Heat Pumps

Unfortunately summer as officially come to an end.

I’m going to miss going to BBQ’s, seeing the sun stay out until 9:30 PM and the warm weather.

I did so many activities outside when the weather was warm. My sister and I would go kayaking down the river in our town. I would go to the local beach and lay out in the sun all day. Not to mention playing volleyball with all of my friends. This summer was definitely one for the books. The other day I was helping my dad downstairs with out heat pump. He wanted to check as much as he could before the technician comes to inspect it for the season. I asked him if it only warmed the house. He told me that it keeps our house cool during the summer and hot during the winter. I didn’t realize a heat pump did that. With this dual-compatibility, it is a popular method. It does not use fuel. It runs solely on electricity. My dad told me that our refrigerator has a heat pump and it performs similarly as to the one that runs our house. The function of our heat pump is that it moves heat from location to another. I was surprised by this, I was intrigued by how this all works. My dad told me that if I wanted to learn more, watch the technician when he checks the heat pump. I told him I would and I was looking forward to him coming next. I guess you do learn something everyday.

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Efficiency Ratings

My family and I like to go on vacation for about two weeks every summer.

  • We value the time that we get to spend with each other.

I believe that all families should take a break from their normal routines, get their family together and go on a vacation. It’s healthy for a family to get away and spend quality time together. When my family and I go on vacation we like to make sure our hot water heater is off, our blinds are closed, doors are locked and HVAC system is set to a higher temperature so the air conditioning unit doesn’t kick on as much. When I was near my HVAC system to check it out before we were leaving I saw there was an abbreviation on the sticker of my unit. I was confused because I wasn’t sure what it meant. I decided to look it up. The abbreviation was “AFUE.” This is a standardized efficiency rating. AFUE means annual fuel use efficiency. On my unit it read AFUE 90. This meant that I get 90 cents of usable heat for every $1 of fuel that is burned. I though that this was a good ratio. At least I know that my system is efficient. Other abbreviation ratings that I saw online was, SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating), COP (Coefficient of Performance), and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). If you see any of these efficiency ratings on your unit or come across them, ask your technician for more information. Next time I have a maintenance check up I’m going to ask about my AFUE rating.

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Tempted to turn on the heat

The other day while watching the game I was sitting on the couch with two blankets piled on top of me. My husband and I both were dressed in jeans and sweatshirts and wearing warm socks as well. We’re at that time of year where you don’t know whether to open the windows, turn on the air-conditioning, or turn on the heat at any given moment. One day it could be cold and in the low 60s and the next day could be 80° and sunny. Are night time temperatures are in the low-to-mid 50s and it is tempting to use the HVAC system to change the temperature inside the house. Unfortunately when I mentioned this to my husband he just told me to put on another layer of clothing because he didn’t want to turn on the heat just yet. I got that he isn’t ready to start paying higher energy bills just yet but I I think it would be better to turn on the heat and make sure it works properly prior to actually needing it. He didn’t fall for that argument either and insisted that everything was fine because he had just had it checked out in the spring. For now I will avoid the temptation and suffer through the Hue cooler days that we are having because I know he’s right and I don’t want to have the house all buttoned up any sooner than we need to. Cool crisp autumn days are enjoyable for the most part but not when you are sitting in the house and it is only 52 degrees. I’ve woken up to that a couple of mornings and thankfully it once the sun is out it warms up nicely.


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Giving life to an old idea

I was watching a program the other day on one of those science channels and they were saying how many new companies are popping up with regards to the coal industry.

For some reason I always assumed that using coal as a fuel source was something of the past but apparently they are finding cleaner and more efficient ways to use it.

When I think about coal miners I think about the old movies I used to watch and about the health hazards that were always associated with that process. I think about the western movies that I used to watch where they always had the canary in the coal mines to indicate that there was dangerous gas present. New technology and Equipment has made the process of mining coal more cost effective as well as safer for those working there. They’re even developing new HVAC systems that utilize coal as a fuel source but do not give off dangerous gases or the dirt that used to be associated with those older units. I still feel that using greener energy is a better approach to the modern problems we are having with the environment but the low cost of using a fuel source such as coal in large factory furnace says makes sense in many ways as well. I can’t see people burning coal in their homes again anytime soon but when it is used in these huge burners and gives off less pollution it can be a viable resource. Even our government has taken notice of this part of industry again and they are offering tax incentives and other programs to those willing to continue to develop ways to use this fuel source.

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Planning for tax season

As the year is almost three quarters over I am thinking ahead to year end.

I know, the very thought that makes some people nervous but I like to be prepared for what is coming.

I enjoy your end with all of the holiday celebrations and anticipation of the future but I also dreaded because I know that it will bring with it a new tax season. Once a year and celebrations are complete many people start trying to organize their lives and prepare for add event. As an accountant, this is the busiest time of year for me so I try to get my own personal finances in order long before the end of the year. Another reason I do this is because I want to know what I have done in the current year that may be tax deductible. One question I’m asked frequently is about the deductions that can be taken for replacing peoples items in their homes. Each year brings a different set of rules and regulations with regards to this and this year there was a major one that many people may not know about. Over the past several years, replacing your HVAC system with a newer more efficient one has been a tax deductible purchase. However for the current year the only system that has any sort of tax deduction is a geothermal HVAC system. This comes as a shock to many homeowners because they are counting on this money and when they learned that they installed a system that does not qualify they are normally upset. I simply have to tell them that I don’t write the rules and they probably should have looked into it prior to investing.
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An uneasy feeling that something was going wrong

For many people it is normal to worry about things that may never happen.

We live in a time where life is crazy and we really need to stay on top of things to make sure that something doesn’t upset the apple cart so to speak.

People’s lives and schedules are a delicate balance and even the smallest interruption or unexpected event can cause havoc. For this reason, people at least try to stay aware of any changes that may be happening and catch a problem while it is still small. As an example, when you hear your car making a small whining noise you should take it to the shop right away instead of waiting until it is sitting on the side of the road broken down completely. The same can be said for the items in your home. If you perform routine household maintenance and fix things when you see there is a problem starting you will likely be rewarded with peace of mind. Such is the case with the HVAC system in our apartment building, I started to notice that the air that was coming out of the vents was cooler than normal during the winter and I immediately contacted my landlord. I wanted him to know that I thought there was a problem before it became a major one however he decided to ignore my information. I knew something was going wrong and yet I was powerless to do anything about it because I don’t own the building. As a backup I went to the hardware store and purchased an electric heating unit that was portable so that I would still have some heat source when the system eventually broke. It hasn’t happened yet but I have a feeling it will soon.

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Road to recovery

Last night, I was able to sleep for a full seven hours.

  • Now to most people I know this does not seem like a great accomplishment.

Many people have the ability to sleep a good eight hours a night and for the life of me I will never comprehend that. I, on the other hand, average about five on a normal basis. Of late, this has been cut to one to two hours, followed by several awake or half awake. The reason for this is the fact that I have been dealing with the effects of the flu for nearly a week. Running a fever off and on has made the house extremely uncomfortable and I am either freezing cold or feel like I have just stepped into a sauna. My body temperature is off so much that it makes it impossible to sleep. My poor husband has tried to help by adjusting the HVAC system to accommodate my feelings, but, by the time it changes the temperature in the house, I am feeling the opposite and need to change the thermostat again. I told him that he was only taxing the unit and running up the energy bills by constantly changing the temperature. Hopefully now that I am feeling better this won’t be a problem any longer either. We have decided to look into a couple of portable units that can be used for situations like this in the future. We figure that if one of us comes down with an illness like that again, we can simply utilize them in one bedroom and not have to try adjusting the whole house to make the other person comfortable.

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Space heater tragedy

The news this morning reported on a fire that happened downtown.

It was in one of the high rise apartment buildings and, sadly, there was the loss of three lives.

The fire started in the bedroom of an apartment located on the fifth floor and the firefighters were not able to reach the older couple that lived there in time. Their cat also was lost in the fire. When they looked into the cause of the fire they found an old space heater plugged into the wall near the bed. Unfortunately, many of these portable appliances can be very dangerous. There are warning labels, stories about these dangers, and videos all over the internet that remind people not to put them too close to combustible items. Putting one right next to a mattress is a recipe for disaster. No one is sure why the couple needed the space heater so close, perhaps their heat in the apartment wasn’t working properly, but, the bottom line is the fact that now many people have been displaced. They must find alternative living arrangements while repairs are made. Tragedies can be avoided if simple safety precautions are taken. Seeing the sadness that this has caused is a real eye opener in my opinion. Having quality HVAC systems that are serviced regularly is one way to avoid the need for portable units. If you must use one, try and purchase one without exposed heating elements. There are electric baseboard heaters or oil filled radiators that pose little to no risk of these devastating fires. If you are unsure of the models available, a simple call to your local HVAC dealer would be a good place to start.


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Furniture in jeopardy

The latest weather forecast is dire and many people are scrambling to prepare for the incoming winter storm. They are calling for freezing rain followed by at least a foot of snow and I only hope that we don’t lose power. Whenever there is ice in the mix there is always the chance that the power lines come down and that leaves many in trouble because they have no heat. I know that my family took precautions a few years back and installed a wood burning stove, but they have not had this year’s firewood delivered as yet. Any long term power outage will be a big problem. When I asked my dad if he wanted to use the truck to go pick up some firewood he declined the offer and said he would be fine. He joked and said that he could burn the dining room chairs if he needed to. I don’t think that my mom would find that funny. Instead, I took over an extra generator that I had in the garage along with a gas can. I instructed dad on how to use it just in case. They have a few space heaters that can run off of that if needed. I hope that it will never come to that or that my dad is not serious about burning the chairs. We have been through storms like this before and all we can do is hope for the best. I really think that my folks should look into the installation of a whole house generator too at this point.

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Vacation from my vacation

Ok, going on vacation is supposed to be relaxing, right? Well, let me tell you our families trip this year was anything but that.

It started out normal, we packed the car, piled in, and headed out for a three hour drive to the mountains.

There is a beautiful lakeside cabin that we rent each year and the kids just love it up there. About an hour into the trip the car’s air conditioner gave out and we spent the next two hours driving in 90 degree heat with the windows down. The breeze did little to help and we even ended up pulling over because a bee flew in the window. It was awful! When we arrived, our bad luck continued. The owner of the cabin had forgotten to leave the key and we had to sit outside waiting for him to arrive. He also told us that he had to put in a window air conditioner as the wall one died last summer. I was over this vacation before is started. Try as we might, the week was really torture. I just wanted to go back home. Then I remembered that the AC in the car wasn’t working either. I asked around and found a mechanic in town that would be able to look at the car and hoped that he could fix it. No such luck. When the week was over and we finally arrived back home, I just wanted to sit in the cool air conditioning and relax. I felt like we had been robbed of our vacation and even called my office to tell them that I needed a couple of days off the next week also. At least I could hide away in cool comfort in our own home. Best part of the vacation for sure.


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