Save Money this Winter

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Use the sun for free heat. That bright orb in the sky should be the focus of temperature control in your residence throughout the year. Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.

 Bundle up with warm accessories. This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a cozy winter sweater and warm socks. Keep throw blankets on your couch, and add an area rug to insulate the floor.

Adjust the thermostat at night. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your apartment cooler when you sleep.

Keep your furnace clean and unblocked. Keeping your furnace and vents properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and help you save. Check your furnace filter monthly, and replace it when it gets dirty.

Use a space heater only in the current room you are hanging out in. This will take the nip out of the air to make you feel more comfortable without heating all of the other rooms in the house and wasting energy.

Use silicone to fill any cracks in doors, windows, etc, including the basement floor and walls. You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through cracks that seem insignificant. A tube of caulk or silicone will only run you a few dollars and it’s an easy weekend project.

Prepping Your AC Unit for the Winter

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Preparing for Winter

In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris. Wrap vinyl ropes or bungee cords around the air conditioning cover to keep it secure. Make sure the cover is wrapped tightly so it doesn't blow away in strong winds.

Find the air conditioning circuit near your unit. Usually, it has a plastic or metal lid that covers the electrical circuit. Open the lid and flip the switch to turn the unit off. This prevents the unit from turning on during an unusually warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit that could potentially freeze.

There should be a few pipes running between the air conditioner and your home. These pipes contain water, so it is a good idea to ensure that they are not directly exposed to freezing temperatures. Wrap the foam insulating strips around the pipes and secure them with duct tape. A more permanent option is to cut foam blocks to fit around the shape of your pipes and duct tape them into place. While this takes a little bit more time, you will likely be able to reuse the same blocks year after year. Solid foam is also an even better insulator of heat.

Finally, check your air conditioner once a week to make sure the cover is secure. Brush water, snow and ice off the unit. Remove twigs, pinecones and leaves from the cover.

 

Fall Air Conditioning Maintenance

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Air Conditioner Filters

The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Air Conditioner Coils

The air conditioner's evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.

Examine Thermostat

Check your thermostat to make sure it’s working properly and keeps your home at the right temperature. If you have an older, mechanical type thermostat, you may want to consider upgrading to a programmable model.

Window Seals for Room Air Conditioners

At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit's metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.

Hiring a Professional

When your air conditioner needs more than regular maintenance, hire a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system.

 

Prepping Your AC Unit for Fall

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Your home’s outside air conditioning unit is probably the last thing you think about once the temperatures go down. However, there are a few simple things you can do now to make sure your AC is in working order once the temperatures are back on the way up. (Before you do anything, turn your air conditioner off.)

Give it a nice cleaning.

When you use things a lot, they get dirty, plain and simple. Changing the air filter is a good first step toward air conditioner cleanliness, but it’s not the only one. Wiping down inner coils, outer casings, and frequently used controls before the air outside gets frosty can help homeowners to avoid any gunk-causing issues when they start it back up in the warmer months. As an added bonus, it just looks nice and there’s nothing bad about taking pride in your air conditioning unit.

Check it

Once it’s clean and dry, check to see if anything needs fixing or replacing on the unit like the air grille fan guard or fan blade. If it’s really damaged, we recommend replacing now. If it’s just a dent, you can wait until spring.

Look into the possibility of getting a new unit

The best time to buy a swimsuit is during winter, because it’s the one time of year that no one is buying them out of necessity. That same logic goes toward purchasing new air conditioning units. If you’re thinking about switching yours out for a newer, shinier model, the best time to talk to someone about it is when other people aren’t as likely to be buying. You’ll have better chances at getting more proverbial bang for your buck and installation professionals are going to be more likely to have plenty of openings to fit your busy schedule.

 

    Back to School, Back to Saving

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    With back to school time and the expenses that go with it around the corner, paired with the fact that it is the hottest time of the year, it makes sense to consider back to school tips on energy efficiency and saving. We have found the best tips for energy saving that you can put to work right away.

    If your thermostat is still operating on summer schedules, it may be running the system more hours per day than necessary. Usually, back-to-school means the house is less occupied during daylight hours and so doesn’t require the extended summer schedule for air conditioning. Also, as cooler outdoor weather begins to arrive, you’ll be able to bump up temperature settings a few degrees without affecting indoor comfort.

    Savvy homeowners understand the importance of a clean air filter in the air conditioning unit. Dirty air filters can reduce the efficiency of the unit as a whole, costing you both money on your monthly bill and comfort in the home's temperature. A clogged air filter can also create unnecessary wear and tear on the air conditioner. This will result in a shorter lifespan for the unit, and force an early and expensive replacement.

    Other Tips

    • Set your programmable thermostat to a higher temperature while you are at school.
    • Use appliances efficiently by running full loads only in your washer, dishwasher and dryer. 
    • Your HVAC systems air filter should be changed every 3 months. A new air filter will ensure your system is not working harder than it should to keep your home comfortable.

    Air Conditioning Tips while You Soak up the Sun

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    Don’t turn it off

    To understand why you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner while away, you should first understand what an air conditioner does.

    Yes, it cools your home. But it also removes humidity. And in a climate like Kansas City that’s an important function.

    For optimum comfort and for the health of your home, the humidity in your house should be no higher than 50%. More than that and you run into common humidity problems, such as:

    • Mold
    • Musty smells and odors
    • Peeling paint
    • Warped wood furniture (floors, cabinets, etc.)

     

    A long weekend is a great time to save money on your utility bills, but not at the expense of comfort when you return. If you’re only going to be gone for a short time, just a day or two, it’s better to keep the air conditioner on, but set at a higher temperature.  Your ideal compromise between energy efficiency and comfort when you come home is probably somewhere between the recommended 85 degrees and your usual thermostat setting. If you normally like to turn the thermostat down to the low 70s, bump it to 80 when you leave. 

    Want to save even more money? Talk to an HVAC company about upgrading your thermostat. Newer thermostat systems give you the power to change your home’s temperature remotely with smartphone apps, allowing you to adjust based on changing temps outside. At the least, you can enter a new setting as you head back from vacation, so you don’t walk into an uncomfortably muggy or chilly home. Instead, your A/C or heater will be busily plugging away to get to the new temperature while you travel back.

     

    Save on Your Energy Bill This Summer with These Tips

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    Save money on air conditioning this summer. These tips will help you pay less to cool your house this summer.

    Leave the Thermostat Alone
    Many people are good about leaving the air conditioner at the recommended 78 degrees. Some go a step further and set the temperature higher when no one's home. But don't lower the temperature below 78 to cool the house down faster. The air conditioner cools at the same rate no matter where it's set. Adjusting the temperature to 70 degrees will not help your house get to 78 degrees any faster than leaving it at 78.

    Keep the Curtains Closed
    Natural light can help reduce your lighting costs, but when no one is in a room, it's best to keep the curtains closed during the day. It is especially true for houses with windows facing east and west. Keeping direct sunlight from entering the house helps reduce the amount of work your air conditioner has to do. To maximize cooling, open the drapes, blinds or curtains in the evening to allow heat to escape through the windows.

    Turn on a Fan
    In more temperate climates, you can turn the air conditioner off at night and let ceiling or floor fans provide do all the work. The energy used by fans is far less than that of air conditioners.

    If you live in a warmer climate, fans can still provide a comfortable breeze at night and may allow you to set the air conditioner above 78 degrees saving a great deal of energy. Fans can also help move cool air around the house to ease the workload of the air conditioner.

    Get Rid of Hot Air
    Use an exhaust fan when cooking to help expel hot air from the house. If you don't have an exhaust fan, cool the room by using a floor fan in the kitchen while cooking. Fans not only cool the air, but they also help move hot air out of the kitchen.

    Save Chores for the Right Time
    While cooking can heat up a room, so can running the dishwasher and clothes dryer. These tasks are better left for the evening hours or, better yet, when no one is home.

    Prepping your AC Unit for the Summer Heat

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    Don't wait until the first day of Summer to check your AC unit. Start prepping your unit now so you can find problems before the weather heats up. Here are a few maintenance tips to make sure you stay cool this summer. 

    Focus on the air filter
    The first thing you should check is the air filter. You may have a disposable or a permanent air filter depending on your AC unit. If you have a disposable filter, change it before switching on the AC unit. If your AC unit uses a permanent air filter, clean it thoroughly to keep the unit working efficiently. Having a clean filter ensures there is nothing restricting the cool air from circulating freely.

    Clean out the air vents
    Your AC unit can only work optimally when there is nothing obstructing the flow of air in the vents. You can choose to physically check if there are any blockages in the vents or you can have a professional clean the vents for you. This ensures even coverage of your AC unit within your property.

    Clean the area around the unit
    If you have an outdoor AC unit make sure to clear any debris around it. Remove branches or leaves that could be blocking or touching the AC unit. A good rule of thumb is to have space of about two feet surrounding the unit.

    Test your AC unit once you've done the above prep work. If something isn't working right call us and we'll take a look at it for you.