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Whether it's the evening news or your aunt you only see around the holidays, everybody has tips about saving energy. But, some of those tips, thanks to technological advancements and research, may no longer be useful. Instead, they can waste energy rather than save it. Energy saving myths abound, so do your research before expecting savings on your monthly bill.

Here are five common myths you should to take a second look at:

  • While your washing machine and other appliances might be energy efficient, when it comes to the biggest appliances in your home, simply installing a new efficient heater or A/C won't reduce your bills unless your home is ready for it. Before you buy, have a home energy audit performed. Once your home is checked for heat loss and any repairs or installation are done, then it's time to move up to an efficient heater or furnace.
  • Closing the heating vents in unused rooms in your home won't improve your furnace's efficiency. You heating system is balanced for your home, and if the furnace isn't heating the space it expects to, it can work harder and wear out sooner. Instead of closing off vents, install a zoned system. With this, you can control individual areas and only heat them when you're using them.
  • Don't leave the lights on. Many believe turning on a light requires more energy than leaving it running. Wrong. Go ahead and shut the light off, even if you're only out of the room for a moment.
  • Adjust the thermostat when you leave or go to sleep. Believing that keeping your home at a constant temperature saves money is another one of our energy saving myths. If you really want to save, install a programmable thermostat.
  • New windows aren't as important to an efficient home as some believe. Since only a small part of your home is made up of windows, installing new ones won't reduce your energy use much. Instead, make sure they're well protected with weatherstripping.

Let our professionals educate you about other energy saving myths. For more information or to schedule a service appointment, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling in Richmond.

Most boiler breakdowns, naturally, occur when homeowners are using them full force in the heating season. Sometimes, problems can be easily solved, while at others, the boiler will give warning signs that professional attention is required. The following tips may help you track down the source of your boiler issues, before it conks out on you when you need it most.

  1. Thermostat set correctly? Make sure the temperature is set above room temperature or the heater won’t come on.  Not a digital type? It may be time for a replacement.
  2. Circulator pump working? Feel the motor of the boiler to see if it is abnormally hot. A hot motor may signal a malfunction. If it feels cool, and you’ve checked to ensure the breaker is on, the thermostat or circulator relay could be on the blink.
  3. Pressure gauge. Gauges on boilers usually have a red line; the temperature should read above zero, but be lower than the red line figure. There could be air in the system—a common problem with manual air eliminators. Replace with an automatic air eliminator for best results.
  4. Temperature and pressure too low? Perhaps the vent damper is open, or the inducer fan (a part that helps rid the heat exchanger of gases from the previous heating cycle) is stuck. Shut off the breaker, then after a few minutes turn it back on. Damper should open and the inducer should start; if not, the aquastat or boiler control may be broken.
  5. Pilot light not igniting? Check to see if the vent damper is in open position, and whether or not the inducer fan is on, and if so, whether the pilot light has ignited. If not, there may be a blocked vent pipe. When the pilot light won’t stay lit, cleaning may be in order.

Remember, even if you resolve your problem, boilers, like any other kind of heating equipment, need regular maintenance, so don’t neglect to call your heating professional for an annual inspection. Contact Gilman Heating and Cooling to see what options are available to you.

If you are considering a new furnace installation, or are satisfied with your current system and would just like to make it more efficient or safe, as well as raise the comfort level in your home, read on for add-ons and additional equipment that should help.

  • Air filters. Be sure to invest in good quality air filters, preferably pleated at least 1 to 2 inches thick, and with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) of 5-8. Not only do good quality air filters improve indoor air quality, but they also keep the HVAC system running better and longer without repairs. External filter slots can improve access.
  • A chimney liner may be required when a new furnace is installed and if the furnace around 80 percent efficient. Usually the liner is required when the furnace is to be vented with plastic piping. Ask the contractor to be sure.
  • Whole house air cleaners. These systems can be installed with the furnace, and provide cleaner, more healthful air. Consult your HVAC professional about the various types, which include ultraviolet light germicidal irradiation for controlling mold and other organic pollutants, gas phase air cleaners to control volatile organic compounds and other vapors.
  • Programmable thermostats. If programmed correctly, these allow you to keep the house at efficient temperatures for comfort and savings, whether you are home or away. They can also allow the homeowner to set the temperature down for when the household is sleeping. 
  • Humidifiers. Humidification improves wintertime comfort, allows you to set the thermostat down because the moister air feels more comfortable, and also improves the health of the home’s occupants by minimizing the spread of flu and viruses. Humidification may also prevent cracking of furniture and home furnishings. Humidifiers may require servicing to prevent leaks.
  • Zoning. Furnace zoning increases the comfort level of a home’s occupants by providing temperature control with thermostats or sensors in various zones of the home.

Please contact us at Gilman Heating & Cooling anytime to answer your questions about add-ons to your furnace installation, or about equipment you may add to your current heating system.

If you’re in the market for new HVAC appliances, consider what Energy Star has to offer. Qualifying units are more efficient than standard models. Here’s a look at why the Energy Star is tough to beat, no matter the season.

Furnaces

To earn the Energy Star label, gas furnaces installed in the southern United States, including Virginia, must be rated at least 90 annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating, which is 12 percent higher than standard models. This rating means 90 percent of the gas is converted into useable heat while the rest escapes with combustion fumes to the exterior. Oil furnaces rated 85 AFUE or higher also qualify, which is 4 percent higher than baseline models.

Boilers

Boilers warm your home by heating hot water that runs through radiators, baseboards or radiant floor systems. Qualifying for the Energy Star requires boilers to be 85 AFUE or higher, making them 6 percent more efficient than regular boilers.

Central Air Conditioners

Both split and packaged system central air conditioners can qualify for the Energy Star rating. Spilt systems must have a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 14.5 and an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 12. Packaged units must perform at 14 SEER and 11 EER or higher. These ratings are 15 percent more efficient than baseline air conditioners.

Heat Pumps

Two major types of heat pumps are available for residential applications: air-source and geothermal. Both types can qualify for the Energy Star label if they're efficient enough. Split and packaged system air-source heat pumps must achieve the same SEER and EER ratings as central A/Cs. Then, when it comes to heating efficiency, split systems must achieve a heating season performance factor (HSPF) of at least 8.2 and packaged systems must have a minimum HSPF of 8.0. These ratings are 9 percent more efficient than standard heat pumps. Geothermal systems are more than 45 percent more efficient than standard HVAC equipment. Their efficiency requirements vary based on the type of ground loop you install. For more information about how HVAC equipment achieves the Energy Star rating, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling in Richmond today.

Your HVAC equipment depends on your ductwork to move air through the house. When the ducts aren't in good repair, it can greatly lessen the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, as well as affect the comfort level of the home's occupants. In time, you may need to partly or completely replace your ducts. Here are four things you can do to test the health of your ducts:

  1. Determine the age of your ducts. The home builder may have installed the ducts of your home during the original construction. The exception would be a house built before forced air heating/cooling became popular in the 1950s. In those older homes, the ductwork may date to the time when a homeowner had the first forced air system installed.
  2. Inspect your ducts. Get into your attic and crawl space to check the ductwork visually. Look at the seams and connections for any gaps or tears. If you see a streak of dust, that may show a leak. Check the points where ducts meet registers and vents to see if there are any gaps.
  3. Check airflow to all rooms of the house. Do you have a room that's always hot in summer or cold in winter, despite the HVAC system working at full capacity? The ducts going have an issue that needs attention.
  4. Get a HVAC contractor to do a duct blower test. This test uses a blower fan to pressurize the ducts and sensors to measure airflow at different locations. Using the collected data, a computer calculates how much air is being lost to leaks.

Once you complete your inspection and testing, you may find that you need to replace your ducts. Have a professional HVAC contractor do the work. Afterward, your home will be more comfortable and your energy use lower. For help with a duct blower test or replacing your ducts, contact Gilman Heating & Cooling. We've been serving the Ashland-Richmond area since 1917.