Atlanta AC Tip: Save Energy and Save Money This Summer

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Though we hate to admit it, we all do it without thinking: turn our Atlanta AC higher instead of turning on a fan, or forget about the thermostat settings which are set to full-blast when we are not at home.  Oftentimes it is the simple things which can have the most impact, and with saving energy this is true as well.

Households throughout the US will spend somewhere between $1,200 and $2,200 per year on energy costs.  With the cost of living in many areas of life skyrocketing, it’s nice to know there are some easy ways to lower at least one household bill: the energy bill.  Of course, some of these fixes are free, and some cost a little time and energy, while others must be paid for as long-term investments.

 Free, Do-It-Yourself Energy Solutions

These quick and easy, do-it-yourself, no cost solutions produce energy saving results almost immediately!

  • Adjust the air conditioning thermostat to higher numbers, such as 78 while at home and 85 or higher when away.  Supplement AC usage with a ceiling or room fan, as moving air feels cooler on the skin.
  • Eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights, and equipment when not in use, unplug electronic chargers when not in use, and get rid of spare appliances such as refrigerators which are plugged in but not in use.
  • Put those dishwashing gloves away and let the dishwasher do the dirty-work!  Dishwashers use less water than washing by hand.  In addition, let the dishes air-dry rather than running through the heat-cycle to save even more.
  • Do laundry more efficiently by washing and rinsing in only cold water, and line dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Use the microwave to cook and not only speed up the cooking process, but use two-thirds less energy than a stove or conventional oven.

 Low-Cost, Economical Energy Solutions

Most of these energy saving options can be procured at the local hardware store, are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily done by any competent home-owner.

  • Replace HVAC filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Weather-proof your home by plugging air leaks on doors and windows with weather stripping, sealant, or caulk where applicable.
  • Purchase and install ENERGY STAR® certified products such as porch lights, floor and table lamps, pocket lights, and even programmable thermostats to ensure energy using items are using as little energy as possible.

 Invest in Energy Solutions

If it is important to you to save energy and money long-term and on a larger scale, there are a number of durable energy-saving investments to consider.

  • Purchase new windows, a new air-conditioning unit, refrigerator, or other household appliances which use less energy than older units
  • Install window and house shading such as patio covers, or strategically plant trees to shade the home during peak times of heat
  • Install a whole house fan which can suck cool air into the home after sundown or in the early morning in order to cool the entire house thus reducing air conditioning usage
  • Seal and insulate all household ducts in crawl spaces and attics
  • Increase or upgrade attic insulation to higher than the standard grade to keep housing temperatures more constant

To save energy also means to save money, and by following any of the simple steps listed above the average consumer can save energy and save money almost immediately.

For more information on how to save on cooling in Atlanta, give Cool Air Mechanical a call today!

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What Size Water Heater Do I Need for My Winston Home?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

When installing a new water heater in your Winston home, it is important to get one that is the appropriate size. Of course, one that is too small will not handle the capacity you need, so you will be stuck with water that is not quite hot enough.

You may think to just buy one that you are sure can more than handle the capacity you need, but there are drawbacks to this strategy. A water heater that is “too big” will also draw more power, resulting in waste and unnecessarily high bills. Plus, it will cost more up front than you really need to spend.

The trick is to get a water heater that is the correct size for your needs. For a conventional water heater with a tank, the metric you will need to refer to is the unit’s first hour rating, or FHR. To determine the necessary FHR, you first need to determine during which hour of the day your home uses the most water. Typically, this is either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, when most people are bathing. Once you know this, determine what the water usage is during that hour based on average usage for each task. For example, let’s say a typical morning in your home consists of:

  • 3 showers (average of 12 gallons each)
  • 1 food preparation (5 gallons)
  • 1 hand dishwashing (4 gallons)

That’s about 45 gallons of hot water needed during that hour, so you need a unit with an FHR somewhere in that ballpark. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good worksheet to use for these measurements, which includes average usage rates for common household hot water tasks.

If you are looking at getting a tankless water heater system, the process is a little more complicated. The important figure to know in that situation is the maximum temperature increase possible for a particular flow rate. That means adding up the flow rates for all the various appliances you may use at once, then figuring out how much you need to increase the temperature.

If you find any of this confusing, consider a professional consultation during the selection process. That will ensure you get the water heater that is right for you.

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Hapeville Heating Contractor Tip: Signs of an Undersized Furnace

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

If you’re purchasing a new furnace for your Hapeville home, you want to avoid buying one that is undersized for your particular space. To do that, here are some common signs that the furnace isn’t powerful enough for the heating needs of your home. These signs might appear for an older furnace as well, especially as it ages and loses its ability to provide adequate heat for your home.

Maintaining Temperature

The most common (and in many cases only) sign that your furnace is undersized is that the device simply doesn’t maintain the temperature in your home properly. This means that when turned on to full and left for a few hours, your furnace doesn’t heat your home to the thermostat setting.

This can be due to an improper load calculation or a load calculation that wasn’t taken at all. The perfectly sized furnace will heat your home evenly on the coldest day your area is likely to have. So, undersizing should be pretty evident – if it doesn’t heat your home evenly and it’s not exceptionally cold outside, you might not have enough BTUs under the hood.

How to Fix the Problem

The problem is one that varies depending on the severity of the undersizing. Modern furnaces are often available with two stages, meaning they can operate at both a low BTU rating (often around 40K or so) and a higher BTU rating (70K or higher). This is the perfect solution for homeowners worried about undersizing because it ensures that your home always has enough heat in reserve should the weather get exceptionally cold.

For example, most furnaces are sized for extremely low temperatures, but if the temperature jumps up to 50 degrees F outside, your furnace is now oversized for that weather. A two stage furnace offers solutions for both common conditions and extreme conditions and will resolve most of the concern you have about undersizing and not having enough heat to offset outdoor temperatures.

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