Warm weather is soon to be upon us. Anticipation of extreme heat may seem far away yet summer is fast approaching. Keeping your home cool at an affordable cost is essential for staying comfortable in the warmer season. With heating and cooling comprising of nearly half of the expenses on your utility bill, improving the efficiency of your air conditioner is a critical decision for reducing monthly costs. Here are the top five ways you can easily improve the efficiency of your A/C unit to save you money.
Install Unit in the Shade
If your air conditioner is already installed consider planting a tree (preferably coniferous trees, as leaves will not shed and clog unit) to protect your air conditioner from the extreme heat of the sun. A cooler unit means less running time and less energy needed to reach the designated cooling temperature.
Clean Your Condenser Unit and Filter
Outside, your condenser unit is exposed to the elements and wildlife. It can be easy for the unit to become clogged or constricted by dirt, grass or other debris. Checking your A/C filter once a month is an easy and quick way to improve your unit. By keeping this area and filter clean and clear, your unit will be able to run without becoming labored down due to insufficient air flow.
Vacuum and Keep Indoor Vents Clear
Over time, dust and dirt in your home easily begins to accumulate in your air vents. It is important that you check these vents for debris and clean out the dust to ensure maximum air flow is reaching each respected room. Often times these vents can accidentally be constricted by an article of clothing, a toy or get knocked into the closed position. Be sure to check your vents regularly in order for cool air to reach its destined room without being obstructed.
Insulate Exposed Ductwork
Ductwork that runs through areas where the air is not conditioned can be a source of a cool sink. Ducts that are not properly sealed are not directing cool air efficiently through the home and so your air conditioner will run longer in order to achieve a uniform temperature. Getting a licensed HVAC professional is advised for this type of work.
Have an Annual Inspection
It is recommended that at least once per year bring in a professional to conduct air conditioner maintenance to perform a service and inspection of your unit. Not only will their servicing improve efficiency, it may also prevent small repairs from snowballing into expensive replacements.
Maximize home comfort at an affordable rate by taking care of your air conditioner and following these important tips. Keep cool and enjoy all the fun summer has to offer!
We have all heard about the need to minimize our carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption. Energy Star® windows and doors are a great way to help keep heat out in the summer and heat in come winter. But how do these technologically innovative panes of frame glass really improve efficiency over a standard window?
Energy Star® Standards
First off, in order for a window to be considered Energy Star®, it must undergo rigorous testing by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), an independent organization that certifies and verifies all Energy Star products. Each product is required to meet incredibly strict standards with regards to its energy efficiency as dictated by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
Energy Star® Rated Materials
Energy Star® windows, regardless of the partnered manufacturer and the technology they use in their product, they all have similar efficiency features that are pretty much ubiquitous under the Energy Star® label. All Energy Star® windows are fabricated with the highest quality framing materials varying from fiberglass, to wood, to aluminum. These premium grade materials are built to be incredibly durable and designed to require as little maintenance as possible. The glass in an Energy Star® window is designed to have low-emissivity, filtering out some of the damaging ultra-violet radiation that enters your home daily. These low-emissive panes can reduce fading damage in your home by up to 75%. This drastically improves the lifespan of any furniture, painted walls, and flooring exposed to natural sunlight from the windows.
Energy Star® Performance
Energy Star® windows are designed to meet the specific needs of a specific climate and should be selected accordingly. Most common Energy Star® windows are comprised of two panes of glass with an inert, colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas such as Argon or Krypton that reduce heater transfer significantly better than air found between standard double-paned windows. Some windows under the Energy Star® label have three or more panes of glass providing optimal insulation value while still serving its main function as a window. Edge spacers on Energy Star® glass panes, especially the non-metallic kind, keep the glass panes at the proper distance from one another and minimize heat being transferred through the window.
Quality materials, advanced engineering/design, accompanied by the achievement of passing the highest efficiency standards, translates to a more energy-efficient home when equipped with the best windows in the industry. Consider Energy Star®, the benchmark for superior energy efficiency, when searching for ways to reduce your environmental impact, utility bill and preserve your home.
Vinyl windows are a great investment, as long as you take the time to care of them. They don’t clean and lubricate themselves, unfortunately. To make the most of your high-end vinyl windows, you need to learn proper cleaning and maintenance techniques. Here is what you should now in order to extend the life of your new vinyl windows:
The guide arms, tracks, rotor gears and hinges on your vinyl windows can gradually get sticky and stiff over time. This makes them increasingly difficult to open. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to perform yearly lubrication. We recommend using a silicone release spray. It’s very important to note that you should never spray lubricants on the glass surface of your windows. Add window lubrication to your spring cleaning “to-do” list.
You don’t need a fancy name-brand, vinyl-specific cleaner in order to clean your windows. A solution of water and mild dish soap will do the trick. Take the solution and apply it to your windows with a soft clean cloth. This will remove most of the dirt from the vinyl surface. You don’t want to use harsh cleaners (like bleach) on your vinyl windows, as they could cause irreparable damage to the frame and glass.
You should inspect the locking mechanisms of your windows as part of an annual maintenance schedule. You may need to adjust the locks or keepers if they’ve become loose. For casement windows, you should remove the upper set of screws on the keeper then loosen the slide screws and adjust as needed. For sliding windows, you can use a square head screwdriver to loosen the keeper and reposition it as needed. Make sure you don’t overtighten the screws when you are done, as this can cause unsightly damage.
Another item to add to your annual window maintenance list is caulking. We recommend you inspect the window caulk each year to ensure that there is a proper seal. A proper seal is crucial for maximizing your insulation during the cold winter months, and you’ll notice a big different to your energy usage if you fix this problem. You should make sure that weather-stripping and hardware are not painted over, as this can damage your window and void your warranty.
The best way to extend the life of your vinyl windows is to ensure you are having a qualified window installation company doing the work for you! Make sure to check reviews and past work to ensure the company you are hiring will get the job done right and set your windows up for optimal performance.
Although cooler seasons brings their own set of beauty and excitement, it is also the beginning of higher gas bills. There are many ways you can keep your gas bills under control in the colder months, but it does require some attention to details. Here are 5 ways to reduce your gas bill:
Wear a sweater
Just like your mother always told you when you were growing up, if you’re cold put on a sweater. Having your thermostat set to a reasonably low temperature will save you tons of money in gas. Put on layers to keep yourself warm and you will notice a big difference in your monthly bills.
Program your thermostat to be lower at night and when you are away
We generally sleep better in cooler temperatures, so turn the thermostat down an extra few degrees at night time. Rely on blankets to keep you cozy warm while you sleep. It’s also important to remember to turn your thermostat down when you will be away from the house. There is no use paying to have a toasty warm house when you are away for the weekend.
Have your furnace cleaned and tuned-up annually
A healthy and clean furnace will always run better and more efficiently. Keep your furnace in tip top condition and it will sure to function at its top efficiency when you need it the most. It’s also important to change your furnace filter monthly to ensure the highest level of clean. Schedule furnace maintenance services in advance to make sure you are on schedule.
Reduce hot water use
This may not be as intuitive as turning down the thermostat. It costs quite a bit of gas to constantly have your hot water tank full and ready to dispense. The faster you drain your hot water tank the more gas is required to keep it full. Be mindful of your hot water use and the replenishing won’t be as expensive.
Let sunshine in south windows
Open the curtains on any south facing windows and let the natural heat from the sun warm up your rooms. Similarly to closing these curtains in the summer to keep the house cool, the exposed windows will do a splendid job of heating their rooms if you let the sun shine in.
We all deserve to be warm and comfortable when cold weather hits, but we also deserve manageable gas bills. Find the comfortable balance that works right for you!