How to Keep Your Cool

Springtime temperatures create built-in benefits for enjoying indoor comfort while conserving energy. Try these tips to make the most of lower energy costs:

Add Ventilation – During moderate temperatures, natural ventilation is your best strategy for saving on energy, so fling open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. The use of well-placed fans will keep the air moving breezily through your rooms.IMG_1698

Reduce Heat – Watch how appliances and lighting heat up your home. Something to consider – the Department of Energy says that only 10-15 percent of the electricity used by incandescent lights actually produces light; the rest produces heat. Turn off fixtures you aren’t using.

Prepare Your Equipment – Be sure to get your air conditioning system serviced before summer. with proper maintenance, you’ll increase the life of the equipment and preserve its energy efficiency. A professional technician may also be able to pinpoint problems early on before they lead to untimely breakdowns. Call us to schedule your tune-up.Maintenance Agreement/J & R Heating

Watch Your Settings – When you do turn on your air conditioner for seasonal comfort, choose your thermostat setting wisely. According to the DOE, you can save up to 1 percent for each degree you set the temperature back for eight hours or longer. For example, if you run your air conditioner at 78 degrees instead of 72, you can save between 6-18 percent on your cooling bill. A programmable thermostat will monitor these settings for you.IMG_1696

My Word

Hello Friends,My Word

Is spring a time to slow down or speed up?  The milder weather certainly gives us a chance to get outdoors more often, take in fresh breezes and enjoy the green and blooming landscape.  It’s great to relax and recharge after a long winter.

But being busy has its advantages, too!  That’s why we’re so grateful to our customers for allowing us to serve you.  Our winter was packed with all sorts of opportunities to help folks like you with fast repairs and routine service.  Some of you are enjoying the start of this season knowing that you have a trustworthy and highly efficient new system to keep you comfortable.

As we’ve said, the best way to avoid future problems is to have your cooling and heating equipment tuned up before the start of the next busy season.  So, please call to schedule yours before we’re booked.

Sincerely,

Jim Petersen

Cooling System Checklist

Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

Here is a DIY checklist to make sure your cooling system will save you money on your electric bill this spring and summer.

  • Have the cooling system maintained and inspected yearly, by a qualified contractor like us.
  • Set the thermostat at 78°F.  Each degree higher saves approximately 6% on air conditioning costs.
  • Don’t turn the thermostat lower than the desired setting.  The house will not cool off any faster and can overshoot the desired temperature – wasting energy.
  • Install a ceiling fan to create air movement.  The air movement can keep you cool at a higher temperature, allowing you to avoid using your air conditioner, or letting you set the air conditioner at a higher temperature.
  • Cut back plants, bushes, and trees that may restrict air flow to the outdoor unit.
  • Keep the outdoor coils free of dirt, debris, and leaves.
  • Keep windows shut when closing up the house for the day or when running the air conditioner.
  • Make sure your clothes dryer is vented outdoors.  You don’t need the heat or humidity inside the house.
  • Close your drapes on hot days.  If there is some way to shade your windows from the outside, this will keep out even more heat.
  • Use kitchen and bath vents to rid the house of excess heat and moisture.  Turn off the gas furnace pilot light in the summer.
  • Change the furnace filter.  They need to be changed anywhere from every 30-270 days.

What Secrets is Your Air Conditioner Not Telling You

It’s nearly scandalous.  We get phone calls during spring for a variety of service reasons.  Sometimes the whole repair could’ve been avoided if you’d been listening to your AC’s secrets.  Here’s what I mean:

Funny noises that aren’t funny.  Sometimes a homeowner will hear these noises at start up, but then they go away, so they assume all is ‘ok.’  Then the noises last longer or get louder, and most homeowners have numbed themselves into believing, “Oh, it just does that.”

Could be a loose damper, which is very easily fixed.  Or maybe a bearing is going bad.  A tiny little ball designed to reduce friction has quit doing that, and the machine is screaming in protest for some attention.  If you don’t fix it the machine can and will often self-destruct the bearing assembly.

As you would imagine, not cheap.  Yet if caught in time, a shot of lubricant or another quick fix could’ve avoided the whole thing.

“My house is having hot flashes.”  This is your A/C whispering for a little TLC.  When one room is warmer than another – by say more than 3 degrees – that means there’s a correctable flaw in the system.  Blockage, duct venting or maybe a different diffuser could take care of this annoyance very easily.

The thing is, don’t “just get used to it” when you’re paying to be comfortable in your home!  Seriously, let us check it out.  This is what we do.

Bottom Line: The longer you ignore you A/C’s little secrets, the more they grow to potentially drain your wallet.  So let us come out to help soothe your system and bring your system and bring you the comfort you both deserve.  All it takes is a good listener.Cooling System

50 Ways your Home can Save the Earth – A Good to be Home Infographic

Reduce your negative impact on the environment and improve your well being with 50 ways your home can save the earth.

Just a note: I apologize for the metric system measurements.  The source is from the United Kingdom.50-ways-your-home-could-save-the-earth

Source: 50 Ways your Home can Save the Earth – A Good to be Home Infographic

Staying Powered for Fall/Winter

Just because the leaves have dropped and snow has fallen, depending on where you live, doesn’t mean it’s time for your HVAC unit to go into hibernation like a bear.  Most people think it’s okay to turn off their units once the weather cools down, but doing so could be costly in the long run.  Here are three reasons you should not power down your units during the fall/winter season:

  1. Year-round results: HVAC units don’t just cool and heat; they also circulate air and act as dehumidifiers when the cool fall air makes things damp.
  2. Cost-efficient: Constantly turning units off and on is not the ideal way to save.  It’s inexpensive to simply keep the units on, as long as homeowners adjust their thermostat to the home’s desired comfort level so they’re not needlessly cooling or heating.
  3. Fall maintenance: Keeping the units on gives dealers the chance to perform fall/winter maintenance and discover any problem areas before the units are needed for severe weather.Maintenance Agreement/J & R Heating

Whole-Home vs. Single-Room Air Cleaners

In the quest for cleaner, fresher air, two main types of air cleaners have become popular: single-room and whole-home.

How they work

Single-room air cleaners cover small areas

Single-room air cleaners are just like their name implies.  They’re small, portable, localized devices that are placed in individual rooms or areas to clean the air.  They usually incorporate a fan to move air, some kind of filter to remove particles, and often an electronic component that electronically charges the air to increase filtration.

Whole-home air cleaners are a more complete solution.

Whole-home air cleaners, on the other hand, are more of an “installed” solution, permanently integrated into the heating and air conditioning system in your home.  They rely on your furnace or air handler to move air through, instead of using their own fan.

Advantages of whole-home air cleaners

Whole-home air cleaners offer a serious advantage over single-room air cleaners because they affect all the air in your home.  Attaching an air-cleaning solution to your heating and cooling system will allow it to filter every bit of air in every room.HVAC Cabinet

Disadvantages of portable air cleaners

A single-area air cleaner may solve air quality issues in one room, but your home heating and air-conditioning system is still going to be circulating air from that room throughout your home. So whatever air issue you’re facing in that one area will eventually spread to every other room.

Whole-home options

If you’re going with an installed, whole-home air cleaner, you have several options.

  • Disposable filters: Most furnaces accept a 1” or 5” pleated or fiberglass filter that is thrown away when it becomes dirty.Filters filters
  • Washable filters: Usually made of foam or plastic fibers, these filters are washed when they become full of impurities.
  • Electrostatic filters: Remove impurities from the air by putting an electric charge on them as they pass through the air cleaner, causing dirt and dust to stick to a collection area for later vacuuming or washing.
  • UV lights: As air passes through your air cleaner, ultraviolet lights kill germs and bacteria so they can’t make you sick.

The only whole-home solution to everything.

A whole-home air cleaner makes sense.  And no whole-home air cleaner is more effective than the PureAir™ air purification system made by Lennox.  In fact, PureAir cleans the air in your home better than any single solution you can buy, using three different types of technology.  And it generates no ozone.

  • Filtration:  A CarbonClean 16 filter removes up to 95% of particles ranging in size down to 0.3 micron*, while its carbon component captures any latent ozone in your home.

    Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

    Carbon Clean Merv 16 filter

  • UV lighting:  Removes OVER 90% of bacteria, fungi and germs ranging in size down to 0.01 micron*
  • Catalyst plate: Removes and destroys approximately 50% of household odors and chemical vapors in a 24-hour period**UV lights

New for 2015

PureAir was already the leading whole-home filtration solution, but for 2015, Lennox has added three new advantages.

  • Better filtration: Carbon Clean 16 filtration is now standard.
  • Tighter cabinet seals: With virtually no air leakage
  • More energy efficient:  The new PureAir uses less electricity than ever.

Get your air quality consultation today

We at J & R Heating can tell you more about the quality of the air in your home, and help you deal with the specific problems you face.  Schedule your consultation today.

Article taken from the Comfort Matters Blog.  You can find more useful tips here.

How to Understand Energy Ratings

If you’ve ever shopped for a new air conditioner, furnace, or even a window unit, you’ve probably seen energy rating data listed somewhere on the product. Knowing what those numbers mean, and how to compare them, can save you a lot of money over the life of your equipment.

Making sense of the numbers

Ratings help you make smart choices 

Energy ratings were established to provide a baseline for comparing heating and air conditioning equipment based on the energy it uses to keep you comfortable. In a sense, you can think of energy ratings like miles-per-gallon in a car.

The more gasoline it takes you to go one mile, the more you’ll spend for every mile you need to travel. So if you’re looking at a large SUV that gets 15 miles per gallon, you know you’ll need to plan a larger fuel budget every month than if you’d chosen a subcompact or hybrid car that gets 38 miles to the gallon.

What the ratings mean for your home

With home heating and cooling equipment, the efficiency numbers tell you how much energy you’ll have to spend to get the same performance out of similar products.

Ratings are different for each type of heating and cooling equipment, simply because of the energy source used to power it. In other words, you can’t use the same rating to compare a gas furnace to an electric heat pump, because they don’t use the same type of fuel.

However, when you understand the numbers behind the ratings, you can get a good idea of how much money you’ll spend to run your equipment, whether it uses gas, electricity, or both.

SEER, for rating electric cooling

SEER ratingsSEER is one of the most common rating systems for home cooling equipment. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it gives a pretty good indication of your energy costs because it measures performance over an entire cooling season.

To calculate SEER, you simply take the total cooling output that the equipment will generate over the summer, measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), and divide it by the total amount of energy you’ll have to expend (and pay for) during the same time period.

What you’re really measuring here is how much cooling power the unit will provide, and how much it will cost you to enjoy that cool comfort. The Lennox® XC25 is currently the most precise and efficient air conditioner you can buy*, offering a SEER of up to 26.

Federal law currently mandates a minimum SEER of between 13 and 14, depending upon where in the country you live, and any air conditioner over 14.5 SEER can be eligible for ENERGY STAR® qualification, meaning it’s a smart choice for energy-efficient cooling.

XC21

AFUE, for rating fossil-fuel furnaces

AFUE is a different way to measure efficiency, because it deals with a different type of fuel. The AFUE of a furnace, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, is a measure of how much heat is generated over the course of the heating season, compared with how much fuel is burned.

AFUE is a fairly straightforward number. The higher the number, the more heat you will actually feel for a given amount of natural gas or oil burned. A furnace with an AFUE of 80 will turn 80% of its fuel into useable heat, while wasting about 20% of its fuel through either air leaks, inefficient burners or a less-advanced design.

On the other hand, a furnace with an AFUE of 95 will convert 95% of the gas or oil it consumes into useable warmth. Any furnace with an efficiency of 90% or higher is considered high-efficiency.

The Lennox SLP98V furnace currently offers an AFUE of 98.7, meaning it converts 98.7% of its fuel into useful heat for your home. With less than 2% fuel waste, it’s a very efficient way to weather the winter.

*The most precise and efficient air conditioner and heat pump you can buy (XC25/XP25)
Efficiency claim based on comparison of air conditioning and heat pump products’ SEER as published in AHRI (January 2013). Actual system combination efficientcy may vary; consult with us (J & R Heating) or AHRI for exact system efficiencies. Precision claim based on the cooling capacity range of the XC/XP25-036 units as compared to equivalent-sized competitive variable capacity compressor units.

HSPF, for rating electric heating and cooling

In the simplest terms, an electric heat pump is an air conditioner that can run in reverse. During the summer, it moves heat out of your home into the atmosphere. Then, during colder weather, it reverses the process and draws latent heat from the outside air into your home.

Since it doesn’t use fossil fuel, AFUE really doesn’t apply. So heat pumps actually have their own comparative efficiency rating, known as HSPF, or Heating Season Performance Factor. This is a measure of how efficiently an electric heat pump can warm your home when it’s in heating mode, over the course of an entire heating season.

HSPF is calculated by dividing the unit’s heat output over the course of the season by the amount of electricity required to produce that heat. Anything over 8 is considered high-efficiency, and may be eligible for utility rebates or tax credits.

When shopping for a heat pump, it’s important to remember that since it uses electricity to heat and cool, it will have both a SEER and an HSPF rating since it runs during multiple seasons.

This article was taken from the Comfort Matters Blog.  You can also read more comfort tips here.

What Should I Set My Thermostat To When I’m On Vacation?

In light of my vacation to California coming up at the end of the week, I felt this was the perfect topic.  It also doesn’t hurt that “What should I set my thermostat to when I’m away on vacation or I’m not home?” is a common question we hear from our customers.  During the spring and summer months, people spend a lot of time on vacation. When these people come home, they don’t want to come back to an unbearably hot house.  They especially don’t want to pay for unreasonably high energy bills when they haven’t even been home.

Picking the perfect temperature setting while on vacation depends on what the homeowner normally sets their cooling system temperature at when they are home. When on vacation, the thermostat should be set a maximum of five degrees higher than the normal setting. For example, If it is normally set at 73 when they are home, the thermostat should be set it at 78 while they are away.

This way energy is not wasted and the house won’t be overly toasty and humid when they return. It should be noted that cooling only changes the air 18 to 22 degrees, while heating changes the temperature 20 to 40 degrees.

It is important to NOT completely turn off the air conditioner so humidity is still being removed from the home.  This is because heat and humidity is the ideal breeding ground for mold, mildew, and fungus.

Another option is to have us install a WiFi Thermostat for:

  • Remote access with Cloud connectivity lets you adjust temperature and control energy costs from anywhere, using your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
  • One-Touch Away Mode overrides your regular programming schedule when you’re away and automatically turns down heating or cooling to save energy.
  • Weather-on-Demand with five-day forecast lets you know what to expect outside throughout the day.
  • Alerts and Reminders not only will your iComfort Wi-Fi monitor itself with advanced diagnostics, it can also send you and your dealer alerts and emails if the system needs service or maintenance.
  • The Nuvango™ skin option and matching screensaver allow you to cover and protect the thermostat interface with any design or pattern you prefer. You can also choose a color to blend in with your décor or the thermostat screensaver.
  • Automatic updates connect you to new features as they become available.
  • Simple touchscreen interface with intuitive graphics and bright backlighting makes programming easy.

iComfort Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat

How to Get Rid of Rust on A/C Grill

Rusty AC 2       Rusty AC

If you live somewhere that is constantly warm and your air conditioner is relatively old it’s possible that your have rust on the grill of your outside condenser (air conditioner).  There are a couple of things you can do to diminish or slow down the spreading of rust.

Applying a product that will slow down the oxidation process is the first option.  What you need to do is clean the metal that contains the rust.  Once the metal is clean and there are no loose rust particles apply rustoleum, or any other similar product to the metal.  Know that the consistency of the rustoleum, or a similar product, will be thicker than paint and should be a dull gray silvery color.  If any rust is left under the grill, regardless of which product you choose, rust will eventually come back.

Option #2, which is most likely the best option, is to do nothing.  That’s right doing nothing may actually be better.  If there is a considerable amount rust on your system, there’s a good chance it’s getting old and it may not be worth the hassle to get rid of the rust.  Your energy, time, and money would be better spent researching and saving up for a new higher efficiency model.