Safety first, when the heat is on PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:47
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An employee of United Home Comfort drains pipes while installing a geothermal heating and cooling unit at a home along Hull Prairie Road. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Getting a home ready for winter should always include a visit from a licensed expert to give the furnace a tuneup, said Steve Fouts, president of United Home Comfort.
"It's a good way to detect gas leaks, carbon monoxide and dirt that can be a safety hazard," Fouts said. "Dirt can lead to delayed ignition and cause a fire,' he said.
Also important is for a resident to keep the area around a furnace free of combustible materials and make sure not to use a room where the furnace is located as a broom closet.
"Safety also extends to making sure there is a working carbon monoxide detector in the home," Fouts said.
United Home Comfort in Bowling Green is a sponsor in the Sentinel-Tribune's first-ever Outdoor Fun/Indoor Living Show to be held Oct. 26 at Bowling Green State University's Stroh Center.
"It should also be a no-brainer not to try to heat with a kitchen stove or oven. These devices are unvented and not made to be a heat source," Fouts said.
The number one thing a home owner should learn to do on their own is change the air filter. "And never run a furnace without a filter. That's a good way to wreck a furnace," Fouts said. He likened a filter to the fins in a vehicle radiator. "Those fins help dissipate the heat. If they are filled with dirt the furnace operates less efficiently."
A clean filter is especially important on newer furnaces that operate at a 90 efficiency rating and higher. “The units use fin tubes and you have got to keep those things clean.”
Fouts offered additional tips to help control heating costs:
• Learn how to use the programmable thermostat on the unit or have one installed and learn how to use it.
• Close  the crawl space vents in the winter and don’t forget to open them next summer.
• Insulation is important but it is even more important to find and deal with air filtration problems around windows, doors and places where wires and pipes come into a house.
He said most new furnaces have an efficiency rating of at least 90. “It’s silly not to have the best efficiency with the price of gas today.”
Some units have ratings as high as 98, making use of variable speed gas values and blowers.
Using older furnaces as an example, Fouts said a 100,000 BTU unit operated the same whether the outside temperature was 50 degrees or zero degrees. He said the high-efficiency models use a two-speed blower that improves comfort and does not “blast on and blast off.”
Tax credits remain available for units with 95 efficiency and higher. “That’s up to a $150 credit, not a deduction.” Columbia Gas is also offering a $300 rebate on units with 96 efficiency and higher. He said the Annual Fuel Utiilzation Efficiency number is similar to miles per gallon ratings on vehicles. “It is a standardized unit of measure.”
For those who want and can afford the best, Fouts said geothermal is the way to go. A tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost is available. He said the payback is normally three to four years “and then it is all gravy after that.”
The average life of the units remains 15 to 20 years, with the higher end more likely with proper annual maintenance.
There are also a variety of Indoor Air Quality products that provide humidification, remove a variety of airborne particles and other things from air inside homes. “We’re far past the learning curve on these products. There are some phenomenal products out there,” Fouts said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 09:44
 

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