Choosing an HVAC Contractor

Here are some tips on choosing a reliable HVAC contractor. First of all, no HVAC system or problem is identical. If you call an HVAC company and they insist on giving you an estimate via the telephone, this is a red flag. Unless it is a contractor you have worked with before and have an established relationship with. A contractor needs to see the type of insulation and windows you have, your ductwork, the HVAC system and amount of registers you have. When a contractor comes out, he or she should thoroughly examine your HVAC system, and even look in your attic and crawl spaces. Make sure to get a written estimate.

A good contractor will educate you on modern HVAC systems if you decide you need a new system or an upgrade. He or she needs to be able to offer a couple of suggestions, discuss their pros and cons and explain how energy efficient they are. The contractor can give you a couple of tips on how to save money on your power bill in general. If a contractor attempts to sell you an older model, they may be trying to unload an older model their company has in stock.

There is nothing wrong in asking if your contractor or technicians if they are certified or licensed and have continuous education within the HVAC field. Just because someone has been in the business for thirty years, doesn’t mean their knowledge is up to date. HVAC technology is always changing.

Read reviews and get recommendations. Google reviews or Angie’s list is a great place to start in helping you choose an HAVC contractor. Google makes it hard to write fake reviews so it is a reliable source.

HVAC Cleaning Tips

Most households carry out some type of spring cleaning. A good vacuuming and dusting around the house will help get rid of dust particles that will eventually rotate through your HVAC system. However, the actual HVAC itself can get overlooked during the spring cleaning process. Take a look at your system and make sure it is ready to work for you as the summer months approach with the incoming heat. It is advisable to have a technician come out and inspect your HVAC system, but in the interim, here are some simple cleaning tips.

Change your air filter. This should be done at least every couple of months, but with allergy season kicking in during the spring be sure to switch it out to tackle allergens and dust found in the home. Filters are inexpensive and are found in all major hardware stores. While you are changing filters, go ahead and wipe down the filter cover. Clean around all your vents and make sure no items are blocking them. Walk outside and clear away all debris from the outside components, rake leaves and remove any snapped tree branches that may have fallen over winter. If you feel comfortable doing so, clean your AC coil so it works at its highest efficiency.

Consider getting your air ducts cleaned. Experts recommend cleaning them every four to six years. This is because not all of the dust makes it to the air filter, dust and allergens get caught up in the ducts and can affect the air quality in your house.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Improving Indoor Air Quality

We tend to spend more time indoors than we do outdoors. Subsequently, it is important to make sure the air we are breathing is as clean as possible and free of pollutants. Modern society is guilty of not airing out our houses and businesses as we used to. We are more inclined to run our HVAC systems instead of utilizing fresh air. At times, indoor air can be more polluted than outside air due to HVAC units recycling old air and because of what we track inside!

First line of defense is using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and capable of really strong suction. This will prevent dust, dirt, pet dander and dust mites from being recirculated through the house via the HVAC system. Follow with mopping to capture what is left behind.

Try to keep the humidity level in your house around the 30% rate. Mold and dust mites thrive in moisture, using a dehumidifier can keep both at bay. If you have allergy sufferers in your family this can really help them.

Scented candles and plugins may smell nice, but a recent study showed that plugins can give off up to 20 different compounds and toxins. There have been few long-term studies done to research the true damage these petroleum based scented products can do to our health. A houseplant may not have the same smell of your favorite candle, but they act like a natural air purifier.  Be sure to not allow cigarette smoking in your house. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, asthma and respiratory issues.

Clean your air filters. This is one of the most important things you can do for your HVAC system. It will make it work longer using less energy, and prevent dust, dander and mites from being released into your home. Be sure to change them minimally every 3 months. This allows your HVAC system to work for you better and assist in maintaining a high level of air quality.

Summer HVAC Tips

Spring is here, so summer is right around the corner. This means long days and short nights, and the opportunity to enjoy outside activities. However, it can also mean hot days and restless nights if your HVAC system isn’t ready for summer. So, here are some summer HVAC tips to ensure comfort for your family and employees.

Think about getting a technician out to inspect your HVAC system. Catching a small problem before it turns into a large one can save you money. A technician will be able to perform a tune up to get your AC system in tip top shape for the summer before the extreme heat settles in. The tech may perform tasks such as clearing and cleaning drains, cleaning fan blades and coils. All of this will allow your unit to cool more efficiently.

Some basic tasks you can perform yourself involve cleaning or changing your air filter. This is probably the number one tune up you can do to increase the longevity of your system and lower its energy consumption. Filters can be picked up from all hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive. During the summer months, it is recommended you change your filter at least once a month.

Go outside and clear the area around your outdoor unit. Make sure all plants and grass are at least a foot away from the unit, rake the leaves and check for any other type of debris. You want to ensure the unit is able to pull in air freely.

To prevent large summer power bills, you may consider installing a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to have more control over your ambient temperature and you can even control some thermostats via your smartphone. Every time you set the thermostat up by 1 degree, you save 1% on your power bill!

If you have an old HVAC system, you may consider buying a new energy efficient system. It can be a large cost upfront, but could potentially save you money over the next couple of years. An old system can be an energy drainer.

Keeping your Air Clean – Take a Deep Breath with Confidence

You may not be able to control global environmental pollution, but inside your house you are the queen or king of the castle and there are a few things you can do to keep your air quality high and safe for your family.

1. Although cozy, wood burning fireplaces create toxins such as soot and carbon which are not healthy to inhale. Any type of smoke should be avoided. This includes using an indoor grill pan while cooking on your stovetop at a high temperature.

2. Don’t let people smoke inside your house. Second hand smoke can be just as harmful as smoking the cigarette yourself. It can irritate your pets and they may not be able to voice their discomfort.

3. Be careful what you use to clean with. Strong chemicals can irritate your lungs and be especially harmful to young children. There are plenty of natural cleaning products on the market now that get the job done just as well.

4. Use an air filter in your house to filter the air. Make sure the filters in your HVAC are clean and change them regularly. This is a simple and inexpensive tip, but crucial to the wellbeing of your heating and cooling system.

5. Keep your windows closed to keep out dust, especially on high air pollution days if you live in a city.

6. Watch what candles you burn. They are pretty to look at and can make your house smell wonderful but they can carry a small amount of toxins. Certain types of wax do not contain as many binders or scent chemicals.

7. Keep mold under control by having a good ventilation system in your house. Keep the air circulating in bathrooms and the laundry room. Anywhere there can be dampness you may want to run a dehumidifier.

8. Consider investing in an air ionizer to purify the air in your home. They do a great job and are the newer models are so quite you won’t notice them running.

Fancy Trying Something New Around the House? Here are some AC Repairs you can do Yourself

If you are experiencing trouble with your AC unit there are a few simple repair tips you can carry out before you call a technician. You may be able to fix the problem yourself, but never put yourself in a situation where you could harm yourself.

A. Take a look at your breaker. Did it happen to trip? Running many appliances at the same time could cause it to trip and therefore prevent your A/C from running. This happens more frequently than people think and it is a simple problem to solve.

B. What is the condition of your filter? Is it time to change it? Being consistent in switching out your filters is a big part of preventative maintenance. A dirty filter can make your system ice/clog up and prevent proper air flow.

C. Speaking of ice, check to see if your system has ice which needs to be melted. This can be done by just running the fan or turning the unit off.

D. How new are the batteries in your thermostat or thermostat remote? If a unit is battery operated be sure to check them.

E. Check the settings on your unit. Did someone in your family change them by accident so the unit is just on the fan setting and no longer on the A/C setting?

F. Check your outside unit. Is it clean? Make sure there is no debris and the fan blades are clean.

G. How about your ducts? Can air flow out of them or are they blocked? A simple cleaning may get the air flowing again.

Hopefully some of these tips can save you money and get your system up and running again. It is recommended that any repairs to do with electricity and chemicals should be dealt with by a professional technician.

Winter Time Energy Tips

Install a programmable thermostat

This is a great way to maximize your efficiency and help keep your power bill low. You will no longer have to manually adjust your thermostat. You will be able to program it, and now you can even control some systems using your smartphone. Most energy sources recommend keeping your thermostat anywhere from 60 to 70 degrees. Of course, this is personal preference.

Make sure all leaks are sealed

Checking windows and doors is the obvious place to start. However, there can be leaks in both basements and attics. A not so obvious place is your kitchen hood vent! Caulking can be the best way to tackle leaks that you find.

Add layers to your wood floors

Use rugs and carpets to keep your house warm. They will assist you in trapping in some heat that could otherwise be lost. Plus, they are cozy! Wood floors that are not insulated can lose up to 10 percent of the heat in your house.

A simple trick is to close doors

At night, close doors while you have your heat running. This will warm up the room for the next day. If you have rooms you don’t use much, you may consider closing up some vents. The warm air will spread faster through the house and can save somemoney on the power bill.

Clean your furnace filters

Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Consider doing a furnace tune-up. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and adjusted properly will reduce energy use, saving up to 5 percent of heating costs.

Reduce hot water temperature.

Adjust your water heater to either the normal setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit.Doing this can save you around 7 percent of normal water heating costs.

Keep Warm this Winter

Keeping warm in the cold Oklahoma winters is crucial to your family’s comfort and productivity. Here are some tips to keep your house warm and cozy without running up your power bill or having to wear multiple layers inside the house.

Let sunlight into your house during the day.

Think of the sun as free heat! Let it shine in by opening up your curtains. Time it right! Once the sun is no longer coming through that part of the house, draw the curtains again.

Keep curtains closed at night.

Close the curtains once the sun goes down. This will help trap the heat in. Did you know you can buy insulated curtains? They do a fantastic job of holding in warmth.

Wood-burning fireplaces.

Use a glass front for your fireplace. What this does is keep the heated air inside your house, as opposed to it being pulled up the chimney when there are no longer flames.

Take a look at your ceiling fans.

You may be surprised to see there is a winter setting on your fan. This will make it move clockwise instead of counterclockwise. This pushes heat down into the room making you warmer as opposed to trapping it close to the ceiling.

Make sure furniture is not close to, or blocking your vents.

Check that no vents are blocked in your house. This will stop any air pressure issues and make sure the heat flow is not being interrupted.

Use winter as an excuse to bake!

Using your oven is a simple way to warm the kitchen and close by rooms! Make some hearty casseroles or cookies and enjoy a good meal and some warmth.

AC Tips to Reduce Electricity Bills

Heating and air conditioning can take up as much as 43% of your power bill. There are some useful tricks though that can allow you to save some cash.

1. Most heat that accumulates inside a house comes directly from the sun shining onto the roof or through windows, and heating the house directly. Planting leafy trees around the building’s exterior will stop the sun from reaching inside your home. If the trees or shrubs shade your air conditioner, you could boost your AC’s efficiency by up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Solar screens, or mesh-like window screens, intercept up to 70 percent of solar energy before it gets into the house. Window screens are particularly effective on east- and west-facing windows. Window films are another option. They are transparent, metalized sheets that reflect heat before it can be transmitted through glass. However, windows must be shut for window films to work, while solar screens do double-duty, keeping sun and insects out even with windows open.

3. Lower your air conditioner’s thermostat setting to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re at home. But let that number rise to a warmer temperature at night or when you’re away from home. You can save 5 percent to 15 percent on your air-conditioning bills by raising the temperature setting on your thermostat when you’re away and don’t need cooling.

4. AC efficiency is mostly a function of the technology. Keep the filter clean to allow for good air movement and keep the unit level so the condensation drains properly.If you replace your older room air conditioner with a newer unit, you could cut your energy costs in half. Look for a high-energy-efficiency ratio, or EER, or an Energy Star-qualified unit. Higher EER ratings mean a more efficient air conditioner. Energy Star refers to a system adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy to identify energy-efficient products.

Tips for air conditioning and furnace repair

Heating and air conditioning repair is one of the important jobs that makes up necessary household maintenance. A little preventative maintenance can keep your system running well all year long. Although every home or business owner should have a skilled HVAC repair specialist on hand, there are 5 steps the home or business owner can do throughout the year.

Check for cracks or broken sealants around the furnace or air conditioning system. Looking over your system at least once a month allows you to get familiar with it, and will help you notice when something changes or doesn’t look right.

Inspect ducts, filters, blower and coils for obstructions. Changing out a filter is an inexpensive, yet vital part of maintenance.

Look for leaks or pooling water around the system. This is going to be an obvious visual sign of a possible larger problem. Find the leak before it turns into flooding!

Examine outdoor handlers for fallen debris, grass or other outdoor items that could clog or deter your system from working properly. When you are cleaning up your yard, incorporate your outdoor handler as part of your clean up routine.

Clean and/or replace filters every month – a clogged filter can inhibit your system from working properly. It is interesting to see exactly how much dust and debris your filter collects. Sometimes a little shocking! It reminds you how hard your system works for you.

You can also reduce the number of repair calls by having your furnace and air conditioning professionally maintained every year. Incorporate it into your household budget so the cost can be planned for as preventative maintenance. This will help you to avoid that emergency furnace repair call during the dead of winter, which can be very expensive.

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