Home Energy Efficiency Checklist

As the new year rolls in, most of us are thinking about changes and improvements we can make in 2021. Perhaps home energy efficiency isn’t as interesting as learning a new language or training for a marathon, but it can surely help you save money!

Here are some of our favorite home energy efficiency tips from energy.gov. We suggest resolving to save money in 2021 with these quick and simple ideas.

Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are readily available at home improvement stores and easy to install on your own. You can program your home’s temperature around your schedule, so it will run less when you are away. Experts say a programmable thermostat can save as much as ten percent on your annual heating and cooling costs!

Replace your light bulbsImage of woman replacing incandescent bulb with a LED bulb

Swapping out old bulbs for Energy Star bulbs can add up to big savings. If you want to really invest in your home’s energy efficiency, consider Energy Star LED bulbs. These bulbs last 25 times longer and use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Energy.gov reports that use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in our nation.

Put electric equipment on a power strip

You can save as much as $100 annually just by turning off so-called “energy vampires” in your home. These are devices that continue to use energy behind-the-scenes even when you aren’t actively using them. A simple way to do this is to install devices like this together on the same power strip. Then, you can just turn it off when not in use.

Unplug your chargers

We know, it’s so convenient to keep your phone charger plugged in all the time. But chargers consume energy even when your phone isn’t attached. For savings, unplug your charger when it isn’t in use.

Put your HVAC system on a maintenance plan

Regular preventive maintenance of your HVAC system will save you in the long run. A well-maintained system runs more efficiently and lasts longer. In addition, it’s best to have a professional spot potential problem before they become emergencies.

For information about preventive maintenance plans, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010. You can also use our online form.

A Dusty Home: Causes & Solutions

No one likes a dusty home. Let’s look at how this happens and what type of filtration and prevention can be done to lessen the amount of dust.

If you have a problem with the amount of dust in your home, no matter how much you clean, this may be an indication that your HVAC system is not filtering dust properly. There are a few common problems that can lead to excess dust and ways to fix it.

Home Air Filters

Checking your air filters is the first thing you should do if you’re experiencing issues with dust. Filters trap dust and other material from getting into your home, so they need to be either replaced or cleaned regularly so they work properly. If they get too dirty, they will become ineffective and allow dust and particles to build up in your home.

Leaky Ducts

If your air filters are clean, check the air ducts. Leaky ducts not only cause your HVAC unit to work overtime, but also cause unfiltered, dusty air to get into your home. You’ll notice your utility bills going up and dust collecting in your house.

Signs of a leaky air ducts:

  • Lint or dust build up on vent registers,
  • High energy bills
  • Hot or cold spots in your house

If you suspect the air ducts are the issue, inspect the ductwork for leaky joints and seal them. You may want to hire a professional to come in and fix the ductwork.

Humidity

High humidity in your home can cause dust build-up. The simple solution is to run a humidifier to reduce dryness. Humidity is a common problem and since mold and dust thrive under high humidity, you can’t afford to ignore it. If you find this is your issue, call for a  professional to install a humidifier.

Cracks In the Windows

Dust can get into your home through any cracks in the windows. You will want to re-caulk your windows to seal them and create a tighter fit.

Tracking Incoming DirtImage of shoes placed by front door mat

Dust and dirt can easily be brought into your home on your shoes. So, have everyone remove their shoes as soon as they come into the house. It’s a simple fix, but it could go a long way to improving the dust levels.

If you have checked on all of the above items, and remedied them with these basic fixes, but you’re still having a problem with excess dust, it’s best to have your HVAC system checked by a professional. It may just need a tune up or repair.

For professional assistance, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Your HVAC System can help allergies

Spring has brought April showers, the hope of beautiful May flowers – and allergy season!  The air can get really bad for people who suffer from seasonal allergies, but believe it or not your HVAC system can help allergies and bring some relief.It’s not expensive or difficult to get your HVAC in shape for this tricky time of year, and it just takes a few steps and considerations.

Put in a new air filter

The air that circulates through your home has to first go through your air filter. We recommend that you change the filter at least twice a year, and if you have pets, you may want to change it more often. You want to make sure there is a new filter in before furnace season and again before you use the air conditioning. If the filter is dirty it can’t catch dust, so the air you’re breathing in your home will be dirty and unhealthy. A new, clean filter will catch dust and any particles that can bother allergies.

Talk to your technician about using a MERV filterAllergy season sign

Sometimes a regular filter is not enough protection for allergy sufferers. If this is the case in your home ask your HVAC technician about using a Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filter. They are designed to catch even more than dust and some air pollutants. Depending on the rating of the filter, they can catch dander, pollen and other allergens. The higher the rating, the more pollutants they can filter.

Consider a UV air purifier

To create the cleanest indoor air possible, consider using a UV light solution. These types of purifiers can reduce bacteria, mold, and other allergens in the air. These filters work by providing a second cleaning after treated air is pushed through the air filter. It will also remove unwanted odors from the air like pet stink, kitchen smells and perfumes. You may want to check out the Air Scrubber. It’s an attachment to your existing HVAC unit, It won’t require major installation.

Don’t forget to dust your return vents and the HVAC unit

The simple step of dusting can help cut the spread of allergies. And don’t forget to clean your return vents and HVAC unit. If you have dusty return vents, that dust will spread throughout your house. To prevent the spread, use a damp cloth to wipe around your return vents, outside condenser and any other HVAC units you can access.

Get a tune-up

If someone in your home has allergies, nothing can replace a regularly scheduled HVAC tune-up. As a result of professional cleaning and inspection, your HVAC system can help allergies. You should plan to get tune-ups twice a year to make sure no dirty air is being distributed throughout the house and that the system is problem-free.

A preventive maintenance plan will ensure that your HVAC system is served twice a year, without you having to worry. For information, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Prep your AC for Summer

Even though temperatures are pretty mild, you may have already test driven your air conditioner this year. On days when the inside of your home becomes uncomfortable, you may opt to run the AC instead of opening windows. In the south, this is mostly due to pollen that can coat the floors, countertops and anything in sight! Be sure to prep your AC system for summer; it’s one of the most important investments you’ll make as a homeowner.

There are many ways you can maintain your air conditioning system that will save you money even if you are not skilled at it. Here are a few simple ways to keep your system cooling on the days you need it most.

Clean the coils

Air conditioning coils help refrigerants absorb heat and cool your home. They are a very important component of your AC system and need attention because over time, the coils become dirty. When this happens there is a  reduction in the amount of heat they absorb and your AC has to work harder to cool your home. Keep the coils clean by clearing the area around the condenser unit of any built up debris.

Change the filters each monthChange filters at least four times per year

The best way to maintain your AC is to change the air filter in your system on a regular basis. It’s an easy, inexpensive and quick task. But left undone, it can cost you in air quality and system function. An air filter prevents particles like dirt, dander, and dust from getting into the rooms of your home. If it’s bogged down in excess particles your AC system won’t be efficient, it will be strained and the quality of your circulated air will be poor.

Clean the condensate drain

Your AC has a drain line that takes water from the unit to the outside. This line should be clean because it can get clogged and moldy. If that happens you are in danger of damaging the unit and the line itself. If you notice water isn’t draining properly, unclog the line with these steps:

  1. Unplug the AC.
  2. Take off the filter at the end of the outside drain line.
  3. Put a wet-dry vacuum at the end of the drain line.
  4. Wrap a cloth around the area of the vacuum and drainage and make a firm connection. Turn on the vacuum for about five seconds to allow it to remove the debris causing the blockage.
  5. Last, pour a cup of bleach in the line to reduce future clogs.

Check the condenser and evaporator fins

AC’s have a condenser and an evaporator, and each has a “fin.” Over time, they can become bent and cause interrupted airflow. Regular checks on the fins will allow you to see any bending. If you see that, a fin comb can fix the issue.

Call a professional

If you think your AC is not performing and you’ve already tried the above fixes, it’s best to contact a professional air conditioning technician to prep your AC for summer. They can make sure your system is clean, inspected, tuned and that there aren’t underlying issues affecting its performance. Call the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

When it comes to HVAC systems how do you know what’s a myth and what’s true about maintenance and services? Let’s take a look at a few of the most common HVAC myths and dispel them so you know how to make the best decisions to keep your systems working efficiently.

HVAC Myths Dispelled

MYTH: Your filter only needs changing only once a year.

TRUTH: This is a myth and a big mistake! Change your filter every 30 days and if you have a lot of pets that produce a lot of dander and fur around the house, change out more often. This will keep your system much more efficient.

 

MYTH: Having the biggest system is always the best.

TRUTH: Actually, bigger is not always better when it comes to an HVAC system. In fact, if you have a system that is too large for your home, it can be much less efficient and less effective in removing humidity. It’s best to have a professional decide on the right size HVAC unit for your home.

 

MYTH: You don’t need to maintain your HVAC system unless it’s broken.

TRUTH: Regular maintenance on your HVAC system is crucial. This will prevent large and expensive problems and ensure that your system is working properly. Maintenance with an HVAC specialist will save you costly and major repairs down the road.

 

MYTH: It’s easy to find air leaks in your home.

TRUTH: It sounds simple to find an air leak around your home, but even some of the biggest leaks can be difficult to detect. It’s best to ask an HVAC service technician to find and properly seal leaks that are wasting energy and making your system inefficient. During your regular check, ask your technician to also check for leaks. This will ensure your system is running properly and efficiently.

 

MYTH: The best way to change the heat or cooling your home is to turn up the thermostat.

TRUTH: While your thermostat setting controls the temperature, your home may never reach that temperature, especially if your HVAC is not working optimally. If your HVAC system needs maintenance, if your home needs new insulation or there are serious leaks, the system will have a difficult time heating and cooling properly.

Hiring a professional

When you hire an HVAC company to help service your system, ask them to:

  • Evaluate if the size of your system is right for your home.
  • Replace a new HVAC system in your home if it’s determined that you need one.
  • Perform regular maintenance to prevent bigger problems and keep your system running efficiently.
  • Test for leaks that may be making your system inefficient.
  • Troubleshoot any other potential problems with your HVAC system.

It’s always best to ask your HVAC professional if you have a question about what’s true or a myth in maintaining and maximizing your home system. For expert assistance, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Furnace Maintenance Tips to Keep Your System Running Strong

You want your furnace in top running condition during the winter. If you perform proper maintenance, you can avoid most mishaps with your system. The right knowledge and a little bit of effort can keep your furnace running efficiently and avoid future breakdowns. Here are eight furnace maintenance tips that will help keep your heating system running great all season long!

Think safety first

If you perform any maintenance beyond basic filter changes, be sure you put safety first. Before getting started, turn off the power to your furnace to avoid injury. You may want to hire a professional to help with any inspection, cleaning, tune-ups, or repairs that are more complicated or if you are uncomfortable performing these furnace maintenance tips.

1.  Understand your system and recommended maintenance

Although most furnaces in the United States are natural gas or electric, some such as propane, geothermal, and heat pump are now available. Understanding what kind of system you have that provides your home with its heat and learning how it needs to be maintained is critical. Some systems may not require any maintenance. Other more common systems, like natural gas heating, need regular inspections and tune-ups.

2.  Get a professional tune-up

In any case, the best thing you can do to ensure that your furnace performs at its best is to schedule a professional tune-up every year. During that time, a technician will inspect your furnace for any operational problems and perform a number of maintenance tasks. These may include cleaning your system to help avoid future breakdowns, improve efficiency and make sure that your system is running safely.

3.  Keep your air filter clean

Cleaning or changing your air filter prevents many furnace breakdowns! A dirty filter will cause all sorts of performance and efficiency problems. You can avoid them by simply checking and/or changing your filter once per month.

4.  Test your carbon monoxide detectorscarbon monoxide alarms are an important safety device

Carbon monoxide detectors will warn you if your furnace develops a CO2 leak.  A leak could be life-threatening to you and your family. Make sure that your detectors are working and that they have fresh batteries, especially during the heating season.

5.  Give your air registers room to breathe

If any of your air registers are closed or blocked off by furniture, your furnace will have a hard time heating your home evenly and effectively. Make sure that all of your floor registers are open and there are no obstructions.

6.  Check the pilot light in older furnaces

If you have an older furnace with a pilot light, make sure the flame is burning bright blue. If it’s a different color, it is likely burning inefficiently and you should contact a furnace technician to investigate the problem.

7.  Don’t block outdoor exhaust pipes

High efficiency gas furnaces have exhaust pipes and they lead outside of the home and near the ground. It’s important to ensure nothing is blocking these pipes, so that your furnace can operate safely and efficiently.

8.  Keep the area around your system clear

Remove any clutter from around your furnace. This will ensure you and your service technician can easily access it when the time comes for any maintenance or repairs.

Additional Furnace Maintenance Tips

In some cases, you must replace a system or upgrade the one you have already. If your furnace is old, worn out, inefficient, or significantly oversized, the simplest solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model.

Before buying a new furnace or modifying your existing unit, first make every effort to improve the energy efficiency of your home in other ways, then have a professional size your furnace. Energy-efficiency improvements will save money, because you can purchase a smaller unit. A properly sized furnace will operate most efficiently. You’ll want to choose a dependable unit and compare the warranties of each furnace you’re considering.

When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. In mild climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90% or more efficiency may be hard to justify, but it’s always smart to look at your options.

You can always count on the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical, to make recommendations to best suit your needs.  Call 1.800.461.3010 to schedule an inspection and consultation.

Balancing hot & cold spots in your home

Do you ever walk from one room to another and notice a temperature difference? Do the floors feel cold in some rooms and not others? Balancing hot and cold spots in your home can bring you more comfort and lower utility bills. Knowing how to do this can save you money and aggravation.

A home with balanced air will improve air circulation, increase energy efficiency and enhance the overall performance of your heating and air systems. This balance involves modifying your existing HVAC system, which includes making adjustments in areas you may not be currently considering. By doing this your HVAC system will be working in harmony, avoid hot and cold spots throughout your home, and provide and improve air quality and comfort.

You can correct issues on your own by following these steps.

1. Check air filters for cleanliness

Clean filters improve your air quality, increase the efficiency of your systems, extend the life of your HVAC and help keep costs low.

2. Feel for drafts

Check your windows and doors for tight sealing. Add additional insulation measures if you can feel hot or cold coming through.

3. Open or close your register

A simple yet effective fix is to open registers during warm weather on your upper floor and at the same time partially close them on the first floor. When cold temperatures arrive, reverse the process.

4. Create a 2 degree difference

If you have separate thermostats for your first and second floors, set the thermostat at a two degree difference. For instance, your downstairs could be set at 72 while your upstairs is set at 74 degrees. Doing this can help with uneven temperatures on different floors.

5. Change the direction of ceiling fansChange the direction of ceiling fan to help with air flow

Switching the direction of a fan can affect air circulation. Set your ceiling fans to go counterclockwise during warming months to create a downward airflow. Change the direction in the cooler months. Fans should spin at a low speed in a clockwise motion so it can distribute warm air.

6. Install window coverings to prevent temperature differences

Window coverings can improve energy efficiency. In cooler seasons most of the sunlight that comes in standard double-pane windows becomes heat, so be sure to let the light in!

7. Clear registers of any blocks

When you block a vent with furniture your system has to work harder. Be sure your registers are clear of furniture or items that will restrict air flow.

8. Adjust your insulation

If your home isn’t properly insulated, you will have unbalanced air temperatures throughout your home. Hire a professional to evaluate your insulation needs. They will help find any problems that need correcting.

9. Set your thermostat fan setting to “ON”

By utilizing the “ON” setting, the fan will blow continuously,  filter the air and always be replacing it. This will keep the air more steady than by using the auto position where your air can become stagnant. There are pros and cons. When using the “On” setting, you may see an increase in your utility bill.

10. Make sure your HVAC system correlates with the needs of your home

You want to be sure your unit is not too small for the size of your home because you won’t get the results you need. You also don’t want one that is too large because it will over condition your home. Likewise, when the furnace is too large, it can cause issues from short cycling to inefficient operation and uncomfortable living space.

Balancing hot and cold spots in your home may require the help of a professional.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule an appointment.