The air in your home is filled with minute particles that circulate throughout the rooms every day. Most of these particles are harmless and will not affect your comfort. But others are not so benign: dust mites, pollen, pet and insect dander, chemicals, smoke, bacteria, mold spores, and viruses can all lower the quality of your air. These pollutants are particularly harmful for people in your home who suffer from allergies and asthma.
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Solar energy is a growing field, and more and more homes each year are taking advantage of the fantastic energy savings and environmental benefits of installing solar panels. However, at Imagine Energy, we understand that many customers feel initially hesitant about making the move to solar. It is a major investment compared to more familiar energy systems for heating and cooling a home, such as using electricity from a power plant or natural gas from a municipal line.
Spring is the best season to have a new air conditioning system installed. If your old AC seems like it’s approaching the end of its service life, get ahead of the warm weather and contact professionals to consult with you about putting in a new air conditioning system. HVAC experts will help you sort through your options: you have many more choices for a new air conditioner than you would have had only a decade ago.
Imagine Energy offers a wide range of air conditioning choices, and our team will assist you with finding an option for a central AC that will not only serve the needs of your family’s comfort, but also fit with your budget plans and help you conserve energy each year. Below are some of three of the cooling options we offer in Portland, OR and the surrounding areas:
- Standard split-system AC: This is most common type of air conditioning system, and is likely the one you have serving your home now. This works through an outdoor unit and an indoor unit that connects to central ductwork. If you wish to stay with this type of AC for your home, our technicians will see that you have an efficient unit installed so that it will do a better job than your old one did, even when it was new.
- Ductless mini split air conditioning: Ductless systems are just what they sound like: air conditioners that do not require a network of ducts to distribute air. Instead of a single indoor unit hooked to ducts, they use a series of small air handlers placed throughout the house to send air directly into the rooms. Ductless cooling systems have high energy efficiency and will help increase indoor air quality. They are also excellent choices if you are considering remodeling parts of your house or adding on a new room.
- Solar air conditioning: You may think that in Oregon, with its frequently overcast days, a solar air conditioner is an impossibility. Nothing could be farther than the truth! Solar ACs offer tremendous benefits even in cloudy climates. Our solar professionals are glad to talk to you about how a solar air conditioning installation can work for your home.
There are even more choices than this (such as a heat pump, which takes care of heating and cooling), so give us a call at Imagine Energy and we will help you enjoy this summer, and many summers to come, with an effective and money-saving new air conditioning installation.
Have you ever been in a house on a hot day that, despite running the air conditioning on full blast and having all the windows closed, never seemed to actually stay comfortably cool? If you’ve had that sort of experience, or something similar, poor insulation was probably at least partially to blame. Insulation is what makes it possible to maintain a comfortable climate indoors, regardless of the weather outside. If you aren’t sure about the state of your own insulation, you should keep reading. The following are just a few of the many reasons why you should keep your insulation in good condition.
What is Insulation?
Insulation is a term that encompasses any material that is used to hinder the transmission of heat between a building and the outside environment. Normally, it is a type of batting that is installed in the walls of the home. In areas like the attic, lose particles are used instead to achieve the same effect.
Heat will always move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In the example above, the heat from outside, where it was already quite hot, moved inside in order to establish equilibrium. Insulation is designed to hinder the exchange of heat between your home and the surrounding area. Thus, a well-insulated home will be much easier to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A poorly insulated home, on the other hand, will have temperatures much closer to whatever the climate is outside. This is why it’s so important to keep your home insulation in good condition.
Just because you had good insulation installed when your home was first built, that doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. Insulation is vulnerable to a number of different factors that can decrease its effectiveness. Animals like to use insulation for nests and the like. If a bird or small mammal finds its way into your walls it can remove or destroy a large amount of insulation. Moisture is another cause of insulation failure, resulting in mildew and rot. The problem with all of these is that insulation is hidden in the walls of your home. You can’t just have a look at your insulation and tell when it’s having problems. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have your insulation inspected at least once every one or two years.
If you haven’t had your insulation inspected before, call Imagine Energy. We provide comprehensive insulation services throughout Beaverton.
By now, most homeowners are well aware of the touted benefits of installing solar panels. Some have even investigated the claims more thoroughly, in order to form an accurate cost-benefit analysis. However, many homeowners are still unaware of how much solar panels actually save on home operating costs. It’s impossible to make an informed decision about solar power if you don’t have information on how much it can actually benefit you. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some numbers on using solar energy for your home.
Cost of Installation
The first thing that you must consider with any solar panel system, and the thing that causes most homeowners to avoid solar power, is the cost of installation. There is a perception among the populace that solar panels are expensive to install, as well as being only marginally effective. This is actually untrue on both counts. In fact, the cost of solar panel installation has fallen steadily over the last few years. It is now much cheaper to install a solar panel system than it was when the technology first started to see use in American homes. So, if perceived cost of installation is what is holding you back, we urge you to call us and see what the real numbers are.
The amount of energy savings you garner from a solar panel system is directly proportionate to the size of that system. You don’t have to get the largest system available to start seeing benefits. It all depends on how much of your home’s daily energy usage you want covered by the system. If you get a system large enough to cover 100% of your home’s energy costs, the money you save from paying your energy bill could be said to be going to covering the cost of the system. After that system is paid off by those savings, usually in 3-5 years, all money saved after that would be going directly into your pocket. Since most homes spend an average of $170 on their monthly energy bills, over 20 years you could save thousands upon thousands of dollars with a solar energy system.
If you’d like to know more about the statistics of solar energy, call Imagine Energy. We provide quality solar panel installation in the Portland area.
There has been a lot of discussion over the years about the various pros and cons of solar technology. It has been debated in the media, on the internet, and even in the halls of congress. What much of those debates leave out, however, are the individual benefits of solar energy. They are largely concerned with how solar energy will fit into society as a whole, not what it can do for you as a person. Well, we feel it’s about time we had that conversation. Read on to find out more about how installing solar panels can affect you, personally.
What Is Home Solar Technology?
Solar tech is obviously a very large and complicated field. We don’t have time to cover every single application for solar energy, so instead we’re going to focus specifically on how it can be used to power your home appliances. Things like heaters, water heaters, air conditioners, lights, and electrical grids can all be powered by solar energy. The specifics change slightly with each appliance, but all of them rely on the use of solar panels to collect energy from the sun. This energy can then be converted to electricity to power the device or, as is often the case with water heaters, even used directly without being converted.
What are the Benefits?
The number one benefit is that of cost savings. Solar energy is a free and endlessly renewable resource. You don’t have to pay anyone for sunlight, so any time you use that sunlight to power your home appliances you’re saving yourself money. Environmental concerns are also often cited as reasons to install solar panels. Most home appliances rely on electricity or natural gas, the latter of which is a fossil fuel and the former of which is often produced by burning fossil fuels. Neither of these are good for the environment, but solar energy provides a way to power your home without burning fossil fuels.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits of solar technology, call Imagine Energy. We provide services for solar panels in the Portland area.
Your ducts serve the same purpose in your home that your lungs do in your body. They are responsible for directing and distributing air throughout the house, keeping it properly conditioned and comfortable. This makes them a pretty important part of your heating and air conditioning systems. Despite this importance, however, they are often neglected by homeowners whom are unaware of their need for maintenance. Ducts are just as much in need of regular maintenance and repair as any other part of your heating and air conditioning systems. Let’s examine one specific service that your ducts should be receiving at least once every couple of years: duct sealing.
What is Duct Sealing?
Duct sealing is the process of finding and closing any leaks that are present in your home’s ducts. Now, you may be curious about how big of a deal a few leaks in your ducts are. Well, according to the US Department of Energy the average home heating system loses up to 30% of its output to duct leaks every time it’s used. That is roughly a third of your system’s total output that you are still paying for, but is going to waste before it ever reaches you. Duct leaks are a big deal.
There are many different causes of duct leaks, from poor installation, to animal activity, to normal wear and tear associated with expansion and contraction from temperature changes. There is, unfortunately, very little you can actually do to prevent leaks from occurring in your ducts. The best you can do is regularly have your ducts inspected and sealed by an HVAC professional.
Frequency of Duct Sealing
So, how often should you have your ducts sealed? The general rule is once every two years. After the first one, which is bound to have the most leaks to seal, the subsequent duct inspections should reveal fewer leaks. The worst thing you could do is just ignore the ducts altogether. If you aren’t sure when the last time you had your ducts inspected was, call Imagine Energy. We provide duct sealing and other indoor air quality services in the Portland area.
In any forced air heating system, you’re going to find an air filter. The air filter is installed in the air return duct for the system, and is designed to protect it from any dust or debris that might damage it while simultaneously allowing air to flow through unimpeded. Though it does this job well, the air filter has one major problem: it has no way to get rid of the particles it captures. As such, if the air filter isn’t cleaned or replaced every few months, it becomes clogged and starts causing problems. Let’s take a look at how ignoring a dirty air filter can lead to heating repair.
Restricted Air Flow
An air filter that becomes clogged with dust and other particles can restrict or even completely block the flow of air through the system. This has two effects. First, it deprives the heater of its supply of air to heat. This prevents the heater from actually distributing heat to the home. Second, it causes the internal temperature of the heater to rise to dangerous levels. Normally, the heater relies on the steady flow of cooler air to keep its temperature in check. Without that cool air, the system will overheat.
There are safety measures in place to prevent the system from damaging itself from overheating. The limit switch is a device that monitors the temperature inside the heater. When the internal temperature rises above the safety limit, the limit switch activates and shuts down the system to prevent damage from overheating. Unfortunately, this does not address the cause of the overheating.
If the source of the overheating isn’t taken care of, another problem occurs. Once the system has cooled off after being shut down by the limit switch, it restarts in response to the thermostat and overheats again. This causes the limit switch to shut down the system again, and the entire cycle repeats endlessly. This is called “short cycling”
Short cycling puts the system under an incredible amount of stress, far more than it was designed to handle. The combination of the increased heat and the strain of the start/stop cycle causes parts to wear out much faster, like the heat exchanger. Eventually, the system will breakdown and require extensive heating repair.
Insulation is something that a lot of homeowners recognize as necessary for keeping their home comfortable. However, far fewer people make the connection between good insulation and saving money. Taking proper care of your insulation is a big contributor to keeping your heating and cooling costs down. Let’s take a look at why maintaining good insulation is so important.
What is Insulation?
Insulation is any sort of material designed to inhibit the transfer of heat from one space to another. In the case of a home, insulation is usually a thick batting material, almost like a blanket. There are also loose insulation particles, which are normally sprayed in places that normal insulation would be difficult to install. The corners of attics are common places for loose insulation.
The purpose of insulation is essentially to isolate your home from the surrounding environment. Heat will always want to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In a home with no insulation, that means that heat will escape from the home in winter and infiltrate the home in summer. That’s often quite the opposite of what the homeowner wants, as overheating during the summer and freezing in the winter is hardly comfortable. This is why insulation is used in homes.
Good insulation acts as a barrier between the heat and the area that it wants to escape to. So, a heated home will stay warm in the winter, while an air conditioned home will stay cool in the summer. How does that actually save money? Read on.
How Insulation Actually Saves Money
Heating and air conditioning systems operate on the instructions of the thermostat, which monitors the temperature in a central area of the house. When the temperature gets too high or too low, the thermostat activates the appropriate system to adjust the environment in the house. Without proper insulation, the system will have to spend far more time compensating for the rapid change in temperature. As soon as the heater or air conditioner is done adjusting the temperature, it will quickly go back to whatever it was before. The longer the system has to be on, the more energy it’s consuming and the more it’s going to cost to operate. Proper insulation, on the other hand, causes the effects of the system to last much longer. This means that it doesn’t have to turn on as much and the operating costs will be lower.
Not too long ago, homeowners had one of two choices for heating systems: a furnace or a boiler. These days, thanks to advancements in the industry and in product development, there are a number of choices available for home heating. So what’s the best option for you? Your first step for any new heating installation in Portland should be to work with an expert from start to finish; your second step should be to understand what your choices are and how each works, so you can get a good idea of what systems will work best with your home. Here are some of the choices available from Imagine Energy:
Furnaces are the heating systems in about 60% of homes across the US. There are two main types of furnaces, gas and electric (although furnaces can also be powered by propane and oil), and both types require ductwork to deliver the warm air. Furnaces can be very energy efficient, with some high-efficiency models having ratings up to 98%, and gas is clean-burning and convenient for those with access to a gas line.
Boilers are part of a hydronic system, which means they heat your home with hot water or steam from the hot water. Boiler systems can be used with radiant heating, radiators and baseboard outlets, and they can be fueled with gas, oil and solid fuel such as wood pellets. Boilers can have efficiency ratings over 90% and can be good systems for allergy sufferers.
Heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, and work by transferring heat from one location to another. As such, they do not use any fossil fuels for power – just a small amount of electricity. Heat pumps are highly energy efficient and can be used with ductless or ducted systems.
Radiant heating works by heating surfaces and allowing the heated surface to radiate the heat outward. There are two types of radiant heating, hydronic and electric, which can be installed into your floors, your ceilings or your walls. A hydronic radiant system will require a boiler.
Geothermal systems harness the latent solar heat from the ground or from water below the frost line to heat your home. Using a loop that is filled with a heat-absorbing fluid, typically an environmentally-friendly anti-freeze, the heat is transferred to a heat pump and then dispersed into your home. To cool your home, the opposite happens. Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient systems available and have a very long lifespan of up to 50 years.
Solar heating can be broken down into two types: use of photovoltaic panels (PV) that help to significantly reduce the cost of the electrical power that is used to heat your home, or the use of heat-absorbing fluid that is circulated into your home and used for radiant heating. Solar heating is very energy efficient and uses a renewable and sustainable source in the form of sunlight.
As you can see, there are a number of choices available for a new heating installation for your home. Call the experts at Imagine Energy today and schedule an appointment.