How much are you spending on energy bills?
According to Energy Star, the average household spends over $2200 a year on energy bills and over half that cost goes to heating and cooling.
Do you find that a particular room in your home is warmer or cooler than the rest of the house? It may not be your HVAC unit, and there’s a way to check.
Your house might have serious air leaks and insulation deficiencies. A home that’s not properly sealed or insulated can make your unit work harder than it is manufactured to. That undue wear and tear on the unit will increase your energy costs. You could save up to 10% of your energy bill and help maintain the unit’s lifespan by sealing and insulating your home efficiently.
If you can access your attic, check your insulation levels. A visual check will give you a good idea as to whether or not you should consult a professional. If your insulation level is at or below the floor joints, consider adding more.
Checking for air leaks
Air leaks around the home are fairly common and simple to locate using the home diagram below. Once located weather stripping, caulk and foam are the usual sealants used. These item can be picked up from your local hardware store.
If you prefer , Air Worth AC & Heating , will bring out our Blower Door Tester and locate all of these leaks and provide a precise report of exactly how large of a hole there is in your home. For a reasonable charge Air Worth will seal these holes if you chose. However, to get a feel for possible hidden leaks, look in these common locations:
Another tip on energy efficiency is to install Energy Star qualified windows. Installing new windows may provide an energy cost savings of up to 24% but will also allow for a more comfortable environment in the winter as well as the summer. The coated sunscreen-like coating on many of these new windows allows for improved energy efficiency and a bonus of saving your valuable drapes, carpets and furniture from fading by exposure to sunlight.
Source: Energy Star]]>
We’ve already been hit with a bit of snow twice this winter. But there’s still the possibility of more winter precipitation or even storms to come. Is your family prepared? Air Worth wants to help you be ready.
Winter storms in Texas can be even more problematic than winter storms in parts of the country where snow and ice are a given, since we lack the infrastructure to quickly deal with snow and ice on the roads. So it makes sense to make sure you’re prepared before a storm hits – or is even predicted to. Think of how nice it will be to know you have everything you need while everyone else is scrambling to get to the store!
Make sure you have these items in your home before the threat of a storm:
You should also know these terms:
Written by Mark Ferguson, owner of Air Worth A/C & Heating
We at Air Worth A/C & Heating perform many heating service tune-ups per season. Typically these are done between October and December, depending on the weather conditions that year. In Texas we can have warm weather all the way up to Christmas, like this year. That is why if the gas furnace or electric air handler are in the attic, we try to schedule your tune-up in the mornings. Otherwise it will be too warm in the attic for proper testing. The furnaces or air handlers that are inside the home proper, in the closets, can usually be serviced any time. Furthermore, if you have a heat pump, the outside temperature needs to be below 60 degrees or proper checks of the refrigerant level and defrost control tests should not be performed per manufacturer’s instructions. Be patient – the weather will change. This is TEXAS!
We start all of our heating service by checking the blower motor and wheel to make sure it spins freely and does not have debris caught up in the squirrel cage (AC term for blower wheel). While the blower door is open we will check electrical connections and check the blower capacitor rating. Next we visibly check that the air filter and indoor coil are clean so the airflow is not restricted. A device called a borescope is used to view the indoor coil through a small access hole that we drill. If all of these items are ok we will move forward and check the system in the heating mode.
There are three basic types of heating systems in the North Texas area.
I will write about gas furnace service only today to keep this blog short. The electric heat only system and heat pump service blogs will follow shortly after this one. This is a detailed description of our furnace service process.
We start by cleaning the flame sensor with steel wool to remove oxidation. Then we drill ½ inch holes in the flue vent pipe, return air plenum, and supply air plenum. These holes are used to insert our test instruments for combustion analysis, checking air temperature rise across the furnace, and static pressure calculations if necessary (temperature rise and static pressure readings help us determine if enough air flow is moving through the system.
After the furnace has started up we insert the combustion analysis probe into the vent pipe hole and record the data. Our combustion analysis records furnace efficiency, stack temperature, venting pressure, flue gas O2 , carbon monoxide levels, and carbon dioxide levels. We use these measurements to properly check for cracks or breeches in the heat exchanger which can cause potentially harmful carbon monoxide to enter your home.
We then subtract the return air temperature from the supply air temperature to get the temperature rise across furnace and check the furnace nameplate for normal operating range. Then we check and adjust gas valve pressure to the nameplate rating which is usually 3.5” wc. We will shut off furnace to observe blower shut off delay and then close up the panels.
I won’t bore you with the normal technical data numbers but I will say that using these procedures on every check up ensure that your furnace is operating safely. The next time you have your heating service repair contractor at your home ask him or her if they have performed all these tests. I will guarantee you that 50% of the service techs in our area have never heard of a combustion analysis and 90% have never used one. This service is not hard and each furnace takes approximately 45 minutes. Air Worth A/C and Heating only charges $79 per system. You as a consumer deserve a proper furnace check up and a detailed report after this testing has been done.]]>
With the holidays and the end of the year comes the time to think ahead and make plans for the year to come. For many people, part of that planning involves making New Year’s resolutions. And yet every year, more than a few people wind up breaking their resolutions. How can you avoid that?
First of all, keep in mind: you don’t have to make a New Year’s resolution. If the potential guilt of breaking your resolution or resolutions outweighs the pride you’ll feel in keeping them, and your track record of keeping resolutions isn’t stellar, then just don’t make one. There isn’t a New Year’s Resolution Police who will fine you for deciding to forego the making (and possibly breaking) of resolutions.
But if you want to make a New Year’s resolution, there a few things to keep in mind that should make not breaking that resolution much easier.
If you’re determined to keep your resolution, approach it the same way you would a major project. Your resolution is a stated intent to reach a certain goal. Make sure that goal is clearly defined. Is your resolution to lose weight? Be specific about how many pounds you want to lose before the end of the year. Is your resolution to save money? Be clear on how much you want to see in your savings account by December 31. Are you resolving to finish some creative project? Be specific about what constitutes completion.
Determine what individual steps are necessary to reach that goal. Break the steps down even more if you have to. And be realistic and honest with yourself. Is this the same resolution you’ve made – and broken – for the last three years? If so, then what is going to be different this year?
Another way to approach your resolutions is to stay simple and realistic when making them – then you’re more likely to keep them. Instead of making a resolution to lose weight, make one to cut one unhealthy or fattening food from your diet. Instead of a vague resolution to start exercising at the gym (one of the most made & broken New Year’s resolutions), try resolving to spend a half hour two or three days a week doing a specific exercise. Resolve to cut one particular expense from your weekly or daily spending – make your own coffee instead of buying it from Starbucks, or cut the number of times you go out to eat by one or two nights – instead of a more nebulous resolution to save money. Resolve to spend a specific amount of time on your creative project every week or every month instead of resolving to have it done by the end of the year
By being more specific, it’s easier to engage in the specific behavior that’s necessary to keep your resolution. Even better, you can feel good about how you’re keeping that resolution every time you drive past Starbucks, or cook a meal at home, or spend a half hour walking, or finish a solid hour of work on your project.
Most importantly: HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!]]>
Previously I explained a bit about heat pumps and how they work to keep your home warm during cold weather. Now it’s time to look at how electric heat does the same thing.
If you have a heat pump system, it’s possible that you have electric heat as a backup source of heating for the periods when your heat pump needs to defrost. But it is also possible to have electric heat as your primary source of heating: an electric heat system.
Having an electric heat system means your heat comes entirely from a heat strip that is installed in your air handler. These heat strips are heating elements similar to what you’d find in space heaters. In a residential system, the heat strip can vary from 5 kilowatts to 20 kilowatts.
Electric heat works on a fairly simple premise: part of the electricity going to the air handler is diverted to the heat strip. The electrical current running into the heat strip then encounters resistance, which results in heat. That heat warms the air around the heat strip, and then the air handler’s blower moves that air into the duct system to warm your home.
Unfortunately, an electric heat system is one of the more expensive types of system you can have, since it draws on electricity not just to run the system, but also to create the heat for your home.
We at Air Worth Air Conditioning and Heating provide General heating checks which includes:
If we can be of service please call us at: 817-685-0042 we are always here to help.]]>
‘Tis the season to be jolly, to celebrate, and to go bonkers
‘Tis the season to be jolly, to celebrate, and to go bonkers trying to figure out what to get that one person who’s impossible to find a gift for: the Impossible Giftee. Usually they’re men – though not always! – and usually they’re the most stressful person to shop for. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, you name it – if it calls for a gift, they’re the name on your list with a giant question mark next to it. But even at the last minute, it’s not too late for some tips on how to find them a present they’ll love.
Tip 1: Ask them
While there’s nothing better than surprising someone with the perfect gift, for the Impossible Giftee, sometimes that’s just not going to be possible. So ditch the element of total surprise and ask them outright if there’s anything they’d like.
Tip 2: Look at their hobbies
So you asked, and the Impossible Giftee couldn’t think of anything they wanted. Or you haven’t asked because you want their present to be a surprise. Well, how do they spend their free time? What are they always talking about that isn’t work? Are they a do-it-yourselfer? A self-identified geek? A pop culture junkie? Do they garden? Or cook? Are they a crafter? There’s almost always something related to their hobbies or interests that’s within your budget that they’d be thrilled to receive. And if you can’t think of anything in particular, then don’t fret, because you can always…
Tip 3: Get a gift card to somewhere special
Gift cards and certificates aren’t necessarily a cold, impersonal gift. If you want to get the Impossible Giftee something relevant to their interests, but don’t want to risk getting them something they may already have, a gift card or certificate to a specific place is a much-appreciated and thoughtful gift. The fashonista in your life would love a gift certificate to her favorite online or brick-and-mortar clothing store. There isn’t a geek out there who doesn’t want something from Think Geek. Handymen can always use another tool, even if they don’t know it yet.
Tip 4: Look for something unusual and unique
Not sure of your Impossible Giftee’s hobbies? Don’t want to get them a gift card? Try looking for something unique that they’d never think of getting for themselves. This is also a great way to support local artisans and stores. Craft shows are a wonderful place to find unique, hand-made gifts. And if you can’t find anything at a craft show, try online at Etsy. You can even search Etsy for items made by people within your local area.]]>
Heat pump operation How it works and what are the benefits of Heat Pump vs Straight
Not everyone is familiar with the different options out there for heating homes. And even when you know what type of heating your home uses, you might not know just how it works. (Our non-technician staff member confesses that she knew nothing more than how to operate her thermostat before she started at Air Worth.) The three most common types of home heating systems are electric heat, gas furnaces, and heat pumps; we thought it would help to focus on each one separately. So check back for further entries!
Heat pumps work on a simple premise: using a small amount of energy to take heat from one area and move it to another. This works for both cooling and heating; it’s just a matter of moving the heat from the outside of the house to inside, or vice-versa. The most common home heat pump systems are air-source heat pumps – they draw heat from or dump unwanted heat into the outside air.
To heat your home, a fan in the outdoor unit pulls air over coils with refrigerant being pumped through them. The refrigerant absorbs the heat in the air and expands into vapor, is pressurized by the compressor, and then flows into a set of coils in the indoor unit. Inside the house, the heat is released as the refrigerant cools and condenses again, and the blower moves that released heat through your duct system and into the rooms where it’s needed.
The biggest downside of a heat pump system is that it may need supplemental help to serve your heating needs during the coldest period of the year; many heat pumps use backup electrical heating. This is usually only an issue when the outside temperature is near or below freezing. In a climate like Texas’s, a home can be comfortably heated without the system needing to call on its backup heat source.
The heated air that heat pump systems produce isn’t as intense as the heat that those used to oil or gas furnaces may be used to. But it is by no means uncomfortable! And your home will still be as warm as a house with a different type of heating system.
The other thing to know about a heat pump system is that it will cost more up front when it comes to installation. However, that cost is paid back by the savings a heat pump system will earn you over its lifetime. Heat pumps can save you up to anywhere between 30%-40% on your energy bills – that pays back the cost of installation very quickly! Just make sure to have your system regularly serviced so that it keeps operating efficiently.
Whether you’re looking to switch over to a heat pump system, or to replace an already-existing system, you’ll want to look for a system with a SEER rating between 14 and 18, and a HSFP rating between 8 and 10. If saving on your energy bills is key, ask about dual-mode compressors and motors – they can adjust according to the level of heating or cooling that you need.
Check back next week for the next installment on our list: electric heat!]]>
Evaluate Your Home of Business Duct Work
Do you know what one of the biggest energy wasters in your home’s air conditioning and heating system can be?
It’s your air ducts. Ducts are an essential part of your home’s cooling and heating, but they can also drive up your energy costs by leaking air and not moving air efficiently.
Duct air leakage can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 20%. This wastes money by heating or cooling more air than needed to make up for air that escapes through rips or gaps in ducts and through poorly sealed connections to equipment, grills and registers. It also lowers indoor air quality by allowing gases, including carbon monoxide and contaminants like dust and pollen, to be drawn into your duct system and spread throughout the house.
Even without air leakage, ducts can make your system less efficient by not moving air properly – leaving some rooms too stuffy, too hot or too cold, or making your equipment work harder than it needs to.
Many home systems have return air ducts that are too small. This restricts airflow throughout the system, reducing your system’s cooling and heating capacity. In turn, this means your system will have to run longer or more often to get your rooms at a comfortable temperature – and that drives up your energy costs.
Duct systems can also have been poorly laid out or not upgraded properly when HVAC equipment was replaced or a building renovated. In these instances, the ducts simply aren’t moving air properly throughout the entire building: leaving hot or cold spots and rooms that just don’t feel comfortable.
How do you know when your duct system needs to be repaired, reworked, or replaced entirely? Ask yourself these questions:
If the answer to any – or all – of those questions is ‘yes’, then you should have a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor like Air Worth come out to evaluate your home or business duct work. Many of our clients have called us after having us install new duct systems or rework existing duct systems to tell us how much more comfortable their homes are. We’d love to have you be the next!
There is no better way to prepare for the coming cold season than winterizing your house. It will help spare you from high heating expenses, equipment repair, and, of course, chilly nights and days. It is best to start prepping your home during the fall. While you can manage some of the following tasks on your own, it’s often best and safest to have a professional come in.
Here are important parts of your house you should inspect: the fireplace and chimney.
Start with the chimney. You should have a certified chimney sweep do an inspection, clean the chimney liner and remove anything that might have been trapped or living in the chimney. In warmer parts of the country like Texas, where a fireplace is only used for two or three months of the year, it’s not uncommon for small animals like birds, squirrels, or even raccoons to build nests in chimneys. To prevent any foreign objects – or animals – from getting into the chimney, you should protect it with a cap or screen. Anything that blocks the chimney is a potential fire hazard.
The purpose of chimney cleaning is not just to remove any blockages in the chimney, but also to remove flammable deposits such as soot and creosote from your chimney liner, firebox, smoke chamber and damper. If these deposits are allowed to build up, they will eventually ignite and cause a chimney fire.
It takes only a small accumulation of creosote glazing to create the potential for a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney or liner as a result of burning wood. The rate of accumulation can be higher if you practice poor burning practices or have a burning appliance or stove that is not working well. Different types of wood create different amounts of creosote when burned. Pine causes a rapid build-up of creosote and should be avoided as a regular source of wood. Creosote can also reduce the draw of the fireplace and reduce efficiency.
Next, check your fireplace. Your fireplace is one part of the house that can help you get through the winter comfortably – but it can also be one of the more dangerous areas of your home, and most energy-inefficient.
Inspect the fireplace damper as well to make sure it’s working properly and closes tightly. The damper should always be closed when not in use. Otherwise, your fireplace could become the biggest single loss of heat in your house.
If you aren’t going to be using your fireplace, it’s recommended that you use a fireplace pillow. A fireplace pillow or chimney balloon is an inflatable device that is put into the fireplace to stop drafts.
October is, without question, my favorite months of the year, and Halloween is my favorite part of October. And it’s only gotten better since moving to Texas, because now Halloween season also means lots and lots of haunted houses. I REALLY like that part.
Here are some of the Halloween events going on in the local area:
For my fellow haunted house enthusiasts, within a half-hour’s drive from Bedford there are: Hangman’s House of Horrors , the infamous Cutting Edge, Moxley Manor, The Boneyard, Zombie Manor, Fear Factory Insanitarium, Hellmouth Hostel, Slaughterhouse 2012, Texas Scaregrounds [link: http://texasscaregrounds.com/], and Terrorplex. NONE of these are appropriate for children.
Of course, all the fun of Halloween – costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin-carving, Halloween parties, haunted houses – brings with it potential dangers. All of us here at Air Worth ask that you please remember some of these tips to keep your Halloween safe and fun.
Make sure costumes fit properly to avoid trips & falls. Even if they don’t fit the costume, stress the wearing of comfortable shoes. Try to use facial makeup instead of a mask; if a mask is unavoidable, make sure it doesn’t restrict vision or breathing. Ensure that all props won’t do any harm if anyone does trip and fall on them – or if they’re swung deliberately at another person. Which they shouldn’t be!
If you and/or your children will be trick-or-treating on the streets, try to find a way to work a few strips of reflective tape into a costume to increase visibility. Carry flashlights to keep the dark and anything that may lurk in it at bay. And make sure everyone knows the proper way to safely cross a street. Even if they roll their eyes at the reminder.
Set your jack-o-lanterns and/or luminaries up so they can’t be easily bumped into by trick-or-treaters to avoid candles and flames being knocked about. Or better still, use flameless candles to light up your decorations and avoid the risks of open flames entirely.
Don’t forget to have a trusted adult check over the evening’s spoils. Although the ‘razorblades in candy apples’ is such a rare occurrence as to almost be urban myth, it never hurts to be careful. And if a child has food allergies, it’s best to have an adult double-check everything to make sure there’s no risk of allergic reaction. Make sure trick-or-treaters eat a good meal before going out – it will help prevent them getting hungry and diving into their hard-earned treats before they can be checked over.
Have a happy Halloween!]]>