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Improving the Air Quality in your Home

 

 

The quality of the air in your home is more important than you think. On average, you typically spend 87% of your time indoors. That’s a pretty significant chunk of your life, which means it’s critical that you’re breathing in clean air while you are indoors. Poor indoor air quality can affect your health in a number of ways—some ways more severe than others.

Short-term effects from low air quality are symptoms similar to those associated with allergies or a minor cold. These include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, fatigue, etc. However, poor air quality can also result in severe long-term health effects. With extensive exposure to air pollutants, it’s possible for someone to acquire respiratory disease or cancer.

Radon is a gas pollutant that can find its way into your home through poorly sealed openings and other cracks. Being the second most prominent cause for lung cancer, this pollutant is extremely dangerous.

Second hand smoke can significantly impact your home’s air quality. This pollutant can cause a number of different symptoms, including worsening symptoms for asthmatics, ear infections in children, and even increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you’re a smoker, it’s best that you refrain from smoking inside.

Combustion pollutants are dangerous pollutants that are caused by poorly vented fuel-burning appliances. Examples include gas stoves, fireplaces, dryers, water heaters, etc. These gases, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, can be deadly if ingested in excess amounts.

Air Cleaners and Purifiers

These can be integrated with your current heating and cooling system to help fight off excess dust, dander, and pollen.  Although your air handler is built with a standard filter inside that removes large particles from your air, installing higher-grade cleaners and purifiers can help remove the sneaky, smaller particles.

Depending on your home’s specific needs, there are various options to consider when choosing an air purifier. You’re able to choose from cleaners intended for specific rooms versus ones intended for your entire home, and you are also able to choose from a number of different mechanical cleaners versus electrical cleaners.

Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers 

Improper humidity levels can be a substantial problem in many homes, whether it be too much humidity or too little. Too little humidity can cause dry skin, poor heating within your home, illness, and even damage to your furniture. On the other hand, too much humidity can cause discomfort, damage to paint and woodwork, and mold growth.

Proper Settings for your Air Conditioner

 

More people fight over the thermostat than the remote and those battles become more pitched during periods of extreme heat. The disputes aren’t just about comfort, they’re about money too because every time you lower the thermostat in hot weather it raises your electric bill. For optimal cooling and energy efficiency, the coolest you should keep your house is 78° F and that’s only when you’re at home and awake. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to match your cooling needs to your schedule but you can make the adjustments manually if you don’t have one.

More heat tolerant folks can experiment with the temperature, raising it one degree at a time to see how it affects your comfort and your budget. You’ll save 3 percent on your air conditioning costs for every degree you raise the temperature. If you aren’t comfortable at 78° F, lower the temperature a degree at a time. A ceiling or box fan causes a wind chill effect that enhances cooling, helping you feel comfortable at a higher temperature as long as the humidity isn’t too high.

 

It’s more difficult to reach the perfect temperature when you have a window air conditioner, because the thermostat is in the unit itself, it registers the temperature in that part of the room and may not provide a consistent temperature throughout the space you want to cool, depending how big and open it is. That means getting the right comfort level is more trial and error. Start with it set at 78 degrees and see how you feel. If you have a window unit in your bedroom, turn it on 30 minutes or so before you go to bed so you’re not cooling an empty room. If you notice an issue with the HVAC system, make sure to contact us and we can inspect it for you.

 

Make Sure to Inspect the Filter for your Air Conditioner

 

The filter for your air conditioner is the same as the filter for your furnace. It needs to be changed during the summer and winter. A dirty filter leads to reduced air flow, which reduces efficiency and increases the potential for problems.

 

After your air conditioner has been running for about 15 minutes, check the temperature of the air coming out to make sure the unit is cooling properly. Air blowing out of registers always feels cool on your skin, so don’t trust the way it feels. Use a thermometer to verify the air conditioner is actually cooling.

 

When checking the temperature differential, measurements should be taken as close to the air conditioner as possible. The difference in temperature between the air going in and the air coming out should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 – 20 degrees. If it’s much higher or much lower than that, it’s probably not cooling properly.

 

An air conditioner’s two jobs are to remove heat and remove moisture from the air. Condensation occurs at the box that sits on top of the furnace. This box is called the evaporator coil, and it’s usually shaped like the letter “A”, so it’s often called an “A-coil.” There’s a concealed drain pan below this coil which connects to the condensate drain line.

 

If the condensate line gets clogged or obstructed, you could cause damage to the unit, and possibly parts of the building. Keep the condensate line clean to help prevent this. To make sure there aren’t any hidden condensate leaks above the furnace, remove the blower door to the unit and look inside that compartment for moisture. If you find moisture, you have a condensate leak, which is probably the result of a clogged line. Anytime you notice an issue with the air conditioner or HVAC system, make sure to contact us so we can inspect the unit for you.

Maintaining the Air Conditioner this Summer

 

 

In the summer, you will want your home to be cool and comfortable. To accomplish this, make sure to contact us with an issue you start to notice. By fixing the issue at the first sign, you can help prevent further damage and repair bill in the long run.

 

Also remember to change your air filter. If you have a disposable filter, remove the old one and insert a clean replacement. If your filter is reusable, wash it according to the manufacturer’s directions and allow it to dry entirely before reinserting it into the filter compartment.

 

Inspect all registers and return air grilles in your home to ensure they have not been blocked or shut. These vents should never be blocked, as doing so will restrict airflow through your HVAC systems, which could create performance issues and system overheating. Move all carpets and rugs, furniture, and other items away from vents. Check to see that vent louvers are open; if you wish to shut off cooling to unused areas of your home or building, never close more than 20 percent of the structure’s HVAC vents.

 

Inspect your exterior cooling equipment. Gently brush away any grass clippings and debris which have gathered on the unit. Trim away vegetation that has grown around the unit. Never store outdoor furniture or other items in the area immediately surrounding the unit.

 

 

Inspect your cooling system’s drip pan and condensate drain lines for clogs. If these components become clogged with mold or algae growth, condensation from the cooling process cannot exit your home or building properly. This can cause the cooling system to malfunction, or water to back up indoors, causing water damage. If water has backed up, clear clogs within the drip pan or condensate drain lines. Turn off power to the system for safety before doing so. You can also contact us, and we can inspect the system for you.

Inspecting the Thermostat is Important

 

It is important to have the right kind of thermostat for the overall comfort in your home. This can help ensure that it is cool and enjoyable all summer long. In order to have the air conditioner running as efficiently as possible, consider getting a programmable thermostat. This can be beneficial because you can set the temperature for different times of the day, as well as days of the week. By knowing what type of thermostat to get, you can help increase the comfort level in your home, as well as the indoor air quality.

 

 

 

When buying a new thermostat or replacing an old one, make sure to consider all the options. This should include features that it has, if you want it to be programmable, and where it should be place. Most likely, you will be buying a programmable, digital thermostat. If this is the case, look to see what each product will allow you to program it to do. These options, if used to their full potential, can greatly increase your home comfort by decreasing the amount of time spent making adjustments to the temperature in your home. If you are unsure what type of thermostat is right for you, make sure to contact us. We can help to recommend which one would be the best for your lifestyle and home.

 

 

 

Almost all thermostats monitor the temperature of the air around them in order to keep the temperature in the home balanced at the level you have selected. This is why it is important to carefully select where in your home you want to mount the thermostat to you wall. Be careful of placing it above any air vents where temperatures will be shifting more dramatically than in other places in your home. A thermostat will shut off an air conditioner when the temperature becomes cooler than what you have set it for. A poorly placed thermostat that is exposed to more cool air will shut off the air conditioner too early and leave you with a warm home. Also be careful not to place your thermostat near points in your home where warm air is generated, like windows and doors. This can cause the air conditioner to be overworked and your home will end up cooler than expected.

 

 

 

A programmable thermostat is a great investment. You can program certain thermostats to adjust the temperature when you are away and do not need your home to be as cool or as warm. Granted, this can still be done on older models, but you must adjust your thermostat manually every time you leave and enter your home. Performing this task manually is when forgetfulness and human error can end up increasing your energy bills. It can also decrease the comfort level and indoor air quality in your home.

Choose an Air Conditioner that is Right for your Home

 

When you want to keep your home cool and comfortable this summer, you will want to make sure the air conditioner is working properly. Whether you want to add on additional options to an existing system or are replacing your system or adding a new system entirely, you will want to know the options that you have. If you are adding a heating or cooling system to your garage or outbuilding to make it usable all year around, you have a couple of different options that you can go with. The first is to use a ductless air conditioning system to help cool off the garage or outbuilding. A heat and cooling pump is another ductless option that you can consider. Either way, you will be able to use these spaces year around, simply by adding a way to keep it cool or to heat it.

 

If you want to go in a more energy efficient direction, you have several options in this vein as well. Solar heating and cooling, geothermal heating and cooling, heat pumps, and hybrid systems are all available that will help you to use less electrical energy and save you money on your electricity costs. While you may not know much about these environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems, they are something that you definitely need to check into to see if you can save energy and money.

 

The great thing about heating and cooling systems today is that you can get much more than just the cool air or warm air that you are looking for. You can also include ultraviolet air cleaners or other air cleaners to ensure that you can increase indoor air quality. If you have asthma or allergies or one of your family members do, you will find that an air cleaner that you can use in conjunction with your heating and cooling system that will help make your air cleaner. Removing allergens and contaminants from the air can go a long way to helping you and your family to be healthier.

 

Make sure to also be aware of any issues that your HVAC unit has. By noticing the problem at the first sign, you can help prevent further damage in the long run.

Having an Efficient Air Conditioner

 

 

Energy efficiency is something that you definitely want to consider when you are updating your cooling system or purchasing one for the first time. This can go a long way to saving you money, as well as helping you to use less energy, which is more environmentally friendly. Solar heating and cooling systems, geothermal heating and cooling systems, heat pumps, and hybrid systems are just a few of the choices that you have in energy efficient heating and cooling systems. By comparing and contrasting the different systems, you can determine which one is right for you level of environmental friendliness.

 

If you or a member of your family has asthma or is very susceptible to allergens, you will want to consider adding indoor air cleaners to your home. Whether you choose to add a specialized filter to your existing heating and cooling unit or you get ultraviolet air cleaners or other types of air cleaners, you will find that they can help to remove the allergens and contaminants from the air to aid in indoor air quality. This can keep you and your family healthy.

 

If you are a homeowner, you will want to be sure that you have an energy efficient cooling system that works for you and your needs. Air cleaners, cooling systems, and more are available to keep your home comfortable and your indoor air quality at a high level. If there is an issue with the air conditioner, make sure to contact us so we can inspect the HVAC unit for you. This can help you to have a reliable air conditioner when you need it this summer.

Knowing how to Set the Thermostat in your Home

 

For optimal cooling and energy efficiency, the coolest you should keep your house is 78° F and that’s only when you’re at home and awake. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to match your cooling needs to your schedule but you can make the adjustments manually if you don’t have one.

  • 78° F when you’re home.
    • 85° F when you’re at work or away.
    • 82° F when you’re sleeping.

    If you are more tolerant to heat, you can experiment with the temperature, raising it one degree at a time to see how it affects your comfort and your budget. You’ll save 3 percent on your air conditioning costs for every degree you raise the temperature. If you aren’t comfortable at 78° F, lower the temperature a degree at a time. A ceiling or box fan causes a wind chill effect that enhances cooling, helping you feel comfortable at a higher temperature as long as the humidity isn’t too high.

Of course, if you live in an area with more moderate temperatures, you may not need your air conditioner running all day and night. If so, you can take advantage of cooler night temperatures by keeping your windows open overnight. Close them on hot days and keep your shades and curtains drawn when it’s sunny outside. If you need the AC when you get home, you can program it to go on before you arrive or turn it on with a smartphone app.

It is more difficult to reach the perfect temperature when you have a window air conditioner. Because the thermostat is in the unit itself, it registers the temperature in that part of the room and may not provide a consistent temperature throughout the space you want to cool, depending how big and open it is. That means getting the right comfort level is more trial and error. Start with it set at 78 degrees and see how you feel. If you have a window unit in your bedroom, turn it on 30 minutes or so before you go to bed so you’re not cooling an empty room.
No matter what type of air conditioning you have, it’s easier to keep the temperature at a comfortable level if you can prevent heat from getting into your home. The three main sources of unwanted heat are heat that seeps in from the outdoors, waste heat given off by appliances and incandescent lightbulbs, and heat from sunlight shining through the windows. During a heat wave, avoid using your washer, dryer, and dishwasher during the heat of the day and make sure you use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom when you’re cooking or taking a shower. Cook outside on your grill.

If you notice an issue with your air conditioner, or the comfort of your home, make sure to contact us. We can inspect the HVAC unit to ensure that it is working efficiently for you and your home.

 

The Benefits a Dehumidifier Provide your Home

 

Dehumidifiers take away excess humidity in your home, leaving you with drier air. This helps to reduce damp and the associated problems like mold growth and peeling wallpaper.

 

Molds need moisture to grow. They love the humid conditions found in most homes during this time of year. When the central heating is cranked up and ventilation is compromised by keeping windows closed, molds thrive. Dehumidifiers take away the essential humidity that mold needs in which to grow.

 

People living in homes with damp and mold are more likely to develop breathing problems, infections and allergies. Damp and mold is also linked with effects on the immune system. They recommend that particularly sensitive groups like the elderly and the very young, the immune-compromised and those with breathing problems like asthma should not be exposed to damp and mold. Molds are a widely underestimated allergy trigger. Mold allergy is a reaction to mold, which is associated with a whole host of unpleasant symptoms. Allergic people have reported panic attacks, wheezing, a runny nose and depression as a result of exposure to mold.

 

Dust mites are extremely common and are again a little-understood allergy trigger for many people. Even the cleanest homes harbor dust mites, which tend to lurk in mattresses, upholstery and carpets. These tiny creatures are microscopic; they don’t bite, but they can cause allergy symptoms in certain people. They love the warm, humid conditions that domestic environments provide. They need food (such as keratin broken down by fungi) and moisture to survive. They’re prolific in humid environments, so taking away excess moisture can really help to reduce the dust mite population in your home. Remember that you’ll need to combine this with thorough cleaning and dust mite-proofing measures to have a significant effect.

 

Condensation is a widespread problem. Cooking, showers and baths can all cause condensation, which in turn can contribute to damp and mold growth. A dehumidifier can help to reduce the effects of this in other rooms of the house.

 

Excess moisture can cause furniture and upholstery to harbor mildew. They can develop that characteristic ‘musty’ smell and feel slightly damp to the touch. A dehumidifier can help to prevent this. Remember if you have antique furniture or woodwork, be careful not to let the air get too dry. Air that’s too dry can cause woodwork to warp and crack. If you do notice something out of the norm with your HVAC system or air in your home, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you.

 

K&S has been your trusted Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical partner since 1988.

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