With energy costs soaring out of sight, it is important to Ongaro & Sons to help you be as informed about all energy savings tips as possible.
Clearing Sediment from the Water Tank
- Do whichever applies for your water heater, electric or gas: Electric Heater: Turn off the electricity to the water heater. This is vital. If an electric heating element turns on while not submersed in water, it will burn out, possibly leading to replacement of the entire water heater!Gas Heater: You may be able to do this procedure with the gas on, but turned to the lowest setting. Remember, you must not let the tank drain more than ¾ empty. This is easier to gauge if you use a bucket to me asure the amount of water that you drain. For your first-ever flushing of your tank, though, We would recommend a full flush, which requires you to turn the gas off entirely, both at the water heater and the shut-off on the gas line. You can do “touchups” later by draining a portion of the tank down, rather than a full drainCAUTION: Do not precede any farther if you do not know how to re-light the gas pilot! We strongly suggest you have a gas professional visit your home ONCE to instruct you on the proper procedure for re-lighting your pilot. Not only is this valuable information for you to have for tank flushing, but at any time that the pilot may mysteriously extinguish.
- Turn off the COLD water supply to the tank.
- Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Run the hose to a convenient drain location. Be careful if you use a real cheap garden hose… some of these become very soft when hot water runs through them, and may leak! If you don’t have a drain in the basement floor or suitable sump hole, you have my sympathies … this drain-down can take a while with a bucket! Oh…and be careful if you use a soft plastic bucket. It can also soften from the heated water so don’t overfill it and burn yourself!
- Open up the hot water side of any faucet. Open up the drain valve on the tank and allow it to empty. Miller time. That is, unless you don’t have a pump.Note: if the drain valve clogs, turn on the cold water supply to the tank to use water pressure to “blast” through the clog
- When the tank is empty (or ¾ empty), shut off the drain valve and turn on the cold water. This will loosen up more sediment in the tank through the churning action of the cold water in the tank. Let the tank fill partially and drain it again. Remember to blast with cold water if the drain clogs.If you have extreme amounts of sediment, you may have to repeat this procedure a few more times. Look at the drain water; if it is running clear, you are done. Shut off the drain valve, open the cold water supply and allow the tank to fill. Once water comes out of the hot water faucet, the tank is full and your task is done! Now, you can turn the electricity or gas to the water heater back on.
Six Tips to Cut Your Cooling Bills
As energy rates soar, everyone needs affordable ways to beat the heat. With hot weather already upon us, now is the time to give your home a “checkup”. Here are six tips from Ongaro & Sons to make sure your summer electric bills don’t blow your cool!
- Don’t run your clothes dryer when it’s hot out.
Your dryer blows air out of your house when it’s drying clothes. And for every cubic foot of air it blows out, a cubic foot of hot outside air gets sucked in that your air conditioner has to cool down. Run your dryer late at night or early morning and you’ll have lower electric bills. Even better, use a “solar powered” clothes dryer: a clothesline in the back yard!
- Have your duct system tested for air leaks.
Many think that windows and doors are the major cause of a home’s energy wasting air leaks. But according to recent research by the Department of Energy (DOE), leaks from gaps, joints and disconnections in the typical home’s duct system are much more significant. The DOE states that the typical duct system loses 25% to 40% of the energy put out by the central heat pump or air conditioner. Leaks are usually the biggest problem. Ongaro & Sons recommends sealing your ducts with a brushed on “mastic”. Duct tape often dries out and fails. It turns out duct tape is great for many things, but sealing ducts isn’t one of them!
- Ask Ongaro & Sons to perform a “blower door” test.
The blower door is a computerized instrument originally invented by the Department of Energy. It pinpoints where your home’s worst air leaks are, such as duct leaks, and measures how leaky the overall house is. While most homes are still far too leaky, some are now quite tight and need mechanical ventilation to ensure that inside air is fresh. Ongaro & Sons offers an Infiltrometer test as part of a our diagnostic procedure that identifies problems that affect your indoor living environment.
- Replace your air conditioner or heat pump air filter.
Most systems need this done every month to ensure safe and efficient operation. Some filters, such as electronic air cleaners, need to be thoroughly washed on a regular basis.
- Have your air conditioner cleaned and tuned.
A preseason tune up is a great investment. It reduces the chances of breakdowns in the middle of summer and more than pays for itself through more energy efficient operation. Make sure the contractor cleans both the indoor and outdoor heat transfer coils, and checks the refrigerant gas charge by measuring “superheat” or “subcooling”.
- Consider replacing your old air conditioner or heat pump.
Just like a car, central cooling equipment doesn’t last forever. If your system is over 12 years old and you are planning to stay in your home more than a few years, many authorities recommend replacing it before it fails permanently. A new system improves comfort, is more dependable, creates less air pollution and pays for itself through energy savings. New units are up to twice as energy efficient than they were 10 years ago. Choose one with an EPA”Energy Star” label.
- Don’t run your clothes dryer when it’s hot out.
Why Variable Speed Makes a Difference
If you own a central air conditioner, do you hear your system “kick on”? When it does, do you feel a blast of air? Does noise drown out your voice? Does the temperature in your home fluctuate greatly? Does your house feel damp? Do you think your cooling bills are too high?
If you answered yes to at least two of these questions, the experts at the Trane Home Comfort Institute say you should look into a new development in central air systems — variable speed air handlers
The air handler is the indoor part of your system which contains the coil that removes heat from indoor air and the blower that distributes the cooled air through your home.
In most standard systems, the motor that runs the blower operates at only one speed and is either on or off. Anytime the blower is on, it’s running at full capacity, using the maximum amount of energy.
A variable speed motor automatically adjusts its speed based on a home’s cooling needs. When matched with an outdoor unit, it can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Less Humidity
A variable speed air handler greatly reduces the amount of humidity in a home. In fact, it can remove up to 15 gallons of water a day from an average house, four times the amount of moisture a conventional air handler removes.
- Less Noise
A variable speed air handler produces less noise because it operates at a lower speed most of the time. You won’t hear a thunking sound when it comes on.
- Lower Energy Bills
A variable speed air handler costs less to operate than a standard air handler because the motor runs at slower speeds. Trane Home Comfort Institute test results show that those savings can be as high as 40 percent.
- More Comfort
A variable speed air handler gradually ramps up to maximum speed, instead of coming on full blast all at once. This means there are no sudden bursts of air, thereby ensuring a more even airflow.
- Cleaner Air
Because a variable speed air handler operates at slower speeds, more unwanted particles cling to the filter. In a conventional air handler, air is pulled through the filter at a consistently high rate of speed. This lessens the filter’s ability to collect dust and allergens.If you’re the type of homeowner who likes to be on the leading edge of innovation while enhancing the comfort level of your home at the same time, variable speed air furnaces may be just the right choice for you.
- Less Humidity
Why a Matched System is Important
A heating and cooling system is made up of individual parts. And, even though each component is separate, they’re all designed and engineered to work together as a system. A perfectly balanced system is the best way to get the highest comfort and efficiency. When you match a high efficiency furnace with a high efficiency air conditioner, you’ve installed a system with one of the highest efficiencies available.
A Home Comfort System from Trane includes:
- An outdoor air conditioner or heat pump
- An indoor furnace or air handler
- A cooling coil
- An electric air cleaner