Top 5 Energy Zapping Habits in Winter

According to the Energy Information Administration, there will be an increase in heating bills this coming winter. Almost half of Americans use natural gas to heat their homes, and the cost of that is predicted to be 25% higher than last year. Those who heat their homes with electricity can also expect to pay more – about an 8% increase from 2021. Wasted energy translates into a higher bill at the end of the month. Here are some ways you may be wasting energy without even realizing it. 

  • Lack of strategy – most of us like to feel cozy and warm during the cold weather, which can lead to cranking up the thermostat to heat your home. However, if you have the heat turned up all the time, you are wasting a lot of energy and your bill will reflect that. Be strategic when adjusting the temperature. During the parts of the day when you are home and not in bed, you can raise the temperature a few degrees for comfort. When you go to bed and are snuggled up under the covers, you should lower the temperature. You don’t need the temperature to be as high and research suggests that sleeping in cooler temperatures can be healthier and more restful. You also need to adjust the temperature when you leave for the day – you don’t want to pay to heat an empty home. Don’t turn the heater off, just lower the temperature a few degrees. An easy way to save money and energy is to install a Smart Thermostat. You can control it remotely from your phone and it learns your habits, so even if you forget to make the thermostat adjustment, it will do it for you. 
  • Clothing optional – wearing shorts and a t-shirt when you are home during the winter is another way you are wasting energy. In cooler weather, throw on a comfy pair of slippers and a warm sweater instead of raising the temperature. Obviously, if you are still cold, go ahead and raise the thermostat by a degree or two, but try putting on an extra layer of warm clothes before you do that. 
  • Leaking windows and doors – heated air can easily escape through gaps and poor seals around windows and doors. You can check for leaks by lighting a candle and slowly tracing the outline of the window or door. The flame should remain relatively steady. If the flame or smoke starts to pull strongly in one direction, that indicates a leak. Some of these leaks can be taken care of on your own, by purchasing a door draft guard or weather stripping for your windows. If your windows or doors are very old, it is probably time to replace them with more energy-efficient models. Look for the EnergyStar logo when shopping. 
  • Space heaters – these seem like a quick and easy fix for areas that are notoriously cold. Don’t be fooled – they suck up a lot of energy and don’t really heat spaces efficiently. They are designed to heat a small space for a short amount of time. Running them continuously as a primary source of heat will significantly increase your energy bill. Instead of spending money on a high bill, use it instead to replace or repair your current heating system – it will end up costing you less in the long run.
  • Ceiling fan rotation – we often forget that ceiling fans can contribute to heating our homes, not just cooling them. The blades sit at an angle that allows the fan to either push air down or pull it up. In the summer you want the fan to rotate counterclockwise to create a cooling breeze. In the winter you need to turn the small switch and shift the rotation clockwise and have it on a low speed. Because warm air rises, the heated air will be at the top but the ceiling fan will force it back down and make the space warmer. The small switch should be down in the summer and up in the winter, or (if horizontal) left for summer and right for winter. 

In order for your heating system to operate as efficiently as possible, you should schedule an HVAC maintenance visit this fall, before you turn on your heat. Our knowledgeable team at Weather Crafters will make sure that your system is in tip-top shape, and ready to handle cold temperatures. To save energy and save money, take care of your HVAC system. Give Weather Crafters a call today!

What Should be Checked During your Fall HVAC Inspection

To keep your family healthy and safe, and to prolong the life of your HVAC system, you should schedule an HVAC inspection twice a year. The first should be in the spring when you are getting ready to turn on the air conditioning and the second should be in the fall before you switch over to heating your home. It is important to go with an established and reputable HVAC company, like Weather Crafters. Our experience and knowledge will ensure that your HVAC is functioning as efficiently as possible. When we complete a fall inspection, we look at 3 major components: efficiency, safety, and operations. 

  • Efficiency 
    • Look at: the blower capacitor and blower motor AMP draw,  the draw of the inducer motor AMP, the cleanliness of the blower assembly, the draft diverter, and the flue pipe
    • Why? Efficiency is important in HVAC systems because it saves money and energy, and it can improve the lifespan of the system. An old or damaged HVAC can still work well enough to heat your home, but you will be paying a lot more for your energy bills. During the inspection, the specialist will make sure that everything is running smoothly. If any problems are discovered, they will be fixed. Catching issues when they are small can save you a lot of time and money. Big fixes are expensive but having your HVAC checked twice a year will reduce the chance of that happening.
  • Safety
    • Combustibles – the specialist will look for any materials that are considered combustible near your gas furnace (aerosol cans, lighter fluid, paint thinner, different types of oils, beauty products, alcohol-based products). If they find anything they will let you know and move it away from the furnace. This can make the difference if you have a problem, from a small fire to something much larger and more dangerous.
    • Gas leaks – the specialist will bring a machine that can detect different types of gas leaks throughout your home. If anything is detected, the specialist will complete further testing and fix the leak. 
  • Operations
    • Ductwork – we check to make sure your ductwork is properly functioning to ensure efficiency. Leaky ducts could mean that cold air is coming in and interrupting the heating system.
    • Pilot light – a quick check of the ignitor and pilot light will make sure that your heating system is able to turn on when needed.
    • Heat rise – this test checks to see if the furnace is properly heating the air. If the temperature is too low, the heat won’t rise, and that can indicate underlying issues. If the temperature is too high, it could result in a limit switch being tripped and the furnace will turn off to prevent overheating. 

Regular inspections and maintenance of your HVAC will help you to keep your family safe and comfortable and lower your monthly bills. Don’t wait until you notice problems with your heating and cooling system – take preventative measures. Call Weather Crafters today to schedule your next visit. 

a/c constantly running

Why Is My A/C Constantly Running?

If your a/c unit is constantly running, that is not a good sign. There are many reasons for it to continually run, and some are easy fixes, while others can be more expensive. The bottom line is this: an air conditioner that is running non-stop is wasting energy and shortening its lifespan. Here are some possible causes and what to do. 

  • Filter – the job of the filter is to remove dust, pollen, dander, and other particles from the air to keep things clean. If you neglect the filter it can become clogged and the HVAC system has to work harder to push the air past the clog. This could be the reason that your a/c is constantly running, and that is a sign that things are not running efficiently. The easiest thing you can do to improve your a/c is to regularly change the filter. It helps clean the air and allows your a/c to run more efficiently. Why is efficiency important? Efficiency leads to lower energy bills and a longer lifespan for the HVAC, which saves you money. 
  • Leaks – if your home has leaks, it could be the reason behind a constantly running air conditioner. Leaky doors and windows can allow warm outdoor air to infiltrate your home. Meanwhile, air ducts that leak can allow cooled air to seep into unwanted spaces of your home, like your attic or basement. These can all be reasons for an a/c that runs all the time. It is working hard to cool your home, but if the cooled air doesn’t arrive at the desired destination, the thermostat will never register the proper temperature. Hot air from outside can dilute the cooled air and again the thermostat doesn’t measure the desired temperature. It tells the air conditioner to keep running to achieve the set temperature. Making sure your home is properly insulated is important throughout the year, especially during the summer and winter months. You pay to cool and heat your home, but if not properly insulated, that air can seep outside or into unwanted areas like a crawl space or attic. Depending on your budget, there are different options to insulate your home. Some are DIY methods like caulking, while others might involve hiring a contractor to install new windows or better insulation in the attic. If you suspect you have leaky air ducts, contact Weather Crafters to help determine where the leak is. Scheduling regular maintenance visits with a professional HVAC specialist can help catch any problems early on, so think about making a maintenance appointment soon.
  • Thermostat – if you set your thermostat too low, that can cause your air conditioner to run constantly. For example, you come home from vacation. To save energy, you turned the air conditioner off while you were away, so the indoor temperature is 85 degrees. It’s hot so you want to cool things down quickly and set the thermostat to 68 degrees. By setting it low, it seems logical that the temperature will lower quickly. However, that is not a great idea. A thermostat that is set too low will leave the air conditioner running constantly and this doesn’t allow the HVAC system to run through a proper cycle. It won’t be able to keep up with the demand and it will just continue to run, without really lowering the temperature. Instead of drastically lowering the temperature, do it in increments. First set it to 80 degrees, and then lower it to 78, and so on. Another great idea is to install a Smart thermostat so that you can adjust the temperature remotely. Talk to our team at Weather Crafters to see what Smart thermostat will fit your needs.
  • Size – another reason your a/c might be running all the time is that it is too small for your home. Air conditioners are rated by size – 1.5 tons up to 5+ tons. A 1.5-ton unit is rated for a space that has 1,000 square feet while a 3-ton unit can handle anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. If your a/c is too small for the space you are trying to cool, it will constantly be running. It can’t produce enough cool air and because of this it will not run through a complete cycle, it will just keep going. This puts a lot of strain on the system, shortening its lifespan and increasing your bills.
  • Time to Replace – a constantly running a/c can also be a sign that the system is nearing the end of its life. It may be too worn out to meet the demands of cooling your home so it is constantly running to try to keep up. Some systems just stop working, but many reach a point where they aren’t operating efficiently anymore. Compare your energy bills over the past few years, and if this summer the cost has increased significantly, it is probably time to consider a replacement. If well-cared for, many air conditioners can last 15 to 20 years. However, if your system is over 10 years old, it is time to plan. To increase your a/c’s lifespan, make sure you have regular maintenance completed. Also, start setting aside money to buy a new air conditioner and begin researching what type you may want as your replacement. 

An air conditioner that is constantly running is not a good sign. It means things are not being cooled efficiently and this can put a strain on your HVAC system. A shortened lifespan and higher energy bills are costly additions. You need to determine the source of the problem and then make an action plan to fix it. Talk to a certified HVAC specialist to figure out the best way to resolve these issues so that you can stay comfortable this summer without breaking the bank. Call Weather Crafters today to schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable team. 

 

cool a/c tips summer

Stay Cool with Some A/C Tips for Summer

According to Energy Star, 13% of your yearly energy bill will probably go to cooling your home in the summer months. To lower your bill and to keep your home comfortable in the heat, try following a few of these a/c tips this season. 

  • Regular Maintenance – No matter what time of year it is, regular maintenance on your HVAC system is key. It’s something you can do to save money, improve your HVAC’s efficiency, and keep your family comfortable. Most HVAC specialists recommend having your system inspected twice a year – once in the spring, before turning on the air conditioning, and once in the fall before switching over to heat. A trained HVAC specialist will come in and check to see that everything is running smoothly. Any repairs will be taken care of and any small issues will be looked into, before they become a bigger problem. Paying for regular maintenance will save you money in the long run. Your HVAC system will live longer, so you don’t have to buy a new one as soon. A new HVAC costs anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 and it will last somewhere between 10 and 20 years. An $8,000 HVAC that lives 12 years costs you a lot more than if that same HVAC lives for 17 years. Regular maintenance also saves you money on your monthly bill because it makes sure that the system is running as efficiently as possible. Efficient HVACs use less energy and that means you save! 
  • Filters – Another simple thing you can do to improve your air-conditioning this summer (and your HVAC throughout the year) is to regularly change the filters. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it helps keep your home clean. Filters should usually be changed about every 90 days, but that can vary based on your individual needs, location, and the quality of the filter. More expensive filters usually filter out more irritants and they can sometimes last longer between changes. Filters might not seem like they would have anything to do with air-conditioning but they actually do. When your air-conditioning is running, it pushes the cooled air through the air ducts that run throughout your home. The air ducts also move the air through the air filter to clean it and remove particles that are floating. These particles can be chemicals from hair spray, pet dander, dust mites, pollen, cigarette smoke… the list is long. If the air filter hasn’t been changed recently, it can become clogged with all these little particles it is trapping. This means it is harder for the cooled air to move through the filter, sort of creating a back-up in the air duct. The HVAC starts to work harder to push the air through the clogged filter, which means it is using more energy, less efficiently, and your home won’t be cooled as smoothly. Changing the filter is simple and if you don’t know how, ask your HVAC specialist to show you the next time they are over for a maintenance visit. If you have trouble remembering when to change the filter, you can sign up online for an automatic filter delivery. It will be delivered when it is time to change, so you don’t have to keep track. You just know that when the filter arrives, it is time. 
  • Vents – Making sure your vents are clear and clean can also improve your air conditioner’s efficiency this summer. Dust or other build-up around the vent can be bad for your health because you are breathing it in. If you have curtains, couches, or other objects blocking the vent, that can also impede your a/c system. A closed vent in an unused room does the same thing – it DOES NOT save you energy. The blocked air pushes back down the air ducts and that creates a sort of traffic jam, causing your HVAC to work harder to push the air through the ducts. 
  • Smart Thermostat – Upgrading to a smart thermostat is indeed a smart idea. It allows you to control the temperature in your home remotely. If you are away on vacation this summer, you can raise the temperature a few degrees while you are gone to save money. You can also lower the temperature before you return. This allows the HVAC system to work efficiently, rather than rushing to drop the temperature as fast as possible (which is really inefficient). A smart thermostat also tracks your habits and starts to make adjustments for you, to help your air conditioner run as efficiently as possible. Talk to one of the Weather Craft team to discuss which smart thermostats would fit your lifestyle. 
  • Check Outdoor Unit – Another quick thing you can DIY to prep your air conditioning for summer is to regularly check the outdoor condenser unit to make sure that it is clear from any grass, leaves, or other debris that may have accumulated over the winter. It’s hard to miss, it is usually a big, gray box that blows hot air when the a/c is running. Its job is to pull the hot air from your home and disperse it outside. If the condenser is blocked by anything, it makes it harder to push the hot air out. This part of the a/c can sometimes be forgotten but it does make a big difference when cooling your home. Check it every few weeks to be sure nothing has grown up or blown in to block it. 

Summer heat is no joke and once you are done enjoying the outdoors, it is nice to come inside and cool down. Making sure that your a/c unit is prepared to run efficiently is key to staying comfortable this summer. Call Weather Crafters today to schedule a maintenance visit and ensure that you are ready to go as the temperature continues to rise.

4 Questions to Ask BEFORE Buying a New Central A/C

Purchasing a new air conditioning system can be expensive and stressful. Thinking about these questions ahead of time will help you to make a more informed decision and feel more comfortable.

What is my budget? 

This is a question you need to ask yourself before you go talk to an HVAC company so you have a clear idea of what you are looking for. The cost for a new central air conditioning unit ranges from about $3,500 to more than $7,500. This is based on the brand and type of unit, as well as what size it is rated for. If you have a larger home, expect to pay more for a bigger unit. Spending a little more on a new a/c unit can actually save you money in the long run. A higher-quality system is usually more energy efficient, which means you will pay less in monthly energy bills, and the system will most likely live longer. A system that lasts longer obviously costs less. If you have an older air conditioner (say, more than 10 years old), it would be a great idea to start saving money for a new unit. Most a/c systems last between 15 and 20 years. If you weren’t able to plan ahead, talk to Weather Crafters to find out about financing options and to see if we have any promotions coming up. 

What size unit should I get?

The bigger your home is, the more expensive the air conditioner will be. Units are rated based on the square footage of the space they are cooling. They range from 1.5 tons (600 to 1,000 sq. feet) all the way to 5 tons (2,500 to 3,300 sq. feet). If you have a space that is 800 sq. feet it might seem like a good idea to buy the next size up and get a 2 ton unit, rather than a 1.5 ton unit. However, that can actually work against you. If an a/c system is too big for the space, it can wear itself out more quickly than an appropriately sized unit would. A big unit will cool the area fast, and then shut off, before running through the cycle completely. It will keep turning on to cool, and then off, and then on, over and over. HVAC systems are made to work as efficiently as possible, so if it can’t run the complete cycle, it is actually wasting energy. A properly sized unit might turn on once every hour, run the cycle, and then turn off for 30 minutes before starting the cycle over. A unit that is too big will turn on, cool things down, and turn off all in a 15 minute period. So in the same hour and a half, the oversized unit will have turned on 3 times, while the properly sized unit only turned on once and ran the full cycle. On the flipside, if a unit is too small, it will constantly run, wasting energy and wearing itself out, shortening its life span. It is constantly running because it is unable to maintain the desired temperature without producing cool air all the time. If you aren’t sure what size unit you need, talk to an HVAC specialist to discuss what option is right for your home and your budget. 

Can I keep my current ductwork?

Keeping your existing ductwork might save you money, if it is in good condition. Ducts that are leaky or poorly maintained can cost a lot of money in energy bills. You are paying to cool your living spaces, but a leaky duct might mean you are cooling the space under the floorboards instead. It’s also important that your ducts are cleaned regularly. They can be a haven for mold, mildew, bacteria, and other irritants, so now might be a great time to schedule a cleaning. When deciding if you should keep your current ducts, or purchase new ones, have them inspected by an HVAC specialist to determine what shape they are in.

What new technologies would you recommend?

HVAC technology is constantly evolving and becoming more energy efficient. Even relatively new air conditioning systems can be more costly than the most up-to-date models. While the newest technology generally costs more, it could be worth it in the long run. Energy efficiency will cut down on your monthly cooling costs and lengthen the lifespan of your system. Talking to one of the Weather Crafters team is a great way to know about the latest technologies. Whether you are interested in upgrading to a smart thermostat, looking into a ductless air conditioning system, or just want to know what’s out there, our highly-trained team is ready to answer any questions you might have.

New air conditioning systems are expensive so you want to feel confident in what you are purchasing. Let Weather Crafters help you make the right choice, call today to schedule an appointment with our team.