Should You Buy a Gas Or Propane Furnace? You Might Not Have to Choose!
Purchasing a new furnace system is one of the biggest decisions most homeowners ever have to face. Happily, once purchased, a new furnace typically lasts for a good 15 years with basic preventative maintenance.
However, in many cases, a home may change hands one or more times before the furnace ever needs replacing... and the homeowner tasked with the challenge may have never researched or selected a new furnace before.
That homeowner could be you, reading this article right now.
If so, we want you to know about a new furnace option that provides more flexibility with fuel choice and more efficiency (thus lower energy bills) than ever before.
This furnace is going to have a number of features that give you a great deal of control over its operation and what you have to spend to stay warm in winter. Read on to learn about the new breed of high-efficiency, dual-fuel furnace you are guaranteed to fall in love with.
Fuel Conversion from Natural Gas to Propane Is Now Possible
Here at Bi-Temp, we are proud to stock, sell, repair, maintain and install the full line of Carrier furnaces.
Carrier is a company at the leading edge of furnace and HVAC technology and offers furnaces for every budget and size of space, as well as every type of heating need.
One of the neatest features that nearly all Carrier furnaces offer is the option of switching from natural gas fuel to propane.
This innovation was the result of a long-time request from Carrier’s Canadian customers, because fuel prices can and do fluctuate from one province or region to the next, and often from rural to urban areas as well.
While making the switch back and forth between natural gas and propane (or vice versa) is not considered a do-it-yourself task, it is relatively easy and certainly quite affordable to accomplish.
A natural gas Carrier furnace can now run on propane gas as well by replacing burner orifices, installing specialized screws and switches, and making certain of other minor modifications.
What the Average Homeowner Spends on Heating
Keeping your home warm during our notoriously rough and tumble winter season is one of the biggest expenses of owning a home here in Canada.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that a full 61 percent of most homeowners’ typical energy bill is devoted to just one utility: home heating.
To that point, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario’s (FAO) recent homeowner survey indicates the average household spends about $2,358 per year just on energy.
Sixty-one percent of $2,358 is just over $1,438. That is quite a lot of money to spend just on heating! During some months, heating bills alone can readily top $300.
NOTE: For actual costs, you can use the easy formula of [my annual energy costs] x 0.61 = [my annual heating costs] to adjust the FAO’s numbers.
How Furnace Efficiency Lowers Your Heating Bills
If you have an older furnace that is nearing its less-than-golden years, you may be getting anywhere from 70 to 80 percent energy efficiency.
This is because most older units are equipped with only a single heat exchanger, which means a lot of potentially usable heat gets wasted with every cycle.
New high-efficiency Carrier furnaces are equipped with a secondary heat exchanger, or condenser. This cutting-edge feature is able to recycle otherwise lost heat energy to recapture 10-plus percent of the heat generated from the combustion process itself.
It also brings the efficiency rating up to anywhere from 90 to 98.5 percent for today’s modern furnace.
So what might that look like in terms of energy savings?
We just learned that the typical homeowner spends around $1,438 per year just to run the furnace in winter. Based on this general number, what would you save if you got an extra 10 to 20 percent efficiency from the fuel you are purchasing?
An extra 10 percent efficiency would net you around $144 back in your pocket. An extra 20 percent efficiency would get you to the $288 range – that’s saving almost a full 30 days of heating costs each year!
Meet the New Breed of High-Efficiency Carrier Furnaces
Today’s Carrier natural gas (or propane gas) and oil furnaces are designed with a wide range of homes and homeowners in mind.
But all Carrier furnaces deliver high-efficiency performance to a range of 90 percent to 98.5 percent AFUE (average fuel utilization efficiency).
Carrier’s premium Infinity® series furnaces each feature quiet, multi-stage operation and even home-wide humidity control. Certain models also feature the proprietary Greenspeed™ adaptable modulating gas valve, which can adjust heat output precisely in 1 percent increments (range 40 to 100) to adapt heating needs to seasonal shifts.
Carrier’s mid-range Performance™ series furnaces find the perfect middle ground between premium perks and affordable budget-friendly features. Many models feature Carrier’s proprietary SmartEvap™ and ideal Humidity System® technology to help balance humidity levels seasonally.
Carrier’s budget-range Comfort™ series furnaces provide the perfect blend of economy and efficiency for smaller spaces and smaller budgets. These simpler furnace systems also incorporate many of the latest comfort control features to keep you warm and cozy for years to come.
All three Carrier furnace lines offer the option of customized operation and thermostat control with programmable thermostats.
Get in Touch
Are you ready to upgrade your furnace to a new high-efficiency, fuel-saving model? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Want to Save Up to $1,000 on Winter Heating Bills? Read This Now!
Here in Canada, current weather projections indicate our winter is going to be even colder than normal.
If you have prior experience with Canadian winters, you know that is really saying something!
Every year, we get those emergency calls from customers who are facing a sudden mid-winter furnace outage. We sure don’t want this to happen to you!
But neither do we want you to spring for a new furnace prematurely if your current furnace just needs some TLC to do its best work once again this winter.
In this timely post, we share our favorite tips for making a decision between furnace replacement and furnace repair before winter arrives in earnest.
Evaluate Your Furnace’s Current Performance
The first question to ask is whether you feel your furnace is performing up to expectations. To consider this, you will have to think back to the end of last winter.
What were your energy bills like? Were you hearing any strange sounds coming from the general direction of your furnace equipment? Did you feel your home was evenly heated from one room to the next? Was your furnace operation reasonably quiet?
The reason we want you to start here is that sometimes when you are dealing with heating issues, it isn’t actually the furnace that is to blame! When you take the time to identify exactly what you are dissatisfied with, this can lead you back to the real culprit for a timely fix.
Take a Good Look at Your Air Ducts
Here is one common example: your furnace bills start escalating and certain rooms are warmer than others.
But when your HVAC service technician comes out to do a tune-up and safety inspection, you are told that your furnace is in tip-top shape!
So what could be causing the problem? This is always the right time to stop and consider when the last time was that you checked your ducts.
The average duct system has a one- to two-decade shelf life before major repairs or a full replacement becomes necessary. Sometimes ducts can last longer than this, but it is the exception rather than the rule.
A system of older ducts is more likely to be the recipient of patchwork repairs and fixes over the years, including hand-wrapped insulation, tape around connection points, sagging ducts that are propped up on boxes or bins and so forth.
The more degraded your ducts become, the more air leakage will occur. This is especially the case around connection points near the central blower.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that poorly maintained ducts may allow up to 30 percent of temperature-controlled air to leak out before it ever gets to its destination at the other end of the duct.
If your indoor heating is uneven from room to room, this is another prime indicator that you have damaged ducts that are leaking air.
Once our technicians go in to repair and/or replace damaged ductwork, our customers are usually surprised and delighted to discover that their “problem furnace” was never the problem at all!
Potential savings: The average Canadian homeowner spends $2,358 on energy annually, with an estimated 61 percent of that, or $1,438, going to running the furnace. You stand to recuperate up to 30 percent of the air you are paying to heat by simply sealing up your ducts and making strategic repairs or replacements as needed. Recapturing that extra 30 percent trims your heating bill by $431.
Weatherstrip, Seal and Insulate
If your ducts aren’t letting the warm air out, there is a good chance it is your home itself that is letting the air escape.
And if you live in an older home, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that up to 20 percent of your heating and cooling costs annually can be chalked up to air leaks.
Not every homeowner has an inner do-it-yourselfer inside them, but if you do, weatherstripping, caulking, sealing and insulating tasks are simple enough to do during your spare time. If your inner DIY-er is missing, we would be happy to work with you to get these tasks checked off your list before winter arrives.
Potential savings: Using the same average numbers as in the previous example, recapturing that 20 percent of lost warm air nets you a $287 savings on your furnace bills.
Schedule Your Fall Furnace Inspection and Tune-up
It isn’t a stretch to understand how a poorly maintained furnace might deliver sub-par performance. But what is even more important, and what we continually stress to our customers, is that a poorly maintained furnace also represents a significant home fire risk.
When you go more than one winter without scheduling at least a basic safety inspection for your furnace components, your risk of a home fire increases exponentially.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), nearly half of all home fires take place in December, January and February. The number one cause of furnace-related home heating fires is failure to clean and maintain the equipment.
On a happier note, when you do schedule a tune-up and safety inspection, you will reap rewards of up to 20 percent in energy efficiency improvements, trimming yet another big chunk off of your winter heating bills.
Potential savings: Once again referencing our average data, 20 percent of $1,438 is $287.
You Just Saved $1,000 On Winter Heating Expenses
Repairing and resealing your ducts recaptures up to 30 percent of warm air. Weatherstripping and sealing recaptures another 20 percent of warm air. A basic annual furnace tune-up recaptures still another 20 percent of warm air.
This is recapturing up to 70 percent of the warmed air you are paying for, for a potential winter heating bill savings of up to $1,000.
Get in Touch
Ready to save this winter? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Fall Furnace Maintenance: Is Your Furnace Ready to Keep You Warm?
Fall is a time when many Ontario homeowners’ thoughts quite naturally turn to pondering the challenges of the winter season ahead.
Canadian winters are no joke! Not only is winter the longest season in our year here in Canada, but it is also the most expensive and undoubtedly the hardest on our HVAC systems.
With the potential for as much as five months’ worth of extra cold, snowy, extreme weather lurking just around the corner, now is definitely the time to schedule your fall furnace fire safety inspection and preventative maintenance check-up.
Trust us – your wallet will love you for it and you’ll have peace of mind.
How Furnace Preventative Maintenance Helps You Save
It is no secret that winter brings some of the highest energy bills of the whole year.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that a whopping 61 percent of most homeowners’ annual energy bills goes straight to heating.
According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO), the typical homeowner spends around $2,358 per year on energy bills.
This means that about $1,438 of that amount is devoted to keeping warm each winter.
According to the Energy Star program, taking the time to perform basic air sealing and weather stripping combined with preventative duct and furnace maintenance can shave up to 20 percent off of the top of your winter heating bills.
That would mean an extra $287 back in your pocket. Considering that the average cost of a preventative furnace inspection and tune-up is around $150 (less if you opt in for an annual protection plan), right away you have saved nearly $200!
Why Furnace Preventative Maintenance Keeps You Safe
We haven’t yet talked to any client who doesn’t find the idea of saving $200 to $300 per year on heating costs quite appealing.
However, there is an even more compelling reason than cost savings to schedule your preventative fall furnace maintenance: fire safety.
The National Fire Protection Association reports (NFPA) that heating equipment is currently one of the leading causes of home fires throughout North America.
Not only has heating equipment caused 15 percent of all home fires historically, but it has also been the cause of 19 percent of all fire-related fatalities.
The number one reason cited for heating equipment-related home fires is a simple failure to clean and maintain the home heating system. Here, four types of systems are especially implicated: space heaters, stationary central heaters, fireplaces or chimneys and water heaters.
And consider this: almost half of all heating equipment-related home fires occur during December, January and February, which are just up ahead on our calendar.
What Is Included With a Furnace Safety Inspection and Maintenance Checkup?
An annual furnace safety inspection, tune-up and maintenance service is the best way to make sure your HVAC system is not a fire risk or an energy hog.
Here is what you can expect to happen during your preventative furnace maintenance service:
Thorough cleaning of the exterior and interior of furnace components
Cleaning of interior and exterior coils
Test of refrigerant levels with leak detection (if indicated)
Test and cleaning of blower motor, amp draw and air intake grill
Test for leaks, fumes, pilot light or ignition, pressure, burners
Test and repairing or replacing of thermocouple (if indicated)
Inspection of all systems and parts
Recommendations for minor maintenance, lubrication and repairs
Thermostat accuracy test and calibration (if needed)
Change or cleaning/replacement of air filter
Checking and cleaning drain pan and line (if needed)
Test of air flow through air registers and exhaust vents
Test of electrical connections and outlets
Test of all furnace safety controls and combustion gases (including carbon monoxide)
Full test cycle to evaluate overall performance
At the end of this comprehensive safety inspection and maintenance checkup, your furnace will be in good shape to achieve maximum energy efficiency and reliable performance throughout the winter season.
Additional Timely Ways to Save on Energy This Winter
Saving up to 20 percent on winter heating bills with an annual furnace tune-up is always appreciated. Here are several additional ways you can save even more on heating bills this winter!
We always love informing our clients that you can save up to 15 percent on heating costs with a programmable thermostat.
Change your air filter monthly
It is amazing how many homeowners forget this one simple task, but taking the time to clean or change your furnace air filter each month can trim your energy bill by as much as 15 percent.
It is also one of the most protective actions you can take to guard against home fires this winter.
Seal and insulate windows, doors and structure
You can save up to 32 percent on year-round HVAC energy costs by adding weather stripping, insulation and seals around windows and doors.
In most cases, this is an easy DIY weekend project if you are handy and so inclined, but we are also happy to take care of this energy-saving task for you.
Seal and insulate ductwork
Leaking or sagging ducts lose up to 30 percent of the heated or cooled air your HVAC system generates – before that air ever reaches your air registers!
You can save an additional 20 to 30 percent by having your ductwork cleaned, maintained and insulated.
Upgrade your furnace
If this is the year you decide it is time to upgrade to a new energy-efficient furnace system, you will save up to 15 percent, according to Energy Star. If you are replacing a heat pump, your estimated annual energy savings is 20 percent.
Get in Touch
Are you ready to save money on energy all winter while investing in your own peace of mind? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
New-Construction HVAC Selection: Tips to Make the Perfect Choice
Building your own home or custom workspace can be so exciting. Finally, you can have everything just the way you want it instead of having to make someone else’s vision work for you.
But having the chance to bring your own vision to life can also add to the stress of the process – you want to do everything right the first time. Plus, if you are like most homeowners, your budget isn’t unlimited and mistakes can cost you.
Choosing your new-construction HVAC system may not be the most glamorous aspect of your new-build process, but get it right and we guarantee it will be one of the comfiest!
From heating and cooling options to ductwork decisions, cost estimates to installation approaches, learn what you need to know to make the perfect HVAC decision.
1. To Duct or Not to Duct
In past eras, any new construction consisting of more than two rooms would automatically be a candidate for ducting and installation of a central HVAC system.
Central HVAC systems with a traditional air conditioner paired with a traditional furnace are still the reigning favorite and give you the most options for how to combine your heating and cooling equipment.
Heat pumps are becoming more popular today and also pair well with ductwork. Compact and energy-efficient air-to-air heat pumps are great for smaller spaces. For larger spaces with more available land, geothermal heat pumps offer the greatest energy efficiency and a very long useful life.
But today, you have another cooling option that doesn’t require ductwork: the ductless mini-split.
A ductless mini-split offers quiet, efficient cooling and heating along with the option for zoned thermostat control, which means you can adjust the temperature as needed for up to eight different zones.
Ductless components are non-invasive, simple and compact. The indoor component can be installed on the wall or ceiling. The outdoor component connects to the indoor system by means of a single slim cable.
If you live in an area that doesn’t require air conditioning, a heating boiler paired with a radiator system is yet another option for non-ducted heating. As a perk, a heating boiler can heat your water, too.
2. Fuel Type: Electric, Gas, Propane, Oil, Off-Grid, Combination?
Homes and workplaces today have a dizzying array of options when it comes to fuel.
Fossil fuels are slowly being phased out in favor of more planet-friendly resources, but this process takes time and sometimes traditional fuel sources are still the most readily available and economical choice.
It can be smart to survey power costs for your area before deciding to go all-electric, gas or propane-powered, for instance. Don’t just look at the price today but also examine the trends going back a few years to get a good idea of what you will spend annually (talking to your neighbors can also help here).
Off-grid options like solar and geothermal can require more up-front investment. However, to compensate, they are historically low-maintenance options with a useful life of up to 50 years, meaning these systems typically pay for themselves early on and can even make you money if you can sell unused stored power back to the power company.
In many cases, it is possible to mix and match electric, gas and off-grid options to conserve energy and keep your power bills manageable.
3. Ventilation: How & How Much
As concerns about our planet’s dwindling natural resources continue to increase, there is rising pressure on the construction industry to create new air-tight construction practices to conserve energy.
This has been great for the average homeowner’s power bill but not so great for people’s health. As indoor spaces become more airtight, the ventilation that ensures a continuous supply of fresh, oxygenated air is increasingly absent.
This means it is no longer enough to open a window or door on nice days, especially during the hot summers and long cold winters when the result is a corresponding need to crank the cool or heat.
Ceiling fans aid greatly in air circulation, which can help you conserve energy and lower power bills by inching your thermostat up without feeling noticeably warmer, but they don’t serve a useful ventilation purpose.
In the Toronto area, all new construction is now mandated to include a heat recovery ventilation system – you can think of it as a set of mechanical lungs for your home, since most new construction spaces can no longer “breathe” on their own.
Heat recovery ventilation not only ensures a steady supply of fresh incoming air but it also helps conserve otherwise wasted heat energy and balance the humidity inside your home.
4. Energy Efficiency Appliances & Fixtures
Once you have created your master list of systems and accessories, it is time to get down to the business of choosing the specific appliances and fixtures to outfit your new space.
From low-flow faucets and fixtures to high-efficiency HVAC units to tank vs. tankless water heaters and more, today’s appliances and accessories elevate conserving energy to a fine art.
Choosing the perfect mix of energy-efficient appliances and fixtures is one part selecting complementary systems and one part ensuring your space is set up to maximize their impact.
Selecting the right insulation, applying strategic weather stripping, identifying the optimal thermostat location, installing the right window type and even choosing landscaping that provides shade can all further reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly energy bill.
Why Choose Bi-Temp for Your New-Construction HVAC Needs?
We are licensed and insured to consult on air conditioning, heating, water and other needs for new-construction projects throughout Ontario.
We can also help you with expert installation on all makes and models of new systems and apply on your behalf for all available energy efficiency credits and rebates.
Get in Touch
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Is Your A/C Winding Down Just as Summer Heats Up? 8 Warning Signs to Watch For
Summer is not the season to have your air conditioner suddenly conk out on you.
Yet of course this is the time of year when A/C outages are most likely to occur, since you are using the heck out of it as temperatures climb.
If you do experience an A/C outage, don’t panic. We are just a phone call away and we can get you back up and running (and cooling down) in a jiffy.
But if you know the most common warning signs to watch for, you may be able to stave off an actual outage by making some timely air conditioning repairs.
In this post, learn about eight warning signs that your air conditioner needs maintenance.
1. You start hearing things
An air conditioner in the prime of its life that is running smoothly isn’t going to be “talking” to you. And while it can be tempting to ignore the first minor attempts your A/C unit makes to strike up a conversation, you can be sure that if a whisper doesn’t work, it will escalate to a yell.
Bangs, clangs, squeaking, clanks, rattles, buzzing, whining and low-level white noise – these are all clear signs that your air conditioner needs some overdue attention.
2. Your house smells… funny
Many homeowners don’t initially notice this warning sign because it is easy to get acclimated to your home’s “homey” odour. Using fragranced candles, air fresheners and perfumed household cleaning products can also mask the scent of an air conditioner that is starting to stink.
But if one day you walk inside your home and your nose wrinkles, and all efforts you make to locate the source of the scent still leaves you coming up short, the culprit might be your HVAC system.
If you have central air conditioning that uses a system of ducts, the issue might also be microbial matter (mould, mildew, bacteria) that has colonized your ducts and is sending out its unique stinky signature along with each blast of cooled air.
3. Your home seems more humid
Humidity often increases in the warm summer months, but if your air conditioning system is working properly, you should only feel it when you are outside your house. When your indoor air starts to seem warmer and more humid no matter how much you run your A/C, this may point back to a problem with the air conditioning unit itself.
Older homes with lots of natural ventilation (leaks, cracks) may also benefit from refreshing the weatherstripping, caulking or insulation. In newer homes built to be airtight, the addition of a heat recovery ventilator can help your air conditioner cope with a lack of natural ventilation.
4. The air coming out of your registers feels warm
If there is one deeply dissatisfying experience most homeowners are familiar with, it is running a cooling cycle only to feel warm air blowing out of your registers and vents! Why does this happen?
It could be any number of things, from restricted air flow to a refrigerant leak to an accidental nudge of the thermostat setting from “cool” to “fan” mode.
Anytime refrigerant issues are involved, it is always best to call a pro. Refrigerant may work wonders for cooling down your indoor air, but it is a potent toxin and should only be handled by a professional who knows how to work with it and dispose of it safely.
5. You start to miss the sound of silence between A/C cycles
An air conditioner that never seems to stop running is not only burning a hole through your wallet energy-wise, but it also probably isn’t doing its best work in keeping your home cool.
Too-frequent A/C cycles can point to anything from an improperly sized or installed unit to a simple need for a cleaning and some minor repairs.
6. You hear your A/C working but very little air comes out of your registers.
When your air conditioner is running but you don’t feel much air coming through your registers, this doesn’t always mean your air conditioner itself is malfunctioning. It could also signal an issue with blocked air ducts or simply a dirty air filter.
But there are times when the air conditioner itself is to blame, and often the reason is a malfunctioning blower motor.
7. Your ceiling springs a leak
Finding a water leak inside your home is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through as a homeowner. It can also turn into one of the most expensive issues if you don’t quickly find and remedy the issue.
When your air conditioner starts leaking, it could be something simple like a blocked drainage hose or an overflowing drip pan. But it could also mean there is a refrigerant leak somewhere in your system, and this always requires some help from an HVAC pro.
8. Your cooling bills start increasing
Keeping a close eye on your energy bills can give you an early heads-up that your A/C isn’t doing its best work. When all else remains the same but you start paying more to keep your home cool, it is time to schedule A/C maintenance!
Earn Up to $100 Just By Mentioning Your A/C Service!
How does a cool extra $50 or $100 in your pocket sound?
All you have to do to earn this extra cash is start telling your network about the great A/C or heating service you get with Bi-Temp - make sure they mention your name when they call to schedule service.
For a furnace or A/C purchase, you earn $50. For a combo package, boiler or installation, you earn $100.
Get in Touch
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
3 Types of Home A/C Systems: Which One Do You Need?
For many people, choosing a new air conditioning system can feel overwhelming.
You want to pick out a system that is sized properly for your space so you get maximum value for minimal energy cost, and that doesn’t require you to make expensive modifications to your space.
In this post, learn about the three main types of home air conditioning systems and how to determine which system is best for your space.
Meet the Three Types of Air Conditioners
There are three main types of air conditioning systems in use today, and each one can work well in certain types of spaces.
1. Split Air Conditioning System
The split air conditioner is the type most homeowners are already familiar with. This system houses half of its components indoors and the other half remains outside. Inside, you will find the blower fan and evaporator coil, while the compressor and condenser coil remains outside.
This type of A/C unit, often called a “central air conditioner,” uses a system of air ducts to conduct cooled air to different parts of the home. It also has an air filter to help trap airborne particles and remove them from the air.
Split A/C systems can be as simple or complex as a space demands, serving single or multi-story homes and integrating with third-party appliances such as air filtration systems, ultraviolet purifiers, heat recovery ventilators and more.
2. Packaged Air Conditioning System
Packaged A/C systems also rely on a system of indoor air ducts to transport cooled air throughout your home or office.
These systems get their name from the single unit design – instead of splitting off the condenser and compressor from the blower and evaporator, all are housed together inside the home or on the roof.
These systems are particularly popular where space is at a premium, in hotter climates and when a rooftop installation is preferred.
3. Ductless Air Conditioning Systems
Ductless A/C systems have been popular in Asia and Europe for many years but are just now starting to make an appearance in North America. Their rising popularity is well-justified.
Ductless air conditioners take up far less space than ducted A/Cs and free up valuable floor space in cramped quarters. Since only a small hole is necessary for mounting on a wall, they are also far less invasive than many ducted systems.
Ductless air conditioners, as their name suggests, do not require installation of an air duct system to work. And they can be set up to work in zones to adjust temperature differently in different parts of the home or office, making for more affordable, efficient cooling.
Sizing Your New Air Conditioning System
The next step is to determine what size and capacity of air conditioner is the right fit for the size and configuration of your space.
In past decades, it was popular to take a “the bigger the better” approach to sizing air conditioners. We now know this is a mistake, and a costly one at that. Installing an A/C unit too big for your house can drive up your utility bills, create indoor humidity and generate extra repairs.
There are several measures that can help determine which air conditioner is sized properly for your space and cooling needs.
Cooling capacity is a term that measures how quickly and effectively an A/C unit can cool your space in 60 minutes.
Two different measurements are used to calculate cooling capacity: BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and tonnage. It doesn’t matter which unit of measurement is used. What is important to know is that 12,000 BTUs is equal to 1 ton of cooling capacity.
SEER is a term that stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You can think of this like the mpg (miles per gallon) ratings for various cars. Some cars just get more miles per gallon of gas.
In the same way, some air conditioners just get more cooling capacity per unit of energy. SEER is not tied to the size of the unit, however, but to the local climate where you live. Two identically sized units can and often do have very different SEER ratings.
The best option here is to look for an air conditioner that is Energy Star-certified. This basically means the A/C unit uses less energy to do the same work as other similar units.
As you might imagine, it can take some number crunching to match the right cooling capacity and SEER rating to the size and configuration of your space.
This is called the load calculation, and it factors in more than 10 different variables to arrive at the right unit for you.
Get a FREE, No Obligation A/C Quote
Is your existing A/C unit starting to show signs of old age? Are you in the market for a new unit but are not sure what size, configuration or options to choose?
Let us help you! One of our prompt, professional and highly trained service technicians will meet you at your home to analyze your cooling needs and generate a free, no-obligation quote for a properly sized, highly efficient and affordable air conditioner.
Complete this online form to schedule your quote.
Get in Touch
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Need a New Water Heater? Renting May Be the Most Affordable Option!
When you move from province to province within Canada, home utility habits can change markedly.
For example, if you were previously living in Alberta, chances are high you owned your own hot water tank.
But if you’ve recently relocated to Ontario, it may surprise you to learn that most Ontarians rent their water heater!
Why are habits so different from one province to the next? Do Ontarians know something Albertans don’t?
When You Leave, Your Water Heater Stays Behind
All things considered, a hot water heater may not look that big or bulky, but you can’t easily take it with you when you leave, nor do most homeowners try.
With more Canadians living more mobile lives than at any other time in modern history, renting a hot water heater can make smart financial sense for a variety of reasons.
Buy Versus Rent: A Cost Comparison
To give you a better sense of how the costs can work out if you choose to buy a hot water heater versus renting your unit, here is a little side-by-side cost comparison to consider.
Buying and installing a hot water heater
The first thing many homeowners forget when shopping around for a hot water heater is that the purchase price is only a portion of the expense when you own your own hot water heater.
You also have to pay a contractor to install it for you. This especially holds true if you want to apply for any energy efficiency upgrade credits or rebates offered in Ontario. Often, your contractor must be approved at the provincial level and must apply for the rebates on your behalf.
The cost of your new hot water heater (40- to 50-gallon capacity) can range from $350 to $1,500+ depending on model (tank or tankless) and fuel type (electric, gas, solar, etc.).
The cost to install your new water heater depends in part on the model. Tank models take a few hours to install and tankless models can take a full day if you are changing from a tank model.
Expect to pay $350+ for a tank model installation and up to $1,500 for a tankless installation.
When you choose to own your water heater, you will also need to pay for an annual inspection and maintenance service and for repairs as needed to keep your unit under warranty protection.
An annual inspection and maintenance service costs around $150. Repairs can easily cost the same or more depending on what needs service.
Renting a hot water heater
The typical rental fee for a hot water heater can cost anywhere from $15 to $55+ per month depending on the model and capacity of the unit.
In the vast majority of cases, this monthly rate includes preventative maintenance plus 24-hour repair service.
4 Smart Reasons to Consider Renting Your Hot Water Heater
These are four of the most common reasons our customers give for wanting to rent a hot water heater instead of buying one.
1. You can change providers when changing tanks without penalty
The Ontario Consumer Protection Act (OCPA) protects you if you want to change hot water heater providers as part of replacing your hot water heater itself.
The OCPA also protects you from rate hikes, early termination penalties and equipment buyout fees when you switch providers as a part of switching to a new hot water heater.
2. Maintenance and repairs are included in the rental agreement
It is definitely vital to read the fine print in your rental contract to ensure you understand how and how often preventative maintenance and repairs will be handled.
Reputable hot water heater rental companies will spell out these details plainly in your contract, specifying how repairs will be handled and what is and isn’t covered under your rental agreement (for example, repairs related to normal versus excessive wear and tear).
3. It is easier to keep your budget balanced month to month
When you rent your hot water heater, typically the annual maintenance costs plus unexpected repair needs are included with the monthly rental fee.
This way, you don’t have to experience the stress and worry that comes along with a hot water outage and a major unexpected repair bill at a time your budget really isn’t equipped to accommodate it.
4. You may have a rent-to-own option as well
If you do want to purchase a hot water heater but your current budget won’t stretch to purchase a new unit outright, some providers offer rent-to-own contracts as well.
Some of these contracts even include 0% financing with extended 12-year options available to make payments easy and affordable as you go.
Since a new hot water heater that receives regular (at least once per year) preventative maintenance can easily last 15 years, sometimes it can make good sense to lease to own if you plan to stay in the same area over time.
Choose Your Rental Company Wisely
Media coverage of unethical door-to-door hot water heater salespeople using pressure tactics has been widespread. So too has been coverage for unfair contracts that trap customers into signing an agreement with no end date!
The bottom line here is that when you decide to rent a hot water heater rather than buying one, the rental company you choose to work with really matters.
We recommend that all of our rental customers read about their consumer rights and be aware of what is and isn’t fair in a hot water heater rental contract.
Get in Touch
Is your hot water heater starting to slow down? We offer affordable models for sale and rent!
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
P.S. Don't miss out: our special spring A/C tune-up offer includes a FREE air filter!
Is Your A/C Ready for Spring? How to Know For Sure!
The first day of spring has come and gone. Even though it may not feel like it yet, warmer weather is just around the corner!
It nearly goes without saying that your furnace is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Your air conditioner, on the other hand, is looking ahead into the busiest season of its whole year.
Are you feeling confident your A/C is up to the challenge?
While it may feel tempting to believe your air conditioner’s lengthy winter rest was sufficient to shake off any performance issues from last summer, unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
A better strategy is to learn the warning signs that indicate your air conditioner needs maintenance or repairs and take care of these minor issues before they become major.
A/C Maintenance Can Control Rising Cooling Costs
While spending money on utilities is not typically on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, at the same time, it sure can feel nice to stay comfy and cool inside as temperatures heat up.
But you don’t want to pay a premium to do so, either.
According to Natural Resources Canada, approximately three percent of the energy bill you pay each year is devoted to cooling your space. Knowing this can help you track cooling expenses over time. Increases can be a warning sign that all is not well with your air conditioner.
In fact, according to the Department of Energy, simply changing out the A/C filter monthly can reduce what you spend to run your air conditioner by up to 15 percent.
So imagine how much more efficient your air conditioner will be after being cleaned, tuned-up, lubricated and serviced!
7 Reasons You Are Paying More for Cooling
While air conditioning technology has delivered skyrocketing energy efficiency in recent years, the actual mechanics of how A/C systems work to deliver cool air has stayed consistent over time.
This means that if your cooling bills are increasing, chances are good one of these seven common problems may be to blame!
Refrigerant is that “magic ingredient” that keeps your air conditioner blowing cool air. When levels get low due to leaks or other causes, you may notice yourself cranking the A/C to stay cool.
Improper sensor position
This is particularly important for window unit and zoned A/C systems, which rely on sensors to adjust temperature cycles accordingly. If the sensor is pointing in the wrong direction, dirty or in the path of direct sunlight, the A/C unit may cycle more than is needed.
An improperly calibrated thermostat can cause your air conditioner to think it needs to run more than it really does to meet your cooling needs.
As your air conditioner cycles, it creates moisture (condensate) that then needs to be drained away from the unit. When the drain gets blocked, this often triggers a float switch that sends a warning signal to the unit itself to power down.
If your A/C unit frequently short-cycles (turns itself off prematurely) and you feel like you are always fighting to stay cool enough, a clogged drain may be the culprit.
Clogged air filter
The air filter operates much like your air conditioner’s “lungs.” Its job is to keep dirt, dust, debris and detritus from blowing into the interior components of the A/C unit and causing damage or blockage.
But over time, as the air filter traps more and more debris, it becomes clogged. At this point, it has to work harder and harder to push air through the filter and out into your home. This will run up your energy bill and lower cooling efficiency at the same time.
A series of breakers, fuses and electrical contacts keep critical components of the A/C unit from wearing out or overheating. If the electrical controls are not functioning properly, the blower motor or condenser fan motor can overheat and stop working, causing major repair needs.
All kinds of things can happen as ductwork ages. Ducts can begin to sag or even tear away from the connection points. Leaks and tears may occur as material degrades or unwelcome winter visitors like insects or small animals make their way inside.
Ducts can also fill up with debris over the years, acting like a clogged filter to slow down air flow. When debris backs up into the A/C unit, a major outage or fire hazard is possible.
A/C Maintenance Ensures You Pay Only for Cooling You Really Need
If your A/C unit is still new and under warranty, scheduling annual preventative maintenance can be a requirement for keeping your warranty active.
For an older unit, preventative maintenance can make the difference between controlling cooling costs and watching them skyrocket.
For a late-life A/C unit, maintenance can extend its useful life and delay the need for costly upgrades.
Here at Bi-Temp, our recommended safety inspection and preventative maintenance A/C service includes each of the following:
Refrigerant leak test, level check and refill (if necessary)
Inspection of all connections, fuses, breakers, thermostat, sensors, components
Inspection and cleaning of drainage pan and hose
Lubrication of all moving parts, fans, motors
Replacement or cleaning of filter (depending on filter type)
Thorough interior and exterior cleaning, including evaporator and condenser coils
Thermostat calibration and blower motor/cooling cycle efficiency test
Inspection of ductwork and repair recommendations as needed
Recommendation of minor repairs
Overall safety inspection of the unit, components and A/C operation
Get in Touch
Take advantage of our nifty spring offer: schedule your air conditioner inspection and tune-up service and we will install a 1-inch air filter at the time of service, absolutely FREE!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Furnace Versus Heating Boiler: Which System Saves You the Most?
Heating boilers are particularly common and popular in colder climates that are farther from the equator, such as what we experience here in Canada.
Then again, forced air furnace systems are popular in the same types of climates for the same reasons.
You may have more familiarity with one system over the other depending on where you have lived and in what climate you grew up.
In this post, we take a look at the similarities and differences between a heating boiler and a traditional furnace system so you can learn more about each to help you decide which you should have.
Meet the Forced Air Furnace
If you are used to having warm air blowing down onto your head or up at your feet, chances are good the appliance doing all that blowing is a forced air furnace.
A forced air furnace uses a heat exchanger to blow (“force”) air into a duct network to keep you warm.
This heating system heats the air, which in turn raises the temperature in the room and heats you.
A furnace can run on electricity, natural gas, propane gas, oil or wood.
Meet the Heating Boiler
A heating boiler uses hot water or steam to send heat energy through a distribution system. That heat then radiates out into the room (hence the term “radiant heater”) to warm you up.
Heating boilers can work with radiant flooring, wall pipes, hydronic air handlers (a type of duct system) or old-fashioned radiators to do their work.
A heating boiler can run on electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, coal or wood.
In some cases, heating boilers can also accommodate your hot water needs.
The Forced Air Furnace & Heating Boiler Go Head to Head
Now let’s take a closer look at each system and see how they stack up in terms of initial cost, ease of installation, maintenance and more!
Initial purchase and installation costs
There is no doubt that the forced air furnace wins hands down in the initial cost department—that is, as long as you have an existing central duct system already in place and you have ready access to your chosen fuel type.
A recent survey showed that the cost for a new furnace plus installation ranges from $1,950 to $5,780.
However, heating boilers can also deliver your hot water, which can make them look like the real bargain if you need to replace the water heater too. The national average for purchasing a new heating boiler plus installation ranges from $3,418 to $7,672.
Overall energy efficiency
The energy efficiency of a forced air furnace or heating boiler is expressed as an AFUE number. AFUE stands for “annual fuel utilization efficiency.”
A new forced air furnace will generally deliver anywhere from 80 to 97.5 percent energy efficiency, not counting losses due to duct transmission, which can add up to 35 percent or greater.
New heating boilers can deliver between 87 and 90+ percent energy efficiency depending on the fuel source and extra features such as an electric pilot light and sealed combustion to minimize wasted energy.
In most cases, you will realize slightly higher energy efficiency by choosing a heating boiler since you won't face energy losses as air passes through the air duct network.
The amount of space your new system requires will depend on what type of system you select. If you opt for an outside-only unit, the only inside space you need will be whatever is required to install a distribution system (ducts, pipes, etc.).
Inside-outside furnace systems typically install the interior component in the basement, attic or crawl space.
A multi-purpose heating boiler equipped with a tank for hot water may be wall mount-equipped to conserve floor space.
If either system requires interior floor space inside your main living area, typically the minimum floor space required is equivalent to what a free-standing floor washer and dryer system would need.
Both a furnace and a heating boiler will need at least once-annual maintenance and safety inspections for both energy efficiency and safety reasons.
Maintenance for the typical forced air furnace is slightly more costly and labour-intensive because there are simply more components to maintain.
You will need to change the furnace filters regularly (typically every month during winter). Other needs include cleaning your air registers and exhaust vents, and periodically having your indoor air duct system cleaned and maintained.
Heating boilers have fewer components to inspect and maintain. Boilers don’t use filters and most don’t have any ductwork at all. However, if your boiler has a tank, you will need to drain and clean it once per year along with its annual safety inspection.
New models of forced air furnaces and heating boilers have the same average life expectancy of 15 to 30 years.
What can impact the useful life of your new system is how well you maintain it, plus your use patterns. A well-maintained furnace or boiler can last into the triple decades.
What About Air Conditioning?
A forced air furnace system is still the most popular heating system because the presence of a duct system makes it easy to deliver both warm and cool air throughout your space.
However, it is relatively simple to install air conditioning via a new energy-efficient ductless mini-split, which uses a zone system to help you control your costs for cooling each zone in your home.
And if you have an existing air duct system but you want to convert over to a heating boiler system for heat, the air ducts can still come in quite handy for delivering cool air.
Get in Touch
Do you need expert guidance to choose between a new forced air furnace system or a new heating boiler system? We can help!
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Different Types of Heat Pumps: Pick the One That Is Right for You
Heat pump technology is not new, although it is still lesser-known to many. In fact, it is the same technology your refrigerator uses to keep your food cold, safe and fresh!
In past decades, heat pumps have been less common in colder climates like Canada’s.
Today, this is starting to change. Heat pumps have a lot to offer, from lowering your heating and cooling bills to lessening your impact on the environment.
In this article, we review the different types of heat pumps and what each has to offer so you can pick the one that is best for you.
Switching to a Heat Pump Can Save You a Lot!
According to the Department of Energy, a heat pump has the ability to provide the same basic heating and cooling for as little as one-quarter of the cost of what you pay to have a traditional air conditioner and furnace system do that job.
What might that look like in terms of annual cost savings? Let’s take a look!
According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, the average Ontario-area homeowner pays $2,358 per year for energy.
Natural Resources Canada reports that, on average, heating consumes around 61 percent of household energy use and cooling consumes 3 percent of the same, adding up to 64 percent.
What this means is the typical Ontarian spends around $1,509 annually for heating and cooling. If this is true for you, imagine now that you have switched to a heat pump for your heating and cooling needs. This trims three-quarters of your costs, leaving you with an annual bill of just $377.
Now it is easier to see why heat pumps are starting to catch on in a big way here in Canada!
3 Main Types of Heat Pumps
There are three main types of heat pumps in use for residential spaces today. They are the air-to-air heat pump, the water source heat pump and the geothermal heat pump.
While each type of heat pump does the same basic thing, how they get the energy to do their work is slightly different. This difference can make one type of heat pump a better fit for certain spaces than the others.
Air-to-air heat pump
The air-to-air heat pump, as its name suggests, “pumps” or moves heat energy in the air from one place to the other.
For example, in summer, an air-to-air heat pump moves heat energy out of your home to keep it cooler. In the winter, the process reverses: the heat pump moves heat energy from outside air into your home to pre-warm the air and keep your house warmer.
Air-to-air heat pumps are the least efficient of the three types of heat pumps, but they can still trim a whopping 50 percent off of your annual heating and cooling bills. Another perk is that this type of heat pump can help to move excess humidity out of your home to reduce the threat of mould and mildew.
Another advantage to this type of heat pump is that it comes in a ductless mini-split version.
Water source heat pump
The water source heat pump comes in two forms. One type is an air-to-air heat pump that heats and cools water rather than air. This type is called a “reverse cycle chiller” and can be used with existing radiant floor heating systems.
A second type of water source heat pump is a geothermal heat pump designed to move energy to and from a water source rather than the ground (hence the name).
A water source heat pump is going to be more efficient than an air-to-air heat pump, trimming up to 60 percent off your annual heating and cooling bill.
Geothermal heat pump
A geothermal heat pump moves energy to and from the ground. Sometimes called a ground source heat pump, it can trim your energy bill by 60 percent or more and also help with balancing indoor air humidity levels year-round.
There are two basic configurations to choose from with a geothermal heat pump: horizontal or vertical. The latter is best for residences where land space is at a premium.
What About a Heat Pump + Hot Water Heater?
Today’s heat pump technology is evolving quite rapidly and exploring many new ways to recycle energy that might otherwise be wasted.
Some heat pumps can be equipped with a device called a “de-superheater,” which recycles heat energy to heat your water two or even three times more efficiently than a traditional tank hot water heater.
Other Useful Heat Pump Perks
There are a number of additional perks built into many of today’s heat pump systems.
Some heat pumps designed for use in extremely cold climates have a built-in backup electric resistance heater or backup burner that will automatically take over should the need arise. Fuel options for a backup burner heat pump include oil, natural gas, propane, coal or wood.
Other heat pumps have unique motors that help maximize useful air flow while minimizing drafts and noise. Still others have what’s called a scroll compressor, which boosts efficiency and operating life while minimizing noise.
Today’s heat pumps can also integrate with zone systems just like traditional HVAC systems to help you conserve on heating and cooling costs in unused rooms.
Get Rebates or Credits for Converting to a Heat Pump!
Government or carrier rebates and incentives are often available for customers who convert to a heat pump. We can help you select and apply for all available incentives you qualify for.
Get in Touch
Here at Bi-Temp, we are proud to offer the Carrier and Mitsubishi heat pump lines. Contact us for help determining which type of heat pump system is right for you.
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Building a Home? 7 Tips to Be Sure Your New Furnace Is the Right Match!
Building a home is exciting! After so many years of trying to make a space designed by someone else work for you, you now get to create a space all your own.
Naturally, you want everything you choose for your dream home to be perfect—including your heating and cooling system.
There is just one tiny problem: you don't know a thing about furnaces! How can you be sure your new furnace is really going to be the right match for the size and layout of your new space?
In this post, we offer seven top tips to help you choose the perfect new furnace.
1. Choose Your Furnace Fuel Wisely
Electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, air source, geothermal, biomass… this group represents the most popular heating and cooling fuel types in use by homeowners today.
There are all kinds of factors that can play into which fuel you want to use for home temperature control.
If you are building a low-energy “green” home, you might be keen to use air source or geothermal energy via a heat pump.
Propane and natural gas are two clean-burning fuels that can be particularly smart choices in areas prone to power outages.
Electricity typically requires the least preparation up front and may require less of an up-front investment in appliance costs.
Oil is still popular in some areas but isn't always as economical or readily available.
If you are struggling to decide on one over the others, studying recent fuel price trends and researching initial appliance and setup costs can be helpful as a tie-breaker.
2. Get the Furnace Sizing Right the First Time
According to Green Building Advisor, the majority of furnaces installed in new construction homes today are still oversized for the space.
In past decades, this was standard practice. The thought process was that too much power was better than not enough. But today we know this does you as the homeowner and the environment a great disservice. A too-powerful HVAC system will draw more power and cost you more money without doing a better job.
With today’s technology, it is possible to size your new furnace precisely to fit your new space. By factoring in everything from square footage to number of windows to type of insulation to climate zone, you can determine the right size and configuration for your space.
3. Decide Whether or Not to Add Ducts
In past decades, central (ducted) HVAC systems have been the norm for multi-room spaces. Today, ducted systems are still popular, but they are not the only choice.
With the introduction of the ductless mini-split, a type of ductless system popular in Europe and Asia that is just now making its way to North America, it is possible to dispense with ductwork. This can be especially useful in more complicated spaces, where running ductwork becomes challenging.
Ductless mini-split systems divide your home into different zones. This can help you control heating and cooling costs by room to save money all year long and dispense with duct maintenance.
4. Is a Heating Boiler Better?
Of course, in all the discussion about which furnace to choose, it is easy to forget a furnace isn't actually your only choice!
While a furnace heats air, a boiler heats water to keep you warm. But each requires a different type of distribution system to get that heat where it needs to go.
With new construction that allows you to set up your distribution infrastructure, the choice often boils (pardon the pun) down to one of personal preference. Some people simply prefer one over the other.
Here, it can be helpful to know that a steam-based boiler requires a higher operating temperature than a hot water-based boiler, which can make a steam-based boiler slightly less efficient and thus more expensive to operate. But today, high efficiency steam boilers are available to lessen this gap.
5. What About an Air Source or Geothermal Heat Pump?
Across the landscape of heating and cooling options, it is true the air source and geothermal heat pump systems are still the new kids on the block. But each has some significant advantages to offer over more traditional HVAC systems in terms of providing eco-friendly, energy-efficient heating and cooling.
The air-source heat pump uses heat energy in the air and the geothermal heat pump uses heat energy from the ground/water to provide temperature control for your home.
Both systems typically use ductwork like a traditional central HVAC system. However, some heat pumps can work without ducts or be integrated to work with radiant flooring.
By harnessing trapped energy stored in air or the ground/water, these heat pump systems give the energy efficiency rating of your home a major boost: up to 50 percent with an air-source heat pump and as much as 60 percent with a geothermal heat pump!
6. Claim Your Energy Efficiency Rebates and Credits!
Energy Star offers a number of rebates and/or credits as incentives to homeowners to make energy-efficient choices.
Natural Resources Canada maintains an active database detailing available rebates and credits by province, source and construction type (residential/commercial).
Your choice of contractor can be important here, since some credits and rebates require the contractor to submit on your behalf. Researching available incentives in advance can help you save money and make your decision of which HVAC system to invest in easier!
7. Don't Forget to Ventilate!
Today's low-energy, high-efficiency airtight construction standards may be great for your energy bill, but they aren't so good for indoor ventilation.
Talk to your contractor about adding a heat recovery ventilator to keep your indoor air fresh.
Get in Touch
Are you overwhelmed by sorting through your options for heating and cooling your new home? We can help!
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.