When’s the Best Time to Replace Your Home Heating System?

As cold weather nears, it is important to think about the health of your home heating system. If your HVAC system has not been  functioning as well as it used to, then it may be time to consider a home heating system replacement.  

How Long Does a Heating System Last?

The lifespan of a home heating unit is about 10 to 15 years, depending on the type of unit, and how often the system is used. Below we list a few things to keep in mind when deciding on the right time to replace your home’s current heating system.

When Replace Home Heating System

In Need of Home Heating Repair or Replacement?

We at Cardinal have proudly served residents in the Seattle area since 1991. We specialize in home heating systems, which includes maintenance, repairs, and replacement. If you believe that your home heating system may need serviced or replaced, give us a call now: 425-296-2097.

When to Call an HVAC Tech for Heater Repair

Before you call an HVAC technician for heating repair, there are a few minor things you may want to check for that could end up saving you money on an unneeded service call. No one likes to spend unneeded money on something simple that could have been fixed without a professional, so take a look at this list below to see if your HVAC issue is really worth a call to a pro. Oftentimes, a simple fix can save you the hassle and costs associated with an HVAC house call.

Is Your Gas Turned On?

If you have gas heating, make sure that your home’s gas supply is still turned on. If your gas company suspects a problem or leak, they will turn off the gas supply to check for issues. Give your gas company a call before calling an HVAC technician to rule out any potential interference with your gas company as to why your HVAC system is not running properly. Also, with older units especially, make sure that your pilot light is lit. Most heating units use an electronic starter these days, but some people do still have units that run by pilot lights and an unlit pilot light will cause a heating unit to stop working. This goes for a hot water heater, as well. Newer electronic driven units generally have “flash codes”, which help indicate whether something is wrong. Take a look at our heating unit’s manual to help diagnose issues for these types of systems.

Take a Careful Look at Your Thermostat

This may seem obvious, but it’s an easily overlooked issues. Be sure to check the settings on your thermostat to make certain that the thermostat’s display is displaying the desired settings. Double check that the system is turned on, and that the switch is set properly to the correct temperature and to “heat” and not to “cool” or “off”. Many times homeowners will think that their heating and cooling system is not working properly only to find that their thermostat was simply not set correctly. Double checking your thermostat could save you the costs of a service call.

Pay Attention to Your Power Supply

Check your HVAC’s power supply. There may be a switch for your HVAC unit located close by to the unit (it could resemble a light switch), or your HVAC’s switch may be located on your circuit breaker. Generally, if up to code, this on/off switch will be clearly labeled for your HVAC system.

How’s the Air Filter?

If your heater seems to be running poorly or has decreased in efficiency, take a look at your system’s air filter. A dirty air filter can cause big problems for how well an HVAC unit performs. If you have an extremely dirty air filter, then your HVAC system cannot function properly. Before investing in an HVAC technician telling you’re your filter is dirty, simply check yourself and replace the filter if needed. A clean filter can go a long way in allowing your heater to function normally.

If you’ve checked all of the issues above and your heating system still doesn’t work, then it’s time to call a pro. We can help! Call us today at 425-296-2097

Winter Weather Projections for the Puget Sound

Though fall has just arrived, it is never too early to begin preparing yourself and your home for winter in the Puget Sound. Looking at the winter weather projections for 2016 will help you better understand what type of weather you need to prepare for. Below, we will take a look at what types of weather and winter temperatures you can expect as well as what measures you can take to prepare your family and your home for the winter weather that is expected in the Puget Sound.

Preparing for Winter in the Puget Sound

Winter will be here sooner than you realize. It is important to look at projections for what temperatures and weather will be like in the Puget Sound, so that we can begin to prepare ourselves for the winter season. The best way to avoid being left out in the cold is to make sure that your home and HVAC system is ready for winter.

Winter Weather Projections for the Puget Sound

According to AccuWeather, in the beginning of winter, average highs will be between 44 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit with average low temperatures between 32 and 36 degrees. As we move into January and February, average high temperatures will be in the high 40s, lower 50s with average low temperatures around 36 or 37 degrees.

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter

Now that you have a better idea of what to expect this winter in the Puget Sound, it is time to discuss how you can go about preparing your home for the winter season. Here are just a few ways that you can stay warm this winter by prepping your home in fall:

  • Make sure your heating system is working properly. It’s important to test your heating system before the weather starts getting colder. Turn on the heat to ensure that the system is working properly. It should not be vibrating heavily, making loud noises, or emit any burning smells. If it does, turn the system off and call an HVAC technician for an inspection.
  • Get an HVAC tune-up before winter. Much like a car or truck, your HVAC system needs regular maintenance to continue running smoothly and efficiently. Many homeowners choose to get their annual tune-up right before winter when they know that their system will be working hard. During the tune-up, your HVAC technician will make sure the system is clean and well-oiled while looking for potential issues.
  • Repair any poor insulation in your home. Inspect your doors and windows for cracks, leaks, and gaps. Make sure these are sealed before winter gets here. Poor insulation allows the heat to escape from your home, which increases energy usage and your electricity bill. It can also make your HVAC system work harder than necessary to keep your home warm, causing wear and tear to the system’s parts.

If you need help preparing your heating system for the winter season, call us today. We can help make sure that you are not left in the cold this season by inspecting your unit and performing an annual tune-up.

Four Benefits Of Installing Solar Hot Water Heaters

As a certified VELUX Solar Specialist, at Cardinal Heating & AC have helped many people in their transition to solar heating. If you’re considering a switch, take a look at the top four reasons more people move to solar every year.

Embrace Environmental Benefits Of Solar

Climate change is a hot topic, causing many people to consider how they can reduce negative impacts on the environment. Some are accomplishing this through solar mechanisms in the home.  While concerns over the rapidly diminishing carbon budget grow and uncertainties in fossil fuel availability continue, solar energy is an ideal and unlimited resource. It doesn’t produce harmful emissions nor rely on transportation methods that contribute to pollution, such as trucks and pipelines.

Solar water heating reduces household energy consumption dramatically, creating a smaller carbon footprint. Families and businesses alike are doing their part for the planet by switching to solar.

Experience Independence From Fossil Fuels

In addition to the environmental benefits, solar hot water heaters allow for personal and national independence as well.

Fuel prices are out of the United States’ control for the most part, due to our reliance on foreign oil. In an unstable international climate, it’s dangerous to put all our energy needs in the hands of other nations. Tax incentives and lower emission initiatives have emerged as a clear sign that our government recognizes that energy independence is important.

Going solar helps the United States cut ties with foreign oil sources. For the individual, this transition represents a shift away from dependence on oil companies and ever-fluctuating prices.

Enjoy Monthly Savings With Renewable Energy

Solar hot water heater users enjoy the associated monthly savings. Once installed, these systems provide immediate relief on utility bills. Many clients see savings in excess of 50% when a full switch to solar is implemented. The average customer can also pay for the total solar system in three to five years with these savings. With such high returns, it’s not surprising that households find solar hot water heaters are worth the investment.

Increase Your Home’s Value By Installing Solar Hot Water Heating

House hunters are increasingly interested in the many benefits of solar hot water heaters. As a result, many are willing to pay more for houses that come equipped with these systems. Since buyers know they’ll recoup the added expense quickly through energy savings, it’s well worth the upfront investment.

The benefits of installing solar hot water heaters are far-reaching—from utility bills to national independence from foreign energy sources. Contact Cardinal Heating & AC today for more information, and let our experts guide you through the transition.

Benefits of Financing Your New Heating and Cooling System

Sometimes heating and cooling systems break down at inconvenient times, and many homeowners haven’t been able to set aside enough money for such an expense. When you finance your heating and cooling system, you can get what you need right away, while being able to make comfortable payments toward your investment.

How Financing Your Heating and Cooling System Can Help You

Financing generally goes through a lending agency that works with the HVAC company. The lending agency handles the financial side of the transaction, while the HVAC company provides the service.

Ease of Mind

Financing can help individuals and families get needed repairs and replacements without having to worry about paying the entire amount up front. Having to make a large purchase can be traumatic and nerve-wracking, especially if the investment means that you’ll fall behind in other important areas. By financing your HVAC needs, you can continue to enjoy livable temperatures without having to break the bank.

Energy Savings

If you buy an energy efficient system, you’ll be saving yourself money each month in utility costs. For instance, replacing an air conditioning unit with a 10 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) with one with an 18 SEER can save you up to 48 percent in your annual cooling utility costs.

How to Obtain Financing

You don’t need to have perfect credit to qualify for HVAC financing. Gather the following documents so the lending institution can make a fully informed decision:

  • Credit report—A good credit score is an important factor in obtaining quality financing. The amount you’ll receive and the interest rate on the loan will be tied to your credit score.
  • Pay stubs—Gather the last three months’ worth of pay stubs for income verification. If you’re self-employed, bring proof of income through either deposit receipts or your last tax return. If you have others listed on the loan application as well, they will also need to provide proof of income.
  • Letters of reference—Some companies allow letters of reference, which helps them determine the outcome of the loan application. This is especially important if you have poor or minimal credit, as the letters can help show your reliability. If you’re able to provide reference letters from employers or utility companies, you can show that you’re consistent and financially responsible.

If you need to replace or repair your HVAC system and don’t have the funds to hire a contractor on your own, consider speaking with your HVAC company about financing options. Most companies understand their customers’ situations and offer finance applications as part of their regular service.

Follow us for additional information on heating, cooling and more.

5 Common Home Heating Myths

As winters get longer and colder year after year, homeowners have developed many strategies and theories they think might help them minimize the cost of heating their home during winter. It is important to note that only some of these strategies actually work. Many of them are just myths which might actually increase their heating bill. The following are five of the most common home heating myths and the truth about them.

 

1. Duct Tape is Perfect for Sealing Ducts

As the name suggests, duct tape was designed for sealing ducts, so they must be great for sealing air ducts. Right? Well, the answer is no. Research has shown that duct tape easily comes off the ducts after several heating cycles. The good news is that there are several other great tapes on the market which can be used for sealing ducts.

2. Lighting the Fireplace can Help Reduce Heating Costs

It is easy to understand why many homeowners have believed this myth. After all, the fireplace produces heat which can help raise indoor temperatures. Well, according to experts, burning wood in the fireplace diminishes the amount of oxygen available for breathing. Furthermore, the fire will burn air-conditioned air. The fireplace also requires firewood, which must be bought.

3. Programmable Thermostats Adjust Indoor Temperatures Automatically

This is a common myth. The truth is that you have to input the desired settings manually and readjust the settings until you are comfortable with the operation of your heating system.

4. You Can Heat Up Your Home Faster by Cranking Up the Thermostat

There is a common misconception that adjusting your thermostat to a higher setting will force the heating system to work harder to heat your home faster. The truth, however, is that the thermostat cannot control how much heat is produced. It only determines when the heater is turned on or off, so cranking it up will not help you in any way.

5. Energy-Saving Windows Can Reduce your Heating Costs

Energy saving windows are energy efficient, but they are also expensive. The energy savings you will get from using these windows is significantly lower than the cost of procuring and installing the windows. It will take you several decades to recoup the cost of installing these windows, hence not a cost effective option.

Follow us for more information that will help keep your HVAC system running efficiently.

Tips To Select A Heating System For Your Home

If your furnace is more than 10 years old, or if it simply hasn’t been working well, you’ll be in the market for a new unit. Before contacting an HVAC contractor, however, take a few moments and ask yourself some questions about what you need in order to evaluate the wide range of home heating systems.

New furnaces will have a minimal heating efficiency of 80%, but in reality most reliable furnaces have efficiency ratings of 90% and above, even to 96%. When assessing furnaces, this is called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).

You’ll also want to examine the efficiency of the fan blower motor and consider a unit with an electronically commutated blower motor that is more efficient than a standard motor. This feature is especially important if you like to run your furnace fan all year long to clean indoor air as it will reduce your energy costs.

Expect to spend somewhere between $1,000 and $3,500 on a new furnace. High-efficiency models can cost an extra $500 to $1,000. If you currently have high heating bills, purchasing a high-efficiency unit makes sense as it would pay for itself within a few years. Evaluate what you are spending annually on your annual heating bill when you consider how much to spend on a furnace.

Other factors, however, can also affect annual heating cost. These include your home’s size, insulation, air tightness, leaky ductwork, the number of windows along with their energy-efficiency and the temperature that you set your thermostat.

Properly sizing your new furnace is also an important factor. A furnace that is too big or small will turn on and off frequently, resulting in inefficient operation. Make sure that your contractor sizes your house properly. That doesn’t mean simply taking into consideration the square footage, but adding other factors such as, number of floors, insulation levels, number of windows, orientation to the sun, configuration of your home, your local climate and more. Getting a Manual J calculation is essential.

You may also want to consider home heating systems with two-stage burners and variable blowers as these offer more efficiency and greater overall comfort.

Follow our blog regularly for additional articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Heat Pump Vs. Furnaces For Heating

In general, American homeowners heat their dwellings with a heat pump or a forced-air furnace. Both heating units work reliably and effectively. However, heating pumps and furnaces operate differently; hence you should refer to a comparative buying guide for furnaces and heat pumps before making your purchase. Householders who invest in energy-efficient central heating systems lower annual energy consumption to save on annual energy bills. In this article, we will discuss heating pumps and furnaces.

 

Sizing and Choosing Furnaces and Heating Pumps

  • A reputable heating and cooling contractor will tell you how to size a furnace – Some homeowners prefer to use an online furnace sizing calculator
  • Locate a residential heat pump sizing calculation tool to help you with your heat pump sizing or contact reliable local heat pump installers

 

Find the Most Efficient Way to Heat the Home

Furnaces are powered in various ways including:

  • Electricity
  • Oil
  • Natural gas
  • Propane
  • Bio-diesel heating is becoming popular and the alternative fuel is said to reduce air pollution.

Heating pumps are powered by electricity. Popular home heating devices, including the air source heat pumps can be used to cool or heat the indoor air.

 

How Furnaces and Heating Pumps Operate

A thermostatically controlled furnace will switch on and off as and when the indoor temperature changes. Heating pumps cool and heat homes by catching and transferring newly conditioned air.

Furnaces and Heat Pumps are Highly Efficient Forms of Heating

Both are cost effective and energy efficient. However, in general, electric or fuel-based furnaces are not quite as economical or efficient as heating pumps. A 90% AFUE High-efficiency furnace is an energy-saving device. High-efficiency heat pumps have an HSPF of 8.2.

Here are Some Ways to Boost Furnace Efficiency:

  • Install a variable speed air handler
  • Fit an electronic ignition
  • Install a dual fan heat exchanger

 

Ways to Increase Heat Pump Efficiency

  • Fit a two-stage thermostat
  • Source a variable speed compressor

This article is about heat pumps and furnaces. Some say, heat pumps are not as efficient in freezing weather, whereas the traditional furnace will operate in the coldest of weather. We hope the information supplied helps you to decide between a heat pump and a furnace. Contact an HVAC professional if you are still undecided. We have written numerous articles to help you keep your heating and cooling system running efficiently this winter, so please take time to read them.

What Is Two-Stage Heating?

454947375When it comes to energy-efficient furnaces, two-sage heating is the way to go. Over the last 10 years, the efficiency of heating units have increased tremendously. One of the biggest factors to this improvement has been the introduction of two-stage heating systems.

For years, furnaces simply operated in one stage. The unit would turn on, noisily, at full blast, to heat your home or business. This resulted in a blast of hot air, which not only was uncomfortable at some points during the year, but also resulted in a tremendous loss of energy. Two-stage furnaces operate much more efficiently. In most climates, the first stage operates the majority of the time that the unit is on, running at about 65% of the furnace’s capacity. This means that not as much fuel is used.

When exterior temperatures drop to extremely cold levels, the first stage is not sufficient to heat your home, so the second stage kicks in. Additional a two-stage furnace is much quieter as it does not run at full capacity every time it turns on and does not pump extra carbon dioxide into the environment.

Two-stage heating systems have a number of benefits. These include:

1. Better and continual comfort. Because two-stage systems turn on more often, building residents will avoid temperature fluctuations associated with     one-stage furnaces Temperatures can vary as little as one degree of set temperature.
2. Quiet operation. Two-stage systems don’t reach maximum output all at once, thus meaning that the amount of warm air required isn’t as much. There is no sudden air blast or loud sound.
3. Air filtration is better in two-stage systems because the unit is on more, thus allowing air to constantly pass through filters and capture more pollutants.
4. Better efficiency. Multi-stage systems operate at lower capacity when the first stage is on and burn less fuel than single-stage systems running at full capacity.
5. Lower moisture. Multi-stage provides longer cooling. The result is more even dry air flown that results in fewer mildew and mold problems.

Overall, two-stage furnaces along with other enhancements are the smart choice for energy-conscious homeowners. Follow us for more articles to keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Tips For Winterizing Your Water Heater

Your water heater is one of those items in the house that makes life more convenient and most people would not know how to survive without it. The good news is that you don’t have to. However, there are certain steps that you should take in order to keep it running in excellent condition, especially if you experience extremely cold winters and are planning on leaving home for a while. The process of winterizing your water heater is a fairly easy one, provided all the instructions are followed.

The first step in this process is to disconnect your water heater from its power supply. If it is electric the you should unplug it. If it is powered by gas however, you should use a crescent wrench to turn the valve until it is perpendicular to the line. You must then find the control box which should be situated at the bottom right hand of the heater and turn the switch to the off position. The next step is very important and includes turning off the incoming water line. You are likely to find it outside the house or in the basement. Once you locate it turn the wheel like valve in a clockwise direction until it is shut off. You then need to locate the drain at the bottom of the tank and let the water out of the tank. You may do this by connecting a hose pipe to the tank if there is a fitting for it or by using an ordinary bucket and draining the water one bucket at a time. You can turn on the drain by turning the handle all the way up in an anti-clockwise direction. The air vent at the top of the tank should be opened by turning the lever into an upright position. You should then open all faucets in the home and let the water drain out.

The final step in this process involves insulating all pipes and eventually the entire tank with insulation, duct tape and a blanket. It may seem unnecessary however, if your water heater is one of the prized possessions in your home, you should rather do it anyway. Follow us on more tips on keeping your water heater from freezing this winter.