Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Say Goodbye to Your Old Light Bulb LED Lighting is here to stay

How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Our best guess is a few thousand engineers working endless hours to develop better lighting that benefits all of us. Sorry, you were probably expecting or hoping for a much more humorous answer.

It seems like there is a constant changing of what the best lighting is – Incandescent, Fluorescent, and now LED. It can sometimes make your head spin. For years incandescent light was the only game in town for residential lighting, then Halogen lighting was introduced with the acclaim that it produced brighter lighting at less wattage. As we became more conscious of energy usage, fluorescent lighting in the form of compact fluorescent lights (CFL) came to fame. CFL’s provided energy efficient lighting that did not need special fittings to use. They could directly replace a standard incandescent bulb. The downside to CFL bulbs was that they were expensive and they also contain mercury – not the best thing when you are advertising the ECO benefits of using less energy then adding mercury to the environment. Over time the cost of CFL bulbs came way down to be just slightly more than a standard incandescent bulb.

We have now moved into the next phase of lighting technology, LED or Light Emitting Diodes. While LEDs have been around for a while they can now be fit into standard light outlets making it very easy to change out your lighting. The path of the LED is much like the CFL. The first generation of bulbs that were introduced were very expensive but are now becoming more and more affordable.

What makes a LED bulb attractive is it uses a fraction of the energy (watts) to provide the same amount of lighting as even a CFL. For instance, a 6 watt LED bulb will produce about the same amount of light that an 18 watt CFL or a 60 watt incandescent bulb will. That is about 1/3 a CFL and 1/10 of an incandescent bulb. Think of replacing a main light in your home with a LED at 1/10 of the operating cost. Over the course of time, that can really add up. The other main benefit of LED bulbs is that they last longer. Now there are companies out there that claim their bulbs will last 20, 30, 40 years. While we might not be 100% convinced that a bulb will last 40 years, it is a proven fact that LED bulbs will last considerable longer than both incandescent and CFL bulbs. This helps justify the added upfront cost of LEDs.

Air King has now converted all of its ENERGY STAR® Certified exhaust fans and range hoods to include LED lighting (the bulbs even come with the unit so you dont have to purchase them separately). To learn more about Air Kings products with LED lighting please visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Is My Exhaust Fan Always Running – Explaining Continuous Operation

You hear it across the country – Who left the light on? Who left the door open? Maybe even Who left the bathroom exhaust fan on? While there are no good reasons for leaving lights on and doors open and the guilty party should be identified and properly reprimanded for their crime, leaving the bathroom exhaust fan on might not be as straight an answer as you think.

In recent years homes have been built to tighter standards that reduce the energy usage of the homes. These tighter standards allow the home to maintain a comfortable living environment using the least amount of energy possible. Unfortunately a side effect of these tighter standards is that the indoor air quality can suffer. This is where a continuously operating exhaust fan comes in (also known as Mechanical Ventilation). A continuously operating exhaust fan provides a way to exhaust the stale air that builds up inside a home. The fans airflow rate is set to achieve the number of air exchanges needed for your specific home.

There are many options for continuous operation exhaust fans but there are basically three locations for them:
A dual speed exhaust fan in the bathroom: This will operate continuously at a low speed then have a high speed for when the bathroom is in use.

A centrally located exhaust fan: This might be in a main living area open to the rest of the house.

A kitchen range hood: This operates much like the dual speed exhaust fan in the bathroom. A low speed provides the continuous operation while the higher speeds provide the needed ventilation when the kitchen is in use.

A prerequisite for a continuously operating exhaust fan is that it is quiet. With it always on, it is very important that the sound level does not interfere with everyday life. Most continuously operating exhaust fans will have a sound level that is barely noticeable.

It makes sense – bad air out, good air in, but there are still some questions that arise:
How much energy and money is this going to cost me? A very valid question. Energy costs and usage are definitely hot topics, but when you do the math, the exhaust fan is using very little of each. There are a few factors that go into calculating the costs. The two big ones are what type of exhaust fan you have installed and what your actual electric rate is. Using the average United States electric rate with an ENERGY STAR® certified exhaust fan, the cost will be approximately $.60 to $1.50 per month. Overall, a very small price to pay to ensure the quality of the air you breath.

That cant be good for the fan if it is running all the time?
Not to worry, fans that are meant for continuous operation have been tested and certified for this type of usage.

Can I turn the fan off?
The effectiveness of the system to provide proper Indoor Air Quality is based on it operating continuously so it is recommended that the fan stay on. However, there may be times when the fan needs to be turned off for servicing. Some units will be installed with an override switch while other units will need to be turned off at the service panel. You should contact your builder/installer for the specific details of your installation.

So the next time you are tempted to blame someone for not turning the exhaust fan off, stop and think that you might actually want to thank them for keeping it running and ensuring the quality of the air you are breathing. To learn more about Indoor Air Quality, ASHRAE 62.2 standards and Air King products that comply, visit www.airkinglimited.com

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Weather is Warming Up – Air Circulators to the Rescue

Summer is just around the corner and the temperatures across the country have already started to rise. For many of us, it is a welcomed change from the long cold winter. It also means that expensive cooling bills are coming or worse – the dreaded fight over the thermostat in your home or workplace.

When it comes to temperature control, even very small adjustments can have significant impact. For each degree you adjust your thermostat, it is about a 3% cost savings. If your cooling bill is $200 during the summer months, that translates into about $6 per degree per month. Great, so I will turn my thermostat up 15 degrees, save $90 per month and have my house or office feel like a sauna! Yeah, we agree that doesn’t sound all that pleasant. The key to adjusting your thermostat is to still keep the space feeling comfortable. This is where air circulating fans come in.

We first must address a myth that is out there. Standard air circulating fans do not cool the air. The only way air can be cooled is if some type of refrigerant is added to the mix. What air circulators do is make your body feel like it is being cooled. Think of it this way. If you are outside on a hot day with no breeze at all it feels very hot. Now as soon as a slight breeze comes along, it immediately feels cooler. The air has not changed temperature but the introduction of moving air across your skin gives your body the sensation that it is cooler. There are complicated heat transfer and thermodynamic reasons for this but we will leave that to the scientists to explain. For our purposes we just need to agree that when air blows across our bodies, it feels cooler. By creating air movement in your home or workplace, you can have the temperature set higher but still be comfortable.

Another benefit of using air circulating fans are they distribute the cool air from an air conditioner evenly. Almost all homes or workplaces have an area that is always warmer than the others. Using an air circulating fan will distribute the cool air evenly from room to room. This can take stress off your HVAC unit in that you will not have to run it longer than it needs to just to get that one area cool enough to be comfortable.

Wait a minute, dont air circulating fans use electricity, so how much am I really saving? Air circulating fans do use some energy. However the amount of energy it takes to operate an air circulating fan compared to an air conditioner is significantly less. A typical air circulating fan uses between 40 watts for a typical office fan to about 350 watts for a large industrial fan that would be used in warehouses or manufacturing facilities. A typical household air conditioner will use between 1000 watts for a single window unit that can cool 1 or 2 rooms to 3500 watts for a central air unit. If using an air circulating fan allows you to raise the thermostat 3, 4 or more degrees that could mean your air conditioning units operates an hour or so less a day which can really add up over the course of a month or summer – especially in commercial and industrial setting.

For more information about air circulating fans visit www.airkinglimited.com

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Cleaning Ventilation Checklist

The birds are chirping, its staying light a little longer, the temperature is climbing.... It can only mean one thing - Spring is here!

Spring marks the traditional time of the year to open the windows, air out the house and take care of those once a year cleaning projects. Most people have their standard checklists that probably include items such as cleaning windows, gutters and other items around the house that couldnt be done during the winter months.

Those are all great and need to be done, but there are a few other things around the house that could use a little attention. When is the last time you did any maintenance to your ventilation systems? You exhaust fans provide a crucial function to the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home. That is why it is important to keep them running properly. Here are a few tips to consider:
  1. Clean your fans. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLEANING AND TURN OFF THE POWER TO THE UNIT BEFORE STARTING. Most exhausts fans have grills that can be removed and washed with soap and water (As long as there are no electronics in the grill). The interior of the fan can either be wiped with a dry cloth or vacuumed. You might be a little surprised how much dust and dirt can build up in your fan. The good news is that means the fan is working. All that dust is going up into the fan instead of being breathed in by you.
  2. Actually make sure your exhaust fans are working. Do a walk-through of your home and make sure the fans are operation correctly. Do they turn on? Are they making loud noises? Does it seem to be moving air?
  3. Is anything stuck in your ductwork? Inspect the wall or roof cap where the air is exhausted out of for build up of dirt, debris, birds nests or anything else that would cause the air not to flow freely. Always use caution and take the proper safety steps when using a ladder or when up on a roof.
  4. For range hoods, make sure the grease filters are clean and in good repair. This should actually be done 3 or 4 times a year. If you havent been doing it, now is a great time to start that cleaning schedule.

For more information about cleaning, maintaining and troubleshooting your exhaust fans and range hoods visit the FAQ section at www.airkinglimited.com

Monday, April 3, 2017

Getting Particular About Particulate Matter

If you have done any research into indoor air quality, you might have come upon the term Particulate Matter (PM). No it is not the stuff that runs the hyper drive of the spaceship in the latest sci-fi thriller. It is defined as the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air, many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture contains for instance dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.¹ With that definition, we might prefer the spaceship thing.

Unfortunately our living environment is filled with particulate matter but there are a few things we can do to reduce its impact on us. Basically there are two types of Particulate Matter  naturally occurring (pollen for instance) and man made (like smoke from cooking). Particulate Matter is measured in microns. One micron is one millionth of a meter. A human hair is about 60 microns. A good strategy against Particulate Matter is Identify, Avoid, and Reduce.

The first thing you need to do is identify where the Particulate Matter is coming from. Some are simple to identify such as smoking. Without having to make a public health announcement, I think we can all agree that smoking is not good for our health. Some other sources are not as noticeable. Did you know that your kitchen is one of the larges sources for Particulate Matter in you home? During the cooking process, Particulate Matter is released in the form of smoke, grease, and gas (for gas cook tops). If not contained, these pollutants can go right into the air you are breathing.

Once you can identify the sources, avoid them as much as you can. Now we are not suggesting that you should lock yourself in an airtight chamber from spring until fall because there might be pollen in the air, just look for some things you might be able to avoid in your everyday life. When we cant avoid them, we should look to reduce them.

A big way to reduce Particulate Matter is through filtration. Going back to the kitchen, the easiest and most effective way to reduce Particulate Matter in the home is through a range hood that exhausts to the outside. This takes the Particulate Matter directly out of the living environment before it can be breathed in. Another way is to filter air coming into the home. Many new homes now have some type of outdoor air device installed that brings fresh air from the outside into the home to exchange with the stale air in the home (like the Air King QFAM). These devices can be fitted with air filters (like on your HVAC system) that can filter out microns down to 2.5.

To learn more about kitchen range hoods, fresh air filtration and the codes that are currently in place for reducing Particulate Matter visit www.airkinglimited.com

¹ source: www.greenfacts.org