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To keep your home's indoor air comfortable and healthy all year long, it's important to change air filters on a regular basis. If left unattended, your air filter will simply not work properly, allowing VOCs, allergens or other particulates to enter your home. Here are a few primary reasons why changing your air filter is so important.

Save Money on A/C Repair The workload of your air conditioner will increase dramatically as it tries to force air through a clogged filter, lowering your A/C unit's life span or damaging essential components. To avoid repairs or complete replacement of your air conditioner, check your air filter monthly and replace it as soon as dirt appears, or at least every three months. This will not only save you money on maintenance or repairs, but it will also work to lower your utility bills over time. Maintain Good Indoor Air Quality

Neglecting to change air filters will diminish the quality of your indoor air. As your air conditioner attempts to move outside air through an already dirty filter, the air that's being poorly circulated throughout your home won't be very clean. Young ones and your beloved pets are much more vulnerable to poor indoor air than adults. It's important to improve indoor air quality right away before volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or allergens begin to cause health problems for you or your family.

Help the Environment

Perhaps most importantly, in a global sense, changing air filters will work to lower your carbon footprint. Lessening the strain on your air conditioning system is great for saving energy and lowering the amount of pollution created from your A/C. For families who are environmentally conscious, something as seemingly insignificant as an air filter can make a big difference in helping lower your carbon emissions.

If you'd like to learn more about replacing air filters, improving indoor air quality or any aspect of your home's HVAC system, contact the experienced staff at Gilman Heating & Cooling. Our NATE-certified professionals offer 24-hour emergency assistance to homeowners throughout Ashland, Henrico, Hanover, Richmond, Glen Allen and Chesterfield.

Here in the Richmond area, homes can be heated and cooled efficiently with heat pumps. Due to our relatively moderate climate, either an air-source heat pump or a geothermal heat pump will work well, but each type has advantages and disadvantages. An air-source heat pump extracts energy for home heating from outdoor air, while a geothermal, or ground-source, heat pump extracts energy from an anti-freeze solution circulating in a loop of piping buried beneath the ground where temperatures remain constant throughout the year.

Heat pumps operate by removing heat from air in one place and releasing the heat into another place. For cooling, the system extracts heat from indoors and exhausts it to the outdoors, whereas in heating mode the process is reversed. Because a heat pump moves heat from one place to another, rather than generating heat by burning fuel, it can operate at extremely high energy efficiencies.

Air-Source Heat Pumps Versus Geothermal Heat Pumps

  • Cost - A geothermal heat pump costs several times as much as an air-source system to install. For a geothermal system, a drilling rig or trenching equipment buries the ground loop deep enough on the property to reach the soil's constant temperature zone. An air-source system simply requires an above-ground outdoor unit that looks similar to an air conditioner. Both types of heat pumps qualify for federal energy tax credits if you act by the end of 2013.
  • Outdoor temperature operating range - Air-source heat pumps won't operate at outdoor temperatures below about 30 degrees, so a home with an air-source system must be equipped with a backup furnace or electric heating coils for the coldest winter weather. Since a geothermal heat pump is sourced at a constant ground temperature in the mid-50s in the Richmond area, it can operate without a backup heat source.
  • Efficiency - Geothermal heat pumps are more energy-efficient than air-source systems. Their greater efficiency will pay back the higher initial cost over the life of the system.

For more information about heat pumps and their applicability to your home heating and cooling needs, contact the experts at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

A furnace AFUE rating provides you with a single metric to assess how much heat that unit will generate over an average year versus the amount of energy it will consume to do it. Short for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, the rating for a specific unit is determined by lab tests and is usually prominently displayed on the furnace’s yellow EnergyGuide sticker. It gives consumers a quick, at-a-glance method to comparison shop among different makes and models. The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency percentage doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about a furnace, but it does serve as a baseline for estimating energy efficiency.

In the 1970s, gas-fired furnaces typically had AFUEs around 60 percent. That means 40 percent of the energy contained in the natural gas or heating oil was lost in the combustion process and did not contribute heat to warm your home. Most of that energy went up the vent in the form of hot combustion gases. Today, the minimum allowable Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating is 78 percent. Mid-range conventional furnaces have ratings in the range between 80 and 83 percent. High-efficiency furnaces, known as condensing furnaces, incorporate a secondary heat exchanger to extract spare heat from combustion gases. This boosts the rating of these units to 90 percent and above.

Two things to remember:

  • AFUE should be considered in conjunction with other issues such as the cost of fuel. Because electric furnaces don’t utilize combustion to generate heat, these units typically have AFUE ratings above 90 percent. However, since electricity generally costs substantially more than gas, a gas-fired furnace with a lower AFUE is usually the more cost-efficient choice.
  • Furnace efficiency is expressed by factors other than the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. The furnace blower fan's electrical consumption isn’t included when calculating the rating. Yet, it makes a substantial contribution to furnace operating cost. Optional variable-speed ECM blowers that reduce electricity use as much as 75 percent less also help reduce utility expenses.

For more information about the importance of the AFUE when shopping for a furnace in the Richmond area, contact us at Gilman Heating & Cooling.

Consider the possibility of installing a boiler heating system instead of a furnace in your new Richmond area home. Boiler heating offers several advantages over furnaces in terms of efficiency, ease of operation and home comfort. Refer to this short guide so you know the right questions to ask your heating contractor as you design your new living space.

The main furnace versus boiler difference is in the heat transfer medium. Boilers use hot water and furnaces use hot air. The answer to "how do boilers work?" is fairly simple: A boiler system features a burner which heats water in a storage tank, and a circulating pump that moves the hot water through radiators or floor heating loops. A furnace heats air and uses a blower to force the hot air into the home's ductwork.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Boiler Heating

  • Cost - Boiler systems cost a little more to install than furnace systems, but the extra cost will be recovered over time due to higher energy efficiency.
  • Comfort - Boiler heating keeps a house more comfortable than forced air heating. The radiant heat from hot water doesn't dry the air out like the convection heat supplied by a furnace. With floor-loop hydronic systems, the floors stay warm and cozy, whereas a furnace heats the air above the floors and the floors remain cold.
  • Ease of operation - Boiler systems are easier to maintain than furnace systems. There are no filters to change in a boiler system and there are no supply and return air ducts to have to keep unobstructed and in balance.
  • Efficiency - Modern boilers and furnaces have comparable annual fuel utilization ratio (AFUE) ratings—the ratio of heat supplied by the boiler or furnace to the fuel consumed by the burner. But hot water systems are more efficient beyond the boiler than forced air systems are beyond the furnace, since less energy is lost in the piping than in the ductwork. It's also easier to install and operate zoning systems with boiler heat.

For more information on boiler heating, or any other home comfort questions, contact the pros at Gilman Heating & Cooling. We're proud to service Richmond area homes.

Now that fall has arrived, you'll want to take some time to schedule your annual heating system or furnace tune-up if you haven't already. A yearly inspection by a professional is an important part of every homeowner's routine for numerous reasons, including maintenance of  your system warranty, avoidance of problems down the line when the weather is frigid and, most importantly, the safety of your family. Taking this simple step is something you'll be glad you did.

What's Involved in a Furnace Tune-Up?

A quality technician will take the time to check out many aspects of your heating system including:

  • Thermostat settings
  • Electrical connections
  • Moving parts
  • Condensation drain
  • System controls

It's important to ensure that the thermostat settings are working correctly, keeping your home at a constant temperature, saving you money. Checking the electrical connections decreases the potential for any safety issues and increases your system's overall life. Keeping the moving parts lubricated will make for a more efficient-running furnace and decrease your energy consumption. If your condensation drain is clogged, it can cause big problems such as water leakage in your home and high indoor humidity.

It's also imperative that your technician inspects specific items and components in gas systems during the fall furnace tune-up. If your gas connections are not operating properly, it can be very dangerous.

What You Can Do Yourself

There are some steps you can take on your own to increase your furnace life. Once a month, you'll want to inspect the condition of your system's air filter. If dirty, it's easy to clean or replace. Our technicians will be pleased to show you how to do these things and answer any questions. Keeping up with regular maintenance will help to extend the life of your system and make it more efficient; however, personal maintenance is no substitute for a professional inspection. Only trained professionals know what to look for and how to repair the complex parts of your furnace.

 

Please give us a call at Gillman Heating & Cooling to set up your furnace tune-up today. We serve Richmond, Ashland, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Glen Allen.

 

 

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