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

Storm Preparation Tips

Storms in Nebraska is like snow in Alaska.  It’s inevitable.  Especially, with Nebraska being in the direct path of tornado alley.  Although there are many good things that come from Spring/Summer storms, like April showers binging May flowers and soft trickles of rain that help you sleep (idk, maybe this is only me), storms can also be catastrophic.  Keep in mind these storm tips the next time a storm is predicted to hit your area.

Thinking ahead.  If you know a storm is approaching, before it hits, make sure all unsecured items outside are taken inside.  Some of these items would include, umbrellas, lawn chairs and cushions, garden hoses, tables and garden ornaments.  These items could cause damage to the exterior of your home when the storm does hit, if they are not brought inside or tied down.

Shelter.  Stock your basement, or a lower-level interior room (a room without windows), of your home with these essentials: water, first aid kit, dry foods (i.e. cereal bars, granola, nuts, etc.), radio, blankets/pillows, flashlight, candles/matches, and a portable battery charger for your cell phone.  If a storm takes a turn for the worst, you and your family can safely wait it out more comfortably.

Unplug.  Lightening, as you know, is extremely dangerous to both you and your electronics.  On the positive side, the chances of lightening striking and frying computers, modems, cable boxes, and other important electronics is rare, but why would you take that chance if you don’t need to. Always unplug all electronics before a thunderstorm hits – it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Trust us!  We’ve learned this the hard way.

It’s Alive.  When a spring/summer storm hits in Nebraska, there’s a good chance it will produce lightening and hail. Protect your air conditioner or heat pump (both inside and outside) by turning it off at the thermostat if you see lightening. A surge of electricity can damage your air conditioner/heat pump, capacitor, compressor and motors. Once the storm passes, check for damage and clear debris from your outdoor unit before restarting your air conditioner.  Also note that damaged fins on the unit will inhibit the air flow and will most likely need to be repaired.

We hope you have a happy and safe Spring/Summer with no storm damage.  And, if you need your air conditioner or heat pump checked, serviced or replaced, please give J & R Heating a call at 402-362-5702.

What type of filter should I use?

When I started writing this post, I thought it would be easy.  Filters…they’re super common and they need to be changed regularly.  What’s so complicated about that?  Apparently, a lot!  Every article I read boasted something different and I don’t mean a little different, I mean exact opposite.  Instead of trying to tell you what specific filter you need I will let you pick out the filter you want for yourself, as all filters are NOT created equal.  The chart below displays how the Merv ratings work to get you started on your perfect filter quest.  Just make sure to research, research, research and approach your trusted local HVAC dealer with any questions or concerns you might have.

Picture was taken from Global News.

If you’re in the York, NE area you can email us a jheating@neb.rr.com, call us at (402)362-5702 or post a question below if you do not feel comfortable changing or picking out your own air (furnace) filter.

Heat Pump May Be Better Heating and Cooling Option Than Furnace or Air Conditioner

Heat pumps are often misunderstood or not understood at all. Because of this, consumers may not realize that there may be a better heating and cooling option than a traditional furnace or air conditioner.

A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year round to keep you comfortable.  During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner.  It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air.  In colder weather, however, the process reverses and the unit collects heat from the outdoor air to transfer inside your home.

Even when the air outside feels cold, it still contains some heat. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home.

Heat pumps are capable of providing years of worry-free heating and cooling and significant savings on electric bills. The amount a consumer can save depends on many factors. For example, the efficiency of old equipment compared to that of a new heat pump can have an effect on how much will be saved. The climate in which a consumer lives, as well as electric rates, are also factors.

Unlike a furnace that turns fossil fuel or electricity into heat, the heat pump collects heat that already exists in the outdoor air.  Consequently, a heat pump will produce two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

A heat pump also produces savings while cooling a home. A SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rates cooling efficiency. A higher SEER produces greater savings. A SEER of 12.00 to 13.00 is typical in homes over eight or ten years old and a new, higher efficiency heat pump can be as much as 50 percent more efficient.

If a consumer’s non-electric furnace is still working, an add-on heat pump is an effective option.  With a Dual-fuel system, the two systems share the heating load, but never at the same time.  Each system operates when it is the most cost effective.  The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s set point, the furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

 

To find out more about heat pumps and how they can save on energy costs, call J & R Heating at 402-362-5702.  J & R Heating has been providing service in the York, NE area for over 50 years.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is like a conventional air conditioner except it also can provide heat in winter.  This confuses people sometimes because it has “heat” in its name, but just remember it does cool the house.  In the summer, the heat pump collects heat in winter.  In the summer, the heat pump collects heat from the house and expels it outside.  In the winter, the heat pump works best when the outdoor temperature is above freezing.  Below that, supplementary heat often is needed.  A heat pump can save 30 to 60 percent less energy to supply the same heat when compared to an electric furnace with a resistance heating element.

Do you Really Want High Energy Bills?

You’d be amazed at how may people assume “bigger is better” with a new heating and cooling system.  The goal is more comfort and efficiency.  

Your system needs to cover the area and be able to respond to the quality of the area.  That is why units that are sized property are not based solely on the square footage of the house.

Bigger or smaller?

If the equipment is oversized for the area, it will cycle off and on more frequently, which can reduce the life expectancy while increasing energy consumption.  And you could be inviting more moisture – and the mold that often comes with it.

On the other hand, when the equipment is undersized, the wear on its components and lack of efficiency can also lead to early equipment failure.

The Envelope, Please.

Your heating and cooling system is just one part of two systems that work together for your comfort.  All the materials that surround your interior space are called the “envelope”.  This envelope greatly affects the comfort and cost to operate your home.  Combining the right amount and type of insulation, using effective air sealing techniques and installing the right windows can reduce energy costs.

Make Your Savings Automatic

Cooling and heating your home is a significant investment – typically, 44% of your utility bill goes just to keep your indoor climate comfortable.

Here’s an idea:

You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by adjusting your thermostat just a few degrees at night.  Or you can make this savings automatic by installing a programmable thermostat.  This is especially helpful when you’re away (think Summer vacation!).

By using a programmable thermostat, your heating or air conditioning is adjusted according to a pre-set schedule.  As a result, you don’t operate the equipment as much when you sleep or when you’re not there.  And that means automatic savings – now that’s comfort!

So, call your trusted local HVAC company and they can show you how to get your automatic savings started today.

Origins of the Air Conditioner

Did you know that the first documented air conditioner wasn’t even meant to cool the air?  It was actually created to dehumidify the hot summer air.

In 1902, a young electrical engineer by the name Willis Haviland Carrier created the first modern air conditioner.  He worked at the Buffalo Forge Company and while there, he decided to look into how to solve the humidity problem for Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, N.Y.  The company needed the air to dehumidify so the layered inking techniques they used could be applied properly.  They couldn’t be applied correctly because moisture would be absorbed into the paper stock at the plant.  Carrier realized that by treating the air inside the building by blowing it across cold pipes the air would cool as it passed the pipes.  Since cool air doesn’t carry as much moisture as warm air, the process reduced the humidity in the plant and stabilized the moisture content of the paper.  Carrier saw the potential and not long after air conditioners began showing up in stores, making the scorching hot summer months more bearable.

Heating and Cooling Pricing

I can’t say that I’m really sorry all those gray days of winter are getting behind use. One reason the change in the seasons always gets my attention is because it has an impact on how I serve my customers.  Spring, for instance, gives me the big warning flag that summer’s coming.  As you know, when it does, the phone lines heat up for us.

We get asked a wide range of questions from our customers.  One question we get consistently is “How much will a repair cost?”

People want a price over the phone.  We understand.  However, we really can’t say until we take a look at your system but when you do call we will send out a certified technician in a fully stocked truck.  He will do a through evaluation and find out exactly what’s going on, then he will show you some options before he does any work so that we only do work that you approve.  We are a no surprises company and we want to provide the best possible service to you.  “We would hate to give you a price over the phone that is too high or too low that would not solve your problem.  Is that fair enough?

We also find some of our customers don’t know all that we offer and we get asked the question “Can you fix X?”

At J & R Heating we offer a large assortment of home comfort services.  We can install, service, repair, or replace humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air purification systems, air filters, air cleaners, carbon monoxide detectors, everything related to your ducts, air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, fireplaces, radiant heating, energy recovery ventilators, heat recovery ventilators, thermostats, zoning systems, garage heaters, solar panels, and more.

P.S.

Not only did the fiscal cliff legislation passed in January include a tax credit of up to $500 for the installation of high efficiency residential A/C and heating equipment for 2013, but it also made a provision to make it retroactive to include all qualifying installations starting January 1, 2012.  If you had qualifying high efficiency equipment installed in 2012 and you haven’t previously used the tax credit, you might just qualify for one.  Just remember you would have to owe taxes in order to get a credit.  If you think you may qualify, ask your local HVAC dealer.

Allergy Prevention

Allergy season is coming up and there are some simple things you can do to avoid allergy triggers at home, work school, outside and when you travel. 

When You’re At Home.

  • Prevent mold spores. Mold spores grow in moist areas. If you reduce the moisture in the bathroom and kitchen, you will reduce the mold. Fix any leaks inside and outside of your home and clean moldy surfaces. Plants can carry pollen and mold too, so limit the number of houseplants. Dehumidifiers will also help reduce mold.
  • Dust to control mites. By dusting surfaces and washing bedding often, you can control the amount of dust mites in your home.
  • Use air conditioners. Use home and auto air conditioners to keep out molds and pollens. Add special HEPA air filters to air conditioners to reduce allergens. You can also use individual HEPA cleaners in bedrooms. Follow manufacturer directions in cleaning filters (http://health.howstuffworks.com).
  • Vacuum like a germaphobe. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, with dust in the air, vacuuming once or twice a week will reduce the surface dust mites. Wear a mask when doing housework and consider leaving for a few hours after you clean to avoid allergens in the air. You can also make sure your vacuum has an air filter to capture dust.
  • Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, you should avoid pets with feathers or fur like birds, dogs and cats. Animal saliva and dead skin, or pet dander , can cause allergic reactions. If you can’t bear to part with your pet, you should at least keep it out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals, fumes, tobacco smoke, air pollution, etc. These irritants can trigger nasal congestion and make your allergic reaction worse (http://health.howstuffworks.com).
  • Shut out pollen. When you clean your windows, do you see a film of pollen on the frame or sill? One easy way to prevent pollen from entering your home is to keep windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly or run the air conditioner and change the filter often.

When You’re At Work.

Allergies at home and work are similar and affect millions of people each year.  Allergy symptoms, like sneezing, nasal congestion and headache, may make it difficult to concentrate.  Every work environment will have specific allergy problems so talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about how you can prevent allergies at your specific workplace.

When You’re At School.

Children may face allergens in the classroom and playground. In fact, children in the United States miss approximately two million school days each year because of allergy symptoms. Parents, teachers and health care providers can work together to help prevent and treat childhood allergies. Monitor the classroom for plants, pets or other items that may carry allergens. Encourage your child to wash his/her hands after playing outside. Many of the allergens in the home will also be found at school. Although it may not be an option to vacuum or dust the classroom, there may be treatment options to help a child manage his/her symptoms during the school day.

When You’re Outside.

There are certain times during the year when plants and trees release pollen into the air. The timing of these pollen seasons depends on your geographic location. Different regions have different types of plants that pollinate at different times. Depending on where you live, allergy seasons may be mild or severe.  Experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies because of airborne pollen!

Tiny particles that are released from trees, weeds and grasses are known as pollen. These particles are carried by the wind from tall treetops all the way to your nose.  But before you shrug off fancy flowers in fear of sniffles, remember that the types of pollen that most commonly cause your allergies are from plain-looking plants, such as trees, grasses and weeds. These plants produce small and light pollen, perfect for catching a ride on a gentle breeze.

Similar to pollen, mold spores are a seasonal pest. If you are sensitive to mold spores, you may have symptoms from spring to late fall. Yet, even after the first frost of winter, some mold spores can continue to grow in freezing temperatures. The severity of your mold spore allergies can depend on the climate that you live in. In the warmest areas of the United States, mold spores grow all year! But before you move to Antarctica, remember that mold spores also grow indoors, making it a year-round problem.

When You’re Traveling.

We are all on the go and there are a few things to keep in mind to prevent outdoor allergies during peak season, when the pollen count is high.

  • Stay inside during peak pollen times, usually between 10:00 a.m. and
    4:00 p.m.
  • Keep your car windows closed when traveling
  • Stay indoors when humidity is high and on days with high wind, when dust and pollen are more likely to be in the air
  • Shower after spending time outside to wash away pollen that collects on your skin and hair

If you suffer from allergies, there may be other concerns when you travel.  The allergy climate may be different than the one where you live. When you travel by car, bus or train, you may find dust mites, mold spores and pollen bothersome. Turn on the air conditioner or heater before getting in your car and travel with the windows closed to avoid allergens from outside. Travel early in the morning or late in the evening when the air quality is better. 

When flying to your favorite vacation spot, be prepared.  Remember that air quality and dryness on planes can affect you if you have allergies. If a cruise is your next vacation, be aware of the season and temperature at your destination(s). In tropical, damp climates there are allergens like dust mites, mold spores and pollen. In cold, damp climates, you may be exposed to dust mites and mold spores. Once you arrive at your hotel, there may be dust mites and mold spores lurking. If you are staying with family or friends, the same types of allergens that you find at home may be present.

Information is from http://www.aafa.org unless stated otherwise.