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Archive for January, 2014

13
Jan

Here in Montgomery County, we’re several months into winter. Are you already getting tired of seeing

those sky-high heating bills? Even if you turn your thermostat down, you might still find yourself

shivering and paying way too much. But there are a few surprisingly easy steps you can take to reduce

those bills and increase your comfort. Talk about a win-win.

1. Have your furnace checked by a professional. It’s not too late for a furnace tune-up. During our

inspection, we’re not just making sure your furnace doesn’t break down (though of course we

do try to reduce that risk), we’re also making sure it’s running as efficiently as possible. A few

tweaks to your settings or a basic cleaning of parts can result in big savings, so if you haven’t had

a check yet, schedule it today.

2. Cover your windows. No matter how much you caulk those drafts, cold air is still going to sneak

in through the windows. Your best bet is to keep them covered. Consider putting up thermal

curtains. These thick, insulated panels lock your warm air in and the cold air out. They also come

in a variety of designer colors and designs, so you won’t have to sacrifice fashion for comfort.

You might even consider keeping the curtains up into the summer months; they’ll reduce your

cooling costs and many are even light-proof, helping the kids sleep while the sun’s still up.

3. Insulate the unlikely places. You’ve probably wrapped some padding around your pipes to keep

them from freezing; maybe you even added a new layer of insulation in your attic. But did you

insulate your water heater? Many new water heaters are already insulated, but some aren’t. If

it’s in a cooler area, like a basement or garage, it will have to work harder to keep your water

hot. Look for water heater insulation kits, and you could see a water heating savings of 4-9%.

Also don’t forget about your electric sockets; these little outlets can let a shocking amount of

cold air into your home. You can find insulating covers for pennies at your hardware store.

4. Winter proof your fireplace. How often do you really light a fire? It always sounds like a good

idea, but then you have to haul wood and get kindling and somehow, all those roaring fires just

never happen. If your fireplace isn’t in use, make sure your damper is closed. If possible, also use

a fireplace screen just to keep those last drafts out.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can save—and how much better your home will feel—just by taking

these small steps. And if you’re still not comfortable in your home, it’s time to call in a professional.

If you have problems with your furnace or still need that heating check, call GAC. We serve Maryland

homeowners to keep them comfortable all year ‘round. We’d love to help you, too.

Category : Energy & Money Saving Tips | Blog
6
Jan

Geothermal. Ductless. Ground source. You’ve heard the buzzwords, but what do they mean? If you’re clueless about varieties of heat pump, or just want to learn more, read on.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a heating system that provides warm air by collecting it from outside and pushing it into your house. The principle is the same as that of a refrigerator, but working in the opposite direction. There are several types of heat pumps that all function a little differently.

Air-Source Heat Pump

These are “regular” heat pumps, which pull in heat from the outside air and push it into your home through a ducted HVAC system. These are the most inexpensive heat pump systems to install, but are less efficient and reliable than some of the alternatives.

Geothermal Heat Pump

Also called a “ground-source heat pump,” geothermal heat pumps are better at heating because they draw warmth from the earth, which is generally hotter than the outside air. In addition, the consistency of underground temperatures makes for highly efficiency operation, as there is little variation in the amount of heat the pump draws in.

Geothermal pumps can be expensive to install, but can often save money in the long run, not only in energy savings but also in saved maintenance costs.

Dual-Source Heat Pump

Of course, you can combine both air-source and ground-source heat pumps into a single “dual-source” system. These systems are nearly as efficient as geothermal-only pumps, but cost significantly less to install. However, with an exposed air-source pump, you’ll have all the problems that come along with that system.

Ductless Heat Pump

Also called a “mini-split heat pump,” ductless heat pumps are often used in houses that don’t already have duct systems, or extended to new or renovated rooms. These systems function like window-mounted AC units, drawing air in from the outside and pumping it directly into a room.
They can be very cost-effective when heating small spaces, especially because they don’t rely on ducts (which waste up to 30 percent of energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy).
However, ductless heat pumps can be obtrusive, as they aren’t built into the walls like a ducted system. In addition, they can be more expensive to install and require technicians with more expertise.

Absorption Heat Pump

Absorption pumps are a little more exotic, as they can be operated using heat sources like gas, propane, or even water heated by geothermal or solar energy. This means they can work in homes without access to electricity, but it also means that they don’t make sense for many residential applications.

However, if you’re interested in exploring more varied sources of energy, absorption heat pumps might provide the flexibility that you’re looking for.

Which Type of Heat Pump Is Right for You?

If you’re confused by these options—and who wouldn’t be—you might want to call a professional. GAC Cooling & Heating can provide expertise and a free estimate for the cost of installing the perfect heat pump system for your home in Maryland. Contact us now to learn more.

Category : Heating | Blog
3
Jan

A dual-fuel heat pump is a “hybrid” heating and cooling system that combines an electric health pump with either a gas or oil system. Dual-fuel systems are extremely efficient because a computer can control which method it uses to heat your home based on ambient temperature and your own energy use needs.

Dual Fuel Heat Pump Advantages

Electric heat pumps and oil or gas heating systems both have their advantages. Heat pumps rely on existing heat to warm your home. Thus, they function best on warmer days. When the thermometer drops significantly, electric heat pumps have to work very hard to produce the same level of warmth.

On the other hand, oil and gas heat systems can provide a lot of heat, but they’re more difficult to moderate. On very cold nights, the blast of warmth is welcome, but on a mild winter day, it’s often overkill.

Dual fuel heat pumps use energy extremely efficiently by switching between these two kinds of systems based on need and energy efficiency. This means a better experience for residents than either system on its own, and can result in a smaller energy bill at the end of the month.

Is a Dual Fuel Furnace Worth It?

Probably. In a mid-Atlantic climate—like Frederick, MD—where winter temperatures are variable, a dual-fuel system can take advantage of unusually warm winter air to limit your heating to the low-energy electric heat pump. And when the weather gets really chilly, you can still rely on your gas or oil heating to kick on and keep things toasty.

Installing a Dual Fuel Heat Pump in Maryland

If you’re considering a dual fuel heat pump system, or would like to learn more about it, we can help. Our HVAC professionals know dual fuel heating systems inside and out and can answer your questions and provide a free estimate.

Category : Heating | Blog