Spring HVAC Tips to Help You Save Energy

Energy Saving TipsAs we gear up for the Spring season, proper care of your HVAC system is important to ensure your AC unit is running efficiently which will help you maintain and achieve additional energy savings this summer.

Here are four energy saving tips that you can do in your home this Spring.

Tip 1: Change Your Filters Monthly: Clogged and dirty filters block normal airflow. This is the most important maintenance task to help you ensure the efficiency of your unit and can lower your energy consumption by 15%.

Tip 2: Clean Your Vents: Debris and dust make your AC system work hard which costs you more money. We recommend cleaning them which can be done by 1) Vacuuming the vents – use the crevice extension to get into the vent slots. 2) Wash the vents – remove the vent cover and wash with dish soap. 3) Cobweb Duster: get into the vent with the duster as far as you can to get a thorough cleaning.

Tip 3: Clean Condenser Coils: When you clean the condenser coils you can lower your AC energy consumption by as much as 30%. To clean, remove visible grass and dust using something like a whiskbroom. Then spray coil cleaner into the coils and wait 5 to 10 minutes. Lastly, gently rinse the coils with water to avoid bending the fins.

Tip 4: Clear the Plants, but Keep the Shade: let your air conditioner breathe by clearing away any plants that can block the air flow and make your AC work harder. If possible, keep your AC unit shaded. This can save you 10% on electricity.

If you have questions or concerns about AC maintenance, we’re here to help.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our certified specialists, as we are certified to help! Cheers to an early Spring in 2018!

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Go Geo(thermal)!

geothermalHere in Pennsylvania, we’re currently experiencing three different seasons in one week.  We just saw snow on Saturday, Monday was spring, and the forecast says summer temps are on their way.  What gives?  It’s been a horrible week for our thermostats, hasn’t it?  The fluctuation of our interior temperatures doesn’t do much for our wallets because constantly adjusting up and down isn’t energy efficient.  However, there is a more efficient option on the market and Congress just made it more wallet-friendly to go geothermal!

2018 is certainly coming up green for some homeowners!  Recently, Congress made the decision to reinstate tax credits for geothermal heating and cooling systems.  Don’t worry if you installed your system after the initial tax credits had expired, as the ruling included making the credits retroactive to January 1, 2017, all the way through 2022. 

For units installed between 2017 and 2019, homeowners are eligible for a 30% tax credit.  This is the highest credit you will get for installing a geothermal system, as the credit will drop to 26% in 2020 and again to 22% in 2021.  This credit differs slightly from the original, however, in that homeowners are able to use the date on which the project begins for eligibility.  This means, you may begin the installation of your geothermal unit on January 1, 2022 and still apply for the credit.

As a geothermal customer, you can apply the credit to a replaced geothermal system as well as a brand new one.  Don’t wait to take advantage of such a great opportunity and harvest the natural power of the earth to heat and cool your home!  Thirty percent can’t be beaten, so now is your best chance to get out of the inefficient heating and cooling system you’re currently using.

If you’d like to speak more about geothermal heating and cooling, contact us today!

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Caring For Your HVAC System During Winter Weather

winter weatherIt’s been a rough couple of weeks in the midstate.  Just when we think we’re getting a glimpse of spring, Mother Nature dumps a couple of inches of this wet white stuff on us.  Then, when we start to get excited that we may have a decent winter storm on our hands, it clears up and the temps climb.  Our thermostats inside our home are stuck in a constant cycle of ups and downs, but even more concerning is what is going on outside.  There are specific ways in which you need to care for your HVAC system during winter weather.

While your outdoor unit may seem to be pretty resilient, there are precautions that need to be taken in the case of inclement weather.  If you’d like to keep that outdoor unit functioning, you’re going to want to follow these simple steps.

  • Clear Debris – During winter storms, the wind kicks up quite a bit and can cause minor branches and twigs to fall into and around your system. Clear them as soon as possible so that they do not get caught in the fan mechanism and do further damage.
  • Ice Accumulation – Don’t allow ice to accumulate too much on your outdoor unit. If you notice that it is building up on the top of the unit, do your best to clear it from the top and sides.  Do NOT use hot water in an attempt to rapidly melt the ice.
  • Shovel – As soon as snow reaches the bottom of your unit, start shoveling. Keep the place surrounding your HVAC system clear so that air is able to fully circulate and you’re system is protected from damage.  Clear snow from the top of the unit as well.   For larger storms, keep an eye out for heavy accumulation.
  • Filters – Since you’re likely going to be stuck inside for a little while, take the time to replace your filter. It will help with air quality inside the home and keep all the dust and grime outside the house, where it belongs.

In order to keep your system functioning at maximum capacity, you’ll want to keep up with a regular maintenance schedule.  Contact us today to make an appointment!

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Signs You Need a Water Softener

Water SoftenerIn this cold and wet weather, there is no better feeling than standing under the vigorous and heated spray of your shower.  Getting a shower should be a relaxing and cleansing experience, and in most houses it is.  However, if you’ve been noticing some things that are making it less of a pleasure and more of a pain, it could be because you’ve got hard water.  Here are five signs you need a water softener in your home!

  1. Higher Bills – Hard water wreaks havoc on the pipes in your home as it creates deposits along the sides, narrowing the openings. As hard water builds up in your pipes, the water has to work that much harder to get through.  As a result, your water bills are going to rise. 
  2. Dry Skin and Hair – If your skin has taken on a scaly appearance, it may not be because of how cold it’s been outside or how much you moisturize. Your water may be working against you.  Hard water causes excess minerals to build up in your water and these minerals, like calcium, comes to rest on your skin. 
  3. Scale Spots – Hard water causes build-up in your pipes and as a result the minerals pass through, causing spots on your appliances and plumbing fixtures. If you’ve noticed a chalky looking build-up on your coffee carafe or the faucet heads, you likely have hard water.
  4. Crusty Sinks and Tubs – Due to the minerals, hard water leaves behind some horrible stains on your showers and sinks. If you’ve been noticing crusty, dusty, white stains on the sides of your bathtub, they’re probably caused by hard water.
  5. Stiff and Faded Clothes – All of those minerals coming through your water aren’t exactly soft and fluffy, hence the term hard water, so expecting the usual fluffiness of freshly laundered clothes is going to cause some disappointment. If your clothes have faded faster than normal and your towels just don’t feel the way they used to, it may be time to look into a water softener.

If you have one or more of the aforementioned issues, then we want to help!  Contact us today to check and see if you have hard water!

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What You Need to Know About Backflow Testing

Backflow TestingWe’re not supposed to drink the water in certain countries, we already know that, but did you know you can encounter unpotable water in your own backyard?  Backflow is a term used in the plumbing field to describe what happens when the flow of water reverses in the pipes. This can lead to untreated and undrinkable water to be brought into your home from public water systems. It can also cause the entire pipe structure to become contaminated as well. As a result, many homeowners are faced with the reality of consuming water that may make them very ill.  Here is what you need to know about backflow testing.

Yes, water companies are required to test their water and notify consumers of contamination as soon as possible, but it isn’t always caught as quickly as necessary.   When a public water supply is contaminated, due to backflow, this becomes an incredibly widespread issue, and it’s not something that water company is always able to recognize right away.

You would assume that when you pay a water bill, the company then ensures a safe and clean flow of water into your home.  This isn’t the case, however.  If you think backflow may be an issue in your area, or in your home, you’ll need to call a plumber. The plumber will be able to determine if there are cross connections in your area, as they are typically the cause of backflow.  These cross connections will need to be examined and fixed, and only a plumber can do that.

A plumber can install a backflow prevention device that will block the flow of unusable water back into the public water system. It is installed at the entrance of your water lines, and can provide a reasonable amount of protection for your water supply.

If you have questions or concerns about backflow, we are certified to regulate backflow issues. Learn more on our backflow testing page or contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Prepare for Winter Weather

Winter WeatherPennsylvania weather can be unpredictable as evidenced by the massive fluctuation in temperatures over the past couple of weeks.  However, nothing is more unpredictable than the snowfall in this fine state of ours.  We saw our first snowfall early this year, but there is no telling what is to come for the rest of the winter season, and it’s just getting started.  Here are some tips and tricks to prepare for winter weather.

  • Insulate – Insulate any exposed pipes with pipe insulation sleeves. Exposure to the cold weather will make them more likely to freeze and potentially burst.  Pipe insulators are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at any building supply store.
  • Get a Shovel – If it snows a lot, you’re going to need to shovel out your outdoor HVAC unit. Snow piling up under or around the unit can damage the condensing units and heat pumps because it will restrict the flow of air.  Take care of it as soon as possible and keep up with it once the weather starts.
  • Generator – If you have a generator for your home, make sure you have plenty of fuel for it. Snow and ice can easily cause power loss and your generator may need to sustain you for a couple of days before the power comes back on.
  • Water – If you have issues with your pipes freezing, make sure you leave the faucets running a little bit, even if it’s just a drip. The movement will prevent the pipes from freezing.  Also, make sure you’ve turned off the water to your outdoor supplies. 
  • Inspection – If you haven’t already done it, it’s time to get your HVAC system inspected before the harsh weather hits. It’s already cold enough outside, is your system functioning properly?

If you’re thinking of upgrading your system or you simply need an inspection, contact us!

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How to Tell If You Need a New Water Heater

water heatersIf your heat isn’t working as efficiently, you may not notice it right away.  However, if your water heater stops working the same way it used to, it’s noticeable almost immediately.   Certainly, there are problems with the actual unit that you should be noticing, but there’s nothing that can ruin your day more than stepping into a cold shower than you’re used to.  Before that happens, here’s how to tell if you need a new water heater.

  • Shorter, Colder Showers – If you’ve noticed that the hot water in your house is lasting less and less time, it may be one of two things. The first is that it might be a buildup on silt and minerals in your water heater and it needs to be drained.  However, if you’ve already done that and it’s still getting chillier during your morning shower, the second could be that your water heater isn’t up to par anymore.
  • Age of Your Water Heater – Water heaters over ten to fifteen years old should be considered for replacement; that’s just one of the unfortunate side effects of homeownership. Over the years, your water heater begins to break down and become not as reliable.  If your water heater is approaching the ten year mark, but isn’t causing too many problems, consider it.  If you’re at the fifteen year mark, be proactive and get a new one soon.
  • Leaks – If your water heater is leaking, it’s time to replace it before it does some serious damage. Sure, if it’s tucked away in a corner of the basement where a small leak isn’t really going to hurt anything, it’s easy to forget about.  However, if it develops a serious leak, you’re not going to be able to think about anything else.  Despite the hassles of chilly showers and dishwashers that aren’t working properly, you run the risk of doing serious damage to your home.
  • Discoloration – If your water is coming out brown, the situation is about as good as it looks. Brown water is indicative of rust, and rust means your water heater isn’t cutting it anymore.  If you’re noticing the color, smell, or taste of your water getting worse, it’s time to start looking around for a new water heater. 
  • Noise – Normally, you’ll hear a little bit of feedback from your water heater.  You’ll hear it working, essentially.  However, if you’re starting to hear cracks and pops from it, that’s not good.  It’s usually trying to tell you something at the point that it starts making odd noises, and what it’s trying to say is “replace me!”. 

If you need to put your water heater out of its misery and step into a nice hot shower again, contact us.  We have several options available for new water heaters!

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