AC and Heating Tip from AC Express
As the cold weather continues to roll in and we start to expect our days to be more jacket and hot cocoa filled, it’s time to start thinking more about how we’re heating in Austin. The way most people heat their homes throughout the entire fall and winter seasons is very simple. You turn the thermostat to heating mode. You set it at a temperature that you and your household agree is plenty comfortable, and you let the heater do its thing.
And this method works alright. It does make your house warm and requires very little effort on your part. But this method does also have its downsides. One of the biggest downside is the fact that in most cases, especially for larger homes, this is a rather inefficient use of your heater as more likely than not, there are going to be times when it doesn’t need to be working as hard, and there are going to be some rooms where that precious warm air will be wasted for long periods of time, such as in guests rooms or the whole house except the bedroom at night. Austin heating can be done better and that’s why supplemental heating is something that many people would do well to consider. It is a way to both cut down on heating costs and heat up rooms that for whatever reason never seem to get as warm as the rest of the house.
Why Consider Supplemental Heating
Supplemental heating is a straightforward strategy more homeowners are turning to as energy prices continue to rise. Instead of raising the internal temperature of your home to a consistent level throughout the entire house, only specific areas are heated while the rest of the house remains cool. The logic behind this is simple. If you are not going to be moving throughout the house, from room to room, on a regular basis there is no reason to keep every room the same temperature. A more economical solution is to only heat the spaces you are currently occupying.
Another reason many turn to supplemental heating is because their house has cold spots. Maybe there’s a bedroom that for whatever reason doesn’t get as much heat as the other rooms despite the fact that the central heating system is set to a consistent temperature. This is a surprising common problem especially when you’re talking about older and/or larger houses. Supplemental heating can be a way to solve this problem. You put a smaller and more efficient heater in the room with the warmth problem and the problem goes away like that. No other hassle involved.
There are some ways people try to combat this problem without supplemental heating that turn out to be faulty. While you might think that shutting off the vents to the rooms that you don’t want to heat is beneficial, the truth is that doing so can do more harm than good to the overall performance of your heater unit. Being able to save energy is one of the main reasons why you should follow a supplemental heating strategy this winter. With this method everyone in your home can be nice and comfortable without you having to worry about doing unintentional damage to your heating unit.
In addition to saving money with supplemental heating, you can also save on the energy that it takes to force the warmed air through your vents. You’re paying for the energy necessary to force warm air through the vents and into those empty rooms that is going to waste.
Depending on the type of supplemental heating you can get even more benefits from this approach. For example, extra heating sources also give you more control over the temperature in each room of your home. This allows everyone to be completely comfortable with their desired temperature. For example, if they prefer sleeping in a cold room or if they like sleeping in a warmer room, they can set their extra in-room heater to meet their wishes. Imagine not having to hear everyone complaining about the house being too cold or too warm and not having to toss and turn at night because you’re uncomfortable.
Types of Supplemental Heating
There are many types of supplemental heating solutions and each one serves different needs and comes with their own downsides and advantages. In this section we’ll cover a few of these devices and their basics.
- Duct-Booster Fans
This device is specifically designed for the issue of problem rooms. Rooms that for whatever reason don’t get as warm as the rest of the house does, either due to improper insulation, faulty ductwork or bad design. They can be fitted into existing central heating systems and essential just act as a power boost to your existing forced air method of heating aimed at a specific room.
So if you have a forced air central heating system but you have a specific room in mind that could use a boost, you can take advantage of several types of duct booster fans that are designed to increase the flow of warm (or cool) air through your ducts into a problem room. In-line duct booster fans fit inside standard-size metal ducts that you already have installed. You mount the blower near the outlet end of a duct and then install a pressure switch, which some models have built in. This pressure switch senses air pressure from the furnace and turns on the booster fan whenever the furnace or air conditioner blower turns on. Some in-line duct boosters simply plug into an available outlet, while other models are hard-wired. Cheaper units can be noisy, so it's worth buying a quality model with a powerful motor and heavier gauge housing. In-line duct booster fans retail from around $30 to $150.
A “register” booster fan is much easier to install. Depending on the model, it either sits on top of or replaces a floor or wall register grille, and plugs into an outlet. A built-in thermostat switches on when the furnace operates. Register duct boosters can cost anywhere from $40 to $70. Many different manufacturers make duct booster fans of both types. Search online for “in-line duct booster fan” or “register duct booster fan” to find manufacturers and dealers and learn more about this supplemental heating solution.
- Fireplaces and Electrical Fireplace Heaters
In this section we’ll roll both of these forms of supplemental heating into one even though only one of them you can reasonably add to an existing house. A normal fireplace could feasibly be retrofitted to your house currently but though plausible this isn’t an economical solution. Though if you are building a new house than a fireplace may be something worth considering. There are many downsides to using a fireplace though, such as the chimney letting out air and lowering the insulation factor of your house, and the fact that it needs maintenance. If you want a fireplace it should be primarily for its aesthetic and atmospheric qualities than for its frugal and practical supplemental heating qualities.
Electrical fireplace heaters on the other hand are a whole other story. They share the look of a fireplace but differ in just about every other way. They’re simple to use, easy to install, inexpensive and don’t require a chimney. You can use them anywhere there is an electric outlet. If you don’t like the look of a portable space heater, or if you’re hesitant to use a space heater due to the risks that are commonly associated with their use, then an electric fireplace heater may just be exactly what you need to stay warm. It is a great solution for those looking to save money by only heating the room their using while keeping the furnace running at a minimum for the rest of the house, such as long evening with the family gathered in the living room.
Electric fireplaces have never been quite as popular as they are today, and never has a fireplace been so stylish. These programmable heaters offer the warmth, comfort and ambiance of a traditional fireplace, without the hassle of cleaning up after the fire burns out. There’s also a very good chance that you’ll be able to save more money by using an electric fireplace when compared with a regular space heater. While portable space heaters are traditionally the first option people think of for spot heating a particular room, the popularity of electric fireplace heaters has grown tremendously in recent years. This rise in popularity is due to the style and decor of fireplace heaters. Space heaters work great at supplemental heating, but they typically lack the style that people desire.
- Electric Floor Heaters and Toe-Kick Heaters
We’re going to lump these two separate types of heaters together because they both are often used to the same end, to solve the problem of cold feet in kitchens and bathrooms. Sometimes you find that for all the balanced heat you get out of your central heating system there is much to left to be desired about one particular part of your heating experience, cold feet. Not many people are aware that this problem has solutions which in many cases won’t break the bank.
Electric toe-kick heaters are one solution to this problem. Toe-kick heaters with blowers fit into the hollow space under kitchen cabinets, stair treads and vanities. They are specifically designed to keep your feet warm while using as little energy and taking up as little space as possible. Because a lot of the heat in your body escapes through your heat, this can make a significant impact on your overall comfort. You can install a toe-kick heater (also called a kick space heater) under an existing cabinet by prying off the toe-kick.
To power the heater, you'll need to run a dedicated circuit from your main electrical panel. You can control most units using a switch or a thermostat. It's worth getting a model with a temperature control. Powerful units can blow such hot on the high setting that they could overheat your feet or even soften vinyl flooring.
A more sophisticated solution to this problem is electric floor heaters. These are heaters that are installed under the flooring of a problem area in the house and radiate heat upwards. This can be a great choice for a small-scale retrofit project like heating a mudroom or kitchen, or warming up a cold bathroom. It can also add a lot of value to a home as an improvement project. Under-tile radiant systems are still the most common, but many companies offer systems that work equally well beneath laminate, carpet and engineered floors. There are two basic types of systems: “loose wires” that you run across the floor and “mat” systems, with the wires prearranged inside a mesh or fabric mat. Search for electric floor heaters and electric toe-kick heaters to see what options are available out there in terms of price and function for this specific kind of supplemental heating.
Supplemental Heating and Heating Repair in Austin
As you can see, there is a wide range of options when it comes to supplemental heating. From traditional fireplaces to advanced radiant floor heating, no matter what problem you have concerning inconsistent heating or unnecessary energy use during the winter, there is a solution out there for you.
Contact your local heating service in Austin for more information and for help with picking out models and installation. AC Express is one such company and we specialize in heater repair in Austin. If you ever need maintenance or repair done on any heating system, don’t hesitate to call. We do Austin heater repair throughout the area, from Cedar Park and Georgetown to Lago Vista and Lakeway. Call today!
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