If your present heating/cooling system has just about puffed out its last breath of warm or cold air, you should consider replacing the old equipment with an electric heat pump.
A heat pump can save plenty of energy (and money) since it both heats and cools. In fact, records show the heat pump uses energy so efficiently that it produces two units of heat for every one unit of electricity required to operate it.
Technically, the electric heat pump utilizes heat from the air outside. Outside air contains some heat even at temperatures below freezing. In the cooling season, the heat pump simply reverses its operation to remove heat from the inside of your home.
The unit is fully automatic, and you don’t need special ducting. Simply set the thermostat to your choice of temperatures, and the heat pump furnishes warm air when warm air is needed and cool air when cool air is needed. Hat pump capacities range from 1-1/2 to 5 tons.
If you are building a new home, a heat pump would cost you about 15% more than a conventional heating system. In 1980, my mother purchased a new townhouse apartment, and the builder gave her the option of a regular furnace/central air condition system or a heat pump which would cost an additional $900. She bought the heat pump. After comparing the heating and cooling bills with those of neighbors and the same type homes in square footage, she found that the heat pump cost an average of 30% less to operate than the conventional systems. A neighbor who also installed a heat pump reported the same 30% saving. Although the heat pump cost a little more, the savings in energy will pay for the heat pump in 2-1/2 years.
Local utility companies usually will help you determine the estimated energy costs for heat pumps and other conventional heating/cooling systems. Be sure to check and compare prices before making any investment.
If you already have a heat pump, be sure to do the following: Set and leave the thermostat at one temperature, change filters at least every 3months, and have the heat pump checked annually. Most heat pumps manufacturers offer maintenance agreements; the additional cost is worth it!
If your home is equipped with radiators (a hot-water heating system), they need to be bled annually. It will be necessary to open a bleeder valve that is usually located on top of the radiator at one end. Unscrew the valve carefully. You may hear a hissing noise; then water will flow from the valve. Close the valve and move on to the next radiator.
If the valve is leaking, try to remove it; then soak the valve in a boiling mixture of baking soda and water. Let the valve boil for 30 minutes. Then replace it. If the valve still leaks, you will have to buy a new one. A leaky radiator valve may be repaired by turning the collar of the valve with a wrench. If this doesn't work, unscrew the collar, and repack the valve with new packing or a washer.