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Archive for January, 2011

5
Jan

Indoor Air Quality – Is Your Home Built Too Well

As you would expect, Maryland home builders are making more of an effort to improve the energy efficiency of new homes. This effort includes reducing the air leakage from homes and has resulted in a lack of fresh air circulation into the home and a build-up of stale, polluted air trapped inside the home. Besides the impact on the air quality in the home, this can affect your comfort system (aka your heating and air conditioning system) as well.

Years ago, the EPA’s Office of Research and Development found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 10 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Studies indicated that products containing organic chemicals contributed to very high pollutant levels in the home and elevated concentrations remained in the air long after the products were used.

Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOC’s include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. VOC’s are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, glues and adhesives, permanent markers and photographic solutions. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

These VOC’s have become a bigger problem over the years in the heating and air conditioning industry. One of the worst examples was from drywall that was imported from China that contained such high levels of VOC’s the indoor coils were corroding to the point of failure within a year in some cases. This problem was so widespread that manufacturers have been forced to alter the composition of their equipment in order to better withstand the effects of VOC’s.

Don’t panic, this isn’t common to every home or always as severe as this example. However, the impact of VOC’s has recently become more understood in terms of your air quality and even the performance of your comfort system. During your spring cleaning, it may be time to find a place outside your home to store those old paint cans, lacquers and pesticides instead of in the corner of the basement. If you think that your home may need more fresh air, there are solutions to manage the introduction of outside air into your home efficiently. For more information on indoor air quality, give us a call.

Category : Air Conditioning | Energy & Money Saving Tips | Heating | Blog
4
Jan

Now that the air conditioners off and the heat is switched on. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re ready for heating season.  First, let’s be sure to test your heating system before you actually need it.

There’s no reason to wait to the last minute to find out your heat isn’t coming on – Switch your thermostat over to heat and let it run for a few minutes.  Stand next to your indoor heating system and listen to it start up and make sure there aren’t any strange noises.

If you have manual dampers to redirect airflow based on the season, now would be a good time to adjust those.  Remember – we want to send more of the heated air to the bottom floors of your home during the winter and restrict the airflow to the top floors.  This way the downstairs will be comfortable and the heat will naturally rise to the upstairs.  If the damper settings aren’t already labeled, label the winter and summer settings with a marker so you know where to set them next season.

As the colder weather arrives, don’t over adjust your thermostat.  Many people set the temperature too low during the day when no one is at home thinking they are saving energy.  When they return home in the evening, the system must run much longer to reach the desired temperature and much of the energy savings are lost…not to mention being uncomfortable for several hours.  A few degrees variance will do the trick.  And let’s clear up a common misconception while we’re on the topic:  Moving the set temperature on the thermostat way high (or low) does not result in more heat (or cooling).  The system will only run longer and over-shoot the desired temperature.

In the winter, open the shades and blinds during the day to allow sunlight to help heat your home.  Regularly change or clean your air filters.  Dirty filters reduce airflow causing the system to work harder and use more energy.  If you’re one that forgets to pick up replacement filters or need an odd size, let us know.  We provide replacement air filters by the case so you always have a replacement available and can provide custom sizes.

Seal up those leaky doors, windows and exterior penetrations – All those places where cold, outside air can be drawn into your home.  Warm air naturally rises and that air must be replaced – known as The Stack Effect.   Reduce the amount of air infiltration into your home and you’ll be more comfortable and save on energy usage this winter.

And those of you that have humidifiers, service the humidifier at the beginning of the heating season.  Replace the water panel and open any dampers on the bypass lines.  Usually the humidifier needs a good cleaning every season.  Check to see that the water supply is on and verify that there are no leaks.  Be sure to check the drain, too.  Pour water down the drain and make sure that it isn’t clogged.

For those of you that are members of our Peak Performance Maintenance Program, we will take care of all of the maintenance issues for you.  But it’s still a good idea to test the system before you actually need it.

Category : Energy & Money Saving Tips | Heating | Humidifier | Maintenance Agreements | Uncategorized | Blog