Do’s and Don’ts for Successful Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing helps you defend your home against the elements. This not only ensures that you and your family are safe and comfortable, but it can also help you extend the life and protect the resale value of your Houston home. Below, we’ve put together some of the best (and worst) ways to weatherproof your home.

Effective Weatherproofing in Houston, TX

It is never too late to start weatherproofing your home. For the most part, you can find all of the tools that you need at your local home improvement store. With the tips below, you’ll be on your way to successfully weatherproofing your Texas home in no time!

Do check for drafty doors and windows.

Do you often feel a draft even when your windows and doors are closed? This could mean that it’s time to replace the weather stripping or insulation. Check for leaks around your doors and windows, and fill these drafty spots with expanding foam or caulk. One of the best ways to identify drafts is by moving a lit candle around your door and window frames. When the flame flickers, you have a draft that needs to be sealed.

Don’t skimp on window treatments.

Adding window drapes and shades to the windows in your home can help you keep the elements out and save energy throughout the year. During the colder winter months, you can open up the drapes and shades to make use of the warm sunshine to warm your home and provide a little natural light. At night, close the shades and drapes to protect against the chilly air. When summer arrives, make sure to keep your drapes and blinds closed to block out the sun and cool your home more efficiently.

Do inspect your chimney.

If you have a chimney, you should call a professional to inspect for leaks and heat loss annually. They have a range of tools that can be used to help you reduce heat loss through your fire place, such as heat exchangers, flue sealers, and inserts. If you want to make sure that your fireplace is not driving up your energy costs during the winter, it is important that you identify and fix any leaks as soon as possible.

Don’t forget to insulate your outlets.

Proper home insulation is an important part of reducing energy loss in your home. While you might have already worked to insulate your doors, windows, and air ducts, there is one place that many homeowners forget to insulate – their electrical outlets. These sockets are basically a hole in the wall, which means that energy can be lost. When weatherproofing your home, don’t forget to insulate your power outlets to save energy (and money).

Whether you’re a home improvement pro or new to this whole homeowning thing, weatherproofing is an important task if you want to keep your home safe from the elements and protect one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.

Are you interested in learning more about how to save energy in your home throughout the year? Taking care of your HVAC system is an important part of maintaining efficiency. Find out more about our residential HVAC services, or contact us to find the right energy efficient heating or cooling system for your home.

All I Want for Christmas is Energy Savings: Tips for Saving Money This Holiday Season

Between hosting guests, decorating the house, and trying to keep your home warm, the holiday season is a time of high energy usage. It is easy to forget about saving energy when you’re running errands, purchasing gifts, and preparing for all the festivities. However, there are many simple steps that you can take to save energy this holiday season and decrease your monthly bill.

Energy-Saving Tips for the Holidays

If you want to cut energy costs this holiday season, use these simple tips for increasing your energy efficiency:

  1. Invest in LED holiday lights.

Holiday lights can be a real energy-eater during the holiday season. One way to cut down on energy costs is by investing in LED holiday lights. Using LED lights instead of traditional lights will not only help you save energy, but also allow you to create a safer environment during the holidays. Whereas 90% of the energy used by traditional holiday lights is released as heat, LED lights are more efficient and long-lasting. They also do not give off heat, which reduces the heating risks.

  1. Cook and bake more efficiently.

Cooking is another aspect of the holiday season that can cause your electricity costs to skyrocket. With a little planning and attention, you can save energy while cooking and baking during the holidays. Avoid taking the lids off of pots or opening the oven to take a peek as this can increase cook time and release heat into the air, causing your HVAC system to work harder to keep your home comfortable. Also, try making several dishes at the same time. This allows you to make the most of your oven space and heat time.

  1. Purchase energy-efficient gifts.

Another way to cut down on energy usage is to make a pledge to buy gifts that don’t require electricity or batteries. Instead, use your time and skills to create thoughtful, do-it-yourself gifts for friends and family. If you are planning on purchasing electronics or other gifts that run on batteries or electricity, purchase more energy-efficient gifts. Consider Energy Star qualified electronics and appliances, and purchase rechargeable batteries for any gifts that may require them to function.

  1. Reduce the number of trips you take.

The holiday season is a busy time full of trips out of the house. Whether you are running quick errands, shopping for gifts, or picking up traveling guests, you will often find yourself running back and forth to various locations. One way to save fuel is by combining errands to reduce the number of trips you need to take. For instance, you might stop by the grocery store on your way home for work or take a trip to the mall for shopping before you pick your relatives or friends up from the airport.

Want more energy saving tips? Check out Ways to Increase Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency or Energy Saving Tips for Winter for more ways to save energy throughout the year.

How to Positively Impact Our Planet: A Look at Your Carbon Footprint

It seems that individuals and companies across the nation are looking for ways to go green and make a positive impact on the planet. Though this may seem daunting at first, it doesn’t have to be. There are many simple and realistic ways that individuals and families can help reduce their carbon footprint while also saving money.

What Contributes to Your Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint depends a lot on your location. Texas has more carbon dioxide emissions than any other state in the country. However, the state is taking measures to improve this by using alternative energy sources and increasing energy efficiency. Individuals and households contribute to these emissions directly through energy usage, transportation, and waste produced. Purchasing decisions (local vs. long-distance) and diet preferences (meat vs. vegetables) can also have an indirect impact on your carbon footprint when factoring in fuel, land usage, and additional waste created.

Are you curious about your carbon footprint? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a free carbon footprint calculator that you can use to estimate your household’s carbon footprint. This calculator asks you questions about your home energy usage, transportation, and waste to determine how your household’s greenhouse emissions. Once you use the calculator to determine your footprint, you can then try implementing some of the tips below to reduce your carbon footprint.

Simple Ways to Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

Many people think that going green has to be difficult and expensive. The truth is that there are actually a variety of easy ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while also saving money. Here are just a few that you can try today:

  • Use a programmable thermostat. This helps you regulate your home’s temperature even when you are gone, helping you save energy when no one is home.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. When possible, avoid using hot water to wash your clothes to save energy.
  • Use the power management features on your computer. Adjust your computer’s power settings to use less energy. Many models allow you to use “power save mode.” When you are not using your computer, turn it off or set it to sleep mode.
  • Take shorter showers. Cutting your average shower down by just a few minutes can help you save gallons of water, not to mention spend less on utilities.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your vehicle. This ensures that it is running efficiently and getting the best gas mileage possible.
  • Reduce the miles you drive. Try to reduce the number of miles that you drive each day by carpooling, using ride share, or taking public transportation.
  • If you are not already, make sure that you are recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic, glass, newspapers, magazines, etc.

Reducing your carbon footprint not only helps you positively impact the planet, but it can ultimately save you and your family money. We’d love to help you reduce your carbon footprint by making sure that your HVAC system is running efficiently. Call us today for a tune-up.

What You Need To Know About Energy Efficiency Audits

The U.S. Energy Star Program states that more than half of the energy you use in your home goes into heating and cooling. The energy efficiency of your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system decides your monthly energy bills and how your home or business impacts the environment. Professional home energy audits from an authorized professional company such as superwriter.ru, Inc. are the best way to assess your systems efficiency, but you can conduct your own simple audit to pinpoint problem areas.

Do-It-Yourself Energy Efficiency Audit

A fast and easy way to detect inefficient air conditioning areas in your home is to do a walkthrough. DIY energy audits arent as thorough as professional ones, but they can get you started with a checklist of areas where you need efficiency upgrades. Begin by locating air leaks in your home or business. Air leaks are massive energy wasters. The air you pay for escapes outdoors, and the uncomfortable outside air invades your space. Instead of wasting money and energy pumping air outside, perform a leak test.

Look for air leaks that enable you to see light from outside, such as gaps in your baseboards and doorjambs. Check the outside of the building for cracks or gaps where materials meet. Then, review your windows, doors, and skylights for drafts as well as your electrical outlets and light switches. Do this by shutting all windows, doors, and fireplace flues. Turn off all appliances, such as gas burning furnaces, and turn on exhaust fans that blow air outside.

Next, light an incense stick and walk through your home or business, wafting the smoke near places with possible air leaks. Watch the smoke carefully: if you have a leak, the smoke will waver or swirl away. Once you know where some of your energy efficiency issues lie, you can contact a licensed HVAC technician to come to your home or business and solve the problem.

Professional Audits And Energy Efficiency Solutions

A professional energy efficiency A/C system audit means a trained technician will visit your home or business and conduct a full check. The technician will delve far beyond rudimentary draft detection, using calibrated blower door tests and thermographic scans to ensure accurate energy readings. Then, the technician will give you expert advice about how to solve your energy deficiencies, such as sealing air leaks, checking insulation, and repairing or replacing heating and cooling equipment.

superwriter.ru, Inc. has performed thorough energy efficient audits for the citizens of the Greater Dallas and Ft. Worth, TX areas since 1981. We’ve stayed on the cutting edge of energy efficient furnaces and air conditioners, and we train our team to detect even the slightest air leaks with special methods. Well give you friendly, no-pressure advice as to how to keep your home energy efficient far into the future and complete any services you need on the spot. Call us today for your energy efficiency audit, or visit us online.

Air Conditioner Summer Usage: Affordably Staying Cool

The summer time can be pretty hard on your air conditioning unit if. It has to work pretty hard sometimes and your bills can add up rather quickly. There’s a few things you can to do keep your home cool and save money on your summer time cooling costs.

Regular Maintenance

First thing to do if you haven’t already is call and have some seasonal service or maintenance done. Regularly scheduled maintenance will keep your air conditioning unit operating at the same efficiency rating as when you bought it. Without service it’s very easy for the unit to lose up to 5% efficiency every year. Which is pretty staggering. That high efficiency unit you just purchased a few years ago can be functioning as well as a budget model with only moderate efficiency ratings.

Program Your Thermostat

During the summer you’re going to want to operate your air conditioner in the best way possible for the season. What that means is programming your thermostat, or setting the temperature before you leave for work, so that the temperature is higher when no one is home. And when you are home, try and keep it above 78*, which is where it will operate most efficiently. Instead of cranking the temperature down, make sure to use your ceiling fans. That will help keep your house cool and you feeling cool, with a slightly higher temperature setting.

Make sure that you keep any heat sources away from the thermostat, too. So that table lamp, or direct sunlight, are things that you want to keep away from it if you can. They will skew the temperature readings and having your air conditioner running more than it needs to.

Filters

You will also want to make sure to replace your filters on schedule according to what the manufacturer recommends. A dirty filter can greatly hamper the efficiency of your air conditioning unit, and if it gets bad enough, actually make it malfunction.

Staying Cool

The outside components of your AC system want to be cool, too. So if you have a split system, try and keep the condenser coil in the shade. That will help keep the metal components at lower temperatures which will have it operating much more efficiently.

With just a few steps you can extend the life of your AC system, stay cool, and keep your bills low. For more tips on saving money and preventative maintenance, make sure to follow the superwriter.ru blog and don’t hesitate to give us a call for service today!

Use Less A/C and Cut Your Electric Bill

Many consumers are budget conscious, and this is especially true during warmer months when air conditioners will be running to keep homes at a comfortable temperature. There are a number of things you can do to avoid going over budget, and these tips to reduce cooling bill this summer will help you stay on track.

Tips to Reduce Cooling Bill this Summer

  • Search for sources of air leaks in your home.

Picture air leaks as places where dollars are drifting out of your home when you turn on the A/C during the summer. They allow warm air to enter your home and make it much more challenging for you to keep your house cool once you turn on your air conditioner.

To find out whether you have air leaks in your home, start by closing all the windows. Turn off the exhaust fans and your furnace. Take an incense stick and light it, then walk slowly around the outer walls of your home. Watch the direction of the smoke as you make your way through the house. If you notice the smoke blowing away from a particular spot or being sucked toward the outside, you probably have an air leak.

  • Install a programmable thermostat.

Make a point of setting your thermostat a few degrees warmer when your family will be out of the house during the day. You can set it to start lowering the temperature shortly before you get home from work so that your home will be cool and comfortable when you arrive.

Keep the temperature in your home a comfortable 78 degrees during the summer. Running the A/C full blast to keep your home cooler means you will end up paying for it on your electric bill.

  • Service your air conditioner to ensure it is working at peak efficiency.

About half of what you spend on your home energy bill each year is made up of heating and cooling costs. If your air conditioning unit is placed in direct sunlight, you can expect that it will use approximately 10 percent more energy. The higher temperature generated by the sun’s rays means it has to work harder, so you’ll want to plant some tall shrubs or shade trees nearby. Make sure that you still allow easy access to the unit for servicing and that you don’t impede the airflow.

Schedule a tune-up for your central air conditioner before the height of the summer so that it doesn’t have to work too hard to keep your home cool and comfortable. An HVAC contractor will perform an inspection, replace any worn parts and check the refrigerant level in your unit.

  • Update your older model air conditioner to a more energy-efficient one.

If your current air conditioner is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with a new one. Updating to an Energy Star rated model can save you approximately 30 percent on cooling costs.

When you are looking for a new air conditioning system, the efficiency level is measured by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER number, the more efficient the unit you are considering. High efficiency air conditioners have a SEER rating of 13 or 14.

superwriter.ru has been providing professional air conditioning services to customers in Houston, Texas for more than 25 years. Contact us today to schedule your annual tune-up, discuss plans for upgrading your current system or to book a service call.

Will I Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat?

Programmable thermostats have become a popular way for people to reduce their energy use and save money on their energy bills. With the arrival of smart thermostats, many people are now investing in these ultra-programmable devices in order to eke every last bit of efficiency out of their heating and cooling system.

At least, that’s the idea. But do programmable thermostats really live up to their billing and help people reduce their energy costs? It turns out, the answer is more complicated that most people realize.

Energy Savings—In Theory

Many consumers opt for programmable thermostats because they have seen through another common energy myth—that keeping your home at a steady temperature uses less energy than turning your system on and off. In fact, it uses quite a bit more energy to run your furnace or air conditioner all the time than to turn them off when you don’t need them.

This means programmable thermostats have a theoretical advantage, because you can set them to turn on and off at regular intervals. With manual thermostats, your system may end up running when you don’t need it if you forget to adjust the temperature or aren’t around to turn the system off. Programmable thermostats should allow you to avoid these situations and save energy.

Real Savings Are Often Minimal

Despite the advantage that programmable thermostats should have, real studies have found that these devices often save people much less money energy than advertised. Other studies have even found that programmable thermostats may translate to higher energy use rather than lower. What’s going on?

It turns out that people are the wild cards in the thermostat game. Many people don’t use their programmable thermostats they way they are meant to be used, and the results can be costly.

Some people, for example, use their programmable thermostats to run the air conditioner during the day and the heater at night. This means that the HVAC system not only runs all the time, but has to overcome a much greater temperature range than if the system were turned off and the house allowed to cool or warm naturally.

Other people take an excessively hands-off approach with their programmable thermostats. They may leave their system running normally even if they leave for vacation, or let the heat turn on early in the morning even when they sleep in on the weekends.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat

This doesn’t mean that programmable thermostats can’t save you money. Most studies have shown that these thermostats do bring energy savings, even if the average savings is lower than the commonly advertised figures. And if you use your programmable thermostat the right way, you can get energy savings that are well above average.

The most important step toward saving money with a programmable thermostat is programming at least eight hours of setback time. Studies have found that eight hours of setback equals about a one percent energy savings for every degree that you turn the thermostat down.

You can also save energy with your thermostat by programming different temperatures by season. By choosing a temperature on the higher end of comfortable in the summer, and the lower end of comfortable in the winter, you can rack up significant energy savings.

For more expert information on HVAC savings, please follow our blog!

How Is The Efficiency Of Heating And Cooling Equipment Measured?

The key to buying the most energy efficient HVAC systems lies in understanding all the efficiency ratings used in the industry. There are basically five efficiency ratings that every consumer needs to understand before making a decision to purchase any type of HVAC equipment. They are:

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

The EER is a measure of the cooling power of an air conditioning system per unit of power consumed. It is calculated by dividing the cooling power provided by an AC per hour by the number of watts of electricity consumed. The measurements obtained during the hottest day of the season are normally used to calculate the EER of an air conditioner. Simply put, EER is meant to give consumers an idea of the cooling power to expect from an AC for every dollar spent on electricity.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

While the EER only measures the energy efficiency of the AC on the hottest day of the season, SEER gives the average efficiency for the whole season, so it is a more reliable efficiency rating for air conditioners. It is obtained by dividing the output power of an AC (in BTUs) throughout the season by the total energy consumed by the machine throughout the season. Air conditioners can have SEER ratings ranging from 13 to 22, the latter being the most energy efficient device.

Energy Star

This is a popular efficiency rating devised by the EPA. Tests are normally done to determine the performance and energy efficiency of Energy Star-rated HVAC equipment to determine if they can give consumers great value for money while contributing to nationwide energy savings. While these devices are a little bit more expensive than their inefficient counterparts, the price difference can easily be recovered in energy savings realized over time.

Heating Seasonal Factor Performance (HSFP)

This rating measures the efficiency of the heating element of a heat pump. It is obtained by dividing output heating power by the input electrical energy.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV)

This is a rating for air filters in HVAC equipment. Filters with smaller holes are deemed to be more efficient. MERV rating starts from 1 to 16, with the latter being the highest efficiency.

For more information on how we can help you with energy efficiency; check out our Energy Savings Guide & Maintenance Plans!

Ways To Increase Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency

The Department of Energy reports that heating and cooling bills are take a large percentage of the utility expenses of most households and commercial buildings. According to the Department, the central air conditioning system is the major source of expenditure in the average US home.

You can take proactive steps to reduce the energy consumed at home. As the weather gets warmer, the following tips can help to improve the air conditioning in your home without increasing your bills.

1. Clean the Outdoor Condenser Unit
To improve the air conditioning efficiency, have the debris thoroughly cleaned from your unit. Debris in the system can make heat to be expended without being used. Contact an HVAC systems professional for in-depth and thorough cleaning.

2. Keep the vacuum indoor vents unblocked
Maintain steady airflow in your conditioning system for optimum energy emission. To achieve this, vacuum any debris or dirt from the indoor supply vents. Also, keep things like toys, furniture and blinds from blocking the vents.

3. Regulate the thermostat
Adjusting the temperature to 5-8 degrees (up in summer and down during winter) can help save energy and money. A programmable thermostat can automatically adjust temperatures to a suitable level at different times of the day or when you are away from home.

4. Keep the blinds and curtains closed
You can easily store some heat inside the house by keeping the blinds and curtains closed when the sun is directly hitting the windows. This will help you cut costs of your air conditioning system.

5. Keep heat appliances away from the thermostat
When heating appliances are placed near the thermostat, the temperature can be automatically adjusted based on the the appliances. Keep the appliances away from the thermostat or else the system will work harder, use more energy and run longer than needed.

6. Ensure your drain line is clear
Most drain lines are built next to the indoor cooling coils mounted directly above the basement furnace. Flushing a cup of chlorine bleach down the air conditioning drain and then rinsing it with a gallon of water will keep the drain clear during summer.

Do you want to improve your air conditioning efficiency? Contact us today.

Air Filter Change: Important Home Maintenance

Home owners often pay attention to the big repairs and maintenance issues associated with their properties but can neglect the small things. An Air Filter Change on a HVAC system is one of those small, but very important, maintenance items.

Changing the air filter on a home furnace is simple, and most anyone can do it. A clean air filter boosts the efficiency of a furnace, lowering energy bills overall by 5 to 15 percent say industry experts. Also, clogged filters increase wear and tear on the HVAC unit with build-up of dirt and other debris damaging blowers and other important furnace components.

In addition, a clean filter improves air quality in the indoor environment. Think about it. Everything a family breathes inside the house passes through furnace or air conditioning. If those systems are dirty,and filtered by, well, clogged filters, air quality is contaminated by dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, mold spores and bacteria. None of these makes for healthy indoor air.

The solution is routine Air Filter Change. Each HVAC unit is different, but most manufacturers and HVAC service technicians recommend home owners switch out filters every 3 to 4 months. The part itself is inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware or big box home store. Just refer to the size specifications on the filter already in the furnace, or refer to the owner’s manual. Arrows on the filter itself indicate how to place it so that air flows through it in the right direction.

Filter materials and types include:

~fiberglass (very inexpensive, but needs frequent changes)
~pleated (sturdy and provides great filtration because of the high surface area which catches dirt and dust)
~HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air)–a hard working filter good for trapping allergens such as pet dander)
~media air (This professional’s favorite is multi-layered and durable.)
~activated carbon (especially adept at catching and neutralizing heavy odors from smoking and cooking)

It’s important to ask a heating and cooling professional what type of filter is best for the home. Purchase the type which has the efficiency (filtering capability) most suited to your air quality needs. Contact us with any questions or needs you have regarding your HVAC system.