All posts tagged heating

How’s the Heat with the Hot Water?

How’s the Heat with the Hot Water?

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Let us now say a prayer for forced air heating systems. They were good for awhile and kept many Westchester homes warm through the years, but let’s now leave these noisy relics in the dust and embrace the wonders of hot water heating systems. To say nothing about the ease of control, hot water heating offers a more evenly held heat and a more palpable heat, seeing as it is based on moisture rather than dry air. Hot water heating makes any home more comforting and welcoming during winter.

The furnaces used in hot water heating can be powered by gas, oil, coal, wood, or electric coil. Typically gravity fed or pumped, the heated water in the boiler travels up to the radiators, and as they disperse the heat, the cooler water travels down to the boiler to be reheated. More expensive systems even have hot water tubing under the floorboards, which provides uniform heat.

The radiators, however, are the key component and there are three basic types. First, there’re cast iron radiators, which are actually still very efficient despite their basicness. Radiators fitted with metal covering are similar but often include tubing covered with fins that provide additional convection heat. These fins increase the surface area of the heated parts, and boost energy efficiency. Lastly, there are baseboard heaters, which are more prominent in modern homes and actually provide the most efficient heating on the market. Along with the fins, the placement ensures whole room is heated from the bottom up, which is far more economical.

The issue is that hot water heating systems eventually get air in them and most don’t offer vents. As such, Westchester homeowners must “bleed” their hot water heating systems occasionally to ensure efficient use of heat. System valves are easily opened with a key wrench and all you have to do is put a cup, can or bucket under the valve, and open it up. Eventually, water will start running out of the valve, hence the bucket. In multi-story buildings or houses, it’s best to start on the top floor and make your way down, continuing until all floors have been taken care of.

There’s really only one more thing you have to do, and that is to drain out all the water in the system yearly. Begin by turning off the water supply valve, allowing the water cool completely down before moving ahead. Next, find the release valve on the boiler and attach a hose to it. Run the hose outside and completely drain the system, unless you can’t run a hose outside, in which case use drain the system via filling and emptying buckets. This process gets rid of the built-up minerals and rust in the system. Afterwards, open a bleeder valve on the highest radiator and refill the system. This way, your Westchester home will remain cozy and you won’t be nervous about the energy you’re using unduly jacking your energy bill up.


Warming Up to HVAC

Warming Up to HVAC

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and there isn’t a residential or commercial building in the nation that doesn’t have some version of HVAC. Without it, all Westchester homeowners would be at the whims of Mother Nature all year. At the end of the day, however, the comforts of heating and air conditioning are lesser to the hygienic needs of air circulation HVAC provides. Trust me, if any part of your HVAC system falters, it’s not hard to notice.

Like your Westchester neighbors, you should always get to know your HVAC systems. Homeowners know where the thermostat is and can see the vents, but, for most, that’s where their knowledge of HVAC ends. Following the vents will lead you to your heating and cooling systems and knowing how they should be operating will help you prevent malfunctions and identify them. And like most things, some light reading is needed. Central heating/AC systems come with a guidebook and, yeah, I’d rather be reading Elmore Leonard too, but reading it will help you figure out where to find vent entry points and other useful information. In fact, any manufacturer will surely have it available to download via their website. If your unit is outside, you should clear it of any debris as regularly as once a week.

Back inside! In many cases, vent filters need regular upkeep; once a month is totally respectable. Pop open the vent at the entry point and check to see that the filter isn’t caked with dust. You should also replace your filters twice a year, once in summer and once in winter. Any home improvement store worth its salt will have filters in stock.

Vent areas where moisture is prevalent can also lead to mold. Scrubbing off the mold with a solution made with equal parts bleach and water will solve that issue and evaporator coils wipe down at 10-15 times a year. After rain or snow, be sure to check for any standing water and tend to it immediately. It’s also important to keep an eye on the fans, as they tend to accumulate dust and grime. Fans should be wiped down bi-weekly, or monthly at the very least. If at all possible, it should become as normal as mowing the lawn.

These are easy ways to avoid problems, but there are some things that just require training and that professional touch. Every two years or so, get a certified HVAC technician to give your entire system the once over and they will give it the real buff and shine, to ensure circulation efficiency in your Westchester home. In these bitter days of winter, heating is crucial and a little cleaning beats icicles on the ceiling.


Keeping the Cold Out

Keeping the Cold Out

So, you already cleaned the gutters and got the backyard ready for the impending coolness and frost. Your focus has switched from keeping the cold in to keeping it out, and you now want a warm home to host holiday parties and take comfort in the middle of snowstorms. And as in summer, there are a few things you can do to make this transition easier on yourself, your family and your bills.

You know how it’s harder to get hot water in the winter? There are a plethora of possible reasons but exposed pipes in colder parts of the home are often the true culprit. Wrap insulation around your exposed hot water pipes to give this a quick fix. Bonus: This small investment will show off many dividends when your energy bills start lessening. There are also special blankets that can be purchased to insulate your hot water tank from the cold air.

Many people think roofing and exterior siding work is the most expensive home improvement costs, but actually, it’s the replacement and repair of your HVAC system. So, it’s important not only to check it but do minor upgrades, such as switching out air filters and calling an HVAC professional to do a check-up once a year. And even if you do have to replace the system, many gas and electrical companies offer discounts to homeowners who switch over to a more eco-friendly system. You can also have a humidifier installed in your HVAC system to ensure the air in your home isn’t too dry.

For those with a bit extra money going into fall, installation of a programmable thermostat helps energy bills plummet and allows you to keep your home comfortable while you’re there and use minimal energy when you’re not. An energy audit is also a way to help you find the ways in which you are losing energy and heat. Specialists who perform energy audits can locate leaky air drafts in a myriad of spaces you might not. Most drafts can be sealed up with caulk, weather-stripping, duct tape, foam gaskets, or spray sealant. No matter what you choose to do, however, doing even just a little will help you combat the cold seasons and keep your bills down, saving money to help with Xmas shopping.