The cooling season will be here before you know it…
…is your HVAC system ready? It may only be the beginning of March, but it’s never too early to start preparing for the cooling season. When it comes to your HVAC equipment, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Here are some things you should do to prep for spring.
Clear away any winter debris. Gunk leftover from winter weather can restrict airflow. And, restricted airflow to your condenser leads to increased utility bills.
Plan your garden around your condenser. If you’re planning on planting a garden this spring, make sure you account for your HVAC equipment. You want to allow at least two feet of clearance around your condenser.
Change your furnace filter. You need to change your furnace filter at least once a season. If you haven’t changed it recently, the start of spring is a great time to do so. Plus, you’ll have a fresh filter to capture all those pesky spring allergens.
Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature based on your schedule. A programmable thermostat can reduce the amount of time your air conditioner spends cooling an empty home.
Call your local heating and air conditioning contractor to schedule preventative maintenance. When the summer heat arrives, contractors get busy. If something goes wrong with your air conditioner, it could be days before a professional is able to get to your home to diagnose the issue. During the spring, contractors are less busy. They can catch any potential issues before they can rear their ugly head during the summer.
Be good to your heating and cooling system this spring. Contact your local contractor today.
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Are you scared of your monthly utility bills?
You shouldn’t have to be. There are things you can do, large and small, that can help you reduce that area of your budget. Big things, like investing in high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment, are going to have the largest impacts on your monthly statements. However, these bigger changes are not the only way you can save. Some smaller adjustments don’t require any expense on your part.
Here are some smaller things you can do to help lower/control your monthly expenses.
Turn off the lights when you aren’t in a room.
Lower or raise the temperature your thermostat is set at (depending on the season).
Keep all your vents and registers open.
Keep the windows and doors of your home closed.
Change your furnace filter.
Sign up for budget billing if your utility company offers it.
Switch to high-efficiency light bulbs.
Avoid using space heaters and other supplementary heating methods.
Operate your ceiling fans correctly for the best distribution of air – clockwise during the winter and counter-clockwise during the summer.
Seal your windows and doors.
Set your thermostat to “AUTO” instead of “ON.”
Wash your clothes in cold water.
Take shorter showers.
Open or close curtains depending on the season.
Unplug items like televisions, kitchen appliances and more when they aren’t in use.
Layer up instead of turning up the thermostat during the winter.
Have a timer for your lights.
Take cooler showers.
Want more energy-saving tips? Make sure you contact your local heating and air conditioning contractor. As spring gets closer and closer, make sure you start thinking about air conditioner preventative maintenance. This is the best way to ensure that your air conditioner is ready to tackle the summer heat.
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Are you worried about your home’s indoor air quality?
Are you starting to get cabin fever? Subzero wind chill and snow storms have been keeping people cooped up in their homes. And, since you’re spending all that extra time indoors, you want to make sure your indoor air quality is high.
One of the best ways to tackle poor indoor air quality during the winter is with a clean home. This cold weather may make you want to curl up on the sofa under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, but braving the chill and taking some time to clean is well worth it.
Here are some household chores that can raise the quality of your indoor air.
Vacuum and rotate your mattress. Your mattress can play host to all sorts of unpleasant odors and bacteria. You want to make sure that where you lay your head down at night is fresh.
Clean fan blades. The blades of your ceiling fan can be dust traps, especially if they aren’t in use.
Dust. If you are noticing dust on more surfaces than usual, it could be an issue with your furnace filter. Change your furnace filter once-a-month during the winter. It is the best line of defense against poor indoor air quality – trapping harmful particles before they have the chance to circulate through your air.
Avoid wearing shoes indoors. Have a go-to pair of slippers or stick with socks. You could be tracking all sorts of unpleasantness from the outdoors into your home – lowering indoor air quality and making it necessary to clean your floor more often.
Deep clean carpets. Carpets, like ceiling fan blades and mattresses, can be bacteria traps. Deep cleaning your carpets at least once a year will help you get all those deeply embedded particles out of your home.
Don’t forget to roll up your sleeves and get ready for spring cleaning! Yes, the season is still a while away, but taking care of some chores regularly during the winter can help you save time.
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Has the National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory in your area?
Are you sick and tired of the cold? The most recent cold front sweeping the nation has been long-lasting and downright dangerous in some areas. Burst pipes and cold drafts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to subzero wind chill.
Here are some things you should be conscious of during extremely cold weather so you and your family stay safe.
- Give space heaters proper clearance and never leave them unattended.
- Double-check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Avoid cotton clothing and dress in multiple, loose layers.
- Wear mittens instead of gloves.
- If you are shoveling snow or exerting yourself outdoors, take constant breaks.
- If you travel, make sure you have at least a half a tank of gas and a three-day winter survival kit.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.
- Never operate a generator inside your home.
- Have your chimney and gas furnace inspected and cleaned once a year.
If you suspect something is wrong with your gas furnace, give your local contractor a call and NEVER try to fix it yourself. Gas furnaces require the expertise of a skilled hand for troubleshooting maintenance and repair. There is no “DIY” in “HVAC.”
Do you use supplemental heat during extremely cold weather?
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Are you gifting yourself a high-efficiency furnace in 2018?
The best way to increase comfort while decreasing utility bill expenses is to make an upgrade to your heating and cooling system.
That being said, the process of buying a new HVAC system can feel a bit daunting. After all, they are not an everyday purchase. Since we are currently in the throes of the heating season, we’re going to talk about gas furnaces right now. Here are some things you would be wise to keep n mind while searching for the right furnace for your home.
- Efficiency. If you want a snapshot into the performance benefits of the new unit you’re buying – consider the efficiency rating. Furnace efficiency is measured with a percentage called the “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency” or “AFUE”. The higher the AFUE percentage, the more efficient the equipment. For example, a 96% AFUE gas furnace will convert 96% of the fuel you put into it into useful heating power for your home. Furnaces over 90% AFUE are considered “condensing” models.
- Sizing. Did you know why it is so important for your contractor to come over to your house before giving you a quote for a new system? Your home is unique – you are going to have certain requirements that don’t necessarily fit into a predetermined package. Sizing is one of those factors that is going to be specific to your home. Different sized homes need different sized equipment; however, square footage is not the only factor that determines the size of your heating equipment. Your contractor will take into account your home’s insulation, the number of rooms you have, your windows and more.
- Rebates and Financing. Afraid that you can’t afford the efficiency you want? Make sure to ask your contractor about current promotions and financing options. For example, a manufacturer rebate could bring the price of a high-efficiency furnace down to a point that is within your budget.
- IAQ Additions. Your heating and air conditioning equipment is your first, and main, line of defense against poor indoor air quality. Don’t forget to ask your contractor about IAQ additions (such as whole-home humidifiers, UV light systems or air cleaners).
- Maintenance Agreements. Annual maintenance is the best way to make sure your new equipment runs smoothly year after year. In fact, many manufacturers require maintenance as part of the warranty. A great way to make sure you never miss a maintenance appointment is to ask your contractor about a maintenance agreement. This way, you will be sure to get your cooling equipment checked every spring and your heating equipment checked every fall.
- Paperwork. Make sure you keep all of the paperwork that came with your equipment and was given to you buy your contractor. This way you are covered for the future should anything happen.
- Warranty. Is it your responsibility to register your warranty? Does your contractor take care of it? Make sure you ask your contractor about who registers your equipment for warranty coverage. Most manufacturers have an “out-of-the-box” warranty and a longer warranty that goes into effect after a piece of equipment is registered.
Ultimately, the most important thing you are going to do is choose the right contractor for the job. It is worth your time to research your local contractors. Here are a few red flags to look for when you are searching for a contractor.
- Quotes over the phone
- Little to no presence on the web
- No credible recommendations
- Gives you a quote before visiting your home
Need a good starting off point? Visit the Maytag local contractor finder.
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Do you have any resolutions for the New Year?
Are you ready to leave 2017 behind and ring in the New Year? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish over the past year? While you’re contemplating your personal resolutions for 2018, consider setting some home improvement goals.
Here are some examples of positive changes you can make around your home that can help make you happier, healthier and more content.
- Lower energy use. You can make little adjustments here and there to make sure that you are using the least amount of energy possible. Lowering energy use may be as simple as turning off the lights when you aren’t in the room, or unplugging things when you aren’t using them. There are also some big changes you can make that can have a major impact on how much energy you consume during the year. Here are a few:
- Replace older windows with new, energy-efficient windows.
- Invest in a high-SEER air conditioner or high-AFUE gas furnace.
- Lower utility bill spending. This resolution goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Your heating and air conditioning equipment makes up about 60% of your utility costs (on average). If you make some adjustments to how you operate your HVAC equipment, you could see major savings on your bills – like turning down your thermostat a few degrees during the winter and up during the summer, sealing windows and doors to prevent drafts and investing in a programmable thermostat for customized comfort. Here are some smaller changes you can make around your house to lower your utility bills.
- Remember to turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Invest in a timer for your Christmas lights.
- Avoid using space heaters for supplemental heating during the winter.
- Improve indoor air quality. You spend a lot of time indoors – especially during the peak cooling and heating seasons. You want to make sure that the air you breathe in is as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it may seem. Did you know that your indoor air is often more polluted than the outdoor air? here are some things you can do to make that fact not apply to your home.
- Invest in IAQ products like a whole-home air cleaner or UV light system.
- Set a reminder to change your furnace filter every month.
- Invest in a filter with higher filtration power – like a HEPA-grade filter.
Are you adding any of these to your home to-do list? You can start by calling your local contractor and scheduling a consultation for that new high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.
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It’s beginning to look a lot like…
WINTER! That frightful winter weather has crept into many areas of the country already. While some homeowners are blessed with mild winters, others need to prepare for subzero temperatures and snow.
We’re not talking about temperatures in the 40s…we’re talking about temperatures that hurt your face as soon as you step outside. Here are some things you should have on your mind before, during and after an extreme cold front roll in…
- Be prepared for chillier indoor temperatures. There is only so much your furnace is going to be able to do to keep your home warm. There will come a point when even the best furnace is going to struggle to keep up with demand. Break out the sweaters and blankets, and drink a cup of hot cocoa.
- Don’t crank the heat. As mentioned above, it may feel like your home just can’t get warm enough. Resist the temptation to blast the heat. All you’ll achieve is a higher utility bill.
- Don’t be afraid to turn the thermostat down a degree or two. If your furnace is constantly running trying to reach the temperature you have your thermostat set to, consider a lower temperature setting. This way, your gas furnace will turn off sooner – saving money on utility bills and reducing wear and tear on your unit.
- Consider weather stripping around your windows and doors. Drafts during extremely cold weather may also be making your home feel like the inside of an igloo. You can pick up weather stripping at your local hardware store to help combat these drafts.
- Make sure your outside vents are clear. Do you know where your gas furnace vents the byproducts of combustion? Make sure your vent is clear from snow and winter debris to make sure those byproducts are exiting your home correctly.
- Registers and vents indoors should also be clear. Make sure furniture and rugs are not blocking your indoor vents either. You also want to make sure they were not accidentally closed. Blocked vents and registers can result in cold rooms and system damage.
- If you’re going out of town, have a neighbor check your home. During extremely cold weather, there could be too much strain placed on your gas furnace. This may cause a malfunction. If you aren’t home, the lack of warm air circulating through your home could result in frozen pipes and a number of other health and safety issues. Have a neighbor pop into your house each day to make sure everything is running smoothly.
- If you’re using a space heater, make sure you practice proper safety. During extreme cold, you may feel like you need supplemental heat. Temporarily using a space heater isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although it can result in a higher electric bill), but you must make sure that it is properly attended and that it is nowhere near flammable materials.
Feel like your furnace isn’t ready to tackle extreme cold? Get in touch with a local heating and air specialist.
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Is your furnace ready for the heating season?
The first day of winter is less than two weeks away. Chances are cold temperatures have already started sweeping into your area. Have you made sure your gas furnace is ready to tackle Old Man Winter?
It’s important to know best practices for heating your home during the winter. You want to make sure you take steps to stay happy and healthy. See our tips below to make sure that you spend less time thinking about the comfort of your home, and more time choosing the ugly sweater you are going to wear to your next holiday party.
Winter HVAC Tips
Worried that your gas furnace isn’t going to reach your set temperature fast enough? Resist the temptation to dramatically raise your temperature settings! Raising the temperature your thermostat is set to does not make your home heat any more quickly. All you’re doing is raising your heating bill and damaging your equipment.
Do you have a portable space heater for supplemental heating? Make sure you turn off any portable heating equipment when you aren’t in the room. An unmonitored space heater is a major safety hazard.
Speaking of safety… make sure your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries. Test all of the detectors in your home to make sure they are ready to alert your family if there is a fire or the presence of CO in your home.
Do you have a fireplace? Make sure you close the damper when you aren’t using it. When your damper is open, your chimney acts like a vacuum. it sucks up the warm air in your living quarters. This can raise utility bills, cause longer system runtimes, and lead to increased system wear and tear.
Proper airflow is key to the efficiency of your HVAC equipment. Make sure you change your furnace filter before the start of the heating season. Not only is a dirty furnace filter a way to decrease airflow, but it can also dramatically lower the quality of your indoor air. Noticing more dust around your house? This could be due to a dirty furnace filter.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for a cold winter heating season is schedule preventative maintenance with your local heating and air conditioning contractor. They can make sure that everything is in working order and running as efficiently as possible.
Are you ready for winter?
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Have you already experienced your first snow of the year?
Are you hoping for a snowy holiday season? There’s nothing quite like snow around the holidays. However, while it can create a festive atmosphere, there are some things you’re going to want to keep in mind when it comes to your home comfort equipment – particularly if you have a heat pump.
Some of these tips are geared at keeping you safe, while others are focused on keeping your utility bills low. Ensure you have a happy holiday season by following the tips below.
Advice for heat pump owners:
- Don’t have your unit installed directly on the ground. This is to avoid potential air restriction and blocked drainage due to snow and ice build-up.
- Consider planting shrubbery to block heavy winds. Just make sure to allow clearance for service calls and proper airflow – at least two feet.
- Don’t be alarmed by defrost mode. When your heat pump is in defrost mode, it will temporarily reverse operation so that warm air is being supplied to your outdoor equipment. This is to melt any ice or snow that may have accumulated on the system. This is perfectly normal and should not last too long.
- If it gets particularly cold, consider pairing your heat pump with a gas furnace. This way you can always use the most fuel-efficient source for the temperature.
Advice for gas furnace owners:
- Make sure your exhaust pipes are clear or snow and debris. The waste materials produced by your gas furnace during operation need to go somewhere. Make sure your flue is not blocked.
- Resist the temptation to dramatically raise the temperature in your home. This will not warm your home more quickly, will raise your utility bills and may damage your unit.
- Change your furnace filter. A clean filter is good for maintaining premium air quality and maximum airflow. Try to remember to change your furnace filter once-a-month.
- Don’t forget your annual maintenance appointment. This is the best way to make sure that your gas furnace of heat pump is ready for the heating season. Also, before your appointment, make sure that if it has snowed or iced outside, your walkway is clear. Your contractor will greatly appreciate it.
Have you scheduled your annual maintenance appointment with your local HVAC contractor yet?
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Are you ready for the holiday season?
Turkey dinners and gift exchanging season is fast approaching! Are you already planning this year’s festivities?
If so, there are some things you should keep in mind to keep your money in your wallet (instead of handing it over to the utility companies). You can still throw a great party without busting your budget on heating expenses.
Potluck the meal. Save a little on gas and/or electricity by having your guests bring a side dish. Not only will this save money when it comes to utility costs, but it could also save time and reduce stress the day-of.
Turn the thermostat down a degree or two. When there are more people in a home, it feels warmer. Home comfort wont’ be as affected by turning down the thermostat a degree or two.
Adjust the humidity. Did you know that homes that are drier feel colder than those at a higher humidity level? Make sure your home is at a comfortable setting. Just don’t overdo it. A home that is too humid can feel stuffy and suffer from mold growth.
It’s still fall; host a bonfire. Opt for an alternative to an indoor party and have a bonfire (weather-permitting). It’s something a little more out of the ordinary and can be a great change of pace.
Have a fireplace? Use it. You’d be surprised by how much heat even a tiny fireplace can produce. If you have a fireplace, don’t hesitate to use it. Just make sure that your damper is open when you’re using it, and closed when you don’t have a fire. Your fireplace acts like a vacuum when the damper is open – sucking up the warm air in your home.
Focus on family activities that don’t involved electronics/the TV. A puzzle or a board game may feel lame in 2017, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some nostalgic fun with a round of Monopoly or Clue (just don’t blame us when grandma flips the table because she landed on “Go to Jail” for the fifth time).
The little things, like turning off lights in unused rooms, can add up. Don’t forget the small things. Keep lights off in unused rooms, don’t forget to make sure your vents and registers are open, and don’t forget to make sure all windows and doors are shut.
The most important thing you can do this fall to save money during the holiday season is schedule an appointment with your local heating and air contractor. During this appointment, they will look over your furnace, heat pump or both to make sure they are in tip-top shape.