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Should You Repair or Replace your Furnace?

Should You Repair or Replace your Furnace?

By on Aug 6, 2019 in Furnaces, Heating, Residential |

Summer will be over before we you know it, and you may be thinking about getting a head start on preparing your home for fall and winter. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for the cooler seasons is inspecting your furnace for signs of wear and considering the repair or replacement of a broken system. It can be difficult to know when you should have your furnace surfaced by a professional and repaired or whether you should have your system replaced in its entirety. As a homeowner in the Midwest, you probably understand the importance of having an operational furnace for the winter. A faulty heating system can turn even a mildly frigid day into an uncomfortable situation. You can ensure your family’s comfort throughout the cold months by addressing your furnaces needs in the summer or early fall before the chilly weather sets in. Identifying issues early on allows time for you to have the necessary repairs done, or have the unit replaced by professionals. By planning ahead, you can research options and budget for the expense. While situations vary, these tips will help you learn about the best time to service your furnace, problems you may encounter and whether to repair or replace your system in each scenario. Scenario 1: Your furnace is emitting carbon monoxide- Any system that could expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A furnace with a cracked combustion chamber allows carbon monoxide to leak into your home and should always be replaced immediately. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, which is why it can be a silent killer. Households with gas furnaces should always be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Between 2010 and 2015, 2000 people died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The highest number of deaths occurred in the winter during the months of frequent furnace use. Scenario 2: Your furnace is over 15 years old- Even the highest quality heating systems aren’t built to last forever. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a furnace should last 15-30 years before you’ll need a replacement. This varies by brand, quality, and other factors. But a heater will generally start to...

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Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

By on Jul 11, 2019 in Air Conditioning, energy efficiency, Residential |

Staying cool in the summer heat can be a difficult task. Intense summer heat can make your home less comfortable to be in while raising household energy costs. Here are some simple ways to stay cool and comfortable during the summer. 1. Turn on your fans when air conditioning is in use. Using a fan while the air conditioner is running greatly enhances the cooling effect. While the air conditioner lowers the temperature of the air, fans circulate the cool air throughout the room and house. The boost in air circulation creates a wind chill that allows you to stay cool without having to set the AC unit very low. 2. Try using ice and a fan to stay cool. Set a bowl full of ice in front of a table fan. As the ice melts, the fan will blow cooler air toward you. This hack is great for while you’re working at your desk. You could also do the same thing with a fan on your kitchen counter to stay cool while you’re cooking. 3. Cut back on the use of appliances and lights. Appliances, gaming consoles, computers, and even standard light bulbs heat up your house while they are running, so turn them on as little as possible. Run the washing machine only when you have a full load. Eliminate the heat generated when using the dryer by hanging your clothes outside or around the house to air dry. Avoid using the dishwasher if it is not full. Instead, hand wash dishes in the sink and let them air dry or use a towel. Avoid using the oven and stove to prepare meals. Use the microwave or grill instead. You could also consider eating meals that don’t have to be cooked. Chef salad with julienned turkey and/or ham and deli sandwiches are great options. 4. Thirsty but don’t have any ice? Wrap your beverage of choice with a damp paper towel, then place it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. Your drink will be chilled to perfection! 5. Eat and work out on your deck or patio in the evening. Once the sun is down, outdoor spaces serve as ideal places to have dinner, do homework,...

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Quick Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

Quick Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

By on Jun 22, 2019 in Residential |

Extreme outside temperatures in both summer and winter can make it difficult to keep your home comfortable inside. Turning up the heat or using central air can help. But without taking the precautions to make sure your warm or cool air stays inside, you could just be heating and cooling the neighborhood – and draining your pockets. On average, a typical household spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget on air that leaks into or out of the house through gaps and cracks. These gaps can be in your windows, doors, ceilings, and even in your attic. Here are some quick, simple tips to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Tip #1—Insulate around recessed light fixtures: Most recessed light fixtures have vents that open into the attic; which is a hidden way for warm or cool air to escape. Many homes have several of these types of fixtures, and they are a leading cause of household air leaks that go unnoticed. To fix the problem, examine your light fixtures and bulbs. Lights that are labeled ICAT- “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed. Next, examine the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, it’s safe to assume yours is leaking air. At $8 to $30, an airtight baffle is a quick, affordable fix. Simply remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb when finished. Tip #2—Weather strip your doors including the attic door: Your doors aren’t just letting hot and cool air escape while people enter and exit. Many doors have gaps between the door itself and the door frame. To fix the access doors to your home, install new weather stripping around the door and new door sweeps at the bottom. To prevent the escape of air from the attic access door, seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening. You could also install foam weather stripping around the perimeter of the hatch. Some stores carry pre-insulated hatch cover kits for attic access doors. Tip #3—Adjust your thermostat accordingly: Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are away from home helps keep the heating or cooling system...

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5 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

5 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

By on Jun 10, 2019 in Residential |

Extreme outside temperatures in both summer and winter can make it difficult to keep your home comfortable inside. Turning up the heat or using central air can help. But without taking the precautions to make sure your warm or cool air stays inside, you could just be heating and cooling the neighborhood – and draining your pockets. On average, a typical household spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget on air that leaks into or out of the house through gaps and cracks. These gaps can be in your windows, doors, ceilings, and even in your attic. Here are some quick, simple tips to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Tip #1—Insulate around recessed light fixtures. Most recessed light fixtures have vents that open into the attic; which is a hidden way for warm or cool air to escape. Many homes have several of these types of fixtures, and they are a leading cause of household air leaks that go unnoticed. To fix the problem, examine your light fixtures and bulbs. Lights that are labeled ICAT- “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed. Next, examine the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, it’s safe to assume yours is leaking air. At $8 to $30, an airtight baffle is a quick, affordable fix. Simply remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb when finished. Tip #2—Weather strip your doors including the attic door. Your doors aren’t just letting hot and cool air escape while people enter and exit. Many doors have gaps between the door itself and the door frame. To fix the access doors to your home, install new weather stripping around the door and new door sweeps at the bottom. To prevent the escape of air from the attic access door, seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening. You could also install foam weather stripping around the perimeter of the hatch. Some stores carry pre-insulated hatch cover kits for attic access doors. Tip #3—Adjust your thermostat accordingly. Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are away from home helps keep the heating or cooling system from running excessively when no one...

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What You Need to Know About Energy Audits

By on Apr 3, 2019 in Air Conditioning, energy efficiency, Furnaces, Residential |

Saving money is always a plus, especially while being comfortable in your own home.  Be it winter or summer, the potential savings can be phenomenal. Back in August 2013, the government published Energy Saver 101 picturing a Home Energy Audit.  This publication has 101 ways to be protected from high energy costs.   What an energy audit is, and what it can do for you.  A home energy audit is an assessment of how well your home uses energy.  For instance, small cracks in the siding or foundation, can bring as much air into your home, as if you had left a window open for 24 hours.  Imagine leaving your window open overnight during subzero temperatures, how much harder is your furnace running? Or, leaving your window open all day while it is over 90 degrees and humid?  That’s when your air conditioning unit will be choking!  Take that extra pressure off your furnace and air conditioner by calling in a professional auditor.  Steps to take before signing a contract:  Check with your utility companies. They may do the audit themselves or be able to recommend a local company.   References. Get several references from the auditor company and contact them all.  Ask each referenced customer if they were satisfied with the results.  Call the BBB. The Better Business Bureau may have information on any complaints against the company.  Ask questions of the energy auditor.   Does the energy auditor use a calibrated blower door?  How about thermographic inspections?   If not, ask another auditor company.  Preparing for an audit.  Before the energy auditor visits your house   Make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms.   Have copies or a summary of the home’s yearly utility bills (electric and heating if other than electric; such as gas, fuel oil, and coal).  The auditor then will analyze the residents’ behavior:   How many people live here?   Is your home occupied during the day?  What is the average thermostat setting for summer? For winter?  Do you use every room in the home?  What to expect during an audit.   Room-by-Room. The energy auditor will do a room-by-room examination of the residence.  Utility Bills. A thorough examination of your home’s bills for electric and heating. This will give the auditor an idea of what to look...

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DIY versus Professional Air Conditioning Tune-up

By on Apr 2, 2019 in Air Conditioning, Cooling, energy efficiency, Residential |

How would you feel if you came home after a long, hot summer day, only to find the air conditioner has stopped working? And, then, to be on a waiting list, as the repairman made his rounds to all the other people who also are waiting? Guessing it would make you a bit hot under the collar, wouldn’t it? (pun intended) Preventive maintenance in the springtime is a much better option… Plan ahead and Enjoy your summer!     Benefits of Having an Annual Air Conditioning Tune-up  Spring is the perfect time to have your air conditioning unit checked out… That way you can be sure your system is ready when you are! While there are many things you can do yourself, there are still other things it’s best to call in the professionals for. To see what they are, feel free to reference one of our previous articles: https://efficientheatcool.com/time-spring-hvac-tune/   Besides coming home to a cool house when it’s super humid outside, here’s some other benefits to maintaining your air conditioning unit:  Prevention truly is the best medicine for keeping you cool. Scheduling your annual maintenance check is your first step!  You want your air conditioning unit to be in peak condition for the summer season. Plus, ongoing and preventative maintenance help contribute to the longevity of your unit.    Increase efficiency of your system. You not only want your air conditioning unit to work, but you want it to be as efficient as possible. Regular maintenance will ensure your air conditioner is running at peak efficiency as you keep your home cool and comfortable. Plus, it saves you money by helping you avoid some of those mid-summer repairs and it lowers your electric bill.   Improve the performance. Remember last summer when you noticed that the air coming out of the vents wasn’t quite as cool or blowing as strong as you would’ve liked it to? An annual maintenance check in the spring helps your air conditioning system provide a better cooling output throughout the humid summer months.  You can schedule your tune-up here!   So, what can you expect from your technician during an annual air conditioning maintenance check?  Following are three things your technician will do and why:  Clean the coils. Your technician will clean the evaporator and condenser air coils, because dirty coils can decrease the ability of your HVAC system to cool your home. Dirty coils can...

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