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Posts Tagged ‘HVAC’

5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your AC Unit

Once considered a luxurious feat of science, controlling temperature for your home with an affordable AC unit is now an everyday expectation, but still one that requires a bit more attention than you may be giving it to keep your home nice and cool.

There have been many advances in HVAC technology through the decades, since the first modern electrical air conditioning units to hit the market in the early 1900s. A century later, nearly 50 percent of all energy consumption in American homes is a result of cooling and heat, according to the Energy Information Administration. It’s hard not to take for granted all the advancements that led to the modern AC unit that cools your home today, all of which must be more diligently cared for than most homeowners understand.

A little TLC for your AC unit can go a long way in ultimately saving you a lot of time, money and hassle.   

Start Handling Your AC Unit Like a Pro and Stop Doing These 5 Things

You’re Not Considering Your Way Of Life

While AC units may seem like a “one size fits all” appliance, each home and the family that lives therein affects how to adjust, clean and manage it. If you have pets or many individuals living in the home, extra dust, dander and dirt will likely circulate through the ventilation system. Smoke in the home, from either cigarettes or a fireplace, will tax your AC unit further. If you live in an arid climate, or if you simply prefer a cooler home, you probably run the AC unit six or more months out of the year. Thankfully, it’s easy to manage your AC unit to accommodate all these lifestyle choices — simply chance the air filters in the AC unit once per month. Otherwise, if your home is free of pets, smoke and excess debris, simply change the filter every ten weeks.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 37% of homes in the Midwest use central air conditioning all summer, twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, which jeopardizes both the condition of your AC unit as well as the state of your wallet from all those electricity bills. In the Southern states, that rate nearly doubles to 67%.

To prepare for summer, it’s recommended to set the thermostat of your AC unit higher at night than when you’re awake, as your body can tolerate the difference much more comfortably while you’re asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

You’re Treating Your Thermostat Like A Television Remote

As nearly every ‘90s sitcom portrayed, fidgeting with the thermostat can cause a lot of household drama, but every change to the AC unit has greater effects, too. According to Reliant Energy, you’ll cut up to 3% off your AC bill for every degree you raise the temperature. One can easily cut their costs by 10% without hardly breaking a sweat. Additionally, if you wish to cool your home considerably right away, resist the urge to dial your AC unit far lower than you actually want it to be. Patience is not simply a virtue — it’s also a requirement for treating your AC unit properly.

More than anything, however, it’s recommended to install a programmable thermostat that lets you set your AC unit to cool the house at lower temperatures while you’re home and higher temperatures while you’re away. According to the EIA, less than 50% of homes in the Midwest have a programmable thermostat to manage their AC unit, which are designed specifically to reduce consumption by automatically and routinely lowering the temperature whenever necessary. Plus, with the rise of smart technology and mobile compatibility, many such programmable thermostats may be managed while out of the home, making it a doubly sensible investment.

You’re Not Properly Accounting For Drainage, Leakage & Water

As with many modern appliances, your AC unit does more for your home than you may think. In addition to keeping it cool, the AC unit also removes moisture from the air to decrease the humidity level in the house. Over time, that moisture accrues into condensed water that drains from the AC unit through a pipe that leads outside the home.

While a great convenience, this extra moisture can also account for extra hassle if not monitored and managed properly. If the water is not effectively drained from the AC unit, a flood of problems may seep into your home. Improper insulation on indoor tubing may lead to beads of moisture that drip as the AC unit runs, which can easily go unnoticed until water damage has already occurred. Further, drain pipes that don’t successfully carry the water from the AC unit to a clear and suitable exit can result in extensive damage and costly repairs. Thankfully, it’s an easy problem to avoid with simple vigilance. Check the drain pipe often, especially after storms, construction or other circumstances that may have caused structural change to your home’s fixtures and ensure the drain pipe is indeed draining all the excess water unimpeded. If the end is at all obstructed, the water, as well as yard waste and debris, will clog the drain pipes, damage the AC unit and compromise the structural integrity of your home as well.

You’ve Not Accounted For Positioning

Though you may want to consider décor as you select the placement for your thermostat and AC unit, pragmatism should take precedent over prettiness. If positioned in direct sunlight or lamplight, the thermostat may be adversely affected and even misread the temperature of the home, causing you to twist the dials far more than you may have intended. Additionally, ensure furniture, curtains and belongings do not obstruct any of the AC vents, as these may limit air circulation. Finally, for the households with outdoor condenser cabinets for their AC units, you may be tempted to hide the appliance behind shrubbery or decoration; however, it is recommended to give it two feet of clearance on all sides to permit the fan to properly circulate air and release heat.

Though it may not be the most decorative addition to your home, your AC unit must be given just as much consideration as any other household fixture, if not more, to guarantee a safe and comfortable home.

You’re Not Giving Your AC Unit Proper Care

Whether you consider yourself a DIY homeowner or if you’re more comfortable holding the flashlight for someone else to do the dirty work, it’s easier than many may think to keep your AC unit up to snuff.

Change the filter at least every ten weeks and as often as once a month, as a dirty filter can lead to much more damage, such as freezing the AC unit’s evaporator coil and adding up to 15% to your air conditional bill, according to Purdue University’s engineering staff. Additionally, scrub and soap-up the fins of your AC unit, an easy project we walk you through on our site [link: https://stadtlerhvac.com/services/air-conditioning-maintenance/]

Though a simple task, even the hardiest of homeowners needs to have the AC unit serviced professionally periodically, no matter how chill they like to keep it.

Emergency Heat: The 411 on 911 Heating

Emergency Heat: What Is the Deal?

Emergency heat is basically a secondary source of heating. It is used in heating systems when the unit detects the temperature as being too low to be powered by the primary unit alone. Most heating systems use electricity, gas, hot water and oil to run. More often than not, the primary and secondary heating methods work together to warm your home effectively in the winter months.

 

Usually, the homeowner can just let the unit do its own thing due to the automatic switch setting on your heating device (you should check whether your own unit is automatic or manual), yet you may be still questioning whether or not you should change the heat settings on your system in extreme cold conditions or use emergency heat when your house is taking a while to heat up. We’ve broken down emergency heat and the things you should and should not be doing below.

 

When Should I Be Using Emergency Heat?

Many homeowners make the huge mistake of altering the setting of their emergency heating as soon as winter hits. Don’t ever do this as if you do, you are wasting your time and money. Your primary heating source can take care of the job perfectly fine and will use the secondary source if and when necessary. So, the question we all want answering is: when should I interfere with my emergency heating? The answer is simple: if and when an actual emergency happens. These emergencies may include: when the bad weather conditions (such as bad storms) have broken your primary heat source and/or when your heating device becomes faulty due to other reasons.

 

The bottom line of emergency heat? Only use it in an emergency!

 

If you’re wondering why emergency heat should be simply turned on whenever you want, we have listed some reasons:

 

  1. Emergency heat can work out extremely expensive

As stated above, emergency heat is not meant for long term use, therefore if you use it occasionally throughout the year, you won’t see a huge increase in your heating bill. However, if you run emergency heat non-stop, you’ll definitely see a rise in your heating bills. Use your emergency heat wisely to avoid a shock.

 

  1. You’re wasting your time

If you’ve been told for years that you ought to switch on the emergency heat as soon as the cold temperatures comes and you’ve never felt the need to question it, you’ve slipped into bad and misunderstood habits. Break those habits now, stop wasting your time and money and stop using your emergency heat unnecessarily.

 

  1. There could be other underlying issues you need to be concentrating on first

If you’re using your emergency heat in situations where it should be used, there is no issue. However, if every single year you seem to run into an issue, the chances are that there could be an underlying issue that needs to be fixed. The best thing to do in this situation would be to get in contact with a professional and ask them to run a health check on your entire heating system. Eliminate any problems and start over with your heating system.

 

How to Stay Warm Without Using Emergency Heating

Now you’ve established when to use and when not to use your emergency heat, you may be wondering how you’re meant to keep your home warm and toasty enough in the winter without running to your thermostat and switching on the emergency heat setting. Here are our top tips to keep warm throughout the winter:

 

  • Place draught excluders by gaps between doors and floors – this will prevent any icy cold air blowing into your home.
  • Buy a hot water bottle – nothing beats snuggling up to a hot water bottle, just be sure to wrap it up in a cover so that it doesn’t burn you!
  • Wear a thick jumper and invest in some fleece blankets.
  • Buy some proper loft insulation – decent loft insulation dramatically increases the heat in your home and ultimately brings your heating bills right down.
  • Check your windows – old windows may not be suitable for keeping warm air in and cold air out. For a longer term solution, consider double glazed or triple glazed windows.

 

The above are only a couple of ways in which you may consider keeping your home warm and cozy throughout the winter. There are various other inventive ways that you can keep your own home toasty.

 

Is It OK to Use Primary Heating Throughout Winter?

The winter months can be particularly difficult to get through, so it can be tempting to whack your thermostat right up, plus the emergency heat setting. We’ve already established when to not put the emergency heat on, so the question remaining is: can I leave my regular heating on throughout the whole of winter? The answer to this is yes and no.

 

While primary heating sources and units are not as energy consuming as emergency heat, it is still not advisable to leave your heating on constantly as this is wasteful money wise and efficiency wise. If you live in an area that suffers rather chilly cold spells, you’d be best off putting your thermostat on a timer (for example, having it start one hour before you wake up or arrive home from work so that your home is warm enough for you without the need to keep your heating on all the time) and by purchasing various other heating and heat saving methods that will work with your primary heating unit (such as insulation and excluders).

 

Whatever you do, never leave ANY heating unit or setting on 24/7, whether it be the primary or secondary heat source. Leaving heating units on full power constantly is harmful to the environment, bad for your bank balance, encourages bad habits and could be potentially dangerous.

 

Other Winter Tips

As well as keeping your eye on your heating units this winter, you should also do the following:

 

  • Invest in decent flooring (i.e carpeting)
  • Check your loft insulation and get a professional to fix and patch up any holes.
  • Close your curtains – this will prevent some cold air blowing in and warm air escaping.
  • Search your house for cracks and holes where cold ir can get in and warm air can get out – make sure you check areas you do not go in often, such as the garage and loft. Even if you do not use these rooms, they will contribute to the overall temperature of your home.
  • Have your heating unit and thermostat serviced by a professional before winter starts – this will eliminate any issues before they occur. By having your heater serviced before winter starts, you’ll probably get it seen to and any issues fixed quicker because you’ll have missed the winter rush of customers who have forgotten to check their appliances earlier.
  • Buy some slippers, cardigans and sweaters!
  • Get into the habit of closing doors and creating small spaces that will heat up quickly and efficiently.

 

 

It may be difficult to find the balance between a freezing cold home and a boiling hot one. Nonetheless, with dedication and planning, you’ll soon be able to figure out which methods work throughout your home every winter. By keeping up good practices, you’ll soon be keeping your home at the optimum temperature for you and your family, and surprisingly you’ll be saving yourself money and time by not switching on the emergency heat carelessly.

 

Don’t get us wrong, emergency heat is extremely beneficial when it is needed. It’s simply not needed at the drop of a hat when you’re feeling a little bit colder than the other winter and fall nights. Enjoy your emergency heat; don’t abuse it and waste your money though!

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