Friday, May 31, 2013

Three Ways to Lower you A/C bills

So far, it has been kind of on the cool side here in the Boise, Idaho area. But, we who live here know it will soon be a "hot time in the old town". It's coming, and will be here before we know it. By next week we'll be in the 80's and we will be turning on the A/C to keep comfortable.
     Are you prepared? There are simple things we can do to keep our electric bill from running a muck this summer. Unlike central heating, which we can shut off, or at least turn down at night, air conditioning is often left on at night to keep us from sleeping too warm. So our A/C runs 12 to 18 hours a day and our electric meter keeps on a humming. What can you do?
      Sign Up For Energy Saving Programs
A lot of electric companies offer energy-saving programs that we sometimes don't think will mean that much, or we don't want to be bothered. Trust me. They help and are worth the time. Idaho Power Company has a device that is retrofitted to your central air system. It monitors the power usage and powers down the compressor at select times during they day and allows the fan to continue circulating the air in your home. You won't even know the difference, comfort wise. But your electric bill will.
     Use a Programmable Thermostat
It's really a simple way to save on energy consumption. Why keep your home cool during the day when you are at work and the kids are in school? Programing it to be off, or at least setting it so the A/C does not come on unless it reaches 80-85 degrees inside will really help. You can also set it so the A/C comes on an hour before you come home, so by the time you arrive the house is comfortable.
     Raise the Thermostat and Supplement With Fans
Raising the thermostat just a few degrees can make a big difference in your cooling bill. In many cases just turning you thermostat up from 72 to, say, 76-78 could save you over a $100! You are probably saying 76-78 is too warm, so now is where ceiling fans, or fans of any kind can be a real benefit. Even if the air is warm, it feels cooler when it is circulating. When the air from the fans reaches your body it cools the skin and we are more comfortable. Also if you wear lighter weight clothing, shorts, shirts, etc you will also add to your comfort.
Try these tips and see if it don't make a difference. Read more of my blogs at www.hvaccomfortguyjerry or go to our website at

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Mini-Splits" Are Not A Small Banana Split!

     Now that I have your attention, I want to talk about electric ductless heat pumps and cooling systems. These are often called 'mini-splits' because there are actually two parts to the system. There is an outdoor unit or compressor, and a indoor unit that mounts on the wall that is the evaporator/fan blower. There is no duct work involved. The ductless heat pump can both, heat and cool your space. A cooling only option is available in ductless units also.
     In countries like Japan and China, upwards of 90% of homes use this kind of system, and have for decades. Central America uses them extensively in private homes and resorts. The U.S. Military uses them to cool the barracks and mess halls in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is just here in north America that we are slow to catch on to the idea.
     The most common question @comfortguyjerry gets regarding ductless heating and cooling is: "Will that one unit take care of my whole house?" The answer is, no. They are designed to provide comfort for a single space. That single space can be a 'great room', a bonus room or upstairs family room, room addition to a house, or a shop. It is also very effective for mobile or manufactured homes. I think you get the idea. To do an entire home would require additional outdoor units, and multiple indoor 'heads', depending on your needs and size of your home.
     You say, 'that sounds expnsive', and it can be, depending on what your needs are. The economy comes in during the monthly operation. They are so, so much more efficient, than traditional heating and cooling systems, and super high efficient central heating and cooling is expensive also. Ductless units are super quiet as well, being rated at just below a human whisper for many brands.
     Let me share with you what I mean by cost efficiency. In the Norhtwestern states of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. To heat with a wood stove will cost $24.31 to produce a million BTU. A propane furnace will cost $57.45, a natural gas high efficiency furnace (95% efficient) will cost $14.73. A ductless heat pump, aka, mini-split, costs only $8.20 to produce that same million BTU, and no pollution to the atmosphere. You do the math. They will pay for themselves in no time.
     Think of it this way. Why turn on every light in the house when you need to use the bathroom? That's what you do every time your furnace or A/C come on. With ductless you only heat or cool the rooms that you need to, or use. I am also convinced that Mitsubishi makes one of the best ductless units on the market today. So the next time you hear the word "mini-split", don't start to salivate for ice cream and banana's.
For more information go to my website at

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is A Heat Pump In Your Future?

     When you think of cooling your home, you probably think, "air conditioner", evaporating cooler (swamp cooler), or window fan. As it turns out, a heat pump can be a preferred way of cooling your home. Wait! "Heat to cool your home?? Well, that is a bit of misnomer. But a heat pump can both heat, and cool your home.
     In some parts of the country where the winter temperatures seldom get below 35 degrees, a heat pump is a great advantage because you won't need a separate back of heat source like a furnace or air handler. Where we live in the Boise, Idaho area, we still get some pretty cold mornings and we have to have a back up heat source, due to the fact that heat pumps began to lose efficiency at about 30 degrees. Once the outside temperature gets above 30 the furnace will seamlessly turn off and switch over to heat pump use.
     Let me explain how they work. I am going to focus on 'air source' heat pumps because, they are most commonly used in residential air conditioning, and they look exactly like an air conditioner. They use the ambient air temperature to heat. The operative word in heat pump; is the word pump. What makes them energy efficient is, that instead of 'making' heat, or 'making' cold air, They are in essence pumping, or transferring cold air out of your home in the winter, and replacing it with warm air. Moving air is more cost effective then manufacturing air. In the summer time, it reverses the process, moving hot air out of your home, and replacing it with cold air. It works much on the same principle as your refrigerator. Not to get too 'techy' on you, but, remember back when you were in school and they taught you in science that 'cold' is merely the absence of heat. and 'heat' is merely the absence of cold. That is basically the same principle heat pumps work on.
     So, why hasn't everyone switched to heat pumps. The reason is, that, in much of the united states we still get some very cold weather and a heat pump is not as efficient as a furnace in those areas. In most cases though, it is less expensive to run an electric heat pump than to run a gas furnace. It is staggering less expensive then propane or resistance heat! (baseboard, ceiling heat, or electric furnace) Overall they are a smart choice for many homeowners, and most heat pumps are energy star ratedThey also don't cost much more than an A/C unit. @comfortguyjerry has one at his home and we love it. My  natural gas usage the first winter we had it was cut in half! My electric bill went up slightly. I installed a 16 SEER heat pump and a 95% efficient furnace, and I know I am saving 25-30% on my overall heating and cooling bill. For more information on heat pumps go to our website at Maybe a heat pump IS in your future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Clean Your Ductwork Now

As spring starts to roll around the country, people start thinking about spring cleaning. Yes, I know in some parts of the East and Southeast they just got hit with big snow storms, but trust me, spring like weather will soon be here. Usually spring cleaning includes cleaning floors, windows, cob webs, cleaning out closets and pantries. We even start cleaning up our yards and flower beds. We guys think about cleaning out the garage. But the area we overlook the most and should clean every five years or so is our DUCT WORK. We don't think about that because it is out of sight, out of mind. I am adding some pictures of some pretty bad duct work that is not all that uncommon.
I had my duct work cleaned a few weeks ago, and its only my wife and I that live in the house so I was quite surprised at how bad it was..
My advice is to get this done by a professional heating and cooling company or a company that specializes in duct work cleaning. The most thorough cleaning is called 'negative air' cleaning. It will vacuum and brush out everything thats not suppose to be in your duct work. Trust me, you do not want to be breathing air that has blown across that filth. Dirty ducts contain, microbes, dust mites, pet dander and just plain old dirt. Don't forget to have your clothes dryer vent cleaned. It is reported that about 3000 fires a year in the U.S.A are from clogged dryer vents. If you or your family suffer from allergies you know the importance of a clean home and the effort it takes to keep it clean. So be sure to include duct cleaning in your spring cleaning and enjoy the fresh air. This blog from @comfortguyjerry. For more information check our website at

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tips For Saving Energy This Summer

     Summer has arrived it seems, in the Treasure Valley of Idaho. For we folks living in the Boise area, that generally means hot temps. and our energy bill will soon be on the rise. But, with a little preparation, we can reduce our energy bill substantially. I have three things you can do to get started. Now, some of these ideas are not "tre' chic", but, are you interested in saving money, or being fashion forward?
     The easiest, and cheapest, way  to save energy is by covering your windows. When the sun is hitting your windows in the morning or in the afternoon, close the blinds and curtains to block the sun from heating up your home. Light means heat. So, when the sun hits those windows it provides passive solar heat. If you are really wanting to save money and energy, you can take cardboard and cut it out to fit your window. You can cover one side with aluminum foil using glue, staples, etc. This will not only block the sun, but the foil will reflect it back away from your house. This is especially effective on windows that don't have a view to enjoy, or rooms that are seldom used, like guest rooms, and bonus rooms. I know, it's a bit 'red neck', but hey, comfortguyjerry is trying to save you money!
     The next tip is ceiling fans. They are a cheap way of keeping your house cool. Overall, they are pretty cost effective, but you have to remember to change the spin rotation direction. In summer the fan should turn clockwise, and in the winter, counter clockwise. If you need to purchase a ceiling fan, don't waste your money on a low end cheap model. They are usually nosier then high end fans. The last thing you need in the bedroom. Do your home work before you buy. I have a vaulted ceiling in my home, and the fan we have in the living area has been running nearly 24/7 for 14 years. I have it set on medium speed, so it moves the air without feeling drafty.
     The last tip is all about caulking and weather stripping. There are so many places, hundreds of them, where warm air can seep into your home through windows that are not caulked, and doors that have no weather stripping. Here is a test for your door weather stripping. Fold a sheet of copy paper in half and go outside of your front door, close the door, and try to slide the paper through the door between the jam, and the door itself. See how easy or difficult it is to slide the paper through the door.
     Time spent now summer proofing your home will save you money, plus reduce the amount of energy use, and will be kinder to the planet. For more information check our website at

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Most Important Day In The Life of Your HVAC System

     The single most important day in the life of your furnace or air conditioner, is the DAY IT'S INSTALLED. That may seem to you like a strange statement. My blog today is designed to explain why that is true. Simply stated, you can purchase the most expensive, highest efficiency, top rated brand, and, if it is not installed correctly, then you will not get the service, or efficiency that you shelled out your hard earned money for.
     There are several factors that are involved in having a properly installed HVAC system. First and foremost is the importance of purchasing a matched system. That means, the furnace, condensing coil, and air conditioner (or heat pump) should be the same brand. You will also find that there are a number of condensing coils to chose from to match up with the air conditioner, and your HVAC company should and can do a correct match in order to give you the highest efficiency possible.
     The next factor is duct work size. To deliver the correct amount of air to your home the duct work has to be sized properly in proportion to the cfm's (cubic feet per minute) coming from the blower motor in the furnace. To give you an example: Let's say your duct work is sized to handle air movement from a 3 ton blower motor but your blower motor is a 4 or 5 ton blower. Obviously you are going to get back pressure because your duct work cannot deliver that much air efficiently. The opposite of that is true as well. If you have duct work designed to deliver air from a 4 ton blower and your furnace only has a 2 ton blower, then it is going to have a hard time warming or cooling your home. In either case, it will cause increased wear and tear, and shorten the life of your equipment.
     The last factor I will mention is the importance of the correct refrigerant charge. That means too much Freon, or too little Freon in your A/C will also be a problem for your system.
     The North Carolina Alternative Energy Corporation, which is a non-profit organization, examined air conditioning manufactures' efficiencies, versus the actual efficiencies that resulted after installation. They found that 90% of the units tested exhibited some sort of energy-wasting, comfort-robbing problem! What were they? 54% had a incorrect refrigerant charge. 70% had incorrect air flow, 93% had duct leakage, 47% of the units were over sized for the home. So, the hope of @comfortguyjerry is to help you see the importance of hiring a quality company, with the a long standing reputation for doing the job right the first time. Remember, The most important day in the life of your HVAC system, is the day it is installed. Check our website at