It’s that time of year again in the South when the climate cannot make up its mind. One day we’ll be in a heat advisory, and the next it could be a cool, fall day. With the season changes, it may also be hard to check on your appliances and program your HVAC system.
When it comes to your heating and cooling system, there are some guidelines to assist you ease into the fall and winter seasons. First, by placing a programmable thermostat in your home, you can reduce the energy bills and raise the comfort level year round. A programmable thermostat will allow you to alter the temperature based on the time of day, according to your needs.
Another efficient method to save cash and maintain your heating and cooling system to operate effectively year round is with regular checkups on the appliances. Through servicing your HVAC on a regular basis, your local specialist can repair any minor problems with the system before they become larger, costly issues. At Progressive Heating and Air, we recommend having your system serviced at the end of each season.
Preventative Maintenance Tips for your HVAC System
Taking care of your home’s HVAC system does not have to be hard or expensive. Follow these preventive maintenance tips to help improve comfort and reduce energy costs:
Always keep the furnace filter clean. A filter that is clogged creates the heating system to perform harder, reducing its lifespan. Replacing the filter once a month in the winter is highly recommended.
Keep the exterior condenser clean. Ensure that no snow, leaves, shrubs or other debris is cleared away at all times.
If your furnace is vented at the side of the house, make sure to keep ice from storing in the vent and shovel the areas surrounding the vent.
A call to your local expert can keep your appliances operating efficiently for years to come. A professional will be able to inspect any possible issues and have the ability to solve them before they get worse. For more information, contact Progressive Heating and Air today at 770-253-2665, or schedule online!
As the weather turns chilly, improve your home’s comfort, and save energy and money all while doing a good thing for the environment. By using energy efficiently at home, you not only lower your energy bills, but prevent air pollution too. Here are ways to save, offered by the ENERGY STAR program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
1. Know the Facts – The average family spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that spent on heating and cooling. Energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, installed alongside a well-sealed duct system, can save as much as 20 percent on annual energy costs.
2. Keep it Clean – A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure. Clean or change the air filter in your heating and cooling system regularly. Also, have your equipment checked seasonally to make sure it’s operating efficiently and safely – check-ups can identify problems early. Dirt and neglect are the #1 causes of system failure.
3. Bundle Up – Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can add up to as much airflow as an open window. When heat escapes, your system must work harder and you use more energy. Home Sealing can improve your home “envelope” – the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors — and
can save up to 10 percent in energy costs. Start by sealing air leaks and adding insulation, while paying special attention to your attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are often found. If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified ones.
4. Tighten Your Ducts – If you have a forced air furnace or heat pump, then a duct system is responsible for circulating warm air throughout your home. Leaky ducts can reduce your system’s overall efficiency by 20 percent, causing your equipment to work harder than necessary to keep you comfortable. Ask your HVAC contractor about improving your ducts.
5. Don’t Oversize – When replacing old equipment, make sure your new equipment is properly sized for your home. An oversized system will cost more to buy and operate and will cycle on and off too frequently, reducing your comfort and leading to early system failures and repair costs. Correct sizing will ensure that your equipment works efficiently. Make sure your HVAC contractor uses Manual J or an equivalent sizing tool to determine what’s right for your home.
6. Consult a Professional – Find an experienced, licensed contractor before embarking on any heating and cooling overhaul. Visit http://www.natex.orq to find a contractor whose technicians are certified by NATE (North American Technician Excellence), the leading industry-supported testing and certification program.
7. Shop Smart – If your heating equipment has not been regularly maintained and is 15 years or older, it’s probably time for a more efficient replacement. Ask for an ENERGY STAR when buying the following equipment:
- Furnaces – Old furnaces cost more to operate per year than new, ENERGY STAR qualified models that are 15 percent more efficient than standard models.
- Boilers – An ENERGY STAR qualified boiler uses features like electric ignition and new combustion technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel, to be seven percent more energy-efficient.
- Heat Pumps – When installed in a home with a well-sealed envelope, heat pumps provide great value and comfort for your energy dollar. An ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pump is 30 percent more efficient than comparable new equipment and can save you as much as $400 annually. A qualified electric heat pump is 20 percent more efficient.
- Programmable Thermostats – Regulate your home’s temperature with four programmable settings and you can save about $100 annually on your energy bills.
Source: ENERGY STAR
Our bodies need moisture in the air to feel comfortable, help prevent illness and avoid those annoying static-electricity shocks. If dry household air is a discomfort you would like to live without, it may be time for a humidifier in your home.
Dry indoor air makes it super difficult to feel comfortable, and too easy to feel irritable, especially when you are suffering physical symptoms caused by dry air – like sore throat, cracked skin and a dry nose. Ways a whole house humidifier can help you:
- They maintain 30-55% humidity throughout your entire home, which is optimal
- May find relief from the above symptoms
- Protects objects in your home from drying out, cracking, peeling, shrinking and splitting
- Increases humidity in your home by providing a layer of moisture which protects against static electricity
- The flu and other viruses thrive in low humidity.
Operating a whole house humidifier is much like operating the central cooling and heating systems. Humidifiers and central cooling/heating use the same air ducts. Where a thermostat is used to control the temperature, a humidistat is adjusted to control humidity levels. Some thermostats are capable of controlling both. Humidifiers are attached to the ductwork, and may use airflow from the heating/AC system to add moisture.
For questions or more information – visit us online or call us at 770-253-2665. We are happy to help!
The following tips will save you energy and help your budget as the weather cools down.
- Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic, basement and outside walls. Also cover through-the-wall air conditioners to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.
- Reducing air leaks could cut 10 percent from an average household’s monthly energy bill. The most common places where air escapes homes are: floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.
- Keep shades and curtains open during the day on the south side of your home to allow solar heating. Close them at night to retain heat.
- Don’t block your radiators or heating vents with furniture or draperies. Keep your radiators, registers and baseboard heaters dirt and dust free. Close vents and doors in unused rooms.
- Have your heating system serviced once a year and regularly replace furnace filters. During the heating season, change or clean furnace filters once a month.
- Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
Save 10% on your service by scheduling online today.
The following tips will save you energy and help your budget as the weather cools down.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home and lower the temperature when you go to bed or when you are not at home. This will ensure optimal home heating and save energy.
- For every degree you lower your thermostat you save about 2 percent off your heating bill.
- Cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent a year by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day.
- Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant.
- Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save money on your energy bill. If you have children in the house, this is also a safety measure
- Install water-flow restrictors in showerheads and faucets.
- Place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room.
Stay tuned for part two….
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.
Part Five of our commonly asked heating questions, this time about thermostats – feel free to comment with anything that you have to ask!
Which type of thermostat should I have in my home?
– Programmable thermostats will save energy when properly used. Most are very easy to operate and some will control other equipment like humidifiers, HRV air exchangers and give filter change reminders. A digital thermostat starts low and has many levels of value depending on the features chosen.
I have an old furnace, would changing the thermostat do anything for us?
– Actually, the older thermostats are usually three to four degrees out in temperatures where as teh new digital thermostats are right on with accuracy! You should still consider upgrading your thermostat no matter how old your furnace is, this will help with efficiency of your existing unit. Digital thermostats are very affordable.
A thermostat is pretty easy to change – can’t I do it myself?
– You are much better off to have a qualified installer change it out. Thermostats are designed with built in variables this way the installer can set the thermostat up to your furnace as there are many furnaces out there, such as oil, propane, gas, old, new, etc. During the heating season and especially when the box malls have a sale on programmable thermostats, we have an excess of calls where this exact situation has occurred and transformers are being blown up on the furnace due to incorrect installations. This expense is much greater than the service call you will pay to have it properly installed and checked for proper operation.
How do the thermostats at the hardware stores compare to the ones you sell? Is there really a difference?
– There are several varieties of programmable thermostats on the market today. The big box stores have companies manufacture thermostats just for them so they may charge a cheaper price for the same name but different product. These thermostats often come without batteries and limited functions. The thermostats we sell are very dependable with options built in that let the user configure the thermostats to their home, not what the hardware store thinks your house is. Your home is different and unique from others and therefore needs to be treated that way to maintain comfort for the occupants.
When introducing new products to our customers, we really take the time to thoroughly research any options that are available to us. We have looked at several of the ‘smart’ thermostat devices, but have not promoted any…until now. We have recently chosen to offer the Ecobee Smart thermostats. If you haven’t heard of these thermostats, they are really revolutionary. Not only that, once the thermostat is purchased and installation is complete, there is no additional charge to the customer in order to be able to access system stats, and everything this thermostat has to offer. It’s a winner in our book. You can find a ton of information on these thermostats right here.
Since The Nest seems to be the hottest thing since sliced bread, I thought I’d do a little comparison…and would like to share the results.
Thermostats like Ecobee and Nest are different because of their CPU/memory architecture and WiFi radios. This means a few extra technical steps, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. Nest thermostats can be purchased by the consumer, and Ecobee cannot. Why, do you ask? Well, that’s easy enough to answer! According to one review, “Nest does have an option to install their thermostat without connecting [wiring] which simplifies the installation but, in our opinion, it comes at the cost of reliability and safety of your equipment. For this reason, Ecobee decided not to implement that option.” Two of the biggest problems have been short cycling [unit turning on and off repeatedly] and running out of battery power. One customer’s review said, ” I lost WiFi connection for 5+ hours, came home and my Nest said it is going to shut down due to a drained battery. It shut down the entire heating system for about 1/2 hour. After that, the heat started working, but the battery would take 4+ hours to charge enough to support WiFi.”
Our main source quotes their customers as saving an average of 26% on their heating and cooling costs vs. leaving their thermostat in hold at 72 F. Over 70% of their customers use the web portal or mobile apps and over 80% run a program and are getting energy savings of about four times the industry average.
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
- If your unit is not turning on, check your circuit breaker. Test them and reset – see if that makes a difference
- • Make sure your thermostat is set to the proper setting [cool in summer, heat in winter]. Check to see what temperature you have set your thermostat to kick on. Some thermostats will not kick on unless the temperature is outside of a two degree differential.
- If your thermostat screen is blank – check the batteries, change them out.
- Check your filter – if the filter is clogged, you are restricting air flow which will damage your system. Standard filters should be changed monthly, other filters – ask your HVAC company [that’s us!].
- Make sure your air is not escaping through doors, windows, fireplace – even your attic…make sure all openings are tightly sealed. •
- Preventative maintenance is the key to your unit running more efficiently. Make sure you have your thermostat checked and calibrated at that time.
- Keep your doors and registers open as much as possible. A properly installed and balanced HVAC system is designed to deliver and return hot or cold air evenly to and from all rooms in your home. Closing doors and shutting vents can cause certain rooms to become hotter and colder than others and decreases the units efficiency.
- Programmable thermostats can match your lifestyle while running your unit efficiently, if used correctly. You can program the temperature you want for up to seven days. This allows you to get the temperature you want, when you want at maximum efficiency.
- AFUE is the abbreviation for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratio. AFUE is used to rate furnace efficiencies by dividing the ratio of heat output by heat input. This measurement describes how well fuel, gas or oil is consumed to produce heat by a furnace. As the AFUE rate increases, the efficiency of your furnace also increases, lowering your fuel costs.