Spring is upon us and, while Coweta County’s beauty is flourishing as nature blooms, many of us are beginning to suffer our dreaded spring allergies. The pollen count is getting higher with grass, ragweed, trees, and various other plants in bloom; damp and humid temperatures will soon give way to mold; and those cool spring and summer breezes blowing through the windows we all enjoy will circulate dust and other allergens around our homes. But spring doesn’t need to be bleak for allergy sufferers; just follow these HVAC maintenance tips to ease your allergies.
- Purchase high quality filters. Filters are your HVAC system’s way of defending you against allergens; filters keep allergens out so they won’t circulate through your home. You want to purchase high quality filters so they do their job properly.
- Change filters regularly. Filters trap dirt, pollen, dust, and other allergens. At some point, those filters must be changed so they can continue to trap allergens while still allowing air to circulate effectively. Filters should be changed every couple of months, with the exact amount of time dependent on your specific filter and HVAC system. If you see the filters are getting dirty before the regularly scheduled change, you may want to change them early.
- Your ducts may need cleaning. If your home hasn’t had regular HVAC maintenance or if you suspect there is mold or debris inside of your ducts, then you should have your ducts cleaned to remove allergens. This is a good tip to keep in mind before cranking up the heat again in the fall. Your ducts accumulate dust and other allergens all summer, so when you first turn your heating unit on those allergens will circulate throughout the house.
- Get rid of debris around units. Keep the area around your indoor and outdoor units clean and free of debris. Outdoor units pull air, and while the filter is there to catch the debris you don’t want to make the filter work harder if it doesn’t need to. Excessive debris will cause your filters to get dirtier faster, which means you will need to change your filters more frequently. Indoor units will circulate the air that is already inside of the house and any other allergens that are already inside of the house. If there is dust, dirt, or pet dander in front of your unit, those allergens will get circulated around the house when the unit blows the air.
- Don’t forget to dust. It’s common for people to forget to dust registers and return vents, but they can’t be overlooked because they circulate all of the air from the HVAC system. You don’t want registers and vents circulating allergens with the air.
Need help with your indoor air quality? Call us at 770-253-2665 or set an appointment up here.
If you are having trouble sleeping at night, sleep experts have plenty of helpful tips for you to try, including taking sleep medicine, switching out your mattress or using a white noise machine. However, while all of these suggestions are helpful, they won’t help much if your room is not kept at the ideal temperature for sleep. As it turns out, heating and cooling your room can make a world of difference.
Your body has internal mechanisms that are responsible for heating and cooling your body, and these mechanisms decrease your temperature every night while you sleep. Your brain prefers to be cooler at night time. If your room is too hot or too cold, your brain has a harder time achieving your ideal temperature. It finds heating and cooling your body too strenuous. This can either wake you up in the middle of the night, or it can keep you from falling asleep in the first place.
According to scientists, the best temperature for sleeping for most people is around 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is just right for most people to achieve the deep sleep they need.
Of course, the temperature that each individual sleeps best at will vary, even among members of the same family. It is not uncommon for some people to enjoy sleeping at a temperature as low as 60 degrees while others prefer a temperature as warm as 75 degrees. It all depends on the person and their individual heating and cooling preferences.
If you are having trouble getting the sleep you need and you have tried all of the usual techniques without success, you may want to try additional heating and cooling at night to see if that has any effect. Simply raise or lower the thermostat a few degrees each night and see if it makes any difference. You never know until you try. A few degrees of heating and cooling may be all you need.
Information courtesy of All Star Heating, Cooling and Plumbing
Today’s residential HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems use different methods and techniques for channeling heat outside of the home or to bring the warm air in. Certain systems such as air conditioning absorb heat from within the home using a refrigerant gas and then transfer it outdoors. Other systems, such as furnaces, typically use electricity or natural gas to create their own heat for warming up your home’s interior. When you shop for the best residential systems, it is important that you focus on energy-saving systems.
Natural Gas Systems
The first thing you need to remember about natural gas operated HVAC systems is that they create their own heat through the burning of natural gas. In those cases where natural gas is not available, such as rural areas, propane is used instead. An affordable gas furnace is the best option when you live in climates that are too cold for having a heating pump to warm your home. Although natural gas burns less efficiently than other types of fuels, it is considerably less expensive than others. Additionally, there is less maintenance than what you would experience with the more traditional oil furnace.
These systems heat a home’s interior through the use of infrared technology with the two most common types being hot water piping and insulated wire systems. Hot water piping systems are commonly installed when the floor of the home is. Conversely, insulated wire systems are considerably more flexible. If you are an allergy sufferer, this is the most recommended system as radiant heating does not make the air circulate and move around the home. There are also water-based varieties which are more cost-effective.
By far, these systems are the most energy-efficient as they do not create heat. Instead, they circulate it around the home. Using a heat pump is the best transference method although air conditioning will perform that function automatically. Heat pumps function in one of two ways. They cool the home by pulling warm air outside and they warm the home by drawing warmed air inside. The two disadvantages of heat pumps are that they do not work efficiently enough in cold weather climates and they have a high initial cost.
HVAC systems are designed and developed to accommodate different sized commercial and residential structures and are rated to facilitate the amount of interior cubic feet. If you install an HVAC system that is too large for the structure, it will start and stop continually. In the long run, this will result in costly utility bills. On the other hand, if you install a system that is too small for your home or office, it will run continually. This will cost you a lot more due to additional maintenance fees and inflated utility bills.
New HVAC Technologies To Keep Homes Cooler
On a closing note, there are several newer energy-efficient HVAC technologies that were recently introduced in the past decade that help cool homes more cost-effectively. These include:
- Desiccant Enhanced Evaporative Air Conditioner or DEVAP systems
- Heat recovery systems
- Home automation
- Passive dehumidification
- Residential zoning units
There is a considerable amount of information available online regarding these technologies. It is important to remember that regardless of the system or technology that you select for cooling and heating your home, all of them will work more cost-effectively and efficiently by performing regular preventative maintenance. By ensuring that a system is working to its fullest potential, it will enable you to conserve energy and realize significant savings on the maintenance and operation of them throughout the year.
One major problem we face in the South – is dry air during the winter time. An easy way to see if this affects you is static electricity. Adding moisture to your home helps to raise your indoor humidity level, which can fall dramatically in the wintertime as a result of constant heating. By restoring an idea humidity to 45-50% [the level recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency], your indoor environment may feel warmer, lessening the need to crank up the heat, and any moisture-senstive furnishings in your home will be better protected from damage.
Think about how much HOTTER it feels in the summer when humidity is high. Sounds logical, right?
Some of the physical effects of dry air includes dry skin, sore throat, bloody nose, cracked lips, respiratory irritation – even colds, flus and sinus infections. According to the National Institute of Health, increasing the humidity in your home will help moisturize your nasal and throat passages so you can breathe better and clearer.
Give us a call at 770-253-2665 or visit us online for more answers to the above, and many other questions!
Rain comes and goes, but a storm doesn’t pass most of us by without the thought of a power outage. It could happen to your house, or your city – you could be down for an hour or a couple of days. Too hard to predict – much easier to prepare ahead of time.
Make sure you are ready by:
- Have a written emergency preparedness plan. This should include a meeting place in case your family is somehow separated, including phone numbers and a list of what needs to be done. Keep it in an easily accessible place – like the kitchen or bathroom.
- Put some thought into the purchase of a generator. It just might be the difference between keeping your house going for a day or not.
- Have an emergency preparedness kit that includes candles, etc. The Red Cross has a list of items you need for it – why reinvent the wheel? Use it as a guideline to take care of your family.
- Know what to do if the worst happens – and communicate this to your family. This includes turning off all electrical equipment possible to avoid a power surge when eh electricity comes back on, keeping the refrigerator door closed, etc.
- Have the numbers for an electrician, HVAC company, etc ready. After a power outage, you might find that your AC, water heater, or other systems may not function correctly.
We are always hear to help – visit us online or give us a call at 770-253-2665 to chat.
When you think of taking care of an aging parent or friend, the first thing that may come to mind is helping with meals, errands, doctors visits, etc. Those that have stepped into the shoes of being a caretaker understand that there is a lot more to it – you take on the responsibility of home maintenance and repairs – and specifically, the air conditioning system.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 400 Americans die each year to heat related conditions, and nearly half f them are elderly. They are at greater risk for heat stress or stroke risk due to several factors.
- Their bodies do not adjust as easily to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have medical conditions such as heart, lung and kidney disease. Other medical issues that increase their risk are high blood pressure and diabetes.
- They may take medications that render them more susceptible to the heat. Some medications are known to inhibit perspiration which leaves them even more vulnerable in hot weather.
- Age related dementia – they may simply forget to turn on the air conditioning, or may not realize if it is not functioning properly.
- Isolation – some may not have friends or family members who check in on them regularly.
- Cost – being on fixed incomes, some seniors may be reluctant to use the air conditioning, believing that the use of electric fans will be sufficient – and they are not. While possibly providing a breeze, they do nothing to eliminate the extreme humidity we face in Georgia.
The fact is, heat related illness and deaths are 100% preventable; and according to the CDC, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat related illness and death. So – making sure air conditioning systems are in good working order before the summer sets in order should be a top priority.
Have your Heating system tuned-up for the season, so that you are running at peak efficiency. Operating at peak efficiency will save money because the system doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.
Replace your furnace or air handler filters on a regular basis. Lack of regular filter changes and maintenance is the number one cause of system breakdowns and costly repair bills.
Keep the thermostat constant. Continuously adjusting the thermostat can be very inefficient. You can, however, lower the thermostat 2-3 degrees during the day while you’re away to save money. For every degree you lower the setting, you can expect to cut energy consumption by up to 3-5%.
Flip the fan switch on your thermostat into the “fan on” mode when heating the house. This process will ensure that air is always being stirred to prevent hot and cold pockets from forming.
Consider a Heat Pump if you are going to replace your outdoor unit. Although a Heat Pump cannot produce air as hot as your gas furnace, when you combine a Heat Pump with your gas furnace you have a system that is much more efficient and still able to deliver the warmth we all love.
Set air vents on the second floor to receive approximately 45 percent of the heated air. This will help even out the temperatures from the first to the second floor of the home. (Remember, hot air rises)
Open the shades and curtains to help produce radiant heat of the sun.
Replace older windows with more efficient low-E glass. These windows help to reduce the heat loss of your homes HVAC system. Also, keep storm windows closed. This saves money and extends the life of the system.
Run humidifiers to help maintain the warm feeling in your home. Proper humidity can make the air feel up to 3 degrees warmer. Which means you can turn down your thermostat a couple of degrees and save money on your utility bills and still feel the warmth that we all love on those cold days in winter. (Depending upon your environment, you may still need a dehumidifier running in the basement)
Clear or cut back shrubs and bushes from the outdoor Heat Pump unit. The sides of the unit require at least 12-18 inches of clearance for proper performance.
Keep fallen leaves, grass clippings, foliage and other dirt and debris away from your outdoor Heat Pump unit. And keep the indoor coils clean, following manufacturers’ instructions.
Don’t block vents or ducts inside the house to assure air flow in the home.
Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors (especially the attic) to close air gaps.
Consider use of a programmable thermostat to automatically increase or decrease temperatures during day and night to suit a family’s lifestyle and reduce energy cost.
Keep windows and doors closed to help with the homes natural heat loss.
Progressive Heating & Air Conditioning can help you with any heating and air problem as well as diagnose your whole house and recommend solutions that will provide you and your family with the most energy efficient home possible.
We hope you have found our series on indoor air quality useful. Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have and we’ll do our best to get an answer to you in a timely manner.
We firmly believe that knowledge is power, and one can never be too careful about the quality of the air you are putting in your body!
In March, we will give you guys a lot of information on what kind of Progressive Heating and Air really is. And remember – the best compliment you can give us is to refer us to your friends and family.
If you like programmable thermostats, you’ll LOVE this one. For our final indoor air quality week in February, we bring you Honeywell‘s Prestige 2.0 Comfort System.
|Prestige 2.0® Comfort System
Three Basic Strategies
Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions. Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs. Specific sources of indoor air pollution in your home are listed later in this section.
Another approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the outdoor ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.
It is particularly important to take as many of these steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants–for example, painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such as welding, soldering, or sanding. You might also choose to do some of these activities outdoors, if you can and if weather permits.
Advanced designs of new homes are starting to feature mechanical systems that bring outdoor air into the home. Some of these designs include energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators (also known as air-to-air heat exchangers).
- For more information about air-to-air heat exchangers, contact the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy‘s Office (EERE) at www.eere.energy.gov/. You may contact the EERE Information Center with questions on EERE’s products, services, and 11 technology programs by calling 1-877-EERE-INF (1-877-337-3463).
There are many types and sizes of air cleaners on the market, ranging from relatively inexpensive table-top models to sophisticated and expensive whole-house systems. Some air cleaners are highly effective at particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less so. Air cleaners are generally not designed to remove gaseous pollutants.
The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it collects pollutants from indoor air (expressed as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute). A very efficient collector with a low air-circulation rate will not be effective, nor will a cleaner with a high air-circulation rate but a less efficient collector. The long-term performance of any air cleaner depends on maintaining it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Another important factor in determining the effectiveness of an air cleaner is the strength of the pollutant source. Table-top air cleaners, in particular, may not remove satisfactory amounts of pollutants from strong nearby sources. People with a sensitivity to particular sources may find that air cleaners are helpful only in conjunction with concerted efforts to remove the source.
Over the past few years, there has been some publicity suggesting that houseplants have been shown to reduce levels of some chemicals in laboratory experiments. There is currently no evidence, however, that a reasonable number of houseplants remove significant quantities of pollutants in homes and offices. Indoor houseplants should not be over-watered because overly damp soil may promote the growth of microorganisms which can affect allergic individuals.
At present, EPA does not recommend using air cleaners to reduce levels of radon and its decay products. The effectiveness of these devices is uncertain because they only partially remove the radon decay products and do not diminish the amount of radon entering the home. EPA plans to do additional research on whether air cleaners are, or could become, a reliable means of reducing the health risk from radon. EPA’s booklet, Residential Air Cleaners, provides further information on air-cleaning devices to reduce indoor air pollutants.
For most indoor air quality problems in the home, source control is the most effective solution. This section takes a source-by-source look at the most common indoor air pollutants, their potential health effects, and ways to reduce levels in the home. (For a summary of the points made in this section, see the section entitled “Reference Guide to Major Indoor Air Pollutants in the Home“).
- Ozone Generators That Are Sold As Air Cleaners (which is only available via this website) was prepared by EPA to provide accurate information regarding the use of ozone-generating devices in indoor occupied spaces. This information is based on the most credible scientific evidence currently available.
- “Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?” was prepared by EPA to assist consumers in answering this often confusing question. The document explains what air duct cleaning is, provides guidance to help consumers decide whether to have the service performed in their home, and provides helpful information for choosing a duct cleaner, determining if duct cleaning was done properly, and how to prevent contamination of air ducts.
This information is courtesy of the EPA