Design Comfort Blog: Archive for the ‘Energy Savings’ Category

Salt Lake City HVAC Guide: Saving Energy

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Everyone wants to make their Salt Lake City home more energy efficient, it not only saves you money but it also makes your home more environmentally friendly. Upgrading your Salt Lake City HVAC equipment is a great place to start, but it can be hard to decide what to do first.

Before you start making changes, ask yourself the following questions:

How much do you spend on energy?

Paying attention to your energy bill from month to month is very important. A sudden spike could indicate a problem with your Salt Lake City HVAC system or other appliances in your home. If you start trying to embrace an energy efficient lifestyle, your energy bill can help you keep track of how well you are doing.

Are there benefits to this upgrade?

In addition to being energy efficient, you should discover if there are any other ways that a change can benefit your home. For instance, a new air conditioner could make your home more comfortable, or zone control could make it easier to keep every room in your home the desired temperature. You’d be surprised how many energy efficient upgrades can really improve your whole home and not just your energy bill.

What is your budget?

Budgeting is never fun, but it’s important step to figuring out what you should change first. While it would be great to replace your air conditioner and furnace for ENERGY STAR rated models, it’s a big investment. You can try the little things first, like improving you insulation, repairing air ducts, and sealing air leaks. After you have saved up and improved other parts of your home you can work on replacing your HVAC equipment.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home will make it more comfortable and lower your utility bills. If you have any questions about energy efficient upgrades you can make to your home, call Design Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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Turn that Thermostat Down a Degree and Save Money in Salt Lake City

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

There are literally dozens of things you can do to cut back on your heating and cooling costs in Salt Lake City. These range from things like getting a high energy efficiency system to just making sure that you have adequate insulation in all parts of your house. But too many people overlook one of the simplest things that you can do to cut down on your monthly heating bill, and that is to turn the thermostat down.

Of course, you did not pay for that high tech home comfort system just so that you could walk around cold all winter long. You certainly want to keep your house at a temperature that is comfortable, but what does that really mean?

The normal default setting for a home heating system is usually somewhere between 72°F and 75°F. If you have your thermostat set somewhere in this range in the winter, you are probably quite comfortable indoors. In fact, you might not even need a sweater. But would you really notice if it was a degree or two cooler? Would it be incredibly inconvenient to put on a sweater or sweatshirt after all?

The truth is that most of us will be just as comfortable at 69°F as we are at 72°F, and the effect that small adjustment can have on your heating bill is actually pretty significant. In fact, you will save an average of 3% on your monthly bill for every degree you turn your thermostat down. Drop the temperature down by three or four degrees and that will give you up to a 10% monthly savings – hardly something to turn up your nose at.

And setting the regular temperature in your house a bit lower is not the only way your thermostat settings can save you money. You will also save quite a bit if you take the time to turn down the temperature when you leave the house and when you go to bed at night. There simply is no reason to pay to heat your house when you are not there and you will certainly be rewarded with a lower energy bill for your efforts.

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Top 10 Mistakes People Make When They Buy HVAC Equipment in Salt Lake City

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Every year millions of Salt Lake City homeowners buy a new HVAC system for their home. Whether for heating, cooling or air quality, they make a huge investment in a new system that will be with them for years to come. Unfortunately, many of those people make big mistakes when buying their next system, so to help you avoid doing so, here are some simple things you should not do.

  1. Ignoring Air Quality – Air quality is about more than comfort. It affects the health of everyone in your home equally. Consider it carefully when installing a new system.
  2. Avoiding Even Heating and Cooling – One room being cooler or warmer than another is not okay. It’s bad for your system and bad for your home’s comfort level. Have insulation and ductwork checked before installation of a new HVAC system.
  3. Not Upgrading Your AFUE or SEER – New systems are highly efficient. Take advantage of that by buying one with a higher AFUE or SEER rating.
  4. Not Vetting Your Contractor – Always spend time checking up on your contractor, reading reviews and asking other customers how their experience was.
  5. Skipping the Service Agreement – Service agreements save money and help your system last longer. Don’t skip them.
  6. Buying the Cheapest Option Available – It may be tempting, but a cheap HVAC system is a bad idea if you want it to last and save you money in heating and cooling. Even a midrange system will save you money in only a few years with higher efficiency ratings.
  7. Picking the Same Model You Already Had – New models are stronger and more efficient. When possible, get an upgrade and your bills will reflect the difference.
  8. Waiting too Long to Buy – The longer you wait, the more you pay in heating and cooling bills for an old, worn down system. If you know you’re going to buy a new system, act fast to save the most possible money.
  9. Not Asking Questions – If you have a question, ask it. There is no such thing as a stupid question when looking for a new HVAC system.
  10. Ignoring Maintenance Recommendations – Maintenance recommendations are optional but almost always to your benefit. Research on your own before committing to anything, but don’t ignore the necessity either.

If you do things just right, your new HVAC system will last for years to come and provide steady, comfortable heating or cooling throughout that time. But, if you rush through things, make a hasty decision and neglect to do any research, you may have issues with your system in far less time than you’d like. Be smart and you’ll be rewarded.

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What Happens if You Put Your Air Filter in the Wrong Way?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Air filters are important pieces in your overall home comfort system. They keep unwanted debris and sediment out of your indoor air and they help your system run smoothly for years to come. However, if you’re not careful, an air filter put in backwards can lead to quite a few problems with your heating and cooling system.

The Most Common Problems

The most common problem you will face with a backwards facing filter is simple inefficiency. If your furnace is forced to blow air through the non-porous end of a filter, it will take more energy to do so. The blower will be overworked and you will pay more money for your heating. The same is doubly true for an air conditioner which has multiple filters in place to keep outdoor contaminants out of your indoor air.

Beyond the cost of improper filtering, you will likely suffer from a decrease in indoor air quality. The filter is designed to remove a lot of unwanted debris, but only when installed in a certain direction. If you set your filter up backwards, the normally collective end of the device will not face the air supply. In effect, your filter will help keep debris in the air.

This results in a clogged filter and improperly cleaned air when it reaches your lungs. If you have a home indoor air quality system it will help to supplement this problem for a while, but the clog will eventually become too much for your system.

Avoiding the Problem

There are two ways to avoid improper installation. First, you can have a professional install the system for you. Whenever you need a new filter ask someone to come and take care of it. When they do, though, pay close attention to how they set the filter and any other steps they take. By carefully watching you can ideally learn what it takes to do this step yourself and hopefully keep your system running smoothly for years to come.

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A Different Way to Zone Your Heating

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

One of the most frustrating things about traditional heating is that you must pay for the entire home to be heated. You flip on the thermostat and you get the same temperature for every room. Vent covers can reduce how much heat gets to each room, but if you want one room to be cooler than another, how do you do it without installing an expensive zone control system?

Vent Levers for Adjustable Air Flow

The easiest way to control the flow of air in your heating system is to use a vent lever adjustable air flow system that allows you to actually control where the air goes. These systems are installed directly on your furnace’s air handler. Each vent lever can be attached to a specific thermostat in your house or the vent levers can be opened and closed manually from the basement. When one of the thermostats is turned off, a vent lever will close off air flow to that particular room and stop any heat from being distributed there.

The system itself is not as easy to use as a zone control system but because the technology is simple and it takes only a few seconds to the turn the vent levers, it’s a viable and effective method to control your heating if you cannot afford zone control. If you’re not sure whether this is a good solution for your particular furnace, an HVAC contractor can help.

How to Get Vent Levers Installed in Your Home

If this sounds like a good solution for you, take some time and contact your local HVAC service provider to learn more about what it takes to have vent levers installed. For some systems it is relatively easy to add them to an existing air handler. In older systems or in the case of a boiler, you may need to install more specific types of handlers to control the flow of heating to each room in your home. A professional can give you a better idea of what your home needs and how it can best be setup.

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What to Look for when a Home is 10 Years Old

Monday, May 30th, 2011

A ten year old home is likely to be in great condition, presuming the previous owner(s) treated it well. But, there are some things you should watch out for that can arise in newer constructions, even if they were treated well.

Poor Craftsmanship

While it is possible for a 100 year old home to have poorly crafted parts, it’s highly unlikely if the house is still intact and is being sold this long after it was built. Newer homes, however, wouldn’t show signs of cheap materials or shoddy work until a bit later in their life. That’s why it is important to pay for a thorough inspection of the property as soon as possible – definitely before it is purchased and possibly again afterwards to check for possible improvements.

Specific things you should check for include roofing, your heating and cooling systems, the insulation and the drywall used. Especially in freshly renovated or built houses it’s impossible to be sure a home was built with the highest standards of modern craftsmanship.

Proper Maintenance

For a home that is only 10 years old, there is a good chance you can get the original records for the heating and cooling system, any appliances in the home and all maintenance performed on them since their installation. If not, don’t fret – a good technician will be able to easily check the status of a piece during an inspection.

You should also check to find out the last time the sewer lines and plumbing were inspected. Owners of new homes often forget to have these things checked because they never deal directly with the contractors after the home is bought. To avoid falling into that trap, you should make sure the maintenance plans have been followed carefully and kept up with since the system was installed.

Overall, if your new home is only 10 years old, you are likely in a very good place. The home will be in good condition, the parts will be new, and your heating and cooling system should be efficient. Original parts installed during construction may need to be replaced, but otherwise, if everything else checks out, you can count on having a comfortable, wonderful place to live for some years to come.

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Home Repairs You Don’t Want to Ignore

Friday, May 27th, 2011

There are a lot of things you need to take care of around your home. But, everything costs money so many homeowners will put off certain home repairs for weeks, months or even years until they can afford them. However, there are certain things around the house you simply should not put off. Not only can they cost you more money in the long run, they can put your home and your family at risk if you wait too long.

Dirty Filters

Dirty filters in your air conditioning, heating, or air quality system are a problem. Not only do they force your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a good temperature, they are frequently a major cause of airborne contaminants and pathogens. Imagine it this way; those filters are meant to remove something from your air. If they get dirty and are not replaced or cleaned, they probably aren’t working any longer and you can get sick. Dirty filters are inexpensive and easy to fix. Both you and your HVAC repairperson should see to them regularly.

Dryer Vents

Clogged dryer vents are more than just an inconvenience – they are dangerous. If your home has dirty dryer vents, the exhaust from your dryer isn’t able to escape. When this happens, heat will build up in the ducts. Not only can exhaust backup into your home, the risk of a fire goes up significantly. Have your dryer vents cleaned at least once a year and if you live in a two or three family house, make sure it is more often – closer to every 6 months.

Flexible Gas Connectors

Gas connectors are used to transfer gas from the supply entering your home to various appliances like your stove, water heater and furnace. So, there is a lot of natural gas passing through them each day. If they are not properly cared for, that natural gas can start to leak from the connectors and eventually build up in your home to an unsafe level. You should have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every floor of your home and you should have someone come out and check your system regularly for problems.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are more than just messy – they can cause damage to fixtures and floorboards and over time can lead to the growth of mold and the weakening of your entire home. Especially in concrete or foundational walls, water leaks need to be seen to immediately. Even just a small leak can cost you money and put your home at an increased risk of damage.

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My HVAC System Has a 10 Year Warranty – Why Do I Need a Maintenance Agreement?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

While every new furnace sold comes with a limited 10 year warranty for the unit and parts, it is a good idea to supplement your warranty with a more complete maintenance agreement with your HVAC provider. Why pay for a secondary maintenance plan when you already have a warranty?

For the most part, the limited warranty provided by the manufacturer is meant to cover things like faulty parts, abnormal breakdowns or recalls. If your system simply needs to get a checkup because you use it a lot or there is a clog that isn’t caused by the actual furnace or air conditioner, you will likely end up paying the maintenance cost. So, by paying for an upgraded service plan, you cover all potential breakdowns and you’ll never again need to worry about your system. It’s like getting the upgraded warranty for a new car that covers everything from a busted crankshaft to old windshield wipers.

Help Your System Last Longer

Another benefit of a maintenance agreement for your HVAC system is that the system lasts longer when it is regularly maintained. The best maintenance agreements come with unlimited checkups and service visits, any day of the week, any time. So, if you think your system is running poorly, call a professional in to check it out and it won’t cost you anything. The ability to do this will ensure your HVAC system lasts significantly longer than if you were forced to wait until you could afford an extra visit from your repair man.

So, not only do you ensure your system keeps working, you add a lot of valuable years to its lifespan. Imagine how much money you’ll save if your furnace or air conditioner lasts for 20+ years instead of just 10. Any breakdowns after the 10 year mark would require hefty repairs or replacement since your warranty is expired. So, it’s in your best interest to keep your system running smoothly throughout its lifespan.

Ultimately, an HVAC system is only as good as what you put into it. If you’re careful about your investments and are willing to spend a little extra now, you’ll stand to benefit far more in the future from a smoothly operating, efficient heating system.

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Installing Automatic Thermostats – Quick Fix to Energy Savings

Friday, May 13th, 2011

While you probably spent a lot of time researching your home heating and cooling system to make sure you got one with great energy efficiency ratings and all of the other features you were looking for, one thing you may not have thought a lot about is your thermostat. The thermostat in your home is your direct link to your home comfort system, and the type and quality of the product you have in place can have a much bigger impact on the performance of that system than you may initially realize.

Of course, any thermostat will get the basic job done. You set it for the desired temperature and it will communicate that information down the line to the heating and cooling system. But the better the thermostat you’re using, the better the communication and coordination between the two devices will be. And many advanced thermostats come with all types of special features that can both enhance the quality of your indoor environment and save you some considerable money in the long run.

Saving Money with a New Thermostat

So how can a thermostat save you money? There are actually a couple of ways. For instance, an automatic thermostat can be programmed to switch your heating and cooling system on and off at different pre-set times of day. That means you can have the heat or air conditioning turned off during the day and still come home to a comfortable house. Simply set the thermostat to come on right before you get home and you’ll be able to walk into a perfectly temperature controlled environment without having to keep the heat on all day.

Automatic thermostats can come with other great features as well. For instance, you can set them up to maintain different temperatures in different parts of your home. That way, your home comfort system doesn’t have to work harder to keep your whole house warm or cool when only part of it is in use. And when your home comfort system is working less and using less energy, it will last longer so you won’t have to pay for repairs or a new system nearly as frequently as you might otherwise.

You’ll also pay less on your monthly energy bills the whole time, adding up to a great deal of savings. It might never have occurred to you that a new thermostat could save you so much money, but with all of these benefits, it’s definitely worth looking into.

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What Do the Energy Stars Indicate?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

If you’re in the market for any type of appliance for your home, you’ve probably come across some that boast an Energy Star certification. But what does this really mean? After all, there are all types of special labels that manufacturers put on their products to make them look better, so how can you know which ones are really worth paying attention to?

Why Energy Star Matters

The truth is that no matter what type of appliance you’re looking for, from a coffee maker to a new furnace, buying one with the Energy Star label is definitely a good investment. This certification is conferred by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and it can only be used on products that pass the EPA’s stringent tests for energy efficiency and environmental impact.

Energy Star products create fewer pollutants like greenhouse gasses because they use less energy to get the job done than their inefficient counterparts. This is great for our planet, but it also translates to savings for you as a consumer. Because Energy Star appliances use less energy to heat or cool your home or do whatever else you need them to do, your monthly bills will be significantly reduced.

Quality and Performance Measured

And you don’t have to worry about inferior performance as a result of increased energy efficiency either. Energy Star products can only receive the label if they provide all of the features you’ve come to expect from comparable products across the board. They need to maintain high energy efficiency ratings while still maintaining a superior level of performance.

While it’s true that you may wind up paying a bit more for an Energy Star product, that is only a one-time cost. If you compare the monthly savings you’ll receive by using your Energy Star appliance on a regular basis to what you would pay out over time with a less efficient model, it’s easy to see how the Energy Star product costs you less.

For all of these reasons, the Energy Star rating is definitely worth looking out for when shopping for home appliances and equipment. These products are made to be reliably energy efficient and can save you a ton over the years as long as they’re properly cared for.

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