Articles tagged with: heating

Preparing an Outdoor AC Unit

An outside air conditioning unit, often referred to as an HVAC unit, is a lifesaver during hot summer months. During the winter, you may want to winterize the unit to protect it against cold weather, snow and ice. Winterizing the unit also protects it against rust damage. A few protective measures can keep the air conditioning unit in your real estate investment in top working condition.

Find the air conditioning circuit near your unit. Usually, it has a plastic or metal lid that covers the electrical circuit. Open the lid and flip the switch to turn the unit off. This prevents the unit from turning on during an unusually warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit that could potentially freeze.

Wash the air conditioning unit with a hose to remove bird droppings, dead bugs, dirt and dust. Remove leaves, small branches and grass clippings from the unit. Allow the unit to dry completely.

Install foam pipe covers around exterior exposed pipes. Cut the foam to fit the length and diameter of the pipe. The foam covers insulate the pipes and protect them against freezing temperatures. Wrap duct tape around the foam covers to hold them in place.

Cover the HVAC unit with a plastic or vinyl cover. Choose a cover that is waterproof. Some manufacturers make covers that are specifically designed for air conditioners, but you can use any plastic or vinyl covering that fits over the unit.

Wrap vinyl ropes or bungee cords around the air conditioning cover to keep it secure. Make sure the cover is wrapped tightly so it doesn’t blow away in strong winds.

Check your air conditioner once a week to make sure the cover is secure. Brush water, snow and ice off the unit. Remove twigs, pinecones and leaves from the cover.

How to Reduce your Energy Consumption this Winter

A/C, Energy Saving, Heating, Sugar Land

While setting the thermostat to the right temperatures can improve the comfort of one’s home, it is not the only way to do so. Other ways for a homeowner to minimize energy usage and costs, while improving the overall environment inside of his or her home include:

  • Wear warmer clothing and consider setting the temperature to lower than 72 degrees to see more savings on energy bills.
  • Inspect and regularly replace filters.
  • Get an inspection and furnace tune up before the arrival of winter to get the furnace ready for the season.
  • Inspect the home for drafts and leaks. Seal up any cracks, holes or gaps in the home’s entryways, walls, and foundation to prevent thermal energy from escaping.
  • Use weather stripping on doors and windows that are used frequently.
  • Caulk or seal the windows and any unused exterior doors.
  • Set the water tank temperature to 120 degrees to reduce thermal energy costs.
  • Open the curtains or blinds to let the sunlight in to help heat the home.
  • Rearrange furniture so that no one has to sit where there may be drafts coming in.
  • Check all pipes and faucets for leaks. Insulate the pipes by covering them with a blanket.

Prior to the cold weather setting in, homeowners should make every effort to winterize their home. Stop playing with the thermostat and get more enjoyment out of your home by making it as energy efficient as possible.

The Right Temperature for your Home This Winter

For many homeowners, wintertime is the time of year when they are tempted the most to turn their thermostats up to the highest setting possible in order to keep all of those cold drafts at bay. While this may seem like a good idea, it is not. Constantly setting the thermostat to a high temperature during the wintertime will cause a big spike in energy bills. In order to save money and keep your HVAC system from working too hard, here are some ways you can program your thermostat in order to save energy and money during those cold winter months.

Day Time Temperature Setting

Setting the thermostat too high when it is cold outside is the equivalent of tossing money out of the window. The warmer your home is the faster thermal energy will be lost to the outside. The lower the temperature is inside of the home, the slower the rate of thermal energy loss. To achieve optimal comfort, it is recommended for homeowners to set their thermostats between 68 to 72 degrees while there are people inside of the home. 68 to 72 degrees is a temperature range that is not too warm or cool, and is sufficient enough to warm up the home just enough so that everyone is comfortable regardless of the type of clothing they have on.

Night Time and Away Temperature

When the house is empty for an extended amount of time and at night, it is a good idea to lower the temperature to 58 to 62 degrees. When everyone is sleep and less active, there is no need for the heating and cooling system to waste energy when it is not needed as much. That temperature setting is also enough to keep the pipes in the home from freezing when the temperatures outside drop and no one is home.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Older furnaces and heat pumps take longer to heat up the inside of a home. This can cause the home to feel colder than it really is since the appliance is taking more time to heat things up. In order to improve how fast the furnace responds and to maintain the warm atmosphere inside of the home, it is a good idea to replace all older appliances including the furnace with energy saving appliances.

Digital Thermostats

Invest in a digital thermostat to make setting and maintaining temperatures a breeze. Digital thermostats make it possible for homeowners to set their thermostats in advance and not have to worry about setting them again until the season changes. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and install the digital thermostat in an area that is convenient for you to reach and away from all drafts, sunlight, furniture, doorways, and windows.

When setting a digital thermostat be mindful of the times that everyone is awake and sleep. Consider programming the device so that it lowers and raises the temperatures shortly before everyone gets up, goes to sleep, or leaves the house. If the home is going to be empty for three hours or more, do not forget to set thermostat to a lower temperature to save energy and money while you are away.

Heating Your Houston Home

warm feet by fireHouston homeowners are home-heating challenged! Keeping your home warm and comfortable can seem like a waste for just a few weeks in the winter. But when we have a frigid winter like this one, its necessary to have a dependable heating system.

The relatively cheap gas furnaces are common, but older models are notoriously inefficient and can be dangerous. You’ll probably see a difference in your monthly bills from a new gas furnace in Houston, but even newer models can’t match the energy efficiency of other heating alternatives.

If you are able to build your heating system from scratch, the most viable alternative is a heat pump. Heat pumps work by exchanging warm and cold air from your home’s interior and the outside air. Because heat pumps simply move air around, no original heat needs to be generated, making these units extremely efficient.

The real advantage of heat pumps is that your heat pump can also work as a “cooling pump.” When you combine your heat pump with an already established air conditioning unit during the full heat of a Houston summer, you’ll be able to keep your home comfortable and save mileage on an older A/C unit.

Carbon Monoxide Kills

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.  We haven’t seen tons in the Houston area, but even one is too much. According to the CDC, there are several things you can do to stay safe.

carbon monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can lead to death by suffocation.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit outside; away from doors, window and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

The trend with building tighter and tighter homes in the interest of energy efficiency is also a part of the problem.  As the homes are built tighter, air flow is restricted.  Without adequate air flow, all the gasses stay in the house.  A good HVAC plan will ensure adequate airflow and reduce the chance of accidental carbon monoxide poisonings.