Design Comfort Blog: Archive for April, 2012

Handy Ways to Remember Your Filter Changing Schedule for Salt Lake City Residents

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Changing the air filters in your Salt Lake City heating system and air conditioner is an essential maintenance task. The benefits of having a fresh filter for the air circulating in your home are numerous. The better air quality is good for your respiratory health, fewer allergens permeate the air, your system runs more efficiently and you save money. So why is it so difficult to remember to replace those filters? To help prevent those issues, try some of these tips to remember your replacement schedule.

Set Reminders for Later

Think of the last time you inspected and replaced your air filter. Was it more than three months ago? Replace it now. Can’t remember? Replace it anyway. Go ahead; this post will wait. Now that you’ve taken care of that, set a reminder for three months from now. Try one of these systems to remind yourself:

  • Put it into your cell phone calendar.
  • Use a calendar application that sends email alerts to remind you.
  • Circle the day on your wall or desk calendar.

Whatever method works best for you, make sure to use it and stick to it. While you are at it, set monthly reminders to inspect the filters. The EPA recommends making the switch every three months, or whenever the filter is visibly dirty.

Make a Connection

If you don’t like to have reminders, or perhaps find yourself forgetting to even set the reminders, hope is not lost. Try scheduling filter changes to coincide with something you will remember, or putting it on the same day as other routine maintenance tasks. Here are some examples:

  • Make the day of the month the same as that of your birthday or anniversary. Bonus points if your birthday is June 25, since that combines with Christmas to take care of two replacements a year. Just remember March and September and you are all set!
  • Three months is about as often as cars need oil changes, so do both on the same day. Drove 3000 miles already? Time to change the furnace filter.
  • Schedule on a holiday. In the U.S., for example, Martin Luther King Day, Easter Sunday, the Fourth of July and Columbus Day are all approximately three months from one another.

The Failsafe

If all else fails, hire a professional to inspect and change the filters for you, and rely on his appointment keeping skills to make up for any memory lapses you may have. It will cost a bit more than DIY, but at least it will get done, and the maintenance will save you on the costs of wasted energy.  To schedule these visits please call Design Comfort.

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Green Building Trends for Salt Lake City Homes

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Residents of Salt Lake city have an increasing eye on reducing waste and creating energy-efficient heating systems, so it might not be as surprising to know that the green building market has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and in years to come is expected to triple from what it is now.  The variety of green building trends for new homes which are in place today are staggering and exciting, and will ultimately change the way we build homes and business facilities, permanently.  According to the Earth Advantage Institute, below are the latest green building trends for new homes to watch for in the near future.

 

  • Urban Density:  Homeowners are opting to build in the empty space between existing homes or buildings.  These lots are desired by those who want to be closer to city-centers and hotspots.
  • Green Multi-Family Homes:  An increased interest in energy-saving building options and an increase in the number of multi-family homes being built mean an increase in green multi-family homes.
  • Energy Upgrades Drive Home Remodels:  Consumer preference has switched to remodeling in order to save energy in their upgrades.  Thus contractors have begun to offer these types of services as a standard option in remodeling projects.
  • Development and Testing of New Materials: National labs and research departments are working with construction firms in order to produce test facilities and sensor-filled buildings which track real-time energy performance of new materials and equipment.
  • Consumer-Friendly Home Energy Tracking Devices:  Sensor-based energy and water monitoring systems are being used to track new heating system replacements to save money all throughout their homes and the number of companies creating these tracking devices is increasing, making them easier to come by.
  • Energy Education for Commercial Tenants:  Commercial building energy disclosure is pushing building owners to be more energy efficient, this in addition to educating tenants on ways for them to contribute to saving energy means that more commercial buildings are going green.
  • Transparency in Home Marketing:  Consumers who have instant access to information are more educated and can see through housing scams more easily. Real estate agents who are forthright and educate clients even further on the benefits of having energy efficient home features means more confidence in the green housing market.
  • More Accurate Appraisals:  With more educated consumers looking for Certified Residential Green Appraisers, the lending community is beginning to follow suit and pay attention even further to the added value and return on investment for green homes and green remodels.
  • Broader Adoption of Residential Energy Ratings for Homes:  Energy labeling systems are being put into place nationally, thus causing homeowners to be more educated regarding energy savings possibilities.  More extensive usage of residential energy ratings for homes means homeowners are undertaking more energy upgrade work.
  • Smart Grid-Compatible High-Performance Homes:  More new homes are utilizing “grid-aware” appliances which monitor and report their own usage with the ability to increase or decrease electric usage remotely, thus saving energy.

Call Design Comfort if you have any questions about these improvements.

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Green Your Salt Lake City HVAC

Monday, April 16th, 2012

“Air conditioning accounts for nearly 50% of the energy use in the United States during peak summer months, and air conditioning is responsible for nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year,” says the Rocky Mountain Institute in one of its White Papers.  In the winter, while northern cities, like Salt Lake City, change over to the production of heat, southern states continue to rely on cooling their climate, raising America’s reliance on HVAC systems despite rising energy costs and the impact to the environment.

We know this trend can lead to irreversible damage to our climate and style of life, but are just beginning to learn the little steps that can be taken to minimize the impact.  From house to house, one by one, we can make a difference.

Regular Maintenance Avoids High Costs

No matter the energy rating of a heating appliance, a schedule of simple heating maintenance and replacement of filters can make a significant difference in its longevity.  Most heating systems in Salt Lake City rated at 95% efficient will burn nowhere near that great a rating if the air is blocked and unable to pass through the filter without effort.

Fan belts on the blower motor can loosen over time and become ineffective, forcing the heater to burn longer and hotter to distribute air that should normally breeze through the ductwork.  Working so hard, parts break and the furnace might need replacement.

Programmed Thermostat

If left to our own habits, furnaces and air conditioners might run for hours under unnecessary circumstances because we are not thinking to turn our thermostats up or down.  At the change of seasons, in particular, it may feel warm enough to open a window while the heat is still adjusted to come on at those fresher temperatures that now seem so inviting.

In older homes, the replacement of the old dial thermostats with the newer programmable versions can save hundreds of dollars annually on energy costs.  Smart phones allow adjustments to thermostats from anywhere in the world for the instance that a cold snap may threaten frozen pipes while we are away on vacation.

Changing World

Tax incentives, climate change and the economics of energy dictate that we look closely at our habits and find ways to conserve our resources.  Simple steps taken by each of us can lead to a wealth of improvements and create communities of action.  Please call Efficient Systems with any questions.

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Salt Lake City Heating Tip: What To Do If Your Furnace Keeps Turning On or Off?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Furnaces are designed to last decades without major problems so long as they are regularly maintained.  They typically work so well, in fact, there is a danger of taking our comfort for granted and skipping the annual service for a year or two as time rushes by, waking up suddenly to a dark night and no heat.

In retrospect, a preliminary indication of trouble could have been the furnace continually turning off and on in short bursts, something that was tugging at your senses, but not strongly enough to really catch your attention.

Possible Problems

Your Salt Lake City furnace constantly turning on and off could often be a direct result of poor airflow through the system.  Heat builds up and the detectors sense the proper temperatures have been reached and automatically shut down.  In the room, the thermostat calls for more heat and starts the cycle over again.

A relay switch or control valve may also be worn and working improperly.  A crack in the heat exchanger might fuel the flame to burn too hotly and cause the sensor to misinterpret the information and shut down.

These problems not only impede the distribution of heat to the living spaces, decreasing comfort, but also create intense wear on the motor and controls, threatening the very life of the appliance.

Simple Solutions

Restricted airflow can be caused most often by a dirty or clogged filter.  At the furnace, there is usually a panel that can be removed to check, clean or replace the filter.  It is typically a single or series of cardboard and screen panels approximately 1′ by 2′, but varies by manufacturer and furnace output.

A vacuum to pull lint free or compressor to blow it clean are the recommended tools to use a few times each year.  It is a good idea to change the filters at the beginning of each heating season. The belts are also easily replaced.

The fan belts for the blower may also be worn loose and not pushing the air hard enough to get through the filters.  It is a good idea to check them regularly as well.

Annual Maintenance

When in doubt, call the experts out.  Scheduling an annual inspection and service with Salt Lake City HVAC professionals Design Comfort takes the worry out of living in a furnace heated home.  Besides the rite of safe passage for your peace of mind, trained mechanics can spot the defects and give you the best assurance of a long life of comfort and warmth.

 

 

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