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Heating, Cooling & Air Quality Resources & Tips

A major part of Korschot's Heating and Air, Inc.'s philosophy is making sure you understand the important areas of your home comfort system. The more informed you are, the more comfortable you'll be.

Understanding Your Home Comfort System
What is Geothermal & How Does it Work?
Improving Indoor Air Quality
Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Understanding Your Home Comfort System: Key Terms

Heat Gain/Loss or Load Calculation: Heat gain/heat loss or load calculation is the evaluation of your home's energy needs and is how we determine the proper size system for your home. The government provides data on weather in different areas of the country, which can affect the equipment size requirements for your home. We actually calculate what energy your home needs to stay warm, and cool, then break that down room by room.

Efficiency: Efficiency refers to the idea that if you spend one dollar on energy, how much of that dollar will be put back into your home? Ninety cents would be equal to 90% efficiency. Home comfort appliances are rated so you will know how efficient they are. Air conditioners are rated by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit. The Department of Energy has mandated a new minimum efficiency requirement of 13 SEER for all new air conditioner installations. Furnaces are rated by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher the furnace's AFUE, the better for you.

Indoor Air Quality: Indoor Air Quality refers to how healthy your home's air is to breathe. Just as outdoor air can become polluted, so too can indoor air. There are many contributing factors to poor air quality inside your home; pet dander, dust mites, pollen, Volatile Organic Compaounds (called VOCs), and microscopic germs and viruses. Indoor air may be up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air. There are a number of excellent products available to increase the quality of the air you breathe in your home. Products such as humidifiers, electronic air cleaners, and ultraviolet lights.

What is Geothermal & How Does It Work?

Ground-source heat pumps have been installed for more than 30 years and are recognized as one of the most highly efficient heating-cooling systems available today.

"Geothermal heat pump technology offers a renewable energy solution that's right for almost any home," said Bruce Ritchey, president and chief executive officer of Water Furnace (Fort Wayne, Ind.). "Thermal energy of sufficient temperatures anywhere in the United States and Canada is harvested from the earth and transferred into buildings by a heat pump that provides heating and cooling." Installation requires an acre or more of land, or the ability to drill holes or tap an existing water source (pond or lake).

A geothermal unit works like a conventional heat pump to cool a home in the summer and heat it in the winter. The key difference between an air-source heat pump (which can't heat a home efficiently when outdoor temperatures dip below 30 degrees F) and a geothermal heat pump is that the geothermal unit harvests stable and renewable heat from beneath the earth's surface. In the summertime, the cycle is reversed and heat is released into the ground. As a result, a geothermal unit saves energy, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and can cut utility bills by up to 70 percent.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

A rash of prescriptive pills and inhalers for the symptomatic relief of respiratory distress from asthma, rhinitis, and seasonal and perennial allergies has emerged recently. Pharmaceutical companies proclaim the efficacy of their antihistamines, bronchodilators and Leukotriene blockers with blitz ad campaigns in magazines and on television.

Yet what is too often overlooked is the importance of clean air as a first measure to alleviate the cause of nagging symptoms. Mother Nature intended us to breathe clean air. It's her basic prescription for good health. Still, many of us don't pay enough attention to the quality of the air we breathe, even though most respiratory problems are affected by – and even brought on by – airborne contaminants.

While there is little we can do to rid the outside air of pollen, ragweed and other irritants, there is much individuals can do to improve the quality of the indoor air they breathe. That's important since most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, and poor indoor air can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, and eye, skin and respiratory tract irritations, even in a healthy person.

More susceptible are the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and individuals suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. The most effective way to maintain good indoor air quality is to eliminate or reduce airborne antigens known to trigger allergic or asthmatic episodes. Antigens come from smoke, dust, dust mites, cockroaches, mold spores, fungi and animal dander, to name a few.

Improving ventilation by bringing cleaner outdoor air inside can be beneficial but not always practical, especially during cold winter and hot summer months or during seasons when pollen levels are high.

As a more consistent measure year-round, consider the use of a portable air cleaner to reduce the levels of airborne contaminants in living and work spaces.

When choosing an air cleaner, the American Lung Association lists a number of factors to consider, including filtration efficiency and the amount of clean air delivered to a room. Most allergists and respiratory care professionals recommend air cleaners that use a true HEPA media filter. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particular Arrestor and is by definition 99.97 percent efficient in capturing particles of .3 micron in size.

Experts also suggest that for individuals with asthma and severe allergies, the air cleaner should provide at least six air changes per hour (6 ACH) in the room. [From The Lafayette Leader, June 12, 1999]

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can cause acute and chronic poisoning, says Dr. James Mowry, director of the Indiana Poison Center at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis.

It is especially hazardous for infants, elderly, pregnant women and people with heart and respiratory problems. Symptoms of exposure include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, throbbing headache, shortness of breath, irritability, blurred vision, dizziness and confusion.  In severe cases, unconsciousness and seizures can occur, leading to death.

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever there is incomplete combustion of a carbon containing substance. Sources include poorly ventilated wood burning stoves or space heaters, automobile exhaust or gas appliances that are not functioning properly.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or your alarm sounds, even if you don't have symptoms, leave the area and get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors. Call your doctor or the Indiana Poison Center at (800) 382-9097.

    The Indiana Poison Center recommends:
  • Annual inspection of your furnace before heavy use
  • Check your car's exhaust system for leaks
  • Make sure you have good ventilation in an enclosed area where a space heater is in use
  • Make sure all gas appliances are properly vented
  • Do not close the fireplace damper until the fire is completely burned out
  • Never use charcoal briquettes for cooking or heating in an enclosed space
  • Do not run a car in an enclosed space or if the tailpipe is covered by snow

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