Now I know you probably don’t worry about your heating bill in the winter as much as you worry about your AC bill in the summer. We are lucky to live in the Sonoran Desert where our winters are mild and we often don’t use our heat for days or weeks at a time. However, there are easy ways you can help keep warm air inside and cold air outside and ultimately save money on heating and cooling your home throughout the year. Here are some easy DIY tips to help keep your energy bill down:
- Replace old weatherstripping – a simple and inexpensive way to prevent outside air from coming in.
- Seal gaps and holes on the outside of your home with caulking or foam that expands – check around the birdboards or construction joints.
- Make sure your damper is closed on your fireplace when not in use.
- Winterize your swamp cooler and use the damper to prevent outside air from creeping into your home.
- Use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperature lower at night or while you are away.
- Tune up your furnace so that it is running at its most efficient level – call ULTRA Air if you haven’t had a tune up in the last 6 months.
These are things that most of us can do on our own to reduce energy costs associated with heating or cooling your home. These home improvements pay for themselves quickly as the cost of energy increases every year. After all, who doesn’t like to save money?
Many people have asked me about the air quality in their homes. Most of us assume that it is clean since we have filters on our heating and cooling systems. However, the filters on your HVAC system are not designed to improve your indoor air quality. Instead, the air filter is primarily designed to protect parts on your AC and furnace from excess wear and tear. The filter will keep dust and particulates from becoming embedded on your coil which can cause airflow restriction and freeze ups. The filter system is not designed to improve the quality of the air you breathe inside of your home rather it is designed to keep your unit running efficiently.
So where does that leave us with air quality? Well, here are a few fun facts about indoor air quality:
- Each of us inhales over 3500 gallons of air each day.
- Most of us spend 75-90% of our time indoors.
- The EPA estimates that indoor air pollution levels can be 100 times higher than the outdoors’.
- Polluted air causes over 94% of all respiratory ailments.
- Over 31 million Americans have asthma, children make up about a third.
- Dust mites are a very common household allergen and over 40,000 of them can be living in only one ounce of dust.
- From 10% – 15% of us can be allergic to dog or pet dander.
- We shed over 700,000 skin flakes daily.
OK, so those last points were especially gross. But please keep in mind, our indoor air quality is usually more polluted that the air outside. Mother Nature has a way of cleansing the air outside but not inside of our homes. And, we know that breathing polluted air puts our health at risk. In fact, the American College of Allergists says that 50% of illnesses are caused by or aggravated by polluted air. So, what can we do about it?
I recommend a Guardian Air REME+ whole house purification system that sends ionized advanced oxidizers throughout your entire house. This technology has been proven to destroy pollutants and in the air and on the surfaces in your home. The REME unit can be installed inside of your AC system and creates ionized hydro-peroxides and propels them into your ductwork where they are circulated through your entire house. There are over 1 million of these devices in use today. Recently, the Chinese government purchased thousands of these units to help fight Avian Flu. Some of the largest hospitals, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, public schools and cruise lines have installed this product as part of their Norovirus and MRSA protection plans.
The EPA has described indoor air quality as the #1 environmental health issue. It’s no wonder, given the poor quality of our indoor air coupled with the fact that we spend the bulk of our time indoors. So please consider improving the quality of your indoor air with the installation of a REME+ whole house purification system. It has achieved a 99% kill rate for the following:
- H1N1 (Swine Flu Virus)
- Avian influenza (Bird Flu)
- Norwalk Virus
- Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Streptococcus sp (Strep)
- Clostridium difficile (C-Diff)
- Bacillius Globigii
- Escherichia coli
Call ULTRA today and learn how you can create a safer, healthier environment in your home!
We talked last time about the importance of regular filter changes. Keep in mind that the proper maintenance of your heating and cooling system should consist of more than just monthly filter changes. Keeping your home’s heating and cooling system tuned-up and running properly is one of the best things you can do for your home, both from a comfort perspective as well as a financial one.
You may find this hard to believe but over the course of the next 12 months, your home’s heating and cooling system can easily run for 3,200 hours. Comparing that to a vehicle running at 45 miles per hour for that long of a period, it is similar to putting over 140,000 miles on your unit during the next year. So, a system tune up at the beginning of each heating and cooling cycle is very important. It’s like giving your system an oil-change and making sure it’s road worthy before going on a long trip.
Like with any machine, small problems can be detected long before they turn into big, expensive problems if your unit is properly maintained. And it seems like heating and cooling systems tend to break down most when temperatures are at their worst and when it’s most inconvenient for you. You can help assure your heating and cooling system is running at peak performance if you stay on top of the maintenance.
Customers who have tune-ups performed regularly see these annual benefits:
- Fewer Service Problems: Tune-ups prevent costly equipment breakdowns, maintain optimal efficiency and can extend the life of your equipment. They also prevent your system from breaking down during peak season when service calls take longer to get to.
- Savings on Heating and Cooling Bills: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% on your utility bills just by having regular tune-ups performed on your heating and cooling system each year.
- Safety: With gas furnaces, regular inspections can detect tiny cracks in your heating system’s heat exchanger, cracks through which carbon monoxide can leak into your home. We follow strict standards when we test for sources of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home.
- Keep Warranties Valid: Your system warranty may not be honored if your equipment is not properly maintained.
Most of us operate our heating and cooling systems with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. It is easy to assume that our HVAC systems are working well so long as we are feeling the cold or warm air in our homes. But the fact is most HVAC systems that are not properly maintained are also not operating at peak performance. That means that they cost more to operate and that the major components may be under stress. This is costly in the long run. So take the time to tune up your unit twice a year, once before winter and once before summer, to help reduce energy consumption and prolong the life of your equipment. HVAC maintenance plans are excellent for addressing these needs through pre-scheduled service. Make sure you look for a plan that offers two or more annual tuneups.
For the month of October, Ultra Air Conditioning is offering a Full System Tune Up for only $49. So call Ultra today at 520-392-0008 and “Live Comfortably”
Here’s an easy but important maintenance tip for your heating and cooling system.
People always ask me what they can do to help their A/C unit perform at its peak during our hot summer months. That’s any easy question to answer. If you have to pick just one task to complete to ensure the indoor comfort and energy efficiency of your home this summer, I suggest you change the A/C filter every month.
Airflow is a crucial component in any air conditioning system. The volume of air passing over the evaporator coil determines how efficiently the coil extracts heat and humidity from the interior. Airflow is also the critical factor in maintaining consistent comfort throughout all living spaces of the home.
Since the entire volume of air in your system passes through the filter, a neglected air filter can become clogged or impacted and it will negatively affect almost every function in the system. Keep in mind that changing the air filter is simple and inexpensive and you can do it yourself.
Here are some other reasons to change the A/C filter regularly this summer:
- Filters are relatively cheap, they cost anywhere from a few dollars to $20 – $30. Some specialty filters can cost more but the cost of any filter is much less than the cost of replacing a major component on your A/C system. For example, a dirty or clogged filter strains the air handler blower motor, one of the system’s costliest components. A stressed blower motor may overheat and fail prematurely. Replacing a blower motor will cost in the hundreds of dollars.
- If your filter is dirty it will cause your major components like the blower and compressor to run overtime in a condition they were not designed for (low airflow) to meet thermostat settings. This strains the component and consumes excess electricity. So, if you are changing your filter monthly you will cause better airflow, your system will run with less stress and you should see a noticeable decline in utility costs. Catastrophic compressor failure is often attributable to lack of filter maintenance and compressors are the most expensive component to replace in your system.
- As you can imagine, a dirty filter means dirty air in your home or office. As your air filter becomes dirtier, its’ filtering capacity declines steadily, and your indoor air quality degrades at the same rate. Airborne particulates including allergens like mold spores, pollen and pet dander are continually recirculated in your breathing air.
- Don’t forget about your ductwork. If your ducts have not been cleaned recently or you have not been changing your filters regularly, there is probably a buildup of dust and other particulates inside of your ducts. Ductwork contamination becomes a permanent source of poor air quality that can only be resolved by expensive duct cleaning.
- And you can be green by changing your filter regularly. Your home’s contribution to greenhouse gases and the size of its carbon footprint are directly related to HVAC system efficiency, which in turn relies on regular filter changes.
- Ultra Air Conditioning wants to help you “Live Comfortably.” Call us today at 520-392-8008 and we will be glad to help you improve the air quality in your home.