Friday, March 1, 2019

Room-By-Room Home Audit - Part 4, The Rest

We are continuing our series on making your home more efficient and comfortable. Last time we went through items in the Mechanical Room. We finish up the series by looking at the other areas of the home. While the first three areas (Kitchen, Bathroom and Mechanical Room) might have the “big ticket” items that can make a significant impact, there are other areas of the home we don’t want to forget. Here are a few:

1.     Clothes Washers: As we have mentioned with other larger items like furnaces or water heaters, it would be great if everyone went out and replaced their unit with an ENERGY STAR® certified one. We know that is not a practical solution but there are ways to increase the efficiency of your current one:
a.     Fill it Up – Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.
b.     Wash in Cold Water – Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washer. Unless you are dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally get the job done. Even switching from Hot to warm will cut energy usage in half.
c.     Avoid the sanitary cycle – Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid using the super hot cycle as it increases the energy usage significantly.
d.     Activate the high spin speed option – If your current washer has a high-speed spin cycle, use it. This will remove more moisture from the clothes, reducing the drying time.
e.      If it is time to replace your washer, look for an energy efficient model. Considering how often you use your washer, spending a little more up front could have a large impact on your energy bills of the long run.
2.     Clothes Dryer: As with the washer, it would be great if everyone replaced their dryer with a high-efficiency one but again that might not be practical. Here are some things you can do:
a.     Sensor Drying – If your dryer has a sensor mode, use that instead of timed drying. If set properly, this will ensure that the dryer is not running longer than it needs to.
b.     Low Heat Setting – Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting will actually use less energy than a short, higher heat cycle.
c.      Clean the lint filter – The lint filter should be cleaned after every load to improve the air circulation as well as the safety of using the dryer. You should also regularly check the dryer outlet where it is exhausting to the outdoors to make sure lint has not built up there. This will decrease the airflow and cause the dryer to take longer to dry the clothes.
3.     Lighting: What type of bulbs do you have installed around your home? Switching to ENERGY STAR certified LEDs could save up to 90% in energy costs. When choosing a LED make sure you choose one that fits your lighting needs. For instance, you might want to choose one that is closer to natural light rather than a warm light, especially if you will be doing things like applying make-up.
4.     Audio Video: When it comes to our TV’s, DVD players, computers and so forth, we can think that their energy usage is insignificant compared to everything else. These items can account for around 12% of the total amount of energy used in the home. Switching to ENERGY STAR labeled models can save up to 70%. Here are a couple of other tips:
a.     Turn it off – When not in use, turn it off. Sounds simple, but think of how many times you leave the TV on when no one is in the room or your computer is on when not in use. Energy Saving modes are great and should definitely be used, but to save even more energy, turn them off.
b.     Unplug – Almost all electronics are using energy when they are plugged in regardless if they are actively running or not. Unplugging them when not in use cuts that standby energy use off. Yes, it is sometimes not practical to always unplug everything, especially the cable box where it needs to reboot once it is plugged back in but it is something to consider if you will be away for any length of time.


To learn more about ways to make your home more efficient, saving money and energy, visit www.airkinglimited.com or www.energystar.gov (Many of the facts and figures throughout this series have been taken from the ENERGY STAR website.)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Room-By-Room Home Audit - Part 3, The Mechanical Room



We are continuing our series on making your home more efficient and comfortable.

Last time we went through items in the kitchen. Now we are moving to the mechanical room, which is just a fancy term for where your items like the furnace and water heater are located. These items can make a large impact on the efficiency of the home. Here are a few ways to improve:

1.     Heating (furnace)/Air Conditioner Unit: Sure it would be great if everyone went out and replaced their unit with a high-efficiency one. We know that is not a practical solution but there are ways to increase the efficiency of your current one:
a.     Have your unit serviced by a professional. They will be able to make sure it is operating at optimal efficiency as well as prolong the life.
b.     Change Air Filters regularly. This will be dependent on how often the unit is running but a good rule of thumb is to change them at least every 3 months. An easy way to remember is to change them every season.
c.      Check the thermostat. While this is technically not located in the mechanical room, we are including it here because it controls the items in this room. Installing a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat can really impact your heating and cooling costs. These thermostats will adjust to your living, keeping the home comfortable while you are there and then adjusting the temperature and energy usage when you are away.
d.     If it is time to replace your unit, make sure you talk to your installer about the efficiency of what they want to replace it with.  You might need to spend a little more up front, but considering how much your HVAC system is used, that extra money spent for a more efficient unit will more than pay itself off in the long run.
2.     Water Heater: As with the furnace, it would be great if everyone replaced their water heater with a high-efficiency one but again that might not be practical. Here are some things you can do:
a.     Set the temperature to 120 degrees or lower. This way the heater is not overheating the water – wasting energy.
b.     Many new water heaters have significant insulation built into the unit. If you have an older one, consider wrapping the unit with an approved insulating product (usually available at your local home improvement center).
c.      Turn the temperature down when you are away. If you are going on vacation, turn the heater to the lowest setting. Just remember to turn it back up once you return.
d.     Insulate hot water pipes. This will reduce the amount of time and water you need to run before you get hot water.
e.     If it is time to replace your unit, make sure you talk to your installer about the efficiency of what they want to replace it with. Like the furnace, you might need to spend a little more up front, but considering how much your water heater is used, that extra money spent for a more efficient unit will more than pay itself off in the long run.
f.      HVAC Joke – Don’t call it a Hot Water Heater, just refer to it as a water heater. If you do call it a “Hot Water Heater”, you will get the reply – “If it is already hot water, why do you need a heater?”
3.     Fresh Air: Newer homes are being built to a much higher insulation level – this is a good thing. You might hear it called a “Tight” house. Basically, it means that drafts are eliminated. While this is very good for the heating and cooling of the home, it presents a problem for bringing fresh air into the home. In tight homes, a source of fresh air is needed. Many builders are bringing that fresh air in through the mechanical room. Some units utilize the HVAC system, some work independently (such as the Air King FAS and QFAM units). Things to look for in fresh air or make-up air systems include:
a.     What is the efficiency? These units run continuously or for large parts of the day, so you want to make sure the energy being used is minimum.
b.     How does the unit bring the air into the home? Does it need the HVAC to be running? This can be a big one. Even with higher efficiency HVAC units, the fan used to push the air through the home can be very inefficient so if the unit bringing the fresh air in needs to kick this on to operate, it can reduce the overall efficiency.
c.      What type of controls are in place? Does the unit have systems in place that limit the temperature of the air coming in (too cold or too hot)? The Air King QFAM has a controller that can be set for temperature and humidity levels.

Don’t miss our next post when we will take a look at other areas of the home.


To learn more about ways to make your home more efficient, saving money and energy, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Room-By-Room Home Audit - Part 2, The Kitchen


We are continuing our series on making your home more efficient and comfortable. Last time we went through items in the bathroom. Now we are moving to the kitchen.

The kitchen is full of opportunities to save energy with the appliances making up the largest source of energy usage. Here are a few ways to improve:

Refrigerator: If it is time to replace your refrigerator, look for an ENERGY STAR certified one. These can save a considerable amount of energy/money, even up to $75 per year. Also make sure to recycle your old fridge. If replacing your fridge is not in the cards right now there are steps you can take to improve your current one.
  1. Keep your coils clean. Vacuum them regularly and make sure there is a gap between the back of the fridge and the wall to lessen the build-up of dust and debris on the coils.
  2. Minimize the number of times you open the doors. Also minimize the amount of time the kids sit there with the door open staring blankly into the fridge looking for who knows what.
  3. Keep the fridge full – sounds odd, but a full fridge retains cold better than an empty one.

Range: With a range, it is more about organizing your usage.
  1. Use the appropriate size burner for your need.
  2. When baking, minimize the number of times you open the door. Each time you open it, a considerable amount of heat is lost.
  3. Organize your task to minimize the energy usage. If you have multiple things to bake in a day, do them all at once while the oven is already pre-heated.
  4. Don’t have items on the cook top longer then they need to be. Things like boiling water – once it is to temperature make sure to get the items you are cooking in right away instead of wasting energy.

Dishwasher: As with the fridge, if it is time to replace, look for an ENERGY STAR certified one. ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers can reduce the amount of water you use by almost 4,000 gallons over the lifetime of the dishwasher. Other ways to optimize the dishwasher are:
  1. Only run the dishwasher when it is full. Sort of goes without saying but we are going to go ahead and say it.
  2. Keep the dishwasher’s jets clean. Clogged jets will reduce the effectiveness and cause the need to re-wash items.
  3. Use the cycle that you need. If a shorter cycle is all you need, use it.

Range Hood: Yes, we know many people don’t think about the range hood in the kitchen but we are a ventilation company so we think about it everyday! As with other appliances, if it is time to replace, look for an ENERGY STAR certified hood. Here are a few other ways to improve the efficiency of your hood:
  1. Keep it clean. Regularly clean the grease filters of the hood. Dirty and clogged filters will reduce the efficiency of the hood.
  2. If it has a light, replace the bulb with a LED.
  3. Use It! Many people are tempted to not use the range hood – mostly due to the sound level (by the way there are really quiet ones now). This is a huge mistake. When cooking, the kitchen is full of contaminates that are just not good for you. If you are not ventilating them out of the home, that means you are breathing them in.


In addition to the above items also read our last post regarding the lighting and windows, as these can also be places to improve your efficiency and comfort.

Don’t miss our next post when we will take a look at the mechanical room.

To learn more about ways to make your home more efficient, saving money and energy, visit www.airkinglimited.com