Tag Archives: heat

The Most Efficient Ways To Heat Your Home

A chill’s in the air, the leaves are falling, and it’s almost time to talk turkey. But ever since you switched the thermostat to “heat,” chances are you’re also thinking about how to stop those energy bills from gobbling up your bank account.

Typical homes, even those built in recent years, have the potential for improvement in their heating efficiency. This season, take a stroll through your house: A few small changes can allow you to see a dip in your heating bill, even as the outside temperatures do the same – and won’t require you to don your entire sweater collection at once.

1: The Attic

Want to feel warmer? Firstly, remember that heat rises. Venture into your attic: By having it properly insulated, making sure any openings between the ceiling and the attic floor are sealed, heat won’t be able to escape from your home as easily. If you see light trickling into the attic or gaps around air conditioning and heating ducts, use caulk and insulation to create a thermal barrier, and seal up your attic access, too: Specific “attic tents” are available to make the opening air-tight – key to keeping your heat where you want it.

2: The Basement

Sure, it’s chilly in the basement – a definite plus during summer heat waves – but those concrete floors and cinderblock walls can mean major heat loss in the winter. Block walls have little insulation, so even though your hardworking heating unit cranks out residual energy that could warm the room, much of it escapes outside. Just as in the attic, seal all the gaps from the basement walls to the outside, typically found around windows, doors and the rim joist – where the block wall ends and the framing starts. The residual heat created from your boiler can increase your basement’s temperature as much as 25 degrees – and that heat will rise and warm the rest of the home as well.

3: The Walls

Sealing and insulating the highest and lowest parts of your house can work wonders, but it’s worth it to check inside your home’s walls as well. Some walls may not have any insulation, making it easier for heat to seep out. With proper insulation, heat stays put in your house – and more cash remains in your pocket. As a general rule, insulation is something that’s done best by a professional – although it’s certainly something a homeowner can tackle, especially in your basement and attic. In the basement, at least a foundational knowledge of your heating unit is key, as some air flow is necessary for the system to operate safely.

4: The Distribution System

After insulation’s taken care of, make sure your distribution system – the duct work and piping that deliver the heat generated by your heating unit – is running correctly, at its maximum efficacy. Your heating system, for example, may be working at 70 to 80 percent efficiency, but a distribution system that’s not won’t deliver the heat as well. Fixing this issue can be as simple as rearranging or adding ductwork, or unclogging filters – changes that won’t break the bank.

5: The Heating Appliance

It may seem logical to tackle heating issues by checking out your boiler or furnace first, but, instead, it should be fifth on your list. If your distribution system checks out, it may be time to repair or even change out the unit itself: Furnaces should be replaced every 15 years and boilers every 20 to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your heating buck. This may be a more costly fix, but swapping an old system working at 55 percent efficiency for one running at 95 percent will quickly help your bottom line.

6: Windows & Doors

Although they’re often seen as the best way to create a more heat-efficient home, windows and doors are actually the last place to venture. Double-paned windows may be the standard for homes built in the past 20 years, but if your home is older, it’s likely yours are only single-paned – and less energy-efficient. Still, unless your windows are severely old or damaged, you’ll only save about 3 to 5 percent on your bill by switching to a double-paned replacement. New windows are often costly, but before you drop $300 to $600 on replacements, consider some inexpensive changes. Weather-stripping and plastic coverings – available in kits in home-improvement stores and explained in great detail on YouTube videos – can cheaply seal up drafty windows. And security isn’t the only reason to make sure your locks work: Even if your neighborhood’s safe, be sure your windows and doors latch tightly to seal out cold winter winds.

Thankfully, taking care of insulation and your heating system will almost always cost less than replacing your home’s windows – good news as holiday-season spending approaches. Plus, one Malcarne expert, trained to evaluate your house as a whole, can assess your abode for free. Instead of choreographing appointments with separate insulation, boiler and window experts – who only see your home through their expertise alone – consider a Malcarne staff member, who will understand your entire home, from attic to basement. And with a more energy-efficient, cost-effective home, even winter weather feels warm and cozy.

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Preparing Your Home For Winter

Sandal and swim-suit season seems like only yesterday, but Old Man Winter’s right around the corner. You can procrastinate over digging out that fleece-lined parka and your fuzzy mittens, but, take it from the experts at Malcarne Contracting: No matter how difficult it is to say so long to summer, don’t put off getting your house ready for the upcoming season. The good news is, preparing your home for the winter and its icy temperatures means a series of small, inexpensive precautions that ultimately make a huge difference in the way your home handles the cold.

While you spend the summer keeping the air conditioner company, get to know your heating system – before you need to turn it on. Boilers – systems running on oil – should be serviced once a year, and their filters and nozzles changed every fall to prepare for winter. Furnaces also have filters – and most manufacturers recommend changing those every three months, in addition to being serviced by a professional every fall. Gas-fired units should receive a tune-up every two years.

Keeping these heating systems clean and running smoothly – what the professionals call “system efficiency” – is key. Also, making sure the distribution system, the duct work and piping that delivers the heat that is generated by your heating system, is working correctly is important, as a clogged filter, for example, may mean your furnace isn’t functioning properly. Or, a loose piece of ductwork, knocked out during your trek to the attic for vacation suitcases, may make one side of the house feel frosty, although the other end of the home is sweltering at 80. Keeping a balanced system means regular visits from a professional, but maintaining your heating unit is a small investment with a big return, ensuring optimal energy efficiency – and saving you money on that utility bill.

While these maintenance checks are important, they’re also pieces in the greater puzzle that is your abode. For example, a heating system is only as good as your home’s insulation, which ensures a comfortable, energy-efficient house, and should be checked regularly. Outdoor hoses connected to water spigots should be removed and taken inside in the fall, and the water turned off.
Avoid damage to your home’s exterior by inspecting your deck and siding once a year, replacing any cracked, splintered or rotting boards as soon as possible, and cleaning gutters and down spouts in the spring and fall. If you have a chimney, repair any cracks before the first frost: Ice in any cracks can damage it considerably. Keep seasonal pollen, dust and other allergens at bay by limiting the amount your doors and windows stay open, cleaning and vacuuming regularly, and making sure those heating filters are fresh.

Malcarne’s expert opinion? Whether it was built last year or last century, look at your home as a whole each fall. If you’re unsure of your home’s inner-workings or it’s been a while since it’s been professionally evaluated, the staff at Malcarne can make the process simple, checking your house’s insulation, heating and ventilation systems, window and door weather-stripping – everything you need to prepare for winter, from attic to basement.

As a general rule, Malcarne recommends giving your home that once-over early in the season, before the end of October. Thankfully, if you’re faithful with keeping up your home’s regular maintenance, preparing it for another Hudson Valley winter won’t empty your bank account. In fact, your family’s biggest winterizing investment may be those new boots your kids have been eyeing up. Your house? It’s all set for the snow.

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Know Your Boiler

Have you hugged your boiler today? Well, that may be taking things a bit far, but are you at least familiar with your boiler? Do you know where it is located in your house? Let’s go even further than that – do you even know what a boiler is?

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t answer all, or even any of these questions. (Disregard the first one, we don’t really want you to hug your boiler.)  Rather, let’s try to see if we can get your more acquainted with this big hunk of machinery in your home.

You may have a conventional boiler lurking in your boiler room.  With these less efficient boilers, fuel (wood, oil, coil, or natural gas) is burned and the heat passes through a heat exchanger where it is transferred to water, which, in turn, raises the water temperature.  Through this, steam is produced, and the steam is the strategic element to heating your home. Voila! You have heat!

The more likely option that you have hiding in your basement is a condensing boiler. (We hope so, because these are much more energy efficient, and Malcarne Contracting likes energy efficiency!) The difference between a conventional boiler and a condensing boiler is the amount of heat that it can produce.  A condensing boiler isn’t a wasteful boiler in that it retains more of its latent heat. (Uh oh – now we have to think way back to chemistry class. Latent heat is basically the amount of energy released when a chemical substance changes from one state to another.) In other words, when steam is produced by your condensing boiler, it is a little smarter than the conventional boiler and extracts any additional heat produced from the waste gases by condensing (hence a condensing boiler) the water vapor into liquid water while the excess gases are expelled outside through a proper ventilation system. (Do you feel smarter yet?)

Typically, conventional boilers are about 70-80%  thermally efficient, compared to condensing boilers, which can be up to 90% thermally efficient. Now, to give you even more efficiency for your hard-earned money, Malcarne Contracting recommends installing a Triangle Tube Boiler.

What is a Triangle Tube Boiler, you ask?  It is one of the most energy efficient residential boilers out there today! If the condensing boiler is smarter than the conventional boiler, then consider the Triangle Tube boiler the Valedictorian. Unlike traditional boilers that only fire once to create heat, the Triangle Tube boiler will modulate its firing rate to meet the energy needs of a given living space! Wow! That’s one smart hunk of machinery! There are many more scientific processes that make this boiler for you, but let’s just keep it simple. Along with tailoring the amount of heat produced to your living space, this little powerhouse (another bonus – it takes up very little space on your wall) also has a quiet operation, which is especially nice if it is installed near a living space.  It is environmentally friendly, has an attractive stainless steel jacket and heat exhanger, and is also really REALLY energy efficient, operating at 95% efficiency!

Now you know more than you ever thought you needed (or wanted) to know about your boiler. Now, go down to the depths of your boiler room and tell your less-energy efficient boiler that it’s not quite cutting the mustard and call Malcarne Contracting for a consultation on installing a new, super-energy efficient Triangle Tube boiler today!

For more information on how the Triangle Tube boiler works, you can visit this website: Triangle Tube. And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us at Malcarne Contracting at 1-800-798-5844 or email us here!

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