air

smoke

As the month of August begins, so does the air quality warning from fires surrounding the Boise area.. This time of year can be especially difficult on those with asthma, heart disease, and children, elderly residents, and pets. Here are some tips to reduce exposure to smoke-filled air as much as possible:

  • Seal the House

Shut all the doors and windows to seal up the house. Close any fresh air intakes from furnaces, fireplaces, or stoves. Set the air conditioner to recirculate as well. This will stop most of the outside air from coming in, lessening its effects.

  • Humidifiers

Using a humidifier can help remove the smoke from the air that might have already gotten inside. It also helps to keep the air moist, which is important during this time of year.

  • Limited Activity

Even those who don’t have breathing issues and health problems might find it hard to be outside for long periods of time. It’s best to limit psychical activity and stay as hydrated as possible while outdoors.

  • Car Windows

While driving, keep car windows rolled up. Make sure the air conditioner is on recirculate to limit the amount of smoky air coming into the car.

  • Air Cleaner

Consider investing in an air cleaner. Poor air quality due to smoke occurs almost every year in the Boise area, and being proactive is better than being reactive when it comes to indoor air quality. An air purifier is also beneficial year-round, especially in homes with family members who have asthma and allergies.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling about how we can help improve indoor air quality, not just during fire season, but all year long. Visit the website to learn more about the air cleaner we offer and how homeowners can get a free air filter during maintenance trips when they become part of the Silver Club.

Air Conditioning Tips for Vacation

vacation-AC

This time of year, many people head out of town on vacation. With the scorching heat that is coming the Boise area, vacationers need to prepare the AC before they leave. Deciding whether to leave it on or turn it off can depend on a few key factors, such as:

  1. Length of Vacation

For those who only plan to be gone for a couple days, it might be best to just leave the air conditioner on, but set at a higher temperature than normal. In the end, it will help save energy because residents won’t be coming home to a hot house and trying to cool it down rapidly.

For longer vacations, such as a week or more, turning the system completely off will save the most energy. However, if animals are being left in the home, it needs to remain at a comfortable temperature for them, so the AC might need to be left on at a slightly higher temperature.

  1. Weather

Checking what the local weather forecast can give homeowners an idea of what the temperature will be while away. This can help with setting the thermostat accordingly. Weather in Boise doesn’t always follow the suspected patterns, but the forecast can still be a helpful tool.

  1. Controlling Humidity

Air conditioners also help keep humidity down in the home. Turning off the air conditioner for long periods of time could lead to excess moisture building up in the home. This could cause moisture damage to the flooring, walls, and more.

Most of the time, setting the thermostat to a slightly higher temperature while away is the best bet to keeping the house cool and saving as much energy as possible. However, there are some instances when turning it off might save homeowners even more money. Just take the above factors into account when deciding.

Make sure the air conditioner is ready to go before another Boise heatwave with the help of the technicians at Diamond Heating and Cooling.

5 Benefits of Central AC

In an area where summers can get quite hot, having central air conditioning can make all the difference. When compared to other types of air conditioning systems, such as individual room conditioners, the benefits of central air are apparent.

Having this type of system in the home benefits homeowners in these five ways:

  1. Comfort

Central air cools the whole home at the same temperature with just one push of a button. It makes the house more comfortable than adjusting an air conditioner in each room. Although single room ACs have the advantage of cooling one room that is being used while the others aren’t, walking from that room into a blast of hot air can be quite a shock.

2. Quiet

Most central air conditioners run fairly quietly and don’t disturb everyday life. Other types of units are much louder, making a constant mechanical buzz, which could be distracting or annoying to some people.

3. Aesthetics

Single room air conditioners protrude from the window, blocking views and distracting from the design of the room. They are also noticeable from the outside of the home. Central air systems have a single unit outside, a thermostat, and discreet vents that don’t look out of place.

4. Control

A single thermostat makes controlling the temperature of the house much easier, especially one that is programmable. This helps conserve energy when nobody is home. Individual units have to be adjusted by hand and aren’t able to be set to keep the room at a more constant temperature.

5. Energy Usage

Having several units to cool down the home means increased energy consumption and high bills during the summer. Central air cools the whole house on one system, using less energy in the long run.

Talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling about installing an air conditioner, or replacing an old one. They’ll make sure the home is comfortable all summer long.

Causes of an Overflowing Drip Pan

An overflowing AC drip pan can lead to mold and mildew inside the home. While some amount of water in the drip pan is normal, it should not be overflowing. If this is happening, there are three issues that could be causing the overflow:

  1. Clogged Drain Line

Algae, calcium, or other minerals could begin to build up in the drain line. If the buildup becomes too large, it will begin to restrict water flow, causing the water to back up and overflow in the drip pan. To prevent this, schedule annual air conditioner maintenance with Diamond Heating and Cooling. During servicing, they check the condensate drain line and even clean the drip pan to get rid of any mold or mildew that has developed.

2. Broken Condensate Pump

When the HVAC system is functioning properly, the condensate pump automatically turns on when it comes into contact with water. The water in the drip pan rises, triggering the pump when it reaches a certain point. However, a broken condensate pump will allow water to continuously build up in the drip pan until it begins overflowing. A broken condensate pump is a fairly easy and inexpensive fix, especially for those with a Silver Club Membership.

3. Excessive Flow

If the water in the system is flowing at a rate that is more than the line can handle, over flow will happen. Excessive water is generally a byproduct of low refrigerant levels. They create ice on the evaporator coils, and when it begins to melt it creates more water than the system can handle.

An overflowing drip pan is an alarming problem that should be taken care of as soon as possible. Many homeowners don’t notice an overflowing drip pan until it has caused rot or mold. Check on the drip pan regularly to prevent this from happening. An annual AC maintenance check can also prevent the problem.

Air Conditioners Could Disrupt Sleep

cat

Air conditioners keep everyone comfortable during the warm weather months, but they might be disrupting restful sleep. A study conducted by Professor Kazuyo Tsuzuki at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has found that some settings on air conditioners could be affecting sleep quality.

The study was mainly focused on the timing of the airflow of the air conditioner and body movement. The settings found in the study could make people change positions while sleeping. They discovered that with greater airflow, there is an increase in body movement, heart rate, and a frequency in people waking.

During the study, they had two people sleep in two different rooms. The air conditioner was set to the same temperature in each room, but at different airflow velocities. One airflow was 0.4m/s and the other was 0.14 m/s, which is what the general AC is set at.

The person sleeping in the room with the general 0.14 m/s had greater body movements, increased heart rate and higher frequency of waking. They also discovered that the person rolled over or their sleep depth changed the moment the cool air blew out. The subjects used for the study were adult males, meaning cold airflow might have a greater impact on other people with a greater sensitivity to cold.

Staying cool at night is important for sleeping, but the general setting on the air conditioner could be making that sleep more restless. Turning down the velocity of the airflow could be the key to solving this issue according to the study’s findings.

For those who notice they have trouble sleeping with the AC on this summer, consider turning the air conditioner off at night, opening the windows, and putting a fan in the bedroom. While the fan doesn’t blow cool air, it creates a steady airflow that makes whoever is in the room feel cooler.