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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You'll never forget to turn down the heat when you leave for work or go to sleep.
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.
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.
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.
Change your ceiling fans to the reverse setting to circulate the hot air back down to where you want it.
If you aren’t spending time in them, seal them off for the winter and reduce the volume of air that you're heating.
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:
Air Specialties Blog
Getting Your Furnace Ready For The Heating Season
If your home has a gas furnace, it’s important to learn how to check your unit for potential problems to prevent unexpected breakdowns or inefficient operation. Troubleshooting your gas furnace can help you to avoid costly repair bills that may arise if potential issues are left undiscovered.
Typically, a gas furnace is operated through the same thermostat as the air conditioner. This means that when the weather turns cold, you can simply turn your thermostat to the 'warm’ or 'heat’ setting and then adjust the temperature to your liking.
Before beginning, it's important to turn the power off to the unit. Many furnaces have electrical components near the filter. Open the cover of the unit and then remove the filter. You can use a vacuum to clean the surface dust from a plastic filter, then simply wash it and dry it before replacing it. Always operate the furnace with a filter in place. You will need to replace a cardboard filter every few months, or as recommended by the filter manufacturer.
Check every room in your home by feeling for the airflow that comes from the vents. If airflow is insufficient to areas of your home, you should have a Air Specialties check your ducts to ensure they are properly sized for air delivery throughout your home.
A inoperable pilot light is one of the main reasons that a gas furnace will fail to ignite. To ignite the pilot, turn the gas cock off and then push the pilot reset button while turning the cock to 'pilot’. Get a match and light it, then hold it near the furnace pilot to relight it.
Cleaning the system every couple of years helps the unit to run more efficiently and last longer. During an annual heating system inspection your technician will lubricate the furnace ports and bearings, reducing the amount of energy the unit needs to operate. Your technician will also clean the furnace burners if they appear dirty.
Cleaning the vents and ducts will remove blockages that can interfere with heat flow in the home. In the winter, ice can block the outdoor vents. Make sure to turn off the unit before you attempt to remove the ice.
If you notice air leaks emanating from your system, use caulk to seal off any gaps. In addition, placing weather stripping around doors and windows will keep your home from losing heat, which makes your furnace run more often.
If you ever smell gas coming from the furnace, leave the area and call your gas company right away. Avoid lighting matches or using any electrical appliances until you are safely away from the area.
Air Specialties Blog
What You Need To Know About Your Home's Furnace Filter
Proper air filtration is an important for many reasons. We usually only think about our furnace filter when we're dusting around the house or sneezing from the airborne particles that appear when the furnace turns on in the winter.
Filter replacement frequency varies by filter type, by the size of your home and the overall air quality. A furnace in a larger home will move more air and clog the filter faster. If you have pets you’ll probably need to change your filter twice as often. Not only are pet dander and hair a leading cause of allergens, they also clog air filters quickly!
Start with every two months for a pleated 1” filter and double the frequency if you have a large home or if you have pets. Costlier filters may claim to last 90 days, but, in our experience, these filters are so restrictive that they should be changed monthly. Your furnace and air conditioner will breathe easier and so will you!
If you’re really interested in cleaning the air in your home, we can install a whole-house air cleaner in place of your furnace filter. These filters clean the air better that any of the standard filters and they often only need changed annually.
Buy your air filters by the case (usually 6 to 12) and keep them near your furnace. This will lessen the tendency to procrastinate about your air filter change. Buying by the case can also reduce the cost of each filter change.
Never run your system with an incorrectly sized filter. An poor-fitting furnace filter will allow dust and other contaminates to sneak around the filter and into your home. This is also the primary cause of clogged air conditioner coils. Clogged a/c coils reduce efficiency and compressor life, and can cause expensive problems down the road.
Always turn off your furnace at the breaker panel or disconnect (not just the thermostat) before replacing your filter. Some furnaces have electrical wiring close to the filter location which could shock you if the power is not disconnected first. furnace air filters
If you're uncertain about where your furnace filter goes, what direction to install it, or what size or type to use, give us a call. We're always happy to help.
For improved filtration and healthier indoor air quality, we offer whole-house air cleaners and other Indoor Air Quality systems. Our technicians can recommend the best solution based on your needs and your home.
Flooding from Hurricane Sandy may have damaged your home heating or cooling system. Don't wait the warm weather arrives to find out your cooling system is damaged and needs service.
The exposure of home cooling and heating equipment components to saltwater can have both immediate and long-term effects. While the immediate effects of saltwater damage are similar to those of freshwater (shorting of electrical components, washing out of critical lubricants, etc.) the salt and other contaminants left behind can lead to longer term issues after the water is gone due to the conductive and corrosive nature of the salt residue. This has led to some manufacturers no longer covering any equipment damaged by saltwater or polluted water under warranty and recommending replacement.
If you had salt water flooding or other damage from Hurricane Sandy, which may have corroded or rusted vital components of your home air conditioning system's compressor, it is important to have the unit inspected to ensure long term reliability and safety of the system.
If you've been impacted by flooding from Hurricane Sandy and are having Air Specialties visit your home for service, ask your technician to inspect your air conditioner and furnace for damage. If your condenser or other components are damaged, we can replace them to ensure it's working properly to keep you comfortable when the warm weather arrives.
Inconsistent heating or cooling in the home is one of the most common reasons homeowners contact us for service. Hot or cold zones around the home are not only an annoyance, they’re a sign that the air delivery system is not operating correctly. Many homeowners will simply close or open vents, or adjust the thermostat well above or below where it should be to maintain a comfortable setting. This wastes energy and can shorten the life of your HVAC system
Several factors can contribute to uneven heating or cooling, but, fortunately, they can all be fixed. Here are a few things that you can do to address uneven heating and cooling in your home
If airflow to certain parts of the home is imbalanced, you’ll experience uneven heating or cooling in those areas. An airflow imbalance also causes your system
to work overtime in order to compensate, which in turn will shorten your system’s life and decrease its efficiency.
In order to create a balanced airflow Air Specialties will inspect and assess the adequacy of your home’s duct work. If the ducts are not properly sized, it’s important to replace them with correctly sized ones.
Identifying leaks and blockages is also important, as leaks are a major contributor to inefficiency and uneven temperatures. If blockages are identified, they will be removed to restore airflow. Once the underlying causes of the imbalance have been identified, the appropriate repairs or replacement will be made to get your system functioning normally again.
Variable speed motors provide more even heating and cooling, and allow for more precise control of airflow throughout the home. By moving the air more slowly through the system, variable speed motors can help make a home’s air filtration and moisture control systems more effective. They adjust the system’s output based on the home’s heating or cooling needs. They can also be helpful in situations where uneven heating or cooling is actually desired. If there are rooms in your home that are rarely used, you can save money by keeping them at a slightly higher or lower temperature than the other rooms in your home. This involves “zoning,” which means customizing temperature settings for different areas of the home. In general, variable speed motors are the only systems that allow for zoning within the home.
Just as you’re experiencing discomfort due to uneven temperatures, your system is constantly trying to compensate, which means high utility bills and the potential for costly repairs.
Sometimes, an improperly sized HVAC system may result in uneven heating or cooling. This could be the result of either an incorrect load calculation at the time of the system’s installation or a home’s heating and cooling needs changing over time. For example, it is common that an extra room is added or an area like an attic or basement is converted into living space. If your HVAC system is too small to properly heat or cool your home, uneven temperatures and system failures could result. To determine whether your HVAC system is properly sized, contact an HVAC professional for an up-to-date load calculation
It a decision every homeowner is faced with at some point, deciding if keeping an old furnace or boiler running is more economical that purchasing a new heating system.
If your heating system is getting up in years and needs more frequent repairs, here are some factors to consider when determining if it's time to upgrade to a new heating unit.
A 2007 study by the National Association of Home Builders found that gas furnaces last an average of 15 to 20 years. So consider the age of the unit when deciding whether to repair or replace. When a new heating system is installed technicians will often write the date of the installation on the unit. You can also look for a metal identification plate, usually on the inside of the chamber door (be sure the unit is turned off). Write down the model and serial number, then call the manufacturer’s and ask for the date if was manufactured.
If the furnace is beyond three-quarters of its life expectancy and repairing it would cost a 1/3 or more of the amount of a new furnace, it may be more economical to replace the unit. If the unit is breaking down frequently and has become unreliable, the peace of mind of a reliable heating system may also be a good reason to upgrade.
In these days of high fuel costs, it's important to consider is the efficiency of the old furnace or boiler versus a newer unit. A standard measure of fuel efficiency is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency number, or AFUE. AFUE measures the percentage of the fuel that’s converted to heat rather than being lost through inefficiency.
If a gas furnace is 20 or more years old, its AFUE is probably about 70. Newer furnaces will have an AFUE of at least 80%, which means they will burn 10% less fuel – that's 10% savings on your heating bill. High efficiency furnaces go as high a 95% AFUE , which could save you 25% on your heating bill!
In many home it's not unusual to see temperature differences of several degrees between rooms. Attics, basements and additions often have the greatest variation in temperature. When one room is uncomfortably hot or cold there are several factors to consider.
Inadequate Wall and Attic Insulation
In a cold climate like Connecticut, proper insulation is essential. The recommended R-value for attics is 43, and an R-value of 21 for walls
Check For Air Leaks
Proper weather sealing around windows and doors will eliminate drafts and energy loss.
Insufficient Air Delivery System
One of the most common problems we see in HVAC systems that are not heating or cooling well are air ducts that are not properly sized to deliver air throughout the home. To check for potential problems Air Specialties can perform an air delivery analysis to determine if air is reaching every area of your home.
Leaky Air Ducts
Sealing the gaps and joints in your air ducts will allow your furnace and air conditioner to work more efficiently and ensure all the air reaches all areas of your home.
Now is a good time to ensure your home's heating system is ready for the long Connecticut winter ahead. The experts at Air Specialties Air Conditioning and Heating recommend that homeowners perform a few simple maintenance tasks to maintain their HVAC system between professional tune-ups.
Furnace Air Filters
One of the simplest ways to keep your furnace running at peak efficiency is to ensure that you change your air filter regularly. Your furnace will breathe easier, and so will you!
Check Your Thermostat Settings
If you have a programmable thermostat, check the timer function to ensure it's set to turn on and off at the proper time. A properly set thermostat will keep you comfortable and
Clean Around Your Furnace and Air Conditioner
Before covering your central air conditioner, vacuum up debris that may be clinging to the cooling fins. Clean around your furnace and check that there is nothing obstructing the vents around the blower compartment.
Check Air Vents For Obstructions
Check your home's supply and return air vents to ensure there are no obstructions and that the air is flowing freely.
Ensure You Have Adequate Attic and Wall Insulation
Consider adding more insulation to your attic in order to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. Weather stripping is another relatively inexpensive way to keep the cold weather at bay this winter.