A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air Blog: Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

4 Factors to Consider When Buying a Heat Pump

Monday, February 13th, 2023

So you are looking to invest in a heat pump. You are not alone––many Americans are making the switch.

Why? For starters, heat pumps are generally more efficient than a traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. What is more, they offer both heating and cooling, so they are versatile. 

At A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air Inc., we want to help you make wise decisions that meet your Hood River home’s needs.

Why? Because we want you to be satisfied with your heat pump for years to come.

How to Choose a Heat Pump for Your Oregon Home

Here are four questions to ask yourself when picking out a new heat pump:

1. How much do I want to spend up front?

Heat pumps offer you more efficiency. Geothermal and water-source heat pumps, in particular, are incredibly efficient since they use a minimal amount of electricity to transfer heat.

While many of the more efficient products have a higher initial cost than a conventional furnace or air conditioner. A good rule of thumb is the more you invest up front, the less you will pay in the long run. It is up to you to decide which heat pump is best for your budget.

2. What type of heat pump do I want?

Air-source, mini split, water-source, and geothermal are a few main types of heat pumps.

Air-source pumps transfer heat from the outdoor air to warm your Oregon home in the winter and expel heat from your home during the summer. This type of heat pump is so efficient, the US Department of Energy (DOE) asserts an “air-source heat pump can deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes.”

Mini splits work similarly but without ducts—which is why they are also called ductless units.

Water-source heat pumps draw heat from a pond, lake, or water deposit, while geothermal heat pumps draw from below the surface. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

3. Will I need a dual-fuel system?

Some heat pumps can’t operate as efficiently in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why if you live in a climate with freezing winters, you might need a dual-fuel system.

A dual-fuel system is a heat pump supplemented with a different heating appliance. When temperatures are too low for your heat pump to operate efficiently, your furnace or boiler will kick on.

Talk to one of our A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air Inc. HVAC professionals to determine if this is necessary in your case.

4. What type of thermostat should I buy?

In addition to your heat pump, our highly trained and experienced experts can install new heating and cooling controls. Based on your Hood River home needs, you can choose between a standard, programmable, or Wi-Fi thermostat.

Standard thermostats have a simple, familiar interface. They provide you with a Heat or Cool option and On or Auto fan control. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically lower your home temperature during certain hours of the day when you will not be home.

Wi-Fi thermostats can be controlled remotely using your smartphone or tablet. Depending on the model, your Wi-Fi thermostat may even offer energy-usage analytics so you can easily monitor your consumption.

We Are Your Heat Pump Experts

Our A&E Plumbing, Heating and Air Inc. professionals want to help you as you search for a new heat pump here in the Hood River, OR, area. Call us at 541-387-3311 or request service online today to learn more about what we have to offer.

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What Is a Heat Pump?

Friday, February 4th, 2022

What’s the best way to preserve resources? Working with what you already have. Heat pumps make your The Dalles home more comfortable by using heat that already exists. It pushes heat from outdoors to indoors (to warm) or pulls heat from indoors to outdoors (to cool). 

It stands apart from a gas furnace or boiler, which both use combustion to generate heat. As a result, heat pumps are much more efficient, using up to 50 percent less energy than furnaces or baseboard heaters, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Heat pumps provide heating and cooling capabilities—there’s no need to supplement your heat pump with an air conditioner. That means you only have one system to worry about for repairs and maintenance costs. 

A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air is pleased to bring the finest heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) options to Oregon residents. Here’s what you should know about heat pumps: 

Heat Pump Types and How They Work

There are three basic categories of heat pumps:

1. Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) are the most common and popular option. They harness heat energy in the air, transferring it from the outdoors to indoors on a cold day—or removing the heat from your home on a warm day. ASHPs have a compressor, an indoor coil, and an outdoor coil. The coils pump refrigerant, a substance that can absorb heat and release it. The indoor coil is also called a heat exchanger. It sends heat to your air ducts, and can even heat your water heater. 

Older or lower-end heat pumps don’t fare as well in subfreezing temperatures. However, you can pair them with a furnace programmed to kick on when the temperature dips below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This combination, known as a dual-fuel system, lets you enjoy the heat pump’s efficiency benefits without the risk of losing heat. Additionally, newer and more advanced heat pumps are hitting the market that can handle cold winters.  

2. Water Source Heat Pumps (WSHPs) operate much like ASHPs—except they harness heat from a body of water instead of the air. For homeowners living near ponds, lakes, wells, or other water sources, a WSHP can be the perfect match. A series of underwater pipes cycle liquid, collecting heat. The heat gets picked up by the heat exchanger, which transfers it to your home via ductwork. On hot days, the process works in reverse to provide air conditioning. 

While they cost more upfront, WSHPs use a fraction of the energy that the already-efficient ASHPs use. You’ll see considerable monthly savings and significantly reduce your carbon footprint. 

3. Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHPs) use pipes with liquid to collect heat like WSHPs, but the pipes are underground instead of underwater. The Earth has relatively consistent underground temperatures, ranging from 45 to 75 degrees, depending on latitude. This constant temperature makes it a reliable source for heating. 

GHPs have pipe systems buried four or more feet underground. The pipe system can run horizontally or vertically, depending on what you and your A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air specialist determine works best with your Oregon property. Like other heat pump models, the heat gets transferred to the heat exchanger and distributed through your ducts with an air handler. 

GHPs are among the most efficient heating sources on the planet. Like WSHPs, they cost more upfront but pay off significantly with long-term savings. Many are also eligible for federal tax credits. Although heat pumps electricity, carbon emissions can be cut to nearly zero when you pair them with a solar panel. Many owners also pair them with a ductless mini split, another great option to increase efficiency. 

Heat Pump Maintenance and Upkeep

The DOE recommends an annual maintenance visit to keep your heat pump system is operating at its best. One of our A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air specialists will check for leaky ductwork, which can lead to energy loss. They will also inspect refrigerant levels. Refrigerant leaks can harm your indoor air quality (IAQ) and impair the functionality of your heat pump.

Schedule Service With Your A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air Expert Today!

We’re pleased to offer our unmatched heating and cooling expertise to our neighbors in The Dalles, OR. For reliable, efficient, and friendly home service, call A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air at 541-296-0701 today, or set up your visit online.

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What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Tapping into Earth as an energy resource is an age-old practice, not just something read about in sci-fi literature. Geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground source heat pumps (GSHP), do just this to heat and cool homes in a highly efficient manner.

So just what is a heat pump? A heat pump is different than more traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, like forced-air systems, in that it transfers heat from location to location, like from outdoors here in The Dalles to indoors, instead of creating its own heat or cool air.

At A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air, we know what it takes to keep you comfortable in your home. And a heat pump could be an ideal solution for you.

How Do They Work?

The Earth remains at a constant temperature, and down about six to 10 feet below the surface the temperature is steadily reading between 45ºF and 75ºF, depending on its location. Tapping into this temperature allows geothermal heat pumps to operate in most any climate for heating and cooling.

In the cooler months, the geothermal heat pump takes its heat from the ground and transfers it indoors to warm your house. In the warmer months, it extracts the warm air from your home and dumps it outdoors to the cooler ground. All this Earth heat exchange is conducted via the outdoor ground heat exchanger.

The ground heat exchanger is one of three parts in a geothermal heat pump system. The other two parts are the indoor heat pump unit and the ductwork, or the air-delivery system. The ground heat exchanger is the system of pipes used in either an open-loop or closed-loop system. The majority of the systems installed in the United States used a closed-loop system with their geothermal heat pumps.

The difference between an open-loop and closed-loop system is the use of ground water. An open-loop system connects directly to a ground water source, like a pond or a well, and pumps the water directly to the heat pump for heating and cooling. A closed-loop system is comprised of a series of looping pipes underground filled with a heat-exchanging liquid that continually travels through the pipes. These pipes either can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on your yard.

In an open-loop geothermal heat pump, the ground-sourced water is directly pumped to the heat pump. The heat is extracted from the water and transferred to a refrigerant, processed by the heat pump, and sent into your Oregon home.

When the water is cooled, it returns to its source through a separate discharge well, or it’s pumped back to the pond. When cool air is needed, the heat is extracted from your home’s air and then cooled by the source water.

In a closed-loop system, the fluid that runs through the underground-buried piping, usually plastic, absorbs the heat from the earth and travels to the indoor heat pump and compressor. They concentrate the heat, then the indoor coil disperses it into your home.

Once the fluid is cooled, it circulates back through the piping again to absorb more heat. When the temperatures inside your home are hotter and cool air is what’s wanted, just like with the open-loop system, the heat is extracted. But here, the cool earth absorbs the heat.

In both these systems, the warmer or cooler air is distributed throughout your home by your ductwork.

Do They Have Any Advantages?

Though these heat pumps are more costly to install, they have several advantages to compensate for their initial costs that are worth considering:
• They can be installed in most any climate due to the constant temperature of the below-surface earth.

• These heat pumps are extremely efficient and can save up to 25 to 50 percent on energy per year compared to more traditional heating and cooling systems.

• Because much of these systems are located underground, their maintenance is extremely low beyond filter changes and periodic checks.

• When properly maintained, depending on the type of system installed, you can expect a system life span of more than 20 years.

• According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal heat pumps are the most environmentally safe and cost-effective heating and cooling system available.

• Their environmental footprint is extremely small. They don’t use fossil fuels to operate nor do they expel any fumes, odors, flames, or carbon monoxide.

• These systems heat and cool your home evenly, not producing the uneven hot and cold air blasts associated with more traditional systems. They are also quieter than other systems––usually about the same level of noise as your refrigerator.

Contact Us Today

Our A&E Plumbing, Heating & Air team members are experts at installing, repairing, and maintaining geothermal heat pumps in The Dalles, OR and its surrounding communities. Call 541-387-3311 or request service online to speak with one of our professionals today if you have any questions or are considering installing one of these heating and cooling systems.

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5 Things You Should Know About Geothermal Maintenance

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

One of the benefits of having a geothermal system for your The Dalles home is the minimal maintenance it requires.

Unlike a traditional furnace or air conditioning system that requires regular and sometimes monthly maintenance, a geothermal heat pump system is much more efficient and does not require the same frequency of attention. According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), there are approximately 50,000 geothermal heat pumps installed in the United States each year.

At A&E Heating & Air, our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals regularly maintain geothermal heat pumps and witness firsthand the benefits of regularly maintaining your system. Maintenance is so crucial to the efficiency and long life of your system, you should know the five things below about geothermal maintenance.

1. Installation

Be sure you have a properly and professionally installed geothermal system. Our experts at A&E Heating & Air are certified and trained to install your geothermal system correctly in your Oregon home. The interior systems of a geothermal heat pump are the same as a standard heat pump, but the outdoor components require careful planning for installation. Each setup is unique based on the geography of your yard.

2. Antifreeze

The loops in your geothermal system are filled with antifreeze or a water/antifreeze mix. You need to maintain a proper level in order for your system to work properly. Your system will require a routine professional inspection of the levels of antifreeze in the loop. During your maintenance check, one of our experts can also inspect the pressure and temperature within the loop.

3. Dirt/Debris

Since your geothermal system is outside as well as inside, there is the possibility that dirt or other matter can damage it. We will clean all parts of your system that may be influenced by debris, such as the heat exchange or blower. These parts are very sensitive, and we do not recommend you attempt to clean them yourself.

4. Air Ducts

Your air ducts are just as important to your geothermal system as they are to a traditional furnace or air conditioning setup. To keep your airflow efficient and consistent, you must take care to maintain the health of your ducts. Keep them clean, regularly inspect them for leaks, and repair them when and as needed.

5. Piping

Be sure one of our heating and cooling professionals inspects the pipes in your loop during your scheduled maintenance. Pipe health is crucial to the functionality of your geothermal system. Damaged piping can lead to a number of other issues that may occur with your geothermal system. It is critical to be sure they remain in good repair.

Call A&E Heating & Air for All Your HVAC Maintenance

At A&E Heating & Air, we are ready and happy to help you with all of your geothermal needs here in the The Dalles, OR, area. Call us at 541-387-3311 or request service online to schedule your geothermal maintenance. Our knowledgeable and experienced team members would be happy to discuss geothermal systems with you.

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What Is the Value of a Geothermal Heat Pump to My Home?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Any time a The Dalles homeowner is considering a major investment in a new system or major appliance, it’s natural to wonder what the overall value of the investment will be. Our professionals at A&E Heating & Air suggest you look at value from a few different angles to determine the answer: the initial cost and installation; the ongoing maintenance, operation, and energy costs; and the added value to you and your home.

Initial Cost and Installation

There’s no doubt about it, a geothermal heat pump and heating system is significantly more expensive than a furnace and air conditioning unit or a conventional heat pump. Depending on the type of soil and property you own, you could be looking at a major investment in terms of installation costs as well. Typically, a complete geothermal heating system will run between $10,000 and $25,000 in initial costs.

However, it’s important to take into considerations a few other factors. First, geothermal systems are designed to last significantly longer than conventional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. On average, a geothermal heat pump will keep running for 25 years with the underground piping system lasting for more than five decades.

Second, many government incentives are currently available for homeowners who choose energy-efficient, sustainable heating and cooling systems. In February 2018, the 30 percent tax credit for geothermal systems was reinstated through 2019. The credit amount drops to 26 percent in 2020 and decreases again to 22 percent in 2021. However, Oregon homeowners should check state, local, and utility incentives in the local area for additional incentives through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website.

Ongoing Maintenance, Operation, and Energy Costs

Compared with conventional HVAC systems, a geothermal system seldom requires major maintenance or repairs. Most geothermal providers back the equipment and installation with excellent warranties due to the unlikelihood of operation problems. This means things like emergency repairs, annual inspections, and other maintenance will drop to nearly nothing.

In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states homeowners can reduce their heating costs by 30 to 70 percent and their cooling costs by 20 to 50 percent annually with a geothermal system. This could mean a yearly savings of between $400 and $1,500 on energy bills alone.

Added Value to You and Your Home

When you are asking yourself a question about the value of a system like geothermal heat, you really have two directions. One involves the value the system brings to you and your family as you reside in your home. The second is a question of whether a geothermal system will increase the price of your home, should you choose to sell it.

The first question depends on what is important to you and your family. If you can afford the initial investment, can plan to be in your home for the long haul, and can appreciate the sustainable aspect of geothermal heating, then making this investment is clearly valuable to you as a homeowner.

The second question is more complicated. Geothermal is an amenity that appraisers will refer to as contributory value. That means this value is determined by comparing home sales data between houses with similar amenities.

Although geothermal is growing in popularity, it can be challenging to find comparable homes in a specific market to form an accurate appraisal. And, in the end, if you happen to find a buyer who values your geothermal heating system, it will obviously affect your selling power.

The Bottom Line

According to industry experts, simply crunching the numbers and taking into account the initial price, installation costs, operating costs, and energy savings of a geothermal heat pump and system, you can expect to break even on your investment between five and 10 years. After that time, your ongoing energy savings will be money in your pocket.

However, it’s often not all about the numbers. Geothermal heating systems are a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to heat and cool our homes. As the push continues for everyone to reduce their personal carbon footprint, these greener options will grow in popularity and value to more homeowners in our modern world.

Contact Us for All Your Geothermal Needs

For more information about geothermal heating systems, contact A&E Heating & Air in The Dalles, OR. Our professionals can share the details of this sustainable, renewable source of energy as well as answer your questions. Call us at 541-387-3311 or request service online.

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