Posts Tagged ‘air conditioner’

Do you drive with the windows down or blast the AC?

June 12, 2014

This summer you might be spending some time on the road.  It’s a great time to vacation.  Seeking fuel efficiency in your vehicle means going easy on the pedal, but how do we keep cool on the hot summer road trips?  Do we drive with the windows down or blast the AC? Road Trip Efficiently Apparently keeping your windows down is more efficient  than blasting the AC.  We can safely argue that it is not as efficient as keeping the windows up and not using the AC.   I wouldn’t recommend this for a summer trip unless you want to know what that bug feels like under the magnifying glass! Cranking up the AC at home means comfort of course, and for some it’s a matter of health and safety especially when it gets hot.   We wouldn’t think of not using the AC when the temperature is soaring outside, but like your car, you can run your home more efficiently. How?  Keep your AC tuned up!  Regular maintenance helps avoid unexpected repairs.  While you are at it, tune up your house too.  Recommendations from an energy audit help you keep the cool where you want it, inside and the hot where you like it, outside.  In fact air sealing and insulation improvements can reduce the amount of cooling you need. Thanks, Jason Photo from Nicholas A. Tonelli under  creative commons license

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Cutting edge science! Circa 1891

January 23, 2014

Dr smithThis time of year our homes are often closed up tight and we can get a little stir crazy by it.

Dr. Smith, pictured in the print, subjected himself to this voluntarily, we find out in a text book on ventilation printed in 1891.  His little home was made of lead and the window was there so he could break out if no one would let him out. A more trustworthy assistant would have been nice.

The door was weather stripped with an India rubber tube.  Funny how over 100 years later we still could use doors on our homes that work as well as his did!

Well Dr. Smith discovered that fairly quickly the room got unpleasant and moist.   He lasted for 100 minutes and then “three persons then went in and at once, pronounced the air to be very bad.”  Not sure this counts as science, but it works for me.  If it smells bad it is bad.  Good enough.

Ironically even today there are ongoing arguments about how much ventilation is needed but we need it.  I’ve written about controlling the airways and it’s a good idea to have your ventilation strategies worked out too.  Expert advice is only a call away.  Don’t worry at GreenHomes America, we don’t use lead rooms and emergency glass.

Thanks,

Jason

image comes from a google book in the public domain

Energy Tax Credits for 2013: Available again!

January 9, 2013

greenhomes evergy infographic

One good result from the end of the year fiscal cliff hanger is an extension of the residential energy tax credit.

If you haven’t used it in the past, all the way back to 2006, there is a $500 tax credit for material costs of certain energy efficiency measures done to your home.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act extended the tax credit through 2013, making it retroactive from January 1, 2012. This means last year counts as well.

10% of the cost of materials, such as insulation, exterior windows, and doors that meet Energy Star requirements, can be used. Credits for window expenses are limited, as are AC units and furnaces, so a combination of improvements will help maximize what you can get, just perfect for home performance work on your home.

Check out http://www.irs.gov/ for more information. Or see the entire American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 here. Ask us we can help!

Thanks,
Jason

Have a Heart

November 26, 2012

Maybe you have a great HVAC company that services your equipment.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and kudos if you’ve found a good one.   With a good provider I like service agreements because you know your equipment is taken care of and in a cost effective way.  But a good HVAC contractor should consider the whole house when thinking of heating and cooling systems not just the box in the basement or the attic.

 

From the Building Performance Institute

 

As we go into fall and colder weather, it’s time for tune ups, and service calls, but what about the rest of your home as well.  Who is paying attention to that?  A heart works well when we take care of the rest of our body.  We eat well, exercise and get good sleep, but also protect ourselves from the cold.  Put on a cap, coat and boots before going outside or you’ll get sick right?

Is your HVAC company’s solution to comfort a bigger “heart”, more ducts, more baseboard,  more cooling, or does it consider a better house so that heart “fits” well and works as it should?  Keep in mind that the heart is a very important part, but it is part of the whole.  Taking care of the whole house can really make a difference, as they say, “Home is where the Heart is!”

Thanks,

Jason

Energy Efficient Tax Credits For 2011 and 2012

March 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, and although we have written about Energy Efficiency tax credits for 2011 before, if you had work done this past year, it might be time to review.  You can also go to our learning center for solutions to common problems we fix in homes just like yours, as well as links to our franchise locations; they can provide details about incentives available in their area.

Many of the federal tax credits ended in 2011, but not all of them.  What will continue for 2012, are credits for some renewable energy systems.  Solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps, are all eligible measures through 2016.  If you are thinking of alternatives, consider our interactive online home to get a better sense of whether or not these types of improvements are really what you need this year.

Alternative energy systems can be expensive, and it often makes the most sense to install them in homes that are very efficient from the start.  You might be surprised by what some simple measures can save you money.  Tax credit or not, insulation, air sealing and efficient heating and hot water systems can pay for themselves in short order.  Simple measures that cost less and save you more!

Thanks,

Jason

Time Running Out for Home Energy Efficiency Tax Credit

October 13, 2011

We’ve provided the details on the federal home energy-efficiency tax credit a few times this year—for efficient furnaces, air-conditioners, windows, insulation, and the like. You’ve have access to the federal tax credit for existing homes for almost six years, in some form or another, including a bump up in the credit amount for two years as part of ARRA and then ratcheting back down this year.

But the time is running out. These federal credits disappear at the end of the year. To be eligible, qualified products must be “placed in service” (installed) by December 31, 2011. If you know you’re going to be doing something that qualifies, now is the time. I’m not betting that Congress will pull together and agree on much of anything, let alone pass something like an extension of this tax credit. So right now, it looks like before the end of the year, or kiss it goodbye.

Of course, if the time isn’t right for you, we always help our customers find any other incentives out there. Call us when you’re ready.

Thanks, Mike

More than 10,000 reasons why I love my job!

August 15, 2011

It’s Monday morning, and I get to glance at some of the feedback from our customers—and we have a lot of them!   It’s heartwarming.  We put in long hours here trying to live up to our ideals, and it’s nice to see that it pays off.  Indeed, it’s why it’s worth it.  And seeing the results and the happy customers is a great way to start my week. 

From San Diego, Charles H. recently said that his house sounds much more sound proof, it doesn’t sound hollow inside anymore with his hardwood floors, he also said that in the recent heat wave his air conditioner only came on a few times.  He listened to his neighbor’s air conditioner cycle on and off all night.

Bob C. said that his house has been maintaining a nice temperature of about 72 – 74 degrees without running either the heater or the air conditioner, everything that we promised that home performance would do for him happened.

Across the country in Syracuse, Ben B., whose project we just finished said,  “ The crews never left a scrap, or screw, or piece of cardboard “ and  “The crews were always professional, and cared about what they were doing “.

Thanks to our customers for giving us the opportunity.  And thanks to all the GreenHomes employees and partners for delivering!

Thanks,
Mike

Staying cool and saving during the monster heat wave

July 21, 2011

The incredible heat wave continues across the Midwest and the East Coast.  To temperatures pushing—or passing—100 degrees, add stifling humidity the bump the heat index over 120 in some places.  In this case, it’s the heat AND the humidity.

While our friends down in Houston are used to this, and they’ve got the air-conditioning to deal with it.  This is beyond what many people and homes and buildings in the East and Midwest are prepared for.  And the heat can be deadly. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to talk about what you can do.

We often providing cooling tips, and they’re worth revisiting.  But let’s hit a couple of important reminders for you and your home to help get through this.

Keeping your person cool

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic, and without caffeine), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. Warning:  if your doctor has you limiting fluids or reducing water, check in with her to find your specific recommendation.  Remember, if you’re sweating a lot, you need to replace electrolytes, too.  I like a diluted sports drink (otherwise they can be too sweet).
  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned space.  If you don’t have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–or the time-honored tradition of going to a movie theater.  Might be a good reason to go so Harry Potter again!  Some locals might have heat-relief shelters.  Check with your local health department.
  • Go swimming in a cool pool.  Take a cold shower or a cold bath.  (Not a hot shower or hot bath!)  Cooler water can be an excellent way to cool down your body temperature.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you’re going to be outside, try to do it early in the day or late in the evening when it’s generally cooler.  Try to avoid heavy exercise in the heat.

The Centers for Disease Control has a helpful Extreme Heat guide the offers additional details and advice.

Keeping your home cool

  • According to CDC, air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.  Room air-conditioners can help.  And installing a central AC unit is usually done in a day.
  • Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside than in. 
  • Fans to the outside—blowing in either direction—can help if it is cooler outside than inside.  But they’re counterproductive if it’s hotter outside.  Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.

Finally, children, the elderly, and the sick, are especially susceptible to heat.  Keep a close eye on them. 

Of course, contact us if you’d like more permanent, energy-efficient solutions.  But in the meantime, be safe, and stay cool.

Mike

Time to dust off the air-conditioner, hold on a minute…that’s a lot of dust!

May 11, 2011

Weathered AC unitI just noticed that parts of the country are hitting 90 or even 100 degrees.  That seems a bit much for spring, but that’s the way with weather isn’t it. It does raise the question:

How do you know when it’s time to replace your air-conditioner?

As you might guess the age of the system and how often you have had to get it fixed are sure signs that it might be time.

12 year old units are a candidate for replacement simply for efficiency sake.  There have been significant improvements. According to ENERGY STAR, replacing a central air unit with an ENERGY STAR certified one could reduce your cooling costs by 30%.

Many problems occur that make your cooling equipment less efficient, some can be repaired, but keep in mind that at some point, replacement may be more cost effective.  And if you’re thinking about a new system, it’s the perfect time to address other issues that help make your more comfortable, can reduce the cost of your AC system and save you even more money by lowering your utility bills.  Many problems that appear to be with your heating and cooling equipment are actually caused by poor insulation, air leaks, windows, or other issues.  

Here are some things to look for:

  • Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.  Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.
  • High Utility bills: Each cooling season can be a little different, but if you are noticing your bills going up each year it may be time for a fix. keep in mind that the cost of a new unit may be paid down by the savings in short orde
  • Humidity problems:  Poor equipment operation, inadequate or oversized equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer
  • Excess noise: You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.  

If any of these apply to you should have your system evaluated.  Make sure though, that you get a comprehensive energy audit of your home first.   Unfortunately, these problems can be found even in brand new homes, and so regardless of when it was built your home should get a thorough evaluation.

Short of replacement now see our cooling tips for stop-gap measures to immediate savings.

An if replacement is in the cards, there are several options to consider—including heat pumps and mini splits—that we’ll talk about those in future posts.

Thanks,
Jason.

Yes, Virginia, there are energy improvement rebates.

March 23, 2011

Energy Efficient Solutions, A GreenHomes America PartnerWe mentioned partner Energy Efficient Solutions while talking about their great crawlspace work the other day.  Well, they can help you tap into some of the great rebates available on cooling and heating equipment still available in Virginia, right now.  But likely only if you act fast.  There are still Recovery Act rebates in place for heat pumps, furnaces, and water heaters.  And there is a home retrofit program on the streets in the Hampton Roads area.  In many cases, these are in addition to already existing utility rebates–up to $5,000!  But as we’ve seen on most other states, these funds will probably be used up quickly, within weeks or months.   It’s first-come, first-served, and when the money’s gone, it’s gone.  Don’t miss out.  [Call Energy Efficient today to get your place in line!]  Whether rebates or tax credits or both, depending on your project, now is the time.


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