PTCS Program Newsletter: January 2019
In this Issue:
    • New Thermostat Support Sheets
    • Online and On-Demand Training
    • Continuing Education Credits
    • Attention PTCS Trainers 

    • Tips for Using the Registry
    • Testing Heat Pumps in Cold Weather
    • Duct Testing in Winter
    • All About Air Source Heat Pumps
    • Duct Sealing Tips
    • HVAC Savings for Commercial Customers
General Program Updates & Tips
New Thermostat Support SheetsCustServ 
New thermostat support sheets and updates available soon.
  • T/ACONT 624 (New)
  • Lennox CS7500 (New)
  • T/ACONT 824 (Update)
  • Carrier Infinity Touch (Update)
  • Honeywell VP8000 (Update)
Find all thermostat sheets and other technical support materials online.

If you have suggestions for new support sheets, let us know. C ontact the PTCS program team at 1.800.941.3867 or email  ResHVAC@bpa.gov .
Online and On-Demand TrainingCustServ 
Whether you are interested in refreshers on program requirements, registry inputs, or system sizing, we are here to help.  We will soon be scheduling training sessions to assist sales and administrative staff. Live refresher training sessions are also available for individual companies upon request.

If you have topics you would like to discuss with our technical support staff, contact the PTCS program team at 1.800.941.3867 or email  ResHVAC@bpa.gov .
Continuing Education Credits MarketingUpdate
CLEAResult has recently secured NATE Continuing Education Hours (CEH) Credits for the PTCS Heat Pump & PTCS Duct Seal classes. Moving forward, NATE CEH Credits will be offered to technicians attending any in-person PTCS class offered by CLEAResult. Please have your NATE ID number on hand to receive the continuing education hours. Check our training site or contact your local utility for more information about duct sealing and heat pump trainings.
 
 
Attention PTCS TrainersRegistryUpdates
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PTCS training materials have been updated to improve contractor experiences and to introduce new program information. You should have received an email with a link to the PTCS trainer survey recently. Please complete that survey before January 25th. If you plan to continue training PTCS contractors, we ask that you participate in the training education webinar in February 2019.  

Please email   ResHVAC@bpa.gov  for additional information.
Tips for Using the RegistryRegistryUpdates
Tip 1:
Want to know if a site has had any PTCS jobs done before? You can find out on the registry website.
  1. Go to  ptcs.bpa.gov
  2. Click on "About the Program" menu option.
  3. Click "Search Previous PTCS Certification by Address" in the drop down.
This will show all prior measures submitted for an address.
 
Tip 2:
Are you using an old application form?
Required fields may have changed! Find all current heat pump and duct sealing forms on the registry home page and click on the blue "Need an Install Form?" button.

Do you have other questions about the registry?  Please email  ResHVAC@bpa.gov  with your questions.
Cold Weather Reminders
Testing Heat Pumps in Cold WeatherTestMode
Special attention must be followed when testing heat pumps if the outdoor temperature is below 35° (the strip heat lockout temperature). Here are some potential causes of  higher than expected temperature split values, and solutions to improve testing: 
  • Strip heat accompanies the compressor heat
    • Use thermostat test mode to avoid use of strip heat when testing
  • The indoor coil is hot before initiating the temperature split test causing the coil's radiant heat to influence the temperature measurement 
    • Test the supply temperature out of line of sight of the indoor coil
  • Airflow may be different when strip heat is engaged 
    • Use thermostat test mode to avoid this potential issue
Sometimes the measured temperature split will be higher than the values provided in the PTCS Minimum Expected Temperature Split Chart, even when the testing is performed properly. One example of this is the variable speed heat pump temperature split test. The PTCS Minimum Expected Temperature Split Chart has estimates for single and two-stage heat pumps and not variable speed heat pumps. Consequently, variable speed units with higher capacities at the outdoor test temperature will result in a larger temperature split than indicated by the chart.

Duct Testing in the Winter TestMode
Testing ducts in the wintertime can provide some unique challenges when compared to sealing in milder weather.

Running a duct test can be very dangerous if a fireplace or wood stove is in use or was recently used prior to arriving at the job site. Thoroughly check for all combustion appliances in the home to ensure a safe testing environment. It's worth noting that an extinguished fire in a wood stove or fireplace can send left-behind ashes into the air or onto nearby furnishings. Positively pressurizing the home with the blower door typically does not pull loose ashes into the home, but you should still monitor during the test. In particular check for ashes when the blower door is running at a low speed to make sure that ashes are not blown around.

Homeowners might think that the cold temperatures they feel during testing will impact their heating bill, but you can assure them that the impact is minimal. You can reduce homeowner concerns during testing by implementing the following tips:
  • Avoid testing adjacent to the main body of the home. Use another door away from the homeowner.
  • Fully set up equipment and be ready to test prior to running the blower door fan.
  • Use the blower door fan cover when you are not running a test.
Prior to starting the duct sealing, don't forget to ask homeowners for clues to the condition of their ducting. Ask about strange smells when their heat is running, cold or hot rooms, dirty filters, or other things they notice when heating.
All About Air Source Heat Pumps
Sizing Return Grilles  FilterGrille
From a technical perspective, it is impossible to oversize the return grille or the return duct. Larger return grilles decrease noise, reduce static pressure, and improve the performance of the filter. The face velocity of air should be less than 500 feet/minute. If a filter grille is installed, the face velocity should be closer to 300 feet/minute. Engineering data from the manufacturer should be used to determine proper return grill sizing if available. Otherwise, a good rule to follow is to calculate the size using 2 cubic feet per minute for each square inch of return grille. For example, a two-ton heat pump with a return grille opening of 20 inches by 20 inches or 400 squre inches generally requires 800 CFM/minute. In this scenario, 400 square inches X 2 CFM/square inch gives us 800 CFM, which is a good match.

Remember, this is guidance for minimum return grille sizing. 
 
If you have any questions, please contact uat  ResHVAC@bpa.gov.
Duct Sealing Tips
The HVAC system location that yields the highest energy savings from duct sealing is typically the air handler to plenum connection. Remember these pointers for best results when sealing at the air handler:
  • The air handler to plenum connection is the only location where UL-181 tape is allowed (e.g. foil-backed butyl or mastic tape). Although mastic sealant is preferred here, this exception was granted since mastic sealant on this connection makes future air handler removal or replacement very difficult. Note that this exception only applies to the connection point between the air handler and plenum and not other connections (i.e. gaps and access panels) on the plenum. For example, if a filter box is installed directly to the air handler, this connection can be sealed with UL-181 approved tape, but the connection between the filter box and plenum should be sealed with mastic sealant.
  • Reminder: tape is only as good as the surface it's adhering to. Thoroughly clean the surface to remove all dust, grime, adhesives, and old tape prior to installing.
Commercial HVAC customers want savings, too! Refresher

Contractors active in the PTCS program may find themselves working with commercial customers eager to invest in energy-efficient HVAC systems or upgrades. 
    
Earlier this year, BPA launched Trade Ally Network NW, an integrated network to serve commercial lighting and HVAC trade allies throughout the Northwest. The new home for the former Air Northwest and Northwest Trade Ally Network programs, the Network connects contractors with local utility programs to help commercial customers find energy and cost savings. 
  
Although utility programs vary, contractors can locate cash incentives for ductless heat pumps, connected thermostats, heat pump upgrades and conversions, advanced rooftop unit controls, variable refrigerant flow systems and variable frequency drives on air handling units. These incentives help customers defray upfront costs to make capital investments like HVAC more affordable. 
 
Through the Network, contractors also receive:
  • No-cost technical and program support
  • Consultation with experienced field specialists
  • Invitations to in-person workshops and networking events
  • Comprehensive training and education resources
  • Sales and business-building training
Visit our website at  tradeallynetworknw.com  to join the Network, research HVAC program offerings and register for workshops in your area. You can also sign up for our bimonthly newsletter packed with tips, tools and best practices for selling commercial HVAC and lighting.
Questions
Do you have questions about the registry, testing, upcoming trainings, or the program in general? We're here to help. Reach out to 1.800.941.3867 or  ResHVAC@bpa.gov . For more information, consult our Program Homepage .
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