Friday, May 18, 2012

Save On Energy Costs

Use Less. Pay Less.

We know greater efficiency equals greater savings. And we’re proud of our overachievers - our products that work hard to save you money on your heating and cooling bills by using less fuel in the first place. Are your current heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) components saving you the money they could be? Here are a few things to think about:
If your furnace is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model. We have a wide range of furnaces that efficiently and comfortably heat things up when the weather gets frigid.
Your heating and cooling system's components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product and lower your energy usage can be. Make sure your components meet the following minimums:
- Furnaces: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 80 or higher
- Heat pumps: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings of 7 or higher
- Air conditioners: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings of 13 or higher
The Environmental Protection Agency developed the ENERGY STAR program to reduce the nation’s energy consumption. Choosing products for your home that bear the ENERGY Star logo is an important step to consuming less energy. Qualified products are available in multiple categories, including heating and cooling equipment, appliances, home electronics and lighting.

Not too big, not too small. Choose the just-right system for you.

Homes that are heated and cooled by units that are too big, too small or just plain mismatched, miss out on quality performance and efficiency. Here are some tips to make sure you’ve found the system that fits your home and climate.
It all starts with a matched system, which refers to components that are designed to work together to provide greater efficiency, reliability and comfort. Matched systems can be “split” (separate units placed inside and outside the home) or “packaged” (one single unit, which houses all components in a single cabinet, placed outside the home).
You might also consider a hybrid system. It’s not science fiction, but it’s still pretty impressive. Hybrid systems bring together two different fuel sources, such as a gas or oil furnace and an electric heat pump, for more efficient heating and cooling.

Thermostats. The simple change that saves.

You don’t have to start over with your home’s HVAC system to consume less energy and enjoy a more comfortable home. The easiest fix of them all is a new, programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats, also known as programmable controls, can have a significant impact not only for your home’s energy consumption, but also for you. It’s hands-free comfort, and allows you to enjoy your home without running to the control every time the weather outside changes. During winter months, you can save as much as 3 percent* of heating costs for each degree your thermostat is lowered. In the summer, cooling costs are cut up to 6 percent* per each degree you raise the thermostat. A programmable control will automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day, ensuring greater energy efficiency and enhanced comfort. Some control models even allow homeowners to pre-program desired temperatures for specific times of day. You can save costs by easily adjusting the heating and cooling settings for times when you’re waking up, leaving for work, sleeping or going on vacation.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pollution & Air Quality

Air cleaning devices

Here are some things to consider when you're thinking about getting a portable room air filtration device:
Try solving the air quality problem at its source
Before you buy any device, make sure you've done all you can to solve your air quality problem at its source. For example:
  • The best way to get rid of cat allergens is to find a new home for the cat.
  • The best way to get rid of strong chemical cleaner fumes is to switch to less volatile cleaners.
  • The best way to reduce dust is to take steps to clean the bedding and roomand vacuum often with a central vacuum system or HEPA-filtered vacuum (these vacuums won't release fine dust into the air)
When might an air filter help?
In areas where particles are present and cannot be otherwise eliminated, and people are particularly sensitive (for example, in the bedroom of a person with asthma), an air filtration unit with a HEPA filter may be a worthwhile addition. A filter with a charcoal component can also help in eliminating some gaseous odours.
Before you buy an air cleaning device, figure out what size of device is appropriate for your room, and where in the room it should be placed for maximum benefit. Putting the filter near the person affected may be more beneficial than having it farther away. Check the level of noise when the system is operating. Monitor the filter condition regularly and replace filters when necessary.
Buyer beware: before buying an air filtration device, consider the following:
  • While there is a wide variety of technologies, there are no uniform rules or regulations about the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of air filtration devices.
  • Many particles become trapped in furniture, drapery and clothing, and are not airborne (floating in the air) unless they are disturbed. For example, dust in your rug will be trapped there until you shake out or vacuum the rug. An air filter can only filter particles that are floating in the air- it can't filter particles that are trapped in objects.
  • While there are some bona fide devices that do what they promise, other devices are ineffective and can be accompanied by unsubstantiated claims. Be especially cautious about products that promise 'health improvements'. While some products are effective in reducing the presence of triggers such as dust and pollen, there is no published evidence that health status will improve.
  • Air filters designed to filter a single room do not perform well when there is central air circulation constantly exchanging the air in the room with the rest of the home. Isolating the room may yield lower particle counts, but remember to allow for some fresh air too.
  • Deal with a reputable vendor. The Lung Association has received calls from consumers who feel pressured by some door-to-door vendors who offer to take a 'sample' of air for testing purposes and then suggest an expensive filtration device. Find out what performance and refund guarantees come with the product. 
Can air filters get rid of second-hand smoke?
No. There is no filtration or ventilation system that can effectively remove second-hand smoke (environmental tobacco smoke). Second-hand smoke has more than 4700 compounds in it. The only sure way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke is to make sure no one smokes indoors.