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

How Do I Know If Solar Heating and Cooling Will Work On My Home? A Question From Cumming

Friday, September 30th, 2011

When undertaking any home improvement project in Cumming, there will be challenges making sure the new features fit well with the existing construction. Solar heating and cooling is no exception. You may want to install solar modules on your home for your HVAC needs, but will the two work together?

There are ideal conditions under which solar modules can be used, and striving to create these conditions will often present some challenges. Fortunately, in most circumstances, there are some easy adjustments you can make to ensure your new solar modules work as well as or better than advertised.

The Big Two

There are two major factors which play in to solar modules performance more than anything else. First is orientation, or where the house has exposure to the sun. Ideally, solar modules should be mounted facing south to maximize efficiency. They can also work when facing some easterly or westerly directions, albeit with some performance loss.

For maximum exposure to the sun, solar modules should be mounted at an angle that matches the latitude at which your home sits. You also want to avoid any obstructions. The path from the sun to the solar modules should be as clear as possible, with minimal shading or obstructions to interfere with the modules collecting light.

Other Challenges

Independent of these major variables, other issues can come into play when determining if solar heating and cooling will be a good fit for your home. You have to worry about geography and weather, your energy needs, and the insurance costs of adding solar power to your home.

While these challenges exist, as you can see there are generally ways around each of them. Consult with a contractor or other expert, who can help you decide if a SunSource® Home Energy System is a good fit for your home.

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How Much Can I Expect To Save On Energy If I Have A Solar Heating and Cooling System? A Tip From Acworth

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Everyone in Acworth knows about the benefits of solar energy for the environment. It reduces carbon emissions, preserves nonrenewable natural resources, reduces dependence on oil, etc. That is all well and good, but in tight economic times the question always comes down to one thing: how much will you save. People want to know how much going solar can really save them on costs, and if you are reading this, then you are probably wondering the same thing, and with good reason.

Savings Are Variable

Somewhat disappointingly, that’s the answer. There a number of factors to consider in the cost of using solar heating and cooling and the subsequent savings, and after considering all of them you may decide solar isn’t right for you. There is no one right answer, but below you can see some guidelines which ought to give you a better idea:

  • Energy costs for an average American household are estimated at about $195 per month, and rising at a rate of about 3.75% each year.
  • Despite the high initial cost, many solar systems are under warranty for 25 years, meaning you can expect them to last at least that long.
  • Depending on the utility price structure in your area, using solar for 50% of your household energy consumption may reduce costs by as much as 60%. Over 25 years, assuming the steady rate increase of 3.75%, your savings can be upwards of $60,000.

Keep in mind that these are only rough estimates. Research utility costs in your area and get estimates before installing. Solar energy calculator utilities are available online. You may find that you can use a system to offset a portion of your energy use, like the SunSource® Home Energy System, is the best option. Or, you may even find that solar energy is not the right option for you. The important thing is to do your homework and choose the home energy solution that is best for you and your family.

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How Do Solar Cells Work? A Question From Norcross

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Rising energy costs and concerns over depleted resources have many people seeking out alternative energy sources for their Norcross homes. One popular solution is solar cells, which harness clean energy from the radiation of the sun to use as electricity. This technology is not terribly new, of course, having been used in calculators for years. A house is rather different from a calculator, though, so the prospect of using solar cells as a source of electricity lends itself to some questions, especially “how does it work?”

How it Works

As you might imagine, there is some complex science behind how cells really work. Rather than get down to the nitty gritty physics of it all, a brief overview should do. Essentially, the radiation from the sun is a tremendous energy source, emitting up to 1000 watts of energy per square meter of Earth in a single day.

The materials in solar cells make them photovoltaic (PV), meaning they are able to convert light to energy. When light strikes the PV cell, its energy is passed along to a semiconductor, thereby generating a current. There’s a good deal more complexity involved in the process but essentially that’s it.

Making It Work for You

There are a number of issues to consider and obstacles to overcome in installing solar cells that work properly, such as:

  • Angle and Orientation – Ideally PV cells should be directed south, at an angle that is as close to the latitude of their location as possible. All sources of shade and other obstructions must be removed for the sake of efficiency.
  • Storage and Backup – The sun doesn’t shine all the time, so you will need a backup system in place. Some options include connecting your home to the power grid, using deep cycle batteries to store energy for use later, or installing a backup generator.
  • Current Inversion – The current produced by the photovoltaic process is DC, so in order to be used like “regular” electricity from a wall socket, it needs to be converted to AC. This means installing an inverter as part of the system. Some PV cells come with invertors built in.

Installing SunSource® Home Energy System can be a clean and budget-friendly idea, but it can also be somewhat complicated. Proper materials and installation are vital to proper functioning, so consult with a professional if you are in doubt.

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Is Special Insurance Required For Solar Systems? A Question From Big Canoe

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

After working the costs of installation and the potential savings of solar energy over time for your Big Canoe home, there is one more factor to include in your cost analysis: insurance. Inevitable questions surrounding the issue of insurance will arise such as whether home owner’s insurance covers your panels, if you can add coverage, and what additional insurance you might need. These are all logical and shrewd questions that you should be asking before installing a solar system in your house.

Existing Insurance

The unfortunate truth is that many homeowner’s policies won’t cover solar panels, with the logic being that the additional structure presents an additional liability. Insurance companies have expressed concerns over the solar panels overheating or that installation hardware mounted on the home creates opportunities for water to leak in.

These concerns have not been shown to be based in fact, but many companies still use them as guidelines. There is also the point of view held by some companies that because solar panels increase the potential resale value of the home, the insurance premiums should be correspondingly higher. In some cases, policies have been canceled due to the perceived increase in risk.

The most important thing is to inquire with your company regarding your current policy. Ask directly if you will be reimbursed for damage to solar panels, if they will raise your premiums, cancel your policy, and any other questions you might have.

Other Options

If you discover that your policy won’t cover solar panels, you still have some options. First of all, you can see if you can amend your policy to include your planned solar panels. If not, see if you can get a separate policy specifically for solar panels, either with your current company or another. Note that this will almost certainly be an additional expense, so you will want to account for that when figuring out costs. Fortunately, some of the more enlightened insurance companies offer discounts of up to 5% for homes that use solar power, so that may help offset the cost.

The degree of difficulty and amount of expense you must endure to insure a solar system will depend a lot on your insurance company’s philosophy and the area in which you live. The important thing is to look into these questions first in order to avoid a risky or expensive situation later.

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Testimonial: AJ From Fairburn

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

We try hard to offer great customer service and pride ourselves on our professionalism. It seems we are doing a pretty good job; here is what AJ from Fairburn wrote to us:

I’d like to take a moment to express my appreciation to the folks at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems for a job well done. From the moment I called to report the problem (just after 8:00a) until its resolution (after 9:00p same day), my wife and I were overwhelmed by their professionalism, courtesy, and expertise.

Long story short, I was out of town on business travel about a month ago, and my pregnant wife was home alone with no heat. Thankfully, Premier worked around her schedule and James Knox was able to come out in the evening to fix the problem. Mr. Knox and Premier (including the receptionist who took my initial call and the dispatcher who took a subsequent one) exemplify what I’ve tried so hard to find in a HVAC service provider for the past year: honesty, integrity, and good old-fashioned kindness. Mr. Knox easily found our problem which, coincidentally, resulted from the shoddy work performed by a previous company. He also went above and beyond to explain what was wrong, why it happened, and what we could do in the future for preventive maintenance.

Thank you, Premier. You have a customer for life – I only wish I’d found you sooner.

– AJ C.

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Energy Savings With Your Water Heater in Rockdale

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Your water heater is an often overlooked way to reduce the energy usage in your Rockdale home. While it might seem like a small change, something like lowering you water heater temperature can bring quite a lot of savings over time.  There are other things you can do to make your water heater can save energy, some as simple as using less hot water! This helps not only your wallet but also it is an easy way to lessen your impact on the environment. Here is a great section on EnergySavers.gov that details some of the ways that you can reduce the energy usage of your water heater: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13030

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Is Your Home More Valuable with Energy Efficient Appliances? A Question From Fairburn

Friday, September 16th, 2011

It’s impressive the things people do to improve the value of their Fairburn home. We’re talking about crown molding, new floors, new siding, upgrades to the landscaping and much more. The cost of upgrading these things can grow out of hand quickly and if the boost to your home’s value isn’t equally exponential, it’s hard to justify the expense.

So, it’s always nice to find a simple upgrade that can be performed for a few hundred dollars that will save you money immediately and improve the value of your home in the future. Your appliances are one such upgrade.

The Value of Energy Efficiency

An energy efficient washing machine can save upwards of $150 per year on water costs. An energy efficient toilet cuts consumption by as much as 150%. Low flow shower heads cut water costs by one third to one half and your heating and air conditioning systems can be improved by 10-35% depending on the upgrades available to you.

When you add up all those savings, the result is a tremendous amount of money that can be saved each year on everything from your water bill to your cooling needs. Imagine what happens when someone looks to buy your home. They see that there are all new appliances with energy efficient ratings that will save them money.

It’s not just lower bills; it’s a decrease in upfront investment. On the surface, it’s unlikely that your energy efficient appliances will directly increase the value of your home, but they can increase the likelihood of someone paying what you’re asking for the home. They add value to the livability of the home, if not the property itself and in today’s housing market, that’s a major plus.

Best Upgrades

The best upgrades to your home’s appliances are the ones that save money without additional work. Major upgrades to your heating and cooling are good if you need an upgrade anyway or you plan on staying in your home for a few years.

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How Long Does It Take To Install A Solar Power System In A Home? A Question From Douglasville

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

As with any major home improvement project, the process of installing solar power takes a good amount of time, even in Douglasville. However, most of that time is spent on research, planning, and purchasing leading up to the actual installation. This is important to keep in mind, as investing in solar energy is nothing to rush into, and there is a great deal to be considered first.

Once all this preparation is done, the actual installation is usually brief, depending on how robust your system will be and any additional components needed. Some “extras” that may cause installation to take a little longer may include:

  • System Size and Capacity – Obviously, the time it takes to install a system will vary depending on how many panels need to be installed. Even so, most home systems will use few enough panels that the time difference is not substantial.
  • Ground Mounting – A ground mount is sometimes necessary when there isn’t a good place to install panels on the house itself. This can be due to roof orientation, less than ideal angles, or nearby obstructions. The additional variables and construction of a ground mount may take a few extra days.
  • Backup Systems – For homeowners who opt to have batteries and/or a generator installed as backup, installation will take a bit longer due to the added complexity. Backup systems require additional components and wiring, which takes some extra time.
  • Weather – Often an overlooked variable, the weather is important as installing solar panels involves working outside and at inclined levels. Bad weather can put workers in danger, so the work may be necessarily delayed.

For most simple home systems, installation will take only a few days. Even with more complex systems that incorporate some of the additional elements mentioned above, installation time should not be affected by more than a day or two. As long as the process goes according to plan and the weather holds, you could expect to have your system up and running within a week. For many, that timeframe is even less. Also, since the work is being done outside, you generally will not be disturbed, aside from some sounds of movement on the roof.

Although installation is a big part of the process of switching to solar, the time it takes is not significant when compared to the preparations that should be done beforehand. Installation should be a brief, albeit exciting, culmination of a longer planning process.

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How to Avoid Mold Spores: A Tip From Big Canoe

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Mold is one of the single worst problems you can face as a homeowner in Big Canoe. So, how do you prevent it from appearing in the first place? Here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of mold growth and infestation in your home.

Moisture

The very first thing you should do is get rid of excess moisture in your home. Mold needs moisture to grow, so by denying it that moisture you severely reduce your mold risk. Dry your bathroom after showers, install a dehumidifier for the basement and check humidity levels in the summer for excess moisture in the air. If there are damp areas of your house that you have trouble controlling, make sure you don’t store anything there. Avoid placing boxes, clothing or anything else that could harbor mold on concrete floors or in crawlspace areas where dampness could occur.

Ventilation and Heat

If you have a finished basement, make sure it is heated properly to avoid excess moisture build up. Cool spaces in the basement can result in high levels of humidity which in turn result in mold growth. Additionally, ventilation is key throughout your house, especially if you have a moisture problem. Get fans and open windows if necessary, but keep air moving to help dry and keep dry those spaces.

Air Filtration

Having a forced air system for air conditioning or heating can result in moisture build up in your ductwork along with allergens that lead to mold growth. To avoid potential mold spores, make sure you install an air cleaner to supplement the forced air system. Get a good air filter will have a MERV rating of at least 8, although 11 is better when you are trying to avoid any potential allergy issues. Whole house air cleaners are an ideal solution here as they will capture all of the particles floating around your house.

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Handy Ways to Remember Your Filter Changing Schedule: A Guide From Fayetteville

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Changing the air filters in your furnace and air conditioner is an essential maintenance task. The benefits of having a fresh filter for the air circulating in your Fayetteville home are numerous. The better air quality is good for your respiratory health, fewer allergens permeate the air, your system runs more efficiently and you save money. So why is it so difficult to remember to replace those filters? To help prevent those issues, try some of these tips to remember your replacement schedule.

Set Reminders for Later

Think of the last time you inspected and replaced your air filter. Was it more than three months ago? Replace it now. Can’t remember? Replace it anyway. Go ahead; this post will wait. Now that you’ve taken care of that, set a reminder for three months from now. Try one of these systems to remind yourself:

  • Put it into your cell phone calendar.
  • Use a calendar application that sends email alerts to remind you.
  • Circle the day on your wall or desk calendar.

Whatever method works best for you, make sure to use it and stick to it. While you are at it, set monthly reminders to inspect the filters. The EPA recommends making the switch every three months, or whenever the filter is visibly dirty.

Make a Connection

If you don’t like to have reminders, or perhaps find yourself forgetting to even set the reminders, hope is not lost. Try scheduling filter changes to coincide with something you will remember, or putting it on the same day as other routine maintenance tasks. Here are some examples:

  • Make the day of the month the same as that of your birthday or anniversary. Bonus points if your birthday is June 25, since that combines with Christmas to take care of two replacements a year. Just remember March and September and you are all set!
  • Three months is about as often as cars need oil changes, so do both on the same day. Drove 3000 miles already? Time to change the furnace filter.
  • Schedule on a holiday. In the U.S., for example, Martin Luther King Day, Easter Sunday, the Fourth of July and Columbus Day are all approximately three months from one another.

The Failsafe

If all else fails, hire a professional to inspect and change the filters for you, and rely on his appointment keeping skills to make up for any memory lapses you may have. It will cost a bit more than DIY, but at least it will get done, and the maintenance will save you on the costs of wasted energy.

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