A conventional HVAC system contains both a furnace and an air conditioner. In the winter, the furnace warms the home, and in the summer, the air conditioner cools it. But for Utah homeowners who hope to maintain the most energy-efficient home possible, there is an alternative to this conventional setup. Heat pumps are single appliances that provide either heating or cooling functions, depending on the season. Here is a closer look at this heating solution and why it’s becoming such a popular choice among eco-conscious homeowners.
As the leaves fall and the temperatures drop, you know that soon you’ll need to turn on your furnace to keep your home cozy and comfortable for the winter. Before you do so, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your furnace is in safe, working order.
Below, we discuss nine ways to prepare your furnace for winter.
Summertime on the Wasatch Front can be a bit demanding at times, so it’s important to choose an air conditioner that meets your home’s cooling demands. But simply going with the largest air conditioner you can find may have a rather expensive impact. Nevertheless, many homeowners make the mistake of buying a bigger unit than their home actually needs.
An oversized air conditioning system can be bad news not just for your home’s overall comfort but also for your monthly utility bills and even your health. Read on to learn about the importance of getting the right size of unit.
By now, you’ve likely heard of statistical reports that say that indoor air can be up to five or more times dirtier than the air outside. In a previous blog, we provided you with tips so you can discover if your home has poor air quality.
Even if you determine your home’s indoor air quality, do you know how to improve it? Instead of suffering from allergies, coughs, and sneezes, use the tips in this blog to purify your home’s air. Cleaner air is only a few simple steps away. Read on to learn what you can do to breathe better air each day.
1. Invest In an Air Purifying System
The first thing you should do to experience better indoor air is invest in a whole-house air purifying system. Larger purifiers stand alone because of their large size. Some smaller purifiers and filters can hook into your return duct line.
Typically, the larger, stand-alone purifiers remove more pollutants that float in the air near you. Filters and smaller purifiers in the duct line can eliminate illness- and allergy-inducing pollutants before they enter the main part of your home.
Recent reports indicate that Americans spend about 90% of their time at home, so investing in an air purifying system not only improves your home’s indoor air, but it also improves your health.
2. Clean Your Home Regularly
Even if you do purchase an air purifier, the device will do little to improve your indoor air quality if you don’t help it along. To enhance how your air purifier functions, clean your home regularly. Dust flat surfaces. Vacuum and sweep the floors once or twice a week. You should also use a carpet cleaner to deep-clean the carpets and reduce the allergens and pollutants you’re exposed to.
You should also mop your non-carpet floors as well. The water can trap dust and further improve the quality of your indoor air.
You may want to consider using natural cleaners to disinfect and tidy up your home. The chemicals contained in many cleaners can linger behind in fabrics and in the air. These chemicals can agitate your respiratory system and create poorer air. Natural cleaners lower the amount of chemical cleaners you use, and thus reduce the amount of chemicals that pollute your indoor air.
3. Don’t Smoke Indoors
Doctors and pediatricians say that one of the biggest causes of indoor air pollution is smoking. If you, a family member, or a housemate smokes, turn your home into a no-smoking zone. Other people that live with you inhale the second-hand smoke, which puts them at risk for developing more serious respiratory issues.
4. Change the Filters in Your HVAC System
As previously mentioned, air filters in your home’s vents can further reduce the pollutants inside. This statement holds true for your HVAC system as well. After all, dirty filters only circulate dirty air throughout your home. Replace the filters in your HVAC system every one to three months, depending on your living circumstances.
For example, if you don’t have pets, you can typically change the filters out every three months. But if you do have pets, especially animals that shed a lot, you should replace the filter every month so hair and dander don’t circulate throughout your home.
5. Humidify Your Indoor Air
Not only does humid air provide you with numerous health benefits, but it also cleans the air inside your home. Drier air allows pollutants like germs, hair, and dust to float more easily through your home. However, too-humid air creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew spores.
You should keep your home’s humidity levels between 30% and 50%. These levels make your home humid enough that you can stay healthy, but dry enough that mold and mildew won’t grow. Use fans or open windows when you shower, cook, or do anything that introduces moisture into your house. This extra ventilation ensures mold and mildew can’t grow in your home.
6. Grow Air-Filtering Plants Inside
Thanks in large part to NASA’s Clean Air Study, more homeowners understand houseplants’ ability to eliminate small amounts of toxins in the air. If you want to add to your purifying efforts, buy some houseplants and place them strategically throughout your home.
However, not just any old plant will do. You’ll want plants that have roots and leaves that can easily absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Try the following plant types:
Ready to purify your indoor air? Use the tips above to clean the air inside your home. If you need help choosing an air purifier for your home, contact an HVAC technician. He or she can recommend a device that works best for your home’s size, your finances, and your family’s needs. Additionally, he or she can properly install the device to ensure it correctly cleans your home’s air.
According to the US Department of Energy, 43% of the average American homeowner’s utility bill comes from heating and air conditioning. You know firsthand how expensive it can be to keep your house cool during the hot summer months. But how do you lower your utility bill while avoiding the sticky, uncomfortable heat of July and August?
Below are five tips that can help you lower your energy bill, improve your air conditioner’s efficiency, and keep your home cool all summer long.
1. Get an AC Checkup
If your utilities bill is astronomically high, the technology keeping your home cool may be outdated or broken. You might just need to replace your AC-according to the US Department of Energy, doing so could cut your energy bill in half.
Your local AC expert can take a look at your air conditioning and determine if you have an expensive problem. The issue may be something as simple as the need for a clean filter. Your HVAC specialist can also spot issues before they occur and may recommend a new or renovated system to keep your home cool and costs low.
2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
If you keep your home the same temperature at all times this summer, you’re practically throwing money away. When you’re out of the house, sleeping, or spending time in a cooler part of the house (like the basement), you can raise the thermostat in your home by a few degrees. Doing so saves you lots of money in the long run.
A programmable thermostat allows you to create a schedule for your air conditioner. For example, if you and your family are out of the house between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day, you can program the thermostat to raise your home’s temperature while you’re gone and lower the temperature just before you get home.
The US Department of Energy reports that if you raise the temperature by 10 degrees for eight hours each day (either when you’re asleep or out of the house), you can save about 15% on your AC bill each year. The savings aren’t imaginary, and with a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for cost. Your HVAC specialist can install a new programmable thermostat.
3. Clean the Vents
If the airflow in your home is restricted by debris or a clogged filter in your vents, your AC has to work much harder to keep your house cool. And because so much air moves through your vents each year, it is easier than you might think for your vents to become clogged.
You should have your vents professionally cleaned about once a year if you’re serious about cutting back on your utilities bill. This small expense has a large return on investment because your AC immediately becomes more efficient and effective.
Clean vents don’t just ensure that your air conditioner functions properly and your home gets cooler faster-it also improves the air quality in your home and keeps you and your family healthier. Hay fever and other allergies are the cause of more illness than we might realize, and clean vents ensure fresh, healthy air in your home. At the very least, replace the filters in your AC once a month.
4. Open the Vents
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many homeowners leave vents closed. Closing vents raises your energy costs because, like a clogged or dirty vent, the air conditioner has to work harder to cool your home if a vent is blocked. Even if you didn’t personally close a vent, that doesn’t mean the vent hasn’t shut over time, so check each of the vents in your home.
Improved airflow in your home will make it easier for your air conditioner to reach the target temperature in each room. An air conditioner has quite a complex job-it has to maintain the right temperature in each room, which can be quite difficult unless you live in a very small space. Open vents make it easier for your AC to cool one room without over-chilling another.
5. Circulate Air
In the summer, the outdoor heat sneaks into your home and makes your house uncomfortable and humid. Heat rises, so you want to push the heat up and out of your home. Well-placed fans will help your air conditioner move the heat out of your home.
You don’t need expensive, high-powered fans to get the job done. A few standing fans placed in strategic areas of your home can ensure that the air circulates through your home. Circulating the air helps move trapped hot air into areas where it can be pushed back out into open air.
If you have any questions about where to place the fans, ask your HVAC expert when he or she visits for an inspection.
Want to learn more about how to lower your energy bill this summer? Speak with your HVAC specialist today to schedule an inspection, have a programmable thermostat installed, or learn more great tips for a cooler home.
As you’ve lived and worked in the Wasatch Front, you’ve learned how to recognize days with bad air quality. You may even have specific routines that you adopt when you notice heavier smog on your morning commute.
But air pollutants don’t always stay outdoors. In fact, many everyday activities in your home can spread airborne contaminants, from aerosol fumes to dust mites. Over time, normal living circumstances and heavy outdoor pollution can contribute to poor indoor air quality in your home.
Air quality can have a significant impact on your family’s health and comfort. In this blog, we list nine common warning signs that you have an air quality issue.
1. Cough and Congestion
One of the biggest factors in whether or not air quality is considered poor is the concentration of particles it contains. You encounter countless airborne particles every day. However, in a home with poor air quality, these particles become overwhelming.
As you breathe in more particles, you may develop a cough or congestion as your body attempts to expel the foreign bodies.
2. Fatigue and Dizziness
Chemical and gaseous air contaminants, such as fumes or carbon monoxide, can affect cognitive functions. One of the first symptoms that these pollutants cause is a feeling of sleepiness, fatigue, or dizziness.
If these symptoms appear suddenly or at a particularly high intensity, leave your home until you can have a professional inspect for a gas leak or similar problem.
3. Frequent Illness
In addition to particle concentration, humidity plays a big role in air quality. When the air in your home becomes overly dry, airborne illnesses move more freely. This freedom of movement is the real reason you get sick more often in the winter than in the summer.
If your family experiences frequent cold, flu, or cough symptoms, you may need to check your air quality.
Exposure to chemicals or even strong odors can result in headaches. Pesticides, household cleaners, and even standing garbage can contribute to poor air quality and subsequent headaches.
You may also experience sinus headaches as a side effect of air quality-related congestion.
5. Hyperactive Allergies
If you suffer from airborne allergies, you know the symptoms well. But if your allergies appear out of season or with unusual frequency, air quality may be to blame.
If poor air quality is causing your hyperactive allergies, you may not notice any changes when you clean more, take medication, or eliminate known allergens. Some individuals do not get allergy relief until after they install an air purifier.
6. Mucus Membrane Irritation
Contaminants and dry air irritate the most vulnerable parts of your body, starting with mucus membranes. You may notice itching, watering, running, or burning sensations that affect the following areas:
Mouth and tongue
You may also begin to have more frequent nosebleeds, especially if your poor air quality stems from lack of moisture.
In some extreme cases, exposure to airborne contaminants can cause nausea. However, vomiting or prolonged nausea that doesn’t abate when you leave the home result from one of two sets of circumstances.
Either the nausea and vomiting stem from another cause for which you should seek medical attention, or the symptoms result from a serious air quality threat.
8. Respiratory Issues
When airborne contaminants enter your body, they can cause more than a cough. Poor air quality, especially when caused by pollutants, can also contribute to respiratory infections and irritation.
Often, poor air quality affects the most vulnerable members of your household. This type of air quality deficiency can cause respiratory issues in young children, individuals with compromised immune systems, individuals with asthma, or household pets.
9. Skin Dryness and Irritation
Poor air quality doesn’t just affect your mucus membranes, it also irritates your skin. If you live in a home with poor air quality, you may notice dryness, peeling, flaking, rashes, or redness on any portion of your skin.
If you suffer from eczema, acne, or another skin condition, poor air quality may exacerbate your symptoms.
If you or any member of your family experiences acute respiratory symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, contact emergency medical services. While these symptoms can result from poor air quality, it’s important to rule out airway obstructions, food allergies, and other causes which can result in serious medical emergencies.
Should you notice any combination of the signs listed here, discuss your options with an HVAC contractor. He or she may recommend a localized or whole-home air purifier to alleviate your family’s acute symptoms and improve your home’s air quality in the long run.
Poor air quality can become intensified by moist or particularly dry environments. If your home exhibits poor air quality and humidity level problems, your HVAC contractor may also recommend installing a humidifier or dehumidifier.
Look for these warning signs to ensure that you address any air quality issues in your home and prevent long-term health complications.
For more information about heating, cooling, ventilation, air quality control, or plumbing, visit our blog section.
Autumn cleaning. It doesn’tsound quite as catchy as”spring cleaning,” but some important maintenance tasks in the fall will prepare you for an icy Utah winter. Read the tips below to know how you can keep your home comfortable and energy efficient this fall and winter.
- Protect Your Pipes
A burst pipe will quickly cause a flood of problems once the ice thaws out and water starts flowing. Some outdoor faucets include freeze-proof features, but you should drain or insulate any outdoor piping without those enhancements.
If you’re unsure whether a pipe will risk freezing or not,ask a plumbing expert.
- Clean the Gutters
Utah’s fall leaves are beautiful, but not when they clog up your gutter. A messy gutter is an eyesore, but it also causes issues in the winter, when ice dams start to form. Gutters direct water away from your home, but when a clogged gutter starts to freeze, that water might seep into your home instead. Additionally, too much ice build-up might weigh down your gutter enough for it to break off your house.
- Fertilize Your Lawn
A lot of people remember to apply fertilizer in the spring, but a fall fertilization will help your lawn immensely. Usea nitrogen-rich fertilizer that will help your grass recover from an exhaustingly hot Utah summer and feed your lawn before it gets covered in white. Aproperly fertilized lawn will get green sooner in the spring, and your neighbors will ask you how you did it.
- Check That Chimney
If you have a fireplace and traditional chimney, it’s essential to prepare them well for winter. Hire a chimney sweep to remove soot. Check the chimney crown and mortar for any wear and tear. Consider buying a chimney balloon if your chimney seems drafty. But don’t forget to take the balloon out before starting a fire.
- Look Around Outside
Your home’s walls and roof won’t do much good this winter if they don’t form an effective shell. Make sure the walls and roof are in order-outdoor-rated caulking can help patch up any cracks.
- Seal Any Leaks
Air leaks allow warm air to flow out of your house, so your furnace must keep working and your energy bill goes up. Check the following areas for escaping air:
- Attic hatch
- Outlets and switches
- Inspect Your Furnace
Try and fit in a furnace inspection by an HVAC technician before winter comes. Just like a car,a furnace needs a regular tune-up to run efficiently and safely. And if you schedule an inspection early in the fall, you might beat the”HVAC rush”as it gets closer to winter.
If your furnace is toast, buying a new furnace might seem prohibitively expensive, but federal tax credits can refund you that cost by as much as 30%.
- Replace All Filters
If you ignore that filthy furnace filter, it will only end up costing you more money. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your heating system less efficient, which means a higher energy bill. You might need to replace them throughout the winter, depending on the type of filter you purchase.
- Check the Ducts
Ductwork can be hard to get to, so have an HVAC technician inspect your ducts to make sure they function properly. Some estimates say that as much as 20% of the air in your central heating system might get lost as it moves through your air ducts. Make sure to seal and insulate all the duct joints in your hometo save heat and money.
- Add Some Insulation
Ensure that your house is properly insulated. Check the bottom of the attic and the top of the basement for insulation. The scratchy material isn’t always pleasant to work with, but insulatio nmakes a huge difference in home heat retention.
- Watch the Thermostat
You want you and your family to stay warm, but leaving your heat on all the time wastes money. At night or while on vacation, you might want to lower that thermostat for a bit. Consider buying a programmable thermostat, which will automatically adjust to your preferred temperatures all winter long.
- Reverse Ceiling Fans
You might think fans only work for cooling your family off, but many ceiling fans have a reverse setting that will help your family keep warm as you move from autumn to winter. Warm air rises, and when the fan turns the correct way- clockwise in winter- the tilt of the fan’s blade will help send warm air back down to your level.
Fall is a wonderful season in Utah. While you enjoy some weekends by watching college football or heading up the canyon to see the leaves, don’t forget to do some autumn cleaning as well. If you need help with your fall maintenance routine,contact an HVAC professional to ensure you have everything ready for winter.
Before you bring your beautiful infant home from the hospital, you want to make sure everything in your house is ready. You’ve picked out the perfect crib and repurposed your guest bedroom into a nursery space. You’ve even vacuumed all the carpets to clean up dirt and dust that could find their way into your baby’s mouth.
But in addition to all these cosmetic changes, you want to make sure that the environment of your living space keeps your baby healthy and comfortable. Though you may not have realized it, the air quality in your home has a big impact on your baby’s health. A little preparation can help your baby stay healthy and warm in his or her new home when you choose the right humidifier.
Not every home or every baby needs the same products, so we’ve compiled a list to help you make the right decision. Read through these seven reasons to see if your baby needs a humidifier to have a successful transition into your home environment.
You’ll know your baby needs a humidifier…
1. If You Notice Your Baby’s Dry Skin
Babies come into this world with sensitive skin. When you face the harsh desert climate, you can use creams and oils to help keep your skin from drying out-but your baby doesn’t have that option. The chemicals in most beauty products can irritate sensitive skin, so to keep your baby’s skin newborn soft, invest in a humidifier.
Some modern humidifier models also provide bacteria-free mist to help with psoriasis and eczema. Ask your HVAC professionals for more information about specially-made humidifiers if you or your baby suffer from these skin conditions.
2. If Your Baby Seems to Always Have a Cold
When you catch a cold, you have access to medicines that can decongest your system and relieve the pain. For babies-especially younger infants-you can’t always administer oral medicine. To make matters worse, babies can’t communicate to tell you how they feel when they cough and sniffle.
To help your baby breathe easy in the event of a cold or other infection, turn on the humidifier.
3. If You Have Allergies or Sinus Problems
If your seasonal allergies make you sneeze year-round, you want to get a humidifier that will keep your health problems from spreading to your little one. Sinus infections and other irritating conditions find relief in a more humid climate, so use a humidifier to transform your dry home into a warm oasis safe from disease.
A humidifier will keep you as healthy as possible so you have the energy to play with your child without worrying that you put him or her at risk for catching your germs.
4. If You Live in a Place with Harsh Winter Weather
Experts recommend that you keep your indoor humidity above 30% year-round. But heating systems-especially in dry climates-can cause the humidity to drop below 10% inside your home. To keep your baby comfortable during the winter without sacrificing air quality, you’ll want a humidifier to make up the difference.
5. If Your Nursery Is in an Isolated Location
If your family lives in a drafty basement apartment or if your nursery is the stuffiest room in the house, a humidifier will help you maintain the air quality. Many companies offer small, portable humidifiers that will help keep your baby comfortable in his or her crib without affecting the air in the entire house.
Smaller models also use less energy, and can be transported to the living room or kitchen where your baby eats or plays.
6. If Your Baby Has Trouble Sleeping
You will notice the changes in your sleep habits once you add another member to your family. In addition to the health benefits a humidifier offers to your child, the soothing hum of the machine can help you put your baby to sleep.
Some parents recommend the white noise of a humidifier to help your baby sleep more deeply, instead of causing them to wake up every time you close a door.
7. If You Worry About Your Baby’s Snoring
When you hear your baby struggling to breathe in the night, you might have concerns about their safety. Most snoring naturally results from a dry, itchy throat and is nothing to worry about. But the moisture produced by the humidifier will keep your baby’s throat clear and moist. The humidifier blows water vapor directly into the nursery’s air supply so you won’t have to fear for your child-or stay up listening to the noise.
When you purchase a humidifier, ask your local HVAC professionals about different features. Some humidifiers use air purifying technology to remove allergens and contaminants from the air. Others are designed to minimize environmental impact and conserve water. Whatever you prefer, make sure to maintain and clean your humidifier to avoid spreading germs.
For any home-and any child-a humidifier can help you improve your home environment. Remember these seven suggestions when you decide whether or not to purchase a humidifier for your new baby.
As Utah summers get hotter, homeowners look for better options for indoor climate control. They may also look toward the roof only to see an aging swamp cooler on top.
Swamp (aka “evaporative”) coolers are common enough in Utah, as they work best in dry, arid climates. However, they function less effectively during sporadic monsoonal weather that brings humidity up from the south. These coolers also require extra maintenance work each spring and fall.
Air conditioners, on the other hand, work at the touch of a button. They cost more up front, but they come with a host of benefits.
If you want to replace an old swamp cooler, now may be a good time. However, before you decide, take a look at the workings of each cooling system.
Evaporative Cooler Facts
In the days before central air, homeowners cooled themselves off the old-fashioned way-with fans and damp cloths. Evaporative coolers work basically the same way:
- Hot air enters the outdoor unit, usually housed on the roof.
- Water-filled pads at the bottom of the unit cool the hot air.
- The cool air circulates through ducts and then leaves the house via return vents and windows.
Because a water line attaches to every swamp cooler, the cooler air also accumulates a little humidity. Homeowners also have to monitor air flow by keeping windows ajar, and they also need to weatherize their unit each spring and fall.
Swamp coolers are fairly inexpensive to install, even though they don’t control temperature as precisely or reduce airborne allergens as effectively as AC units. They also don’t work well during times of extra humidity (e.g., “monsoon season”).
Central Air Facts
These days, more homeowners than ever desire central air conditioning when they purchase a new home. Residents who install central air systems also tend to recoup their investment costs and sell their property more quickly than those with evaporative coolers.
In some ways, central air works the same as an evaporative cooler:
- Hot air enters an outdoor unit, normally housed by the side of a house or on the back patio.
- The air passes over refrigerants that cool it and send it indoors.
- Refrigerated air goes into a central HVAC unit, which blows the air through the home’s air ducts.
- Hot air exits through return vents.
The main differences between evaporative and centralcooling systems are:
- Comfort – Air conditioning offers better indoor temperature control than a swamp cooler. During muggy months , central air also dries the air for greater relief indoors.
- Cost – AC systems cost more initially, but they eliminate drafty windows and other energy inefficiencies. They also recoup their costs at home resale.
- Care – An air conditioner is much easier to maintain than a swamp cooler. Just replace air filters regularly and clean coils periodically.
- Control – Central air systems can better eliminate and control airborne irritants like smoke, polluted outdoor air, and other allergens. Modern AC units also sound quieter than old swamp coolers.
- Convenience – AC units don’t require winterizing the way swamp coolers do. No need to make another dangerou s trip to the roof. Just call your HVAC technician for an annual service visit.
Since most homes already contain duct work, adding central air needn’t be invasive or time-consuming. Your HVAC specialist can tell you more and outline which units represent the best size for your home.
Further AC Benefits
It’s easy to spot a home that uses evaporative cooling. Aside from the obvious cooling box on the rooftop, you’ll also see telltale har d water stains on the shingles. Unfortunately, those stains may lead to roof damage over time.
By contrast, your AC unit sits out of sight and on the ground. Not only are temperatures cooler at ground level, making the cooling process easier on your unit, but passersby won’t see an ugly, rusty cooler on the rooftop. Your roofline will look more attractive and escape unsightly water stains, if not water damage as well.
If you think more about your current swamp cooler, you’ll also notice a decided “wind tunnel” effect in your hallways, along with rooms that either feel freezing cold or boiling hot, depending on the season and the cooler’s effectiveness.
Luckily, central air conditioning eliminates all these negative effects. At the touch of a thermostat button, you create uniform cooling power in every room, no matter what happens outside. And you’ll get rid of the wind tunnel for good.
Plus, if neighbors make too much noise, you don’t have to hear it through your open windows to stay cool.
If you’re still unsure whether central air is right for your home, you only have to call your HVAC experts for an estimate. They’ll offer insights you may not have considered before. Additionally, they can assess your home’s layout and energy use before you purchase your new system.
You won’t miss the hassle and inefficiency of a swamp cooler once you’ve sampled the benefits of AC. Contact your friendly HVAC sp ecialist for more information.
When you sit back and relax in the comfort and coolness of your home, do you ever think about the history of your air conditioner? We didn’t think so. Fortunately, we’ve done it for you. Air conditioners and heating systems have a unique history that every homeowner should know about.
Although air conditioners date back to the 2nd century, the first modern air conditioner was developed in 1902 for a publishing house to protect papers. Developers soon began to see that functioning HVAC systems were a valuable asset to any home or business. Today, HVAC systems range in size, style, and energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Tips
If you want to keep comfortable-and lower your utilities bill-try the following:
- Properly insulate your home
- Seal air leaks around doors and windows
- Unplug your appliances (electronics still use energy when off)
- Find an HVAC system that uses variable speed heat pumps
The next time you turn on your HVAC system, remember that a poorly fitted system costs homeowners and businesses thousands of dollars every year in extra fuel consumption. Don’t let an ill-fitted system drain your wallet. Find more facts and energy-saving tips in the infographic below. Then contact Smedley Service at 801.544.4480 for a free estimate on plumbing, heating, and AC in Layton, UT today.