Top Tips for Staying Warm and Saving Money This Winter from HVAC Construction

Now that winter is in full swing, many Salt Lake City homeowners are working on staying warm while also keeping energy costs low. This is certainly no easy task, but with helpful information at your disposal, you will be able to save energy without compromising home comfort. Below, we have rounded up some of our top articles on winter home comfort and energy efficiency to help you save money while staying comfortable this winter season.

7 Top Articles on Winter Home Comfort and Energy Efficiency

With a little work, you can be on your way to Here are just a few of our favorite articles from our blog archives:

Tips for Saving Energy in Winter

Energy bills tend to go through the roof in the winter months when you’re trying to keep your home warm. These articles offer great advice:

  • In Ways to Save Energy When Heating Your Home this Winter, we discuss the top tips for saving energy when you are trying to keep warm in the winter. From sealing up air leaks to adjusting the temperature while you are away, you will find a range of great advice here.
  • Reduce Home Heating Costs this Winter goes one step further to discuss some alternate tips for keeping your heating costs low. This advice will help you save more each year for many winters to come.
  • Finally, in Energy Saving Tips for Winter, we go beyond just the world of HVAC to discuss some simple ways to save more energy this winter. These tips are also great for conserving energy year-round.

Winter Home Comfort Tips

It can be hard to stay comfortable once the temperatures outside start to drop. However, we have put together some helpful advice for Salt Lake City residents who want to stay warm and comfortable this winter:

Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

Winter can certainly do a number on your home. It’s important to make sure that both your home and your furnace are ready for the winter. Here are some articles that offer some advice on winter home preparation:

  • In Why It’s Important to Prepare Your Utah Home for Winter, we explain just that! Find out why winter weather home preparation is necessary, and use our tips to help get you started.
  • The last thing you want during the winter months is for your furnace to malfunction or breakdown. You can prevent this by learning more about the warning signs. Our article, Signs Your Furnace May be Malfunctioning provides four of the biggest signs that your furnace may need some professional attention.

If you’re looking for other great resources on HVAC, home comfort, indoor air quality, home improvement, energy efficiency, and more, don’t forget to stop by our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

5 Ways to Save Energy When Heating Your Home this Winter

Heating your home during the colder winter months can be costly. Here are five easy ways to will help you save money while maintaining a warm and toasty home this season:

Seal Up Any Air Leaks

Don’t let your heat go out the door! Be mindful of doors or windows that are left open for a longer duration of time other than going in and out. Also, don’t let cold air creep in and counteract all that warm air your heating system is working hard to maintain. Check for “invisible” air leaks around your home. These are most commonly found around doors, windows, and attic entryways. Check for air leaks around these areas and seal appropriately with either caulk or weather stripping as needed.

It may seem like a small adjustment, but keeping these drafts out of your house can add up to big savings over the winter. Also, put draft blockers (homemade is great!) at the bottoms of all your exterior doors to keep your home extra cozy.

Drop The Temperature on Your Thermostat While Sleeping and While Away

This small adjustment can add up to significant savings when heating your home; and, the best part is, you won’t be all that aware of it. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65 ºF is the ideal sleeping temperature for most people. Since many of us have beds dressed with comfortable blankets and pillows, we won’t even notice if the room drops a few degrees while we sleep—but our energy bills sure will! It is estimated that households can save up to 5% for every degree that is lowered on the thermostat during the winter months.

So, if you normally run your thermostat at 72 degrees at night, dropping it down to 68 ºF can save you big over time! Apply the same concept while you’re away, either at work during the day, or when you’re gone for extended periods, such as a long weekend.

Bonus Tip: A programmable thermostat is a stress-free way to keep your home’s temperatures on track, especially if you’d like to effortlessly lower temps at night and while you’re away. Consider upgrading to a programmable model if you are still using a manual thermostat.

Seal off Unused Rooms

If you have a large home, chances are that there is a room or two that goes unused or is mainly for storage. Consider how often people in your household use these rooms, and if it’s only occasionally, go ahead and get these rooms “winter ready”. There is no point in heating an unused area. Close the registers to these rooms, and keep the door shut while unoccupied, so that your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard to heat a part of the home that isn’t used.

Enjoy the Sun

If you have sunny rooms (these are usually rooms with south facing windows) then allow the light to shine in during the daytime, which will let in natural warmth from the sun. The sun can provide a lot of heat during the daylight hours, which means that your heating system won’t need to work as hard to keep your home warm and cozy.

Are you ready for a more efficient air conditioning and heating system? Contact us today to discuss your options for a new home comfort system.

Reduce YOUR Carbon Footprint with These 5 Fixes

 

As we look back at the global record breaking summer we just had, it’s impossible not to think of the ways in which our carbon emissions have affected our environment. While temperatures have never been higher, ecological awareness has never been greater. You can monitor and even reverse your carbon imprint by limiting certain habits and behaviors.

Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Here are just a few ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint:

1 – Driving

Many of us are using cars on a daily basis, so this seems like a good place to start. The simplest measure is to reconsider your style of driving. If you have a habit of accelerating and decelerating abruptly, try a more steady, even approach to greatly reduce the amount of fuel your engine consumes. It is also recommended to do regular check-ups on your car, especially on the tires, to increase fuel efficiency as tires can cause the release of around 500 pounds of CO2 per year.

2 – Air Travel

Planes release tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases, so if you’re really looking to minimize your carbon footprint, you should really consider the need for each flight before you take off. Just one trip can account for weeks of carbon emission.

3 – At Home

Putting forth the effort and investment to maximize a home’s energy efficiency will not only drastically reduce your monthly energy bill, but it will more importantly reduce the amount of wasted energy your home consumes. Although it may be difficult to pull off financially and logistically, insulating your home will make the greatest difference towards limiting your home’s carbon footprint.

Turning off your lights whenever you don’t need them seems like such a small thing to do, but if everyone did it, we could make a collective difference.

The same applies to Thermostats. Modern models are programmable, making it possible for you to automatically have the temperature of your room cooled down when you’re not at home.

4 – Food

The type of food that consumes the greatest amount of energy and releases the largest quantity of greenhouse gases is meat. This doesn’t mean you have to become a vegan to be eco-conscious, but increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet is a step you can take to minimize your carbon footprint and improve your health.

5 – Other Ways

There are many other areas in your life where it is possible to make things more energy-efficient. You can drastically reduce the amount of trash you produce by reusing items like plastic bags. Consciously not buying more food than you will be able to eat at a given time will also make a noticeable difference. As for the trash you still end up producing, it is possible to decrease its negative impacts by practicing waste separation.

Also, it is always a good practice to keep an eye on your water usage. Both your cleaning and drinking water requires energy to produce.

If you want to be more proactive, solar panels or windmills for your house can supplement your energy usage.

There are so many steps you can take to reverse your carbon footprint. To learn more about reducing your carbon emissions, you can contact HVAC Construction, Inc.

Thinking About Going Off-Grid? Consider Your Home Comfort Options

 

With rising awareness of environmental damages and individual carbon-footprints, many people are considering taking their home, or even life, ‘off grid’. This means that receiving power from the ‘grid’ or power companies is replaced with power producing techniques on a person’s own land. This can be done through a few different sources and usually has the dual benefit of saving a person money in the long-term and reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Things to Consider Before Going Off-Grid

Since most homes are not outfitted to accommodate homesteaders, there are a few considerations you will have to make when it comes to your off-grid home comfort options. Here are some factors that you should consider before going off-grid:

Off-Grid Sources of Power Production

The most common source of power production is solar power, and it is gaining more momentum among people who are environmentally conscious and even those who are just trying to save some money. The benefit of solar power is that it can be used in conjunction with ‘on-grid’ power or in replacement of. The average solar power panel produces 200 watts of power per hour on a sunny day.

Power Consumption in the Home

Most people run appliances that greatly contribute to the comfort of the home. The two largest power consuming appliances are the air conditioner and the refrigerator. An air conditioner can use anywhere from 1000 watts and up per hour. This means that in order to run an air conditioner, only during daylight hours, you would need at least 5 solar panels in working condition. When considering other appliances such as the oven which can use 3000 watts per hour in some cases, the use of power in an off grid home can greatly affect your comfort.

What Off-Grid Options are Available

When using solar power to power your home, many people choose to collect large amounts of power with many solar panels and to store it for use when they choose to run the oven or air conditioner. Greatly reducing your dependence on household appliances such as the fridge or air conditioner will make living off grid much easier. A good rule is that the older and the larger the appliance, the more power it uses.

How Living Off-Grid Will Affect You

When spending a lot of time comparing your power collection to your power consumption and not using some appliances depending on the time of day and weather, it can feel a little like you are not in control of your own comfort as and your comfort can sometimes be dictated by whether it is cloudy or nighttime. Unless you have the land space and initial capital to invest in an off-grid system that completely powers your current comfort level then you may find your quality of life, where use of everyday household appliances is concerned, dropping significantly.

This is not to say that going off grid is a bad thing at all, however it can be much more difficult than many people think. The best thing to do is to slowly work towards your goal by reducing your reliance on the grid by installing power saving measures and power collecting tools to reduce the amount you are consuming from external sources. Gauge what level of power consumption you are comfortable with by calculating your current use and seeing what you would still be comfortable not using.

If you have any other questions or would like to know more about how your air conditioner and regular comfort level can be affected by going ‘off-grid’ then contact us today.

Detecting And Correcting Heat Pump Freeze Up

481723049-compressedYou stand there scratching your head because you know it’s hot outside, yet you have a frost building up on the refrigerant lines and evaporator coil of your heat pump. That’s a sure sign that you definitely have a problem. That should not be happening. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to diagnose and fix heat pump freeze up.

If you let this go and take no action the refrigerant in your AC will freeze over clear back to your compressor and it will destroy it. Compressors are an expensive part to try to replace.

What to Do for Heat Pump Freeze Up

Turn off your system immediately before any further harm can come to it. Next you want to switch your fan setting on the thermostat from ‘auto’ over to ‘on’ and let it defrost your coil. Here is an explanation of why your heat pump may be freezing over –

The job of the evaporator coil is to absorb the heat from your air by using cold refrigerant. Condensation builds up on your evaporator coil whenever it makes contact with warm air, much like little droplets of water bead up on your glass when you have ice water when it’s hot outside. However, if your evaporator coil gets too cold, then it will freeze the condensation. Everything goes downhill after that. The frost will insulate the coil from all surrounding heat and cause it to ice over more.

Other Possibilities for Heat Pumps Freezing Over

Whenever your system gets low on refrigerant, it causes the pressure to drop even lower than usual which makes the coil unusually cold. It’s very similar to spraying with an aerosol can, the pressure within the can drops very quickly and gets cold, then it ices up. Whenever the evaporator coil becomes too cold because of low pressure, the condensation formed on the coil will freeze very quickly. Refrigerant never gets ‘used up’, which means the problem has to be a leak or improper refrigerant charge.

Poor Airflow – Whenever you don’t have an adequate amount of warm air blowing over your evaporator coil, it freezes. Keep an eye out for anything that could be reducing or restricting your airflow (filters, blocked vents, blow malfunction, etc.).

Dirty Coil – Evaporator coils are wet when they’re running which means dirt will stick to them easily. That dirt can insulate the coil and stop warm air from flowing over it, which in turn causes your coil to become too cold and it freezes over. It will take a professional to handle this problem.

What to Do Right Now for Heat Pump Freeze Up

(1). Change Your Air Filter.
(2). Defrost The Unit Using Your Blower (set your fan to the ‘on’ position).
(3). Open Up Closed Vents Anywhere They Exist in Your Home and Unblock Them.
(4). Turn the Unit On and Let it Run 30 Minutes to see if it Happens Again.

 

 

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Energy Saving Tips For Winter

The winter can be cold and depressing. It can be even more depressing, though, when you look at your energy bill. If you want to make sure that you get the most out of your heating unit by taking a look at these energy savings tips.

The best place to start is with lowering usage. Try using your stove less, and your microwave more – you’ll save a great deal of energy, and still have warm food. Likewise, you can start cutting your shower time in half – this saves on your hot water heating and thus will lower your bills. These may not seem like huge changes to your life, but they can actually add up quite a bit over the course of a year.

Next, start paying attention to the way you wash and dry your clothes. Washing your clothes on cold will actually save you money, as well using the energy saving features on your dryer. In fact, you can even save around thirty dollars every year by just cleaning out your lint trap – a process that might take you about twenty seconds, but will give you enough money back in the bank for at least on dinner.

Finally, the biggest change you can make is to turn down the thermostat. Every degree it is set over sixty-eight degree burns more fuel, so keep your temperature down. Also remember to keep the temperature even further down – around fifty-six degrees – when you leave your home. This can actually save you up to fifteen percent on your heating bill every year, and you won’t even notice it’s colder inside since you won’t be home.

The best energy savings tips for winter are those that require you to be smarter, rather than those that make you suffer. Make minor changes in your life, and you can enjoy the winter without having to curse at the snow. Always remember to make these small changes early on, as the savings tend to pile up over the course of the year. Once you’re through the winter, you’ll have more money – and you won’t have to deal with the cold. Make sure to check back with us for more HVAC and winter savings tips as the year goes on.

Raising Efficiency Standards Requires Costly Modifications To Northern Homes

The DOE, otherwise known as the U.S Department of Energy had scheduled a major change in HVAC Efficiency ratings for the year 2013. This change would have enforced the northern states to comply with installing furnaces with an AFUE rating of 90. The current minimum AFUE rating for furnaces is set at 78. Under the new rating standards, when an existing furnace happened to wear out, homeowners would have had to replace it with a modern furnace that has an AFUE rating of 90.

The enforcement of the new HVAC Efficiency Standards is currently held up for review in court. The delay is because of the strain the initial cost of a furnace with an AFUE 90 rating puts on homeowners. In addition to the cost of a new furnace, homeowners must also install an entirely new vent system for their new furnace. These more efficient condensing furnaces, which are the only furnaces with an AFUE rating of 90, are now considered to be a financial burden on unprepared homeowners.

While many homeowners are prepared to purchase a new furnace when their older one wears out, most are not prepared to install a new vent system as well. This is especially true for homeowners living in a home where expensive modifications are necessary. It is the cost of these modifications that have the HVAC industry and homeowners fearful of the upcoming HVAC Efficiency rate changes. Even though costly modifications were needed, many homeowners have already replaced their older furnaces with efficient condensing furnace systems.

Homeowners with AFUE 90 rated furnaces will see drastic reductions in their annual fuel consumption and costs. Even though the initial investment price can be high, the AFUE 90 rated furnaces only waste around ten percent of the fuel they require to run. This in itself is a major improvement over outdated and less efficient furnaces.

Due to the benefits of furnaces with higher efficiency ratings, it can be assumed that it is only a matter of time before the new efficiency ratings will be approved in court and enforced. Contact a local HVAC contractor today to learn more about increased efficiency ratings and switching to a modern fuel efficient furnace.

Energy Efficiency Using Fans Vs Lowering Air Conditioning

Air conditioning keeps us wonderfully cool but uses a great deal of energy when accomplishing this. The challenge to homeowners and their families this summer is to save money on their energy costs by developing an effective and responsible energy savings plan. The best place to start is with effective and efficient use of home central air conditioning systems combined with the use of ceiling fans in the rooms which family members use the most. There are sound fiscal and energy saving reasons to include the use of ceiling fans in your home.

Home Energy Costs of central air conditioning run approximately $130 each month, according to a report in the New York Times. Per hour, central air uses three kilowatts of energy at a cost of 36¢. Air conditioning uses between 15 to 50 percent of the total energy consumed by a house in the summertime. Compare those energy and monetary costs to these of ceiling fans. Home Energy Costs of each ceiling fan run approximately $1.20 each month. Per hour, a ceiling fan uses 30 watts of energy (less that a light bulb) at a cost of 1¢. That is one penny per hour of use for each ceiling fan in operation in your home. The energy savings of using ceiling fans instead of central air conditioning are huge and the financial savings are immense.

In areas of the country with mild to moderate climates and temperatures, well-placed ceiling fans are enough to keep your home cool throughout the summer without turning on your central air conditioning, or using it infrequently. In hot climates, making use of ceiling fans in coordination with central air conditioning will allow you to set the temperature up from four to 12 degrees on your thermostat as part of your A/C Money Saving energy plan. You will feel as cool as you would with the thermostat set where you would usually have it, because the evaporation of water on your skin that the draft from the fan causes cools you an extra three to five degrees and maintains your comfort. Using fans that cost one penny per hour per fan to operate, you can quickly understand the money saving advantages for your utility bills.

There are dozens of ideas and tips on the Internet for saving energy and by extension saving money this summer. When developing a family energy savings plan, be sure to consider replacing an old HVAC system with a new High Efficiency Air Conditioning system that is ENERGY STAR® certified and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER®) rated 15 or higher . These units offer superior energy use savings and purchasers are eligible for a tax credit through 2015. Add a programmable thermostat to your existing system or purchase one with a new system to automatically set temperatures up when away from home so the system does not waste time, energy and money cooling an empty house. The unit can be set to return to the temperature you prefer half an hour before your return and the house will be comfortable again when you get home.