Friday, January 4, 2013

Fun Winter Activities

Have a fashion show!
Get everyone to dress up in the silliest clothes they can find, and then make a show out of it, complete with announcements, twirls, music, and poses. The winner is the family member who manages to stay in character the whole way through.

Build a fort!
Everyone loves a rainy day fort, so get some boxes, cushions, blankets and pillows together in the living room and see how big and comfortable a structure you can build! Bonus tip – the best forts contain entire mattresses and have signs on the door.

Spice up a board game!
Play a family favorite board game, but make it so that the loser has to do something useful, like dishes, or silly, like sing a song in front of everyone. You’ll be amazed how much more energy the kids will put into the game when there’s something, no matter how small, at stake!

Plan a bake-off!
Think up some great cakes, cupcakes, cookies or muffins, and get everyone together to bake them, preferably as messily as possible! Then you can all try each one, and decide whose idea came out the best. Really though, with cake, everyone’s the winner.

Have an indoor picnic!
Get a blanket, get some nice finger food, dress up in shorts, t-shirts and sunglasses and have a summer’s day picnic in the middle of the living room! The best part of this is no wasps, flies, or mosquitoes!

Go sledding if we have snow and you can find a safe hill. If we don’t get any snow, you can use card board boxes year round!

Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Heating and Cooling System

The old saying that “a chain is only as strong as the weakest link” holds true for your heating and cooling system in your home. If one component  gets neglected or lacks routine maintenance, it will affect the way your system works together. In order to keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly, there are several things you can do to improve your system’s efficiency, like regular service check-ups and monthly filter changes.

There are things you as a homeowner can do behind the scenes to ensure a properly suited environment for running your system.

This minor duct problem could add up on your electric bill.
  • Inspect Your Ductwork – Air is “delivered” through your house’s ductwork. It must be properly designed to work efficiently in your home. Check for areas in the ductwork that might allow for leaking such as obvious gaps or crushed  and kinked ducts. A contractor can seal any area that causes your air, cold or hot, to leak out. For maximum efficiency, install ductwork that is better insulated and fulfills the load requirement to get the correct amount of air to where you need it. Proper duct work equals less energy used and more comfort.
  • Upgrade Insulation – If your ductwork or your home is not properly insulated, you will lose a portion of your conditioned air. You should have  approximately 12 inches of insulation in your attic  in our area (Hampton Roads). Code is R-30 which is 9.5 inches. This is a great investment of your time and money as it pays for itself all year in energy savings and comfort. You can do it your self or have a professional company do it for you. New ducts now require a 2 inch duct wrap by code to help keep the air warmer or cooler on its way to your rooms.
  • Seal Your Attic and Crawl Space – Seal the holes the plumbers and electricians left behind. This helps keep bugs and unwanted drafts of nasty air out of your house. If you seal and insulate the attic access entry points, you will save money on your heating and cooling costs as these places are well known for leaking large amounts of air.  Just by weather stripping the opening and gluing insulation foam boards to the wood covers is a big help and easy to do. You can have these areas professionally encapsulated fro the greatest savings, but the costs are high.

For more energy saving tips, Google “Energy Saving Tips for Homeowners” and you will be led to many sites that can help.

Improvements in Home Heater Efficiency

In the past few years there has been a great deal of talk and significant tax credits given for the efficiency improvements in air conditioners.  Home heating technology saw similar improvements that didn't get quite as much attention.

About 20 years ago, the most common home furnaces were approximately 60% efficient.  This means for every 100 ccf of natural gas that was purchased, 60 ccf of gas was actually used to heat the home, while the remaining 40 ccf of gas was wasted out the exhaust pipe. 

In 1992, the minimum efficiency for a furnace was increased to 78%, which brings us to today’s most commonly installed furnace which operates at an efficiency level of about 80+%.

As you can imagine, since 1992 heating technology has continued to improve.  Today, homeowners have the option of investing in furnaces that can reach efficiency of 98%!  While there are a few more installation requirements with these super high efficiency furnaces, they are beginning to catch on and more and more of them are being installed every year.

Furnace Filter: So Easy to Change, So Easy to Forget!

When it comes to maintaining a furnace, one of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make is neglecting the filter.

It’s easy to forget about the filter, as it is usually out of sight, in a wall or ceiling grille or in the unit itself. A dirty filter can decrease your furnace efficiency and waste energy dollars.  Put a note on your fridge and remember to check the filter every month and change it as needed. (Or sign up to by clicking here to receive a monthly email to remind you to check your filter)

It is easy to change your filter:
  • Pull the filter out and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see through it, or it looks dirty, replace it. Check the filter every month during the heating season.
  • If you need to replace your filter, pay attention to the minimum efficiency reporting value, and if your filter is rated one to four, consider one with a higher rating. (If you have a filter that needs to be cleaned instead of changed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
  • Install the filter correctly. The arrow on the side of the filter should point toward the blower motor. (Toward the duct work if in a grille)
You may also have an air cleaner in your home. A HEPA filter in an air cleaner needs to be changed only every one to two years. If you have an electronic air cleaner, wash the collector plates periodically.

If you are not sure which filter to use, and all filters are not good for your system and can actually cause harm; you can perform a very simple procedure.
Step #1-Take out all return air filters (where the air goes in) in your system. They are located in the ceiling, walls, or in the indoor unit.
Step #2-Go to your thermostat and turn the system to off, BUT, turn the fan selector to “ON” from “AUTO” position. This will run only the inside fan.
Step #3-Go to a couple of supply air registers (where the air comes out). Now feel the strength of the air coming out of the vent. Step away approximately 5 or 6 feet from the register. Now feel the strength of the air flow. Remember this feeling.
Step #4-Install (put) in your new filter/s (you may have more than one in some cases for that system)
Step #5-Go back to the same registers as before. Now feel the air flow strength form the same distance as before (5 or 6 feet). If the air flow strength feels about the same; that/those filters will work fine for you. If the air flow feels significantly less; DO NOT use that filter. It creates to much resistance for your duct system and may cause harm.  You may have to purchase a less efficient filter with less resistance.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Folks!

Every year we are trying to improve something about ourselves or our business. We are on a mission this year to get the word out about HVAC system maintenance. This is nothing new, but seems to get forgotten in the big scheme of life. 

Maintenance is a “No-Brainer!” When you spend thousands of dollars on a heating and cooling system for your home that can last 15 years with routine professional maintenance, why not?

When you see it in writing, it just makes sense.  Most maintenance agreements cost less than $20.00 a month for two precision tune ups along with many added benefits which more than pay for themselves.

All manufacturers and licensed contractors recommend routine maintenance for several great reasons.

  1. You save money every month due to the increased efficiency of your clean system (extremely filter and coil can reduce your efficiency up to 50%)
  2. A clean system is a healthier system (dirty coils and ducts promote unhealthy air)
  3. Your equipment life may increase by being maintained correctly by professionals 
  4. You may have fewer major breakdowns because minor issues will be caught before they can become major ones
  5. Your home may become safer due to the routine inspections designed to catch any safety issues
  6. You will receive expert recommendations on energy saving tips and new products and services that keep you and your system up-to-date.

You will save money, become more comfortable, be safer, breathe cleaner air, and have a greater “peace-of-mind” when you maintain your heating and cooling system.

Call us today and get your peace-of-mind. All Seasons Heating and Cooling Service is your local maintenance experts.