Friday, November 25, 2016

Propane for the entire Home

What comes to mind when you think of propane?

New England is one of the most popular places in the country for oil heated homes, Propane is much more popular in the midwest and the west coast. That leaves many of us to associate propane with one of it's arguably best uses, grilling. 

Propane can be used for a number of things throughout your home, from heating your entire home, to heating your water, keeping your pool open longer, drying your clothes, cooking your dinner, and much more.  The question for many oil or electric homes that have an interest in converting to propane is, what is involved? To convert any home to propane, first you'll need a tank. Similar to oil, propane heat requires a tank to store the gas that is used by your home's equipment. A difference between oil and propane in terms of the tank is the location. Propane tanks have to be located outside of the home while oil tanks traditionally are found in the basement of the home. Having a tank installed where one wasn't in the case of electric to propane involves running pipe from the outside tank into your home to your heating system or other applications. If your are switching from electric whole house heat to propane heat you'll have to remove your existing heating system and have a new one installed. For converting to propane from oil you'll need to have your oil near or at empty before it is removed. Once the tank reaches this level it will be dismantled and removed from your home. Like electric heat you'll need to get a new heating system to heat your home once you switch to propane.

What if you don't want to buy a new heating system but you're looking to break away an electric water heat, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the benefits of propane. Propane water heaters come in different variants, tank, hybrid, and tankless. Tank storage water heaters are most common in homes, they either use heat generated from you home main heating source to heat the water or have their own burner and heat independently. A tankless water heater does not have a tank and heats water as it enters your home and send it to the source that is calling for it.  Both of these water heaters have their pros and cons. A tank water heater is better for a family or a home that many have more than one need for water at a time, but will require regular reheating of the water in the tank. A tankless never has to reheat the water, but if you are running the dishwaster, washing machine, or the shower at the same time then you're going to have cold water somewhere.

Another great way to add propane to your home is with a space heater or a fireplace insert. These can add a little bit of heat during the fall and spring months where you don't want to turn on the heat but you are on the cold side. Space heaters are also great for a three season room or a garage. While fireplace inserts remove the cleaning needed with a traditional fireplace and provide instant light capabilities. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

What do to do when inclement weather hits

What to do when the weather is frightful

With hurricane Matthew hitting the Caribbean and Accuweather publishing it's winter weather prediction for the country. Calling for frequent storms in the northeast it can lead some to wonder what they should do when bad weather strikes.

In the event of a snow storm or a blizzard like what we saw in 2013 the most important thing to do is to stay inside once the storm starts. As we all know road conditions can deteriorate quickly, in most cases it is best to let the storm run it's course. 

To prepare for a blizzard it's important to have an emergency kit for your home in the event that you lose power. The kit should include a flashlight, a first aid kit, non-perishable food, batteries, matches in a waterproof container, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap or body wash, paper papers and plastic utensils, water, sleeping bag, manual can opener, and pet supplies.  Now you many only be without for a few hours and all of these supplies many seem like overkill, it is better to be on the safe side and plan for a prolonged outage.  It is also a good idea to have a few board games or a deck of cards around to keep you entertained in case any battery powered electronics die.  In advance of the storm make sure your cell phones are fully charged in case you need to make a phone call.

In the event that you lose power during a snow storm there are few things that you can do to keep any perishable items in your fridge or freeze from getting ruined.  First keep your fridge or freezer closed as long as you possibly can, opening it will let any cold air out and greatly increase the need for the next step. If you are worried that the temperature has begun to rise too much you can transfer the contents of your fridge or freeze outside into the snow.  There are some downfalls to this, one being if left out for awhile the food could attract wild animals. If you suspect that your power will return soon than leaving your fridge or freeze contents shouldn't be too much of an issue.

The most fun of course comes from the clean up after a snow storm. Personally I love snow and don't mind shoveling out my driveway that much, it's a good workout but there are some things that I detest.  Ice is by far the thing I hate the most about winter, of course I shouldn't complain that much if I love snow.  Slippery steps, walkways, and driveways all can and usually do happen as snow melts and water spreads back on to your nicely cleared paths.  Some sand or melt away is a great way to battle against this, keep in mind that some melt away many "burn" the paws of your dog so be mindful.

Another part of the clean up is the prolonged clean up and preventative measures we take to ensure that no damage is done to our homes.  A common issues are ice build ups or dams. My parents had a lot of fun with this a few years ago. Ice damn happen when water is trapped inside or under ice or snow and then seeps into your home, creating a lot of damage.  A first step against this would be to properly insulate your attic, if heat can't escape as easily through roof, since heat rises ice dams won't form as easily.  Another not so favorable way to prevent against ice dams would be to clear snow off of problem areas on your roof. This should be done only if your are comfortable with climbing a ladder and shouldn't be done alone in the event your fall or the ladder falls. Some helpful tips for ice dam prevention can be found here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Just wait five minutes the weather will change

New England Weather is Ever Changing.

La Nina, El Nino's little sister, cousin, crazy aunt was and may still arrive for winter 2016, however it looks like there will be a much lower chance of it arriving. The NOAA also believes that it does arrive it will show up much later than originally thought. As the old saying goes wait a minute the weather will change, it seems like the same applies for the weather predictions.

La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, where El Nino brought a warm water bubble in the pacific ocean. La Nina is suppose to feature a cold water blob in the pacific ocean, La Nina has not taken a step that traditional La Nina's do. The cooling of water in specific spots that affect wind patterns has not occurred yet and has lead the NOAA to reduce it's chances of a La Nina happening from 70% to 40%.

The NOAA now believes that we will have a neutral pacific weather pattern, neither an El Nino or a La Nina. What does that mean for our winter? It would appear that people are expecting us to a cold and snowy winter. We will have to wait and see if it plays out that way.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Types of Air Conditioning

What to do what to do to stay cool

To be honest I started looking around the internet for Central Air units because of the massive heat wave/ heat index rise that has been floating over the Northeast. While I work for a heating and cooling company, I just bought a house that I don't want and can't do major work to, yet. That didn't mean I haven't asked around to figure what is involved.

My home doesn't have ductwork as it is a forced hot water boiler heated home. I have baseboards in all the rooms that bring heat to the rooms, meaning that I can't just add central air conditioning to the ductwork in my home. That doesn't mean that I can't add ductwork to the attic of my home to get central ac.

There are several different types of AC that you can have installed in your home, which we've talked about here before. Central AC, Mini-Split ductless AC, Window AC, and Portable (not even worth the hassle) each have their own benefits and downfalls. Right now we'll just talk about the benefits and hurdles of installing Central AC in a home that doesn't have ductwork.

When thinking about Central AC we have to look at all the rooms you want to cool, the energy efficiency you desire, and the placement of the ducts and vents. If you have a multi story home you also need to consider whether you're going to cool just the floor below the attic or any other floors, which can add to your cost. The main reason you might want to consider a central air system out of your attic over several mini-split systems is the cost associated.  Ductwork isn't cheap but neither are mini-split systems, at several thousands of dollars each cooling several rooms with multiple units can run you almost 10k. Where a duct central air system isn't going to be much cheaper, you won't have to pick and choose which rooms are cooled and which aren't. If you want to have central air instead of windowed units, the main upside is consistent temperature throughout the cooling area, like with mini-splits you won't have to pick and choose the rooms you cool. The drawback is of course a gross price difference, you could get away with cooling a four bedroom upstairs for less than a grand with window units.

If you're still interested and trust me down the road I'd like to take this road, what is actually involved in putting central air in the attic and where can it go.  First we'll cover what is your central ac unit. It will consist of an outside unit the compressor, the inside unit the air handling unit, ductwork, piping, and registers. Next we'll cover how you ductwork will work to deliver the cool air. In most cases you'll have square or rectangle shaped duct system installed in your attic with registers that will bring cool air into your rooms. Pretty simple, now this would just be on the second floor. If you want to have central air on the first floor, this can be a little tricky, expensive, and intrusive. Best case scenario is that ductwork can be installed without much disruption in a closet or other unseen areas. It all really comes down to how your home was built and where can the installer get. At the end of the day you may to settle for ac on the second floor and not the first. 

Another thing that you'll need to consider is the tonnage of your ac, the word ton may shock you but remember you are cooling a large area.  Most central air units come in 1/2 ton increments, you'll usually find tonnage ranging from 1/2-4. The amount you go with is similar to finding the right ac unit for a room, too much and you'll overpay up front, too little and you're system will have to over work to keep you cool.

Now one concern or issue you may find online is that an attic is hot and not the best place for a central ac unit. While it is true that having ductwork based in your attic isn't as good of a place as built into the walls during a new construction, that doesn't mean it can't be done and done properly.  In most cases it is about 140 degrees or so in your attic if you have a black shingle roof. That means that your ductwork in the attic will be around that temperature, but you want to pump 68-72 degree air through there to cool off your second floor.  The best way to get around this is to have your ducts properly insulated and sealed. You should also have a delay switch installed, this makes is your air handler will start blowing out the hot air through the duct and out of the house before pumping in and wasting air conditioned air.  One more thing you might wonder is, where does the hot go from the unit in my attic. As we know anything that makes something colder has to remove hot air, be assured that the hot air isn't going to go into your attic. Most of your hot air will either absorbed by the refrigerant or will travel outside.

Is central ac in a home without any ductwork the most ideal situation, no. Can it be done properly while keeping you cool for summers to come, yes but it'll depend on the company you have do it. Trust the professionals at ckSmithSuperior, Santoro Oil, or Gas Doctor and they'll ensure you're happy with your installation.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

La Nina Winter

There is a Strong Chance of a Weak La Nina

This past winter we experienced one of the strongest El Nino's the planet has ever seen and it brought with it a much warmer than average winter. This was a nice rest for many homeowners after the past two winters that brought exceptionally cold weather and snow. Since the El Nino has ended meteorologists have been looking to see if a La Nina will arrive.

La Nina is the cousin or sister of El Nino. Which is caused by the warming of water in the pacific ocean, La Nina is caused by the cooling of water in the pacific ocean. La Nina's have three different strengths weak, moderate, and strong and each has varying effects on the weather here in the Northeast. By all accounts we are looking at a strong chance of a weak La Nina starting in the Fall or Winter. A weak La Nina brings cool or colder area to the Northeast more inline with a traditional winter. It looks like we will also have to deal with more snow in the second have of the season.

Looks like last year was just a singular break from the cold weather of New England.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Heat

This is Going to be one for the Record Books



We've been experiencing a wide arrange of extreme weather over the past few years, from a year of monthly global temperature records, to record setting cold last winter to record setting warmth this past winter and a relatively mild summer last year.  This summer looks to be a more traditional hot summer for us in New England.

The Weather Channel has published there 3 month temperature prediction for June through August and as you see above, we're in for a hot summer.  That will mean a lot of fans and/or AC's running to keep you cool. This could also mean a lot of time in the pool or by the beach. When it comes to keeping cool inside of your home, it's important to make sure that you're mini-split and central AC's are properly maintained.

Like your heating system, your cooling system needs to be properly maintained to keep running at it's optimal level. Having your cooling system running at it's optimal level will help you reduce your energy consumption and lower your summer bills.

Make sure to call your local cooling company and ask them about their cooling equipment services.

ckSmithSuperior Santoro Oil Gas Doctor

Thursday, April 21, 2016

La Nina Summer

We Could Experience much Warmer Temps this Summer

Last year and even the year before that we talked about El Nino and boy did it come, we saw one of the mildest winters this past winter. Now what, El Nino is the warming of the waters in the pacific, but what happens after the water has warmed?

After the warm has warmed, it naturally cools off this is called La Nina. Traditionally La Nina follows El Nino's and present the opposite effects of El Nino. Of course La Nina don't always follow El Nino's, in the past we've seen El Nino's that extend into the next winter or La Nina's that extend for several years. For this year most weather outlets are predicting that we'll see a La Nina arrive around Fall or Winter.

To understand what we might see this summer we have to look at last year. For 2015 we didn't see the real El Nino until mid fall and it continued through mid winter, but its effects were seen during the summer. 

It brought us unseasonably low temps as you can see from the graphic from the summer of 2015. As we transitioned into the fall we started to see warmer than average temps month after month, as the El Nino arrived.

If a La Nina presents the opposite effects as a El Nino, that will mean that we will see above average temperatures this Summer. The Weather Channel already has it's overall summer prediction out. 

A big difference from year to year, this will mean more days at the beach, by the pool, and cranking the AC up in your home. Traditionally this type of summer is followed by just as extremely of a winter.  For your total energy needs, trust ckSmithSuperior in Central MA and Santoro Oil in Rhode Island and Southeastern MA.