The Truth about Indoor Air Quality

This winter, many of us will become ill with flu or cold-like symptoms, and though we may blame the season, the source of the problem may actually be the quality of your indoor air. The cold weather forces us to spend much more time indoors than we normally would if the weather were warm, and in doing so, many of us are exposing ourselves to some very contaminated air.

Now is the time to take back your indoor air quality and do something about the contaminants you and your family are breathing in every day. This info-graphic highlights some of the most startling facts about indoor air quality, and will be sure to motivate you and your family to make some changes now!


Via: FH Furr

Running the Air Conditioner During the Winter

Now that the summer heat is a distant memory we need to make sure we are ready for what winter has in store for our homes. Part of getting ready for winter includes winterizing your air conditioner. Every year in the spring we repair and replace many units because they were turned on during the winter months by accident. Sometimes kids playing with the thermostat are to blame and sometimes we push the wrong button. Other times the cause is excessive heat trapped indoors that causes us to use the air conditioner for some relief.  No matter how it happens if your unit starts in the winter serious damage can occur.

Reduce Heat Gain

Running the air conditioner when it is less than 60 degrees outside can cause serious, irreversible damage to the system’s compressor. It must be 60 degrees for at least a few days before you can safely use the air conditioner without worry of blowing the compressor. If the home is gaining too much heat, turn down the temperature at the thermostat and consider closing drapes or blinds. The sun may be heating up the inside of your home and closing the blinds will help bring the temperature down. If the house is still too warm, shut down the furnace and crack of few windows on opposite sides of the home. Take advantage of the free cold air outside, but don’t waste energy by running the furnace at the same time. Continue reading

Repetitive Part Replacement: Condenser Fan

Some air conditioning systems are plagued by the same problem year after year. No matter how many times the homeowner replaces a part, they only get one or two years of function out of it. The air conditioner could be a lemon, but there may be another issue causing the same damage to the part every season. Get to the source of the problem and you could put the problem to bed for good. Although we may be entering the winter season, problems you are having during the summer may be caused by damage that is done during the winter. The condenser motor and condenser fan are costly parts to replace, but many homeowners are replacing them every other season without ever finding and correcting the source of damage.

Air Conditioner Fan Function

As the refrigerant or Freon inside your air conditioner pulls heat from the air, the condenser fan and motor work to cool the refrigerant down so that it can continue to absorb more heat. If the refrigerant is not cooled down, the air conditioner will overheat and cease to work properly. Continue reading

Fall is Here! Time to Prepare for Winter

We have officially entered the fall season. The weather is changing as well as the color on the trees and it’s my favorite time of year. However it is also a time of year were many people while enjoying the fall colors forget about preparing for the winter just ahead.

Pre-Winter Maintenance

Have you done the pre-winter maintenance? Checked your humidifier for proper operation? Replaced the bulbs in your UV light? Changed your filter and had the furnace and hot water tank combustion compartments cleaned? What about covering your air conditioner with a proper fitting cover has that been taken care of too? Continue reading

Summer Use of Natural Gas

During the summer months, natural gas use in the United States drops by about 30% when compared to the amount used during the winter months. The drop in use is mainly due to the furnace no longer being needed, but there are still other appliances that use natural gas, mainly the oven and the hot water tank. These appliances are still in use during the summer, and the electricity bill will see an increase from the use of the air conditioner. The mild winter has lead to predictions for an extra hot summer, so many of us will be bracing ourselves for painfully high electricity bills. We are all going to be looking for ways to save money, and cutting your natural gas costs even further is an easy way to do this!

Two Ways to Use Less Natural Gas

  • Minimize Use of the Oven: The over uses significant amount of natural gas every time you turn it on, but it also adds a lot of extra heat to the home. The air conditioner must remove this extra heat and it will consume extra electricity to do so. Therefore reducing use of the over is key to saving money! Move your kitchen outdoors this summer and use the grill instead! Many things that can be cooked in an oven can be grilled, and you will save money while enjoying the season as well! Continue reading

Get Your Humidity in Balance with Your HVAC

As this winter comes to a close, ask yourself a question. Have you noticed any new squeaks in your hard wood floors? If the answer is yes, you probably have a humidity imbalance in your home. You may say that you don’t even notice the squeaks in your floors, but allow this problem to continue and selling your home may become very difficult. Taking actions now to prevent further damage is easy and affordable. Not taking action will leave you with a costly repair on your hands once the problem gets out of hand.

Keeping Humidity in Balance isn’t Easy

Keeping humidity and temperature in balance is not as easy as you may think. The furnace dries out the air in the home during the winter, and sometimes the air conditioner cannot keep up with high humidity that occurs during the summer. Your HVAC system needs a little help. When the air is allowed to dry out, the wood in your floors also dry out and shrink. The excess moisture in the summer will cause the wood to swell and over the years the wood will become brittle and warped. Keeping the humidity between 35 and 55 % and the temperature in the home between 60 and 80 degrees will prevent this from happening. Continue reading

Wait for Winter to Truly be Over

With the weather turning warmer and people moving back outside it sure feels like spring is in the air. So when should you remove your air conditioner cover and get ready for the first hot day? I know no one wants to hear this but we still have a few weeks of winter left. Although this past winter has been pretty mild, in the past we have had snow as late as May, and it is not uncommon for a heavy snow storm to hit the Chicagoland area in March. With this possibility looming in the forecast, maybe it is too early to uncover the air conditioner and get it set up for the summer.

Wait to Uncover but Don’t Wait to Schedule

Instead of rushing outside to take the cover off, give the air conditioner a few more weeks of protection from the potential threats of winter. By the end of March or early April, the weather should have improved enough to take the cover off. During this time, however, you should call up your local heating and cooling contractor to schedule your yearly maintenance check. Sure they may not be able to come out until the end of March or early April but the earlier you call the better scheduling options you will have. The yearly cleaning is the best way to get the unit set up and ready for the summer season, but waiting to schedule could leave you with an air conditioner that is not ready when you need it most. These few simple steps will get you ready for another hot humid Chicago summer that is sure to be right around the corner.

Winter Air Conditioner Protection

This may be the season for giving, but it is also the season for stealing, stealing air conditioners that is. You may have thought that your air conditioner worries ended with the summer season, but the truth is that the winter is the best time for thieves to take advantage of the easy access they have to your air conditioner. Everyone is spending their time indoors and there are far fewer eyes on your air conditioner this time of year. You need to take certain steps to keep your unit safe. This is a crime that is growing in popularity and if you did nothing to prevent it this past summer, you were one of the lucky ones. Don’t let another season go by without getting your air conditioner protected.

Send a Message to Potential Thieves

Protecting the air conditioner requires doing something that sends a clear message to potential thieves. The message should be that they need to move on to another home and leave your unit alone!  There are two ways to do this. Either move the air conditioner to the roof or encase it in a security cage. The first option could cost you tons and is likely not possible in all situations. So, for the majority of us, a security cage is the way to go. Continue reading

Thermostat Expectations and Misconceptions

Many people will throw on comfortable clothes around the home, but during the winter, there is no need to wear shorts and a tee shirt. If you are doing so because you are warm, turn down the thermostat! If you are cranking up the thermostat to make the home warm enough to wear shorts and a tee shirt around comfortably, you are wasting loads of money and gobs of energy. Throw on a sweater and consider some of these thermostat tips!

Saving Energy by Setting the Thermostat

You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F (20°C) when you’re at home and awake, and lowering it when you’re asleep or away. This strategy is effective and inexpensive if you are willing to adjust the thermostat by hand and wake up in a chilly house. In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning too! You can do this by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. Continue reading

Unnecessary Heat Loss

A fireplace is a wonderful feature to have in a home but it can waste a lot of energy if you don’t remember to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. The damper is there to help get rid of the combustion fumes created by the fireplace. It is designed to suck air out of fireplace and subsequently out of the home. When the damper is left open after the fire is put out, it continues to pull air from inside the home. Even with the grates closed, you could lose tons of costly heat through the damper. We all like to cuddle up around fires, but they are not a practical source of heat. Once you are done enjoying its ambiance, please remember to close the damper! This small yet commonly forgotten task can and will help you avoid excess heat loss up the chimney.

Bathroom and Kitchen Fans

There is also another area in the home where you could be pumping all of the hot air outdoors. The bathroom and kitchen fans are designed to expel bad smells and excess moisture from the home, but if left on for longer than necessary, you could also expel the heat. Be sure that you only operate your bathroom fan or over the oven fan when absolutely necessary.  All that warm air that is escaping will be replaced by cold outside air as the negative pressure you are creating pulls in cold air through other leaks in the home’s envelope.  Forgetting these two simple tips will make the HVAC system work harder to keep your home warm this winter, and no one wants to pay more than they have to on their energy bills.