Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Indoor Air Quality And You - Part 3

     Here in the Treasure Valley area of Boise, Idaho, we live in what is called the high desert. We have good share of dust and allegens from trees and desert grasses and weeds. So, let's talk about HEPA filters. HEPA is an acronym for 'High Efficiency Particulate Air'. A true HEPA is a type of filter that removes at least 99.97% of particulates such as dust, animal dander, smoke, mold and other allergens that are 0.3 microns or larger, from the air. Most residential heating and cooling systems are not able to accommodate such filters because of there physical dimensions and increase in airflow resistance. There are bypass HEPA air cleaning systems that are ducted off the heating and cooling system but only clean approximately  30 percent of the air traveling through the duct work.

      Portable air cleaners, are the type that treat the air in the immediate vicinity of the unit and are not intended for whole-house filtration. Here is why I discourage using them.
         1. They treat the air only in the room they are being used in.
         2. Separate units are required for each room.
         3. Often they are noisy and obtrusive in living areas.
         4. May not be as energy efficient due  to the need for multiple units.
         5. Require more frequent cleaning and maintenance. Filters need changed every 
             one to three months.
All of that being said, why not consider the best solution for your home and health? A WHOLE-HOME air cleaning system. I know that sounds expensive, but in reality, they are not. They can improve the efficiency of the central heating and cooling system by as much as 25% by trapping and removing harmful dust, dirt, dander and hair that would otherwise settle on your equipment.
       They are designed to last as long as your heating and cooling system, and filters require changing anywhere from 1 to 2 years, or some can be cleaned and used for up t 10 years before changing. Read more of my blogs at www.hvaccomfortguyjerry.blogspot.com. or go to our website at www.greensheating.com.

Friday, August 16, 2013

HVAC Cost Reality Check

       Probably the most common question I get in the heating and cooling business, is, how much does a air conditioner or furnace cost? Most folks are surprised at how expensive a new heating or cooling system can be. The reason for their surprise is most likely due to the fact that they have never had to purchase a new unit, or system in their life. People today are so mobile that every few years we move to a different city or home, and there is already a working HVAC system installed.
     I know that here in the Boise, Idaho area in the past 10 years we have had a phenomenal growth spurt in new housing, so there are many fairly new systems installed already. So, you have been in your home 15-20 years old, it is time to replace your HVAC system. You call around and arrange to have someone call on you, and evaluate your needs and give you a proposal for new equipment. That is when the shock comes! The cost! Most folks have no idea. Well, allow me to give you a reality check and bring you up to date.

     The most popular size of Air Conditioner here in the Treasure Valley, is a 2.5 ton unit. That is what most homes that are 1500-1700 square feet will need. That air conditioner will cost, installed, on average $2800.00 to $7000.00. The huge spread is determined by what EFFICIENCY you want to purchase. Efficiency ranges from a rating of 13-20 SEER, for most central air systems. (kind of like miles per gallon on a car). Back in the day you could only choose from one or two efficiency models from any dealer because that is all they had.
      On the furnace side, most people who have a 20 year old home most likely have a 80% efficiency furnace installed and today you can get a much more efficient 95% furnace installed in that same house size mentioned earlier, for $3000.00 to 6500.00. Now, I will mention that right now you can still replace your old furnace with a 80% efficient model just like you have, and they are less money, but it really is not a good idea. If your going to spend the money, why not upgrade to a more efficient model.
     Now, do the math. a complete system will cost between $6300.00 and $13,500.00. Now, here's what I want you to think about: Most people will spend $20,000-30,000. for a brand new car. They spend maybe an hour or two a day in their car traveling to work, shopping, etc. Most folks keep their automobile on average about 7-8 years.  When you purchase a new HVAC system, it is half the cost of a new car and you spend about 15 hours a day in you home, plus you won't be replacing it for 15 to 20 years. When you just look at the money side of the issue, which is the better investment, and which is going to give you the greatest return on your investment? For more good information read my blogs at www.hvaccomfortguyjerry.blogspot.com. or go to our website at www.greensheating.com.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Indoor Air Quality and You - Part 2

     Let's talk about residential air cleaning systems, and how effective they are. Like most areas of the country, here in the Boise, Idaho area we have a goodly share of dust and allergens to condtend with. Not all indoor air cleaners are alike. Air cleaners are generally purchased to remove particulate like dust, smoke, allergens and spores from the air. Some remove just very large visible particles. Others are effective on allergen-sized particles. Now because of technology, some air cleaners can clean all the way down to virus-sized particles, like influenza virus, even the Swine Flue virus.
     What goes in and  gets trapped in our bodies? In the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages and pharynx) we find mold, spores, pollen, and dust mites. In the middle respiratory tract, (trachea and bronchi, aka lungs) We find smaller particles like bacteria, pet dander, small mold spores and dust. In the lower respiratory tract, (deepest part of our lungs) we find particles of 0.1 micron size. These are tobacco smoke, small bacteria and virus. Also microscopic outdoor dust particles. The bad news is, that the reaction of our body to these particles ranges from 'none' to 'extreme', like in the case of an asthma attack.
      So, the point is, the measure of the air cleaner's performance is the percentage of particles removed from the air. Only air cleaners designed to clean the air down to particles of 0.1 microns, and do it consistently, are the only type you should consider if you or your family suffers from allergies, asthma, etc. Standard furnace filters are flat, fibrous filters that are only designed to trap the very largest of particles. It's readily seen when you pull them out to change them. Really, in a sense, they are there to protect your furnace from dirt and debris, NOT to protect you and your loved ones.

     Next blog I will share information on HEPA filters, media filters, and other important health concerns. In the meantime read my other blogs at www.hvaccomfortguyjerry.blogspot.com or you can visit our website at www.greensheating.com.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Indoor Air Quality and You

     Air is absolutely essential for life. The problem is that the purity of the air is not assured. Outdoor air pollution is pretty obvious, but indoor pollution is not always so readily noticed. The impurities found in homes can build to levels that have a direct effect on our health and quality of life. One report from 2007,  based on independent testing of the air in 10,000 American homes across the country, that 96% had a least one type of indoor air quality or IAQ.
     What does this mean to you? When allergy problems send people to the doctor, invariably the patient asks about about air filtration. Patients want to know what they can do to reduce the pollutants in their homes. Many ask about air cleaners and doctors are telling them that air filtration should be part of their comprehensive health strategy.
     To help you understand about air filtration for your home, there are three approaches to improve air quality.  They involve, Source elimination, Ventilation, and Air Cleaning.
     Source Elimination is just as implied. Doing things in your home to reduce or remove the source of pollutants. Examples would be, not smoking indoors and removing animals, plants and solvents from your home.
     Ventilation is critical, especially in newer homes. New construction methods utilize energy efficient window and doors, extra caulking and weather stripping, along with more insulation. The problem created is, that tighter construction means decreased movement of outside air through the home. The lack of ventilation leads to a build up of stale and dirty air. According to the EPA, the lack of air movement throughout homes can lead to concentrations of pollutants up to a hundred times greater inside a home than outside.

     Air Cleaning by the use of filters and or whole house filtration systems are a vital part of the strategy in improving your overall health. These cleaners remove the particulate matter that remains AFTER source elimination, and ventilation have failed. Some whole house electronic air cleaners can capture particles as small as .01 microns. That is pollutants like influenza, and other bacteria. Because they are part of your heating and cooling system they clean the air in your entire home.
     As time goes on I will share more things about indoor air quality. You can read more of my blogs at www.hvaccomfortguyjerry.blogspot.com, or go to our website at www.greensheating.com.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

There Are No Free Rides - Really!

     It is sad that we live in a time and economy that we are careful about every dollar we have and at the same time squander money by not being smart about our homes and appliances. A case in point is regarding Service Calls made at our request and then trying to figure out a way not to pay them. Yes, we do not want to pay more than we should, but we don't want to squander money on poor, or NO service.
    Recently we had two experiences here in Boise that demonstrate peoples total lack of regard for a company. THEY, the home owner, called to have a service tech come out and diagnose what was wrong with their air conditioner and why it wasn't cooling.

     In one instance, the problem was a simple wiring issue, that the tech fixed. The company charged the homeowner for a service/diagnostic call, and for a "level one" minor repair. The home owner was furious because he expected the tech to show him how to fix the problem himself, and because it took very little time to repair, didn't want to pay for the call.
     Come on folks! Who does not expect to pay for a Tech just to show up, let alone pay for the service rendered? Lets face it, the company the tech works for has to pay him, and has to pay for gas, a truck, wear and tear on the truck, Workman's Compensation insurance, uniforms, tools, and equipment to make the diagnosis and repair, plus, etc, etc,. There are no free rides, really!!  Everyone in the service industry has a  fee for a service call and that does not include a fee for the repair, no matter how minor. 

I know we live in tough times, but sometimes we have to bite the bullet and have a professional service tech to our homes for repairs of all descriptions. Personally, @comfortguyjerry has had service men come out to repair my clothes dryer, my garage door, my sprinkler system, my refrigerator, and by the way, we chose not to repair the refrigerator but I still had to pay for the service call of $89.00. That's just the way it is in the real world. Read more of my blogs at www.hvaccomforguyjerry.blogspot.com.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Breathe Easy With Clean Air At Home

     More and more we are hearing about the importance of clean air in our homes. Part of the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to promote and insure clean air in our homes, cities, and states. It is a well known fact that often there are more pollutants IN our homes, than those outside our homes. It is also well known that millions of people suffer daily with asthma, pulmonary lung disease, allergies, hay fever, and reactions to mold, mildew and dust. What is a person to do to have clean air in their homes?

     We can't live in a bubble, so the best thing we can do is to first, eliminate as many of the products from our homes that cause irritation to our lungs. Things like perfumes, chemical cleaning compounds, pesticides, and the like. Even carpet can be a host home for many airborne allergens and dust. Personally, I like carpet. Living in the Boise, Treasure Valley of Idaho, carpet feels really nice on a cold winter morning. So for me, getting rid of my carpet is not going to work. In the summer we live outdoors as much as we do indoors so the doors are being opened and closed and that allows more pollutants into our home.
     What I can suggest, and what I am using, is a 'whole home' electronic air cleaner.
These units install right in the return air duct of your central heating and cooling system. There are some units on the market like, Trane CleanEffects, that will purify the air down to .01 microns. This will scrub the air of 99.98% of mold, mildew, influenza, allergens and the like.
     A good air purifier should be at least a three stage system, including a pre-filter that will pick up most dust, lint, pet hair, & etc. The second stage is usually the electronic part in which the atoms are changed to attract pollen and other allergens. The third stage generally consists of specially manufactured filter material that filter out the microscopic bacteria and dangerous influenza. At the same time as these filters are working, your system delivers clean, purified air to your home. A quality system like Trane CleanEffects does not require purchasing new filters for up to ten years. The filters can be vacuumed, washed, and replaced.
     Some folks like to use small portable air cleaners but, frankly, these do not perform as well as a whole house unit in delivering clean air. Plus, they are really only good for a single room or area. Others use what are called "HEPA" filters and 4" pleated filters in their furnace, and these are good, but again. they do not capture 99.98% of pollutants and they do not capture influenza virus. So, to breathe easy at home. To save money by not going to the doctor so much. To ease up on your purchase of over-the-counter allergy medication and perscription medication. Invest that saved money in a whole-home air cleaning system. For more information, check my other blogs at hvaccomfortguyjerry@blogspot.com or go to our website at www.greensheating.com.

What Size HVAC System Do I Need?

@comfortguyjerry had an interesting sales call this week here in the Boise, Idaho valley, and I thought it was important enough to blog about it. It has to do with the size, or tonnage of an air conditioning unit you need for your home.
     This gentleman, called our service center and wanted a quote on a 3 ton air conditioner. Immediately our receptionist put him on the phone with me and instead of just ball parking a price, not knowing the whole picture, I set up an appointment to go to his home.
     At his home I found out that several years ago his brother-in-law provided him a "refurbished" 3 ton A/C unit when his original unit went out. I ask him what the square footage of his house was. He told me 1300 square feet. Needless to say, a 3 ton unit was too big. He only needed a 2 ton unit, based on square footage only. I told him 3 ton was too big, due to the fact that the DUCT WORK in his house, when it was built, was sized for a 2 ton unit. Guess what? His current three ton unit was freezing up in the hot summer months and the house wouldn't stay cool. The rings in the compressor have warn out as well. The reason? Over sized A/C unit!  But he kept insisting he "wanted it cool!" this summer. He wanted a 3 ton unit!
     Why am I telling you all of this?  I hate to say it because I am a man, but men have this idea that more is better. You know, if one aspirin is good, then taking four aspirin must be better. "Bigger is better". "Heavier is better". Its a man thing.
      Here's the point. When you have a heating and cooling system, remember it is a 'system', not a air conditioner or a furnace. It is a complete system. That includes the outdoor unit, the furnace, the evaporator coil, the duct work, the return air ducts, and even the thermostat is important. They all have to work in concert with one another to achieve the desired results. For more information go to our website at www.greensheating.com.