One way we can help our environment (and our wallets) is by installing in our homes a high efficiency furnace. We would all like to spend less on our monthly utility bills (especially in Canada where we spend two thirds of our household energy on heating) and if possible reduce the pollution to our environment while at the same time keeping our homes and businesses warm and comfortable during those cold winter months. If your furnace is on its last legs or even if it is working fine but it is an older less efficient model, you should consider replacing it with a high efficiency furnace with condensing technology which extract heat from the water vapour contained in combustion gases that low efficiency furnaces just send up your chimney. Natural Resources Canada estimates that condensing gas furnaces can capture and utilize up to 11% of a furnace’s total heat energy from the water vapour that would have been lost. What’s more, you have to ensure that your furnace is equipped with a high-efficiency motor. Natural Resources Canada also reports that a high-efficiency motor can help us cut our annual electricity consumption by more than 70% compared to a standard model that does not use a brushless DC furnace motor to constantly circulate the warm air.
When you decide to purchase a high efficiency furnace you should look or the ENERGY STAR symbol (we often see this symbol on literally anything which uses energy). This is a government-backed certification (endorsed by both Natural Resources Canada and the EPA in the USA) which aims to help consumers identify products and practices that reduce greenhouse emissions and other pollutants which result from poor use of energy. Of course, by purchasing these products we also reduce our utility bills, often significantly, without sacrificing performance, features and comfort. That little bit extra we pay for these products is usually recouped within a reasonable amount of time, so buying them is definitely worth it. In order for a furnace to qualify for an ENERGY STAR, it must have at least 95% AFUE, meaning that at least 95 cents out of every dollar you spend to heat your home actually goes to heating and not to the operation of your furnace. It also means that the furnace has a fan efficiency of 2% or less which means that the electrical consumption while your furnace is operational is less than 2% of the total energy needed to heat your home.
Most of you may now be wondering about the “Bottom Line”! Well, the truth is that prices for these furnaces vary depending on the manufacturer, where you live – since local competition can affect prices, the size of your home is also a factor and how easily it can be installed. It is quite important thought that you have the correct size furnace and that it is installed properly by an experienced and reputable company with certified and licensed technicians like the ones you will find at Lew Plumbing and Heating Ltd. If you are considering replacing your furnace, call us today to discuss your options and to receive a quote.
Our customers ask us if there are certain things they could do themselves in order to keep their air conditioners working properly and avoid costly utility bills and repairs. If you have the time to do-it-yourself you will save money and your air conditioning unit will last a great deal longer. When your air conditioner is clean the refrigerant pressure and temperatures are much lower than a unit that is full of dust, as a result less energy is needed to pump the refrigerant which means less money for the utility company. What’s more, if your unit is working properly it will be able to remove the humidity efficiently from the interior space of your home, consequently you and your family will be feeling more comfortable and able to breathe much easier (especially if any family members are asthma suffers).
When normal airflow is blocked, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and weaken the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. According to government statistics, by replacing a dirty filter, it your air conditioner’s energy consumption can be lowered by 5% to 15%. If you have a central air conditioner, your filter should be located in one of three places. It can be in a grille in your wall or ceiling, in a slot on the side, bottom or top of your furnace, or the third possible location could be inside the blower compartment of your furnace or air handler.
Once you’ve removed it, you should determine whether it can be cleaned (please follow manufacturer’s cleaning instructions) or whether it needs to be replaced. During the time of the year when your system is functional, you need to check your filter about once a month. If your unit is constantly working, or you live in an area which experiences dusty conditions, and if you have furry pets inside your home, then you need to pay more frequent attention to your filter.
Another easy do-it-yourself task is to wash the outside of your unit (the evaporator coil) since debris such as dust, dirt, dead insects, leaves and grass can block the fins. Consequently, the airflow to your system is reduced and the coil is insulated, reducing its ability to absorb heat. Try to minimize sources of dirt and debris near the condenser unit – by sources of debris we mean your clothes dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mowers. Keep the area around your unit clean of any debris, and trim foliage back at least 2 – 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) to permit sufficient airflow around the condenser. In order to prevent airflow problems, clean your evaporator coil annually or as much as necessary. Again, this will save you money in the long run and extend the life of your unit.
In order to clean your coil, you must turn off the power to your unit then with a garden hose you can wash away any debris (never use power washers since they can damage the fins of the coil). The best way to get rid of the dirt is to wash top-down by keeping the hose nozzle at a 45 degree angle. If you notice that some of the fins are bent on the evaporator and condenser coils, consequently blocking the airflow through the coil, then you can purchase a simple tool called a “fin comb” that can comb these fins back to their original condition.
Finally, another job anyone can do is to intermittently pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to make sure the channels are unobstructed and the moisture is able to flow out freely. If the drain channels are blocked, your unit’s efficiency to remove the humidity from the interior environment of your home will be reduced greatly and the excess moisture may discolour walls or carpets, create unhealthy air and a “smelly” home.
When your air conditioner needs a little bit more ‘tender love and care’, you should call Lew Plumbing and Heating Ltd. We will dispatch our professional service technician to perform the more complex maintenance procedures and locate and repair any problem with your air conditioning system.
Our technicians check:
Unfortunately, we don’t give much thought to our drains and pipes until we encounter a problem, which is usually a clog that may cause a messy and smelly overflow. Most people believe that clogged drains and pipes are an unavoidable part of life. Of course, clogged kitchen sinks, shower drains and, worst of all, the dreaded toilet always seem to occur at the most inopportune moment. Clogs are usually the result of objects or substances which we either purposely dispose of in our sinks and toilets or which normally enter our drainage system through daily use, such as soap, oil/fat and human or animal hair.
We always advise our customers to do their best to prevent certain things from entering their drains. To begin with, we should never allow food scraps from going down our kitchen drain, unless of course you have a garbage disposal, which can be very convenient, but if it is feasible, you should add food scraps to your compost pile to produce organic fertilizer. Secondly, you should TRY to prevent oil and fat from entering your pipes since they tend to build up on the inside walls of pipes and solidify into a white greasy mass which blocks everything from going down. The best way to prevent oil and fat from going down your drains is to use paper towels to absorb them and throw the oily towels in the trash. Thirdly, use drain screens in your sinks (both kitchen and bathroom) and bath/shower drains to trap hair from travelling down the drains. You see, hair combines with soap residue to form powerful clogs; it acts very much like the straw which was added to mud/clay to create brick for the construction of homes.
Most people believe that they can throw literally anything down the toilet since they figure that the pipe is wide and there won’t be any problem for the object to travel to the main sewage line (you won’t believe what plumbers have removed from these pipes!). You should be aware that anything which contains cloth or cotton fibres will not break down in the sewage system (for example feminine products, diapers, bandages, cotton products etc.). Consequently, don’t dispose of them down your toilet, instead throw them in your trash bin.
Finally, avoid using chemicals drain openers or other cleaning chemicals since they corrode pipes and of course these dangerous substance contaminate our groundwater and harm our environment. Instead of spending your hard earned cash on expensive drain cleaners, you could spend a few dollars to buy some vinegar and baking soda to clean your drains and in the process avoid harming our environment. It’s very simple! Firstly, make certain that there is no standing water and all you have to do is pour half a cup of baking soda down your clogged drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. If you have a drain cover, place it over the drain and wait for at least 20 minutes. The next step is to pour about a litre and a half of boiling water down the drain to clean your pipes. It’s that simple! You should use this recipe periodically to maintain your pipes sparkling clean and avoid inconvenient clogs. If your problem is more serious then all you have to do is call the us to help you deal with it effectively and affordably.