Apollo Heating Cooling and Plumbing Category

Will Closing Air Vents Save on Heating Costs?

When you have unoccupied or under-used rooms in your house, closing air vents in those rooms is an energy-saving strategy that seems to make sense. This conclusion is usually based on three false assumptions:

  • closing air ventsLess heat going into rooms means furnace energy consumption is reduced.
  • Heat obstructed by closed vents in an unoccupied room is simply redistributed to occupied rooms.
  • It is only hot air, so there is no harm to equipment in shutting off the air flow.

Here are the facts countering those assumptions. Closing air vents is not recommended by HVAC experts. It does not save energy and can actually upset the supply and return airflow balance throughout the rest of the house. Closing air vents in some rooms could even damage critical furnace components. Consider the assumptions one at a time:

  • A furnace has no way to know that vents in any room are open or closed. Your furnace just keeps on faithfully producing the same British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heat output—and consuming the same amount of energy—as it was designed to do. Net result: no energy savings.
  • When air vents are closed, heat is not necessarily redistributed to the nearest room where vents are open. Sometimes, it is distributed into your attic, crawl space or within your interior walls. Residential ductwork is notoriously leaky and typically spills at least 20 percent of the heat it is supposed to deliver. Closing supply vents increases air pressure inside the ducts, forcing an even greater volume of heated air out through leaks into unconditioned zones of the house. To compensate for lost heating, the furnace runs longer cycles, increasing heating costs.
  • Vital furnace components require a minimum return airflow volume to maintain safe internal temperature. Closing supply air vents in rooms reduces return airflow, potentially overheating the heat exchanger—the most expensive component in the system—and causing cracks to develop. A defective heat exchanger can even pose a safety hazard due to carbon monoxide (CO) infiltration.

For more effective ways to save on heating costs than closing air vents, contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Upgrading Your Bathroom? The Latest in Toilet Technology

When planning your bathroom remodel, don’t forget the toilet. These vital fixtures are solid, long-lasting and generally require only minor repairs, such as replacing the flapper or fill valve. Existing toilets tend to become a permanently installed part of a house for decades.

planning your bathroom remodelUnfortunately, the excessive water usage typical of older toilets and the high water bills that come along with it also become a permanent fixture. Planning your bathroom remodel is a perfect time to think about replacing that old toilet with a newer model that is designed for efficiency and economy.

Toilet-flushing is the single most water-intensive activity in most homes, and accounts for over 30 percent of total household water consumption. Toilets made before the 1980s may use up to seven gallons of water per flush (GPF.) Many of these are still on the job and still wasting water. Later models from the 1990s cut GPF in half. Today, there are even more ways to conserve more water without sacrificing toilet performance.

Ultra Low-Flush (ULF) Toilets

These models comply with the current Federal maximum standard of 1.6 GPF. Ultra low-flush models began to be installed in new residential construction in 1994. If your home was built before then, you may have a pre-ULF toilet and could benefit substantially simply by upgrading to today’s standard.

High Efficiency Toilets (HET)

Using only 1.28 GPF, these toilets outperform the ULF models and all those that came before. HET savings add up with every flush. In a year, an average family can save as much as 13,000 gallons of water with an HET versus a ULF model. Today, there are more than a thousand high efficiency toilet models on the market, allowing you a variety to choose from when planning your bathroom remodel.

Dual Flush Models

Dual flush toilets feature a user-selectable flush volume control at the touch of a button. For liquid waste, the unit consumes only .8 gallons. Full flush volume is the standard maximum of 1.6 GPF.

For professional advice, sales and installation when planning your bathroom remodel, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Preventing Frozen Pipes: Plumbing Winterization Tips

It seems like only yesterday we were writing about spring HVAC maintenance, but it’s now time for a few plumbing winterization tips. Here in Cincinnati, the low temperatures average below freezing for at least three months of the year.

plumbing winterization tipsOf course, a severe cold snap can happen at any time between fall and spring. Damage caused by winter temperatures can range from a frozen garden hose to a major supply line rupture that inundates your home with hundreds of gallons of water.

Since no one can predict when the winter’s first cold front will roll in, please take time to review plumbing winterization tips.

Before Freezing Weather Strikes

  • Know the location of your main water shutoff valve. Test it to make sure it operates easily. If it’s excessively hard to turn, consult a plumber.
  • Wherever you can access water supply lines (including hot water lines) in or under the house, insulate these pipes with slip-on sleeves of foam plumbing insulation.
  • Disconnect all garden hoses, drain the hoses and store for the winter. Shut off, drain and freeze-proof outdoor faucets. Install insulation kits on any standard faucets.
  • Look for any outside openings where cold, outdoor air can enter a crawl space or exterior wall and contact plumbing pipes. Cover these openings with wood or foam board.
  • If you have an underground sprinkler system, drain the system per manufacturer’s instructions.

During Freezing Temperatures

  • If temperatures drop below 28 degrees, keep the thermostat above 55 degrees, 24 hours a day. Make sure heating vents are open in all rooms. Also, open closet doors and cabinets to allow warm air circulation.
  • Locate faucets in the house furthest from the main water line and open each faucet to allow a continuous trickle of water during frigid overnight temperatures.
  • If you suspect a frozen pipe – very low or no water pressure is a red flag – turn off the main water shutoff valve and call a plumber. Don’t wait for the pipe to thaw to verify that it has ruptured.

For more plumbing winterization tips or other professional service, please contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Make Sure Your Home is Prepped to Save Energy this Summer

With another hot, humid season on the way, now’s the perfect time to make some energy efficiency preparations around the home to increase comfort and reduce energy consumption. These summer energy saving tips can help you get started.?

cool home

Source: Freedigitalphotos

Book an energy audit – A professional energy audit can provide an in-depth look at your home’s efficiency to help you determine where to make strategic improvements. You may learn that you need to augment attic insulation, or seal the home’s envelope to stop conditioned air losses.?

Get the ductwork sealed – Having a pro seal the joins and insulate ducting in unconditioned areas like the attic or basement can help prevent the loss of up to 30 percent of the A/C’s output.?

Have a programmable thermostat installed – Choose one that matches your HVAC equipment and weekly schedule, and program it around your daily routine. By setting 10- to 15-degree temperature setbacks for eight hours or more a day, you can save energy without any loss of comfort.?

Reduce heat gain through the windows – Add energy efficient curtains, shades or blinds and close them during the day to limit heat gain and reduce the air conditioner’s cooling load.?

Turn on your ceiling fans – Make sure the blades are set to spin counter-clockwise and you’ll feel a cooling wind chill effect. This boost in comfort can let you program in thermostat temperature setting increases of about four degrees to save on energy consumption.?

Don’t add to the cooling system’s workload – Cook in the microwave or outdoors on the grill instead of using the oven. Hang dry laundry to take advantage of free solar heat instead of using the clothes dryer, and let clean dishes air dry instead of hitting the “heated dry” cycle on the dishwasher.?

Help your A/C work efficiently – Schedule professional air conditioner maintenance before the weather heats up to ensure your cooling system is operating efficiently. To maintain maximum efficiency throughout the summer, check the air filter monthly and replace it as needed.

To learn more summer energy saving tips, contact the Cincinnati home comfort experts at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Is Your Water Heater Affected by 2015 Government Regulation Changes?

Have you heard about the new water heater regulations that recently went into effect April 16, 2015? These new water heater efficiency factor (EF) standards could impact your home and purchase costs when it’s time to upgrading or replacing the water heater.

water heater

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what you may expect to encounter with these new regulations:

New Water Heater Regulations

The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA), which was approved by the U.S. Congress, calls for a 3 to 30 percent increase in water heater EF for virtually all residential storage water heaters manufactured after April 16, 2015. The new water heater regulations will be administered by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) administers, which also oversees the Energy Star program.

If you are currently in the market, or soon will be, for a water heater replacement or new installation, the NAECA could affect you in one or more of the following ways:

  • To meet higher EF ratings, new water heaters may cost up to 35 percent more than standard models. Condensing and heat pump technologies may be necessary to meet the higher EF, which is part of the reason for higher costs.
  • PVC venting is mandatory for water heaters with 55-gallon capacity or greater. This means venting modifications for the vast majority of homes and condos.
  • Water heaters meeting new regulations are slightly larger than age-old standard storage water heaters. This too could mean many households will need to modify home structure to accommodate the larger systems.

Know Your Options

The current inventory of water heaters with older standards manufactured before April 16, 2015 may still be available for purchase and installation. So, if you’re not very enthusiastic about paying one-third higher costs for your next water heater, it may be in your best interest to replace your system sooner rather than later.

Another option is to go tankless. Many tankless water heaters already meet the new water heater regulations. Ask your plumbing professional for a cost analysis and best advice.

If you would like more information about new water heater regulations, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve served residents of Greater Cincinnati for more than 100 years.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Broken Appliance? 3 Questions to Answer to Make That Decision

The dreaded moment when an appliance stops working can leave your head swimming with questions. Foremost is probably “What’s wrong?,” but this is followed quickly by the question of whether to repair or replace an appliance. These questions will help you decide.

Guard Your Home’s Electrical System From Damage With Surge Protection

Does your home contain delicate electronics and sophisticated appliances? Those electronics are vulnerable to electrical surges. In 2008 alone, there were over $1 billion in insurance claims for these electrical surges. You can prevent this kind of damage to your home with surge protection.

How Does Ceiling Fan Direction Impact Your Indoor Comfort?

Many homeowners use ceiling fans as an alternative to running the air conditioner at certain times of year. What you may not realize is that simply switching ceiling fan direction can have a positive impact on indoor comfort all year long.

Consider an Electrical Wiring Upgrade If You Notice These Warning Signs

An electrical wiring upgrade may not be at the top of your list for appealing home improvements, but doing so could save your life and your home. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, faulty wiring causes more residential fires than any other reason. Older homes weren’t constructed to accommodate the power demands we now make, and as a result, you could be overloading the wiring, or the wiring may be unsafe due to aging.

How to Determine If It’s Time for HVAC System Repair or Replacement

An HVAC system repair or replacement decision isn’t always an easy one to make. You may want to squeeze a few more years out of your current system, but you understand the financial risks. So, if you’re in a repair or replace dilemma with a cooling or heating system, you’re on the right page to get answers to questions.