Archive for July, 2011

What Is the Single Biggest Money-Saver Upgrade You Can Make?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

While it would be great if there was a simple answer to this question, the real right answer depends to a great extent on your own particular situation. There are literally dozens of steps you can take to save on your home heating and cooling costs, and which ones are most appropriate for you will have a lot to do with what you already have, how you use it and where you live.

For instance, if you have a well-insulated house but your HVAC system is more than 10 or 15 years old, investing in a new system will almost certainly save you a ton in the long run. Even if your existing system is working well, the newer systems available are simply so much more energy efficient that having one will cut your monthly bills dramatically.

Plus, you will be replacing your system relatively soon anyway if it is that old, so you might as well start saving now on your heating and cooling costs. However, even the best heating and cooling system on the market will not save you that much money if you do not have a properly insulated and sealed house.

Insulation keeps the warm air in during the winter, and it also keeps colder air from seeping in. In the summer, it works the other way around, keeping in the air you are paying to cool and keeping out the hotter outside air. If you do not have thorough insulation or if it is too old, that temperature controlled air that you are paying for will be leaking out and unwanted outdoor air will be finding its way in. You will pay much more than necessary to keep the indoor temperature comfortable as a result.

If you have both good insulation and an energy efficient HVAC system, your thermostat might be the place to look when you want to try and cut your energy costs. A programmable or wireless thermostat might be just the ticket you need to cut back even more on your energy bills because of the added control it gives you to more precisely regulate the temperature inside your home.

Particularly if you have a large house, you might even consider having a zone control system put in so that you can set different temperatures for different areas of the house. After all, there is no need to be paying to regulate the temperature in a part of the house that is unoccupied.

Energy Performance Ratings for Windows, Doors, Skylights

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

When you are picking out windows, doors or skylights for your home, you will have a lot of factors to take into consideration. Not the least of these is how well or poorly the product in question will transfer heat into your home or help to block it out. Luckily, there are actually energy performance ratings listed on most windows, doors and skylights so that you can make the most informed decision possible about which product is best for you.

But what do these ratings actually measure? There are actually several categories that are reflected on the energy performance label, and understanding what these various statistics mean will help you pick out the best product for you.

For instance, the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) is something that reflects how well the window transfers heat from the sun into your home. A low SHGC means that the window lets in very little heat, while a high SHGC indicates a product that allows a great deal of heat to pass through into your home. The right one for you, however, depends on your own particular needs.

If you live in an area with a mild summer but a harsh winter, you may be interested in allowing the sunlight to help heating your home in the winter. And if the summers are not that extreme, you might not mind the heat coming in at that time of year.

The opposite would be true if you live somewhere that has very hot summers, though. In that case you might want to keep out as much heat from the sun as possible and be content to heat the house all on your own in the winter. So the ideal SHGC for you can vary depending on your own particular circumstances.

Other elements taken into account when the energy performance of windows, doors and skylights is measured are the amount of visible light the product lets in, how well it insulates your house, how much air is allowed to leak out through joints in the structure of the product and how resistant it is to allowing condensation to develop.

All of these elements will impact how well you are able to maintain a comfortable indoor environment all year round and how much it costs you to do so. Because of this, it can be worth paying a bit more for a door, window or skylight if it means that you will save on your heating or cooling bills every month because of that product.

Save by Caulking Crevices and Penetrations

Monday, July 25th, 2011

They are nothing to be ashamed of. Really, everyone has them. You know – those little cracks and crevices that you always mean to get around to caulking but just have not found the time for yet. But they are so small, they cannot possibly be causing that many problems, right?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any small space that can let air in or out of your house could be costing you money – and a considerable amount too. The truth is that, next to inadequate insulation, leaks and drafts are some of the biggest drains on your home heating and cooling system.

After all, you are paying to heat or cool the air inside your house in order to keep the indoor environment comfortable all year round. But you do not want to be paying more than you need to be. That is why you bought the high efficiency HVAC system in the first place. If you have lots of drafts and cracks in various places throughout your house, however, you are almost certainly spending more than necessary to keep your house comfortable.

And the solution is so simple. You do not need to go out and spend a ton of money on an even more expensive heating and cooling system. All you really need to do is make sure that your home is sealed up as well as possible. And that means sealing up all of the cracks.

Caulking is an extremely effective way of doing this, and it costs very little, particularly if you take on the job yourself. But even if you hire a professional, the amount that you have to pay out will be returned to you many times over in savings on your monthly heating and cooling bills. There simply is no substitute for sealing up your house tight when you are trying to save money on heating and cooling costs.

Save with Insulation

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

When you are looking for ways to save money around the house, it can be difficult to know where to begin. However, if you start examining things closely, you can actually find many small ways to cut here and there to save a few dollars. Of course, the savings you will generate by making these moves need to be worth the expense of making them, and it some cases that equation does not work out to your advantage.

For instance, when you are trying to save money on your heating or air conditioning bills, is it really worth it to get a top of the line system installed? Do you really need a 97% AFUE furnace? Sure your monthly heating bills will be lower, but it costs so much to install that it might not be worth it. For some people, the right choice will be to opt for the highest efficiency system, but that is far from a universal truth.

However, there is one investment along these lines that will be worth it no matter what your particular situation is. And that is making sure that your house has proper and effective insulation installed everywhere necessary. Certainly, most houses have insulation of some kind. But do you really know that your insulation is effective and that it is in the right place?

With the new technologies and types of insulation available, you should not have to pay too much to have someone come in to check your insulation and improve upon it. And you very likely will not believe the difference it can make in the way your house feels.

Proper insulation will keep heat in and cold out in the winter and the opposite in the summer. You will quite simply be more comfortable all year round. Plus, you will see a pretty dramatic drop in your home heating and cooling bills because your HVAC systems will not have to work as hard to keep your home comfortable.

This will also translate into less wear and tear on the system over all, making it possible for you to extend the useful life of your HVAC system as well. The savings that can be generated by having proper insulation put in will well outweigh the cost of that insulation in just about every case.

Save Money with Coupons – HVAC and Plumbing

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

HVAC and plumbing services are not things that you usually think about using coupons for. After all, you almost never call an HVAC specialist or plumber unless there is an emergency, and that means you probably do not have time to go hunting for a coupon. You are going to go with the person who is able to respond quickly and get the job done fast.

But that does not mean you should have to pay too much for emergency or other HVAC and plumbing services. In fact, if you know where to look, you can find coupons for great deals on anything from annual maintenance to full new system installation. Of course, not all of these deals are that great. But even saving a little on each service will add up over time. Plus, gathering up some coupons ahead of time will make it easier for you to choose a good HVAC service or plumber because you can see which one in your area offers the best deals.

So where do you find these great coupons? Well, a lot of them can actually be tracked down online. A simple search for HVAC or plumbing coupons in your area should turn up quite a few results for services you could use now or in the future. Some of these offer quite substantial savings as well, so even if they are for something you do not need at the moment, take a look at the expiration date. Even if you are not sure you will be able to use the coupon in that space of time, there is certainly no harm in holding onto it just in case.

It is also important to remember that you do not need to stay with the same company that installed your system, for instance, if you can find a coupon for great savings on annual maintenance with someone else. Just about every company in this field is well versed in handling all types of HVAC or plumbing equipment and they can easily take care of a system that another company installed.

Particularly if you are not satisfied with the service that you get from the company you are now using, look around for coupons from someone else. That is a great way to figure out which new company is worth a try.

Save with Maintenance on HVAC

Monday, July 18th, 2011

You can never save too much money by making improvements and taking steps around the house. Of course, it is hard sometimes to see exactly where the money saving opportunities are. That’s because you expect to spend a certain amount on various types of services when you own a home. You know you are always going to have heating and cooling bills, for instance. But are they higher than they need to be?

For many people, the answer to that question is “yes.” And it is not because they use their home heating and cooling systems inappropriately or because they have the wrong equipment. It is simply because they neglect to get their HVAC systems the regular care and maintenance that would keep them running at peak effectiveness and energy efficiency.

When your HVAC system is new, it runs well and can be remarkably energy efficient. However, over time that energy efficiency will gradually deteriorate. This drop off in efficiency is often not obvious at first, but if you compare your energy bills from the year you got your system to bills for the same time of year and same usage five years later, you will probably notice that the bill has gone up quite a bit, and not just because energy prices have gone up.

You can do a lot to prevent this loss of energy efficiency, though, if you simply have a professional HVAC technician come out once a year and give your system a tune up. During this type of maintenance service, the technician will check over your entire system looking for worn out parts and buildup that could be interfering with your system’s performance.

They can clean out any areas of your HVAC equipment that require it and they will be able to make any necessary repairs at that time. Often, a technician performing this type of maintenance will be able to catch minor issues before they are able to develop into bigger problems. And while you still have to pay for the maintenance visit, the cost is much less than what you would pay for an emergency repair.

It also represents a substantial savings over what you would be paying on your energy bills every month without it. Regular HVAC maintenance can preserve the vast majority of your system’s energy efficiency loss over time, and it is never too late to start. Even if it has been several years since you had your system installed, you will still be able to get back the vast majority of your original energy efficiency by starting with regular maintenance now.

Free Service Call with Parts & Labor!

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Tell your friends! This is a great deal – regularly a $92 value. Offer good Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Thank you for choosing Baker & Sons for your Air Conditioning & Heating needs!

click here to view the coupon

The Facts about Indoor Air Quality

Friday, July 15th, 2011

One of the least understood aspects of your home’s comfort system is the indoor air quality. Most people assume that once they have a good furnace and air conditioner installed, there’s nothing left to worry about. However, with the push in the last 20 years to reduce energy loss through poor insulation, most homes are sealed up tighter than ever before. This doesn’t just cause stuffy indoor air – it can actually lead to illness.

How Bad Can Indoor Air Quality Get?

Homes built in the 1980s were recommended to have one third of the ventilation of those built before. Today, the standards have returned to their original levels, but for many years, homes were built with poor ventilation and excessive insulation. The result is a space that holds the air in too well. Everyday contaminants and allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, or smoke cannot get out of your home and as a result, you can get sick.

In fact, some people even suffer from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is when they feel ill constantly, with respiratory symptoms that have no root cause and are hard to diagnose. Often, it is because they simply breathe too many contaminants and too much stale air.

Fixing Air Quality Is Simple

The first thing needed to fix air quality is a good filtration system. Despite what many people think, simple filtration is not that expensive. There are big, powerful purification systems with advanced ionization units and UV lighting to kill bacteria and viruses, but most families are served well with a simple HEPA filter to remove things like dust, pollen and dander.

It’s a good idea to have your indoor air quality tested, however, just to make sure other contaminants are not present. High humidity can lead to mold growth, and poor ventilation can lead to exhaust or gas fumes in your home. A good carbon monoxide detector is recommended for the latter, but testing should be done to make sure nothing else is floating around.

Finally, make sure your home is properly ventilated. Standard ventilation tends to leak heated or cooled air outside, so many homeowners now opt for energy recovery ventilators. These systems have heat exchangers that transfer warm air between indoor and outdoor air.

However you want to fix your indoor air quality issues, know that there are plenty of things you can do with the help of a good filtration device and regular cleanings of your ductwork and vents.

$25 Off Any Service for Promoting us on Facebook or Twitter!

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Get 5 friends to “like” us on Facebook or “follow” us on Twitter and receive $25 off any service!  Just tell your friends to reference your name in a post on our Facebook or Twitter wall to redeem your coupon!

What is a Whole House Fan?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Cooling your home is a big deal. Especially if the temperature in your home is generally very high in the summer, the cost of air conditioning is tremendous. A central air conditioner can cost between $2,000 and $4,000 to run for an average 2,800 square foot home over the course of six months. That’s a lot of electricity just to stay cool.

That’s why a whole house fan is a great option for those that want to forego the use of direct air conditioning for at least part of the year.

What It Does

A whole house fan is different from a standard air conditioner because it doesn’t use a heat exchanger to remove heat from air before it enters your home. That heat exchanger is the culprit for a large percentage of an air conditioner’s energy consumption. A whole house fan can be used when the temperature outside is lower than inside, a common occurrence on moderate days in the summer.

The whole house fan draws air and then cycles it through your air vents without cooling it. The act of moving air through your home, however, is often enough to cool the space to a comfortable level. The size of your whole house fan depends on quite a few things. First, how big is your home? Large homes that require even cooling need a larger fan to draw in air. However, small homes can often get away with models that use as little as 120 Watts of electricity. That’s less than your computer uses.

Choosing a Fan for Your Home

Keep in mind that a whole house fan only works when the temperature outside is lower than inside. If the air outside is excessively humid or if it is very warm in the hottest months of summer, you will still need an air conditioning unit. But, even if you run your air conditioner for two months out of the year, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money in the other four months by operating a whole house fan.

Whole house fans should be used in conjunction with an effective air purification system to ensure all outdoor contaminants are effectively removed before they are cycled through your house. They also require the same level of maintenance and cleaning as a normal AC system. However, with the right care, they work wonders to cut down on your energy bill.