How to Keep Your HVAC System Working through the Winter

changing air filterToday, just about everyone enjoys the comfort of conditioned air in their home. Whether it is the cooling comfort you get from air conditioning during the most sweltering days of summer, or the much needed heat during the freezing winter, having a properly functioning HVAC system is the best way to ensure that you have reliable heating and cooling regardless of the outside temperature. Of course, as with any type of appliance, your heating and cooling equipment will require a little maintenance from time to time. With proper maintenance, your HVAC equipment will be able to provide reliable heating and cooling as well as more energy-efficient operation.

When it comes to the professional upkeep of your heating and cooling equipment, a leading HVAC company like Aire Serv of Elkton, MD, can offer an excellent solution. A professional HVAC company can provide annual maintenance for your air conditioning or heating system. They will perform important maintenance steps, such as checking to make sure that all the moving parts are lubricated and that your HVAC equipment is clean and in proper working condition.

There are certainly some maintenance procedures that a homeowner can do on their own. These maintenance steps will help their HVAC equipment perform at its best. Not only will regular maintenance of your equipment help to keep it running longer with fewer repair issues, but it can also help ensure that your equipment is operating as efficiently as possible. Of course, this is an excellent way to save money on your monthly heating and cooling bills.

Some important home HVAC maintenance tips include making sure that you have a clean air filter. A furnace or air conditioner that is running with a dirty filter will have to work harder and will use more energy than equipment that runs with a clean filter. Additionally, the extra strain that is placed on your HVAC system can result in poor performance and eventually, expensive repair bills. Replace your air filters every 30 to 60 days, depending on the type of filter you use and how quickly it gets dirty. Some filter can be washed or vacuumed and reused, while others will require replacing the old filter with a new one.

thermostat hvacAnother easy maintenance tip for homeowners is to make sure that they keep their outside unit free from blockage. You should clear leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other debris from under your outside unit. You should also make sure that shrubs and other vegetation is kept clear of the outside unit. A clearance of approximately 2 feet will provide the necessary space to enable good air flow, an important factor in ensuring proper operation of your HVAC system.

Of course, there are some routine maintenance steps that should be left to a trained professional. Many HVAC companies offer maintenance agreements in order to encourage their customers to keep up with the maintenance on their HVAC equipment. Whether your HVAC company has a specific maintenance plan, or you simply schedule routine maintenance before the heating and cooling seasons begin, you’ll be making an important step towards protecting your investment in your home’s comfort systems.

A professional service technician will follow a detailed plan in order to ensure that your entire heating or cooling system is functioning as it should. For example, they will make sure that the drain line is clear. This is important because a drain line that gets blocked can result in an air conditioner that freezes. This not only diminishes the air conditioner’s ability to cool your home, but it can also put stress on other components of your HVAC system.

Your service technician will also clean the outdoor condenser fan for optimal performance and efficiency. Of course, checking coolant levels and inspecting electrical connections will help ensure your air conditioning unit and heating system are ready for the coming season. Your HVAC technician will also make sure that your outdoor unit is sitting level and that all wiring is clean and in good condition.

When you take the time to keep your home’s HVAC equipment in good condition, your equipment will typically last longer, lower energy bills, and reduce the need for service calls.

High Efficiency Plumbing

showerheadWhen it comes to energy conservation, most people tend to think electricity – turning off the lights and the television when no one’s in the room, keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL and LED lights. All of these are great ways to reduce energy consumption. But did you know that one of the most important ways that you can conserve energy is through your plumbing? In the U.S., an abundance of water is wasted each day due to inefficient plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Not only does this deplete the community’s essential supply of water, but wasting water also wastes energy. As energy is used to treat, deliver, and heat water, retrofitting or switching to high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and faucets will also help you conserve energy and save money.

If you’re wondering what you can do to ensure that your plumbing fixtures are water and energy-efficient, here are some tips:

Low Flush Toilets

On average, toilets account for around 30% of a home’s water consumption. If your toilet uses more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, it should be replaced with a high-efficiency, ultra-low flush toilet. Most toilets that were installed prior to 1994 use over 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Another option is to replace your toilet with a dual flush toilet – one that uses a certain amount of water for flushing liquid waste, and a higher amount of water for flushing solid waste. If you’re not interested in replacing your toilet, many toilets can also be retrofitted to convert into a dual-flush toilet. If you have any concerns about your toilet installation, visit this West Palm Beach plumber.

Low Flow Showerheads

Second to toilets, your shower is responsible for 20% of average indoor water use. If your showerhead uses over 2.5 gallons of water per minute, you should consider switching it out with an ultra-low flow showerhead. Simply replacing your showerhead can reduce your water consumption by 70%, saving you a significant amount on your monthly energy bill by reducing the demand on your hot water heater. And even with an ultra-low flow showerhead, you will still get a strong enough shower stream.

Low Flow Faucets

Like your showerhead, if your sink faucets use more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, you should replace them with faucets that use no more than 1.5 gallons of water per minute. If you don’t want to replace your faucets, you can also consider retrofitting them with a water flow restrictor, which limits the amount of water the faucet uses.

If saving money on your monthly energy bill and protecting the Earth’s natural resources isn’t enough to motivate you to consider high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, you might be interested to know that some companies even offer financial incentives for purchasing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures. Due to the drought in California, the rate of water consumption has already been restricted – it’s only time before water and energy consumption is limited nationwide.

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

energy efficient light bulbWhen you notice your electricity bills slowly creeping up month after month, year after year — it may be time to ask yourself how you can improve your home’s energy efficiency. Wasted energy not only impacts your monthly bills, but also affects the environment by needlessly depleting the earth’s nonrenewable resources. Whether you’re moving into a new home, or if you’ve been in the same house for over a decade, make sure that you’re doing what you can to ensure that your home isn’t wasting energy, or your money. Here are a few things to consider when you’re inspecting your house for a sufficient level of energy efficiency:

Hire an Energy Auditor

If you’re not too sure where to begin, or if you’d prefer a professional opinion, hire an energy auditor to come and inspect you home. They will walk through your home and be able to point out exactly where energy is being wasted, and to offer you advice on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency. They may even be able to do the repairs themselves.

Windows and Doors

Windows and doors can crack and warp over time, leaving gaps through which drafts can enter your home. You want windows and doors that are installed properly, will last a long time, and have an airtight seal that will keep cold air out in the winter and warm air out in the summer — meaning less work for your heating and cooling system. If you find that your current windows and doors aren’t doing a good job of maintaining a stable temperature inside your home, this Pittsburgh replacement window company provides a variety of energy efficient options for you to choose from.


Heating and air conditioning systems (also known as HVAC units) generally have a lifespan of around 12 years. If your current HVAC unit is reaching the end of its lifetime, you may want to schedule a service call and have an experience technician take a look at it. Even if it seems to be working properly, many older units don’t perform as well in their consumption of energy as their newer counterparts, so a new system may be worth considering.

Don’t Forget “the Little Things”

A brand new set of windows and doors, and a new HVAC system may all be pricey replacements, even if they’ll be worth your time and money in the long run. But not every way to improve your home’s energy efficiency has to involve draining your wallet. Simply switching your standard incandescent light bulbs, for example, to CFL or LED lights will have a great effect on your home’s energy consumption. Also, making sure the lights are off when a room is not in use, and not jacking up the temperature in the winter, or keeping you thermostat sub-freezing in the summer, will all help to reduce your impact on the environment. And your wallet will feel less of an impact as well!

Want to Save Energy? Take a Look at Your Refrigerator

A couple of weeks ago, I had to call the appliance repairman out to my home here in Everett, Washington. After he noticed that I was fairly energy-conscious, he asked me if I had given much thought to the energy usage of my appliances. Aside from keeping my appliances well-serviced and not using them more than necessary, I really hadn’t. As it turns out, my older appliances were using more energy than I suspected.

I’ve been well-aware of how much energy my heating and air system uses – initially it was close to half of my entire home’s usage, and it’s now closer to a third. On average, appliances use more than an eighth of your energy; my appliances – particularly my older fridge – probably use quite a bit more than that in my otherwise efficient home. I decided to find out what I could do to improve on that – starting with that refrigerator.

I’ve owned my refrigerator for about fifteen years, but I’ve never taken the temperature of the compartments inside. That’s because my fridge has worked just fine, or at least I thought it did. But even seemingly a well-performing refrigerator may have room for improvement – especially when it comes to energy usage.

So I didn’t know that the main compartment should maintain a temperature of about 38 degrees, while the freezer should run at about five. If the air in either one of these compartments is running more than a couple degrees cooler than that, you’re using extra energy to maintain a temperature you don’t need. But even if your fridge is running at the correct temperature, that doesn’t mean it’s running efficiently.

There are a number of reasons why your fridge may be working too hard to maintain its temperature. Dirty coils are one common reason. If you haven’t cleaned the coils on your fridge lately, they’re probably having some difficulty radiating away heat as they’re designed to do. A good cleaning will help them work efficiently and use less energy; a thorough vacuuming with a brush ought to do the trick.

Another common issue with refrigerators is leaky seals. It’s easy to figure out if your seals are loose and letting out cold air. Simply open the doors to both your main compartment and freezer, and close them on a small piece of paper. Be sure to check the seal in several places. In each instance, the paper should be stuck fast when the door closes on it. If it isn’t, and instead can easily move, your seal ought to be replaced. My local appliance repair guy says that’s pretty easy to do.

If your refrigerator’s seals are in good shape, and you want to keep them that way, simply clean them regularly. Keep them free of moisture, mold, dirt, and debris, and they should continue to do their job for a long time.

Here’s one last potential issue to check: If obstructed by frost, debris, or misplaced food, the vents inside your refrigerator’s freezer and main compartment may not be able to efficiently route cold air where it needs to go. So keep your vents clear of obstacles, and call your repairman if frost is blocking your vents.

Maybe your refrigerator is in good shape, but is simply not built to today’s efficient standards. My fifteen-year-old fridge uses roughly 50% more energy than today’s models – and a bit more than that compared to efficient Energy Star models. Of course it would take quite a while for those savings to pay for a fridge, but it does make a new, efficient upgrade seem like a pretty good deal.

So before you forget, take a look at your refrigerator. Is it old? Is it running at the right temperature? Is it working too hard? If you’re not sure, call your local appliance repairman. He can help you evaluate your fridge –and your options.

Water Conservation: Energy Efficient Plumbing

Inefficient Plumbing is ExpensiveWhen it comes to improving the energy efficiency of a home, one important yet commonly overlooked aspect is water conservation – which often can be improved by repairing and replacement various components of your home’s plumbing system. In fact, it can make quite a difference to the annual cost of your water bill and carbon footprint. By regularly maintaining a plumbing system and eliminating leaks, and simply replacing old fixtures and toilets, you can see a significant reduction at the rate of which your home consumes water. For those of you in particularly hot, dry areas – like Texas – this is a highly valuable investment. For those of you that are curious to see just how much a difference making simple fixture upgrades, the EPA partnership WaterSense has a handy calculator for water savings, as well as a comprehensive list of WaterSense approved fixtures and toilets.

The Primary Concern: Plumbing Leaks

Depending on just how old your home is, your plumbing might need some immediate attention – especially ifLeaking Pipe Hidden Underground you notice an unusually high consumption of water on your monthly bill. Often times, a plumbing leak is invisible to a homeowner – hidden behind walls, under floors, and in other areas where the escaping water can go unnoticed. The best way to avoid this problem, is through regular maintenance – performed by a professional, not your DIY husband or wife if at all possible! This is easier than you think and easy to get for free. Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio has always provided free plumbing checkups complimentary with every service call they take – so if you need a repair done, then by using Mr. Rooter as your plumber of choice, you get a free and comprehensive inspection – which is awesome for any homeowner. Mr. Rooter Plumbing has always prioritized for their customers, and their plumbers offer comprehensive services to all of San Antonio.

Contributing Factors: Old Fixtures and Toilets

WaterSense efficient product LabelIf your home’s plumbing system is well-maintained, and no major leaks or problems with pipes exists, then you should turn your attention to the fixtures (faucets and shower heads) and the toilets in your home. Over time, the standard GPF of a toilet has been decreased from using 5 gallons per flush prior to 1980, to 3.5 GPF up until 1994, which then was reduced again to the current standard of 1.6 GPF. You can also save as much as 2 Gallons per Minute if your showerhead is more than 2 years old – amounting to a significant reduction in water usage all together. To make finding efficient fixtures and toilets easier, look for products that have the EPA WaterSense label to ensure that you are purchasing an energy approved replacement for your home.

4 Tips to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint is a popular term that gets tossed around when talking about green living and energy efficiency. Your carbon footprint is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases produced from direct or indirect human activity. This is the sum of all carbon dioxide emissions for a given time frame, usually calculated over a period of a year. Below are four tips to reducing your annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which will in turn lower your carbon footprint.

Home Carbon Energy Improvements

One major way you can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions is right from the comfort of your own home.

  1. Use Your HVAC Unit in Moderation: Using your heating or air conditioning units as little as possible is one of the biggest ways to save energy and money at the same time. Make sure to not set your thermostat too high in the winter or too low in the summer. It is recommended for optimal efficiency and comfort to set your home to 68 in the winter and to 78 in the summer. For comfortable fall and spring days in between turn your HVAC unit off completely on days that you can. If you have a smart thermostat, program it to cut off when you know you will be out of the house for extended periods of times.
  2. Insulated and Seal Your Home: Insulating your home will help to reduce drafts and wasted energy in your home. Even if you have an older home, many states offer homeowners incentives to purchase replacement windows. It may be more of a cost upfront however; you will start to see the benefits right away with a fresh look and lower energy bills.
  3. Consider Solar Energy: This is a solution if you are looking to completely eliminate your electric bill. Also, depending on your state’s laws you could even earn money through selling electricity back to the grid or receiving tax breaks for your solar panels. This is going to be the most expensive upfront solution so look into possible long-term financing options with your solar panel installation company.
  4. Upgrade Your Appliances and Turn Off the Lights: If you are in the market for new appliances, now is the time to make efficiency the top priority. Make the smart choice and choose products with an official Energy Star label. This means the appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators, have been tested and certified as having superior energy efficiency. Lastly, and possibility the most simple tip to implement into your daily life is to turn off the lights. It’s easy, if you leave the room or aren’t using the light be sure to turn it off. And, the next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with a compact fluorescent or LED bulb.

Energy Efficiency Ideas for Businesses

We always hear about ways we can save money on office electricity, but how much could a business save by switching to more energy efficient lighting? Before we get a generalized number let’s talk about the different types of lighting options for businesses or office buildings. There three different kinds of light bulb upgrades that you could invest in that include, energy saving incandescent, CFL, and LED. You can find out all you need to know about these bulbs at, so you can make the right choice for your business or office.

Your energy saving incandescent bulbs will save you 25% on energy costs every month so if you were to switch out every bulb in your office or business then you can cut you energy costs by 25%. Installing CFL or LED bulbs can be a greater investment up front but you are gaining at least saving 75% or greater because these two bulbs tend will last longer than your standard bulbs. Now when we say installing these light bulbs will save X percent of your monthly bill we need to understand how much of office’s energy is spent on lighting. A general office’s monthly lighting cost is around 10% of their total electrical bill. So when they say that these bulbs save you x percent you have to take that away from the 10%.

Let’s say you replace every light bulb in your office with LED light bulbs, great choice. You will only be paying 2.5% for lighting rather than your average 10%. Now let’s put a dollar amount on this so we get a real world example. You electricity bill comes in and is $200 for month and lighting will account for $20 if you have normal bulbs in your office. But with LED lighting you are only paying $5 and your total monthly bill would actually be $185! These bulbs generally last five years until you need to replace them so you will save $300 just from switching those light bulbs.

Not only will your office be saving money on energy but you will also be helping the environment. By decreasing the amount of light bulbs in the landfills and using less energy from power plants lowering the amount of coal they have to burn to create that energy. If you think your business would benefit from energy efficient bulbs then contact a Mr. Electric electrical contractor for energy audit. They will be able to tell you how much you can save and what items you need to implement into your office or business. With greater savings and lower carbon footprint you can benefit the bottom line for your business and help your community at the same time.