Radiant heating options available to homeowners today offer positive alternatives to conventional forced-air heating. Instead of blowing hot air through ductwork into living spaces, radiant systems gently suffuse rooms with radiant heat produced by hydronic (hot water) circulation or electrical resistance pads. Because heat loss from forced-air ductwork is high, direct heat produced by radiant systems in individual rooms tends to be more energy-efficient. Also, hot air blown into rooms from a forced-air furnace quickly rises to the ceiling and cools, providing little comfort to occupants. For consistent warmth lower in the room, without heat loss at the ceiling, homeowners have three radiant heating options:
A hydronic system embedded in the concrete slab or attached to the sub-flooring of the house consists of a grid of tubing that conveys water from a boiler. Hot water between 100 and 120 degrees circulates through the tubing, turning the entire floor into a heat radiator that warms the whole room from the floor up by gentle convection. Because no hot air is circulated, airborne dust and allergens are reduced and the on/off sounds of rushing air are also eliminated.
Electric Radiant Floor
Where installation of hydronic tubing in an existing home isn’t practical, an electric radiant system can be attached to the underside of the wooden sub-floor instead. Like large heating pads, this system uses heat generated by electrical resistance to warm the sub-floor. Ceramic tile or other flooring material efficiently radiate heat upwards into the room. Electric radiant floor heating is generally more easily adaptable for retrofitting existing houses.
Installed on the lower four feet of walls, radiant panels allow you to add radiant heat to a room at a lower cost and less intrusive installation. Most integrate a grid of tubing to circulate hot water from a boiler and radiate enveloping heat into a room. Low-profile radiant panels can be less than one-inch thick and are installed with minimal labor and materials.
Ask the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more information on radiant heating options for your home.
Starting up a boiler after summer is over involves critical maintenance checks to ensure reliability, energy-efficiency and safe operation all winter long. Because home boilers utilize flammable natural gas, high-temperature burners, and may produce dangerous combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide gas, the recommended annual maintenance at startup is not a do-it-yourself procedure. Scheduling seasonal boiler startup with your HVAC contractor allows a qualified heating technician to inspect the entire system and perform basic boiler preventive maintenance. Then, he will start the system, make vital safety checks and verify proper operation.
Here are some of the items on the professional’s checklist for starting up a boiler after summer:
- Perform a visual evaluation of the tank, cold water supply line, hot water outlet line, and all connections for signs of deterioration or water leaks.
- Examine the gas supply line and connections for any evidence of leaks or damage.
- Drain the boiler tank to remove mineral sediment and refill.
- Check the condition of the boiler vent pipe and ensure that it is intact and unobstructed all the way to the exterior of the house.
- Remove the main gas burners, clean and re-install. Also clean the boiler pilot light assembly or verify proper operation of the electronic igniter.
- Lubricate the circulation pump motor.
- Start the system and observe the burner flame for proper color and height.
- Once the system is at operating temperature, verify that water temperature and system pressure conform to manufacturer’s specs.
- Check the pressure charge in the expansion tank. Drain excess water if required and/or recharge with air if necessary.
- Inspect pressure relief valves for leakage and test for proper operation.
- Bleed air from all radiators in the house at individual bleed screws.
For more information and to schedule professional service for starting up a boiler after summer, in greater Cincinnati, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
As summer heats up, you might notice a temperature variance between the lower and upper floors of your home. Instead of resigning yourself to this, you can take simple steps to make the whole home more comfortable.
Here are tips on keeping all floors cool in the summer and saving energy:
Block Heat Gain from Windows
Windows are a significant source of solar heat gain. Window treatments reduce this by over half, keeping your home cooler. On the interior, use window blinds, solar curtains, insulated cellular shades or a combination of these to keep the heat out. On the outside, install awnings, sunscreens, window film or shutters.
Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans create a breeze, and this makes you feel cooler because air flowing over your skin evaporates sweat. With ceiling fans running, you can resist lowering the thermostat setting and spare an air conditioner from running so much. You will feel cooler and save energy at the same time.
Make sure to choose the right size of fan for each room and have it professionally installed. Our technicians can perform your ceiling fan installation in the greater Cincinnati area.
Turn off Heat-Producing Electronics and Lights
Television sets and computers may not seem to produce much heat, but every bit counts, especially in enclosed areas. Keep them turned off and unplugged unless you are using them.
Light bulbs also produce heat. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are some of the worst offenders, so keep these turned off as much as possible and, as soon as you can, buy compact fluorescent bulbs.
Insulate and Vent the Attic
When the attic temperature rises, this heat radiates into the home through the ceiling and walls. You will feel the effects of this the most in the upper levels of your home. Have your attic checked to make sure the insulation and ventilation are adequate. If attic heat continues to be a problem, consider having an attic fan installed to vent the heat outdoors.
For help keeping all floors cool in the summer, please contact us at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Comparing gas vs. oil furnaces to determine the best replacement for your current heating system often rests on the fuel availability and a personal preference for heating. Because it’s so widely available, the majority of heating systems in the U.S. use natural gas.
- Fuel availability – If you have gas to your property already, choosing a gas furnace may be the better option, since it’ll save the expenses associated with having an oil storage tank on your property. Unlike fuel oil, gas is delivered in underground pipes on demand.
- Cost of fuel – Most natural gas supplies originate in the U.S. or Canada, while most of the fuel oil is imported. The price of natural gas is usually relatively stable compared to imported oil, whose price is influenced by the impact of worldwide supply and demand.
- Thermal preferences – Often the decision between a gas vs. oil furnace is made on the basis of comfort. Fuel oil burns hotter than gas and will warm your home faster than natural gas.
- Price and efficiency – Oil furnaces are typically less expensive than gas furnaces and usually last longer. The price of both is influenced by their annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), a rating that describes how efficiently the system uses fuel. Higher AFUE ratings for either will cut the cost of heating your home.A system that has an AFUE of 83 converts 83 percent of the fuel it uses for direct heating, while wasting 17 percent, most of which goes up the chimney as heated water vapor. An 80 AFUE system wastes 20 percent of the fuel it uses.
- Maintenance – A gas furnace burns fairly clean and may only need annual professional maintenance. However, an oil furnace requires much more attention and most oil providers build maintenance into the cost of fuel, changing the oil filters and removing soot whenever they refill the oil tank.
For professional help comparing gas vs. oil furnaces, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We provide top-notch HVAC services to greater Cincinnati homeowners.
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