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The cost to stay cool can be a burden on your wallet, but there are simple things you can do around the house to help lower your energy bill each month.
ENERGY SAVING TIPS & IDEAS
LOWERING THE ENERGY BILL THIS SUMMER
To begin with, keep your curtains and blinds closed during the heat of the day to ward off unwanted heat and make sure all lights and TVs are turned off when not being used. Additionally, turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room. Fans don't actually cool off a room, but they do make you feel cooler. Turning them off will save energy.
SWITCH THE CEILING FAN'S DIRECTION
The ceiling fan can be an asset to your home year round. It can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter simply by flipping a switch at its base to reverse the direction that the ceiling fan rotates.
When your ceiling fan is running in the counter-clockwise direction, air is pushed down to create good circulation and comfortable temperatures by creating a cooling effect. When the fan is running in the clockwise direction, warm air near the ceiling is pushed down to warm up the room.
TURN UP YOUR THERMOSTAT
When home during the hot summer months, try to turn up your thermostat as comfortably possible. Simply adjusting the thermostat up or down 3 degrees can save you up to £100s per year. Additionally, if you like to sleep with a lower temperature, a programmable thermostat can automatically adjust to accommodate you. In the morning, the temperature can automatically increase so you don't have to get out of bed to a cold house. This can also be programmed to set your home's temperature at higher or lower temperatures when home or away to save energy.
WATCH YOUR ELECTRONICS TO SAVE ENERGY
Look to your desk lamps, vanity lights and TVs as the next source of energy wasters. When a TV or lamp is located directly beneath a thermostat, your thermostat is tricked into thinking the room is hotter than it really is because of the artificial heat that radiates from that specific heat source. While the heat from a TV or light may not warm up a room, your thermostat doesn't know the difference. Simply move the heat source away and you'll prevent the thermostat from turning on and off as frequently.
VENTILATION - THE DRY SIDE OF HUMIDITY
Humidity isn't always what it's cracked up to be. You may familiar with this common weather phenomenon during the summer months, but dry skin, static electricity, a scratchy throat and coughing can all be sign's of low humidity levels in your home. Investing in a home humidifier can help you maintain comfortable humidity levels between 30 percent and 50 percent. Adding humidity also helps you keep the thermostat at a lower temperature in the winter, which lowers energy bills! However, contact a qualified heating and cooling technician to find a humidifier that fits your needs.
CONTROL THE HUMIDITY AND MINIMISE ALLERGENS AT HOME
High humidity and temperature can increase concentrations of some indoor pollutants. So, to reduce indoor allergens, it's important to maintain a moderate indoor temperature, plus a relative humidity from 30 percent to 50 percent, to contain the growth of some biological contaminants, including bacteria, molds, mildew, pollen, viruses, animal dander, cat saliva, dust mites and cockroaches.
Children, the elderly, people with breathing problems, allergies and lung diseases are especially susceptible to disease-causing biological agents from indoor air. Biological contaminants can trigger allergic reactions and some types of asthma. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, dizziness, fatigue, fever and shortness of breath.
To minimise the contaminants in your home:
- Install and use exhaust fans vented to the outside in kitchens and bathrooms and vent clothes dryers to the outside.
- Ventilate lofts and crawl spaces to prevent moisture from building up.
- Keep your house clean to reduce dust mites, pollens, animal dander and other allergy-causing agents.
- Take steps to minimise mold and mildew in cellars.
TAKE CARE OF THE AIR: 10 STEPS TO IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY
During the cooler months of the year most people find themselves spending more time indoors. As such, indoor air quality (IAQ) is something to consider in maintaining a healthy home environment.
Seasonal asthma and pesky respiratory infections are major concerns for many people this time of year. But luckily, most people can improve their indoor air quality just by making a few easy changes. The following 10 steps can help you get started:
- Contact a certified IAQ specialist to monitor and report on your home or office.
- Keep pet hair and dander out of the sleeping areas, and away from upholstered furniture, carpets, and stuffed toys. Vacuum and clean carpets, rugs, and furniture often.
- Don't smoke (and don't allow others to smoke) inside your home or vehicle.
- To guard against carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate rooms that have fireplaces. Make certain the flue damper is operational and fully open when in use, and ensure the chimney is properly sealed. Also install carbon monoxide alarms throughout your residence.
- Closely monitor your bathroom for signs of mold growth. Proper ventilation is necessary to allow it to dry thoroughly. Consider calling a certified mold remediation specialist if signs of mold appear.
- Dust and vacuum your bedroom (and beddings) regularly to help keep down dust and dust mites.
- If you must use pesticides, limit your exposure, ventilate the area well and keep them away from food. Follow all manufacturer's directions and warnings.
- Consider having your home's central air heating systems—including boilers, flues, and chimneys—inspected annually and properly repair cracks or damaged parts.
- Have your office air ducts cleaned regularly.
- Change your heater and/or air conditioner filters regularly.
It makes sense to ensure the air we breathe is as clean as possible.
MAINTENANCE AND REPLACEMENTS
GIVE THE HEATING AND AC SYSTEM A CHECK-UP
Just like your car needs regular service to work safely and properly longer, your cooling system can cost you more than it should to make you comfortable without regular maintenance. Having an annual maintenance service is important to the life expectancy and energy efficiency of your air conditioning unit. Part of the service check includes tightening electrical connections, cleaning evaporator and air conditioning coils, checking the refrigerant levels, sanitizing and cleaning the coil drain, checking air distribution, lubricating the fan motor, checking calibration of the thermostat and changing the air filter.
THINGS TO CHECK BEFORE CALL FOR AC SERVICE
Before you pay an AC repair company to check your broken air conditioner, ensure the main power switch that is supplying the power to the equipment is in the ON position. Second, check all circuit breakers and reset them if needed. Some breakers will trip only half way and will need to be turned off, then back on. Third, replace any defective fuses in the consumer unit or in equipment switches. Next, be sure the thermostat is properly set in the heating or cooling mode and that it's set high enough for the system to come on. Fifth, be sure the air filters are clean. Sixth, make sure the blower compartment door is secured. Lastly, familiarise yourself with the equipment operation manual to make certain the system is functioning normally.
AIR FILTER TIPS FOR NEW EQUIPMENT OWNERS
Aire Serv Cornwall recommends that air filters be changed or cleaned within two weeks of start-up of your new system. If your office is new or newly remodeled, this is very important due to dust, fumes and building materials floating in the air. As a rule of thumb, a follow-up check every 30 to 45 days can then be adopted. Dirty air filters will increase your operating cost and make your equipment work harder, possibly causing damage to your equipment. High efficiency air filters are available for your comfort system.
GET A PLAN-A MAINTENANCE PLAN THAT IS
Maintenance agreements are your best protection against expensive repairs on your heating and air conditioning equipment. Think of a boiler and AC service like changing the oil in your car. It is important to maintain the expensive purchase of your heating and cooling system with routine maintenance and services for longevity, performance and safety. With regular service, you will prolong the life cycle of your equipment, maintain the highest efficiency possible and catch problems early before damage occurs. Many companies provide maintenance agreements.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR EQUIPMENT FROM LOSING POWER
If your power goes OFF or if it blinks ON and OFF, turn your system off and wait five minutes after power is restored before turning the system back on to avoid equipment damage. This will help protect your equipment from abnormal operating conditions or any power surges/spikes that may occur. Surge protectors are a great for protecting all your home electronics, including your heating and air conditioning equipment. A properly sized and placed surge protector can be a small investment that helps protect your more costly investments.
GET A BOILER SERVICE IN AUTUMN
Before the chilly autumn nights set in, it's important to make an appointment for your boiler's annual checkup. Without this yearly cleaning and inspection, a heating system can wear itself out quickly, pump deadly carbon monoxide into your home or simply stop working. Whatever type of system you have, don't wait until it breaks down to call for service. A clean, well-adjusted heating system will save you money on fuel and prolong boiler life. Annual servicing is affordable—typically less than £100—especially when compared with the price of a new boiler.
SHOULD YOU REPAIR OR REPLACE YOUR HEATING & AC SYSTEM?
If your heating and cooling system is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider replacing it with a more efficient system. There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not to repair or replace a system, such as its age to overall investment costs, from initial purchase price to long term operating costs, and utility rates. You should also contact your local utility company to see if there are any rebates available for replacing your existing system.
SAVE MONEY WITH DIGITAL THERMOSTATS
Heating systems use the most energy in a home. One way to keep the costs in check is to install a digital thermostat. This simple gizmo can automatically change a home's temperature while the occupants are away or asleep for optimum energy efficiency.
For every degree a thermostat is set back during an eight-hour period (or up during air conditioning season), the energy savings equals up to one percent. Set the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for the eight hours you're away or asleep and the savings can reach up to 15 percent.
Three Types of Programmable Digital Thermostats
A 5+2 model has one setting schedule for weekdays and another for weekends.
The 5-1-1 model has one setting schedule for Monday through Friday, one for Saturday and one for Sunday.
The flexible 7-day model allows a different daily schedule with up to four different temperatures time periods each day. A local Aire Serv expert can help in the selection and installation of the best model for your home.
HOME ENERGY SAVING TIPS
- Install a programmable thermostat. Increasing the temperature 2 degrees to 5 degrees for the eight hours you're at work can result in energy savings. (Don't turn off the system completely; it takes more energy to cool a hot house.) For summer months, only set it as high as is comfortable.
- Use the ceiling fan only when you're in the room. Running the fan doesn't lower the temperature, but it does increase evaporation from your skin to help you feel cooler.
- Keep lamps, televisions and other heat-producing appliances away from the thermostat.
A SMART SHOPPERS GUIDE TO HEATING
Air source heat pumps (also called heaters) operate by blowing air across a heating source. They can be fueled by natural gas, electricity or oil. Where available, gas is most popular because it's relatively economical. Boilers that use electricity to heat a coil are most expensive to operate and so are usually used only where gas or oil is not available. Oil forced-air boilers require fuel deliveries by truck to a tank on the owner's property.
Heat pumps have an outdoor unit that looks like an air conditioner, and in fact, operates like an air conditioner when in the cooling mode. When heat is called for, the heat pump's coil absorbs heat from outside air and pressurises the refrigerant, making it hot enough to give off heat as it passes through an indoor coil in a unit called an air handler. The heat is then blown through ducts into the house. A heat pump usually needs a source of backup heat for those times when outside air gets too cold to provide heat by pressurizing the refrigerant. The backup heat source is usually an electric coil. Still, heat pumps can produce as much as three times more heat for the money than an electric boiler, and they are much more efficient now than when they were first introduced.
Ground heat pumps draw their heat and cold from water that circulates through a coil buried underground. The relatively constant temperature of the water makes this one of the most efficient systems, but it's also the most expensive to install.
Boilers. Hot water heating, also called hydronic heating, is quiet and comfortable. When circulated through piping installed beneath ceramic tile or wood, the entire floor surface radiates heat upward from the floor, which many people find heavenly. Electricity, gas or oil can power boilers.
PREVENT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas that can be fatal before you even realise it's spreading through your home. If you skip you annual boiler maintenance appointment, you may have a cracked heat exchanger letting this silent killer flourish. In addition to having a boiler safety check each winter, install a carbon monoxide detector onto each level of your home and near sleeping quarters. You should replace the batteries twice a year—especially right before heating season—to make sure they work when it matters.
DETECTING DANGER FROM THE SILENT KILLER (CARBON MONOXIDE)
Safety is a major concern for most homeowners, and many of us take precautions to ensure that our homes are safe for the people living inside. But when was the last time you checked your smoke or carbon monoxide detector? Detectors can be installed on the ceiling or walls, but should be placed in an accessible area. Since carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly when inhaled in high amounts, make sure there is one installed on each level of the house and near sleeping quarters. Have your professional Aire Serv engineer or local fire station inspect your detectors before it's too late.
SYMPTOMS OF CARBON MONOXIDE EXPOSURE
Moderate levels of carbon monoxide can give you and your family severe headaches and make you dizzy and mentally confused, nauseated or faint. If these symptoms persist, you can lose consciousness and die. Even low levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can result in shortness of breath, mild headaches and nausea. Exposure over a long period of time can result in severe heart and brain damage.
STAYING WARM WHEN THE HEATER GOES OUT
Staying warm can be extra important when you experience a long power cut during the cold winter months with freezing temperatures. However, you can be prepared for the unexpected by keeping torches, battery-operated lanterns, warm blankets, radios and food on hand at all times. You should also dress warmly in loose layers with gloves or mittens, a scarf and warm hat. You can also make sure your fireplace is in good working order before a power cut strikes and walk off your chill. Walking around or doing mild exercise can help keep your blood flowing and your body warm.
GIVE YOUR BOILER ROOM
When temperatures drop and the warm winter months become a mere memory, one of the first actions a homeowner takes is turning up the heat and running their boiler. To reduce the chance of your boiler leaking carbon monoxide, a clear, odorless gas that can be fatal, make sure there is adequate and clean space around your boiler. Never store cleaning chemicals near the boiler and be sure that nothing is blocking the boiler so that it can take in oxygen, which is needed to properly burn off the gas. Not having enough oxygen can cause what is known as incomplete combustion, allowing carbon monoxide to flourish.
TIPS FOR STAYING WARM IF YOUR HEATER LOSES POWER
Even though you've maintained your heating system annually, it may still fail you in the worst of times. If you experience a power cut during the cold winter months with freezing temperatures, remember to be prepared with an emergency kit that includes torches, battery-operated lanterns, warm blankets, radios and food. You can also dress warmly with loose layers and bundle up with gloves, scarves and warm hats. It's also important to keep moving. Walk around and do mild exercise to keep your blood flowing and your body warm. Lastly, keep your fireplace in good working order. Never use an outdoor heater in your home, because they can give off deadly carbon monoxide gas.
KEEP PETS SAFE DURING THE WINTER MONTHS
Your four-legged friends are an extension of your family, so whether they enjoy a nice thick coat or come in the short-haired variety, there are some easy things you can do to make sure they stay safe and warm all winter long. When outdoors, they need cool – not cold or frozen – water available at all times. Additionally, shelter will protect them from the wind and extreme temperatures. When indoors, remember that they can be as attracted to your portable/space heaters too. So keep an eye on them in case they knock a heat source over – putting everyone in harm's way.