Posts Tagged ‘Energy Savings’

Save Energy and Save Money This Summer in Tampa

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Though we hate to admit it, we all do it without thinking: turn our Tampa AC higher instead of turning on a fan, or forget about the thermostat settings which are set to full-blast when we are not at home.  Oftentimes it is the simple things which can have the most impact, and with saving energy this is true as well.

Households throughout the US will spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200 per year on energy costs.  With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately. For more information about how to save energy on with your Tampa air conditioning system, give Air National a call today!

Tampa Energy Saving Tip: Common Causes of Drafts in Your Home

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

If you find your Tampa heating and cooling bills are routinely too high, there is a common reason. Most of the time it is due to air leaks and drafts in your home that allow warm air to escape and cold air to enter and visa versa. Here are some common causes of such leaks and what you can do about them.

Sources of Drafts in Your Home

There are obvious drafts and less obvious ones. Let’s start by looking at the drafts that are most obvious:

  • Outlets and Plates
  • Windows
  • Baseboards
  • Attic
  • Air Conditioners
  • Weather Stripping

You can probably do a quick inspection of your home by yourself to check for these potential air leaks and find whatever may be causing the problem. The easiest way to check for drafts is simply to hold your hand up to the space and check for a change in air flow. You can also get a portable thermometer and see if the air temperature is different in those areas than it is in the center of the room or by the thermostat.

Insulation Inspection

Insulation is probably already in your home, but with time it can thin, get leaks or tear. Look for gaps in insulation or drafts coming through. A professional can inspect your insulation as well and make sure that it is still holding as much heat in as it was originally rated for. If you know that your insulation values are too low or that the insulation is particularly old, it may be a good time to have it inspected by a Tampa HVAC professional.

Making Changes

If you notice easy to fix drafts in your home, fix them immediately and you’ll be shocked by how much energy you save. For larger leaks such as your insulation, loose windows or problems with your doors, consider calling someone who is an expert in closing up air drafts and keeping your home both comfortable and affordable to heat and cool.

For more information about how to save energy this year, give Air National a call today!

How to Calibrate Your Thermostat: A Guide from Dade City

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Have you ever set the thermostat in your Dade City home to a desired temperature and ‘hoped for the best’? Maybe it’s because the temperature setting you expected this finely tuned instrument to maintain just isn’t right. You may see 70 degrees on the thermostat but the home feels more like 65 degrees. In fact, if you used a hand-held thermostat, you might get real proof that your thermostat is not working like it should.

There are reasons for a malfunctioning thermostat and solutions to correct them, namely calibration. First, let’s look at some reasons why a thermostat can be out of kilter.

The first thing to note is that thermostats are very sensitive instruments and change to the slightest changes in temperature. An incorrectly installed thermostat or one that is accidentally bumped or jarred can malfunction. It may wind up out of level, causing it to operate incorrectly. Possibly the most common problem affecting accuracy is a build-up of dirt, which can affect the calibration of the thermostat. Other problems may be caused by loose wiring.

Here are some steps you can take to check your thermostat for accuracy and recommended actions.

  1. Use a standard glass thermometer to check the room temperature. You should mount it on the wall nearby your thermostat and use some padding to keep it from actually coming in contact with the wall, which could affect the readings.
  2. Wait 15-30 minutes for the thermometer to adjust to the temperature and enable it to give the most accurate reading. Once the time has elapsed, compare its temperature reading to that on your thermostat.
  3. If there is more than a one degree variation, your thermostat may be dirty. Remove its faceplate and examine it. If there is dirt or dust inside, blow it out. If you can reach the contact points, you can clean them with a new dollar bill (and speaking of dollars, a clean and accurate thermostat will make your furnace run more efficiently and save you money on your utility bill).
  4. Some thermostats use a mercury vial which can indicate if the thermostat is level or not. If it is not level, a simple adjustment using a screwdriver may do the trick. In the worst case, you may have to remove the thermostat and drill a new hole to reinstall the mounting screw in a different location.
  5. Now that you have made these corrections, check both thermostats to see if the temperatures match. If they don’t, try steps 3 and 4 again. If that still doesn’t work, your problem may be more than just a dirty, lopsided thermostat. You may need to replace the thermostat – or even look at the heating system in its entirety. It could be time to call a professional heating contractor to check out your entire system.

Today’s thermostats have few working components but are very sensitive, advanced instruments. It takes little to throw off a thermostat but luckily, it takes little effort to correct the resulting problems.

Things You Can Do To Make Your Home Comfort System More Effective in Dover

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Have you ever wondered why it is too hot or too cold in your Dover home? You can always blame it on the thermostat or an open or closed window. Those are easy targets. But maybe the real culprit is your heating and cooling system, namely your furnace or air conditioner. Maybe these pieces of equipment have to work extra hard because of something as simple as a dirty filter that you should have cleaned or replaced.

Learning how to make your heating and cooling system more ‘effective’ does not require a special degree or an extensive knowledge of the refrigeration cycle. In most cases, it just takes common sense – and a little creativity.

For example, did you know that how your home is insulated can have a direct impact on how well your heating and cooling equipment functions? It sure can. If your walls, crawl spaces, or attic is poorly insulated or not insulated at all, your furnace and air conditioner will have to work harder to keep up – and keep you warm or cool. In some cases, your heating and cooling equipment might never be able to give you the desired temperature on your thermostat setting because the equipment has to work too hard to make up for lost heat or cooling due to poor insulation.

So what should you do? Find out if your home is properly insulated by having a load calculation or energy audit on your home. Any licensed and qualified heating and cooling contractor will be able to perform one of these tasks for you and show you where you might be losing too much of your indoor air to poor insulation. This same test can also detect any leakage through cracks in the foundation or joints or connections in ductwork. Windows and skylights are also an area of heat loss or gain. Installing awnings or trees can cut down on this loss or gain, too.

One way to make a heating and cooling system operate more effectively is to combine insulation and leak sealing. Here’s how that works. Uninsulated metal ductwork can make a heating and cooling system work harder, especially when it is located in poorly insulated areas like crawlspaces and attics. Warm air moving through a cold space slows the heating process and makes a furnace work harder to achieved desired temperature settings. Similarly, cool air passing through hot metal ductwork makes the air conditioner work harder. By wrapping insulation around the metal ductwork, you can stop heating or cooling your attic and crawlspace and send that conditioned air to the rooms that need it.

Another way to ‘assist’ your heating and cooling system is to help with its air flow. In some homes, floor vents are built near outside walls or windows. Warm or cool air is vented up along the walls and windows and never flows evenly in the room. The solution is to buy inexpensive plastic air diverters which attach to the vents using magnets on the diverter. You can adjust the diverter to changing the air flow to the places that need it most – occupied spaces.

Of course, the most effective heating and cooling system is one that is serviced and properly maintained on a regular basis. If you have any questions on system maintenance, call your local qualified professional heating and cooling contractor and schedule a tune-up today.

What Are My Home Comfort Options? A Question From Lutz

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

When it comes to finding the best way to keep your home in Lutz comfortable all year round, there are quite a few options to consider. Of course, you first want to make sure that you have a good home heating and cooling system in place. But no matter how good they are, these systems can’t get the whole job done on their own. If you really want to obtain the optimal indoor environment for your home, you need to incorporate some other pieces of equipment as well.

Temperature Control Done Right

The best place to start building up your home comfort system may be with a state of the art programmable thermostat. These devices can be incorporated into just about any home heating or cooling system and will provide you with pinpoint control of your indoor environment. Not only will you be more comfortable indoors all year round, but you will likely save money by keeping your indoor temperature finely tuned.

Another great investment when you’re trying to create the most comfortable indoor environment is a zone control system. These products integrate with most home comfort systems and allow you to set different temperatures for different areas of your home at different times of day.

That way, you don’t have to heat your whole house to 70°F when you’re watching TV in your living room at night. Instead, you can simply turn up the heat in the area of the house you’re occupying and. This saves you both money on your heating bills and wear and tear on your furnace. Plus, it lets you keep areas like your kitchen cooler since you generate a lot of heat while you’re working in there.

The Air Your Breathe

Another factor that contributes greatly to your indoor comfort, whether you realize it or not, is your home’s indoor air quality. There are all types of pollutants that can find their way into your indoor air these days, and unless you have something in place to catch them, they can cause all types of problems for you and your family.

These pollutants trigger allergies and asthma or make the symptoms of these conditions worse. They also cause cold and flu symptoms to linger for longer, and some of the more noxious contaminants can make you sick all on their own. With this in mind, you’ll probably want to add an indoor air cleaner to your home comfort system as well.

Will My Air Conditioning Work Better with Dehumidification? A Question From Palmetto

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

There are a number of common misconceptions about humidity and air conditioning and how one affects the other in your Palmetto home. In truth, humidity is a major part of the discomfort we feel when the mercury rises. It can be 78 degrees outside but feel miserable simply because the humidity is high. So, many people wonder whether a dehumidifier is a good solution to moderate heat and how it will work in tandem with an air conditioner.

Humidity and Your Air Conditioner

First, remember that air conditioning naturally lowers humidity because it cycles air through its condenser and evaporator coil. Conditioned air is naturally lower in humidity, regardless of what’s going on outside. So, if it is hot outside and humid, an air conditioner alone is very effective. On the other hand, a dehumidifier is useful is when the temperature isn’t that high but the humidity is.

Dehumidification not only lowers the relative humidity in your home, it reduces the need for cooling because you will feel more comfortable. Not only that, but a dehumidifier costs significantly less to run. So, when the temperature outside isn’t that high, there is no need to use thousands of watts per day of electricity just to stay comfortable.

This also reduces the overall wear on your air conditioner. Since it doesn’t need to run 24 hours a day to reduce humidity, wear and tear on the device is reduced and you save a tremendous amount of money on repairs and eventual replacement costs.

When to Use a Dehumidifier Alone

Generally, the Department of Energy recommends setting your air conditioner to 78 degrees and using a combination of a dehumidifier and fans to stay cool while it is off. If the temperature rises above that level, the air conditioner will turn on and supplement your dehumidifier. Consider too that a dehumidifier will reduce the burden placed on your air conditioner to pull humidity from the air. Humid air takes more energy to cool than dry air. Despite the fact that dehumidifiers will often raise the air temperature by 1-2 degrees, they save energy and make you more comfortable.

So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your energy bill and enhance the longevity of your air conditioner, look no further than a quality dehumidifier.

Installing Automatic Thermostats: Quick Fix to Energy Savings

Friday, September 16th, 2011

While you probably spent a lot of time researching your Trilby home’s heating and cooling system to make sure you got one with great energy efficiency ratings and all of the other features you were looking for, one thing you may not have thought a lot about is your thermostat. The thermostat in your home is your direct link to your home comfort system, and the type and quality of the product you have in place can have a much bigger impact on the performance of that system than you may initially realize.

Of course, any thermostat will get the basic job done. You set it for the desired temperature and it will communicate that information down the line to the heating and cooling system. But the better the thermostat you’re using, the better the communication and coordination between the two devices will be. And many advanced thermostats come with all types of special features that can both enhance the quality of your indoor environment and save you some considerable money in the long run.

Saving Money with a New Thermostat

So how can a thermostat save you money? There are actually a couple of ways. For instance, an programmable thermostat can be programmed to switch your heating and cooling system on and off at different pre-set times of day. That means you can have the heat or air conditioning turned off during the day and still come home to a comfortable house. Simply set the thermostat to come on right before you get home and you’ll be able to walk into a perfectly temperature controlled environment without having to keep the heat on all day.

Automatic thermostats can come with other great features as well. For instance, you can set them up to maintain different temperatures in different parts of your home. That way, your home comfort system doesn’t have to work harder to keep your whole house warm or cool when only part of it is in use. And when your home comfort system is working less and using less energy, it will last longer so you won’t have to pay for repairs or a new system nearly as frequently as you might otherwise.

You’ll also pay less on your monthly energy bills the whole time, adding up to a great deal of savings. It might never have occurred to you that a new thermostat could save you so much money, but with all of these benefits, it’s definitely worth looking into.

Green Thinking for Green Thinkers in Clearwater

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

There are a lot of media stories in Clearwater today about exciting new green buildings: LEED-certified buildings, net-zero buildings, buildings made out of recycled shipping containers, homes in New Urbanist communities, even ‘ultra-small’ homes. But a new home can be pricey. Fortunately, though, all these innovative green ideas can be applied to Clearwater or wherever you live right now. In fact, going green in your existing home might even be better for the environment than building a brand-new home.

If you wish your home could be LEED-accredited, focus on energy conservation and indoor air quality in your existing home. Upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace and air conditioner and consider adding central air filtration to your heating and cooling system. Install Energy Star appliances and WaterSense plumbing fixtures. For remodeling projects, use VOC-free paints and natural materials.

If you wish you had a ‘net-zero’ home, consider geothermal – and insulate. Geothermal systems use 70% renewable energy and protect you against spikes in oil and utility prices. To increase your energy savings still more, tighten the ‘thermal envelope’ of your home by identifying and sealing hidden air leaks and adding insulation.

If you wish you lived in a ‘recycled’ home, get to know your local salvage yard. Many communities have ‘architectural salvage’ shops and recycle/reuse areas in their landfills. When you do your next home improvement project, go shopping at your landfill first. This is not only great for the environment; it’s also great for your budget. Plus, you’ll end up with a creative, unique home. (Of course, make sure that you don’t re-use items containing lead, asbestos, or other contaminants.)

If you wish you lived in a New Urbanist community, start walking and biking in your own community. Experiment with replacing some of your car trips with walking or biking trips. If you find that your community isn’t pedestrian- or bike-friendly, work with local politicians to change this. Learn about your local public transportation options to see if you can fit them into your lifestyle. If you’re in the market for a new home, make location and proximity to work and shops a primary consideration.

If an ‘ultra-small’ home looks like fun but seems impractical as a long-term residence, consider reducing the size of your own living space. If your kids are grown, it may be time to downsize to a smaller home that uses less energy. If you’re building a new home or an addition to your current home, build only what you need. Sometimes the greenest building decision you make can be deciding to build less.

(The ‘Not So Big House’ website (http://www.notsobig.com) is a great resource for those interested in downsizing while maintaining a high quality of life.)

Turn that Thermostat Down a Degree and Save Money: A Tip From Gulfport

Monday, August 1st, 2011

There are literally dozens of things you can do to cut back on your heating (and cooling) costs, whether you live in Gulfport or Largo. These range from things like getting a high energy efficiency system to just making sure that you have adequate insulation in all parts of your house. But too many people overlook one of the simplest things that you can do to cut down on your monthly heating bill, and that is to turn the thermostat down.

Of course, you did not pay for that high tech home comfort system just so that you could walk around cold all winter long. You certainly want to keep your house at a temperature that is comfortable, but what does that really mean?

The normal default setting for a home heating system is usually somewhere between 72°F and 75°F. If you have your thermostat set somewhere in this range in the winter, you are probably quite comfortable indoors. In fact, you might not even need a sweater. But would you really notice if it was a degree or two cooler? Would it be incredibly inconvenient to put on a sweater or sweatshirt after all?

The truth is that most of us will be just as comfortable at 69°F as we are at 72°F, and the effect that small adjustment can have on your heating bill is actually pretty significant. In fact, you will save an average of 3% on your monthly bill for every degree you turn your thermostat down. Drop the temperature down by three or four degrees and that will give you up to a 10% monthly savings – hardly something to turn up your nose at.

And setting the regular temperature in your house a bit lower is not the only way your thermostat settings can save you money. You will also save quite a bit if you take the time to turn down the temperature when you leave the house and when you go to bed at night. There simply is no reason to pay to heat your house when you are not there and you will certainly be rewarded with a lower energy bill for your efforts.

Is it Cost Effective to Use a Ceiling Fan and AC at the Same Time?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

There are a lot of ways to keep your house cool in the summer, and chances are you’ve incorporated more than one of them into your home already. For instance, ceiling fans are great and can really keep you comfortable in moderately hot weather. But when the heat and humidity really start to pick up during the dog days of August, you need something a little more powerful to take the edge off, and that’s usually some type of air conditioner.

One or the Other?

If you’re like most people, you switch off your ceiling fan when the AC comes on. After all, the air conditioner is powerful enough to cool the house on its own. So is it really worth it to expend energy running another, secondary cooling device?

In fact, it is. Ceiling fans in particular use very little energy. Yet they’re quite effective at making your home feel cool and comfortable. So there’s really no reason not to take advantage of their benefits while running your AC.

Cutting Costs

You might be surprised to learn that far from being a waste of energy, using your ceiling fan and AC at the same time can actually save you money. That’s because the cooling power of the fan allows you to turn up the thermostat on your AC unit a couple of degrees without compromising your comfort levels.

And turning up the thermostat on the AC just that small amount will translate into pretty substantial savings on your monthly energy bills. That savings will more than pay for the cost of running the ceiling fan, and you save money.

Better Air Circulation

Running the ceiling fan with the AC on or off is always helpful in terms of promoting good air circulation throughout your house. And the more air circulates, the more comfortable your indoor environment will be. Good air circulation is also important because it helps to minimize the number of air contaminants that build up inside.

More Efficient Heating

The benefits of ceiling fans don’t stop with cooling either. In fact, you can run them in reverse to help maintain even heating in the winter. Essentially, there are few investments you can make that will serve you better throughout the year than a ceiling fan regardless of the other home heating and cooling systems you have in place.