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Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:04

Five Oil Furnace Maintenance Tips

While there aren't too many fixes homeowners can undertake themselves on oil furnaces, regular maintenance can help prevent many common problems. Here are a some oil furnace maintenance tips:

  • During the winter heating season, check the exhaust smoke from your chimney. If the smoke is mostly black, the furnace is not burning the oil thoroughly and energy is being wasted. Call a Air Specialties Heating & Air Conditioning and we will adjust the burners as needed.
  • Clean the blower before the heating season and again around the middle of the heating season.
  • Clean soot from the stack control about halfway through the heating season.
  • If the blower motor has grease or oil fittings, lubricate the fittings midway through the heating season with grease or 10-weight non-detergent motor oil (not all-purpose oil), found at most hardware stores.
  • Clean the thermostat before each heating season.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:04

11 Ways To Save On Your Heating Bill This Winter

With the arrival of cold weather in Connecticut  comes the inevitable rise in home utility bills. Air Specialties has come up with some easy ways to save energy this winter and keep that heating and electric bill in check.

Check For Peak Utility Hours

Your local electric utility may have peak hours when rates are higher as well as hours when they are be lower.  If so, change when you use major appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and hot water.  You may be getting charged extra for electricity at certain times of day and not even know it.

Zone Off Your Rooms

Instead of using your home's central heating system and furnace all day long, opt for room heaters that you can use to heat just one room at a time.  This works great if you spend most of your your day in a home office or for night time when your're only in the bedroom.

Switch To Energy Star Appliances

By choosing to replace your older appliances with Energy Star rated appliances you can become 15 to 30% more energy efficient. Energy Star rated appliances will also increase your home’s market value considerably.

Let The Sunshine In

On sunny days open your blinds all day long so your home can soak in the free heat of the sun.  Close them at night to keep heat from escaping.

Install Energy Efficient Curtains

Putting up energy efficient curtains to seal in heat can make a very big difference in the amount of energy you use for heating your home.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

You'll never forget to turn down the heat when you leave for work or go to sleep.

Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly

As furnace filters get dirty it gets harder to push air through, meaning more energy consumed.  Change your furnace once a month to keep your furnace running efficiently.

Turn Your Hot Water Heater Temperature Down

Many water heaters are set to 140 degrees but most homeowners can easily turn it down to 120 degrees and not even feel the difference.

Seal Off Your Chimney If Its Not Being Used

If your chimney is just for show, than make sure to seal it up.  Otherwise it's a large hole taking the heat right out of your home.

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

Change your ceiling fans to the reverse setting to circulate the hot air back down to where you want it.

Close Off Unused Rooms

If you aren’t spending time in them, seal them off for the winter and reduce the volume of air that you're heating.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:04

Federal Tax CreditsIf your old furnace or water heater are in need of replacement, replacing them with new, energy efficient units will save you money every month through the heating season. Connecticut residents can also save money on the purchase cost of new systems by taking advantage of 2011 federal tax credits on new, energy efficient furnaces and water heaters. The rebates vary depending on the type and efficiency of the unit, but can cover 10% of cost up to $500 or a specific amount from $50 - $300.  

To quality for these savings you must purchase your new furnace or water heater before December 31, 2011. For more information on federal energy tax credits for new, energy efficient furnaces, visit: http://www.energystar.gov

2011 Changes to Federal Tax Credits

Federal tax credits on qualifying, high-efficiency HVAC equipment have been modified and extended through December 31, 2011 by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. This program differs from the program effective in 2009-2010 in the following ways:

The maximum amount an eligible homeowner may receive in tax credits for purchasing qualifying products, whether those purchases are in the form of upgraded insulation, windows, HVAC equipment or other eligible improvements, will be reduced from $1,500 to $500.

The $500 cap is reduced by the total amount of residential energy property credits a homeowner has claimed for purchases between 2006 and 2010. If you have already claimed credits of $500 or more from improvements made prior to 2011, you will be unable to claim new credits for improvements made during 2011.

All furnaces and boilers, whether natural gas, propane or oil, must have an AFUE of 95 or above to be eligible for the credit.
The credit is no longer 30% of qualified residential energy property costs (including labor), but is now equal to an amount not to exceed:

The State of Connecticut is not offering energy efficiency rebates for home heating or water heaters at this time.

ENERGY STAR® Rated Home Heating Systems

Natural gas, propane and oil furnace style home furnaces can qualify with an AFUE greater or equal to 95. AFUE. AFUE stand for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Indicated as a percentage, your furnace's AFUE tells you how much energy is being converted to heat. For example, an AFUE of 90 means that 90% of the fuel is being used to warm your home, while the other 10% escapes as exhaust with the combustion gases. The Carrier Performance 95, 96 and Infinity Series furnaces all have a AFUE greater than 95.

ENERGY STAR® Rated Water Heaters

With water heating  accounting for 14%–25% of the energy consumed in the average Connecticut home, choosing an efficient model can have a significant impact on your energy costs. Gas, oil, propane and electric heat pump water heaters with an Energy Factor greater or equal to  0.82 OR a thermal efficiency of at least 90% can quality for a $300 tax credit.

Remember, the most important day in the life of your furnace or water heater is the day it's  installed. Your Air Specialties home comfort specialist will help you choose right energy efficient furnace or water heater for your family's needs and budget. With a professional installation by Air Specialties you will be comfortable in knowing that your new furnace or water heater will provide years of efficient, trouble free service.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:04

Welcome to Air Specialties' new series of tips to help you save energy and money. This month we will be talking about choosing the most cost effective water heating solution for your home.

Choosing the Right Hot Water Heater for Your Home

Hot Water HeatersConventional storage tank water heaters are just one of the options available to today's homeowner. With newer, advanced technology, water heaters are more energy efficient than ever, helping the environment and lowering your utility bill.

A typical family of four can use as much as 2,500 gallons of hot water each month. Choosing the right kind of water heater for your home will make a big difference in providing a reliable, economical hot water to all areas of your home. Air Specialties can help you select the right size and type of water heater to meet your family's needs and your budget.

Options For Heating Water In Your Home     

Conventional Natural Gas and Electric Tank Water Heaters         
Conventional storage water heaters are the most popular type of water heating system for the home. The primary benefits of a tank water heater are the low purchase cost, simple installation and large selection of sizes and configurations to choose from.                  

The main downside to a storage tank water heater is, because the water in the tank is constantly being heated, energy is wasted even when a hot water tap isn't running. However, there are storage water heater models with heavily insulated tanks, which significantly reduce standby heat losses, lowering annual operating costs. These models have tanks that have a thermal resistance (R-Value) of R-12 to R-25.                  

A gas hot water heater can be expected to last 8-12 years, while an electric model will last a little longer at 10-15 years.

Tankless Water Heaters          
Tankless water heaters have been around about 8 years. The benefits of tankless water heaters include:         

  1. Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly - Tankless water heaters are environmentally friendly because they are on average 22 percent more energy efficient than conventional water heaters.  Conventional hot water heaters heat water all the time while tankless water heaters heat the water only when it’s needed.  Since heating water accounts for 30% of the average home’s energy budget the higher efficiency of a tankless gas water heater can save you money on your utility bill.           
  2. Endless Flow Of Hot Water - Tankless water heaters heat water directly with out the use of a storage tank. Therefore hot water is supplied on demand.           
  3. Long life - In the short run, a tankless system will use less energy, immediately lowering your utility bill. Over the long run, a tankless water heater will last about twice as long as a tank water heater, with most systems having a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that can extend their life by many more years. In contrast, conventional tank water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years.          

The disadvantages of tankless water heaters include:

  1. Limited Flow Rate - A tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate of hot water.  Therefore problems can arise when hot water is need for more than one use simultaneously.  For example a shower is being taken at the same time the dishwasher is being run. In this case the hot water flow will be restricted. To overcome this problem, you can change your lifestyle to limit how much hot water is called for at one time or you can install more than one tankless water heater.          
  2. Up-front Costs Are Higher -  A tankless heating unit costs more than a tank heater and gas load requirements may require upgrading gas service. Venting restrictions may also limit where the unit can be installed.
  3. Additional Maintenance Requirements - Calcium build up can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow and damage the unit. While not complicated, performing regular maintenance is essential to the achieve the best performance full lifespan of the tankless water heater.

Hybrid Water Heaters

A new alternative way of heating water is a hybrid water heater, such as the Eternal Hybrid water heater and the GE GeoSpring water heater.

The Eternal has a unique way of heating water. Instead of having a 40 gallon tank like a regular water, or going without a tank like a tankless water heater, the eternal has a 2 gallon tank. Hot water is drawn from the small tank and the unit keeps replenishing the small tank.

The primary benefit of a hybrid water heater is higher flow capacity. When sized right, this means multiple people can take showers at the same time and not have to worry about running out of water.

Another advantage of a hybrid water heater versus a tank water heater is cleaner hot water. That is important if you use hot water for cooking or other uses besides showering. Water in a conventional tank water heater is prone to bacteria growth, rust and sediment.

The main disadvantages of a hybrid water heater are higher installation cost compared to storage tank water heaters and slightly less efficient operation compared to a tankless water heater.

Have water heating questions?  The hot water experts at Air Specialties can help you select the best hot water solution to fit your family's needs and budget.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 00:04

Welcome to Air Specialties' new series of tips to help you save energy and money. To get started with the series we'll be talking about energy audits.

What is an Energy Audit?

Connecticut Energy AuditsAn energy audit is a series of tests designed to help to identify where your home is leaking energy and how well your heating & cooling system are working. It helps to find which areas of your home are not performing as well as they could be to prevent energy loss.

Professional energy auditors use a variety of techniques and special equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a structure. They inspect homes inside and out, use equipment such as blower doors and infrared cameras to detect heat loss, and look at energy bills―all with the goal of determining how you can save money and energy.

How do I get an energy audit for my home and what does it cost?

There are companies in Connecticut that you can hire to perform an energy audit. The cost of an energy audit will depend on the size and type of your home.

There may also be low cost energy audit assistance programs in the community. The Connecticut Weatherization Assistance Program helps low income residents save fuel and money, while increasing the comfort of their homes.  Free energy efficiency upgrades, including a comprehensive energy audits, as part of its income based services programs. Click here for details.

Can I do an energy audit myself?

Connecticut Energy AuditMany Connecticut area homeowners choose to do their own home energy audit. You will save on a contractor's fee, but your work may not qualify for incentives.

For information on do-it-yourself home energy audits, visit the The Home Energy Saver (http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer/ ). The Home Energy Saver will help you compute your home's energy use with online based on methods developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. By changing features on a model home, users can estimate how much energy and money can be saved and how much pollution prevented by implementing energy-efficiency improvements. All end uses (home heating, cooling, major appliances, lighting, and miscellaneous uses) are included. A detailed description of underlaying calculation methods and data is provided in a special report.

I've had an energy audit, what's next?

Once you know where your home is losing energy there are many techniques you can use to prevent energy loss and save money. The rest of our Energy Savers Series will be a collection of the tips and techniques that expert energy auditors use to help homeowners save energy and money.

Next up, saving energy with Programmable Thermostats.

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