Browse Category: Saving Water

Alternatives to Central Air

Although it might feel worth it on a blisteringly hot summer day, a central air conditioner can truly burn homeowners up in operating costs. Depending on the size and shape of the house, and on the finances of the homeowner, these convenient air-conditioning systems may not always be the ideal choice when it comes to home cooling. The frugal homeowner can rest assured that there are multiple money-saving alternatives to central AC units.

Window Units

Window unit air conditioners can be installed in any room with an accessible window. Instead of paying to cool an entire house, window air conditioners allow the homeowner to prioritize only those rooms that most require air conditioning. The power costs of cooling just one or two bedrooms, as opposed to a whole two-story house, are going to be more budget-friendly. To save more money, homeowners can purchase Energy Star-certified models. Window unit air conditioners using the Energy Star label use 15 percent less energy than traditional window unit air conditioners.

Natural Ventilation

Homeowners can prevent the high electrical costs associated with central air conditioning by completely doing away with conventional air conditioning and, instead, learning to capitalize on their home’s natural ventilation. Although optimal ventilation plan will vary from house to house, clever homeowners can cool their homes by simply opening and shutting the ideal windows in appropriate times daily. Generally speaking, opening windows at night will help cool air to circulate in the house. When the cool atmosphere is inside, windows must be shut as the new day starts, to keep the cool air in and the warm air out. Ceiling fans can also boost your comfort level during the daytime.

Heat Reduction

Sometimes a house could be cooled simply by the elimination or diminishing of internal heat sources. Constant usage of ovens, clothes dryers and other heat-generating appliances during the hottest times of the day should be diminished as much as possible. This will help prevent further buildup of heat in the house. Homeowners who would like to keep their homes as trendy as possible — sans air conditioners — must get into the habit of using their “hottest” appliances only during nights or mornings, once the house temperature is at its coolest.

Box Fans

Timeless box enthusiasts can act as a money-saving choice to both central air conditioners and window unit models. Like window AC units, box fans, that can help circulate the air by supplying a cooling breeze, could be placed in only the most important rooms of the house. Depending on the design of the house, box fans can be used in concert to make heat ventilation: One could be used to suck in air from a lower, cooler part of the house, with the other one placed to blow air from a warmer section of the house. Window box fans could be turned inward and placed within an open window, and then used at night to “suck in” as much cool night air as possible. That window could be closed during the day to keep the resulting cool air inside.

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Does an Old Furnace have to be Replaced?

Unless your furnace has discontinued completely and can’t be mended, deciding when to replace it’s a personal decision. Most furnaces have an anticipated lifespan of 16 to 25 years, depending on the model. There are some general guidelines that can help you determine if your furnace is ready to be replaced.

Barely Breathing

Obvious indicators that your furnace needs to be replaced are repairs that total more than half of the cost of replacement, or being unable to keeping your home comfortable. Other signs are era, efficacy, higher than normal utility invoices and frequent repairs. When your chimney is reaching the end of its anticipated lifespan, even if it’s still running with problems, it’s time to begin planning ahead for replacement so that you aren’t caught unprepared. Modern units are more efficient than old ones, yet to calculate whether you will save any money on ports, add up a winter’s worth of heat bills and multiply by 20 percent. This is the approximate amount you can expect to save each year with a new unit. Utility invoices that have suddenly increased can indicate that your heater isn’t functioning at proper efficacy and may need to be replaced. Small frequent repairs can add up and indicate that each of the components are aging and will need to be replaced. A gas furnace with malfunctioning or worn parts can release harmful carbon monoxide. This isn’t a definitive sign that the furnace ought to be replaced, but the cost and safety of the repairs is an important consideration.

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Heating & Furnace Systems

Furnaces serve as the most frequent dwelling heating system at the United States, as stated by the U.S. Department of Energy. These units heat air inside a central system, then use a series of ducts to distribute air through your home. Knowing the several things that influence heating and furnace systems, as well as the possible alternatives to your home furnace, will be able to help you determine whether that heating system is the best choice for your family.

Furnace Fuels

Furnaces can be powered using a number of fuels. Over half of all U.S. homeowners rely on natural gas for home heating, while 25 percent switch to power to power furnaces and other heating systems, reports that the U.S. Department of Energy. The other 11 percent heat with oil, along with the remainder choose alternate fuels, such as wood, pellets, coal, liquid propane and biomass. Each furnace is generally rated to take only 1 type of fuel, with the exception of multifuel furnaces, that can be built to take care of wood, coal and biomass products like corn or peat.

Heating and Furnace System Prices

The price of getting a new door represents just a portion of the total cost of purchasing and operating a furnace to heat your home. Furnace operating costs are determined not only by the type of fuel used to power the unit but also by the efficiency of this unit. The annual fuel utilization efficiency reveals the efficacy by which every furnace operates, and the higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. An AFUE of 90 percent means that 90 percent of their gas burned by the furnace is going to be transformed into heat while the remaining 10 percent is wasted via combustion or alternative processes. As stated by the U.S. Department of Energy, electric furnaces have a minimum AFUE of 78 percent, though most variety from 95 percent to 100 percent efficacy. Gas-powered units have a minimum AFUE of 80 percent, with the minimum AFUE for oil furnaces at 83 percent. Condensing units, which compress water vapors during their surgery, can have an efficiency rating around 10 percent greater than noncondensing units. While costs for various furnace fuels vary considerably by region and over time, gas, coal and wood represent three of their most economical fuel options as of November 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA). Wood pellets and corn are the next most economical options, while heating oil and power represent the most expensive ways to power your furnace.

Sizing

Normally, furnaces were sized according to square footage. This old square footage sizing resulted in furnaces that were much too big for most homes. To cut heating costs and save on equipment, ditch the square footage sizing and choose a trader that will carry out a heat load calculation that will help you size your furnace correctly. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J system reflects the industry standard for sizing heating and cooling units.

Alternative Heating Systems

While furnaces remain the most popular system for home heating, homeowners looking for alternate heating systems can look to boilers or heat pumps. Boilers heat, which is then distributed to baseboard or radiant floor systems to heat the home without using forced air. Like furnaces, they are used only for heating, thus a separate cooling system in required. Heat pumps can be used for heat and cooling, eliminating the need for another furnace and air conditioning system. Unlike furnaces, which heat air, heat pumps bring present heat out of the exterior air to heat the home. These units also operate much more efficiently than comparable electric heaters and can heat the home for less than half of the price of heating with an electric furnace, according to the EIA.

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The way to Pick Out a Pond Pump

Pond pumps keep water circulating at a pond, preventing stagnant water that helps mosquitoes and algae develop. The pumps also help water flow through the pond filter if one is installed. Pumps are also essential for water features like fountains and waterfalls that are integrated into a pond. Utilizing a pump that’s the incorrect kind or of the incorrect power can cause difficulties. So taking time to select a pump that’s correct for a pond is also an significant part pond establishment and maintenance.

Determine the kind of pump you would like to your pond. A submersible pump is a lot easier to hide and requires less plumbing than other varieties but is marginally more challenging to access for maintenance. An outside or centrifugal pump is easy to access however requires extra plumbing and requires space outside a pond.

Think about the amount of pond water that should be moved in any given time to ascertain whether the job demands a 120-volt pump or a 220-volt pump. A 120-volt pump plugs into a standard electrical socket but has the potential to move only a limited amount of water at once. A 220-volt pump takes a distinctive electrical outlet but is much more powerful compared to a 120-volt pump so that can transfer a large amount of water at once. A 120-volt pump is helpful for circulating water in a pond and for powering a small water feature, including a small fountain. A 220-volt pump is helpful for large-scale water flow and for powering a large water feature, like a nest.

Measure the width and height of each waterfall and other water features in your pond. A water feature’s width helps you ascertain how much water should move at the same time, and its summit reveals just how far vertically the pump should transfer water.

Estimate the pond’s volume by measuring its length, width and depth. Multiply the length by the width to come across the pond’s surface area. Multiply the surface area by the pond’s depth to come across the pond’s volume. If the pond has a sloped or uneven bottom, take multiple depth measurements, multiply them together and divide the resulting amount by the amount of depth measurements you took; the result is the pond’s average depth, which you can multiply by the surface area to come across the pond’s volume. Since the quantity is required simply to ascertain required pump strength, it does not need to be as exact as it would if you were adding chemicals or other substances to the pond.

Compare pump models’ gallons per hour (GPH) evaluations. A pump’s GPH should be at least one-half of this pond’s quantity to ensure proper water flow; koi ponds, however, require a pump having a higher GPH rating.

Check the pumps’ maximum head ratings if you will use a pump to power a waterfall or other water feature. A head rating implies that the maximum height that a pump can increase water; in the utmost height, only a trickle of water is released. Select a pump having a mind rating higher than the height that you want the pump to raise water. Selecting such a pump will ensure proper water circulation.

Consult with the operation charts included on the pumps you believe to learn whether or not each choice features the GPH and mind rating your pond requires. Each operation chart shows the change in performance and pressure that a pump adventures at different heights. The info can help you figure out which pump offers the best performance according to your pond’s volume and maximum height requirements.

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