If your home does not contain a carbon monoxide detector, we highly recommend that you install one. Each year and average of 170 people in the U.S. die from carbon monoxide poisoning from non-automotive products.
The biggest culprits are malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances like furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters, portable generators, and fireplaces. Because carbon monoxide (CO) is colorless and odorless, it is almost impossible to detect. Because it can’t be detected by the senses, it’s good to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning so you can get help before it’s too late.
Initial signs of CO poisoning mimic flu symptoms and include:
· Shortness of Breath
High levels of CO poisoning include:
· Mental Confusion
· Loss of Coordination
· Loss of Consciousness
The higher the level of carbon monoxide and the longer the exposure, the greater the danger. Leaks that start and build while everyone is sleeping are the most dangerous. It is highly recommended that you buy a carbon monoxide detector and install it in your home. Many models simply plug into an outlet, so it’s an easy and inexpensive way to protect your family. Another recommendation is to have your furnace checked once a year to make sure there are no leaks. A G-Force tune-up will detect any problems and avert carbon monoxide leaks from your furnace.
You’ve no doubt heard of high-efficiency furnaces, but what makes a high-efficiency furnace better and what can you expect to gain from installing one? First of all, a high-efficiency furnace uses fuel more efficiently. The measurement for efficiency is called an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The Department of Energy calls any unit with an AFUE of 90% or higher, high-efficiency furnaces. AFUEs of 80%-83% are considered mid-efficiency. Most natural gas furnaces in the 1970s and 1980s were about 60 percent efficient—they only converted 60 percent of the energy in the natural gas into usable heat. Today’s models are obviously much more efficient. Here are some of the improvements that make these new furnaces so much more effective:
· One of the main improvements manufacturers have made is in the combustion of fuel (how the air mixes with the fuel). High-efficiency models feature “sealed combustion” which mixes the air with the fuel at a controlled rate in order to maximize the heat from the fuel.
· The higher-efficiency models are “condensing gas furnaces.” Exhaust gases are run through a second heat exchanger to remove and use all available heat that would otherwise be exhausted. These models pull out nearly all of the heat, sending cool exhaust out and leaving behind condensed water that is drained off.
· Gas valves have been improved as well. A two-stage gas valve heats the furnace quickly, but then drops down to a more energy conserving flow.
· Variable speed motors also save on electricity. Instead of the furnace going on and blasting the home with hot air for a short time and then turning off, variable speed motors run the blower for longer periods at lower speeds. Not only does it use less energy, it‘s quieter and your home stays more comfortable.
· Another improvement is the electronic spark ignition. Instead of a pilot light that is constantly on, the electronic spark ignition fires the furnace on demand.
· The top-of-the-line models are the most efficient and can interact with a thermostat and adjust furnace output and blower speed accordingly. Some models are up to 98.2% efficient.
You will see a significant reduction in your energy bills with a high-efficiency furnace. The exact amount will vary depending on the furnace you choose and the efficiency of your home. In general, you can expect to get your investment back in energy savings in 5-10 years. Call Getzschman and we can help you figure out which system makes the most sense for your home.
What exactly is a heat pump and how is it different from an air conditioner? The main difference is that a heat pump can cool a home just like an air conditioner, but it can also function as a furnace to heat the home. Heat pumps and air conditioners function in a very similar way. An air conditioner transfers heat from the home to the AC unit where it is dissipated into the air. What happens is the refrigerant is pumped into a compressor where the molecules are pushed together causing the temperature of the gas to rise (as well as the pressure). When the refrigerant gets pushed into the condenser, it is changed into a liquid and cools significantly. When the cool liquid enters the evaporator inside your home, it uses the heat in your home to convert itself back into a gas. When it leaves to go to the compressor, it takes the heat from the home with it, thus, cooling the home.
A heat pump does basically the same thing to cool your home, but it is also designed to reverse the process and take heat from outside the home and move it inside. So in warm weather you can run your heat pump like an air conditioner and when the weather turns cold, you can change it over to run like a heater. The refrigerant liquid is converted into a gas outside the home and as it completes the conversion, it pulls any heat from the outside and brings it into the home.
So why hasn’t everyone switched to heat pumps? Heat pumps are most efficient around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature drops, the heat pump has to work harder to keep your home warm. By the time the temperature drops to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat pump has to work nonstop. Air-source heat pumps aren’t efficient enough in climates with temperatures below 30 degrees. Heat pumps cannot heat a house sufficiently in those extremely cold temperatures. You will find that heat pumps are more popular and make more sense in milder parts of the country where the winters don’t get so cold. Because heat pumps simply transfer heat, rather than burn fuel to create it, you’ll save money on your energy bills each month. They are also more environmentally friendly than a gas burning furnace. But up north, like here in the Omaha area, the furnace/air conditioner combination makes more sense.