Use a Heat Pump This Winter

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces during cold Idaho winters. They work by extracting outside heat and transferring it inside. Even air that seems too cold, like during winter, has heat energy present for the system to use.

Because heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, their biggest advantage is energy efficiency. They can provide the same comfort level as a conventional heat source for as little as one quarter of the conventional source’s operating cost.

While there are three types of heat pumps, the most commonly used is the air-source heat pump. This transfers heat between the home and outside air using electricity. It can reduce electricity use for heating by about 50 percent when compared to electric resistance heating.

Before, heat pumps were only sufficient in moderate climates where the temperature didn’t drop too low. With recent technology developments, they can now provide sufficient heating in colder climates too. Often, a heat pump is paired with a furnace for supplemental heating if needed in subfreezing temperatures.

In homes without ducts, a mini-split heat pump, which is a type of ductless air-source heat pump, is a viable option. These can operate in climates as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the home warm all winter long.

Heat pumps aren’t just for heating in the winter, however. They can also be used to keep the home cool in the warmer months by reversing the process, extracting the warm air from inside the home and putting it outside. It pulls double duty year-round to keep the house comfortable while using less energy, helping homeowners to save money.

Diamond Heating and Cooling can install a heat pump or mini split heat pump for homes that want to save on heating costs or when a current heating option is unavailable. Call us to learn more about these heating options.



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.

Winter Vacation Thermostat Settings

As many people are getting ready to travel for the holidays, it is important for homeowners to take a second to reset the thermostat so they don’t pay for heat they didn’t use. Here ‘s how to lower the heating bill while away, but also keep the house safe from freezing.

During vacations or a weekend away in the summer, the thermostat can be turned off completely with no real consequence. However, in winter that isn’t an option. The thermostat needs to be set no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit while away. This prevents appliances and pipes from freezing and causing flooding.

However, not everyone wants to come home to a 50-degree house and freeze while waiting for it to warm back up. In that case, lower it about four degrees below the normal setting. Then, it won’t take as much energy and time to get the house back up to the normal temperature when returning. If the furnace is gas, it can be lowered six degrees because it takes less work to heat homes with a gas furnace.

A great option for those who take trips often, is a programmable thermostat. That way they can set it to lower and increase temperature before and after they leave. They can set it to decrease temperature while they are away and increase the heat when they are on their way back home so the house is at the desired temperature when they arrive home.

Programmable thermostats also work great for day-to-day operation. Many homeowners choose to lower the home’s temperature while they are at work since nobody is home to enjoy the heat and increase it when they get off work.

Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about setting up a programmable thermostat. There are also “smart thermostat” options available that can be accessed using a smart phone letting homeowners control their heating and cooling remotely.

Installing a High Efficiency System

Homes with HVAC systems that are more than 10 years old should consider an upgrade. This is especially true for those that have experienced frequent repairs and uneven heating or cooling throughout the house. Replacing the current system with an Energy Star-rated model before it fails can bring a lot of benefits.

  1. Lowered Utility Bills

Replacing an old system that is inefficient, with a new high efficiency model could save homeowners at least $115-$200 annually according to Energy Star. Homeowners could also qualify for tax credits for investing in energy efficiency.

  1. Less Maintenance

Older HVAC systems tend to have more problems that can lead to costly repairs even with regular maintenance. Investing in a newer model will cut down on repairs and maintenance costs.

  1. Comfort

Higher efficiency systems heat and cool a home and with less effort. Homeowners will experience evenly distributed heating, more consistent temperatures, and steady air flow throughout the entire house. Comfort is important, especially during the winter and summer months.

  1. Environmentally Better

Models with high efficiency have a minimal impact on the environment compared to their older counterparts. They use less fuel to operate, which helps to conserve energy.

  1. Increased Value

Buyers are starting to take more notice of the HVAC systems in houses they are considering for purchase. They tend to be willing to pay more for a home with a high efficiency system, correctly programmed thermostat, proper insulation, and sealed ductwork. When homeowners are thinking about selling, a high efficiency heating and cooling system will help bring a better price for the home.

Diamond Heating and Cooling wants everyone to be warm this winter and not have to deal with a system that’s breaking down. Talk to them today about finding and installing a high efficiency system to start experiencing the benefits above.

National Weather and Heating Costs Forecast

The United States could be in for a long, expensive winter when it comes to heating costs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It looks like the area with the most to worry about is east of the Rocky Mountains.

Here’s what the breakdown of costs could look like for each type of heating:

  • Natural Gas

Households who use natural gas to heat their homes could see an increase of about 22 percent in heating costs or about $116 when compared to last winter. This is due the possible increase in consumption as well as an increase in price.

Residential gas prices are forecast to increase 11 percent higher than prices last winter, with consumption forecast to increase 10 percent from last winter.

  • Heating Oil

With retail prices going up, households who rely on heating oil will spend an average of $378 more this winter, or 38 percent. Retail prices for heating oil are expected to be 20 percent higher and consumption 15 percent higher than last year. Nationwide, only about 5 percent of households se heating oil.

  • Electricity

Electricity users are only looking at a five percent increase this winter with an average of $49 more than last year. This is due to a 5 percent higher consumption rate, which includes both heating and non-heating uses of electricity. Also, residential electricity prices are about one percent higher than last year. Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households rely on electricity as their primary heating source.

No matter what type of weather this winter brings, one way to save money on heating this year is to have the furnace serviced now. Finding furnace problems and fixing them before they cause breakdowns will help homeowners save money and stay warm. It’s crunch time, so call Diamond Heating and Cooling now to get the HVAC system checked.

5 Tips to Lower Heating Bills

It’s that time of year again when the temperature drops and the furnace kicks on more frequently. That doesn’t mean that the energy bill has to skyrocket though. After having the furnace serviced by the experts at Diamond Heating and Cooling to ensure everything is running properly, try out these tips to keep energy costs low:

  • Cover Drafty Windows

Use a film to reduce the amount of cold air coming through the windows. Another idea is to install insulating drapes or shades to keep the cold air from entering the room.

  • Find Leaks

There are a lot of places in house that can leak air such as doors, windows, and more. Learn how to detect leaks and then seal them up tight to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

  • Replace Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is great around doors and windows, but not if it’s old and worn. It’s easy to replace, and can significantly reduce air leaks. Some weather stripping needs to be replaced every few years, so it might be a good time to check.

  • Use the Fireplace

Using the fireplace during colder months can cut down on furnace usage, lowering the energy bill and preserving the life of the furnace. The fireplace should be serviced before use each fall and a carbon monoxide detector should be installed.

  • Keep Heating Vents Clear

For even heating, the warm air blowing out of the heat vents needs a clear path into the room. Furniture set over top of the vents will block air flow and will be less efficient.

Have the furnace serviced before the winter cold really sets in. If the heating bill starts skyrocketing this winter, talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling. There may be a problem with the HVAC system causing the spike in heating costs.

5 Tips to Save Energy This Winter

It can be hard to keep the house warm and simultaneously keep energy costs down. Cranking up the furnace just makes the energy bill go up. Instead of deciding between freezing or letting the checkbook take a hit, try these ideas to keep the heating bill down and still stay comfortable:

  1. Utilize the Sun

The sun can heat up a room when the curtains or blinds are opened. Once the sun goes down, closing the curtains or blinds can keep the heat in for a while. It’s a free heat source that should be taken advantage of as much as possible. Dirty, dusty windows don’t let as much sunlight in, so giving them a scrub can help the sunlight filter in better.

  1. Bundle Up

Stay warmer by throwing on a sweater and wearing warm socks or slippers while lounging around the house. The body heat will help negate the need for the furnace to be turned up so high. Invest in some warm blankets and quilts for beds and couches. Wood and laminate floors can be cold to walk on, especially in winter. Put rugs down on the frequently used areas to keep the chill away.

  1. Keep the Furnace Clean

A furnace is like a car. If it isn’t serviced properly, it won’t run right and will begin to wear down. Having the furnace serviced for yearly maintenance, and keeping the vents and furnace clean can help cut down on energy consumption. Make sure to also check the furnace filter monthly, and replace it every three months minimum.

  1. Get a Humidifier

Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better. That’s why investing in a humidifier could help keep the thermostat a little lower this winter. As a bonus it can also keep skin from getting dry, which tends to happen during the colder months.

  1. Insulate

Many homes are in need of better insulation. Heat can escape easily if a house is poorly insulated, costing homeowners hundreds of dollars in heating bills. Foam weather stripping on doors and windows can seal up cracks, adding extra insulation and keeping heat in.

If the furnace isn’t working as efficiently as in the past, give Diamond Heating and Cooling a call. Some furnace maintenance and tuning can help get it back to running the way it should. Ask about our heating maintenance plans that save homeowners money on heating and cooling services.