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Posted by on in General

As a follow up to our most recent blog post on improving the air quality inside your home, here are a few more tips we’d like to share with you. As always, we highly recommend consulting with a professional prior to any major indoor air quality improvements in order to maximize your efforts and budget. Now for the tips!

 

·      Keep your floors and surfaces clean. While this may seem like a no-brainer in the context of this article, many don’t automatically associate dirty floors and surfaces to poor indoor air quality. By properly cleaning these surfaces (yes, mopping included), you’ll give the air less of a chance to pick up dust, dirt and allergen particles and help keep your inside air fresh and easy to breathe. This also includes vacuuming carpets!

 

·      Maintain a healthy humidity level in your home. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. You can use a dehumidifier to effectively lower your humidity levels.  Fixing faulty plumbing is another great way to reduce the humidity levels or your home. Many HVAC units also have humidity settings—learn these settings and adjust according to your home’s needs. Doing some simple things such as opening windows is also a great way to keep humidity down in most cases.

 

·      Test for harmful chemicals and gases. While harmful gases and chemicals such as carbon monoxide and radon are byproducts of poor indoor air quality, not causes, they are extremely important to point out in this post. Regularly testing (or testing constantly in the case of a CO monitor) can help keep you and your family safe in your home.

Posted by on in General

We’ve probably all experienced it—whether in our home or someone else’s—that stuffy, stale feeling of the inside air. It can be a bit of a burden on not only our comfort in the home, but also on our overall health and safety.  Fortunately, there are ways to increase the indoor air quality. In this blog post series, we’ll examine a few tips and improvements that can be made, from simple to complex, to increase the air quality in your home.

 

·      Maximize overall ventilation and air exchange. Unless there is an efficient and effective way for outdoor air to exchange with indoor air, the indoor air quality will likely be very poor in your home. Think of outdoor air as a cleanser for inside your home, as it replaces dirty, dusty and uncomfortable indoor air. It’s a great idea before starting any indoor air quality improvement project to consult with a professional and have an indoor air quality assessment.

 

·      Turn on the fan! If you think this may seem like a bit of a simple fix, then you’re exactly right. Fans in your home, whether ceiling units or portable standup fans, can greatly reduce the humidity inside your home and provide circulation that is crucial to keeping the quality of air inside your home high. Remember to also turn on bathroom fans when showering or stove hood fans when cooking to help move the wet or combustion byproduct-full air out of your home.

 

·      Install advanced air exchange equipment. There are numerous air filtration, ventilation and exchange systems available that can be installed to help with your indoor air quality. Vent fans and systems, timed fresh air intakes and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) / Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) are a few options that can really take your indoor air quality to the next level.

In our last home energy blog post, we started discussing ways to use your thermostat to maximize your energy savings when you are heating or cooling your home. A thermostat can be such a valuable resource when it comes to home energy and performance and we highly recommend getting the most out of its features.

 

Below, you can find a few more tips for your thermostat use. Once you get done reading, go try a few (or all) of these tips out!

 

·      If you are going away, turn the system down/off. If you’re going on a trip in the summer, it’s a good idea to turn your thermostat all the way down or off, as there’s no need to cool down a home when nobody is there. If you’re going on a trip in the winter, lower the thermostat setting as much as is safe to avoid freezing pipes. Depending on your location and climate, you can probably get away with a lot lower setting than you think (if not turning it completely off).

 

·      Protect your thermostat from anything that would give it a false reading. Thermostat placement in the home is key to accurate readings and maximum comfort. Don’t place a thermostat near a fireplace, heat register or drafty windows/doors. It’s also a good idea to avoid placing a thermostat on the inside of an external wall, as that can give false readings as well. If this occurs, you’ll have a very tough time adjusting appropriately to ensure the rest of your house remains at the desired, comfortable temperature.

 

·      Having a party? Lower the temperature. Having a large group of people in your home can be a heat source all on its own. Make sure you adjust accordingly. Whether it’s just before your guests arrive or while they are there, adjusting the thermostat setting down will not only keep your guests more comfortable, it will help save you energy. It doesn’t take many people in a contained area to generate a great deal of heat. Take advantage of that free source!

When it comes to energy savings, there are a lot of useful tools and gadgets that can be used to monitor and help you save on the energy you consume. One of those tools is the thermostat. Common in most homes, regardless of heating and cooling unit type, these “control centers” are often overlooked and ignored, which can cause a lot of unnecessary energy use in the home.

 

We’d like to lay out some ways in which you can pay more attention to your thermostat to cut down on your energy usage and bills.

 

·      Avoid constantly changing the temperature on your thermostat. We’ve all experienced feeling either too hot or too cold—back and forth—over and over. This may cause us to constantly be changing the temperature on our thermostat to stay comfortable. However, not giving into this temptation can help save energy, believe it or not. Constant changes in temperature can waste fuel and cause your overall energy usage to go way up.

 

·      When returning home, don’t set your thermostat higher than the desired temperature. Many think that if you set the thermostat at a very high level when returning home to a cold home, the temperature will rise more quickly to get to the desired warm house. This is a myth. The house will almost surely not heat up any faster than if the temperature was just set to the desired temperature from the beginning. What’s more—some people who do this often forget that they set the temperature higher and will forget to lower it, which causes them to use much more energy than was actually needed (or desired).

 

·      Set your thermostat lower while sleeping. Lowering the thermostat while sleeping, or programming it to automatically do so (see next tip!), can save you big. Lowering the temperature even just a few degrees can cause much less energy usage over night during the hours in which you are asleep. You may even find that you sleep a little bit better in a cooler house. An extra blanket in the winter can make a big difference as well—your energy bill will thank you!

Posted by on in Cooling

For many years, both residential and commercial buildings have used traditional air conditioning units to cool inside during warm summer days. While technology has certainly advanced, the main concept and ideas behind these units has remained fairly consistent. Recently, however, a bit of a new trend has emerged when it comes to cooling inside a building. It’s one that returns to the most basic of cold ideas – ice.

 

Some very large businesses are actually seeing cost savings through efficiency and less chemical usage by implementing and using ice based air conditioning for their office buildings. In fact, an estimated 3,000 buildings around the world are now using this type of cooling technology.

 

So how does it work? These types of systems work by making ice at night, when lower power usage means energy is cheaper and lower temperatures mean less power is required to freeze water. During the day when most people return to the office, fans blow air through the ice and into the building. Traditional air conditioning units are most used during the day when more activity is going on in the office, thus requiring more cool air. By saving most of the energy requirements for the nighttime during cooler temperatures, these systems are proving to be very efficient.

 

Major corporations who have installed these ice cooling units are getting major kudos for their environmental benefits. They are also saving, in some cases, millions of dollars per year in energy bills. The system essentially works like an ultra-efficient battery, storing energy in the form of ice that provides cheap cooling for a large area.