Investing in a heat recovery ventilator

In an attempt to do something nice for our fifteenth wedding anniversary, my husband cooked dinner for me.  Although he is only capable of making grilled cheese, he decided to get fancy and look up a recipe on the internet.  He came up with a menu of baked salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and glazed asparagus, with a chocolate souffle.  I don’t know what made him think he could manage such a feast, but it didn’t turn out very well.  He spent all day cooking, and the kitchen was an absolute disaster.  We ended up ordering pizza because everything burned so badly.  Unfortunately, the salmon really stunk up the house.  Since our anniversary is in February, the outside temperature was only twelve degrees, and we couldn’t open the windows.  We certainly couldn’t shut off the furnace, and we couldn’t afford to let our heated air escape through open windows.  We tried burning scented candles and spraying air freshener.  We replaced the air filter in the furnace and turned up the fan speed, hoping that circulating the air might help.  We simply spread the odor throughout the whole house.  It was nearly impossible to sleep because of the severe stink, and I worried that my husband and I both smelled of salmon.  When the fish smell lingered for two straight days, I finally called my HVAC contractor for advice.  He recommended that we install a heat recovery ventilator.  He explained that the ventilator would introduce fresh air into the home without wasting heat energy.  The ventilator would actually help to trim our heating bills, while significantly improving air quality.  I was convinced, and the HVAC contractor installed the ventilator the following day. HVAC service

Spending some time indoors

In my part of the country, the winter season last for approximately six months.  The outside temperature is typically below freezing and sometimes drops below zero.  There is seldom a glimpse of the sun, and it snows all of the time.  Although I have lived in this area for nearly fifty years, I absolutely despise the winter weather.  In the winter, it is my goal to never leave the house.  I don’t even like to step outside and walk to the end of the driveway to get the mail.  I procrastinate over getting groceries for as long possible.  I dread taking out the garbage every week, hate shoveling the driveway, and I’m scared to drive on snowy roads.  It is fortunate that I work from home, because I rarely need to venture out.  Because I am trapped in the house for weeks at a time, I have invested quite a bit of money into a state-of-the-art heating system.  My furnace is a variable-speed model that achieves ninety-eight percent AFUE rating.  Having an especially energy efficient furnace is helpful, because I set the thermostat rather high.  I like to be nice and warm, but I don’t enjoy paying high monthly heating bills.  The furnace manages to keep costs low by automatically adjusting its speed of operation.  Instead of operating at full blast to reach thermostat settings and then completely shutting down, the furnace is capable of running at speeds anywhere between forty and one hundred percent capacity.  This allows the heater to cycle at lower capacity for longer duration, which provides more consistent temperature and lower sound levels.

heating and A/C 

A ventless gas heater

I heat my kitchen with a compact, ventless gas heater.  There are advantages and drawbacks to this heating method.  Since I don’t have any type of ductwork in the kitchen, I was very limited in my choices for heating.  The ventless heater is hooked to a natural gas line and requires electricity to operate.  It is very small, fairly attractive, and makes very little noise.  It does not draw very much energy and effectively heats the entire kitchen.  Unfortunately, it is a single stage unit, which means it is either running at maximum capacity or completely shut off.  When the heater turns on, it blows very hot air until it achieves the thermostat setting.  It then shuts down, and cycles cool air, which creates unpleasant temperature fluctuations.  The heater is also very sensitive to dust.  It has two separate air filters which I clean every couple of days.  If the air filters become clogged with dust, the heater runs continuously.  It doesn’t matter how hot the kitchen becomes, the heater won’t shut down.  I recently had this problem, and even cleaning the air filters did not work.  I was afraid the unit would overheat, and was afraid to turn it on.  Since the outdoor temperature was around thirty degrees, I couldn’t get along without running the heater.  I finally read through the owner’s manual, and took the heater apart.  The inner workings of the heater were contaminated with dust.  I needed to use an air compressor to blow air into the unit to clear away the accumulation of contaminants.  I was surprised by how much dust came out of the equipment.  After I put the unit back together, it operated perfectly again.  

HVAC business 

Traveling by motorcycle, the HVAC units in the hotels are a blessing

Every year, my husband and I take a motorcycle trip across the country.  We typically travel for about a month, and we pack only what we need to survive.  We typically travel for about a month, and we pack only what we need to survive.  We have ridden from the east coast to the west coast and back.  We’ve explored the southern border and have driven through the northern mountains.  It is a wonderful adventure, but often exposes us to severe weather.  We’ve endured intense heat, extreme cold, pounding rain, and violent wind.  In milder weather conditions, we like to find a pretty spot to set up a tent and spend the night.  Most often, however, we look for a hotel where we can take advantage of a comfy bed, hot shower, and access to a thermostat.  By the end of the day on the bike, enduring the elements, I look forward to having control over the temperature.  I’ve found that the majority of hotels have good working air conditioners and heaters installed in the rooms.  There have been times when the heater rattles really loud or the air conditioner smells like mold, but most often, these systems are modern, quiet, and effective.  In order to get a good night’s rest and be ready to hit the road early in the morning, I need a decent pillow, plenty of water pressure in the shower, and an HVAC system to provide comfort.  It’s helpful when the air conditioner or heater makes just enough noise to drown out the sounds of traffic outside and people in the hallways.

HVAC system

I don’t want to do this HVAC tune-up myself

The other day I tried to do my own cooling tune up. It really did not go well since I know nothing about cooling systems. I tried cleaning off the fan blades, but I think I may have bent them. I also tried adding lubrication to the fan motor belt. I really do not think I did it right. Next I messed with the refrigerant levels of my AC system. I did not realize how particular an air conditioner is about the level of refrigerant. I felt it was low so I adding a bunch. I figured a little bit was good but more would be better. So I added a ton of refrigerant to really get it working nice. The following day after my air conditioner tune up I started noticing some issues with my cooling device. It was leaking a whole lot and it was making my carpet smell. I also noticed that the air conditioning system made a lot of noises that sounded like it was in pain. Finally I decided to do a bit of research online to see what is going wrong after I cleaned the device. I figured out that the fan blades got bent when I cleaned them. The motor belt actually had less lubrication. Finally, the refrigerant was too much and causing the air conditioner to leak. Trying to perform my own A/C service actually made my air conditioner not work as well. I should have saved the time and effort by calling a professional HVAC contractor. I know he could have done it better.

whole home HVAC 

I hate winter and only my furnace makes it tolerable

I hate cold weather and snow, and I try very hard never to leave my house in the winter.  I work from home, so I can go several days straight without needing to step outside.  I sometimes go a full week without getting the mail from the mailbox, and procrastinate over getting groceries for as long as possible.  There is typically several feet of snow on the ground and more falling from the sky all of the time.  If I am forced to run to the store, I first must shovel a path through the snow, scrape the ice off my windshield, and let my car run for at least ten minutes.  Rather than bundle up in heavy boots, wool coat, and mittens, I prefer to hide inside my warm home.  Because of my hatred of winter weather, I have invested a great deal of money into a state-of-the-art furnace.  My heating system features variable-speed technology, which means that the equipment automatically adapts operation to the needs of the house.  It can adjust its speed anywhere from forty to one hundred percent, allowing it to run longer at lower capacity.  This avoids sudden blasts of hot hair, temperature fluctuations, and energy waste.  My modern furnace maintains very evenly distributed warmth and steady temperature, and keeps my monthly gas bill as low as possible.  My furnace achieves a 98 percent AFUE rating and is Energy Star rated.  I paired my furnace with a smart thermostat, so that I can access all of the various settings through my smartphone or computer.  It is very convenient to be able to alter temperature settings or fan speed without leaving my desk.  It is also helpful to receive maintenance notifications and filter change alerts.  I am conscientious about taking good care of my furnace.  I change the air filter in the system every month, and schedule seasonal maintenance from my local HVAC contractor every fall.

furnace

 

Carrying a portable air conditioner

I have a very old air conditioner that I install in my bedroom window every year.  Although the air conditioner is a portable unit, it is extremely large and heavy.  I store the cooling unit in the attic.  I haul it down the stairs in the beginning of May, and I carry it back up at the end of September.  While I enjoy having an air conditioned bedroom, the moving process is really challenging.  The attic stairs are super narrow and steep, with very shallow steps that curve around.  The air conditioner barely fits, and I need to carefully maneuver, while trying not to fall.  After I manage to wiggle the air conditioner through the tight doorframe, I must carry it down a long hallway to my bedroom.  The cooling unit barely fits into the window, and I always end up sweaty and with a sore back by the end of the process.  Once the air conditioner is in place, it is a simple matter of plugging it in and turning it on.  Despite the age and bulk of the cooling unit, it runs very quietly and efficiently.  It costs me little to run and keeps my bedroom perfectly cool all summer long.  I often consider purchasing a new air conditioner, just to avoid the difficulty of carrying it up and down the stairs.  I am reluctant to replace the air conditioner when it is still working just fine.   I am not convinced that modern equipment is made as well as my old cooling system.  I need to find a place to store the cooling system that would be more convenient.

HVAC service plan 

After moving south. .

When I moved down south I was looking forward to leaving the cold weather and snow behind.  I was excited for warm temperatures year round.  I couldn’t wait to throw away my wool coat, winter boots and snow shovel.  I imagined that I would spend every waking moment outdoors, soaking up the sunshine and rejoicing in the warmth.  I did not realize that  hot, humid weather presents it own set of problems.  Living in the south, the heat and humidity can become intolerable.  I have no choice but to run my air conditioner for about eight months of the year.  I set my thermostat as high as possible, and yet the air conditioner still costs me a great deal of money in electricity every month.  While the cooling system handles the heat, it is not sufficient to combat the excess of humidity.  Along with investing in an effective and energy efficient air conditioner, I’ve also needed to install a whole-home dehumidifier.  The dehumidifier extracts moisture from the air, maintaining relative humidity within the ideal range.  This makes my house far more comfortable and combats the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria.  It’s fortunate that my house is kept nice and cool by the combination of my cooling unit and dehumidifier, because it’s far too hot and sticky to step outside.  Throughout the summer, and most of the spring, I am either inside my house or inside my office.  It is a huge change from when I lived up north, focused entirely on my heating system and spent my summers outside.

indoor comfort 

A dual fuel heating system is cost-effective

When my HVAC technician suggested that I install a dual fuel HVAC system in my home, I thought he was crazy.  It sounded like a super expensive waste of money to me.  A dual fuel system is the combination of an electric heat pump and a gas furnace.  I couldn’t figure out why I would want to install two separate heating systems, since once would do the job just fine.  My HVAC technician went on to explain all of the advantages of a dual fuel system, and I admit that I was impressed.  The heat pump eliminates the need for an air conditioner, because it provides both heating and cooling capacity.  In the summer, the heat pump keeps the house perfectly cool, operates very efficiently, and effectively handles humidity.  As the weather turns colder, the heat pump reverses operation to provide warmth to the house.  The heat pump finds ambient heat in outside air and pumps it inside, which is requires very little energy and significantly trims heating costs.  The system is perfectly safe, avoiding the concern of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazard.  Unfortunately, a heat pump can only effectively heat the home when outside temperatures remain above freezing.  Once the temperature drops, a dual fuel system automatically activates the gas furnace.  Because the gas furnace is only utilized in extreme temperature situations, heating costs are kept to an absolute minimum.  The dual fuel system automatically relies on the most energy efficient option at all times, making it much more cost-effective than operating a gas furnace on its own.

heating and air conditioning

I was worried about the temperature for this year’s music festival

Every year since I was 13, I have attended this same music festival in my hometown. They bring a unique set of artists here every summer and it is always a blast. My friends and I all dress in the wackiest outfits we can find and head to the venue. The place where they hold the show is a giant tent on the side of an amusement park. It’s technically an outdoor show, but the band and every member of the audience are encased in this humongous white tent. Despite this tent blocking the hot sun each year, we all sweat a lot and some suffer from heat exhaustion. However, this past year the venue added cooling equipment under the tent. It was amazing. Hanging from wires over our heads were these portable air conditioner units that were helping us cool off. Every once in awhile, a mist of cold water would fall from the top of the tent as well. I was surprised that they took the time and effort to install this portable HVAC equipment for the show. It worked out really well and most importantly, everyone stayed safe that day. If not for those air conditioners. I believe someone would have gone to the hospital for dehydration that afternoon because the temperature outside was over 90 degrees. I think they should have this sort of cooling equipment at every daytime concert in the summer. It has the potential to save lives if you ask me. What kind of venue wants to put their patrons through unnecessary risks like that?

HVAC device