How to Maximize Comfort and Lower Your Utility Bills

If you think summers have been getting hotter in recent years, you may be right. In fact, according to the National Climatic Data Center, 2005 was the warmest year since national records began in 1895. Combine those rising temperatures with increasing energy costs to cool your home, and the situation can be downright unbearable.

To help beat the heat, Lennox Industries, a leading provider of customized home comfort systems, provides answers to some common questions about how to increase home comfort and save money during the hottest months of the year, based on the pioneering and knowledge of company founder Dave Lennox.

How can I lower my utility bills?

With the average homeowner spending more than $2,100 on energy-about half of it for heating and cooling-the cost of keeping cool can be expensive. To improve your home’s energy efficiency and lower utility bills, conduct a simple home energy audit. Start by examining exterior walls, doors, and windows to identify any cracks where cool air could be seeping out, and seal leaks with caulk or weather stripping. Keep window blinds closed during the day to block sunlight from entering the home and plant trees around the house for added shade.

In addition, check your attic’s insulation. If it’s insufficient, the home’s cooling system may have to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature. Add more if there currently is less than five inches.

Finally, be sure to set up an appointment with a home cooling professional to inspect and clean your air conditioner to ensure it’s working as efficiently as possible. You may also want to install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the indoor temperature while you’re away, which also can help lower your energy bill.

My house feels sticky and sometimes smells musty. What can I do about it?

Even when the temperature is right, your house may still feel sticky due to excessive humidity, and that can affect your overall comfort and well-being. In fact, too much moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can potentially cause health issues.

To determine whether you have a humidity problem, have the air in your home tested. Lennox Industries offers a service known as the Healthy Advantage Program, in which an air-quality monitor is placed inside the home to measure humidity levels, as well as temperature, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, odors, chemical vapors and airborne particles–all of which can affect your health and comfort.

If there is a moisture problem, it’s important to inspect the house for any water leaks, and take appropriate measures to correct the problem. You also may want to consider purchasing a dehumidifier, which can significantly reduce the moisture in your home. Lennox recently introduced the Humiditrol whole-home dehumidification system, which is installed in your home’s existing duct system and can remove up to three times more moisture from the air than a conventional dehumidifier.

My air conditioner is about 20 years old and I’m afraid it’s on its last leg. What should I look for when shopping for a new system?

The average lifespan of a quality central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years, so it’s smart to be thinking about replacement. Planning ahead gives you time to conduct research and select the right system based on your specific needs. Consult the Good Housekeeping Institute, as well as manufacturer Web sites and local air conditioning professionals, who can help guide you in making an informed decision.

One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a new system is the seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). While the national minimum SEER rating is 13, many newer models have a SEER of 15 and higher, which will help make your home more energy efficient. Some systems, such as the Dave Lennox Signature Collection XC21 air conditioner, are nearly twice as efficient as a standard air conditioner.

Finally, don’t put a price tag on comfort. Purchase a system that is priced within your budget, but don’t compromise your comfort, household energy efficiency or long-term savings by purchasing a unit that will not satisfy your needs well into the future.

Contact us now to get a quote!

Keeping Up With Trends In Home Efficiency

Keeping up with seasonal trends in home comfort is often a time- and money-consuming challenge. There are a few trends that are here to stay, however, and some of those options can also help reduce your energy bills year after year.

The company that brings you Tempstar brand heating and cooling products has the following suggestions to help you save money now and for years to come.

* Heating and cooling: Today’s air conditioners and heat pumps can be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than older, less efficient units. The money homeowners can save in reduced energy bills by purchasing a new, high-efficiency system is often worth the investment. The Tempstar SmartComfort 2400 high-efficiency air conditioner operates at 14 SEER efficiency to help you save money while you keep your home comfortable.

* Electronic air cleaners: A good air cleaner can help trap many of the pollutants that may be traveling through the home. As part of the heating and cooling system, the new line of Tempstar electronic air cleaners filters indoor air to help improve indoor air quality. To ensure years of service, Tempstar indoor air quality products are backed by a five-year parts limited warranty.

* Humidifiers: Moisture levels in the home can affect your family’s comfort and the quality of your wood furniture and flooring. Humidifiers add moisture to the dry air in your home, which helps your body stay hydrated and comfortable. They can also help protect wood furniture and floors by maintaining the right levels of indoor humidity to prevent damage caused by dry indoor air. For information about Tempstar humidifiers, contact your local Tempstar installer.

* Programmable thermostats: A programmable thermostat can help you reduce your energy bill by cooling your home only when you need it. With a programmable thermostat, your cooling system can work at a more cost-efficient temperature while you’re away from home and lower the temperature to cool your home just before you return. To find a heating and cooling contractor near you, go to www.tempstar.com and click on the Dealer Locator button.

Evaluate your home today to find out if you can make some money-saving improvements that could be worth their cost in energy savings and improved comfort. Chances are, you can. – NU

Physical Exams Apply To Your Heating And AC, Too

Just as doctors encourage yearly physical exams, many heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) manufacturers suggest periodic HVAC checkups to ensure your system is running properly. Preventive maintenance will extend the life of your unit and save you money.

With a Preventive Maintenance Agreement (PMA), offered for a yearly fee from your local HVAC contractor, a technician will come to your home to test and inspect your HVAC system before any minor issues turn into major problems. Among other things, the technician will check system functions and safety controls; inspect electrical components and connections; ensure proper airflow and change dirty air filters; and inspect pumps, lubricate and check flow rates, where appropriate.

Twice-A-Year Visits

Although different PMAs are available, technicians usually visit a home twice a year (once before the cooling season and once before the heating season) to ensure everything is working properly. Another all-inclusive option is a lifetime PMA that includes the cost of all maintenance, repairs, components, emergency service and equipment replacement.

It is important to remember that warranties are different than PMAs. A warranty will only last for a certain amount of time and, sometimes, only apply to specific parts of the unit. If a part is not working and it’s still under warranty, the manufacturer will provide a free replacement part. However, since warranties do not cover labor, you will still be responsible for the installation costs.

Maintenance Tips

Manufacturers such as York®, a brand of the Unitary Products Group of York-a Johnson Controls Company, point out that while it is important to have a service technician carefully inspect your unit to uncover any leaks, soot, rust, rotting parts, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires, there are also a few simple maintenance tasks you can perform to improve your unit’s performance:

• Clear debris away from intake and exhaust vents to ensure unobstructed airflow.

• Check the thermostat wire entry point and, if necessary, apply caulk, so a draft won’t influence the thermostat reading.

• Remove several supply and return registers to see if your ducts need to be cleaned.
For more information contact us or visit our website!

Save Money While You Survive the Heat

Staying cool this summer could become a challenge when the waves of summer heat come lapping at your door. If you haven’t prepared your home to keep the cool air indoors and the heat out, you may lose in the battle to survive the summer with reasonable cooling bills and optimal comfort. A&H-Heating-Cooling

The company that brings you Heil brand heating and cooling products suggests the following steps to keep your energy bills affordable and your home comfortably cool:

* Lock your windows and shut your garage door. It’s important to minimize the loss of cool air from your home. Sunshine can heat up your garage and cause your air conditioner to work much harder than necessary. Windows not shut tightly will allow cool air to escape. Lock your windows to give them a better seal, and shut your garage door to help keep your cool air indoors.

* Clear the area around your thermostat. Keep the area around your thermostat clear of electronics and lighting. The thermostat will sense heat from these appliances and run the air conditioner longer than necessary.

* Program your thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save money and energy by

operating at a more cost-efficient temperature while you’re asleep or away from home, and automatically lower the temperature to cool your home just before you wake up or return. New Heil brand programmable thermostats can help save money and are backed by a five-year warranty.

* Evaluate your landscaping. Plant trees and shrubs to shade your air conditioner but not block its air flow. A shaded air-conditioning unit will run more efficiently than one that operates in the sun. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an air conditioner uses as much as 10 percent less electricity when working in the shade.

* Re-examine your air-conditioning system. Your heating and cooling system may be sending hundreds of dollars in wasted energy bills through the roof. Purchasing a new, more energy-efficient system can cost less than keeping an older, less energy-efficient system.

For example, the Heil QuietComfort line of 14 Plus air conditioners saves energy, uses an environmentally friendly, chlorine-free refrigerant, and can save you up to 57 percent on your summer cooling costs.

Central Air Conditioners Review

Heat and humidity can certainly bring down productivity in the workplace. You can make conditions more comfortable for work by installing central air conditioners if the work area is large, in which case one small air conditioner would not be enough. So, if you wish to cool the entire house or the office you need to install central air conditioners.

Normally central air conditioners works on the principle of transferring heat from one station to the other with the help of a transporting media which is a refrigerant commonly known as Freon. There are two parts in central air conditioners as it is a split system. One part is the air handler which is placed inside the home and the other part is the condensing unit which is located outdoors.

In order to cool the inside of your home, the central air conditioners remove the heat from the air inside and transfer it to the air outside. The indoor part of the system contains a refrigerant coil across which the indoor air is passed and then it is released outside. This process brings down the temperature inside to the desired level as per the thermostat setting.

Useful hints for buying central air conditioners
You should choose the system that would suit your local climate and the total cooling load. You can either go in for evaporative coolers that are useful in hot and arid regions such as the southwest or you can choose the compressor-driven central air conditioners.

You will also have to work out the size of the system needed.

You should look for a SEER rating higher than 12.0 when you are looking for a central air conditioner.

If you have ducts for an existing forced-air heating system, the central air conditioner system could be linked to these ducts, depending upon their size and the relative heating and cooling loads of your home. You can take the advice of a good HVAC contractor in this regard.

For efficient operation of a central air conditioner, proper sizing and installation are essential. It will be difficult to regulate humidity with too large a unit and if the unit is too small, you might not get adequate cooling on very hot days. Efficiency can come down with improper unit location, lack of duct insulation, improper duct sealing, and incorrect refrigerant charge.

Important aspects which should be considered while buying a central air conditioner are: provision of a fan-only switch, a filter check-light and an automatic-delay fan switch. You should also choose a central air conditioner that does not make too much noise.

If the outdoor (compressor) unit of the central air conditioners needs to be replaced, you should find one, which will be compatible with the existing indoor (blower coil) unit. An old blower coil would not be suitable for a highly efficient outdoor unit.

It is necessary to get an electrician to assess your home’s electrical supply such as the voltage and amperage capacity before installing central air conditioners, as it needs a constant 230-volt circuit and 20 to 50 amps of power.

10 Tips on Efficient Heating