8 DIY Ways To Increase Your Homes Humidity
We all know how terrible it can be having such a dry home in the winter. Your nose is stuffy, your skin is dry, and you just feel all around worse. Did you know that in the winter, your homes humidity should still be around 30 – 40%. With lower humidity levels, you are more prone to catch a cold or get the flu.
Also, if your home has hardwood floors, it is even more important to keep your humidity levels at a consistent humidity level. This helps combat the natural expansion and contraction of your hardwood.
Let’s get right into it – here are 9 great DIY ways to increase your homes humidity level during the winter:
- Let Your Clothes Air Dry
- Put Bowls Of Water On Top Of Registers
- Put Bowls Of Water On The Window Sills
- Leave The Door Open When You Shower
- For Bathing – Let The Water Cool Before Draining
- Let Your Dishes Air Dry
- Get A Few Houseplants
- And The Most Obvious – Use A Humidifier!!
There you have it. Now go implement some of these ideas for a better feeling indoor air quality!
9 Components Of HVAC
Most people know that HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; but beyond that, most of us don’t know what makes up the components within those keywords. If you do know what components HVAC consists of, you can probably stop reading here (smarty pants). If you don’t know, well you are in for a treat! Continue reading as we dive deeper into HVAC.
- The Furnace – The furnace is what usually takes up the most space in the HVAC system. Most often found in the basement, behind the door that no one goes in, probably a cobweb or two in the room. Though, this is a very important component. It is responsible for moving air from the heat exchanger into the air ducts. Don’t confuse the furnace with a boiler!
- The Heat Exchanger – This is part of the previously mentioned furnace. It is inside the furnace, but has a different job. It adds heat to the incoming air coming from the combustion chamber.
- The Evaporator Coil – Also located in the furnace, but doing the opposite job of the heat exchanger. It has fluid running through it, & it absorbs heat from the air passing over it. The now – cold air is blown through the air ducts.
- The Condensing Unit – Like your evaporator coil, but for your exterior HVAC unit.
- The Refrigerant Tubes – These metal tubes connect the condensing unit and the evaporator coil – basically they connect the exterior and interior. They are designed to contain cooling refrigerants of all temperatures.
- The Thermostat – This is the part of the HVAC system, that you the homeowner, are probably the most familiar with. It is the small appliance on a wall in your house somewhere, it is either a dial (old school) or a newer digital thermostat. It is best to get a smart thermostat (a programmable digital thermostat), this way you are able to change the temp of your house when you are not there – saving money and energy.
- The Ductwork – The air ducts are responsible for moving the air around in your home.
- The Vents – As the air travels through the ductwork, it eventually enters a room via a vent. These are the rectangular things you see usually on the floor or wall.
- The Heat Pump – During the summer, or dependent where you are, any of the warmer months, this is responsible for taking heat from the inside and moving it to the outside. During the winter it does the opposite.
All HVAC units have components that are listed above. This article is meant to give you a better understanding of your HVAC system. If you are having problems with any parts of your HVAC system, be sure to call the pros.
6 Reasons Why A Warm Winter Is The Best Winter
Warmth and winter are definitely not synonyms, at least on the Northern Hemisphere. Winters can be a stressful period of the year, especially for lovers of warmth and warm seasons. When even your own house becomes a cold place, you might feel uneasy or even uncomfortable: this is normal and probably a simple sign that you should turn the heating on! Here are some more extra reasons why a simple action like turning your heating on can transform a cold, irritating winter into an unforgettable one:
- Home is the place where you feel protected
Protection has many meanings, and warmth is one of them. As humans, we seek warmth because, simply, warmth means safety. We need it to cook and to survive. A warm house during winter is not limited to a comfort element, it is a survival instinct that we should listen to.
- Warm food
Hot chocolate, tea, soups, pasta bowls, you name it! There is nothing nicer and more satisfying than hot food to warm you up on a cold day. Warmth during winter comes in many forms, why not make it edible?
- Snow outside, snugs inside
You can’t really escape winter, the weather will still be cold outside, it will still rain, snow or hail. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! Especially when you can enjoy the beauty of winter from the warmth and comfort of your heated home. Grab your favourite blanket and admire the snowy landscape from your window!
- Christmas is better when it’s warm
Of course snow does add to the Christmassy atmosphere, but so does a fireplace and a warm atmosphere! If you don’t have a fireplace, however, do not despair: turning up the heating is usually sufficient and it will transform your house in the cosiest Christmas place ever for you and your guests!
- Feel at home all the time
Walking around your house with a cape-blanket on might have seemed fun at first, and all of those layers of clothing might be cozy, but there is nothing better than taking off your coat and feeling already warm as soon as you get home. Winter is giving you enough coldness outside, why bring it inside too?
- You can’t think with a cold brain
You need warmth to be productive, healthy and to have a balanced lifestyle. Of course, your body is used to a range of temperatures, but when it starts shaking and contracting its muscles because of the cold, it is trying to tell you something. Turn on the heat and feel the benefits of a warm winter, from more relaxed muscles to a better focused mind.
Most Common Winter HVAC Problems
The winter months are a trying time for your HVAC system to deal with. Extra strain due to dealing with extreme cold and winter storms to match means your HVAC is often overused and doesn’t have the care and attention it deserves. While having a HVAC is one of life’s luxuries that we often take for granted, when it breaks down on us, especially during winter, we feel the loss very dearly. Here are a few of the biggest reported issues for you to keep an eye on so you can stay warm and cozy even on the darkest of winter nights.
Freezing Pipes – Freezing pipes are just one continuous issue and once you have them you have to put a lot of work to get them right. Freezing pipes will not only stop your HVAC from being able to heat the entire building properly but will also increase the chances of those pipes bursting when they have thawed. Fortunately keeping your pipes from freezing is a relatively easy process and all you have to do is keep them well insulated.
Airflow – If you’re finding that your HVAC doesn’t heat your house up as quickly as it used to or that one room feels noticeably cooler than the rest of the building then you’re probably suffering from airflow problems. These could be anything from bedding being stored in front of the air ducts, an air filter that hasn’t been changed in too long (once a month should be the minimum amount of time) or even a lot of dirt and dust in the air ducts can all slow the effectiveness of your HVAC.
Heat Loss – There are a lot of things that can affect how effectively your HVAC is heating your home in winter but if your thermostat is at the highest temperature and you’re still feeling chilly then you need to get it seen to. One of the most common causes of heat loss during winter months is a dodgy pump. Heat pumps regulate the temperature throughout your home and the cold temperatures and common freezes that come through the winter months have a catastrophic affect on these pumps meaning they aren’t able to heat the parts of your home that really need it. A dodgy thermostat can also have the same effect and can wreak havoc in your HVAC knowing how warm you need your home.
Fortunately the above issues are easy to resolve in advance of the long winter months to come with a little bit of planning and preparation. By giving your HVAC and home an inspection before the harshest cold months hit you’ll be able to spot any problems before they even pop up. A HVAC system is something that needs care and attention in the winter however if you treat it properly it will pay you back with a warm home through the harshest of freezes.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month
Did you know that carbon monoxide (CO) is tasteless, odorless, and colorless? As it starts to get colder – the use of stoves, fireplaces, and furnaces increase your risk of being exposed to CO. CO can build up slowly as time goes on. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, weakness, upset stomach, dizziness, chest pains, vomiting, confusion, and even death.
Here are some common, easy things you can do to decrease your risk:
- Replace your CO detector batteries.
- If installing new detectors, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for placement and height requirements.
- Don’t, under any circumstances, use your gas stove to heat your house!
- Have your furnace serviced, checkup done.
- Don’t warm up your vehicle inside the garage.
- Make sure all vents are open, not blocked by snow.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is something that can easily be avoided. Make sure to follow all precautions listed above, and above all else use common sense! If ever in question, leave your house, and call local police to report a possible leak. Let the professionals deal with this.
Top 7 Tips For HVAC Energy Savings This Winter
- Make Sure Your Home Is Well Insulated – The easiest / most cost effective way to go about this is adding insulation to your attic. Other spaces that are highly beneficial are in unfinished basement walls and/or crawlspaces. When installed the right way, you save on average an extra 20% on HVAC costs.
- Install water efficient accessories – Installing showerheads and faucets that are water efficient can net you around $35 in savings every year. That isn’t going to pay for your vacation to Mexico, but it will buy you a decent meal out!
- Weatherize your home for the winter – Seal up holes with foam and/or caulk, weather strip doors, seal window gaps, use window film to hold in heat.
- Purchase appliances with energy savings stickers – Now obviously we aren’t promoting you to go out and buy all new appliances, that would be very pricey! Although the next time you are in the market for an appliance, look for the energy savings sticker – on average this appliance will save you around $100/year.
- Make the most of natural sunlight – Opening window shades in room that get the natural sunlight, and closing them in the rooms where no sunlight is coming in.
- Use cold water for washing clothes – According to popular science, using cold water will save you around $40/year compared to using warm water all the time.
- Replace your furnace filter! – Not only can it be a safety hazard; it is a major efficiency bottleneck! Dirty filters reduce airflow, cause your furnace to work harder, and shorten the expected life of your furnace.
Tips To Prepare Your HVAC System For A Winter Storm
Although winter storms in Lincoln are few and far between – they do happen. When preparing for a possible upcoming winter storm, here are some tips to keep your home HVAC system working in tip-top shape!
- Keep your home’s exhaust pipes clear of all snow and ice.
- If you haven’t already done it, turn off all outdoor water lines (also run your hoses and spigots to drain all water!)
- Insulate any vulnerable pipes. Wrap them with insulation sleeves to prevent any of these from freezing.
- If any of the pipes to get frozen and burst, turn off your water supply immediately to that pipe. Drain it by opening the faucets. Leave the faucets open, and get the pipe repairs as soon as possible.
- If you have an oil tank, make sure you have enough to last! Delivery trucks often aren’t able to make a delivery during a storm, and therefore become backed up with other deliveries, causing a further delay of upto a week before they can drop off oil to your location.
- If you have an emergency generator, make sure to keep extra gas in case it is needed longer than expected.
- NEVER run a portable generator indoors, this includes garages. The engine within the generator releases carbon monoxide which is a colorless, and odorless gas that is deadly. Run your generator outside; in worst case scenario if you can’t get outside, run it in your garage with the garage door open, and the generator placed near the open door.
- Be sure to clear the ice and snow from your house as soon as possible. Heavy snow build up can cause failure in your condensing units and heat pumps by restricting the air flow.
Our technicians are always ready for whatever mother nature will throw our way. Although it is unlikely we see a winter storm of this magnitude, it is better to be prepared. Contact AW Heating And AC today for any more insight, and to get your house prepared for the upcoming winter!
Winterizing Your HVAC System
If you are beginning to feel the cold air outside, you are probably about ready to turn off that AC and put your turn your heating unit to “on” until the spring. Before you start blasting the heat, there are a few things that you should do to make sure your unit is running in the best shape possible. Here are some tips for winterizing your HVAC system:
Change Your Filters
Lets all be honest with ourselves, how clean is your furnace filter? If you followed our guidelines of annual maintenance, it should be fine!… but most of us get caught up in day to day life and haven’t had the time to perform the maintenance yet. Unfortunately, a dirty filter can really inhibit your furnaces performance – and changing your filter is one of the simplest and cheapest way to increase the efficiency of your unit.
Clean Your Registers and Air Returns
After the summer of constant and demanding use, it is quite easy for dust and grime to build up in your vents and registers. That dust and grit is the cryptonite to your HVAC system, it will have to work much harder to deliver that warm – heated air to your family.
Remove the grilles and floor registers, wipe around all of the openings to clean out your air ducts. Also, make sure to clean the vents themselves before you put them back in place.
Clean Up Around Your Outside Unit
If you have an AC unit that is located outside, it is necessary to clean up the leaves and debris around it. Check for weeds, leaves, vines, and any brush that may have contaminated the outside of your unit – pull these away from the unit; also look for anything that may have fallen inside and remove it. After the outside perimeter is cleaned up, and we have made certain there is nothing inside of the unit, place a cover over the unit.
At this point, the DIY aspect of winterizing your HVAC system is complete. This will help your HVAC system work more efficiently, and keep it safe for use next year. Giving your system this little bit of TLC can reduce your energy costs by 15 – 20%. If you are looking for winterizing / maintenance beyond this (definitely recommended), please contact AW Heating and AC today!
Signs That It Is Time To Replace Your Furnace
All mechanical equipment has a lifespan, whether it is your lawnmower, garbage disposal or furnace. Sooner or later, it is time to buy a new one. Deciding when it makes more sense to replace your furnace rather than repair it is a tricky situation, and it is often based upon your unique situation. Here are some factors to consider:
How old is your furnace?
The average lifespan of a furnace is 10 to 15 years in Nebraska. Warmer states can expect to see a longer lifespan simply because the furnace doesn’t word as often or as hard. In Nebraska, if your furnace is somewhere in that 10 to 15 year range, it is time to start preparing for a new furnace.
How efficient is your furnace?
If your furnace is an 80% efficient model, then it is time to replace it with a high – efficient model furnace. This replacement alone will save you around 15% in energy costs. Also, like any other piece of mechanical equipment, the older it gets – the less efficient it becomes.
Have you maintained your furnace?
Regular maintenance results in extending the lifespan of your furnace by upto 30%. But, if the furnace maintenance has been neglected, the individual components within the furnace will start to wear out sooner than expected. Repairs are always more expensive than annual maintenance.
Does your furnace keep up with Nebraska winters?
If your house never seems to keep warm when the weather is brutal, your furnace probably is having a hard time trying to keep up with the cold. If it seems to be running all the time in the winter, but you still have to keep a sweater on and blankets wrapped around you, your utility bills will also tell you that it is time for a new furnace.
Are you hearing random noises when the furnace is running?
Squeals, squeaks, rattles, bangs, and creeking are sure signs that something wrong is happening within your furnace. The longer time that become comfortable with those noises, the more expensive that repair becomes. If your furnace is making all kinds of noises, that is “furnace language” telling you that you need to repair it or replace it.
Call AW Heating And AC today for help in deciding whether you should repair or replace your furnace system. They have the training, experience, and integrity to help you consider all of the options available to you.
Alleviating Allergies With Your HVAC System
Most people enjoy the fall season, albeit not as enjoyable as summer, it is downright beautiful! The leaves are changing, and you get that crisp fall air; but for those unlucky people – allergies start acting up! Fall allergies usually consist of one main culprit – ragweed. This nasty stuff will float all around, give you itchy / watery eyes, and have you sneezing all day. Thankfully, there is a way to alleviate your allergies when you are in the comfort of your own home..
First and foremost – you need to make sure your air filter is fresh. The air filters main job is to capture those particles that aren’t supposed to be in your air, this includes those allergens particles. You need to invest in a quality filter that is capable of trapping even the tiniest particles. The filter’s effectiveness is measured using the MERV rating, and if your HVAC system can handle it, you should be shooting for a MERV rating of 17 or higher. Contact AW Heating And AC if you have any questions regarding the capabilities of your HVAC system. Also, depending on the severity of your allergies, it may be worth it to look into a air purifier for your house.
Humidity also plays a role within the severity of suffering. Maintaining ideal humidity levels is a key role in alleviating indoor allergies. Humidity in particular is a major trigger for many asthma and allergy sufferers, keeping your humidity on the lower end will help you cope with those allergies. Luckily, you can have a whole-home dehumidifier installed that can help to keep those humidity levels in check.
Controlling the humidity levels and trapping the allergens with a high efficiency filter is a great start to alleviating those allergies. However, there is a way to completely kill the ragweed, mold, bacteria, and other allergens within your house. UV lamps. These used in conjunction with your HVAC system, sterilize both the system’s coil and the air, killing the allergens. It is an expensive technology, so it is recommended that this is used as a last resort; this is for dealing with incredibly poor indoor air quality.
The BEST and most cost-effective ways to optimize your HVAC system is to schedule a bi-annual maintenance service. If you can’t afford system upgrades or any fancy add-ons, the bi-annual maintenance service will still do great at easing your allergy symptoms. This service should be done in early the early spring season, as well as the early fall season. Make sure to discuss your allergy symptoms with your technician, they may have some tips and tricks to help you even further.
AW Heating And AC is now scheduling for fall maintenance service. Don’t forget to get your HVAC system ready for the fall / winter!
So, You’ve Got Some Questions About HVAC – Well We’ve Got Some Answers!
What does HVAC stand for?
HVAC (pronounced h-vack) stands for heating, venting, and air conditioning. These 3
functions are all closely related – they provide comfort and acceptable air quality within your
How does my HVAC system move air throughout my house?
There are return grills located throughout the house, this is where a fan draws air in
through. The air then travels through ducts that run back to your systems air handler. The air is
then returned into the conditioned space through supply vents in your wall, floor, or ceiling.
How often should I replace my filter?
There really isn’t a 1 size fits all answer here. The frequency of your filter changes is
really driven by how much you use the system, and how clean the air is that your system is
filtering. At a minimum, it is always good to check it on a monthly basis. Typically, filters need
to be changed once a month (maybe every other).
Why should I replace my working furnace or air conditioner?
Although your current furnace or air conditioner may be working fine, it may make
sense to replace it if older than 12 years. A new heating or AC system can save up to 50% in
energy costs, and it also saves you money in the long run on repairs. While a new system can
also save you money on your utility bills, it will also offer a better degree of comfort within your
Why can’t we just add coolant, without looking for a leak?
Since July of 1992, it is illegal to release refrigerants (whether intentional or accidental) because
they can cause serious damage to the ozone layer. When refrigerants are removed such as
CFC, they should be recycled to clean out contaminants and then returned to a usable
Hiring a HVAC Technician? Here’s What You Should Be Looking For.
When shopping around for a new heating and cooling system, shoppers will often do a lot of research on the actual product. Potential buyers investigate the efficiency rating, look for any grants out there for energy efficient products, estimate a payback system, and even figure out how much their monthly bills will rise/fall.
It is great to consider all of the above, but one thing that is grossly overlooked is the actual HVAC installer themselves. It doesn’t matter how many great features your new HVAC system may have, if you hire a bad installer, all those features won’t do you much good.
The same hold trues for an AC tune up or furnace tune up. When it comes to anything with your HVAC system – if you aren’t hiring qualified technicians to work on it, you could be wasting a lot of money!
Here’s What You Should Ask Every HVAC Technician Before Hiring Them To Work On Your House:
- Are You Licenses And Insured?
- Almost every state requires HVAC technicians to be licensed and insured.
- You should be able to look them up on your state contractor licensing board.
- If something is to go wrong, it is their insurance to cover the damage, not yours.
- How Much Experience Do You Have In The Industry?
- Have they been in the industry for a long time, or are they relatively new?
- An established company is often times much better to work with.
- An established company will often have much more experience with different systems.
- Can You Provide References From Past Customers?
- Talking to past customers will give you a good sense of their customer service and ability.
- Often times you can go to the company’s website, or search them on Google and look for reviews from past customers.
- How Do Refunds And Warranties Work?
- Your current system may be under warrant – it is important to follow those terms of the warranty.
- Some well established companies are premier dealers for certain types of HVAC brands (Lennox for example) – you should ask about any guarantees made by that company for that brand.
- Are You Licenses And Insured?
Those are the 4 most important questions you should discuss with a prospective company before hiring them to be your HVAC technician. Talking about these with the technicians can save you a bundle of money and a lot of headache in the future.
At AW Heating & Air Conditioning, we offer full support on all of the above. We are an established company that has been around since 2000, and our technicians have 35+ years’ experience. We are licensed and insured, and we have a long list of glowing reviews from past customers that are happy to speak on our behalf! If you are looking for a new HVAC system, AC tune up, or Furnace tune up – we do all of the above and more. Contact us today!
6 Ways To Cool Your House On A Budget
This time of the year – it is very hot out. It can be hard to decide whether you want to turn on the air conditioner, or if you’d rather save a bit of money on the energy bill. Outlined below are 6 ways to make sure your air conditioner is doing the most for you, and you are saving the money you can!
- Keep blinds closed throughout the day (Bonus: Get blackout blinds).
- If it is cooler at night – open up the windows and turn off the air conditioning.
- Close the doors of rooms that you are not using / using very little of.
- Use a fan to keep fresh air flowing throughout the house.
- Opt to grill outside! This keeps from a heat buildup in the kitchen.
- Switch out your AC filter – this will ensure maximum efficiency.
There you have it, 6 super easy ways to get the most out of natural cooling. These will never compare to the comfort of having an air conditioner running in your house – but hopefully it will keep you sane on those super-hot days. If you decide you are ready for an AC system install, or maybe you just need your yearly tune up, be sure to call AW Heating & Air Conditioning, we are here to help!
Lets Talk Preventative Maintenance
AC Units are expensive, there is no doubt about that – but there are ways to keep that big expense from hitting your bank account unexpectedly. Have you ever heard of preventative maintenance? Of course you have, but if you are like most people – you probably think about your vehicle when you hear preventative maintenance.
In a way, our AC units are much like our vehicles. They are expensive to purchase, they have motors, they have filters, and they both require preventative maintenance. Much like our vehicle, a little bit of preventative maintenance will go a long way in keeping your AC unit running efficiently and effectively. You wouldn’t drive your vehicle 100,000 miles without changing the oil would you? The same logic holds true for your AC system, preventative maintenance is a necessity.
By following our checklist below, you can prevent that big expense of a new AC unit!
Keeping Your AC Unit in Tip Top Shape
Increase the life & efficiency of your AC unit with these steps:
- Change The Air Filter (Or clean it if that is an option)
- Keep the AC unit free of leaves, grass, and pollen
- Turn off the humidifier during the cooling season
- Inspect your unit for proper coolant level, and adjust if necessary
- Inspect the coil and cabinet for damages, clean at least once a season
- Inspect control box, wiring, and connections – making any necessary repairs
- Inspect fan motor, and fan blades, lubricate as necessary
At AW Heating & Air Conditioning, we understand that not everybody has the time, or wants to perform the steps outlined above. We offer seasonal maintenance packages – have one of our certified maintenance technicians come out to your house today!