Geothermal 101: What Homeowners Need to Know

If you are looking for more efficient ways to heat and cool your home, you may be interested in geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is a sustainable energy source that can help keep your home comfortable while saving money on monthly heating and cooling costs. If you would like to hear more about geothermal energy, read on for a basic guide to how this type of home energy works.

What Homeowners Need to Know About Geothermal

Are you interested in using geothermal energy in your home? Below, we’ve put together some basic information that homeowners need to know about geothermal heating and cooling:

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Interested in learning more about geothermal heat pumps and if they might be right for your home? Give us a call today to speak with an experienced HVAC specialist: (310) 836-0606.

A Basic Guide To Heat Pump Shopping

At Brody-Pennell Heating and Air Conditioning, we have a large selection of heat pumps. However, we find that many clients don’t understand what they are or how they work. Here’s our brief guide to heat pumps and their benefits.

Learn About Heat Pumps: 101

Households in moderate climates such as Los Angeles benefit greatly from heat pumps. Contrary to what the name suggests, these units manage heating and cooling inside a home. Pumps function similarly to a refrigerator, using electricity to move hot air out of the house in summer and into the home in winter.

Heat pumps don’t actively generate air—they relocate it. This cuts down on energy expenditures and reduces costs by as much as 75% compared to traditional heating and cooling methods. Furnaces and air conditioners are significantly less energy-efficient than pump units.

There are three major kinds of air pumps, each of which is ideal for different locations.

Choose The Pump That’s Best for You

The primary forms of heat pumps are air source, ground source, and water source. Each moves hot air in and out of the stated location (air, ground, or water) to manage your home’s temperature.

  • Air-source heat pumps have indoor and outdoor components that work together to transfer air. During the summer, fans within the inside portion of your pump pull hot air out of the home and relocate it outside. The void is then filled with cooler air. Come winter, this process is reversed to pull warm air into your house.
  • Ground-source heat pumps work similarly to air-source units. The primary difference is that warm air is pulled from (or distributed to) the soil rather than the atmosphere. A unit that works with the ground tends to be very energy-efficient because soil below the surface maintains a more regular temperature than air does. Less energy is therefore needed to cool a home. Your heating and air conditioning professional will survey the soil on your property to ensure that conditions are appropriate for this type of heat pump.
  • The final category of heat pump is water source. Heat is moved in and out of nearby water sources, providing the same efficiency as ground-source options. However, these units need access to underground water sources.

Contact Your Heating And Air Professional

Our award-winning experts at Brody-Pennell Heating and Air Conditioning can help you navigate the transition to heat pumps. We take every factor into account to select the most effective, energy-efficient, money-saving unit for your home. Our team prides itself on laying out upfront costs and long-term gains before starting any new installation. If you’re considering a heat pump or are interested in reducing energy consumption in your home, contact us; we’re here to help!

How Cogeneration Impacts HVAC Systems

Saving energy is a major topic in the HVAC industry. Although the American economy is recovering, the process is slow, and for consumers and businesses, saving energy means saving time and money. However, HVAC systems often use massive amounts of energy, which naturally translates into larger energy bills for home and business owners. HVAC experts are finding cogeneration may be the answer to this issue.

What Is Cogeneration?

Cogeneration, otherwise known as combined heat and power (CHP), uses a power station or heat engine to create useable electricity and heat simultaneously. When an HVAC system generates electricity, it also generates heat. This keeps the home or business warm in fall and winter, but that energy is often wasted during spring and summer. Even during colder seasons, extra heat is siphoned into the environment, causing wasted energy. Cogeneration captures leftover heat and “recycles” it.

How The Heat Is Used

In cogeneration, the “waste heat” from an HVAC system is used to heat water, and offsets greenhouse gas emissions and fuel that would otherwise be burned away. This keeps the HVAC system from overheating or breaking down. Over time, such use saves significant time and money in terms of repairs and replacements. The longer an HVAC system lasts, the more energy it can create and the cleaner and safer its surrounding environment will be.

Cogeneration Cuts Costs

Additionally, cogeneration decreases the overall need for electricity. An HVAC system that uses CHP will use about 50% less electricity than systems that do not. As a result, home and business owners can run their HVAC systems for shorter periods, saving energy and keeping the surrounding environment free of pollutants. In addition, home and business owners who use a CHP HVAC system will learn to respond better to natural temperature fluctuations in their buildings. Over time, they may turn to more energy-saving methods of keeping themselves warm or cool, such as using environmentally friendly building materials.

The EPA and other agencies estimate that using a cogeneration HVAC system cuts energy costs and harmful emissions by at least 30-40%. Growing popularity and technological improvements guarantee that increasing numbers of people will use cogeneration systems in the future.

The Growing Popularity Of Cogeneration

Although cogeneration has existed since 1882, our over-reliance on fossil fuels has created a resurgence among home and business owners, especially those who work with HVAC systems. With cogeneration, HVAC systems are now relying more on thermal energy, a cleaner energy source than oil, gas, and other fossil fuels. This decreases air pollution and its many negative consequences, such as the impact of poor air quality on human health.

As the technology behind cogeneration improves, the EPA and other agencies estimate its popularity will only continue to grow. Right now, technological improvements include cost reduction for HVAC systems that use cogeneration, as well as improved environmental control technology. These particular improvements will allow HVAC experts and their customers to adjust individual cogeneration systems to fit their needs and surrounding environments.

Finding An HVAC Dealer in Los Angeles

There are several cogeneration HVAC systems available, so finding the right dealer is crucial. If you are searching for a Los Angeles HVAC dealer, please call Brody Pennell or visit us online. We can further explain the benefits of a cogeneration HVAC system and determine the best system for your particular needs.

What Are the Ratings for Furnace Efficiency?

All gas- and electricity-powered furnaces use up natural resources and add to your monthly utility costs. Ideally, you want your household to rely on a well-designed unit that provides the heat you need while preserving resources and keeping your costs at a minimum. You can judge the energy usage of your current furnace, or any model you intend to buy, by checking out its efficiency rating.

What Is Furnace Efficiency?

Broadly speaking, things are efficient when they perform their intended function with as little waste as possible. In terms of furnaces, this means that highly efficient models keep your house warm during cold weather while using a relatively small of amount of fuel or electricity each month. In contrast, low-efficiency models go through a relatively large amount of fuel or electricity per month, even though they may still keep your household interior at a desirable temperature. Naturally, since an efficient furnace keeps your house warm at a lower monthly operating cost, it’s preferable to an inefficient furnace that features the same heating technology.

Measuring Efficiency

In the U.S., furnace efficiency is measured by something called annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE. This measurement is defined as the amount of heat output a furnace creates for the amount of fuel or electricity it uses. In a natural gas- or propane-powered furnace with a 90 percent AFUE rating, 90 percent of all the heat produced by the combustion process enters your household’s ducting network, while the remaining 10 percent escapes through the venting system. Since electric furnaces don’t lose heat by venting combustion gases, they typically have a higher AFUE rating than gas furnaces (between 95 percent and 100 percent).

Determining the Efficiency of Older Models

Under current federal law, all new furnaces sold in America must display their AFUE rating. However, you won’t necessarily be able to gauge the rating of furnaces sold before this standard was introduced. Still, you can usually recognize low- and moderate-efficiency units through certain telltale signs. For example, any gas-powered furnace with a continuously lit pilot light will have a low efficiency rating (as low as 56 percent in some cases). The presence of an octopus-like ducting network also indicates a lack of fuel efficiency. You can recognize a moderately efficient older furnace (an AFUE rating of roughly 80 to 83 percent) by the presence of a fan system that functions as an airflow regulator.

Gas or Electric?

So, among furnaces with equal AFUE ratings, what’s the best choice: gas or electric? As a rule, it costs less to heat with natural gas or propane than it costs to heat with electricity. This means that, all other things being equal, a gas furnace with a 90 percent AFUE rating will produce lower monthly utility bills than an electric furnace with the same efficiency rating.

Make sure to follow our blog for future posts on crucial home heating and home cooling topics. If you have a more specific HVAC question or concern, contact us today to speak with one of our experienced team members.

How Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps Work

If you’re replacing an old heating system or installing a system in a new house, you have quite a few equipment choices available. While many people choose a centralized system that uses ducting to deliver heated air throughout their homes, you may want to consider something called a ductless mini-split heat pump. In several respects, this type of unit functions differently than a traditional centralized heating solution.

How Do Heat Pumps Work in General?

Heat pumps come in both centralized and ductless forms. Both of these configurations differ in operation from a traditional furnace. When you turn on a furnace, it creates warmth by igniting a fuel source or triggering an internal heating element. In contrast, when you turn on a heat pump, it pulls warmth into your home from another source instead of producing it internally. Potential sources include the outside air, a nearby body of water and the ground. In the summertime, a heat pump can also reverse direction and pull warmth out of your home like a standard air conditioner.

Ductless Operation Vs. Centralized Operation

A centralized heat pump or furnace uses a connected ducting network to carry warmth simultaneously to rooms throughout your household. To make this approach work, you must dedicate indoor space for each duct. A ductless system is not connected to your heat source through an indoor ducting network. Instead, each unit in the system has its own mini-duct or conduit that connects to the heat source after passing through a wall or floor to the exterior of your home. This arrangement saves considerable amounts of indoor space.

Mini-Splits

HVAC specialists use the term “mini-split” to describe a system that gives you independent control over the temperature in individual zones inside your home. This zoning approach allows you to keep certain rooms warmer or cooler. It also allows you shut off the heat completely in specific areas if you prefer. Some mini-split systems only let you set up a couple of household zones. However, advanced systems let you set up a maximum of eight separately adjustable areas.

From the information covered so far, you can see that a ductless mini-split heat pump draws heat from an outdoor source, then gives you the ability to distribute that heat to individual household areas without relying on an indoor ducting network. Unless winter temperatures are very cold where you live, you may find this type of pump to be an excellent option for summertime cooling as well as heating. For more up-to-date info on your options for the best in heating and cooling technology, bookmark this blog and check back with us often.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

If you own your home for an extended period of time, you will almost certainly need to replace your air conditioner or furnace sooner or later. These heating and cooling systems cost much more than the typical household appliance, and if you buy a unit that’s not well-suited to residence, you may regret your purchasing decision for as much as a decade or longer. Fortunately, you can increase your chances of buying a suitable AC or furnace by avoiding a few common pitfalls.

 

Buying an Inappropriately Sized Unit

Furnace and air conditioner manufacturers design their products to work under a certain set of conditions. Key factors here include the size of your home, as well as your home’s layout. If you buy a heating or cooling unit that’s too powerful or too weak for your needs, you can easily experience a number of serious problems, including spikes in your monthly heating or cooling costs, an inability to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home and premature failure of one or more components in your AC or furnace.

 

Not Verifying Your Contractor’s Reputation

Most HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) contractors are reputable businesspeople who will do their best to provide you with quality work. However, quite frankly, some contractors are incompetent or dishonest. If you don’t verify your contractor’s reputation with other homeowners in your area or (better yet) a trusted service like the Better Business Bureau, you have no way of knowing if he or she will do good work and maintain a safe working environment on your property.

 

Basing Your Choice Solely on Price

Some HVAC contractors will work for what seems like a very low price. However — as the cliché goes — you get what you pay for, and a cheap contractor may try to cut corners in important ways or simply deliver inferior work. Even if you have a limited budget, it makes sense to balance pricing considerations with the short- and long-term quality of the work you will receive.

 

Not Locking Down Your Contract

All trustworthy HVAC contractors should be happy to supply you with a contract that details the work they will perform and the price they will charge for this work. This type of detailed contract is critical to your ability to take legal action if something goes wrong or the contractor fails to complete the agreed-upon work at a reasonable price or within a reasonable timeframe.

 

Leaving Energy Efficiency Out of the Equation

A highly energy-efficient furnace or AC will likely cost you a good deal more money up front than a unit with a much lower efficiency rating. However, the energy-efficient option may actually cost you less money over time if you factor in the long-term impact on your monthly utility bills.

 

Consulting a Single Contractor

Prices among trustworthy HVAC specialists can vary considerably. If you only talk to a single contractor, you could easily miss out on significant savings in the cost of your unit or your installation fees.

Make sure to follow this blog for ongoing advice on best practices for household heating and cooling.

5 Common Home Heating Myths

Despite all our advancements in technology, disinformation continues to hinder efforts to conserve energy. Some people are going about it the wrong way because of home heating myths. These need to be exposed and debunked right away so that household can finally move on from their bad habits. Five of them are discussed below:

 

MYTH #1: Programmable thermostats are all you need to boost system efficiency.

Simply adding a programmable thermostat into the equation will not result in a drastic reduction in fuel costs. There are instances in fact wherein owners found an increase in consumption after their installation. This is probably due to less than ideal settings. Use the device to create a program that will mimic a highly vigilant person in monitoring and changing the settings. Make the most of sensors, if present, for automatic adjustments depending on current conditions.

 

MYTH #2: Higher temperature settings hasten the pace of heating.

When coming into a cold house, it may be tempting to try to get the home to warm quickly so that you can stop shivering. Just know that the pace of heating will not accelerate if the temperature is cranked higher. It will always stay constant with the only change being the end point which is an unreasonably hot room.

 

MYTH #3: The heater should not be turned on and off but instead run constantly.

There is nothing wrong with turning a heater off and on. This is often necessary if the residents regularly go out during the day. Since there is no one around, there is no sense in keeping the system running. The programmable thermostat may be set to turn on 15 to 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival to ensure a warm and comfortable environment.

 

MYTH #4: The fireplace is a good tool for augmenting the furnace.

Some people think that the fireplace can function in a similar capacity to electric fans when it comes to augmenting the HVAC system. Unfortunately, it is actually a poor source of heat that can be expensive as well. After all, you would have to purchase firewood if you don’t have a lot of trees in your backyard. It will use up the heated air in your house and send ashes through the chimney.

 

MYTH #5: Window replacement is a great way to make the house more energy efficient.

This should be at the bottom of the priority list given the cost of window replacements. Decades will pass before the savings gained can make up for the thousands of dollars spent.

Follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Do I Need Maintenance For My Heating And Cooling System

Part of owning an HVAC unit is performing regular maintenance. If you don’t have your HVAC unit regularly maintained, you can’t count on it to work. Below are just a few of the reasons why HVAC maintenance is so important.

Energy Efficiency

Your heating and cooling bill makes up the bulk of your home energy usage. If your HVAC unit isn’t in top condition, it is going to cause your energy bills to go up. In fact, some studies have shown that proper HVAC maintenance can drop your energy bills by as much as thirty-five percent!

Enjoying Your Home

If you have your HVAC system working, it’s because you want a little bit of comfort in a hot or cold environment. If you turn the machine on, you should expect it to work correctly every time. If you don’t have HVAC maintenance performed regularly, you can’t depend on the unit to work.

Extending Equipment Life

You wouldn’t skip the regular maintenance on your car, and you shouldn’t skip it for your HVAC unit. Over time, wear and tear will impact even the best system. Maintenance will help your HVAC unit to last longer and function better.

Saving Money

Yes, having maintenance performed can actually save you money. Your machine is made up of many moving parts, and failure in one can cause damage to others. If you can catch small problems before they become larger, you can save yourself both time and money. The best way to make sure that your HVAC system will not experience catastrophic – and expensive – failure is to have it checked out before problems ever occur.

Safety

You aren’t just looking out for the health of your HVAC unit when you have maintenance performed. Your HVAC system can become dangerous when not properly maintained. From loose electrical connections to carbon monoxide build-up, it’s best to look at the major problems that can occur before someone in your home gets hurt.

Most manufacturers will tell you that regular maintenance is the best way to keep your system functioning well and to keep everyone in your home safe. If you keep to a realistic maintenance cycle, you can prevent many major repairs and enjoy your HVAC unit for years to come. For more on HVAC maintenance and other articles on heating, air conditioning and home needs, make sure to follow us.

How Important Is It To Get The Right Size Of Heating And Cooling Equipment?

If you’re in the market for a new central heating and air conditioning system to help reduce energy costs, you need to understand how important it is to properly size your system. Correct HVAC sizing will improve indoor comfort and reduce costs and usage in addition to maintenance.

Because older homes were not constructed with the same air tightness as they are today, it was common to install HVAC equipment with capacity of two to four times beyond what was necessary. Yet even older houses are more air tight as homeowners have added energy-efficient windows, weather-stripping and insulation to their homes. Improvements like these help reduce heat loss in winter while and minimized heat gain in the summer.

Thus, the most common mistake today is buying a system that is too big. HVAC equipment that is too large creates large, uncomfortable temperature swings. Air conditioners don’t run long enough and cannot dehumidify the air, raising the potential for unhealthy mold growth. An oversized HVAC system will also short cycle, or start and stop frequently, resulting in more wear and tear of the equipment, leading to premature failure.

Don’t purchase HVAC equipment simply on the label that lists the BTUs of the unit,or based on a “rule of thumb” used by an HVAC contractor. These are both incorrect ways to select HVAC units. The proper way to perform HVAC sizing is through Manual J and Manual D load calculations developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Manual J calculations look at factors such as the climate where your home is located, size, shape and orientation, number of windows and their location, number of occupants, types of home appliances and much more. Manual D calculations determine the number of ducts used in an installation.

Your home’s load, or heating and cooling requirements, are affected by all of the above factors. Make sure your contractor also assess you building’s air leakage rate and inspects seals, joints and insulation on your duct system.

When buying a new system, make sure you receive a written calculation on the sizing of the system and a contract that lists the main points of installation that includes Manual J and Manual D results, along with a written warranty detailing equipment and workmanship.

Brody Pennell Wins Carrier’s Presidents Award for the Ninth Consecutive Year

We are one of only three Carrier Factory Authorized Dealers in all of North America to win Carrier’s Prestigious Presidents Award, are one of only three Carrier Factory Authorized Dealers in all of North America to win Carrier’s Prestigious Presidents Award for nine consecutive years award for nine consecutive years.