“Clean” Energy? How Dirt Removal Saves Money

Dirt is a pretty big energy zapper.  It clogs up appliances, causes everything to work harder and creates problems in lots of places, most especially:

Your Home Comfort System – Regularly cleaning or replacing air filters in your HVAC can save 5 to 15 percent in system energy use.  You can do this on your own monthly for more comfortable, efficient operation.  Then, just before the peak season, it’s time for a full professional cleaning and inspection of your heater or furnace.

During those dormant months, dust and dirt have had a chance to collect in your heating system.  As dirt builds up, it obstructs performance – decreasing and delaying comfort.  The longer it takes for the system to heat up, the more energy you use.  And of course, that means more of your energy dollars down the drain.

So that’s one way you save: a clean system uses less energy than one that hasn’t been properly maintained.  But there’s another plus too.  A tuned system is less likely to break down on a cold winter night.  Most breakdowns, in fact, can be traced back to a lack of maintenance.Maintenance Agreement/J & R Heating

Heating and cooling is already using up about half of your home energy use.  Don’t let it use more by doubling down on energy and repair costs.  Call us to get your furnace and/or heat pump tuned for winter.  The inspection will also let you know if a dangerous carbon monoxide leak is creating serious health risks for your family.

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How to Stay Comfortable in Your Home

Summer is here and it’s only going to get hotter, but you can beat the heat with just a few of these home energy saving tips.  You can keep the heat outside where it belongs and enjoy the comfort of your own home. This can all happen without breaking the bank, also!

Weatherproof your windows

Cracks may have developed around the area where window and walls meet, if you have older windows in your home.

See if adding spray foam or caulking to block hot air from coming in and cold air from leaking out will help. You might also consider applying clear insulating film to your windows, because while it’s more popular in wintertime, it does a fine job of keeping your home comfortable in summer too. The only problem with adding clear insulating film is you can’t easily open your windows.

Weatherproof your doors

Fortify your home against summer’s assault and keep the heat away. In simpler terms, weatherproof.

  • Weatherstripping comes first

    Vinyl or rubber weatherstripping on door jambs is an economical way to make your home more resistant to outside hot or cold air and retain the temperature your HVAC system has created.  Weatherstripping is usually easy to apply and self-adhesive.  Plus it creates a barrier that seals your doors when they’re closed. …Try weatherstripping also on the tops and sides of doors.

  • Door sweeps protect against floor-level gusts of air

    Contemplate adding a door sweep if your doors are leaking air along the bottom. The door sweep along the bottom creates a seal to keep weather away when the door is closed, but won’t impede opening and closing.

  • Draft guards block air leaks that even door sweeps can’t protect against

    Think about using a movable draft guard if your door sweep can’t even protect against the air leakage.

Get an air conditioning or heat pump check-up

A heat pump or air-conditioner check-up can pay itself off instantly by giving you peace of mind, and by keeping you comfortable and energy efficient. To schedule a summer tune-up that includes indoor and outdoor coil cleaning, an air filtration check, a freon (refrigerant) check and a few more other things that help your air conditioner not work as hard, give us a call at 402-362-5702.

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Get a home energy audit

Contemplate requesting a home energy audit from your local HVAC or utility company to find some unexpected ways to save energy and keep cool. For a home energy audit, an inspector will come to your home and check many of the most common areas where energy is lost and give you advice on how to stop it from happening. The advice of your home energy audit professional can often result in savings of 5-30% on energy costs, if executed properly.

Maybe a new air-conditioning system is in order

Older systems can be inefficient and cost you more and more money each month on your utility bills. No matter how much you weatherproof, insulate and prepare, it won’t make much difference if your air conditioner is over 15 years old.  Even on the hottest Summer days of the year, you may be surprised to see how much money newer technology can save you.  Check out our Energy Savings Calculator to see how much a new unit could save you.

Annual Doctor’s Appointment for Your Furnace

It’s that time of year again when the leaves start falling, the temperatures start to drop, and it’s time to get your fall maintenance done.  Just like you need to make sure you’re healthy and functioning properly with normal levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, it is also important to regularly maintain your furnace.

Two things a homeowner can check for themselves are furnace filters and their thermostat.  Before you start your furnace it’s important to make sure the filter is still okay from the last season, if not, change it as soon as possible.  Filters will need to be changed more or less then that depending on what kind of filter you have.  Check with your local HVAC dealer if you have any questions regarding your filter.  Another thing a homeowner can check is their thermostat.  First, switch the thermostat over to heat and if it doesn’t work check the batteries in the thermostat.  If it still doesn’t work you probably have a bigger issue and we recommend calling your local HVAC dealer.

Even though there are some things that homeowners can do themselves, it’s still best to have professionals conduct seasonal inspections and adjustments on your furnace, as some furnace checks can be dangerous. 

 

Air Conditioning maintenance: A Quick and Simple Home Investment

Spring is almost here and routine air conditioning tune-ups are among the best home investments you can make.  That’s because tune-ups improve your system’s efficiency and increase its lifespan, saving you operating dollars and keeping you comfortable at the same time.  Not only that, you can avoid problems with mold build-up that can harm your breathing space.

It’s the same principle as routine dental cleaning and annual medical appointments.  Nothing’s wrong, and you want to keep it that way.  But some folks let the “ounce of prevention” opportunity pass right on by, thanks to a misguided impression that it’s just too much trouble.

Yet tune-ups are simple and quick and very much worth a very minor inconvenience that can save you a good bit of time and money in the long run.  Basically, a licensed professional will:

1: Clean evaporator and condenser coils, as needed, and straighten bent fins.

2: Check all the electrical components and controls.

3: Oil motor and shaft bearings.

4: Check the condenser.

5: Examine fan belts and replace if frayed or worn.

6: Calibrate the thermostat.

7: Check to see if the system is properly charged with refrigerant and that there are no leaks.

8: Check filters. (Ask your local HVAC dealer to see how often your filters need replaced)

Oh, and you can keep a watch on this on your own.  While many homeowners choose to shade their condensers with trees and shrubs to improve efficiency, you’ll want to watch to make sure vegetation doesn’t grow around the condenser and restrict the air flow.

Most tune-up tasks are too extensive for the average homeowner – because of the risk of electrical shock and potential for shorting in the electrical components.  But one of your techs can tend to these things in a very short time.  Also, there is additional maintenance that can be advantageous to your system.  When a tech comes to do your maintenance, ask if it would be beneficial to you to get some additional equipment maintenance.

Think of it as a way to save money while avoiding a whole lot more trouble later on.  Equipment failure in the heat of August is never as fun as a preventive measure taken in springtime!

Fireplace Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

For a safe and efficient fire, it is important to regularly maintain and clean you fireplace. There are certain steps you, as a homeowner, can take to ensure a clean fireplace and eliminate an accumulation of soot, ashes, and creosote tars. These tips below vary on the type of fireplace: wood burning, gas, electric, etc.

– Wood burning: Burn only seasoned, well-dried wood to minimize dangerous creosote buildup Creosote is a flammable tar-like substance that accumulates in the chimney and flue.

– Wood burning: Creosote should be removed by a professional, extinguishing the worry of at least one potential fire hazard.

– Wood burning: Inspect the firebox, flue, and chimney annually for creosote accumulation.

– Wood burning: Do not use water to extinguish a fire unless there is an emergency because it will make the ashes a paste making it difficult to remove.

– DO NOT use an abrasive cleaner inside the fireplace.  Many leave a flammable residue.  You’re fireplace company should be able to recommend a cleaner or may even have some on hand.

– Vacuum or dust the hearth area to prevent soot and dust build-up.  IMPORTANT: DO NOT sweep or vacuum until all the embers have been extinguished for at least 12 hours.

– Clean and polish the glass doors.

– There are other steps that may need to be taken so it is important that you contact you local fireplace dealer and ask them what additional cleaning and maintenance you need to do.  Fireplace dealers also can do the maintenance for you.  Ask them if they have a special discount or maintenance program.

 

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Don’t You Deserve Poison-Free Cleaning?

If you’ve ever sneezed, coughed or gone to bed with a migraine after a long day of cleaning, you won’t be surprised that many household products contain toxic chemicals. You’ll find them in cleansers and disinfectants, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, air fresheners – and lots of other sources we use on a daily basis.

Product labels will give you “safe handling” procedures, and you would be wise to follow any precautions they give you. Also, wear plastic gloves to protect your skin and allow for plenty of fresh air (open a window or door) while you’re using them, and by all means keep them out of reach of children and pets.

Better yet, many cleaning chores can be performed with simple and safe products. For example:

•Baking soda can be used to clean and polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel and tin; deodorize refrigerators, carpets and drains; extinguish grease fires; soften fabrics; and remove stains.

•Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs and starch clothes.

•Lemon juice can be used to clean glass and remove stains from aluminum, clothes and porcelain.

•Vinegar can dissolve mineral deposits and grease; remove traces of soap, mildew or wax buildup; clean brick or stone; polish some metals; shine windows without streaking; clean coffee pots; and deodorize.

•Borax can deodorize, inhibit the growth of mildew, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains and can be used with attractants such as sugar to kill cockroaches.

•Isopropyl alcohol serves as a good disinfectant.

Using fewer cleaning chemicals is one way to help prevent indoor air pollution. Give us a call to perform a free indoor air quality inspection and we’ll show you other preventions and how filtration and other new innovations can protect the air your family breathes.