How to Increase HVAC Energy Efficiency

Cooling Heating Graphic

How do you Increase your HVAC energy efficiency?

Your HVAC systems represent a large energy expense. Some of that energy may be wasted if your systems are not running efficiently or if you are losing heat or air. There are things you can do to save energy and energy costs. The department of energy estimates that you can improve energy savings by as much as 35% by increasing your energy efficiency.

Insulate, Reduce Air Loss

To increase energy efficiency make sure you are not losing your conditioned air (heated or cooled) through doors, windows, attic. Adding insulation if there not enough can help keep your conditioned air where it belongs. Additionally, it can be beneficial to check exposed pipes, outlets and ductwork for air loss. Insulated wrap can be applied to these areas to properly seal them.

Your Air Flow

Replacing your Air Filters and keeping your indoor and outdoor unit(s) free of dirt and debris can help your air flow. This can help increase energy efficiency. Your systems require proper airflow in order to operate efficiently. Air filters should be checked every month and replaced at least every three months.

Programmable Thermostats

Installing Programmable Thermostats is a great way to reduce your energy costs. They enable you to heat or cool specific areas at specific times of the day. This can result in energy savings by reducing your energy use in those areas.

Upgrade Your Equipment

If your existing system is older, but well maintained it may benefit from an upgrade. Replacing components on otherwise well maintained systems may be a good option for you. Components such as compressors, controls or other parts are a less expensive replacement option to complete system replacement.

Invest in High Energy Rated Replacement HVAC Systems

There have been great improvements in the HVAC industry with the focus on energy efficiency. These systems can greatly reduce your energy costs and improve your indoor air quality at the same time. Air Doctor Heating and Air will provide you with a free quote. Our installations are a safe investment with our Ten Year Warranty on Parts and Labor. Financing options are available for up to ten years for safe, deferred payments.

HVAC Maintenance

Regular HVAC Maintenance is will increase energy efficiency. It is very important to keep your systems properly maintained. HVAC maintenance assures that your systems are performing properly and at their peak efficiency for maximum results. Air Doctor Heating and Air offers a maintenance contract which has us inspect your systems twice a year- heating in the fall and air conditioning in the spring. Our comprehensive inspection will ensure your systems are operating at their best.

A Calibrated Door Blower Test detects energy loss

Door Blower Test

The calibrated door blower test (air leakage test) allows an analysis of heat or cold air loss in a house. These leaks occur through doors, windows, vents or holes. Air leakage results in energy loss and higher energy costs. This test can detect even small leaks which could be costing quite a bit over time and make your HVAC systems work harder. A Door Blower Test measures ACH (Air changes per hour).

Manometer

The testing equipment consists of an exhaust fan mechanism with a sealed doorway block. These are mounted usually at the front door and depressurizes the interior of the house. When this happens the now greater outside air pressure tries to seep in through any opening regardless of how small. A manometer is used to measure air pressure once negative air pressure is achieved. A technician then goes room to room throughout the house to locate these seepages.

Properly Sealing your home

Once the areas of seepage are identified then a plan can be enacted to properly seal the home. An attic is a very common place to lose heat. Often testing begins there before proceeding to the main floor and the rest of the home. Fixes may include filling holes, adding or replacing insulation and seals for doors and windows.

IECC Energy Code

The IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) is a measure of a building’s thermal envelope (air tightness). These codes are energy conservation specific and are required in some new building codes for new construction. These codes are required in order to meet energy conservation requirements. In order to comply with these codes this testing becomes necessary.

The Calibrated Door Blower (Air Leakage) test can benefit everyday homeowners when they are trying to reduce their energy costs. Reducing energy costs are very beneficial, but limiting air loss can also help your HVAC systems work less. Air Doctor Heating and Air can help you assess your home’s need to have the test.

How and why to reduce humidity in your home

Mold

High humidity in your home can cause mold and make your air unhealthy.  The term humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity can be uncomfortable and unhealthy when it is too high.

High Humidity

Excessive humidity contributes to mold growth. When mold accumulates over time you can often visibly see it. Hidden mold issues can still negatively impact your health. Mold is a fungus which grows in certain humid environments. Warm humidity creates an environment that mold grows well in. There are different types of mold, but all release mold spores which can become airborne. These spores can damage your lungs, sometimes permanently.

Mold

Unhealthy Mold can grow when there is more than 50% humidity. Lowering the relative humidity in your home can help keep mold from growing. A Dehumidifier will reduce the humidity in your home by actually removing the water vapor. This can be very beneficial especially when you have a particular space with high humidity like a basement.

Lower Your Humidity

Reducing humidity can help reduce mold growth. There are other things to consider when trying to lower humidity in your home such as:

  1. Windows should close properly and not allow air and moisture in.If your doors are not sealed properly they will allow air and moisture in.
  2. Make sure seals are in tact.
  3. Look for and repair any leaks in pipes, around appliances like your refrigerator, around sinks and toilets.
  4. Check to see that your home is properly insulated.
  5. See that all rooms in your house are well ventilated and circulate the air.
  6. Avoid carpeting in restrooms and basements since carpeting can attract and hold moisture.
  7. Remove wet or damp materials.

A home may experience higher humidity during certain times of the year. Even during the day as the humidity outdoors changes so can the humidity inside your home.
Dehumidifiers are often a good choice for reducing the humidity in your home. Air Doctor Heating and Air can help with options for your specific needs and conditions.

The high cost of Heating with Propane

Propane Clip Art

The high cost of propane used for heating a home is a concern. It may be time to consider other alternatives. Propane is a fuel made from natural gas or petroleum. It is a gas in it’s natural form, but converted to liquid in order to more easily store and utilize it.

Forty eight million households in the United States have something that runs on propane. Whether it is a furnace, stove, grill or other appliances. Ten million homes in the United States heat their homes with propane.

The biggest problems with heating your home with propane are the high and fluctuating costs and supply.

Oftentimes these cost variations are unknown to the consumer when they receive their deliveries. You should understand the cost of the propane before taking delivery each time. Prices can fluctuate at any given moment and without warning.

Propane fuel is not government regulated and so the prices can vary greatly and can lead to overcharges of as much as $500/ year for an average home.

Consumers who own their own propane tanks will be better able to price shop from various suppliers. The downside is they would need to maintain their own tanks. By leasing a tank, their supplier options are more limited.

Propane supply can be subject to supplier shortages and for customers who are locked in to their supplier (either by contract, tank lease or geographical limitations) this can mean no propane delivery for periods of time which can prove a major hardship when heating fuel is needed most.

Propane Heat Alternatives

This year it is estimated that propane and heating oil may be up to 10.5% higher than last year. Forbes (Aug 2018) reports that there can be significant savings by converting existing oil and propane furnaces to electric or natural gas heat. Natural gas is most efficient and the least volatile on a dollar to BTU (British Thermal Unit) comparison. The BTU measures the amount of energy required to produce heat.

Contact Air Doctor Heating and Air so we can provide you with a no cost estimate to convert your home to an energy efficient and lower heating cost heat pump system.

Choosing the Best Air Filter for Your Home

Clean vs Dirty Air Filter

Choose the best air filter when you are replacing your old air filter. This can greatly benefit the air quality inside your home. Many illnesses are associated with airborne contaminants so indoor air quality is a very important consideration.

Regularly replacing your air filter(s) is important in increasing the quality of air as it circulates throughout your home. Your heating and air conditioning units will have improved performance with a clean air filter.

Your air filter(s) should be checked every month and replaced at least every three months. It is best just to replace your air filter if it appears dirty. Do not attempt to clean it.

Your Indoor Air Quality

Your indoor air quality can be affected by several factors:

  • Volume of air circulated.
  • In- home pollutants such as smoking, pets, number of people in the home, ventilation and insulation.
  • Poor ventilation can lead to poorer indoor air quality. Fine particulates, germs, dirt, dander and other pollutants will be more concentrated indoors.

Types of Air Filters

There are many types of filters: Hepa, Carbon, Electrostatic, after market and manufacturer’s branded filters. If you have smoking in your home, have pets or generally high traffic then you will require a higher quality air filter.

Those benefitting from Hepa or electrostatic filters are:

  • Infants
  • Elderly people
  • Anyone in your home that suffers from breathing problems, has allergies or other illnesses.

Hepa or electrostatic filters greatly reduce pollutants, allergens, pollen, bacteria and most other airborne contaminants. Additionally, carbon filters can reduce odors and chemicals.

When selecting a replacement air filter, it is wise to choose a well made filter to maximize air filtration and higher quality air output. It is important that the filter fit properly. It should be measured by width, height and depth.

Air Doctor Heating and Air encourages you to check your filter often and replace regularly to maintain safe indoor air quality in your home.

We at Air Doctor Heating and Air can help you with solutions to problems with your indoor air quality. Reducing pollutants and having a cleaner, healthier home will benefit your health and comfort.

 

How to Properly Care For Your Gas Fireplace

Gas Fireplace

How to properly care for your Vented or Non Vented Gas Fireplace. A Gas Fireplace can be a warm, inviting addition to your home. It is of the utmost importance that it be clean and operate properly for full enjoyment and safety for you and your family.

Cleaning Your Gas Fireplace

Most of the regular cleaning can be done by you, but the system should be inspected by a professional once a year prior to it’s first use of the season to be sure it is operating safely.

In order for you to properly maintain and clean your Vented Gas Fireplace  the following steps should be done:

• Turn the gas off and pilot light and allow the logs to completely cool.
• Remove each log and the burners.
• Brush each piece with a stiff brush.
• Vacuum the interior of the fireplace to remove any debris and scrub with a brush and water if needed.
• Inspect the interior of the chimney to make sure it is clear from debris and open.
• Replace burners and logs.
• Turn on gas and light pilot.

**If you smell gas or if the pilot will not light, then turn off the gas and call your service professional. Air Doctor Heating and Air will provide prompt service and repair to make sure your system is running properly and safely.

• If the flame looks different that normal, then turn it off and call your service professional.

Cleaning a Non Vented or Vent Free System:

• Never clean with chemicals or cleaning agents.
• Do not remove the logs or any parts
• If you need to clean, then make sure the gas and pilot are off
• Vacuum the area and gently brush the area
• For any other service on your vent free system, contact your service professional. Air Doctor Heating and Air is ready to serve all your HVAC and gas furnace needs

Always be safe with your Gas Fireplace system!

Do-It-Yourself HVAC Do’s and Dont’s

Homeowner be like...Dont

Do It Yourself HVAC Do's and Dont's

HVAC Do's and Dont's. You may be able to troubleshoot your HVAC systems to a certain degree, but for bigger issues repairs and installations should be left to the professionals. Some of the troubleshooting that can be done prior to calling a professional service provider would be:

• Check thermostats- make sure they are set correctly and have power
• Check Air Filters- make sure they are clean and free from debris. If not, change them
• Check to make sure there are no obvious breaks in the lines or equipment and that any power switches are on, check circuit breakers if there is no power.
• If you have a gas furnace, check to make sure the red switch is in the on position.

Your HVAC equipment represents a major investment in your home. Having it properly and professionally serviced by a licensed, insured HVAC specialist is the best way to protect that investment.

Additionally, working on the unit yourself may void any warranties you may have, which can lead to added expense later on.

Malfunctioning HVAC systems can cause very costly problems if not properly addressed. At the first signs of a problem, it is best to address it right away. Some issues requiring prompt attention:

• Loud Noises
• Non Operational after checking thermostats, filters and power supply
• Leaking
• Excessive vibration
• System runs, but little or no air distributed
• Icing visible on coils or pipes
• Visible water damage

Your HVAC specialist will be able to safely and properly inspect the problem and offer solutions. Air Doctor Heating and Air responds promptly and professionally to have your system up and running. If a replacement is needed, we can provide a no cost quote for you.

The important don’ts are:

• Don’t attempt to handle any wiring
• Do not remove any parts from the unit
• Do not open any of the protective plates from your unit
• Do not disassemble your unit or add anything to your unit

It can be very dangerous to work on this equipment on your own, can ruin your equipment and void any warranties you may have.

Multizone Heating and Cooling Benefits

Zones

Multizone heating and cooling systems can be a big benefit for many reasons. Comfort being one and energy savings the most substantial other. This type of system can involve:

  • Multiple units
  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Thermostats
  • Other controls depending and the size and scope of the home and the needs which must be met.

Comfort

From a comfort standpoint, multizone systems make great sense. Whether there are few or many people residing in the home, all can benefit. Multizone systems can allow maximum control over temperatures in specified zones or regions in the home. Keep bedrooms cooler or at varying temperatures than the living areas for example or vice versa. Multizone systems can be tailored to fit your individual or family’s specific needs. Programmable smart thermostats can maximize your control over the temperatures in all areas of your home.

It can be very difficult or impossible to have even heat or cooling distribution if your home has multiple levels. Heat naturally rises and so can interfere with your heating and cooling comfort and lead to unnecessarily heating a lower area where heat is escaping.

Energy Savings

Lower temperature settings in zones less frequently used rooms. This can add up to substantial energy savings and far less energy waste. Properly zoned systems can save up to 30% off non- zoned systems.

Generally speaking multizone systems utilize more components than standard central systems. Over the long term there are bigger potential savings to the homeowner. A home can be zoned into two or more zones. Typically the zones or regions are established based on locale and similarly desired temperature settings for those areas. Many zoned systems also come with remote controlled thermostats for added convenience.

Air Doctor Heating and Air would be pleased to consult with you to help you determine if a multizone system would be beneficial for your specific needs. Contact us today for a Free Quote for installation or retrofitting your existing system.

HVAC and Your Pets

Dot

Your HVAC System and your pets. 

There are several things you can do to make yourself, your home and your pets safer, healthier and more comfortable.

Cleaning

Obviously you need to clean up after your pets regularly and often. Regular vacuuming and cleaning your home will help keep visible debris under control. Keeping the pets themselves clean by bathing and grooming will help keep dirt and dander at a minimum. Both cleaning your home and your pets will help keep you, your environment and your pets healthier.

Pets (and people) produce dander and debris which accumulates in the environment as well as becoming airborne. Once these contaminants are in the air they will negatively impact the air quality in your home. You will breathe these contaminants in and they can affect your health.

Your HVAC system is designed to remove some of these contaminants and debris with your air filter(s). Your air filters need to be checked often, at least once a month and changed whenever they appear dirty, at least every three months.

Cords and Wires

Always keep your wires and power cords protected from pets. Chewing on and playing with cords and wiring can be very dangerous. Check often to see if wire and cords have been disturbed. If so, take measures to protect them by safely enclosing wires and cords.

It is also important to check your outside unit(s) periodically to make sure they are not being tampered with by pets. Sometimes your outdoor unit(s) can become a target for pet or wildlife urination. Urine can cause corrosive damage to your unit. You may need to fence in or cordon off the unit so that it is inaccessible by the culprit(s). Make sure it can be easily accessed  so the unit can be serviced properly by your HVAC technician.

Air Doctor Heating and Air encourages you to take measures to protect your system inside and out.

Lowering Heating Costs in the Winter

Lowering your heating costs in the winter can save money and energy. Heating costs are always a big concern in the Winter and can get very expensive as temperatures drop. There are several things you can do to maximize your heat, heating system and save on these costs.

Here are some helpful tips to lower heating costs:

  • You can keep your furnace, heat pump, vents and filters clean, free of dirt, debris and clutter so air can circulate freely.
  • Change your air filters often so your system runs more efficiently and uses less energy.
  • Make sure the vents are cleaned, vacuumed regularly and that the coils are not collecting dirt which may cause them to work harder.
  • Use programmable thermostats so that the areas in your home that you are using at certain times of the day or night are kept at the correct temperature. Other areas are kept cooler and not using heat.
  • Only heat rooms which are in use. Close off vents, keep doors closed in extra rooms so the heat will not be wasted.
  • Allow the sun in! Open curtains on south facing windows to allow the sun’s natural heat to warm those rooms.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed at the windows and doors. Invest in insulation and seals if necessary which will help keep the warm air inside.
  • Add humidity if your air is excessively dry. Heating systems can dry the air out, adding humidity can help you feel warmer at lower temperatures. Adding house plants can increase humidity naturally.
  • Use ceiling fans to increase circulation. Setting ceiling fans on low will circulate the air and heat. Using fans moving clockwise at low speed will help push heat downward into the room. In the Summer having the fans move counter clockwise will help pull the heat up and cool the room.

Air Doctor Heating and Air can help you if your Heating system is not running efficiently or wasting energy. Call us for an inspection if your suspect your system is not operating properly or if you are not lowering your heating costs.