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Ways to Improve Your AC Unit’s Efficiency

Air conditioning is a modern luxury many people can’t afford to go without, but as you watch your energy bills climb each summer, you may wonder if you can actually afford it at all. Luckily, you don’t need to choose between spending lots of money to keep your house cool and going without AC completely. There are simple steps you can take to improve your air conditioner’s efficiency and save money.

1. Upgrade Your Air Conditioning Unit

Modern air conditioning units are between 30% and 50% more efficient than those made 30 or 40 years ago. If you live in an older home and haven’t updated the AC system since the house was built, you’re spending much more on your air conditioning bills than you need to be. A less efficient air conditioner has to work harder to cool down your home, not only costing you more money, but likely not getting your home or business to the correct temperature. In order to improve your comfort and your monthly budget, replace your current system with a unit that has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of over 14.5, the minimum for a unit to receive an Energy Star Rating. Although the initial cost of installation may be expensive, you’ll earn the money back from the monthly energy bill savings. And you won’t have to feel guilty about keeping your home as cool as you want.

2. Perform Basic Maintenance

No matter how efficient your unit is, you need to keep it in good shape in order to reap the benefits. A dirty air conditioner must work harder to cool your home, costing you money, and will breakdown much more quickly. First, check your filters once a month. As the air conditioning runs, dirt and dust collect on the filter, making it harder for the air to pass through. Each month, wipe the filter down to dislodge the collected debris. Every three months, replace the filter completely, making sure to only use the best quality filters. Not only do they make your AC more efficient, but they make your air cleaner as well. If you have an outdoor condenser unit, keep it clear of leaves and other debris. You will also need to clean off the fans and the coils. You can either do it yourself by shutting off the power and wiping down the unit, or you can call in a professional. You should have an HVAC expert come once a year anyway to check the equipment and fix any developing issues.

3. Set Your Thermostat Appropriately

Running your air conditioning constantly will only wear out the unit and cost you more money. Be smart about how you set your thermostat. Turn it off during the day when no one is home, unless you have plants or pets that will suffer in the heat. At night, when the air outside is cooler, raise the temperature a few degrees from where it was during the day. If your thermostat gives two options for the “fan” setting, on and auto, keep it on auto. The thermostat works by cooling the air according to the temperature settings and moving it through the house based on the fan setting. When the fan is on auto, both the fan and cooling mechanism turn off when your house reaches the desired temperature. If you leave the fan on, it simply moves warm air around the house, wasting energy. You might also consider getting a programmable thermostat. If you don’t want to come home from work to a boiling hot house but you don’t want to leave the AC running, set your programmable thermostat to turn on the AC about half an hour before you come home every day. You can also set it to turn on in the early morning so you don’t wake up feeling hot and sticky.

4. Limit Additional Heat Sources

The cooler your house is initially, the less your air conditioner will have to work to keep you comfortable. You can try using appliances like your oven and dryer less since they produce so much heat. Cook outside on the grill, or try some recipes that don’t require cooking, likes salads or smoothies. Close your curtains during the day to limit the amount of sunlight heating up your home. For a more long-term solution, plant trees around your home or business. They will shade your windows from the sun and keep your outdoor condenser unit cool. Protecting the components of your air conditioning system, including the condenser and the thermostat, from excessive heat will prevent them from working harder than they need to and wearing out faster.   If you notice that your energy bills have been rising and your air conditioning system is struggling to keep your house cool, have some HVAC professionals take a look. They can make necessary repairs, advise you on maintenance tips, and let you know whether a new HVAC system may be your best bet.

What Football Can Teach You about Winterizing Your Home

As you head into winter, and you worry about winterizing your home. You know that you should prepare your house for winter to save energy and keep your family warm, but you’re not sure how. Fortunately, football can teach you everything you need to know. Keep reading to learn six football-inspired tips that get your home ready for the winter.
  1. Protect the Quarterback (Protect Your Pipes)
If the quarterback goes down, the play is over. And on top of that, a big hit on the quarterback can leave the leader of your team’s offense out of commission for the rest of the game. If you don’t protect the quarterback, your team will be in a lot of trouble. In your home, it’s just as important to protect your pipes. If a pipe freezes, you’ll feel the consequences later when the pipe thaws and water starts flooding your home. Drain or insulate your outdoor piping, and then make sure to keep your house warm enough to protect any indoor piping.
  1. Create Space for Your Running Back (Clear Your Gutters)
You can’t simply hand off the ball to your running back and hope for the best. A successful running play relies on the rest of the team creating a hole for the running back to run though. Otherwise, players on both teams will simply clog the line and the running back will have nowhere to go. As beautiful as fall leaves can be, if you let them clog your gutters, you’ll likely regret it later. Ice dams begin to form when water gets trapped by the piles of leaves in your gutter. The mess of leaves, mud, and ice keep your gutters from doing their job. With nowhere else to go, water might start to seep through your roof.
  1. No Holes in Your Defense (Seal All Leaks)
Any decent quarterback will pick your defense apart if you leave gaps in your coverage. Defenders need to be disciplined and stick to their man or their zone. If not, they’ll probably hand over a big play to the opposing team. Cold air is better than any quarterback-if you leave any type of hole in your house’s defenses, cold air will always find it. Every air leak in your home will make your heating system work harder during the winter, and that additional energy use means more expensive utility bills. Use caulking and weather stripping to plug simple gaps in doors, windows, and walls. You can place plastic gaskets behind outlet faceplates if you feel cool air coming from an electrical outlet. If you encounter a large hole or gap, you might need to call an HVAC professional for some extra help.
  1. Switch Up Your Coverages (Adjust Your Thermostat)
If you stick to the same type of coverage on every play, the opposing coaches will eventually catch on. The offense will punish you for your defense’s predictability. But if you utilize variable defensive patterns, you can keep the offensive players on their toes. It’s easy to set your thermostat to one temperature and leave it that way, but using variable temperatures will save your family money. If everyone’s out of the house for the day, turn the thermostat down while you’re away. Contrary to what some people think, it costs your heating system less energy to heat the house back up than keep it hot all day. Consider buying a programmable thermostat or even a smart thermostat to make the process easier. It can be a pain to always remember to adjust the thermostat before you leave the house, and an automated system helps counter that inconvenience.
  1. Run a Reverse (Reverse Your Ceiling Fans)
Every once in a while, it’s good to run a reverse. You’ll catch the defense off guard and might end up with a big play. At the very least, you’ll keep the defense guessing the next time you run the ball. During the winter, it’s good to have your ceiling fan “run a reverse.” Your fan should have a reverse setting-usually a simple switch-that changes the flow of the air. Because hot air naturally rises to your ceiling, your fan will send the warm air from your ceiling back down toward the floor.
  1. Consult the Coach (Have Your Furnace Inspected)
No matter how hard-working or talented a player is, that player can benefit from the experience and perspective of a seasoned coach. Have your furnace inspected by an experienced HVAC technician before you head into the coldest months of winter. Your furnace needs a regular tune-up to make sure it does its job during the winter. When your furnace breaks down in the middle of December, you’ve got a big problem on your hands. While the technician is there, he or she can give you extra tips on winterizing your home.   You need a good game plan to win a game of football, and you need a good game plan for your home to keep your family warm this winter. If you follow the steps above, your house should be ready for whatever winter brings. Contact an HVAC professional if you have any questions about your winterization game plan.
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Two Locations to Better Serve You

9400-7 Ransdell Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 322-2000

1139 Robeson St.
Fayetteville, NC 28305

(910) 483-8790