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Is It Time To Beef Up Your Attic Insulation?

Will Insulating My Attic Benefit My Home?

Properly insulating your attic brings more than comfort at home — it can save you hundreds in energy costs every year. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an attic with adequate insulation saves residents between 10 to 50 percent annually on home energy costs.

Understanding how much insulation you need, or when it is time to upgrade, can be a little confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. Take a look at some of the basics you need to know when it comes to insulating your attic right, and how to know when it’s time to add more.

What Kind of Insulation Should I Buy?

You have two basic options for attic insulation: Batt (or the blanket kind that is probably the most familiar) and loose fill. In both cases, you can add either kind to the insulation you already have in place. Loose fill insulation works best with attics that already have some insulation in place, because it can fill in the cracks and holes for better insulating power. If your attic has low-clearance ceilings, this is also a great option because it will be much easier to install. The best way to insulate loose-fill is by hiring a professional to fill it in correctly. This is a smart step to ensure that the installation process goes smoothly.

Insulation comes in a variety of materials. You will want to determine the type of insulation you already have in place to decide which kind you need. The three basic materials are:

  • Fiberglass. It’s lightweight but also does not settle into old insulation as well as the other types, so you will need more of it.
  • Mineral wool. This type costs more than other loose-fill options, but is also naturally fire resistant.
  • Cellulose. This is the most common type of insulation for loose-fill, but has been reported to rot or get moldy when it encounters moisture.

Where Should I Insulate?

The absolute best spot to insulate your attic is actually in the floor. This means pulling up that plywood and stacking new insulation on top of what you already have (if any). It also means you may not have as much storage space and will need to relocate all those items stashed away in your attic space.

You also want to insulate in the ceiling area, especially near rafters. If you are located in a warm-weather area, think about adding in a radiant barrier to keep the heat out in the summer.

You should also be sure that you seal any areas where air may leak through the roof, windows and any attic access spots.

What is the Right Amount of Attic Insulation?

The easiest way to tell if you are properly insulated in your attic is to use your eyes. If you can see the floor joists in your attic, you need more. If there are uneven areas where the insulation is higher or lower than the rest of the attic space, you need more for the best protection. In other words, if there is a lot of insulation in the center of your attic space, but not enough moving out towards the walls, it’s time to look into adding more insulation.

Attic insulation is measured in R-Value. This is basically a measure of the ability of your insulation to resist heat escape. Most attics need R-38, which translates to 10 to 14 inches of insulation.

Taking the time to add the right amount of insulation to your attic will have a positive impact on what you spend for energy costs. To decide how much, and what kind of, insulation your home really needs, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Saver online tool.

Is A Gas Furnace Better Than Electric?

Gas vs Electric, which to choose?

Choosing the right type of furnace for your home can positively impact the flow of the air in your home and the money of you spend on utility bills. If you find yourself in need of a new furnace for your home, deciding between gas and electric is one of the first choices you will make in the buying process.

So which are better—gas furnaces or electric?

A Look at Electric Furnaces

Price

The first thing you may notice about electric furnaces is that they are less expensive upfront. If you have not budgeted to replace your furnace, the lower price of an electric unit will seem attractive. But in most cases, the long-term cost of operating an electric furnace is higher than a gas one.

Safety

Electric furnaces also have the reputation for being safer than gas ones because they do not emit any carbon monoxide. Homeowners do not have to actively check the unit to see if it is operating safely; when something is going wrong with the unit, it is fairly obvious through interrupted service and rarely poses a danger to the people living in the home.

Installation

The installation process is easier with an electric furnace, done quickly by a certified professional without disrupting your household too much. Since the lifespan of most electric furnaces is 20 to 30 years, once it is installed it doesn’t need much. There are certainly some maintenance tasks like changing filters and scheduling regular tune-up appointments with a certified HVAC specialist, but altogether, an electric furnace is not difficult to own, have installed, or maintain.

Efficiency

For homeowners who are environmentally conscious, an electric furnace may not be an ideal choice because it is considered the least efficient way to heat a home. Most electricity is created through the burning of coal, which is a known cause of ozone depletion and other negative effects on human health.

A Look at Gas Furnaces

Price

You will spend more on a gas furnace unit, but lower utility bills will make up for that over the 10 to 20 years you own it. Energy obtained through natural gas is cheaper than electricity. This is a fact that is expected to remain true in the coming decades, with the cost gap likely widening too. Gas furnaces also work more quickly than their electric counterparts and operate with higher efficiency in extreme temperatures.

Safety

Any type of gas-powered appliance relies on combustion to operate, and combustion creates carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Exposure to it causes flu-like symptoms, dizziness, and confusion, and prolonged exposure causes death. Even though this is a scary thought, gas-powered appliances are safe when well-maintained and carbon monoxide is carried away from the home properly. Always have your gas furnace maintained 3-4 times per year, including changing filters, checking for leaks, and making sure the unit is in good overall condition. It is also important to keep all items cleared away from the furnace to prevent obstruction and fires. Contact a professional for help.

Installation

Unlike electric furnaces, the installation of gas ones is more complicated and requires the professional eye of a certified HVAC technician.

Efficiency

From an environmental perspective, natural gas furnaces are better for the earth because the fuel needed to create the energy burns much cleaner than the coal used for electricity. Some areas may not have as much access to gas energy, though electric furnaces will work in nearly every home.

The Final Decision

The decision to buy an electric or gas furnace comes down to preference on upfront costs, long-term utility costs, amount of maintenance required, and environmental concerns. You will own your furnace for at least a decade, so really weigh the options before making a purchase.
When you do decide on the unit you want, be sure to purchase it from a reputable HVAC company that will also provide professional installation and maintenance services to increase its lifespan.

Is It Time To Repair Or Replace My Appliance?

Things to Consider when your Appliance goes out?

It is never fun when the appliances in your home stop working properly. Not only is it an inconvenience, but it can make a dent in your bank account. The initial reaction when something isn’t working properly is to find the quickest, cheapest fix, but that isn’t always the best choice in the long term. You want to weigh your options when it comes to repairing or replacing the appliances in your home.

Analyzing Your Appliance

There are some general questions to ask yourself, no matter what the appliance, before determining whether to repair or replace it.

  • Is it still under warranty? Check your owner’s manual and find out if the appliance is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty or retailer warranty. You may be able to have it repaired for free.
  • What is the cost difference? Simply put, what will cost you more: the repair or the replacement?
  • What else could go wrong? Do a little research online, or contact an expert, and find out what other repairs you should expect in the near future when it comes to your appliance. If it looks like the cash you are shelling out for this repair is just the first of many to come in the near future, replacement may be a better bet.

Appliance-Specific Considerations

Refrigerator – The typical lifespan of a refrigerator is 13 years, but this is just a baseline. You can extend the life of your fridge by having it checked out whenever you hear it hissing, see it “sweating” or leaking, or notice that it is cycling on and off often. If you have a side-by-side fridge, Consumer Reports recommends repairing it if it is 5 years old or younger. That extends to 7 years for models with bottom freezers but is reduced to 3 years on models with top freezers.

HVAC unit – In many cases, a licensed professional can make repairs on your HVAC unit that will extend its lifespan for you, but there are times when it makes more sense to simply replace the entire unit. Examples include:

  • An HVAC unit that has a heat pump or air conditioner that is over 10 years old
  • A boiler or furnace that is more than 15 years old
  • Energy bills that are rising rapidly year-after-year as a result of less efficiency

Dishwasher – The average dishwasher will last you 9 years. However, a dishwasher that has been purchased in the past 7 years should be repaired if the cost of the repair is 50 percent of the original cost of the unit or less. If your dishwasher is above the 7 year mark or the repair exceeds that 50 percent mark, you’re better off replacing your dishwasher.

Microwave – Check for minor issues that could cause your microwave to malfunction, like a blown fuse. If you rule out any minor issues and the microwave is still not working properly, it is best to just replace it. Depending on what model you choose, microwaves are generally inexpensive to replace.

Washing machine – Certain parts of a washing machine are not too difficult or expensive to repair, like the belts, seals, or even the pump. If you have an issue with the tub of the machine or the motor, it may be time to consider a new machine. If you do decide to get a new machine, consider a high efficiency model as it will save you a lot more on utility costs over time.

There may not be a clear-cut answer as to what to repair or replace in your home. Use your best judgment, and when you really are unsure, consult an expert for advice.

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.

Safety

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.

Savings

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.

Convenience

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.

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

Comparing The Different Home Cooling Systems

Home Cooling System Comparison

Summer is heating up, and as the sun beats down on the cracked concrete, your home slowly but surely turns from comfortable hovel to sweltering sauna. Fortunately, instead of melting into a puddle, you have a wide range of cooling systems to choose from. The real trick is figuring out what’s right for you. Let’s take a look at the different home cooling systems at your disposal.

Ceiling Fan

Simply turn your ceiling fan on in a forward—often counter-clockwise—motion and you’re greeted with cool air. The spinning blades force air down. The downward movement of air improves circulation in the room and creates a wind chill effect, similar to opening your car window or blowing on some hot soup. The effect makes you feel cooler and accelerates your sweat’s rate of evaporation.

However, ceiling fans aren’t the best cooling option. Although ceiling fans improve circulation and cool your skin, they don’t actually lower the temperature in your room, and they don’t reduce humidity. Running a ceiling fan when no one is around wastes electricity and causes a mild rise in temperature from the fan’s motors. Furthermore, not many homes these days come with ceiling fans, stylish as they may be. It’s not worth the trouble to install a ceiling fan for such minimal gain.

Portable Fan

The cheap and easy solution, portable fans certainly get the job done in milder temperatures. Much like a ceiling fan, portable fans improve circulation and create a wind chill. The great thing about portable fans is their mobility, so you can be more strategic with the placement of your fans. For example, place one fan at your open door and another pointing out a window across your home to get a breeze moving through your home.

Once you get into hotter temperatures, a single fan isn’t much help. They don’t have the size or power of ceiling fans and aren’t as good at cooling as more robust systems.

Evaporative Cooler

Evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, are technically air conditioners in that they condition air via cooling, but where your average A/C unit cools air using metal coils, a swamp cooler works through evaporation of water. Air passes through a series of damp pads in an evaporative cooler. The water on these damp pads evaporates into the air, which is then pumped into your home, pushing warm air away.

As effective as they are, evaporative coolers do have their downsides. Operating via evaporation means putting water into the air. While that’s fine if you live in a dry climate, more humidity in any other climate will make you feel miserable. Although evaporative coolers generally use less energy than your average air conditioner, they require a regular supply of water. Water conservation is just as pervasive an issue as electricity use.

Air Conditioner

The air conditioner is the crème de la crème of home cooling systems, the greatest respite for boiling, sweaty days. An estimated two-thirds of homes in the United States have air conditioners.

Air conditioning systems work by transferring heat from your home’s interiors to its surrounding environment while pumping cool air into the home. Air is cooled as it passes over an evaporator, a series of metal coils filled with refrigerant, while hot air is released outside via a condenser.

Air conditioners appear in several varying types, including:

  • Central: Central air conditioning systems circulate cool air through a series of ducts in your home or business, dispensed through vents in floors, ceilings, and walls. As the cooled air gets warmer over time, it flows back to the central unit, where it is cooled and re-dispersed through your building.
  • Room: Window or room air conditioners are the more compact version of central air units and are designed to cool individual rooms. When used properly, room air units are less expensive than central air.
  • Ductless: Ductless systems consist of an outdoor unit—containing the compressor and refrigerant—and an indoor component that delivers the cooled air into the home. Ductless units are incredibly flexible and can be installed in homes, businesses, apartments, and room additions where adding ductwork might be too difficult. Ductless systems offer the best balance of value, cooling power, and efficiency.

Air conditioning systems offer optimal cooling and climate control. They keep you and your home cool and take some of the humidity out of the air. The main concern with air conditioning is energy efficiency, but improvements in technology have led to more efficient, eco-friendly units. Air conditioners are an all-around great solution for staying cool, and with the variety of different systems and retrofits, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a unit that works for your personal budget and lifestyle.

Air conditioners come out on top, but if you have any questions about cooling systems, don’t hesitate to call or contact Bob Jenson A/C for more information.

5 Reasons to Replace Your Air Conditioning System

Why you may want to give your old A/C the boot

Is your A/C still running or is it barely walking at this point? Your air conditioning system is the single largest appliance in your home and uses around 40% of your annual energy consumption in the home. If your still trying to get thru summer with an air conditioner that’s over 10 years old you may want to consider a few reasons why upgrading might not be such a bad idea:

5 Reasons to Replace your Air Conditioning

How can I upgrade my a/c without overpaying?

First get at least 3 estimates from reputable contractors you trust. Never pay for an estimate, a quality contractor will offer a in-home consultation for free with no obligation to buy. Then while most hvac contractors should be experienced enough to give you a few options based on the needs of home and your family beware of someone pushing just one expensive system and not explaining why. Ask your trusted contractor about efficiency rebates, factory equipment rebates and tax credits. You can even see if the contractor is running specials on Yelp or Angie’s List if your a member. All of these can add up to a few thousand dollars in savings. Systems can still be costly and so don’t forget to ask about current financing offers that may work for you.

Upgrading your old air conditioning system can be a great decision especially when it will result in increased comfort, flexiblity and energy savings for the next decade! If and when you’d like to get more information call or contact Bob Jenson A/C and we’ll set up a free visit at your convenience.

How Central Heating System Replacement can Save You Money.

Why replace your central heating system?

A central heating system that is inefficient and not sealed correctly will waste a lot of energy which translates to overpayment on your utility bills! For every dollar you spend to heat your home you want to get back the most heating and comfort possible. The problem is that not all gas furnaces are the same, some have much higher efficiency than others. Also when a central heating system has air leaks, has been poorly installed, or not setup right, you waste that great efficiency.

In the example below we see a basic 80% gas furnace was installed, so for every dollar spent, 10 cents of our heat is lost up the vent pipe in burned gases. This home also has an average duct leakage of 30%, that means we’re losing 30 more cents of our heat into the attic. In total we are wasting at least 40 cents of every dollar we spend on our heating throughout the year. Finally, because there is little or no insulation in attic of this home, the heat produced leaves the home quickly and the furnace will run longer each day, raising your energy bills.
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In this second example the home was upgraded with a 98% efficient gas furnace only allowing a 2% loss up the vent pipe! New sealed ducting was installed as well, with an allowed leakage rate of only 6%. This means that for every dollar spent on the heating in this home a full 92 cents goes right towards the actual comfort of the home. Since the attic insulation is at the proper levels the heat stays within the home, it’s more comfortable, and this homeowner sees an average of 20% less in their energy bills!
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Of course these are simplified approximations of central heating system efficiency and there are many more variables involved as each home has unique challenges that effect overall energy savings. Call Bob Jenson A/C for a free in-home evaluation to determine how you can get the most out of every dollar you spend and increase your comfort and energy savings today!

Other Factors that Effect Heating Efficiency
  • Proper equipment installation & setup
  • Correct furnace size
  • Correct ductwork sizing, layout and balance
  • Programmable or learning thermostat
  • Multi-stage operation
  • Variable speed capability
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