During the final steamy summer months, air conditioning is a life saver. Of course, to achieve effective airflow from your air conditioner necessitates maintenance. This guide will give you some insight on running your HVAC system and preventing problems.
Clean your filters
First of all, keep your washable filters as clean as possible. Otherwise, install new filters monthly during cooling season for both central and window units. It is worth it. Dirty filters hugely impede on air conditioning efficiency. When purchasing new filters, it is important to pay attention to minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, which ranges from 1 to 12 for home air conditioning units. MERV 12 denotes maximum filtration and energy consumption. As with most things, air-quality concerns need to be balanced with energy costs.
Use a programmable thermostat
Use a programmable thermostat or timer to control energy consumption. There is no need to blast air conditioning when you are not home. Of course, don’t set it too uncomfortably warm, particularly if you have animals in the house. If not built in, timers or adjustable thermostats are well worth the investment. They simply need to match your unit’s voltage. Unless you are taking a long trip, it is bad to completely shut off the HVAC system, as re-cooling the house from scratch is a huge task for your air compressor.
Proper insulation helps keep costs down. Air ducts in attics or crawl spaces should be wrapped to keep the air flowing within them cool and clean. Use batt insulation or rigid foam insulation for best wrapping results. Seal batt and rigid insulation with foil tape. Although tight spaces are typically hard to insulate, wraps like Reflectix can offer some peace of mind.
Keep the area surrounding your air compressor and condenser free of obstructions. For central air, this area is typically close to the outside of your house. Allow for about two feet of space in all directions around the compressor and condenser. They need room to breathe!
Federal laws require air conditioning units to be way more efficient than they were even 10 years ago. Standards are very quickly accelerating, so consider investing in an upgrade to keep pace. What works well today maybe ancient 20 years from now. HVAC systems demand your full attention.
Seeking professional help with maintaining your HVAC system? Search for an I Want SMART contractor here!
Optimize Your AC for Your Health
Circulating cool air throughout your home is especially important during the hot summer months. Experts recommend an indoor temperature of 78°F (during the day) to keep costs low, but still maintain comfort, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality.
Heat can affect the body in uncomfortable ways. Many people assume bodily illnesses are exclusively associated with colder temperatures or seasonal changes. Especially after long winters, summer is often viewed as a time of relief. The fact is, you’re just as susceptible to serious illness in summer as you are in any other season.
This is why it’s vitally important to get your A/C inspected, ideally before the start of intense summer heat, to ensure your system is offering you the relief it should. Here are some common summertime health issues your well-functioning A/C can be part of mitigating.
Allergy Symptom Relief
Summertime allergies from pollen, mold, or insect bites or stings are also common in a hotter outdoor environment. Many flowers are still blooming in the summer and pollen production is high. Unfortunately, this can leave those with even mild allergies dealing with sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes throughout the summer. While we don’t want you to become a recluse and stay inside all day, your home should provide some refuge from allergy symptom catalysts.
Your A/C’s ventilation can ease allergy symptoms and may even be specially designed to improve the quality of the air filtered. Keeping your windows closed also increases its effectiveness.
A Good Night’s Sleep
Your air conditioner can also save you some zzz’s. As the temperature rises, sleep quality diminishes. Research shows that the human body sleeps best in temperatures of 60 to 67°F. The right temperature can even help you stay asleep and leave you more refreshed in the morning. To keep your body healthy and well rested in the heat, make sure that your air conditioner is up to date and can achieve that temperature.
July is the American Heart Association’s Summer Heart Health Month! Heat-related illness, like heat exhaustion (typically marked by headaches, dizziness, and fainting) can be prevented with the right precautions. The elderly, children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are most at risk, but that doesn’t mean someone with no history of heart problems can’t experience heat-induced issues. Especially as our activity levels tend to increase over summer, it’s important to stay aware of what your body is telling you.
Other than drinking lots of water, taking consistent breaks from activity, and dressing for the heat, ensure your A/C is as energy efficient as possible to give you a cool environment and shelter you from extreme temperatures. Save your body some stress.
The SMART Solution
SMART is cool for summer.
If you are struggling to keep your home cool this summer, you may need professional help. An HVAC system issue is not always DIY! We can assist in keeping your system leak-free, detect abnormally low air pressure, clean tough-to-reach components, measure strange electricity usage, and replenish low refrigerant levels as necessary. Ask your SMART contractor about a complete system replacement – it could save you in energy costs for summers to come!
It might not be something that you think about every day, but an air filter is one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. It captures unwanted air particles such as pollutants, dirt, and dust, which could otherwise easily spread throughout your house. Over time, these bad particles will build up on the filter, which can lead to inefficient flow and costly repairs.
If you want a cleaner house and reduce the risk of unforeseen repair costs, you should start thinking about regular inspection and replacement of your filter. However, most people might not know when to replace their air filter, so we created this short guide to provide a general starting point.
Take note that multiple factors can determine either extend or shorten the lifespan of each filter.
#1: Periodical Changes
A general rule of thumb is to change it at the start of every new season. If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t have all four seasons you can check your filters and change them as needed every 4-6 weeks. This ensures that your air filter is working properly and doesn’t accumulate too much buildup.
#2: Filter Materials
Another thing to consider is the type of filter used in your home. The most common variant is a mechanical air filter, which uses fibers to catch air particles before they enter your ventilation system. Specifically, most people will use disposable mechanical fiberglass filters because of its low cost. However, the cheap filter only captures a small portion of unwanted particles, so it’s best to check it every few weeks to see if it needs a replacement. You can also consider using pleated or washable filters, which are more expensive but highly effective and includes a longer lifespan. Clean it once a month by spraying with water from a hose to further extend a filter’s longevity.
#3: Home Size
The size of your home also dictates your filter’s overall durability. HVAC units in smaller homes require less energy to disperse clean air in each room, which means your air filter will last longer. However, those with larger homes with more rooms and additional floors will need a better filter because of the higher amount of energy required to bring in clean air. Using a budget filter for a larger house will only add more unclean air throughout your home.
#4: Daily Habits
A final set of factors to consider are your habits at home. Those who smoke on a regular basis might find that just opening a window isn’t enough to remove the cigarette smell and its harmful effects. A portion of the toxic output can still find its way through your air filter, which can harm others living in your house and further decreases your filter’s lifespan. If you have pets, you might spend more money on replacements due to the high volume of fur that will accumulate on filters.
Saving money is always an appealing proposition. Particularly in the limited free time we have, we’d rather spend our time outside enjoying the sunshine and the fun activities that come with it than worrying about your HVAC. However, when you come back inside to cool off, you’ll probably see an increase in your energy bills due to the uptick in air conditioner use. Between the costs of participating in seasonal activities and utility bills, this adds up!
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is a way to decrease your energy bills without a significant amount of time and effort. You’ll also be lending the environment a hand in lowering pollutants and potentially harmful emissions.
Need an air conditioner tune-up? Find a SMART contractor here!
Operate your thermostat efficiently
As you’re racing out the door to enjoy the sunshine or leave for a weekend getaway, make sure you adjust your thermostat on the way out. There’s no reason to leave it on full blast if you’re not there to enjoy it. Reduce its air flow or shut it off when you don’t need it to ensure your bills reflect your actual A/C use.
Use ceiling fans
Not only do ceiling fans offer a refreshing breeze, but they can also help save you money. Ceiling fans can lower your energy bill costs as much as 30 to 40 percent, and make a room feel six to eight degrees cooler without you touching your thermostat. As every longtime homeowner knows, make sure your fan is spinning counterclockwise, so it generates a downward flow that accelerates the evaporation of perspiration and decreases the room temperature.
Open windows and doors
Even though spring and summer days can be hotter than you may have expected, shutting off your air and opting for natural breeze when possible will improve your bottom line. When the temperature drops at night, consider lowering your air flow or turning it off completely to let cooler air circulate throughout your home.
Use energy-efficient window treatments
According to the Department of Energy, the gain and loss of heat through regular windows account for 25 to 30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use. If you haven’t already, it’s in your best interest to update your current windows to energy-efficient treatments that fit your climate, improve your comfort, and increase your savings. In the process, seal any air leaks so cold air no longer escapes your home. This also ensures your air conditioner isn’t working overtime to compensate for the loss, which in turn reduces your monthly energy costs. It’s a win-win.
Sometimes, you don’t even know there’s a problem with your HVAC until it’s too late. This often stems from the fact that we just don’t know the signs and are therefore blind to indicators of trouble. One of the most obvious signs that your HVAC is malfunctioning is the uncharacteristic sounds coming from the appliance itself.
Normally, you don’t even notice the sounds your HVAC makes because it’s just not very noisy, aside from usual hums or the whooshing of air through vents. Plus, let’s face it: if we’re not confronted with the consequences head-on, we assume all is right and dandy in the world. Ignorance is bliss, right? Wrong. If you hear anything disruptive, chances are it’s time for a serious inspection by a certified contractor in your area.
Here’s a list of the most common HVAC noises and what they mean so you can resolve the problem sooner!
Do you hear something coming from your system that sounds like the clamor of banging pots and pans? This “clanking” is abnormal and could mean parts are loose, like the blower motor fan or blades/pipes that are colliding. Clanking sounds are up there with more severe issues because of the costs associated with replacing broken or loose parts. If you hear these kinds of noises, shut off your system and call a technician immediately.
Hissing is typical when air leaks from your system. If you hear it in your walls, your ducts could be leaking, too. This isn’t only a nuisance, but it’s also costly because the air that should be circulating throughout your home is now retreating into your walls.
First, use your best judgment to measure the volume of the hissing. Loud hissing noises from your ducts generally signal duct repair beyond the scope of even the most seasoned DIYer. Minimal hissing could mean an issue starting in your air vents. Sometimes these hissing sounds happen when air filters are loose or not the right size, thus causing an opening in the seal. The air is then bypassing the filter by going around it instead of being pulled through the filter. This, on the other hand, is a relatively simple fix that a technician could walk you through so you know what to do if it occurs again.
If rattling noises are coming from your outdoor unit, it could mean debris (twigs, rocks, etc.) is caught inside. HVAC grates are made thin enough to block large obstructions, but occasionally things slip through. In this case, the best thing to do is turn off your system, cut the power to the unit, and remove the debris. Any visible damage to the condenser coils, compressor, or fan should be repaired by an HVAC technician. Internal rattling in your furnace or other components is treated similarly: turn it all off and call your HVAC technician, as these stoppages are harder to remove.
Search for certified I Want SMART contractors here to quickly schedule an inspection or repairs!
The verdict is in: you’re purchasing a new air conditioner or HVAC system. Now you face a slew of questions: Do you know the brand and kind of appliance you’re buying? How about the installation team? What are the costs of installation and initial setup? How do you know if you’re getting the best deal or if you’re being overcharged?
Because there’s a lot more to consider than meets the eye, we’ve arranged the most important, non-negotiable details to nail down when you’re choosing an HVAC contractor or installation company. No matter what stage of the purchase process you’re in, these tips will surely be helpful in moving you forward. If nothing else, remember this: ask as many questions as you need to be answered BEFORE your air conditioner is paid for and installed!
Need an installation quote? Find & contact one of our contractors here!
#1: Certified Technicians
There’s no excuse for shoddy work. When going about selecting an HVAC contractor, make sure they’re qualified to do the job correctly and within your timeline. Check out their website, browse online reviews (from credible sources), and read how they plan to add value to your experience. “Added value” can mean different things to different people, but the company’s commitment to quality should be clear across the board.
#2: Easily Accessible
You should be able to quickly get in touch with the contractor you select. Especially in emergencies, you don’t want to be stuck with hazardous materials. Regardless of the circumstances, make sure you can call a number that reaches an actual person or that you can leave messages on their website if this is more convenient for you.
General food for thought: these days, an updated website goes a long way. It’s a hub for information, communication, and organization. “Updated” doesn’t have to mean expensive. To us, it means implementing tools and mechanisms that make it easier for customers to reach contractors. These aspects will be evident the second you arrive at the company’s website.
#3: Reasonably Priced
Each company claims to have the best service and prices. But does it? If a deal sounds “too good to be true,” it usually is, so buyer beware. It’s great if a company shows an appreciation and understanding of its customers with specials and rebates, but when those aren’t available, the work must justify the price.
At I Want Smart, transparency is vital. We believe genuinely good labor and exceptional service shouldn’t be cheap. This is why we go to great lengths to qualify contractors: to make highly valued, pre-approved work readily available to customers through our website.
#4: Great Customer Service
When everything is going wrong, it’s easy to appreciate someone swooping in to save the day right when you need it. However, when everything is going right, it’s the details that matter in making you, the customer, feel like you’re of value to a business. If they’re keeping you in the loop about specials, events, or relevant news, it’s a good sign that they’ve invested time in thinking about what is valuable in serving you.
As we mentioned before, a responsive website is critical: it’s a member of the customer service team. You’ll notice how a company handles leads by how quickly, politely, and efficiently they follow up with you, either via phone call or email.
#5: Fair and Honest Treatment of Customers
All of our previous points work together to hammer this one home. Excellent customer service, reasonable and transparent pricing, accessibility, and qualified workers all exist to create trust between customer and contractor. If just one of these categories goes by the wayside, the rest are inevitably weak. If the company adheres to a strict code of conduct, integrity, and indeed goes the extra mile for its customers, it’ll show.
Wish to work with good people who work to do good for others? Contact I Want Smart!
Humidity gets a bad rap thanks to what we know about summertime humidity: the thick, stifling, and damp coating in the air. Hence the famed phrase “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity…” we all mutter as yet another potentially good hair day bites the dust. Because of this negative connotation, people often neglect humidity’s importance during the winter months.
The frigid cold air of winter dries up humidity (moisture) in the air. This dehydration withers signs of plant life and causes many uncomfortable side effects within our homes. Call in the humidifier. Humidifiers re-introduce moisture into the air to reduce the effects of dry air and create a more comfortable environment by promoting better air quality and health throughout your home.
If there’s a time to invest in a humidifier, it’s now. We’ve come prepared with some ways a humidifier will become one of your best assets this winter and a welcomed gift for your family.
Would you like more tips on how to increase your air efficiency? Read our blog for savvy advice from the experts at I Want SMART!
Better Personal Health
If you have to ask yourself if you need a humidifier, the likely answer is no. If you truly need a humidifier, you’ll feel it. Most everyone is familiar with the usual telltale signs of winter air: parched and itchy skin, cracked knuckles, dry eyes, chapped lips, irritated nasal passages, snoring, or any combination of the above. All are worsened when the air is moisture-deficient. In addition to aloe, moisturizing lotions, and lip balm, a humidifier works to abate these symptoms.
Lessen Congestion and Sinus Pressure
They don’t call it “cold and flu season” for nothing! Your respiratory system also suffers from the dryness of winter. Every time you breathe in icy air through your nose and throat, moisture is drained from your sinus passages. Those plagued with sinus congestion or seasonal coughs and colds will appreciate the reinvigorating hydration a humidifier can provide to hasten the healing process. Even if you’re not sick, a humidifier can help prevent illness and keep those vexing symptoms at bay.
Cost-Effectively Combat the Cold
Humidifiers work as hard to combat the cold as any other appliance. They help regulate indoor temperatures by raising humidity levels to add heat without having to physically turn up the heat. It’s the same principle in the summer when high humidity makes the outdoor temperature feel much hotter than it technically is. Humidifiers can thereby help stabilize your thermostat use to keep your costs in check.
Old House with Good Bones
Do you notice that your older home’s classic wood floors start creaking and cracking more than usual in the winter? Wood organically shrinks and splits in the cold without adequate moisture, making it less pliable. The effects aren’t limited to older homes nor wood floors. The caulk used in new homes along the baseboard trim and the countertops will shrink and crack due to lack of humidity. Humidifiers can offer a balanced indoor atmosphere by helping deliver tolerable air that is neither scorching nor overly wet and dank.
Do you need help in creating a more comfortable indoor climate this winter? Get in touch with I Want SMART to schedule an HVAC inspection!
No doubt about it, winter takes a toll on your average, everyday furnace. After running all season for years on end, your furnace has almost certainly accrued some mileage. If the repair bills are starting to mount, or if you know they’re probably right on the horizon, it makes sense to start replacing your furnace and get everything taken care of for good right now. Here’s why.
1) You’ll save money.
As mentioned above, it’s best to get ahead of repair costs. Think of your furnace as a car. You can replace the tires, the muffler, and the brakes, but that’s not going to stop the other parts from eventually breaking down. If you’ve begun the process of having your furnace fixed in one way or another, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to need it fixed more frequently. Get ahead of it and cut your losses before it’s too late.
And speaking of saving money…
2) We’re offering an exclusive rebate.
Schedule your furnace replacement before June 30th, and we’ll toss in a $200 rebate free of charge. Take note that this specific rebate is completely exclusive to SMART customers. Many other companies will try to sell you on the manufacturer rebates that are offered to pretty much everyone. Of course, we include those too, but we’re always looking to take it one step further in an effort to make it easier on you.
3) Right now, there’s lower demand.
We’re pretty proud of our turnaround time at all times of year, but if there was ever a time to pounce on our deftness, it’s now. Many people wait until they’re huddled around their ovens in the dead of winter to schedule an appointment. Of course, that’s probably not the best way to go about it.
A small tip, if you have a pilot light, you’re way past due. Odds are your unit is at least 25 years old, which means you’ll soon be hit with hefty repair bills if you haven’t been paying them already.
So don’t wait until it breaks. Keep your house temperature regulated, keep your energy costs down, and take advantage of the timing with our exclusive rebate. Replacing your furnace after winter is SMART.