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Winnipeg's Heating and Cooling Experts

How's The Weather In Your Home?

Are you getting FREE cooling for YOUR home?

June 21, 2016

Far too often we go into our customers homes and find a common issue.  It's an issue that reeks havoc on the climate in the home. It has a lot to do with floor layout and whether the home has a second or even a third floor. It also has a lot to do with ductwork design. The problem is 'stratification of air'.  Stratification of air is when hot air in the home rises and the cooler air drops.  Many people fight the good fight against it using everything from fans to closing air vents however, one would do well to obtain a good understanding of how a 'proper duct system' would combat the issue. 

Every proper duct system has two sets of ducts.

Supply air :    which delivers conditioned air 

Return air :     which pulls air from the home in order to condition it

You need both or neither will work.  If you have a room without a return air duct, there will be no negative pressure or 'vacuum' for the supply air vents to want to deliver conditioned air into. Is your basement cold? Do you have enough or even any return air vents down there? So many homes DO NOT have return air vents in the basement!  Imagine if your cold basement had return air ducts installed in it...then you could leave your furnace blower on all day and pull air from that cold basement and deliver it to the rest of your home!  Your hard working A/C system would turn on substantially less, in turn SAVING $$$!  Not only saving money but also turning your basement into a more consistently enjoyable living space.  

It will never completely alleviate your upstairs being warmer, however, it will make a big difference...and why wouldn't you want to be comfortable in all of the rooms in your own home?

Return Air ducts?....We install those!

How's the weather in your Home?

...and that's what the Weatherman says.

Box Media Air Filtration

February 19, 2016
What the Weatherman says about...Furnace 'Box media Filtration'
 
There are many things you can add to your  HVAC system to solve issues you and your family may be having in your home.  Everything from Ultra Violet lights to Wi-Fi thermostats.  The real question is what is a good idea for you.
In the case of box media air cleaners, it is a matter of how much you currently spend on air filtration now, or rather how much you would like to. If you are the consumer who purchases the nicer 3M throw away filters,  then perhaps doing the math on a box media filter will entice you to switch.
 
The great thing about a box media air filter is that it lasts much longer therefore less maintenance is required.  If you often forget to change your filter...this would work well for you.  Many customers have us bring one and replace it on their yearly maintenance.  The Lennox Healthy Climate filters  also provide a better filter rating than many high efficient throw away filters.  When picking out a filter, look for a M.E.R.V. rating.  The higher the M.E.R.V. rating, the better the filter is.  M.E.R.V. 10 + are great quality for most home's and for those with respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies,  I can suggest a M.E.R.V. 16 which is a H.E.P.A. grade filter.  Although you need a cabinet installed to accommodate these box filters, if you have an old E.A.C type filter, you can pull out the cells and pre-filters and slide a box filter right in its place most of the time.
 
If you really want filtration...you would do well to take a look at our "Pure Air" filtration system.
                                                                                                                                                -the Weatherman
 
 
Glossary:
 
M.E.R.V.  =  Minimum efficiency reporting value
H.E.P.A.  =   High-efficiency particulate air
E.A.C.  =  Electrostatic air cleaner

Money saving, digital programmable, thermostats

January 6, 2016
What the Weatherman says on money saving Thermostats...
 
These days the controls for your homes HVAC system are getting more and more 'Star Trek' every day. From the days when you had  small glass bulb filled with mercury hanging on the wall which automatically turned your heating system 'on' or 'off', to today where we offer a tablet which can be pulled from its magnet holder on the wall, and brought into any room in the home.  The latest Lennox i30 thermostat knows when you leave your home to lower the temperature, and it knows when you'll be home soon too using a gps location to your smart phone, so the temperature will be right where you like it when you arrive! That boisterous new thermostat comes at a price, to be sure,   but is it worth it? 
To answer this question you have to ask yourself what you want from a HVAC system for your home.
 
Our opinion here at Weather Tech is that if it is all about return on investment, a digital programmable thermostat can save a fair amount of money, especially in Winnipeg, and is a must to get the most efficiency from your system. That being said you have to use them properly or you're not reaping the benefits it can provide you, in terms of saving you money.   You 'd be surprised at how many homes we go to where their digital programmable thermostat is simply set at one temperature and put on 'HOLD'.  It works...but you're not saving the money you could be if you took the time to set a program.  Even ask the tech who comes to tune up your furnace or air conditioner this year to set it up with you.  It takes a few minutes and will save you cash.  How much cash depends how low of a temperature you let it drop to, and for how long. No one will be able to give you an all encompassing stat that will tell you what it will do in your case.  There are far too many variables.  That being said, your demands and criteria is what will determine how much you will save.  Need to save? wear more sweaters.  Want comfort? don't drop the temperature below your comfort zone. Want high tech Luxury? Get a Lennox i30 smart tablet thermostat.
 
                                                                                                                   and that's....what the Weatherman says.
 
How's the WEATHER in Your Home?

Everything You Wanted to know about HRV's

December 11, 2015

DEFINITION:
Heat recovery ventilation (HRV), is an air-to-air heat exchanger which employs a cross flow or counter-flow heat exchanger (countercurrent heat exchange) between the inbound and outbound air flow. HRV provides fresh air and improved climate control, while also saving energy by reducing heating requirements for incoming fresh air for the home.

Not to be confused with Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), which are closely related, however ERVs also transfer the humidity level of the exhaust air to the intake air. These are not used in our colder Canadian climate, but found mostly in southern States.

Back in the day, if you were fortunate to have a new gas forced air furnace installed in your home, heating was as easy as turning up the dial on the thermostat for a cozy home.  As years passed on, our heating costs climbed higher and higher, forcing us to look for ways to make our home more efficient.  To some it was as simple as putting on a bigger sweater, to others it meant investing in plastic window coverings that needed to be installed with the hair dryer each year and a box of silicone for all the cracks around the home.  Every year there are incentives to make our older homes more efficient and people installing new windows , doors, and insulation in the attic.  With the homes prior to the 70's, drafts were responsible for up to 40% of the heating bill!  When they introduced the R2000 Home back in the 80's, our heating bills dropped, but so did our homes quality of air.  So much so that it caused lower oxygen levels in the home. Excess humidity creates a perfect environment for black mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, dust mites, which in turn, cause tons of other symptoms and allergic reactions. Because the outside air was no longer so easily able to infiltrate through the cracks, radon gases are also more likely to seep in from the ground.  Basically, the lack of fresh air makes for a habitable environment for many things, just not us.

Why did all that fresh air want to come in before? Because we ventilated.  We ventilated to remove the undesirables such as smells, too much humidity on the mirror after a shower or on the living room windows from boiling vegetables on the stove.  When you install a fan to remove air from a box (your home), unless air can come in to replace that air you're removing, you will have a 'negative pressure' in that box. A vacuum like effect that will suck in any air to equalize those pressures.  So if your home has exhausting appliances which exhaust deadly things like CO (carbon monoxide), it will want to come in to a negative pressure zone instead of a chimney as well, creating not only an undesirable situation into a deadly one. The trick is to harness that 'effect' and have it happen in a controlled environment, like an HRV(Heat recovery ventilator). A Lennox Pure Air filter installed in a forced-air heating system will help eliminate airborne contaminants, but not with moisture, stale air or gaseous pollutants. Opening a window is a cheap way to introduce fresh air, but we were better with a loosely constructed home where it came in evenly throughout. This all started because we wanted to be more efficient.

At the bare minimum, according to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), has set our standards for residential ventilation at a minimum of .35 air changes per hour, and not less than 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person. Installing an HRV in your home provides a controlled highway for all of the undesirables to leave, and all of the fresh air to come in, while reclaiming as much of the one quality we do not want to ventilate... heat. Using two fans, one for outgoing air and one for incoming, we can balance the homes pressure and blowing the warm exhaust air through a heat exchanger which is never in direct contact with the incoming cold air, the air streams never mix but rather transfer heat to the incoming air using the highly conductive walls of the heat exchanger.

This is the 'piece de resistance' of an HRV.  Some cheaper models use less conductive material so it's something to watch out for when making your decision. But mostly, how it gets installed is what you need to be aware (beware) of.  It's like that for all HVAC equipment really. Statistically, 75% of new HVAC equipment is installed incorrectly to some degree, and when you're paying for efficiency and a job well done, it's more than just equipment specifications you need to keep watch for. Currently in Manitoba, there is no permit to pull for HRV installations.  Which means no one is legislating the quality of the job.  HRV's are installed and left unbalanced all too often.  Which sometimes leaves homes in a worse way, than it was without an HRV.

HRVs can recapture up to 85 % of the heat in the outgoing air stream, depending on the model you go with as some have a 'Dual Core' heat exchanger. This means the ventilated air is run through two different heat exchangers before it is dismissed.  More of its heat can be recovered this way, making these ventilators a lot easier on your budget than opening a few windows. The heating bill still goes up slightly to pay for replacing the heat that isn't recovered. An average HRV installation can run from $2000 to $2600, but costs obviously vary depending on many variables which may arise. You can get them in many different sizes and capacities which can serve many different situations. Square footage of your home as well as how many occupants, are variables which would affect the sizing. Two holes must be drilled through the exterior walls of the home, usually right through the foundation walls, ideally 6 ft. apart on the same wall.  This can be tricky in some applications but I don't remember an HRV I couldn't make work in some way. Many times we will try and utilize an existing vent hole. Usually the holes are 6 inches in diameter each, but this too is dependent on the size of HRV being installed.

HRV's  are designed to remove that unwanted humidity in our homes, so it stands to reason a 'humidistat' is used to control them.  Because they are designed to run continually on a low speed for fresh air introduction, they only kick into high speed when the humidistat senses the homes humidity levels are above the set point you have set it for, usually between 35-45% RH (relative humidity). This may seem low, but in our colder winters here in Manitoba, any higher and your windows would drip and condensation would be found throughout the home, potentially causing serious damage. The humidistat's also have a manual control for such times you wish to exchange more air for when you burn the bacon on the stove, or you have not yet been able to identify and remove whatever it is the smell is coming from in your teenagers bedroom.;) You can also get HRV fan timers installed in the bathrooms, typically with 20-40-60 minute options on them. Wiring these in can get costly if your walls are all dry walled and finished, so if your renovating a bathroom it is a good thought to install wiring even if an HRV isn't in the budget.

Generally speaking, an HRV is made for the months which we have our homes shut up tight for the winter season when we would not normally get that infiltration of warm air. I personally shut mine off all summer as I do not want the hot humid air coming in, causing my A/C to run overtime. Sure the temperature is transferred through the same heat exchanger, but my home gets a lot of fresh air in the summer with the windows and screen doors. Excess humidity is removed by the air conditioner and if you still have too much humidity, an HRV won’t help that in the summer months because it is no longer dry air it is pulling in from outside, its hot and humid as well. At that point, you need a Lennox 'Healthy Climate' whole home dehumidifier installed. We have installed many, and they work really well.

When HRV's first came out they were considered a good alternative.  Nowadays, they are becoming more of a necessity.  Especially with the addition of insulation and efficient windows and doors we are installing in our renovated homes.  In all new homes it is no longer a suggestion, it is mandatory.  

I hope that answers all you wanted to know about HRV's and more!

Till next time..that's all the Weatherman has to say. But I do have one last question for you...How's the Weather  in YOUR  Home?

When to Replace Your Furnace or Air Conditioner

December 10, 2015

To repair or replace, that is the question that most likely comes to mind when your heating or cooling system stops working like it should. Although repairing may be the most affordable solution now, it may not be the best choice in the long run.

Factors to consider include:

Fifty Percent Rule

When the cost of repairs approaches 50% of the value of your heating or cooling system, its generally time to replace your system.

Other Rules of Thumb

Even if needed repair cost aren't quite as daunting as 50%, you might want to replace your system if it's over 12 years old, or you've had a history of problems with it. Also, it might be worth while to take advantage of one of several opportunities:

  • Convenience - when you purchase a new system, you can avoid the hassles of unexpected repairs down the line, and you don't have to sit around uncomfortable while waiting for the parts.
  • Lower utility bills - a high efficiency home comfort system from Weather Tech can save you hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs, compared to an older system.
  • Friendlier Refrigerant - Due to growing environmental concerns, the Canadian government has mandated that all HVAC manufacturers phase r-22 refrigerant based equipment out of production.
  • Enhanced Comfort - 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 conditioned air.
  • Improved Air Quality - Better humidity control means a reduced potential for mold and mildew growth. Lennox home comfort systems are also available with Healthy Climate filtration, which minimizes the impact of indoor pollutants. 

The Weather Man Says...

Are you getting FREE cooling for YOUR home?

June 21, 2016

Far too often we go into our customers homes and find a common issue.  It's an issue that reeks havoc on the climate in the home. It has a lot to do with floor layout and whether the home has a second or even a third floor. It also has a lot to do with ductwork design. The problem is 'stratification of air'.  Stratification of air is when hot air in the home rises and the cooler air drops.  Many people fight the good fight against it using everything from fans to closing air vents however, one would do well to obtain a good understanding of how a 'proper duct system' would combat the issue. …

Read more

Box Media Air Filtration

February 19, 2016
What the Weatherman says about...Furnace 'Box media Filtration'
 
There are many things you can add to your  HVAC system to solve issues you and your family may be having in your home.  Everything from Ultra Violet lights to Wi-Fi thermostats.  The real question is what is a good idea for you.
In the case of box media air cleaners, it is a matter of how much you currently spend on air filtration now, or rather how much you would like to. If you are the consumer who purchases the nicer 3M throw away filters,  then perhaps doing the math on a box media filter will entice you to swit…

Read more

Money saving, digital programmable, thermostats

January 6, 2016
What the Weatherman says on money saving Thermostats...
 
These days the controls for your homes HVAC system are getting more and more 'Star Trek' every day. From the days when you had  small glass bulb filled with mercury hanging on the wall which automatically turned your heating system 'on' or 'off', to today where we offer a tablet which can be pulled from its magnet holder on the wall, and brought into any room in the home.  The latest Lennox i30 thermostat knows when you leave your home to lower the temperature, and it knows when you'll be home soon too using a gps location to you…

Read more

Everything You Wanted to know about HRV's

December 11, 2015

DEFINITION:
Heat recovery ventilation (HRV), is an air-to-air heat exchanger which employs a cross flow or counter-flow heat exchanger (countercurrent heat exchange) between the inbound and outbound air flow. HRV provides fresh air and improved climate control, while also saving energy by reducing heating requirements for incoming fresh air for the home.

Not to be confused with Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), which are closely related, however ERVs also transfer the humidity level of the exhaust air to the intake air. These are not used in our colder Canadian climate, but found mostly …

Read more

When to Replace Your Furnace or Air Conditioner

December 10, 2015

To repair or replace, that is the question that most likely comes to mind when your heating or cooling system stops working like it should. Although repairing may be the most affordable solution now, it may not be the best choice in the long run.

Factors to consider include:

Fifty Percent Rule

When the cost of repairs approaches 50% of the value of your heating or cooling system, its generally time to replace your system.

Other Rules of Thumb

Even if needed repair cost aren't quite as daunting as 50%, you might want to replace your system if it's over 12 years old, or you've ha…

Read more