Posted by & filed under air conditioner .

Tips for Maximum Efficiency and Comfort

Are you getting the most for your comfort dollar? Or are you paying to heat and cool the neighborhood?

Whether your comfort system is old or new, in a new or old home, in an apartment or a single-family home, there are many little things you can do to optimize its efficiency and minimize your utility bills. They’re definitely worth the small amount of time and expense they take, because in the long run, they’ll save you money.

Outside

Whatever the season, you want to keep your comfortable air inside the house. That means caulking and weather stripping doors and windows, around chimneys and flues, and anywhere else inside air can escape. Be sure to check for cracked or broken shingles, crumbling grout, and worn or torn vapor barriers, too.

Inspect the exterior of your home once or twice a year. A good way to remember is to do it when you have your regular, professional HVAC check-up because heating and cooling will be on your mind anyway.

If you’re building a new home or replacing windows, invest in vinyl-or wood-clad insulated (thermopane) windows and storm windows and doors. Then keep them closed whenever the heat or air conditioning is on!

Keep vegetation and debris well away from the outdoor unit of your system. They can block air flow, which forces the system to work harder to produce the same level of comfort. You’ll spend more now…and in a few years, when the equipment fails prematurely and you have to replace it. However, use vegetation to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. For example, plant a row of trees on the side of your home the wind usually comes from. They’ll act as wind blocks. Because deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, they’ll let in the sun’s light and warmth in winter; in the summer, they provide cooling shade. Do, however, be careful about how close you plant anything to the house, and take into account that trees and shrubs grow. They can block light, and in some areas of the country become highways for such pests as carpenter ants. A local landscape architect, reputable garden center, or the state or county extension agency can help with plant selection and placement.

Inside

Set the thermostat at the highest comfortable level in the summer and the lowest comfortable level in the winter. A change in one degree changes energy consumption by about 4%. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can make a huge difference in how the temperature feels.

Install a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature at night or when you’re not going to be home for a long period of time.

Lights are a source of indoor heat, a problem in the summer. Wherever possible, replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescents. They use a lot less energy, produce less heat, and last longer. Today’s fluorescents aren’t like those of only a few years ago – you can choose a warm, yellow light similar to incandescent light. You can use them in table lamps, ceiling fixtures (including ceiling fan fixtures), torchieres, and for indoor and outdoor lighting. Some can be used with dimmer switches, too. Avoid halogen lamps. The light is clear and bright, but they create a lot of heat.

In the summer, keep drapes and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house during the day. In the winter, open them to take advantage of solar heat but close them at night to help block cold air (even if you have insulated windows).

Insulate attics, crawl spaces, basements, and walls to the R value recommended for your area. Your HVAC contractor can tell you how much you need. Don’t forget to insulate duct work in un-conditioned space.

Use a gas fireplace or put glass doors on a wood-burning fireplace. (Be sure to check with the manufacturer first – some small fireboxes with zero-clearance flues cannot be outfitted with glass doors.) Keep the damper closed whenever you’re not using the fireplace.

In the summer, do household chores during the coolest part of the day if you can. Cooking, laundry, washing dishes, and heavier work such as vacuuming are examples. Check to see if your electric utility offers time-of-day pricing. That could save you even more money.

HVAC System

Check filters regularly and clean or replace them when needed. Your HVAC technician will tell you how often that’s likely to be based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and local air quality conditions.

Make sure room vents are working properly. Close them at least part-way in rooms you’re not using. Never block them with furniture, pictures, or window coverings. Consider a zoned system if your home has two or more stories or is very large. A programmable thermostat in each zone can save energy and money.

Then sit back, relax, and enjoy year-round comfort!

© Air Conditioning Contractors of America Association, Inc., www.acca.org. Reprinted with permission

Posted by & filed under energy savings, hvac, save money, tips .

  • Set back your thermostat. Don’t set the thermostat more than 5 degrees cooler than the ‘normal’ rating when you’re away because of the amount of energy you’ll need to heat it back up. We encourage you to call us to get a programmable thermostat that’ll adjust the temperature while you’re away or sleeping.
  • Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters and/or radiators. Make sure that carpeting, furniture or draperies are not blocking them.
  • Get a heating tune-up! This can save money, spot any danger and make you more comfortable. What else could you want?
  • Have your ductwork checked for leaks! If you’ve got split or leaky ductwork, this can save you a bundle.
  • Change your return air filters. This is a simple and beneficial task that should be done on a monthly basis. You can even call us with your filter size and we’ll get it taken care of for you within a tune-up.
  • Consider storm windows or more efficient windows. It can sometimes be expensive to do so, but these windows will pay for themselves in the long-run.
  • Lower your dishwasher and washing machine temperatures, as they use hot water from your house supply and drain it in a hurry. Also, remember that it will be much more costly in cold weather.

Schedule an appointment or learn more about how Robin Aire can help you save energy, and money!

Posted by & filed under air conditioning system, maintenance .

There is not a single thing in our lives that doesn’t need a little TLC to continue working efficiently. When our computers are slow, we restart them, we change the oil in our cars and we clean out the dryer vent so it won’t become a fire hazard.

But… sometimes we overlook maintenance on the very piece of equipment that keeps us the most comfortable in those oh-so-hot summer months. We use it year after year expecting it to work just fine without ever giving it a second thought, let alone the proper tune-up it needs.

The strange thing about that is by not having a yearly tune-up, it is actually costing us more money than the tune-up itself. Why? Because the system has to work harder to keep us cool, costing us more money in energy bills + when it does break down, it could turn into a major expense that a little bit of maintenance could have prevented.

In order to save yourself the hassle of a costly breakdown (and money on energy bills), have a trained, licensed professional service your home cooling system.

Just some of the maintenance that will be performed:

  • Cleaning and adjusting the blower motors
  • Inspecting belts and thermostats
  • Lubricating motors and cleaning out drains

Did you know that dirt is the #1 cause of system failure for your unit? This is just another reason why it is so important to have your cooling system looked at by a professional every year. Not only will the technician clean out all the dirt, but he will make sure all components of your cooling system are working together the most efficient and effective way.

It is as important to take care of our air conditioners as it is to take care of our cars. Without a little TLC, neither will work as it should. To schedule your tune-up, call or email and we will be happy to assist you.

Posted by & filed under air conditioning system, heating system .

A heating and cooling system has an unusual mandate: move heat where it’s wanted, and move heat away from where it isn’t wanted.

Understandably, most people see the purpose of a heating system as a way to stay warm in the winter and an air conditioning system as the way to stay cool in the summer. And, of course, this is correct.
Yet the systems that take care of this simple purpose accomplish their duties through a complicated, intricate and integrated set of components that – you guessed it – move heat where it’s wanted, and move heat away from where it isn’t wanted.

Essentially, furnaces push heat into the living area. Air conditioners remove the heat. This air needs a means of distributing itself into rooms (ducts plus the aid of myriad other components). And the systems need a way to regulate temperature (yes, the thermostat).

These components are served by a plethora of elements, including fans, supply air ductwork, supply air outlets, return air inlets, air chamber, filter and the heat exchanger that adds heat or removes heat from circulated air. (The air conditioning system has other components as well, including compressor and condenser.)

But here’s the point of all of the above. These complex home comfort systems have a lot underway when they are put in service during their seasons of heavy activity. Connections loosen, parts wear out, system performance lags and they lose their energy efficiency.

Home comfort systems generally have a lifespan of about 15 years, though the time of replacement depends on the equipment itself, along with the maintenance schedule. Still, operational costs increase, and breakdown repair costs add up.

To make a decision about a replacement system for your home, look for these signs: energy bills that seem too high, comfort that seems too inconsistent and performance levels that are unpredictable. If you’re experiencing frequent breakdowns, a system replacement is definitely an appropriate consideration.

To get a sense of how well your current system is performing, schedule an energy analysis and let us show you.

Posted by & filed under indoor air quality .

Saving on energy pays off – especially when you’re talking about keeping your home comfortable. Cooling and heating, after all, accounts for about 56% of the energy used in a typical U.S. home. Therefore, savings in this area can have a significant impact on your household’s monthly budget. An energy efficient system is your starting point. For example, air conditioning and heating systems that have earned the ENERGY STAR® designation help you reduce high energy bills and improve your comfort while protecting the environment.

An airtight home helps too by keeping conditioned air inside your home – and, in warm months, keeping the hot air out.

But what about when saving on energy comes with a price? Airtight homes seal in the air, yes – but they can also seal in pet dander, toxins from household cleansers, cooking smoke, and on and on. An energy efficient home with poor indoor air quality is not a desirable result.

To improve your indoor air quality, you can control or eliminate the sources of your pollutants, as well as ventilate as weather conditions permit. You can also use an “air cleaning device.” There are different types of air cleaners, including those that remove particles through mechanical air filters or electronic air filters.

Now – to connect the dots between energy efficiency and clean air – your best bet is an energy efficient home comfort system with a built-in air cleaner. Call Robin Aire today, our technicians can help you!