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  • "Are You Neglecting Your Air Conditioning? The Importance of Spring Maintenance"

    As the Spring season starts, you’ll want to examine your system to be sure it’s ready for the hot Summer weather ahead. Neglecting your air conditioner can have many consequences, including: Increased energy bills A poorly maintained air conditioner can't cool your home efficiently, so it has to work harder, which uses more energy. Breakdowns Ignoring repair needs can lead to complete system failure. Prompt repairs can prevent further damage and costly replacements. Frozen coils A frozen evaporator coil can draw excess power and trip your breaker. If you notice ice on the coils, turn off your unit and contact a professional right away. Reduced airflow Airflow helps your air conditioner's filters remove air pollutants and boost its efficiency. Decreased airflow can prevent cooled or heated air from reaching the areas of your home that need it, resulting in uneven temperatures. Shorter lifespan Neglecting maintenance can shorten your air conditioner's lifespan by several years. A system that runs without maintenance season after season may stop working suddenly. Other consequences of neglecting your air conditioner include decreased comfort levels, health problems, unpleasant odors, and a reduced warranty. Here are some tips to get the most out of your air conditioner: Clean/Replace the air filters Air filters trap dirt and other particles, so it's important to clean/replace them regularly. You can check your filters monthly and change them as needed. Close windows and doors Keeping windows and doors closed prevents warm air from entering and cool air from escaping, so your air conditioner doesn't have to work as hard. Raise the thermostat Increasing the temperature a few degrees allows your air conditioner to work less while still keeping you comfortable. You can also consider using a programmable thermostat to cool your home only when needed. Clean the coils The coils get dirty over time, so it's important to clean them regularly so your air conditioner can operate efficiently. Clear the condenser Remove any leaves, debris, or weeds that have gotten inside the condenser, and make sure the drain holes aren't blocked. Clear the condensate drain line A clogged condensate drain line can cause your air conditioner to shut down, so it's important to keep it clear to remove excess water and moisture.

  • "How to Keep Your Home Warm and Cozy During Winter Heating Season"

    As the weather gets chilly, it can be challenging to keep your home warm inside. Whether you use a gas furnace for heat or an electric heat pump, the following tips can help keep you feeling cozy while saving on energy bills. Hire an Expert Insufficient insulation and leaky ductwork are two of the main culprits when it comes to losing warm air or having hot and cold spots in your house. If you’re handy, you might be able to take on these tasks as a do-it-yourself project — but if you don’t relish the idea of crawling around in your attic, it might be worth hiring an expert. An insulation professional can install the appropriate materials right where they’re needed, while a visit from a local HVAC expert or a home energy auditing company will provide an even more comprehensive review of your systems. Contact your local utility company for a referral (and possibly a discount!), or visit for additional home energy assessment resources. Plug Your Gaps The areas around doors and windows are another common culprit for cold air intrusion. The good news is that even a novice DIYer can solve the problem. Check weather stripping on external doors, and replace anything that’s not sealing correctly. With windows, gaps can be plugged easily with foam or caulk. Note that doors and windows aren’t the only escape route for warm air from the home: Areas around exterior plumbing and exterior electric outlets should be sealed too. Don’t Accidentally Exhaust Your Warm Air Everyone loves a crackling fire, but double-check that your fireplace damper isn’t exhausting expensive warm air when it’s not being used. Another area to examine is your kitchen exhaust hood; it should only be allowing air out when you’re using the fan. Consider covering it if that’s not the case. Do a Windows Update Even if they’re properly sealed, windows themselves can cause heat loss. If it’s time for an update, energy-efficient windows or storm windows are the most effective but pricier solution, while shrink-wrap kits can provide insulation at a lower cost. How you decorate your windows can make a big difference as well. Energy-efficient window coverings such as thermal curtains or insulated cellular shades are the top options, but advises that even conventional draperies can reduce heat loss up to 10% when they’re closed. Check Your Air Flow Your HVAC system needs free-flowing air to ensure that it’s working efficiently and not overworking the equipment. Check your vents to verify they’re not partially closed or blocked, and make sure you’re replacing your air filters more often during times of heavy use. Keep Your Home Warm with Preventive Maintenance Preventive maintenance will ensure that your gas furnace or heat pump is running at optimum efficiency — and it can head off problems more affordably than the cost of a new furnace. When the winter season gets busy, you don’t want to be making a call that “the furnace is not turning on.” So run your system a few times before it gets too cold outside. If you use electric heat, don’t forget that heat pump efficiency decreases along with temperatures; the air coming out of the vents may seem a bit cooler than usual, but it’s still getting the job done. Four More Tips to Warm Up Your Home After addressing caulking, insulation, ductwork, and servicing, it’s still possible your gas furnace or heat pump won’t be keeping your home as warm as you’d like. There are several options to consider that will keep you toasty all winter — for years to come: Increase your energy efficiency: Especially if you have an older heating system, consider replacing it with a gas furnace with multiple heating stages or a variable speed gas-electric hybrid system. Install a smart thermostat: Smart thermostats such as the American Standard AccuLink Platinum 1050 not only allows you to set an energy-saving schedule for when you’re home or away, you can also change temperatures remotely with the American Standard Home app from your mobile device. Balance your heating: Let’s face it, hot and cold spots are uncomfortable and annoying! The American Standard AccuLink zoning system uses a network of thermostats, sensors, and motorized dampers to accurately control temperatures in every area of your house. Retain heat and moisture from exhaust air: If you own a newer, high-efficiency home, incorporating an energy recovery ventilator will make your indoor environment even more efficient and comfortable by retaining the heat and moisture from the exhaust air.

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