HEAT PUMPS: Revitalise Your Home with an Energy and Cost Saving Heat Pump System

The prices of just about all forms of fuel are rising these days, whether it’s the price per kilowatt of electricity, natural gas, propane, or heating fuel. But no one wants to live in a home that’s simply too cold in the winter, or too blazing hot in the summer. Unfortunately, getting our homes into a temperature range that is comfortable is often a pricey prospect. Heating is always expensive, and there’s simply no such thing as a truly inexpensive air conditioner.

But that doesn’t actually have to be the case. For over a hundred years there has been a basic technology that has existed that can take the place of these forms of heat. The technology hasn’t always been well understood, and where it was, the ability to use it on a small enough scale hadn’t quite been developed yet. But in that span of time from its inception till now, there have been great leaps and bounds in heat pump technology that have served to make it more compact, more efficient, and all of this coming at a time when we need relief from our heating and cooling bills most.

How Heat Pump Systems Work

This solution, of course, is heat pumps. Heat pumps operate under a very basic concept; rather than generating heat, these systems merely take the heat from one location, and transport it to another. The mechanism by which this takes place is fairly straightforward, and is buried deep in the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. All that needs to be understood by the layman, however, is that heat will naturally move from a warmer location, to a cooler one.

Utilizing this very simple concept, a liquid will be passed through a series of systems built into the mechanism known as a heat pump, and will either pull heat from the ambient air outside, and dump it into the cooler environment in the home, or perform this process in reverse.

Contrary to what one might expect, this doesn’t always result in the outside and inside being the same temperature. It is a foible of nature that you can extract heat from any system that isn’t at absolute zero, and no matter what the wind-chill factor may be, this is a level of ‘cold’ you have never been.

There are a number of different heat pump systems available, the best one for you would largely be determined based on your needs and overall location. We’ll start with the most basic of these, the air source heat pump.

Air Source Heat Pump

Heat Pump Systems: Air Source Heat Pump

Air Source Heat Pumps function under the very basic principle mentioned above, transferring the heat from the ambient air outside, into the building you wish to heat. Using a reversal of this process, they can successfully cool the same space. There is an optimum temperature range they can operate in, but unless you live in an area prone to very hot or very cold weather patterns, you can expect that this will do a decent job for you. Like all heat pump systems, air source heat pumps can be used to heat the air, take some of the strain off your water heater, or even be used to heat your radiant flooring. Their efficiency is such that electric, gas, even propane is simply no match for the low cost of conditioning your home that these systems provide.

Heat Pumps Systems in Business

If you run a business, there are other ways air source heat pump systems can benefit you. In those industries that produce a lot of excess heat and then vent it off to the outdoors, a rare opportunity is provided. By installing this system in or near your exhaust vent, you start taking advantage of a variant known as ‘Exhaust Source Heat Pump’. You essentially are using this to capture the waste heat of your building, and are pumping that heat into the areas its needed most. Imagine the money you can save using the heat pushed out by your driers in an industrial Laundromat to heating the water going back into the washers?

Got a restaurant where the grills are always running? Well rather than paying expensive heating bills to keep your customers cozy, transfer that heat back into the dining area without the attendant grease and smell. No reason to let all that heat go to waste out the vents when it can increase your bottom line by lowering your heating bills!

Ground Source Heat Pump

Heat Pump Systems: Ground Source Heat Pump

Ground Source Heat Pumps take grand advantage of the tendency of the earth to hold onto heat for long periods of time. Truth be told, the earth holds onto temperature in general, it is slow to heat, and slow to cool. It is this tendency that makes it perfect as a source of temperature exchange for a heat pump!

Ground source heat pump systems are far more elaborate than the air source heat pumps mentioned above. They involve deep trenches being dug where special coils are laid and buried below the frost line. Either that, or you’ll need to run pipes up to 400 feet down into the ground using special boring techniques. Once done, however, you can take full advantage of one of nature’s neatest tricks! The earth in any given area, once you’ve gone down about 30 feet, has a tendency to stay at the mean-temperature for that latitude of the earth year round. This means if you have hot summers and cold winters, you’ll find yourself in a perfect position to have a nicely moderate home the rest of the year.

Ground Source Heat Pumps vs Air Source Heat Pump Systems

Ground source heat pump systems can also use large bodies of water such as lakes or rivers, or even deep stone wells to take advantage of the thermal exchange that can happen there. These tend to be much more efficient than the air source heat pump systems, as they have a much larger mass to draw on with a much more stable temperature range.

Ground source heat pump systems can be used for the same sorts of heating and cooling as the air source heat pump systems. By tying these into your heating and cooling systems, using them to heat the water for your domestic use, or even keep you radiant floors nice and toasty, you’re limiting the amount of expensive electricity you need to use to air condition your home.

Saving Money with Heat Pump Systems

Both of the above heat pump systems can be used in just about any location you can think of to help save money. But the one thing that both of them have in common that can result in huge savings, is their cost over time. These both involve a larger initial investment than you may find in electric or gas powered heating/cooling systems, but in both cases the monthly power expenditure is so low that you’ll find yourself saving the cost of the system in your power bills in short order. In the life of the system, it can pay for itself multiple times!

This is especially true because both of these heat pump systems tend to lack the maintenance required of more traditional systems, and have a life-span well in excess of 20 years in most cases. All in all there is no better way to save money in the long run than to have one of these heat pump systems installed. So whether it’s to heat your home, or to save money keeping your outbuildings warm without the need of expensive new stand-alone heating systems, heat pumps are a fantastic way to help you save money. Not only that, but while you’re saving that money, you’ll be shrinking your carbon footprint.

That last point will be our last pro-tip of the night. If you run a business that produces a large carbon footprint, utilizing these heat pump systems will reduce that footprint, and might even give you some carbon credit left aside to sell on the open market. Not only will you save money on electricity, but you can make it by trading away those carbon credits! Truly a win-win situation!

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SPOTNSAVE: The Smart and Simple Security Bracelet

The spotNsave security wristband is a wearable smart device with Bluetooth 2.0 and linked with a smartphone app for keeping you safe at all times. It is fast overtaking existing security apps due to its ease-of-use, functionality and very reasonable price-tag.

SpotNsave Security Wristband & Pendant

spotNsave Security Wristband

Launched in December 2013 by tech-savvy entrepreneur, Chirag Jagtiani, the spotNsave security wristband has been keenly adopted by parents, daughters, sons, wives, the elderly and most recently, hospital patients.

“I never really expected that spotNsave could be used in so many different fields of life", says Jagtiani. "I initially started this product just keeping women and senior citizens safe, but now I do see a bigger picture and there could be a lot of businesses that could benefit by using spotNsave.”

Using the spotNsave security wristband is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Simply:

  • Download the spotNsave app (free) and buy the bracelet for just $38
  • Create and activate your spotNsave account
  • Choose up to 5 guardians and pair any smartphone with the wristband via Bluetooth and you're good to go!

Unlike other smartphone security apps, the spotNsave security wristband works by allowing you to activate an emergency alert system without having to touch you phone. An SOS button on the device itself is activated by two clicks with your finger whenever you feel you might be in danger.

Upon activation of the SOS button on the spotNsave security wristband, the app will send out an SMS alert to your chosen guardians every 2 minutes (at no cost) until manually deactivated. Guardians will also be supplied with location information, the fastest route to get to you, as well as a low battery alert if the user's phone is low on juice.

The spotNsave Security Wristband: Feel Secure

“To activate the emergency alert, you will have to press a button on the wristband twice in quick succession”, says Jagtiani. This design is to ensure that you don't accidentally cry wolf and send out false alerts. spotNsave also allows you to send alerts by pressing your phone’s power button twice.

Amazingly, the spotNsave security wristband battery lasts around 16-18 hours on a single charge. The team is currently working on security apps for the iPhone and Windows phone. iPhone users will be sold a pendant, which can be worn around the neck, instead of the wristband.

“The product currently works in coordination with an Android app, while the iOS app could be ready by the end of April, says Jagtiani. Here on, we are planning to add a push-to-talk feature on the app, along with a feature that lets you report crimes within the app itself.”

You can freely download the spotNsave security app from the Google Play Store and currently pre-order the spotNsave security wristband or pendant from their website.

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<< Part 1: PC Building Beginners Guide: Motherboards

<< Part 2: PC Building Beginners Guide: Processors

<< Part 3: PC Building Beginners Guide: Graphics Cards

This PC Building Beginners Guide aims to offer core information regarding motherboards, Intel CPUs, memory, graphics cards, power supplies and solid state drives. It will hopefully become a growing archive of everything you need to know if you are new to PC building – especially if you are looking to build your very first gaming PC!

PC Building Beginners Guide: Memory

PC memory is becoming nice and cheap, which is great news for PC building enthusiasts. The important things to consider when choosing memory is brand, the amount you’ll need, the number of memory sticks, motherboard support, memory speed, voltage and latency.

Brands: Like with the motherboard section of the PC Building Beginners Guide, choosing a brand of RAM really boils down to personal choice and requires your own research and budget considerations. AMD, Corsair, Kingston and Patriot for example are all reputable brands, but these all really offer the same thing. Others are specifically dedicated to gaming and this will be obvious by the packaging.

PC Building Beginners Guide Memory (image: www.bit-tech.net)

PC Building Beginners Guide Memory (image: www.bit-tech.net)

Number of Memory Sticks: Currently, 8GB of memory is really all you need to run almost all current-gen games, but it never hurts to have a little more if you can afford it. It's just important to note that more RAM will require more power. You also need to ensure that your motherboard supports the amount of memory you wish to install. More RAM is generally required for tasks such as intense video-editing.

Motherboard Support: What is important is to consider is whether your motherboard supports single channel, duel channel or even quad channel memory. Duel channel, for example, means using a matching pair of memory sticks in two different slots. Your motherboard will also specify the total amount of memory you can have installed.

PC Building Beginners Guide: DDR3 Memory Overview

Memory Clock Speed: This is the most important factor that will determine the performance of your RAM. Simply put, the higher the number, the faster the memory. 3000 MHz will perform significantly faster than 1333 MHz, for example.

CAS Latency & Memory Voltage: Things get a little more complicated here and really only concerns those wish with to partake in some memory overclocking in the BIOS. But basically put, the lower the latency, the better. Currently, most memory is DIMM and DDR3 - leaving you with the luxury of merely needing to choose your memory brand and memory speed (measured in MHz).

PC Building Beginners Guide - Useful Resources:

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<< Part 1: PC Building Beginners Guide: Motherboards

<< Part 2: PC Building Beginners Guide: Processors

<< Part 4: PC Building Beginners Guide: Memory

This PC Building Beginners Guide aims to offer core information regarding motherboards, Intel CPUs, memory, graphics cards, power supplies and solid state drives. It will hopefully become a growing archive of everything you need to know if you are new to PC building – especially if you are looking to build your very first gaming PC!

PC Building Beginners Guide: Graphics Cards

The most important thing to understand about graphics cards is that they are responsible for the vast majority of performance when it comes to gaming (some might even say as much as 90%). A high-end graphics card is therefore one of the most important pieces of hardware to consider when building a gaming PC.

The two major players that produce GPUs are Nvidia (GeForce) and AMD (Radeon). Again, your own research and budget are important factors to consider here. Personally, I’m most familiar with Nvidia graphics cards and recommend the GTX variety for gaming. Like processors, the higher the clock speed, the faster the card. A GTX 780 for example will be significantly faster than a GTX 740.

PC Building Beginners Guide

PC Building Beginners Guide GeForce GTX 780 Ti

The juicy GeForce GTX 780 Ti (image: www.geforce.com)

A couple of things to bare in mind when it comes to graphics cards is how much power they draw and how hot they get. If you plan to run two GTX 780 Ti’s using SLI, for example, you are going to need some serious cooling and loads of power. A great resource to use here is PC Part Picker. This will allow you to choose all the PC components you wish to install and give you an estimated power usage in watts.

Some useful things to know about graphics cards:

  • Not all games can take advantage of multiple graphics cards.
  • SLI is the naming convention for combining more than 1 Nvidia graphics card.
  • CrossFire is the naming convention for combining more than 1 AMD graphics card.
  • Note that some of the newer graphics cards already have multiple GPUs built-in.
  • Two of the same GPU (2-way configuration) will not necessarily give 2X the performance.
  • Graphics cards with HDMI ports (that allow for video and audio) means that the card also has a built-in sound chip.
  • An overclocked (OC) graphics card will automatically overclock itself when given a more intensive task and then ramp itself back down afterwards to save power.

PC Building Beginners Guide: What is a Video Card?

This PC Building Beginners Guide will continue over the next few weeks. I hope you found this guide useful and I welcome any questions!

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<< Part 1: PC Building Beginners Guide: Motherboards

<< Part 3: PC Building Beginners Guide: Graphics Cards

<< Part 4: PC Building Beginners Guide: Memory

This PC Building Beginners Guide aims to offer core information regarding motherboards, Intel CPUs, memory, graphics cards, power supplies and solid state drives. It will hopefully become a growing archive of everything you need to know if you are new to PC building – especially if you are looking to build your very first gaming PC!

PC Building Beginners Guide: Processors

Fast or high-end processors (or CPUs) are necessary for things like multitasking, intense image and video editing and playing certain types of games. However, for PC gaming, a Core i5 is really all you need. The alternative option is AMD CPUs. The things to consider are CPU generation, clock speed, GHz, cache and socket.

PC Building Beginners Guide: Processors

Haswell Quad Core Processor (image: www.dailytech.com)

CPU Generation: The first number at the beginning of a CPU type (for example: Core i5 4670K indicates the generation of the CPU – in this case, 4th generation. A Core i5 3570 is a 3rd generation CPU and so on. CPU generations also come with codenames. For Intel CPUs, first there was Sandy Bridge, then Ivy Bridge and now Haswell – the latter referring to 4th generation Intel CPUs.

CPU Clock Speed: The next three numbers on a CPU type is the core clock speed of the CPU, for example the 770 in a Core i5 4770K. The higher this number, the faster the CPU.

PC Building Beginners Guide: Processors - Intel Core i7 CPU (image: www.maximumpc.com)GHz: Very simply put, the higher the GHz of a CPU the faster it is. Even a small difference in numbers can make a significant difference in speed. A Core i5 3.4 GHz will perform a lot faster than a Core i5 3.0 GHz for example. The number of cores is also hugely significant. A quad core i5 3.4 GHz (with 4 cores) will be significantly faster than a dual core i5 3.4 GHz.

CPU Cache: Again, the higher the CPU cache, the faster it will perform. A CPU with an 8 MG cache will be faster than one with a 6 MG cache, for example.

CPU Socket: As mentioned in the PC Building Beginners Guide on motherboards, you need to ensure that your chosen CPU has the same socket (e.g. 1155, 1156, 1150, 2011) as your motherboard of choice. A lot of PC builders find it easier to choose their processor first and then find a compatible motherboard.

PC Building Beginners Guide: What is a CPU?

Other considerations when choosing a CPU are: does the CPU have built-in HD graphics? This is not necessary if you plan to use a discreet / separate graphics card. Does the CPU support your speed and type of memory? This is usually DDR3 at the moment. And, can the CPU be overclocked?

Note: Basically put, the “K” at the end of a Core i5 4770K (for example) means that the CPU is unlocked and can be overclocked. It will also specify the frequency that it can be overclocked to, for example “Clock Speed: 3.4 Ghz, Max Turbo Frequency: 3.8 GHz.

This PC Building Beginners Guide will continue over the next few weeks. I hope you found this guide useful and I welcome any questions!

PC Building Beginners Guide - Useful Resources:

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