Heating and Air Conditioning Considerations for Basement Finishing

Homeowners sometimes fall prey to the notion that basement spaces should look like dark, damp dungeons. But you don’t have to let all that space go to waste. By completing a basement finishing project, you can utilize your basement to its full potential. However, you’ll need to consider your heating and air conditioning needs before you start planning for the project. Read more

3 Alternative Heating Options to Try this Winter

Forced air heating units are familiar to most homeowners and are probably the most common way to heat a home during the wintertime; however, there are several other options you may want to consider as well. Below, you’ll find some alternative heating choices that can help keep your home warm and cozy during the cold Winter months.

Wood Burning Stoves

Wood burning stoves have been used for hundreds of years to provide warmth and comfort to spaces during the colder months. The first wood burning stove was patented way back in the year 1557! And, even though we’re in the 21st century, there’s no reason you can’t also reap the benefits of this type of heating system in your home.

Wood burning stoves can be a sensible choice for heating medium sized homes and high efficiency models are now available which improve the overall air quality of your home while keeping it warm and toasty. Wood burning stoves are a great choice as they do not rely on electricity, but simply wood, for fuel. Be sure to contact your local environmental office to learn any restrictions for wood burning stoves in your area, and keep in mind the size of your home when purchasing a wood burning stove. You’ll want to choose a stove that is adequately sized, not too big or too small, so that you get maximum efficiency from the unit.

Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves are efficient, electric powered, stoves that burn compressed wood or biomass particles (grains, corn, seeds) which are shaped into pellets. The hopper, or container, of the stove is fed with pellets, which allows the unit to maintain a constant flame that needs very little adjustment on the homeowner’s part. Pellet stoves can generally be plugged into a standard electrical outlet and will work in conjunction with a forced exhaust system. Pellet stoves burn very cleanly since the pellet produces minimal ash, although daily cleaning of the ash is recommended for maximum efficiency. Pellet stoves can be used in small or mobile homes where a wood burning stove would not be suitable.

Geothermal Heat

Have you heard of geothermal heating? This type of heating is best implemented in new construction because it requires an underground system of coils, which can be easier to add to a home pre-construction. Yet, these heat pumps can also be retrofitted to an existing home.  Since the main tubing of the system is located underground, heat from the earth is used to heat your home. Generally, the Earth’s temperature where the coils are buried holds steady between 50 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this is much warmer than the air outside of your home on a brisk Winter day, it requires less energy to heat your home’s indoor air to a comfortable level.

Geothermal units can run several thousand dollars to purchase and install, but the savings in both cost and energy in the long run is well worth it. Not to mention, since the unit utilizes heat from the earth, it is an environmentally friendly choice as well.

We offer geothermal heat pumps as well as other heating options for your home. Call us today to learn more: 707-416-0845

How Does a Multizone HVAC Setup Save You Money?

For those of you unfamiliar with a multi-zone HVAC system, you can think of it as having a lot in common with your backyard propane grill with the four burners on it. Sometimes you’ll notice hotspots and have to turn down the heat, or areas that are cool and need more. Maybe you’re cooking several different things and you need varying temperatures across the grill. Your home with a multi-zone setup is a lot like that grill.

Ductless Heat Pumps and Thermostats

Moving beyond the grill analogy, any homeowner will know that the entire house doesn’t rise or fall in temperature uniformly throughout the day and night. Rooms that share outside walls with the southern or western portions of the house will warm faster than those which don’t receive as much shade. And if the home is a two-story then the upstairs will warm faster than the lower levels.

Using one thermostat, and one large heat pump, to control the temperatures in those specific areas is terribly inefficient. This inefficiency is in part what causes the average home to have a utility bill where in excess of 40% of the costs can be directly attributable to heating and cooling.

This is where the multi-zone system comes in. In a multi-zone setup, several, smaller heat pumps will be placed in strategic locations throughout the house and utilize a number of thermostats. Either built into the heat pumps themselves, or located in the rooms or zones the heat pumps are in. Those individual pumps can be programed to keep higher or lower temperatures depending on the preference of the people in those areas and allowing you to heat or cool only the parts of the house you need to during the night while you’re sleeping or at work during the day.

By allowing individual control of these smaller zones, compared to the overall house, the amount of savings can be quite remarkable. But their money-saving benefits aren’t just limited to a more advanced degree of control, but due to the extremely efficient nature of ductless heat pumps. Set up in certain configurations, efficiency of over 300% are easily attainable.

Depending on your unique needs and the layout of your home, will have a factor in deciding what heating and cooling solution is best for you. If you’d like to discuss your heating and cooling options, and if a multi-zone setup is right for you, give us a call at Solano Heating & Air Conditioning today!

Typical Costs for Central Air Heating

Costs for Installing Central Air Heating

Aside from the heating units themselves, the most expensive cost you may incur in purchasing a new heating system is whether or not you have to replace the ductwork. Utilizing the existing ductwork will save vast amounts of money. Replacing the ductwork can cost between 6,000-20,000 dollars so if your existing ducts are fine – use them. You will want to have the length of them inspected for proper fit and connections, though as that is the major source of inefficiency in heating.

The next largest cost is going to be the type of unit that you get. Different brands will vary in price but also vary by the method of heat generation. A gas furnace will run between 1,700-4,000 dollars. An oil furnace will cost somewhere between 2,000-5,000 dollars. And a heat pump will cost between 2,000-5,000 dollars as well. Keep in mind that for a high-efficiency system there will be around a one thousand to two thousand dollar premium.

The labor costs can vary but it will usually take at least one full day, more likely two, in order to finish the installation. Also be sure to ask if there is a debris and trash removal fee for the handling of all the old equipment. When talking to the contractor you should inquire as to the need and cost of a building permit. In many jurisdictions a building permit is required to replace a furnace, and this may or may not be included in the quote from the contractor. And if your home was built in 1970 or prior, you may have to contend with asbestos removal, which can add significantly to the costs.

You can help cut costs by taking advantage of any discount programs your state or county offers for purchasing a unit that meets a certain efficiency rating. You might also want to consider having the work done during the ‘off’ or ‘slow’ season(s) to potentially save money.

How To Choose Between A Furnace And A Heat Pump For Your Home Heating System

The type of system you choose to heat your home will have a direct effect on your home energy budget. Making the choice between the different types of HVAC heating systems should not be taken lightly or left to chance. If you have the opportunity to decide which type of system will heat your home, then understanding the differences between the two systems will help you make the most cost-effective and reliable choice for your home heating system.

 

The top two choices

Heat pumps and furnaces are basically the two most used systems in America today. Both systems do an effective job of heating a home effectively. However, there are differences in the two systems that play a role in their efficiency in certain homes, climates or conditions. Just as you would choose a vehicle based on the size of your family, how much you drive, your budget, and other factors, the same is true for choosing a heating system for your home. Take into account some of these comparisons to help you make the best choice for a home heating system.

 

Fuel and power source

Furnaces are generally powered by natural gas, propane or fuel oil. This makes a furnace ideal for locations where there are plenty of oil or natural gas pipelines. Heat pumps are powered by electricity, so if you live in a rural type area where there are no natural gas or other fossil fuels a heat pump may be the best choice.

 

Outside climate

One major difference between heat pumps and furnaces is that furnaces work well at any temperatures no matter how cold it gets outside. Heat pumps tend to lose efficiency when temperatures drop below freezing. If you live in an area that has really cold winters, then you may want to use a furnace instead of a heat pump.

 

Safety and environment

Both types of heating systems are safe, however, heat pumps produce no carbon monoxide gases and pose no threats of fuel combustion since they are powered by electricity.

Choosing the right type of home heating system will require a little research and the advice of an HVAC professional. In addition, a professional HVAC company can provide you with reliable information to help you make an informed decision. Follow us for additional tips and information on the best ways to keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Should I Leave Interior Doors Open Or Closed During Heating And Cooling?

Most literature on HVAC systems call on homeowners to seal every hole and crack in the house to prevent air leakage, as this would compromise energy efficiency. Naturally, doors would be closed as well, as they could let a great deal of air escape.

While this advice is based on solid principles, there are other factors at work that should be considered when it comes to heating and cooling, with air pressure being a primary concern.

The Pressure To Stay Cool

With everything sealed up, the pressure inside a room will slowly escalate. This is the natural consequence of continuously pumping a massive volume of air from the outside into a finite space. This can be relieved by opening the door from time to time while the occupant is awake. However, the door would presumably stay closed during bedtime. The pressure may eventually reach the point where additional input from the AC forces air to escape through whatever small openings it can find. Conversely, the rest of the house will experience a negative pressure that would suck in air from the surroundings. Outside air is likely to come from passageways like a furnace flue or a chimney.

This outside air carries with it pollutants that have not been filtered out. In fact, the number of contaminants is likely to be higher because of the way in which they got inside. The humidity and carbon monoxide levels will also spike, possibly causing alarms to set off. The health risks involved have to be taken seriously. Try to feel for incoming drafts near the areas mentioned to see if your house is experiencing this problem. Open the bedroom doors to see it anything changes. The reduced air pressure should stop the house from drawing air through these undesirable pathways.

Possible Remedies

So how does the issue get resolved? Opening the doors would be a good start, but leaving them this way throughout the night may not be feasible to most people. The key thing to remember is that we simply need to increase airflow by a small amount to prevent pressure buildup. Transfer grilles are good candidates for a remedy. They do not compromise privacy and are fairly easy to install.

Continue following our blog for more great HVAC information.

How To Save Yourself From Future HVAC Headaches

If you are looking for an air conditioner or heater replacement, you’re probably hoping to get your hands on the most reasonable options around. Then again, your eagerness to get a good deal may not be enough to get the best one. Since there are many HVAC units advertised in the market today, it can be hard to tell which of them are worth to spend for. If you want to make sure that you will get a decent furnace or air cooler, check out the tips below and save yourself from future headaches.

Go for Higher SEER Rating

You might be wondering what SEER is all about. SEER means Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and it is responsible for the amount of power that you save when using your HVAC machine. The higher the SEER rate is, the bigger your savings are. Make sure that you look for items with a SEER rate of at least 13, if you want to cut down your energy bills.

Follow Regular Maintenance

Don’t wait for your unit to be in bad shape. Regular maintenance will prevent your heater or air conditioner from breaking down easily. You can absolutely prolong the life of your machine if you follow regular maintenance schedule, no matter what.

Warranty

When choosing a new heater, you should check the duration of the warranty to ensure that you can have it fixed in case it doesn’t work properly. The same applies when choosing new air conditioner units. Always check if they have warranty stickers or if they are tampered. This will save you from heaps of headaches, particularly when having them repaired or replaced.

Ask for Professional Help

If there are things that you are not quite sure of and you need expert advice, it is best to ask questions. It’s not bad to be inquisitive when it about HVAC devices because you will be using them for many years. Of course, it’s best to ask professionals rather than depend on speculations. You can call us for help in choosing a new HVAC product and we will guarantee to give you the best advice we can.

Install Your New Air Conditioning System In The Fall

Have no fear if you have a boiler, but no central air conditioning system. Today, you have three new options for correcting this grievous situation. The installation causes minimal disturbance to your home. Luckily, compared to the years of relief you’ll get and the cooling temperatures you’ll experience, the costs are consistent with the work completed.

First Air Conditioning Option

The mini-split system is a no duct system that combines an outside condenser with an indoor wall installed air handler. This system is great for cooling smaller portions of your home, not the whole house. You’ll need additional air handlers if you want to cool the entire house. This system’s price includes one condenser and one air handler with installation. The total is approximately $3500.

Second Air Conditioning Option

The attic system works by installing an outside condenser and an air handler in the attic. It functions very much like a traditional central air system. Ductwork is run throughout the home cooling each area in which it’s installed. This is often enough to keep the whole house cool. This installation is slightly pricier than the first option, but the results are a cooler home. Depending on the size of the home, the price for equipment and installation ranges from $8,000 to $15,000.

Third Air Conditioning Option

The high velocity system is also an attic air system. This system uses less obtrusive and significantly smaller tubing instead of large diameter ductwork to move the air throughout the home. This is a more attractive option for home owners concerned with the aesthetic appeal of their homes. The tubing is installed with minimal construction and cosmetic disruption. Most importantly, for the homeowner’s sacrifice, they are rewarded with the highest cooling capacity of the three systems. All the home’s rooms are evenly and quietly cooled with this high velocity system. To have this system installed in your home the total investment ranges from $12,000 to $20,000.

Whatever you cooling needs, meet with a heat, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to have your home evaluated. You can then receive an accurate estimate for a system designed for your cooling needs and budget. Don’t wait until the heat of the summer to install your cooling system, now is the best time to install air conditioning.

Homeowners Need To Be Familiar With Furnace Warning Signs

One of the best ways to prevent issues with a heating system is to schedule a Furnace Inspection shortly before cold weather hits. Many problems can be detected during this inspection and prevent costly repairs. Unfortunately, an inspection does not guarantee a season free from problems. Homeowners should know the common and serious Furnace Warning Signs so they can protect their home and family members when problems arise.

Some of the common issues with furnaces are not a big deal; in fact many of them can be fixed by the homeowner. An example of a less serious problem is experiencing Obstructed airflow. This problem generally arises when furniture or other items are blocking HVAC vents. Another time an obstruction occurs is when a filter becomes seriously clogged; cleaning or changing the filter generally fixes this problem.

A broken or faulty thermostat is also a common issue. If a furnace is not keeping a home warm, or if it is coming on and shutting off with great frequency, the thermostat may be the cause. Changing the thermostat will likely fix this problem. Old age is yet another reason a furnace will not function properly.

Repairs or replacement might be necessary if a furnace is over ten years old. Warning signs that indicate a more serious problem include a noisy furnace or gas odor. When the smell of gas is present, or when hearing obnoxious noises when a furnace is operating, homeowners should act immediately and shut the furnace down until the problem is diagnosed. If other signs are present that seem to cause the furnace to not work like it normally does, the flame and burner should be inspected.

Burners that get clogged with dirt will have a yellow to orange colored flame. The flame may also flicker and be unstable. Though dirt build up is usually the cause of the odd colored flame, other problems may be present. A furnace should always have a clean blue flame that is consistently stable. When noticing signs that are not easy to diagnose or fix, it is time to contact a professional HVAC contractor.

Gas Furnace Maintenance: Why You Need To Get A Technician

Your home’s heating system is a very important part of your home and should always be in good condition especially during the wintertime. If you haven’t already got it checked, doing so will safeguard you and your family from the cold.

Your gas furnace is usually located in the basement, attic or some closets. While a gas furnace is quite easy to maintain, there is still a need to get it checked by a licensed and certified technician.

One mistake of homeowners is that when there is heat inside the home, they assume that there is no need to take a look at the furnace to check if it is still in good working order.

Homeowners should pay attention to their furnace by doing an inspection. Ensuring that the gas furnace is not making any weird noises is one thing that a homeowner should do. If the boiler is dripping, this can also cause problems later on so be sure to get a technician when that happens.

The gas furnace should also be free from any type of debris. Ensuring that the area surrounding the furnace is clean is ensuring that your family is safe because storing materials like cleaning products as well as paints is dangerous. Storing flammable materials near a gas furnace can result to fire.

The thermostat setting should also be checked according to experts and each gas furnace should also have a carbon monoxide detector device right beside it. A gas furnace that has a leak can cause harm when it leaks toxic chemicals into the home.

Call A Licensed and Certified Technician

While inspecting the heating unit yourself is a good idea, experts say it’s better to get a technician, like those of Solano Heating & Air Conditioning in Suisun City, CA, to check it at least once a year.

One must remember that technicians are more knowledgeable when it comes to furnaces and that they have the equipment in determining possible problems.

When a technician checks a furnace, he usually does a run down of the check list of things that need to be checked or maintained. Part of the maintenance step is cleaning the unit itself and its surrounding area ensuring that dirt and dust are removed. Rust on the unit is also removed. Other parts of the system that technicians check include the air filter, the unit’s gas pressures as well as the safety valves of the furnace.

The fan belt is also checked because it can either crack or fray. The belt itself has a tendency to loosen so this is checked as well. Other parts of the furnace that are checked by technicians include the connections for the voltage, the thermostat contacts, the radiators, the thermostat itself and the burners.

A detailed check, according to experts, will take an hour or more but more often than not, homeowners are charged a flat rate fee for such checks.