Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. A measure of a gas furnace’s efficiency in converting fuel to energy – the higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. For example: A rating of 90 means that approximately 90 percent of the fuel is used to provide warmth to your home, while the remaining 10 percent escapes up the flue pipe as exhaust.
The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) merged in 2008 with the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to become the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. This is a national trade association of manufacturers of residential, commercial and industrial appliances and equipment, components and related products. AHRI’s scope includes oil-fired and electric equipment as well as gas-fired equipment. For more information about AHRI, please visit their website www.ahrinet.org/.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) –
A colorless, odorless noncombustible gas that is present in the atmosphere. It is formed by the combustion of carbon and carbon compounds (such as fossil fuels and biomass), by respiration, and by the gradual oxidation of organic matter in the soil.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) –
A colorless, odorless but poisonous combustible gas. Carbon monoxide is produced in the incomplete combustion of carbon and carbon compounds such as fossil fuels (i.e. coal, petroleum) and their products (e.g. liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline), and biomass.
Combustion Air –
Fresh air from out of doors that provides the necessary oxygen for complete, clean combustion and maximum heating value of all gas appliances.
Condensing Boiler –
A water heating device designed to recover energy normally discharged to the atmosphere through the flue. It can do this through the use of a secondary heat exchanger which most commonly uses residual heat in the flue gas to heat the cooler returning water stream or by having a primary heat exchanger with sufficient surface for condensing to easily take place. The best term for boilers designed to condense on the primary heat exchanger may be “fully condensing.”
Energy Efficiency article from PHC News- December 2009 by Kara Roders –
In a recessionary economy and technologically innovative society, today’s consumers are becoming more cost-conscious. By pointing customers toward energy efficiency, we can help them save money on their utility bills in the long term. Local utility efficiency programs recognize this savings opportunity, and are equipping plumbing contractors with the resources to help their customers find these most energy efficient, cost- saving options. Many natural gas utility efficiency program administrators are also seeking to improve their relationships with plumbing contractors and plumbing supply houses. Some employ specialized trade or channel managers to work directly with plumbing contractors to provide them with the talking points they need to promote higher efficiency, Energy Star qualified natural gas water heater. Both the utility and the plumbing contractor benefit through energy savings, improved service to their customers, and increased credibility. Ann Kirkpatrick with Xcel Energy in Colorado is one such manager. As Xcel Energy’s trade relations manager, Kirkpatrick meets with suppliers and wholesalers to discuss new energy programs and help inform plumbing contractors about the benefits of selling highly efficient water heaters. According to Ann, “Plumbing contractors want to maximize their business opportunities as much as possible, and Energy Star water heaters coupled with the programs offered by many local efficiency program administrators provide them with many benefits. Just what are those benefits? The number one benefit for plumbing contractors is that energy efficient water heaters can help their customers get their utility bills under control. For example, most Americans have conventional water heaters that are barely more efficient than ones sold 20 years ago. Today’s new Energy Star qualified water heaters include smart design enhancements that offer significant improvements in efficiency and performance. Depending on the technology chosen, consumers can cut their water heating costs in half. In addition to simply serving their customers better, understanding the consumer’s demand for and benefits from a higher efficiency water heater can help make the sale happen: knowledgeable plumbing contractors have more credibility with the consumer. “Here at Blue Sky Plumbing & Heating we always strive to first educate the customer, then give them only what they want and need”, said owner Steve Lanyon, “and what many of our customers want today is enhanced energy efficiency.” In order to help consumers find the best water heater for their home, family and budget, it’s crucial that we keep up with technologies. According to Lanyon, “Xcel Energy’s high efficiency equipment rebates and educational programs certainly give us additional sales tools and credibility in our water heater sales presentations.” Not all utilities offer the same benefits and programs, but it’s worth making the call to see how your utility can help you. Xcel Energy provides a good example of the types of benefits a local utility may offer. Xcel Energy’s programs include consumer rebates on energy efficient models for consumers, classes on how to better sell those models, and brochures, newsletters and online tools about energy efficiency. As part of Xcel Energy’s programs, Kirkpatrick goes on the road to help plumbing contractors and contractors in her area inform consumers about the benefits of an energy efficient water heater. Kirkpatrick tells plumbing contractors and contractors to stress a few specific points when taking with consumers- cost savings in energy bills and maintenance; the comfort, health and safety these models provide; and durability of the product. Energy Star models might also give consumers a competitive advantage when they resell their home in the future. They allow them to contribute to our nation’s goal of conserving energy resources. Xcel Energy in Colorado isn’t the only utility company that offers energy efficient programs and benefits. “Contractors should contact their local utilities and ask about these programs,” Kirkpatrick said. “They need to find out how their utility can work for them.” Established in 1992, Energy Star is a joint program of the United States Department of Energy designed to save money and help address climate change through energy- efficient products and practices at home and at work. For more information, visit www.energystar.gov or call 1-222-STAR-YES.
Energy Smart Water Heater Tips –
* Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
*Install aerating low-flow faucets and shower heads.
* Buy a new energy efficient water heater. While it may cost more initially, savings will last for the lifetime of the appliance.
* Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it’s best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old and needs a repair. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.
* Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees Fahrenheit provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
* Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a five- minute shower.
Energy Star –
An international standard for energy efficient consumer products. It was first created as a United States government program in 1992. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, comfort systems, buildings and other products, save 20%-30% on average.
An international training and accreditation program designed to assist plumbers and tradesman and increase their understanding of their role in the environment and public health. The organization’s goal is to train plumbers to promote the benefits of water conservation and the reduction of Green House Gas emissions. The focus is on changing consumer and plumbing behavior through the use of energy efficiency and water saving technologies.
High Efficiency Toilet (HET) –
Classified as a toilet with an average of 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) or less.
Indirect Fired Water Heater –
Also referred to as a “Sidearm Water Heater”, these tank-type heaters are connected to and heated by a hydronic boiler which results in never ending hot water. These systems are also generally a more efficient way to heat water for showering and bathing than a conventional tank-type water heater would be.
Founded in 1997, North American Technician Excellence, Inc. is the nation’s leading non-profit certification program for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians. NATE is the only technician certification organization governed, owned, operated, developed and supported by the HVAC industry.
Preventative Maintenance (PM) –
Regular and systematic inspection, cleaning, and replacement of worn parts, materials, and systems. Preventive maintenance helps to prevent parts, material, and systems failure by ensuring that parts, materials and systems are in good working order. It also helps to protect the health and safety of those who live or work within reach of the comfort system. Regular maintenance is required by all mechanical systems and also to keep your new equipment warranty intact.
Radiant Heating System –
Radiant heat is a unique transfer of energy that naturally searches out colder objects to warm. Instead of rising like warm air, radiant heat starts by warming the coldest and closest objects from its source in any direction. Radiant heating systems are extremely effective for heating cold floors evenly and efficiently, and are commonly installed under tile, hardwood and even carpeted floors.
Recharge Colorado –
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., issued an Executive Order on April 16, 2007, re-creating the Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation (originally created in 1977 to promote energy conservation in Colorado) as the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO). The GEO’s mission is to lead Colorado to a New Energy Economy by advancing energy efficiency and renewable, clean energy resources. Advancing the New Energy Economy The New Energy Economy embraces energy conservation as an important component in our energy future. At the same time, it demands a broader mission to meet the goals of expanding renewable and clean energy resources and opportunities for the state’s economy, environment and energy independence. The GEO plays a critical role in charting Colorado’s leadership in providing clean and renewable forms of energy. We work with communities, utilities, private and public organizations, and individuals to promote renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal, as well as energy efficiency technologies in commercial and residential buildings. The New Energy Economy benefits Colorado by providing jobs and protecting our natural environment. Living our Mission The GEO also lives its mission and is committed to environmental excellence, energy efficiency, the use of clean energy and continual improvement in reaching its internal sustainability goals. Read The Governor’s Energy Office Sustainability Policy. We are proud to be recognized by the State of Colorado’s Environmental Leadership Program with a ‘Gold Leader’ designation. The program is a statewide environmental recognition and reward program administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Sustainability Program. Gold Leaders, like the GEO, are those facilities that have a fully operational, facility-specific Environmental Management System (EMS) in place. Visit http://www.rechargecolorado.com/ for more information
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. A measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioners and heat pumps. (It’s similar to comparing miles per gallon in automobiles). It is a ratio which compares the cooling output to the electric consumption over a range of temperatures. The higher the seer – the more energy efficient the system will be. The minimum SEER rating for new or replacement installations is currently 13 SEER, although given the number of Cooling Load Hours per year for our region, most every customer will see increased utility savings over the years by upgrading their systems to a SEER that is higher than the mere minimum. Opting for higher SEER rated equipment is also an environmentally friendly way to cool your home, since it results in lower Green House Gas emissions.
Split System Air Conditioner –
HVAC term for an air conditioning system that comes in two general sections, instead of the more commercial packaged systems: The indoor section is the cooling coil which usually sits atop the furnace and collects the heat from the indoor air. The second section, the condenser, is installed outside the house where it can reject to the outside air the heat previously collected indoors.
Tankless Water Heater –
Tankless water heaters, as called instantaneous, continuous flow, or on-demand water heaters have been popular in places such as Europe for decades and are gaining popularity here in the states for many reasons. These water heaters heat the water as it flows through the heater, and do not store any water internally except for what is in the heat exchanger coil. Larger models may provide all the hot water requirements for an entire household. The chief advantages of tankless water heaters are a continuous flow of hot water and energy savings as compared to a limited flow of continuously heating hot water from conventional tank water heaters.
Ton (Air Conditioning) –
A unit of air cooling capacity; 12,000 Btu per hour.
Wet Basements and Crawl Spaces –
Improper drainage around the house can wreak havoc in basements and crawl spaces, causing dampness or flooding. Leaks and dampness in basements are the result of poor surface drainage around the home. Make sure water drains away from the house. Use either splash blocks or underground piping to divert water from your downspouts several feet away from the foundation wall. In extreme situations, you may need to install or repair foundation drains, though this step is unlikely in Colorado’s dry climate. -Steve Graham
What’s the advantage of two-stage heating? –
When we design a heating system for your home we must SIZE the furnace so that it can produce enough heat to satisfy your comfort needs on the coldest day of the year. However, the average heating day is considerable milder than the worst-day-of-the-year scenario. Until just a few short years ago, this is how your furnace operated. It came on like it was indeed the coldest day of the year. This full-bore operation tended to be louder than was necessary and more importantly it was too much heat in terms of BTU’s, and would usually overshoot your family’s comfort setting. Two-stage technology allows furnaces to automatically adjust heating output to maintain consistent comfort throughout your home. More consistent airflow also results in quieter operation and enhanced indoor air quality by not allowing the system to overshoot your comfort set-point on milder days. Furnaces with advanced two-stage technology make the distinction between mild and extreme weather, delivering the level of heating output necessary to maintain optimal comfort conditions inside your home. A two-stage furnace starts in first stage, operating at about 68% of its heating capacity. This reduced capacity is sufficient to keep your home comfortable when the weather outside is mild. Should the temperature suddenly drop, the unit automatically adjusts to high output (second stage) to meet the comfort demands of your home. Two-stage furnaces are like having two furnaces in one: a small furnace (first stage/low heat) for mild days and a larger furnace (second stage/high heat) for extremely cold days. This minimizes temperature swings within your home. Two-stage furnaces run at low stage most of the time, greatly reducing the operating sounds associated with traditional systems that turn on and run at full blast. A two-stage furnace provides a longer period of time at low-speed fan operation which increases the effectiveness of the system’s filters, allowing them to capture and remove more contaminants. If you want and expect high-level performance from your home comfort equipment, then a two-stage furnace may be the right choice for you.
Why should I choose a variable speed furnace for my home? –
There are many reasons why choosing a variable speed furnace, but the main reason is comfort. The term “variable speed” refers to the furnace’s fan motor, which moves air at different speeds to precisely control the flow of heated and cooled air throughout your home. Better airflow control means a better balance of temperature and humidity. Unlike conventional single-speed motors, a variable speed motor runs at a wide range of speeds. Using intelligent technology, it continually monitors incoming data from your heating and cooling system, and it automatically makes the adjustments necessary to meet your comfort needs. The motor varies the amount of air circulated, helping to compensate for factors like dirty filters by increasing its speed. Put simply, it delivers just the right amount of air necessary to provide the desired level of heating and cooling comfort. Variable speed home comfort systems more precisely regulate airflow to provide better control of temperature, humidity and air distribution. Compared to a conventional single-speed furnace, a variable speed furnace performs better and uses about two-thirds less electricity. During cooling operation, variable speed technology typically results in an efficiency gain of 1 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). A variable speed furnace also ensures quieter operation. The furnace slowly ramps up to speed, so there’s no sudden ‘kick’ or blast of air at start-up. When the furnace is not heating or cooling and the fan is in the constant operation mode, it can continue to slowly and inexpensively mix the air throughout your home. This allows your filters to capture more contaminants (because air is constantly passing through them), so you can breath easier. When moisture levels are high, there’s a higher potential for mold growth and other pollutant problems. Compared to a single-speed furnace, a variable speed furnace is more effective at drawing moisture from the air for improved air quality and comfort. The variable speed motor will typically use only about 75 watts of power per hour, compared to a conventional blower that uses abut 400 watts.
Why should I choose an ENERGY STAR product for my home? –
Whether you live in a warm or cold region, you’re probably feeling the pinch of high utility bills. An ENERGY STAR qualified comfort system can help you cut energy costs and save hundreds of dollars every year. ENERGY STAR is a U.S. government-sponsored program that helps businesses and homeowners save energy and protect the environment by giving them the information they need to make smart choices about efficiency. A key component of this program is the ENERGY STAR label, which recognizes excellence in energy-efficient performance. One of the strongest reasons for choosing an ENERGY STAR-labeled product over a conventional model is that it can deliver significant savings. An ENERGY STAR furnace can reduce your heating costs by as much as 40% and an ENERGY STAR rated air conditioner can save you up to 50% on your cooling bills. Proper sizing and installation of equipment is always critical to achieve optimal performance. Split system air conditioners and heat pumps must be matched with appropriate coil components to meet ENERGY STAR criteria. Ask us for details or visit www.energystar.gov. Given that the average household heating and cooling costs amount to about $600 a year (nearly half of your home’s total energy bill), it makes sense to choose a higher-efficiency system. If you install a new ENERGY STAR heating or cooling system, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500 (dependent upon your system choices). By creating a more efficient home environment you are contributing to a cleaner global environment. According to the EPA, if just one in ten households installed ENERGY STAR heating and cooling products, the change would keep more than 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air. Advanced technologies that improve energy efficiency also enhance your comfort, so you can enjoy more even temperatures, better humidity control and a constant flow of warm air.
World Plumbing Day March 11th –