Thursday, November 1, 2018

Close it up for Winter – Tips to Save Energy and Money This Winter




Winter is quickly approaching and for many areas of the United States that means a significant bump in energy usage – and more money. Thankfully there are some ways to combat the rising bills.




1.     Lighting: Shorter days means more time with lights on. Saying to keep all the lights turned off in the house just isn’t practical but you can make a big impact with a simple switch of bulbs. Changing to an ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulb rather than a typical incandescent bulb can save over 80% (100 Watt – 16 Watt LED).  If you replace 10 bulbs that are on for an average of 5 hours a day, that is a savings of over 4,200 watts per day. Over a 3 month time that is about 378,000 watts.
2.     Heating: Here is a tough one. Yes, you have heard it a thousand times, turn down the thermostat and you will save a bunch of energy and money. While that is very true, you still want to be comfortable and not have to wear a winter jacket inside of your home. Programmable thermostats are a great option as they allow you to adjust the temperature at night or when you are outside the home. Smart thermostats let you control everything from your phone. Another idea is to use supplemental heat such as a portable heater for the most occupied rooms or an installed heater certified for bathroom usage allowing you to keep the rest of the home cooler. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for usage.
3.     Insulation: Check if you have enough insulation in your home. Think of it like a jacket for your house. You wouldn’t go out in a T-Shirt when it is 5 degrees out. Okay, before the letters start coming in – MOST people would not go out in a T-shirt. You would want to put a heavy winter coat on. The same holds true for you house. The insulation is basically the jacket. If it doesn’t have enough, you will have drafts and your heater will have to work extra hard to keep the temperature. Most of the time the money you spend to insulate will be easily made up on energy savings. To see what you need, visit https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table
4.     Find the drafts: Eliminating drafts from you home will greatly improve your efficiency and energy consumption. There are qualified professionals that will do an energy audit on your home. We wish we could say they are free but unfortunately unless it is a friend that owes you a favor, there is a cost to it. A simple and some may consider it a fun way to find drafts is to walk around the house with a small candle. As the flame encounters a draft you will see it flicker. Hopefully the problem isn’t so bad it blows the flame out. It is best to do this when there is a breeze outside, as this will provide an easier way for you to see where the air is coming in. Once you have identified the drafts you can then address what to do.

BONUS TIP: Don’t be lead astray - There is a lot of information out there that is almost dangerous. Especially when it come to exhaust fans and kitchen ventilation. Articles will say to not use any ventilation as it removes conditioned air, causing high bills. Being Air King is a ventilation company, we like to think we know a thing or two about the subject. As with most misguided information, there is a little bit of truth in there. Yes taking conditioned air out of the home does mean it needs to be replaced with more conditioned air. Here is the issue. When you properly ventilate the home, you are removing harmful – yes harmful air from the home. Air that is carrying carcinogens from the cooking surface, moist air that if not ventilated will cause mold and mildew growth in the bathrooms and so forth. So it comes down to balancing the energy usage verses the health of the home. A good step is to use the speed controls on your ventilation units. If you are just warming up some soup on the cook top you probably don’t need to crank the range hood up to it’s highest setting. Think of it this way. If you have a fireplace, you wouldn’t even think about keeping the chimney closed when you had a fire going. It wouldn’t take long for the entire home to be filled with smoke. However, by opening the chimney, you are allowing conditioned air to escape. It becomes the benefits of having a fire to provide heat verses the negative of loosing conditioned air.

Learn more about how to save on your energy bills at www.airkinglimited.com

Monday, October 1, 2018

Where are you living – How much time do you spend indoors?

For this month’s blog post we are going to do a little math, so get those pencils sharpened. Okay we know no one uses pencils anymore, so bring up your favorite calculator app on your smart phone and lets get ready.

Lets first start with the setup. If I told you that you had to spend the next 60 years of your life inside and could never go outside, what would you do? Our guess is you would try and make the area as comfortable as possible. Put in an extra window or two so you can at least see outside, make sure the temperature is perfect inside at all times and so on. What about the air you are breathing? Would that come to mind? Unfortunately for a lot of people it does not, but it could be the most important thing you should consider.

Okay, why does any of this matter. Here is where we get to do some math. Fill in the following blanks with your average (yes we know some weeks are different than others – we are shooting for an average).

Hours at work each week: ____
Hours commuting to and from work/per week: _____
Hours eating either in your home or at a restaurant/week: _____
Hours sleeping/week: _____
Hours watching TV or digital devices indoors/week: _____
Other indoor hours (reading, household chores, etc.) per week: _____
Add all these numbers to get your weekly total of indoor hours: _____

Now lets make this scary. Take the total number of hours you are indoors per week and times that by 52 to get a year quantity. The average US resident spends approximately 86.9% of their life indoors (source NHAPS study). 

It gets worst when we throw a statistic that indoor air can be up to 5 times – yes 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Just for fun lest make this more depressing and take that over a lifetime. With a life expectancy of 79 you will spend as many as 69 years of your life indoors (source: energy vangaurd). How did you match up to the average?

We promise, no more math from us this month. So what can we do about our indoor time? Thankfully there is a lot that we can do. The simple answer is to spend more time outside – play or coach a sport, take a daily walk (and not on the treadmill at the gym), sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee. The next step is to do what you can to better your indoor air. When you can, open windows and get as much fresh air inside as possible. Yes we know that is not always possible. When it is not, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Use exhaust fans in the bathrooms and especially in the kitchen. Also make sure you have a source of outdoor air coming in to replace the air you are ventilating. Doing all these things will greatly increase the indoor air quality so if you have to spend that time inside at least you’re doing your best to make the air as good as possible.

To learn more about Air King’s indoor air quality solutions visit www.airkinglimited.com
Also make sure to read our other blog posts about indoor air quality:

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 2 – The Bathroom

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 1 – The Kitchen


The Air Balancing Act

What Has Happen to the Air We Breath?

Getting Particular About Particulate Matter


Bad air out, fresh air in – bringing fresh air into your home

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 2 – The Bathroom


As we discussed in our last blog post, the air inside our homes can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. We also looked at the biggest culprit – the kitchen. In this post we will look at another one – the bathrooms. The bathroom has its own set of challenges when it comes to indoor air quality. The two main ones are moisture and odor with moisture being the main area of concern. While odors in the bathroom are unpleasant they in themselves do not present a health risk – they just stink and we want to get rid of them. The problem comes with using air fresheners. In order to rid the room of the smells, we spray a chemical agent into the air that we in turn breath in.

Moisture presents a whole other set of challenges. There is no way around it, if you take a shower or a bath, you will have moisture in the bathroom. Anytime there is moisture, there is the potential for mold and mildew to grow. Once that starts, the air you are breathing now has the potential to be dangerous. Now before everyone goes crazy and starts wearing HAZMAT suits in the bathroom, a lot of mold and mildew can be eliminated with a consistent cleaning routine. What we want to focus on is reducing the route causes. The good news is whether it is odors, mold or mildew, the solution is the same – good ventilation. Good ventilation has multiple components to it all working together. They include:

Vented to the outdoors: The air needs to leave your home. You sometimes will see the exhaust fan vented to the attic or just inside a wall. All that is happening in this scenario is the hazard is being displaced. Instead of the mold growing in your bathroom, it will now be growing in the attic or inside your walls. At least if it is in the bathroom you can see it and might be able to mitigate it before it gets out of control. In the attic or a wall, you won’t have that benefit.

Power: Another mistake many people make is trying to save a dollar or two and installing a fan that is not sized properly. If your mirrors fog up every time you take a shower, your exhaust fan is probably undersized. When sizing a fan, you want at least 1 CFM per square foot of space.

Make sure it is turned on: The biggest complaint when it comes to exhaust fans is how loud they are. Technology has come a long way and now there are fans on the market that you can barely hear running. All of Air King ENERGY STAR® certified exhaust fans operate at quiet to almost silent sound levels. Another solution is to use a fan that automatically turns on such as one with a humidity and/or motion sensor. These are great if you have children or guests that are not as reliable when it comes to turning the exhaust fan on.

Keep it running: To make sure you are properly exhausting the room it is recommended that the fan run for at least 20 minutes after it has been vacated. Adding a timer is a perfect solution. These can be a part of the fan itself or as a wall switch.

To learn more about Indoor Air Quality and how you can properly ventilate your home, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is the Air Inside Your Home Safe to Breath? Part 1 – The Kitchen


According to the American Lung Association, approximately 85% of Americans dont realize the air in the home can be hazardous. In some cases it can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Thats a bit concerning. The question is, what makes the air so bad? In this two part series well take a look at the biggest culprits inside our homes.

The Kitchen. The kitchen can be the largest area of contaminates inside the home. Anytime you are cooking, there will be a source of particulates going into the air. This can be smoke, grease, carcinogens and so forth. This is just part of cooking. The way to combat these contaminates is with a properly functioning range hood. The key is the proper functioning part.

Vented to the outdoors: First and foremost, the range hood has to vent to the outside. There are many range hoods on the market that pass the contaminated air through a filter then recirculate the air back into the kitchen. While these are somewhat better than nothing, they just are not going to provide the level of air filtration that is needed.

Turn it on: The range hood has to be turned on. Yes we know, they can be loud and cause the pets to run and hide but there are now many solutions on the market that operate at a fraction of the sound of older range hoods. Air King has a complete line of range hoods that provide proper ventilation at quiet sound levels.

Power: The hood needs to be powerful enough for the cooking you are doing. If the hood cant keep up with contaminates coming off the surface that means they are going into the air you are breathing.

Keep it running: The hood should run for an extended period of time once the cooking is completed. Typically there are still a lot of residual particles and contaminates that are still in the air even when you finish cooking. The goal is to get every last bit out of the home and away from the air you are breathing.

There has been a lot of research as well as building codes being implemented concerning Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). More and more studies are pointing to the kitchen as being the most important location to properly ventilate. One of the building codes now calls for an exhaust fan to be running continuously inside the home to make sure the air is being exchanged. Air King has developed products to place that continuously operating exhaust fan in the kitchen. The ECV, ECQ and LE series all have a barely audible low speed that runs continuously then have additional speeds when more ventilation is needed – like when you are actively cooking. The science behind this product is that if the kitchen is the biggest contaminate of the home, why not place the primary source of ventilation there? This takes care of any particulate matter during cooking as well as any residual particulates after cooking. It just makes sense to fight it at the source and prevent any infiltration into the rest of the home.

To learn more about Indoor Air Quality and how you can properly ventilate your home, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Air Balancing Act

When you hear Air Balancing you might have pictures of a puff of air trying to stay on a narrow bar without falling off. While that might be something you would see in the comic section, when it comes to your home, Air Balancing is a bit different and more important. The simple explanation is that the amount of air coming into the home needs to match the amount of air going out of the home.

So what air is going out of your home? There is more air leaving your home than you probably realize. Items such as your furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, range hood, and bathroom exhaust fans can all be pulling air out of your home. All of these items provide a pivotal role in the overall comfort and/or indoor air quality of your home so not using them is not an option.

This is where the balancing comes in. As we defined earlier, balancing is making sure the amount of air going out matches the amount coming in. So where do we get the air (referred to as make-up air) to balance everything? This all depends on the construction of you home. Many older homes have what is called natural air infiltration. The rest of the world knows these as drafts. In newer homes, the amount of drafts has been greatly reduced. You might hear the term – tight home. While this helps with the comfort and efficiency of the home it creates an issue with the air balance of the home and it is harder to account for all the air leaving the home. An easy way to balance the air is to leave a door or window open. That works great unless you live in a climate that has temperature changes (like almost all of the United States). There might be a few weeks of the year that this would be a viable option but in the middle of summer in Arizona or the middle of winter in Minnesota, not sure you want to have a window open. This is where mechanical solutions come in. A mechanical solution like the Air King QFAM is set up to bring fresh, filtered air into the home – balancing the amount of air leaving the home. There are air test that can be done to your home to determine how much air is leaving, then the QFAM can be set to deliver the proper amount of air flow to make-up that air providing a safe living environment.

Wait, you used the phrase safe living environment does that mean mine is not? Maybe. If a home is too tight and the air leaving is not replaced, you can create a negative pressure inside your home. Air will always find a way to balance itself and can start pulling from things like furnace vents or chimneys. The negative pressure wont allow them to vent properly and the harmful fumes, gases and contaminates that should be going out of the home could be coming back into the living environment. For these reasons the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), who is a leader in writing codes for indoor air quality standards has included a provision for fresh air (or make-up) air in the latest version of ASHRAE 62.2.

Balancing your homes air is an important element to your indoor air quality and healthy living. For more simple and effective was to accomplish balanced air, visit the Air King website at www.airkinglimited.com.