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How Important is a Proper Furnace Installation?

Furnace Installation is not a DIY project

There is no shortage of do-it-yourself home improvement suggestions online. A study from home remodeling site Houzz found that 53 percent of respondents feel that now is a good time to remodel. Of people who take on home improvement projects, 70 percent practice some form of DIY along with help from friends and family.

From painting to plumbing to furnace maintenance and repair, every home improvement project you want to take on has some information online. However, if you are not experienced in the upgrades you want, you may end up causing more damage to your home. You have to weigh your options carefully before taking on any DIY projects, especially when it comes to vital elements of your home’s operations.

One of the most expensive pieces of equipment in your home is your furnace. When the furnace is working properly, you don’t think much about it, but a failure can be both expensive and dangerous. That’s why furnace replacement and installation should always be done by a professional. Having a furnace properly installed is the first step toward safe, efficient heating for many years to come. Let’s take a look at some of the specific ways a proper furnace installation will benefit you, your home, and your bank account.


As homeowners know, equipment in the home tends to break or give out at the worst possible moment. When a furnace stops working during cold weather, the lack of heat can be dangerous, especially if children or elderly people live in the home. It may not be an expense you are expecting, but a non-working furnace is something that simply cannot wait a few weeks, or even days, to fix. Calling a professional to examine the furnace may mean the difference between replacing the whole unit and simply getting by with new parts. If a new furnace installation is necessary, a professional will handle all the heavy lifting and follow all building and fire codes to ensure that your heating system is safe. A professional can also get rid of your old furnace in a safe and regulated way.

A professional also knows how to test different parts of the heater to ensure their proper function and your overall safety. For example, if the heat exchanger is not working properly or fails, carbon monoxide could pump through the ductwork into the home. Don’t take any chances with your family’s health.


When you are shelling out the initial cost of a furnace, you’ll groan at the financial stress. If you go with an energy-efficient furnace, you could actually be saving yourself a lot of money in the long run. Condensing furnace models recycle the condensation on the outside of the heater and use it for energy, offering an annual fuel utilization efficiency of up to 98 percent.

Replacing a furnace is an obvious way to save when the older model is outdated. Hiring a professional to do it may not be quite as obvious when it comes to savings, but it has a lot of potential for reduced costs. If you make a mistake or are unable to complete the installation, you may end up paying more than you would to have it correctly replaced. A properly installed furnace also offers greater efficiency over the life of the heater, regardless of the model.


Did you know that the average worker spends 45 minutes less time with his family every day than he did 20 years ago? With everything going on in your life, paying a professional to handle any home repair or improvement is often worth the price. It takes much of the pressure off of you to get the work completed and also ensures that it will be done properly. You need to find the right contractors, of course, and take your time researching them for the best savings, but once you find a dependable contractor—for furnace repair, plumbing fixes, landscaping projects, and more—you can relax knowing that your home is in the best hands. You won’t have to act outside your area of expertise, and you get more time with your family—something that really is priceless.

The cost of homeownership can take its toll, but cutting corners when installing something as vital as your furnace is not the right way to save money. Your family’s safety is worth the due diligence of finding the right contractor, which can save you some money over time anyway. A great way to make sure you have someone ready in an emergency is to retain a furnace company for annual maintenance and furnace tune-ups. When something does go wrong, you don’t have to settle for the first contractor you find. You will already have someone you know and trust on hand.

Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Danger

Carbon Monoxide is a Silent and Preventable Threat

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 170 people die in the U.S. every year from non-automotive-related carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths are attributed to products and equipment in homes and workplaces that are silently emitting the odorless, colorless, invisible poisonous gas. Though awareness of the gas has certainly led to safer conditions and monitoring, the fact remains that carbon monoxide is still deadly. Homeowners should be aware of the potential sources of carbon monoxide and the dangers associated with the items that emit this all-too-common toxin.

What is carbon monoxide—and why is it dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, deadly gas that is created when fuels are not burned completely. These gases include propane, natural gas, oil, kerosene, and coal. Exposure to carbon monoxide in small doses can lead to general sickness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, disorientation, and other flu-like symptoms. Carbon monoxide exposure that persists and is not treated can lead to death.

What are some sources of carbon monoxide in my home?

Anything that uses fuel to run can be a potential source of carbon monoxide. Some specific examples include lawn mowers, furnaces, water heaters, generators, fireplaces, gas stoves, and power washers. People who smoke cigarettes or pipes in the home also release carbon monoxide into the air. A quick inventory of your home should reveal several potential sources of carbon monoxide, including items you may not have ever considered dangerous in the past.

How will I know if I’ve been poisoned by carbon monoxide?

There are many symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that are often easily attributed to other ailments. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

More pronounced symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness

You may not immediately realize that your strange behavior or discomfort is the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, but you should consult your doctor if you notice any symptoms that seem to have no other explanation (and even some that do).

How can I tell if there are unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in my home?

This gas is virtually untraceable. Carbon monoxide detectors are the best way to know if there are any leaks in your home, but there are other signs, too. These signs include:

  • Excess condensation on windows or doors
  • Rust on furnace parts or adjoining parts
  • The color of the flame on the pilot light of a gas furnace. If it is yellow, instead of blue, carbon monoxide is present in dangerous amounts

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in my home?

As mentioned above, a carbon monoxide detector or alarm is the best way to know if your home is at risk. Make sure these alarms are up to the current safety codes (UL 2034). If they are outdated, throw them away and invest in new detectors, some like the Nest Protect have advanced features. Install a carbon monoxide alarm in or near every sleeping area of the home. People should also install carbon monoxide alarms in their boats and recreational vehicles. Carbon monoxide detectors should be tested every month, and the batteries should be changed every six months, whether the alarm responds to testing or not.

Some other ways to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Make sure all appliances, including furnaces, are properly installed by high-quality professionals like Bob Jenson.
  • Avoid operation of portable generators or similar gas-powered units in an enclosed space, like a garage. It is not enough to open windows or doors. Carbon monoxide levels can still be deadly when trapped.
  • Never allow running vehicles inside garages or sheds, even if there is a door open.
  • Open the flue of your fireplace when it’s in use for proper ventilation.
  • Avoid using gas-operated units, like ovens or clothing dryers, to heat your home.
  • Never cover propane or natural gas ovens with aluminum foil. This blocks proper air flow, leading to carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Always pay attention to the owner’s manuals and instructions when it comes to fuel-powered appliances and equipment to ensure proper use.
  • Hire a professional to inspect your heating systems at least once every year to check for signs of carbon monoxide problems.
  • Repair any damage or leaks in fuel-powered appliances, vehicles, units, and equipment in your home and any tools used for camping/outdoor recreation.
  • Be aware of your home and any changes in appliances—and health of family members—that could signal carbon monoxide poisoning.

Thankfully, the resources exist to protect every homeowner from deadly, untraceable carbon monoxide. However, don’t rely on any single method to protect you and your family. For example, several weeks may have passed since a carbon monoxide detector has been tested, and in the meantime, the batteries may have died. If you think there is any chance of a leak in the home, test the detector again and call in the help of a professional if it sounds or you are unsure if it is working.

Understanding the Law in California

Law states that all existing single-family dwellings that contain a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace or an attached garage must install carbon monoxide alarms. All other existing dwellings (multi-family) shall comply by January 1, 2013. CO alarms must be either battery-powered or plug-in with battery backup. CO alarms must be installed outside of sleeping areas and on every level of a dwelling, including the basement.

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (Senate Bill 183) required owners of all existing single-family dwellings containing a fossil fuel source or attached garage to install CO alarm devices within the dwelling by July 1, 2011. Owners of multi-family leased/rental dwellings (i.e. apartment buildings) have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law? Separately, in January, the California Department of Housing and Community Development proposed a new rule that would require carbon monoxide alarms in additional types of housing. Mobile and/or manufactured housing with up to two dwelling units would be required to comply by July 1, 2012, and mobile and/or manufactured housing with more than two dwelling units would be required to comply by January 1, 2013.

California Bill, SB 1394, originated as a law affecting CO alarms in hotels and motels but now includes several smoke alarm requirements, too. Please note that it has not yet passed the California Assembly and will be required to do so before heading to the governor.

For several months, SB 1394, which requires the installation of carbon monoxide devices in all existing hotel and motel dwelling units, has been working its way through the legislative process in California. SB 1394 accomplishes two primary purposes: (1) it delays the effective date of the CO detection requirements for hotels and motels until January 1, 2016; and (2) codifies many of the recommendations made by the California State Fire Marshal (CSFM) Smoke Alarms Task Force in the report published in August 2011 (Report

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Furnace?

How to know which way to go?

Comfort means everything when you’re at home. A big part of that quality of life is a temperature-controlled home that provides heat in the cold months and cool air in the summer. A properly functioning furnace is a necessity to the health, happiness, and well-being of your family.

When your furnace starts acting up, you may not have to completely replace it. A professional technician can take a look at your furnace and let you know what simple repairs will get it back in top operating shape. To get an idea of what you might be up against, take a look at these times you may need simple repair work and the times you will likely need to replace the entire furnace unit.

Common furnace repair issues:

Thermostat malfunction: Sometimes a furnace may appear to be working improperly, but all it really needs is an adjustment to the thermostat itself. No heat, a malfunctioning fan, or temperature discomfort are all signs that your thermostat needs to be tested and potentially repaired. A professional can quickly diagnose the problem and replace the thermostat if necessary.

Pilot or ignition failure: Your furnace will simply not heat your home without a proper flame—a pilot light in gas furnaces and an ignition in electric furnaces. Both of these parts can be replaced by a professional easily, putting your furnace back in working order without impacting the rest of the unit.

Clogged filter: We recommend that you replace typical furnace filters once a month during the peak season. High-efficiency filters cost a little more but only need to be replaced once every three months, some even up to a year! Properly maintaining and changing your furnace filter will keep dirt, dust, and debris from clogging the furnace, allowing it to work properly without any incident. This is perhaps the easiest, most inexpensive way to maintain your furnace, so make yourself a monthly or tri-monthly reminder to change your filters.

Broken fan motors, bearings, or belts: If you are having difficulties with air flow or temperature control, you may need to replace a basic furnace part, like a fan motor, belt, or bearings. This is relatively simple for a professional to repair but too complicated for inexperienced homeowners to accomplish on their own.

Signs you need a full furnace replacement:

Old age: The average furnace should last 16 to 20 years with proper maintenance. If your furnace is giving you problems and is getting up there in years, it is probably in your family’s best interest to replace it. If you are unsure of when the furnace was installed, you can find the manufacture date printed on the unit itself to give you a general idea.

Frequent repairs: If you notice that the times your furnace repair calls are becoming more frequent, your furnace is likely on its last leg. Like a car, most repairs in a furnace occur in the last two to three years of its life. Instead of paying for costly repair after costly repair, go ahead and upgrade your furnace.

Thermostat inconsistency: If you find that your home is simply not as comfortable at your preferred temperature as usual or that you are constantly adjusting your thermostat, it may be time to think about a full furnace replacement. Constant meddling with temperature controls and differences in temperature from one room to the next are signs that your furnace is no longer able to heat your home adequately or efficiently.

Lack of moisture in the air: As furnaces age, their ability to moisturize and clean the air wavers. Signs of this may be subtle, like more static electricity, musical instruments out of tune, or house plants with limp leaves. More obvious signs may be increased allergy symptoms in the home or more instances of sore/dry throats.

Yellow burner flame: The pilot light of a gas furnace should always be blue. If you notice that yours has a yellow hue instead, it means that carbon monoxide may be creeping into your home. There are other signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, too, including excess moisture on walls and windows, soot around the furnace, and rust on the vent pipe or pipe connections.

Decline in family health: When the heat exchanger in a furnace goes bad, carbon monoxide risks seeping into the home through the ductwork. If family members are feeling tired, nauseous, or disoriented, you should have your furnace checked immediately by a professional as these are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing carbon monoxide detectors is another important way to keep your family safe from this silent, odorless gas.

There are many variables and working parts that go into a safe, efficient, and properly running furnace. It is important to pay attention to your furnace and the signs that it may be in need of repair. A simple repair can turn into an expensive one without professional assistance. The safety and comfort of your family is too important to ignore, so take care of your heating system and have a trusted furnace professional like Bob Jenson ready to answer your maintenance or emergency calls.

Keep The Heat In: 5 Ways To Stay Warm On a Budget

Stay comfortable and keep your wallet…

With winter in full swing and temperatures reaching record lows on a seemingly daily basis, people are struggling to stay warm. While heaters are the main line of defense for most, high energy bills, carbon dioxide emissions, and a negative impact on the environment aren’t anyone’s cup of tea. That doesn’t mean you need to freeze your tail off. With a little creativity and some professional help, you can stay warm without breaking the bank.

1. Insulate your attic.

One of the best and cheapest ways to keep your home warm and energy efficient is to rethink your attic insulation. Insulating your attic helps you fight against heat’s natural movement toward coolness.

Heat Transfer
See, heat, which has a lot of energy, naturally likes to disperse to cooler areas where there is room for its chaotic particles to calm down—it wants to be in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, or balance. Think of it this way: those heat particles are at a crowded punk rock concert getting beat up in the mosh pit and, naturally, they want to get outside for some space and fresh air. This migration of energy is called heat transfer and is described in the second law of thermodynamics. If your attic is properly insulated, you can prevent the heat you’re paying for to warm your home from escaping.

How Does Insulation Work?
Insulation works in the same general way as a down jacket or sleeping bag. It creates small pockets of air that combine to form a larger barrier that keeps the warm air in and the cold air out. The fluffier the insulation is, the more pockets to trap the air, which is why insulation that has been trampled is significantly less effective. This is also why you need to replace your insulation every so often as it tends to settle and flatten over time.

The key to good attic insulation is coverage. Holes or gaps in your insulation significantly reduce its effectiveness. It’s a good idea to contact a professional company, like Bob Jenson, to handle your attic insulation.

2. Seal it up.

Much of the heat in your home is also lost through the cracks in your door and around your windows, for the same reasons described above. In fact, according to Energy Star, adding up all the cracks, gaps, and holes in the average home, you’d be left with a heat loss equivalent to leaving a window fully open every day of the year.

Fortunately, weather stripping your home is an easy DIY project. Weather stripping itself is available in various materials, including felt, foam, plastic, and aluminum, all designed to seal in leaks without hindering how you open and close your doors and windows.

3. Rethink what you drink.

On those cold, blustery days, nothing feels better than a warm drink. But does it matter what’s in your mug?

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Coffee, tea, and other beverages containing caffeine dilate your blood vessels, increasing blood flow to your skin. This produces an initial feeling of warmth, but in reality, your body is losing heat as warm blood is being taken away from your core. What about hot toddy? Alcoholic drinks have the same effect, which can actually make you feel colder when all is said and done.
Instead, try a nice cup of hot apple cider, cocoa, or herbal tea.

4. Bundle up.

To save on your energy bill, try to resist the urge to instantly turn on the heat whenever you feel a chill. We’ve become accustomed to this convenience, but it’s an expensive one that isn’t great for the environment either. Instead, bundle up, but do it the right way.

Don’t wear clothing too tight.
Your clothes will keep you warmer if they aren’t skin tight. Having some movement and empty spaces between you and your clothing allows your body heat and clothing to work together to keep you warm. If you’ve ever layered 3 pairs of tight yoga pants, for example, and found that it didn’t keep you warm, this is why.

Choose the right fabrics.
We’re just talking about staying warm and cozy while indoors—fabric needs change if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors. For example, stay away from cotton if you’re heading out into the cold—rather than wicking away moisture like wool and synthetic athletic fabrics, it absorbs it and keeps cold moisture close to your body—a dangerous thing.

While hanging out at home, wear clothing made with insulating fabrics like wool and fleece—that includes your feet!

Layer logically.
If it’s especially cold in your home or you’re planning to head outside, make sure you follow the basic principles of layering.

Base layer: Your base layer should be thin, insulating, and moisture-wicking. As stated, ditch the cotton—you’ll be sweating under these layers at least a little (you’re always sweating, believe it or not!), and you want your base layer to be able to keep that sweat and moisture away from your skin.

Insulating layer: This middle layer should be warm and made of something like fleece or feather down. Think of it like the attic insulation—it should be roomy, a bit “fluffier” and have lots of insulating power.

Outer layer: The outer layer, or shell, is your coat and should be able to block wind and water while keeping the heat in.

5. Be social!

It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that feeling lonely is the pits, but a series of studies by researchers at the University of Toronto suggest that loneliness actually has a physical effect on your perception of temperature, making you feel even colder than it actually is.

In one of the studies, subjects made to feel excluded in a ball-tossing game had a greater desire for warm food after. In another study, subjects recalled a situation of social exclusion and inclusion and an estimate of the room temperature at the time. The moments of social exclusion brought up lower room temperature estimates.

So if you’re feeling extra cold at home, call some friends over. The extra company will warm you and your heart.
Cold temperatures don’t mean you or your wallet need to suffer. Good luck staying warm!

Out With the Old: Common Outdated Ducts in Southern California Homes

Different ducts in your home

If you have a home with old duct work, you are likely throwing money out the window. The California Energy Commission reports that the average duct system leaks 30 percent of the air that flows through it. Take a look at five older duct types that are common in Southern California and see if you can recognize your type in this list:

Rigid Round Duct

Ridged Round / Super Round Ducts

– These are round ducts made entirely from formed fiberglass. As the fiberglass is exposed to the airstream, it finds its way into the home when it deteriorates. The R-value (or the capacity of the insulating material to resist heat—the higher the R-value, the better) is medium to low and these ducts tend to have a lot of leakage at all connection points.

Unlined Flex Duct

Unlined Flex Ducts

– These are round flexible ducts with fiberglass insulation wrapped around a spiral metal wire core. The fiberglass is often fully or partially exposed to the air stream, which can cause problems as it deteriorates. Debris gathers on the inside walls easily. R-value is medium to high, and leakage occurs due to tearing and older duct tapes that break down in attic heat.

Insulated Tin Ducts

Tin Ducts

– These are usually smaller round metal ducts that lack galvanizing and tend to rust inside. R-value is very low due to poor, thin insulation wrapped around the outside, which gets torn or falls off the ducts. This type of duct work has high leakage due to rarely sealed connection points that are often just screws or welds.

Galvinized Duct

Galvanized Metal Ducts

– With these types of larger round metal ducts, there is actually efficient airflow from lack of friction. However, poorly hand-wrapped insulation on the outside lowers R-value to give it medium to high air leakage depending on the type of sealing at connection points. With this system, fiberglass is not exposed to the air stream.

Grey Duct

Flex Ducts (Grey)

– These are insulated flexible round ducts found in many tract homes. They are made of a metal spiraled core with a plastic inner liner wrapped in R-4.2 fiberglass insulation and covered in a grey plastic outer jacket. The outside jacket of these early flexible ducts easily deteriorates from the UV light and allows the insulation to fall apart, finally exposing the inner plastic liner to the heat and UV elements. Ultimately, this type of system breaks apart and the result is major air leakage, along with dust and debris infiltration.

So what can homeowners do to improve air flow efficiency once they’ve identified old and outdated materials? Take a look at just a few suggestions:

Modern Flex Duct

Upgrade to Flex Duct (Silver Metalized Jacket)

– These are the newest generation of flexible ducting that features upgraded materials to protect against UV and temperature damage. They have a higher R-value and, if installed properly, can produce as little as 6% leakage.

Seal ducts. If you can avoid it, do not use duct tape or any other temporary sealing fixes. You want your duct repairs and efficiency improvements to last as long as your ducts do. If there are leaks in your ductwork that are smaller than a quarter inch, you can apply a bead of mastic. If the leaks are wider than that, apply mastic that is at least 3 inches wide and runs the entire leak length. After that, apply a coat of fiberglass mesh, at least 2 inches in width, and then put another layer of mastic on top of that. The process is not especially difficult, but if you have never watched someone do it before, it can be tedious. You might fare better to ask a professional like Bob Jenson to help you with your sealing project.

Add duct wrap. Flexible ducts and duct board generally have strong R-values, but if you have sheet-metal ducts you may want to add some extra insulation with the help of duct wrap. This does not actually fix leaks but it will keep the air from completely escaping the duct system.

Imagine the savings over time on your utility bill if you were able to prevent the cost of duct leaks. If your home features duct work that could use a checkup and update, or if you’re interested in ditching the ducts altogether in favor of a ductless system, contact a professional HVAC technician like Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating.

How Your Central Heating System Works

How a Simple Furnace Works

Your central heating or furnace can comfortably heat your home and we take it for granted until it stops working. Our heating system can be a mystery as to how it works, so today we’ll pull back the curtain and reveal in this latest infographic how a simple furnace works to heat your home:

How Your Central Heating Works

Stay Warm Safely: 5 HVAC Don’ts

What not to do with your heating system

When it comes to home improvement, more people than ever are taking matters into their own hands. DIY projects seem to be the trend du jour, particularly since there is so much free information online in the form of homeowner suggestions, blog posts, and video tutorials. There are some things that are dangerous to take into your own hands, though, and even some DIY projects that can end up costing you more in the end in the way of repairs.

One tricky area of DIY home improvement is HVAC. Whether you are planning to do actual work on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in your home or you have other projects that may impact these systems, you should always play it safe.

Learn about 5 things to be sure to avoid as you seek to improve your home and stay comfortable.

Don’t cover up vents in unused rooms.

It may seem smart to close wall vents or place furniture over floor vents in rooms that aren’t often visited, but this is actually counterproductive. Air flows more efficiently through a home if it moves in the way it was intended. Blocking vents can actually obstruct air and compromise the overall efficiency of your system.

Don’t cover up return air vents.

You may think that there is really no purpose for return air vents (since they do not actually push any air into your home) but that sort of thinking can be costly. Return air vents are designed to help air systems “breathe,” and when that part of the system is covered or blocked, it causes stress on the rest of the system. Your air conditioner has to work harder to produce cold air, and your furnace has to work harder to produce warm air. When those systems work harder, or kick on more often, your utility bill rises.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that, this winter, heating costs will rise 13 percent over the average from the past five winters—so you should do everything possible to keep your costs low. Covering return vents also interferes with the air pressure in your home and can lead to uncomfortable air and even pain for people who have ear sensitivity related to air pressure.

Don’t store items near outdoor units.

Remember to NEVER store items on top of outdoor units because it blocks the flow of the fan—and that air flow simply cannot be restricted if the unit is to operate efficiently. As a common-sense rule, do not plant bushes or shrubs too close to the unit because overgrowth can restrict air flow—and it also makes it difficult for service providers to tend to the unit. All outdoor units should be positioned 4 to 8 inches from the ground so the coils are able to properly drain and remain free of snow and ice.

Don’t store flammable items in furnace closets.

Not all closets are created equal. The one that houses your furnace should never contain any flammable items, like cardboard boxes, clothing, aerosol cans, paint or gasoline. In fact, it is probably best to keep everything from touching your HVAC unit and keep that closet or storage space clear of any unnecessary belongings. This gives your unit enough air and space to operate efficiently, and reduces dangerous fire hazards in your home.

Don’t neglect your furnace filter.

Be sure to change your furnace and air conditioning filters once each month during peak seasons to prevent them from clogging and potentially overheating the unit. A clean filter also lowers utility costs, so it makes sense to stock up on them every few months and set a reminder on your phone or calendar to change them the same day each month. Proper maintenance is the best prevention when it comes to HVAC systems.

Temperature-controlled homes are a modern luxury that many take for granted but quickly come to appreciate when they are not working correctly. By taking smart steps to keep your HVAC system running properly, you will save yourself costs and headaches down the road. Plus, why do all the grunt work yourself when you can call a reliable HVAC technician like Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating to take care of it for you properly?

San Diego Home Heating Guide

Home Heating Guide

All homes feature different heating systems—some of them are more efficient than others. As time passes more advancements are made in home heating, allowing us to heat a space efficiently while making as small an impact on natural resources as possible. Regardless of what heating system your home uses, there are ways to maximize efficiency. And if you’re in the market for a home heating system upgrade, the following information will help you choose what direction to take.

Here is a quick sampling of heating methods, old and new, available in today’s homes.

1. Fireplace

The oldest method of heating devised by humans, the hearth fire is mesmerizing and warms both the heart and the body. However, its disadvantages can be considerable. It uses trees as fuel and contributes to air pollution. It is also fairly inefficient at heating large spaces and can be hazardous if regular cleaning is put off for an extended period of time.

2. Pellet or wood burning stove

As an improvement on the fireplace, stoves can burn pelletized wood scraps or smaller pieces of wood and generate more heat. Pellet stoves produce an insignificant amount of air pollution, and the fuel is made from wood waste created by the lumber industry. A stove can heat a large room, but it’s still relatively ineffective at heating an entire house worth of space.

3. Central heating

Central heating generally involves either gas-burning or electric furnace. Colder air is pulled in thru a return vent to be heated by the furnace, filtered and then distributed thru a ducting system thru the entire home. Central heating keeps all rooms evenly warm, but related utility bills can be high depending on usage and fuel type. The furnace and ducts must be checked and maintained regularly. Newer central heating furnaces can have efficiencies of up to 98% and are far quieter than older 80% models.

4. Space heaters

Space heaters are small, portable heaters designed to heat a small area such as a bedroom, bathroom, or office. They can be electric, propane, or kerosene-fueled. They are an excellent option for occasional use in a space that can’t be efficiently heated any other way, but they can be costly to operate; especially if they are of the electric variety.

5. Solar heating

Solar power generators use energy from the sun to either create electricity, which is then used to power traditional central heating, or heat water, which may be used to operate a radiant heating system. Although sometimes expensive to install and not practical in all areas, solar power has the potential to drastically cut a household’s utility costs if managed well.

6. Radiant heating

Radiant heating, often used in conjunction with other methods, circulates hot water in pipes built into the flooring of a home. It is an excellent choice for bathrooms and bedrooms, providing gentle warmth rather than the high temperatures of space heaters or central heating. Radiant heating can be expensive to install and may not be a practical addition to older buildings, but it can lower the monthly heating bill in some building configurations.

7. Heat pumps

Heat pumps are a popular method in milder climates like San Diego’s. These come in several varieties: air-source pumps use electricity to transfer heat between the house and the outdoor air; geothermal pumps pull heat from underground sources and can work well even in very cold climates; and absorption heat pumps can be powered by several heat sources, including natural gas, wood, and coal. Because this is a relatively new technology that requires installation of pipes underground or into walls, the initial cost can be high, but the day-to-day operating costs are very low—even when the primary energy source is electricity. Some heat pumps use a variable-speed compressor to reduce wear on the unit and save energy. Many homeowners use ductless mini-split heat pumps to create zones of different temperatures in their house, further increasing energy efficiency.

The best heating method for any home will depend on several factors, including climate, subsoil, how the house was built, and how the home is used. If you’re not sure what heating system is best for your home or would like an assessment of your home’s current system, give Bob Jenson Air Conditioning & Heating a call. We’ll be happy to help!

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