Premier Indoor Comfort Systems LLC Blog : Archive for July, 2011

I Have a Room that Won’t Stay Warm or Cool

Friday, July 29th, 2011

When you have a home heating or cooling system installed, you expect it to keep all areas of your home at the same temperature unless you tell it otherwise. But sometimes you’ll find that one of the rooms in your home just won’t stay warm no matter how high you turn up the heat. This can be a very frustrating situation, particularly if that room is one you use a lot.

Insulation and Ductwork Checkups

There are actually several possible reasons that a problem like this can develop. The first thing you should check is if there is adequate, proper insulation in the walls and the floor of the room. Even if you know that insulation is in place, it’s worth it to have a professional come take a look to see if the insulation there is still adequate. Even the best insulation doesn’t last forever, and once it breaks down, you could be losing a lot of heat to the outdoors in the winter.

If insulation isn’t the problem, it’s time to have someone examine your ductwork to see if it’s properly pressurized throughout or if there could be a break in the system somewhere leading to that room. If your home comfort system pumps heated and cooled air towards that room and that air is allowed to leak out along the way, you’ll never be able to maintain the comfort level you want.

Digging Deeper for Causes

Even if there is no break on the way to that particular room, a leak or blockage somewhere else can throw off the balance of the entire system, reducing how much temperature controlled air can reach that part of your home. These are all things that a professional duct tester can find and fix for you relatively easily and inexpensively.

Of course, it’s always possible that uneven heating and cooling is a symptom of a larger problem in your home heating and cooling system. But if that’s the case, you’re better off finding out sooner rather than later because the problem will only get worse when not addressed. No matter what the ultimate underlying cause for your uneven heating and cooling is, you’ll need a professional to come out and investigate before you can have it fixed for good.

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Comfort Options – What Are the Options?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

When it comes to finding the best way to keep your home comfortable all year round, there are quite a few options to consider. Of course, you first want to make sure that you have a good home heating and cooling system in place. But no matter how good they are, these systems can’t get the whole job done on their own. If you really want to obtain the optimal indoor environment for your home, you need to incorporate some other pieces of equipment as well.

Temperature Control Done Right

The best place to start building up your home comfort system may be with a state of the art programmable thermostat. These devices can be incorporated into just about any home heating or cooling system and will provide you with pinpoint control of your indoor environment. Not only will you be more comfortable indoors all year round, but you will likely save money by keeping your indoor temperature finely tuned.

Another great investment when you’re trying to create the most comfortable indoor environment is a zone control system. These products integrate with most home comfort systems and allow you to set different temperatures for different areas of your home at different times of day.

That way, you don’t have to heat your whole house to 70°F when you’re watching TV in your living room at night. Instead, you can simply turn up the heat in the area of the house you’re occupying and. This saves you both money on your heating bills and wear and tear on your furnace. Plus, it lets you keep areas like your kitchen cooler since you generate a lot of heat while you’re working in there.

The Air Your Breathe

Another factor that contributes greatly to your indoor comfort, whether you realize it or not, is your home’s indoor air quality. There are all types of pollutants that can find their way into your indoor air these days, and unless you have something in place to catch them, they can cause all types of problems for you and your family.

These pollutants trigger allergies and asthma or make the symptoms of these conditions worse. They also cause cold and flu symptoms to linger for longer, and some of the more noxious contaminants can make you sick all on their own. With this in mind, you’ll probably want to add an indoor air cleaner to your home comfort system as well.

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How Much Will I Save Switching to Fluorescent Bulbs?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about how much better and more energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs are than traditional incandescent. But going through your entire house and switching out all your old light bulbs for new ones is a big job. Plus, CFLs generally cost significantly more than the average incandescent bulb. So is it really worth it to switch to fluorescent bulbs?

In fact, it is. Fluorescent bulbs use so much less electricity than their incandescent counterparts that you’ll start saving money almost immediately. The average fluorescent light bulb will save you about thirty dollars in energy costs over the life of the bulb. This might not sound like a whole lot, but think about how many light bulbs there are in your house right now. Multiply that savings times the number of bulbs you have and you’re likely to come up with a pretty big number. In many cases, you can end up paying almost 80% less to run CFLs where you used to have incandescent bulbs.

Savings Over a Lifetime

The average lifespan for fluorescent bulbs is also much longer than it is for an incandescent, meaning that you won’t have to change your bulbs nearly as often as you do now. And while they are more expensive to purchase initially, you don’t have to buy fluorescent bulbs for years at a time. Think about it this way: if you calculate the total cost of purchasing all of the fluorescent bulbs you’ll need for 7 years (the average lifespan for one of these bulbs) and compare it to the total cost of purchasing incandescent bulbs (which typically last less than a year) for that long, it’s easy to see that CFLs are the more economical choice.

In addition to their direct cost-saving power, fluorescent bulbs also have some other advantages over incandescent bulbs. For instance, they generate much less heat, meaning that your air conditioner won’t have to work so hard to keep it cool indoors during the summer. And because they last so long and use so much less energy, fluorescent bulbs are the environmentally friendly choice as well. It’s important to note, however, that these types of light bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, so making sure you dispose of them safely and appropriately when the time comes is very important.

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Why Insulate a Basement

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Especially if your basement is unfinished, you probably do not spend much time down there. And if that is the case, it can be hard to see why you would want to expend the time and money to put in quality insulation in an area of your house that you do not use for much other than storage. But your basement can be costing you a lot if it is not insulated and you probably do not even realize it.

The simple fact is that closing the door to your basement does not summarily cut it off from the rest of your house. The entire floor surface of the first floor of your house is directly connected to the basement and there is a great deal of heat lost through there in the winter. That means that your central heating system will have to work harder to keep the living spaces of your house warm. Plus, the floor will just always be cold.

But putting insulation in your basement can dramatically cut down on the amount of heat you are losing in the winter. Rather than channeling that heat right through your floor and out into the cold soil beyond, an insulated basement will hold the heat and help to keep your first floor warmer. This will reduce your heating costs and it can also cut back on many of the moisture retention problems that basements are so prone to developing.

There are several different ways to insulate a basement and the appropriate one for your situation will depend on a variety of factors. Some insulation needs to be installed on the exterior of the basement walls, but this can be difficult and costly if you are trying to do it on an existing home. Exterior basement insulation usually makes the most sense when you are building a new home.

However, you can still insulate your basement thoroughly with insulation that is installed on the interior of your basement walls. While this may take a few inches of useable space away from you, it will be well worth it in the end.

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Home Inspection 101

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

When you are buying a house, you want to make sure you know exactly what you are getting. One of the most important things you should do before you agree on a deal is to hire a professional home inspector to come out and take a look. However, hiring these inspectors is expensive and you do not want to waste time and money on a house that is not worth it.

For that reason, it can be very helpful if you can take a look at a place on your own first to see if it is even worth making an offer on. Of course, you cannot complete the type of inspection that a professional would be able to do, but you can take a look for some important and easy to spot problems that will give you a good idea whether or not it is even worth taking the process on this house any further.

For instance, you should start by taking a look at the house from a good distance away. Make sure the house actually looks like it is standing upright and that it is even. Sometimes from a distance you can see that a house is actually leaning to one side when that is not obvious up close.

Also, this will give you a chance to check out the lay of the land around the house. Remember, you want water to flow naturally away from your house so that it does not get into the basement and cause a problem on a regular basis. That means that you want the ground to slope away from the house rather than be flat or slope towards it.

Check out all of the plumbing and be sure to run water, flush toilets and thoroughly inspect all bathrooms and the kitchen. You want to see high quality fixtures and good water pressure. Also, check to see how long you have to wait to get hot water at various locations throughout the house.

Be sure to find out what type of heating system the house has in place as well and how old it is. Even a system that works well will need to be replaced soon if it is more than 10 years old. While this may not necessarily stop you from purchasing the house, the cost of replacing that system can certainly impact the amount you are willing to offer.

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Save by Caulking Crevices and Penetrations

Monday, July 18th, 2011

They are nothing to be ashamed of. Really, everyone has them. You know – those little cracks and crevices that you always mean to get around to caulking but just have not found the time for yet. But they are so small, they cannot possibly be causing that many problems, right?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any small space that can let air in or out of your house could be costing you money – and a considerable amount too. The truth is that, next to inadequate insulation, leaks and drafts are some of the biggest drains on your home heating and cooling system.

After all, you are paying to heat or cool the air inside your house in order to keep the indoor environment comfortable all year round. But you do not want to be paying more than you need to be. That is why you bought the high efficiency HVAC system in the first place. If you have lots of drafts and cracks in various places throughout your house, however, you are almost certainly spending more than necessary to keep your house comfortable.

And the solution is so simple. You do not need to go out and spend a ton of money on an even more expensive heating and cooling system. All you really need to do is make sure that your home is sealed up as well as possible. And that means sealing up all of the cracks.

Caulking is an extremely effective way of doing this, and it costs very little, particularly if you take on the job yourself. But even if you hire a professional, the amount that you have to pay out will be returned to you many times over in savings on your monthly heating and cooling bills. There simply is no substitute for sealing up your house tight when you are trying to save money on heating and cooling costs.

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How a Circulating Fan Can Save You Money and Help Your AC Keep You Cool

Friday, July 15th, 2011

If you already have a central air conditioning unit, you probably have not though much about having some ceiling fans put in as well. After all, why would you need a fan when your air conditioner can keep you as cool as you want all year long?

Well, the truth is that a ceiling fan can actually contribute a lot to your household even when you do already have the central air in place. It can also save you quite a bit of money when it comes to your monthly cooling costs, so there is really no reason not to look into getting a ceiling fan of your own.

Certainly the air that air conditioners distribute throughout your house is quite cool. But a ceiling fan will help to circulate it much more effectively. In fact, a good ceiling fan can make a room feel up to eight degrees cooler than it actually is just because of the cooling affect that moving air has on your body.

This means that you could set the thermostat on your air conditioner higher and still enjoy the same level of comfort that you are used to. You may already know that for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer you will be saving up to 3% off of your regular energy bill. So if you can turn the air conditioning down by more than five degrees, you will surely be seeing some substantial savings.

Of course, you are still running the ceiling fan in place of the air conditioner, but the fan will use only a very small fraction of the energy that the air conditioner does. This all means that having a ceiling fan and using it wisely can help you cut your annual cooling costs dramatically.

And a ceiling fan will be useful in the winter as well. Since heat rises, you can turn your fan on backwards and it will push the heat that has risen to the top of your room back out along the walls and down. This means that you will be getting more for the heat you are paying for as well, making the ceiling fan a great money saver all year long.

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Save Money When Using Appliances and Home Electronics

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

As you are looking around your home for ways to save money on electricity, it is only natural to linger on the big things like your heating and air conditioning systems. However, there is also a lot to be saved in other areas if you know where to look and how to go about cutting back. Both the type of appliances that you buy and the way that you use them will directly impact your total electric bill every month, so it is certainly worth paying attention to what you are doing and what you could do better.

For one thing, it is almost always worth it to go with an Energy Star certified appliance whenever possible. It does not matter if it is a coffee maker or a washing machine. Every little bit helps and so you will be setting yourself up for much lower electric bill over time when you figure total energy usage into all of your purchases.

Using power strips is also a great way to make saving on electricity easy. No matter what you do, many appliances will draw a small amount of power even when they are switched off. So as long as things like your laptop, TV and toaster are plugged in, they are draining energy whether you are using them or not.

Of course, you could just go around and unplug everything you are not using, but that can get pretty tedious. Plugging these types of appliances and home electronics into a power strip makes it easy to just cut their power supply completely when you do not need them. And switching them back on again is just as easy. You do not even have to go crawling around on the floor looking for the plug.

There are certainly many items that you cannot or do not want to unplug or completely cut the power to at any time. For appliances and electronics that fall into that category, simply make sure you turn them off completely when they are not in use. Many home electronics will automatically switch to a standby mode rather than shutting down completely and it is easy to forget they are still on. However, you will save a lot if you make sure to shut them down completely when they are not in use.

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How Much Can I Save with New Equipment?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

There is certainly something to be said for upgrading your current HVAC equipment to newer, more energy efficient equipment. Doing so can save you a ton of money in heating and cooling costs and it can make your home a more comfortable place in general. Of course, upgrading your equipment is a big investment, but ideally you will save enough on your monthly energy bills that it will more than make up for the initial cost of the installation.

But before you can decide whether or not it makes sense for you to upgrade, you need to know exactly how much you stand to save every month by upgrading. And that will vary considerably depending on several particulars of your situation.

For instance, you will have to take the age of your current system into account. No matter how energy efficient your system was when you first bought it, that energy efficiency has almost certainly deteriorated over time. Plus, the older your system is, the less energy efficient it probably was to start with. And the less energy efficient your current system is, the more you will save when you upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient system.

But that is not the only variable you will have to be on top of. The amount you will save monthly and annually will also have to do with how much you use your HVAC system. If you live in a rather temperate climate, you may use your HVAC much less, both in the summer and the winter.

In a case like this, the percentage you will save with an equipment upgrade will be the same as it would for someone who lived in an area with a harsher climate, but the actual dollar value will be much lower. All that really means is that it will take you longer to recoup your investment, but it may still be worth it to invest in a new system now.

You will also need to be aware of other factors that could impact the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. For instance, if your house is not well insulated, it will not matter how good your HVAC system is. You will still be paying more than you should to keep the indoors comfortable, and while investing in a new system may save you money, you will save more by taking care of your insulation problem first.

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What Is the Single Biggest Money-Saving Home Upgrade You Can Make?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

While it would be great if there was a simple answer to this question, the real right answer depends to a great extent on your own particular situation. There are literally dozens of steps you can take to save on your home heating and cooling costs, and which ones are most appropriate for you will have a lot to do with what you already have, how you use it and where you live.

For instance, if you have a well-insulated house but your HVAC system is more than 10 or 15 years old, investing in a new system will almost certainly save you a ton in the long run. Even if your existing system is working well, the newer systems available are simply so much more energy efficient that having one will cut your monthly bills dramatically.

Plus, you will be replacing your system relatively soon anyway if it is that old, so you might as well start saving now on your heating and cooling costs. However, even the best heating and cooling system on the market will not save you that much money if you do not have a properly insulated and sealed house.

Insulation keeps the warm air in during the winter, and it also keeps colder air from seeping in. In the summer, it works the other way around, keeping in the air you are paying to cool and keeping out the hotter outside air. If you do not have thorough insulation or if it is too old, that temperature controlled air that you are paying for will be leaking out and unwanted outdoor air will be finding its way in. You will pay much more than necessary to keep the indoor temperature comfortable as a result.

If you have both good insulation and an energy efficient HVAC system, your thermostat might be the place to look when you want to try and cut your energy costs. A programmable or wireless thermostat might be just the ticket you need to cut back even more on your energy bills because of the added control it gives you to more precisely regulate the temperature inside your home.

Particularly if you have a large house, you might even consider having a zone control system put in so that you can set different temperatures for different areas of the house. After all, there is no need to be paying to regulate the temperature in a part of the house that is unoccupied.

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