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.
You dread the day when your pipes, faucets, or hot water heater spring a leak. Seeing your air conditioner leak water, however, can come as a surprise. After all, a water leak isn’t something you’d expect from your A/C system. So how can something that’s not hooked up to your home’s plumbing system manage to leak water?
The following not only answers this question, but also presents a few solutions you can use to stop any ongoing water leaks.
It’s no secret that a brand new central air conditioner can come with a hefty price tag. In fact, it often drives many homeowners to wonder if they can save money by swapping out only half of the system. At first glance, replacing only the indoor air handler or outdoor condenser cabinet seems like a fiscally smart move. However, replacing only half of your central air conditioner is a penny-wise yet pound-foolish decision that often proves painful in more ways than one.
Your New Equipment May Not Work With Your Old Unit
If you decide to replace only half of your current air conditioning system, you may run into compatibility issues between your new and old equipment. For starters, your current air conditioner may rely on R-22 or Freon, a once common refrigerant that is currently being phased out due to its documented environmental impact on the ozone layer.
If you are debating the merits of switching from an evaporative cooler or wall unit to a central air conditioning system, you may see AC as a luxury rather than a necessity. While it’s true that some homeowners manage to make it through Utah’s hot summers without central air, a central system can have a significant positive impact.
In fact, many people find that a central air conditioning system improves their health in addition to their overall comfort.
In this blog, we list four ways that a central air conditioning system may help you achieve a healthier, happier you.
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.
Everyone could use a little more room in the budget. You might cut back on grocery costs or shave down the entertainment fund a little. Maybe you’re saving for that TV you want, or maybe you’re just squirrelling away an emergency fund. Either way, finding new ways to save money is always a plus.
And when you take a look at your water bill each month, you may be thinking it looks a little too high. But how can you conserve water and, in turn, save money? For four ways you can cut down your water bill, read on.
1. Take More Efficient Showers
Showering is a fast, easy way to get clean, and some people aren’t fond of traditional tub bathing. But showering can account for around 30% of all water usage in the household, so it’s a fine area to curtail your water use.
Cut Back on Shower Times
Some people already take impossibly fast showers, but others may relish the hot spray early in the morning. If you like to linger a little while in the shower, consider cutting a few minutes off your regular shower time. Showering with a regular showerhead can use five to ten gallons of water per minute, so working fast can conserve several gallons of water.
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
If you’re not fond of rushing through your shower, consider installing a low-flow showerhead. Doing so can reduce your water usage by as much as 40%.
Only Turn On the Water to Rinse
For some, this may not be the most appealing idea. But if you’re committed to saving water to shrink your expenses, consider only turning on the shower to rinse. Turn it off whenever you’re soaping up your hair or lathering on your body wash.
2. Cut Back on General Water Usage
While shorter showers and low-flow showerheads can save gallons of water, you can conserve water in some of your other everyday activities.
Don’t Keep the Faucet Running While You Brush Your Teeth
Once you’ve doused the toothpaste on your toothbrush, turn off the faucet. Leave it off while you scrub those pearly whites, and only turn it on when you need to rinse your mouth and toothbrush. Unnecessarily leaving the faucet on for a couple minutes can waste two to four gallons of water.
Keep Cold Water in the Fridge
If you keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge, you won’t have to leave the faucet running while you wait for the water to get cold. You could also freeze bottles of water and let them melt when you need them. However, if you have limited space in your fridge and freezer, the best option is to simply use ice cubes to cool down that refreshing glass of water.
3. Implement More Effectual Dishwashing
No one likes to wash dishes. However, there are a few ways to save water while doing your least favorite chore.
Don’t Hand-Wash Your Dishes
If you’ve stuffed everything you can into the dishwasher, leave the extra dishes and pots alone. To avoid running several gallons down the sink, wait until the next dishwasher load. Granted, some dishes and pans need to be hand-washed. That cast iron skillet is not going in the dishwasher. But for all those dishwasher-safe bowls and plates, let the dishwasher do the work.
Run a Full Load
When you do run the dishwasher, be sure it isn’t half full. Try and wait until the dishwasher is stuffed to avoid wasting water.
Use the Microwave or Stove to Heat Dishwashing Water
If there are a few dishes that need to be hand-washed, consider heating up your dishwashing water in the microwave or on the stove. This may be a fairly inconvenient option, but again, if you’re dedicated to conserving water and cutting utility costs, this can save a couple dozen gallons of water a month. Like cold water, waiting for the tap water to get hot can waste a few gallons each time.
4. Maintain Your Plumbing System
Other than the leaky faucet you need to fix, you may be tempted to put your plumbing out of your mind. But maintaining your entire plumbing system can save you more money than you think.
Insulate Your Pipes
If you keep your pipes properly insulated, your water can heat up faster, and you won’t have to let your water run as long while you wait for it to heat up.
Check for Leaks
Checking for leaks may seem like obvious advice, but it is still important. Also, not all leaks are as noticeable as that puddle beneath your kitchen sink. Check around faucets and toilets for signs of water. Inspect the pipes beneath sinks and keep an eye out for any strange puddles.
You can also check your toilet for internal leaks. Put food coloring or a dye tablet in the tank, then wait for a half an hour without flushing. Once the time is up, check to see if any of the dyed water has leaked into the bowl. If so, you’ve got a leak on your hands.
Call a Professional
If you do find any plumbing issues or simply want more advice for saving water, call Smedley Service. They can make the proper repairs and take a look at the rest of your plumbing to ensure everything is in good working order. They can also make some recommendations for maximum water efficiency in your home.
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.