A professional duct cleaning is a good way to keep indoor air from being contaminated with mold, dust, and small inhalable particles. HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems sometimes require care that homeowners cannot provide, which is why hiring a formally trained professional is necessary. While the visible presence of dirt and excessive dust is a good sign that it is time for maintenance, there are many parts of a heating and cooling system that are hidden from the casual glance. Only a professional should be trusted to open the access doors and make any necessary holes to reach inside when there are no doors.
An inspection is typically performed first, because the presence of unsafe materials, like asbestos, often means that a special contractor will have to come and take over the task. The ducts are not the only part of the heating and cooling system that will need to be inspected and tended to. In order to ensure that everything continues working properly, drain pans, humidifiers, fans and coils also need to be thoroughly checked.
The quality of the air inside the home can be negatively impacted by dirty ducts. This is why duct cleaning involves brushing and vacuuming inside the ventilation system, as well as cleaning vents and furnaces. Usually, high efficiency particle air equipment is used in this process to prevent carpets or other vents from being contaminated with the debris that is removed from the ducts. Upon completion of the job, a deodorizer is often used to discourage any odors that may be lingering. Although it does not need to be done often, taking the time to clean an HVAC system can contribute greatly to its lifespan.
Everyone is interested in finding ways to lower their electric bill. Especially in times of economic recession, families are looking to save money in all manner of ways. Many folks tend to consider their only variable expenditures to be food and entertainment. Going along with this logic, they may view their utilities as relatively fixed or inelastic. However, there is another way one can reduce monthly overhead expenses.
By being highly conscious of power usage, it is possible to greatly decrease one’s consumption of electricity. There are a number of tips, tricks, and best practices which lead toward much more efficient usages of power. Examples include unplugging appliances that are passively sucking power, air-drying clothes, and employing more curtains and fans to assist in cooling.
If one is serious about energy savings and willing to invest some money, there are a number of more drastic options available. Choosing to re-insulate all exposed areas in a large house will not be cheap, but will result in a lower electric bill for many years.
Instead of decreasing how much energy the home consumes, there is of course, the option to partially change how one receives their power. By adding a photovoltaic solar panel to the roof, the house can create some of its own “off the grid” power supply. While not a cheap option by many standards, the panels pay for themselves after a matter of time. It should also be noted that there are a growing number of government programs that help potential buyers incur the upfront cost because of the sustainability-related benefits.
There are a lot of ways to increase energy efficiency in a home. Some methods are more comprehensive than others, but all of them can have an impact. Remodeling to include skylights can save money on lighting year round. Appliances are now being made that are more proficient with their electricity use. Home improvement loans can be used to finance the retrofits and additions that can improve how energy is being used in a house. However, not every method of becoming more efficient is expensive. Getting low flow fixtures or replacing light bulbs can do a lot to decrease the cost of utility bills. Cutting down on energy use does not have to mean living a less comfortable life. When a home becomes efficient, that means it is performing all the same tasks as before, but using less electricity to do it. Conservation of energy involves going without or making an effort to reduce usage, rather than making the building efficacious.
Another often overlooked way to cut down on heating and cooling costs while placing less stress on HVAC systems is upgrading insulation. Insulation is what prevents warm air from escaping during the winter, and keeps cool air in during the summer. Replacing or repairing insulation, paired with using caulk to seal cracks can have a large impact on electricity bills over time. Choosing to replace single pane windows with those that have double panes and low emissivity coatings can work in tandem with the improved insulation.
Energy efficiency is a cost effective approach to reducing pollution, emissions, and unnecessarily wasted electricity. It is a home improvement project that has a positive result for one’s wallet and the environment.
Having good insulation in a house is both a matter of being fiscally wise, and a matter of human comfort. Homes lacking in this department cause their owners to overspend on utility bills each and every month. By filling the empty spaces in walls, ceilings, and floors with the proper material, one can aid their home’s ability to stay cool in the hottest months, while staying warmer during the coldest months. This means that air conditioning units and heating systems don’t have to work as hard—resulting in a reduction in utility bills.
Homes with proper insulation are much more comfortable. Temperature control is a major part of this, by creating a less drafty living environment. Another aspect of increased livability is the dryness factor. Many homes have internal condensation, which can result in humid, muggy, and unbearably sticky conditions. Beyond discomfort, this can lead to worse problems such as black mold, a known lung irritant.
A third benefit provided from this renovation is a reduction in noise pollution. Whether it is noise from traffic, industry, or the bustle of a city—sound travels in vibrations and is thwarted by the fibrous layers within the wall. Also, noises within a well insulated house tend not to travel as far, rendering the home a quieter, more peaceful place to live.
Lastly, the homeowner can take a sense of pride in the fact that they are doing their part in reducing their carbon footprint. By requiring less power inputs, homeowners demand less from power facilities, many of which are coal-fired plants. Such plants burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.
A lighting upgrade can include a switch to energy efficient bulbs, fixtures, or both. In a commercial building, illumination is typically the greatest expense among utility cost components, accounting for approximately 35 percent of energy consumption. In residential settings, lighting makes up approximately 13 percent of the power bill.
Energy efficient fixtures, or energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs used in traditional fixtures, can reduce electricity consumption by 75 percent in residential use and more in commercial applications, translating to utility bill savings for both home and business owners.
The most reliable indicator that a bulb or fixture conforms to energy efficiency standards developed by the U.S. Department of Energy is to look for the government-backed Energy Star logo. As more builders have begun to outfit new homes with energy efficient illumination, consumers now have the choice of numerous Energy Star endorsed fixtures from a variety of manufacturers. Some well-known brands include Westinghouse, Maxlite and Sea Gull. Fixtures are available for every room or purpose. Among the selection are chandeliers, wall sconces, table lamps and ceiling fixtures, along with other popular designs. Consumers no longer need to sacrifice style for environmental consciousness.
In 2002, the Lighting Research Center conducted a study, inviting 6,000 people to visit a showcase home in Saratoga Springs, NY, with the objective to collect their opinion on energy efficient illumination. The study found that nearly 80 percent of those surveyed considered the illumination above average and flattering, while more than 90 percent concluded the illumination was comfortable, warm and desirable for their own homes.
A lighting upgrade is a cost-effective way to make a tremendous positive impact on the environment while enjoying a warm ambiance and reducing electricity consumption at the same time.
Whether it is for serious repairs and remodeling or elective additions, a home improvement loan is a good way to increase the value of one’s property. These loans are often used to increase the energy efficiency of a building. Window replacement, upgrading insulation, and purchasing more efficient appliances can be expensive endeavors, depending on the size of the house. Not every improvement has to be pricey. Simply replacing light bulbs and fixtures with the more efficient fluorescent alternatives or getting a low emission coating for windows are affordable options. Changes like any of these can result in future savings, especially in the form of utility bills.
There are many different types of loans and ways to obtain them. Some place limitations on how the money can be spent. Often, the federal government backs those that have restrictions on how the money is used. Money from HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that a property is improved with the funds provided. Someone looking to refinance can go through a mortgage broker. Sometimes a home improvement loan uses home equity or line of credit financing. Using equity is like taking out a first or second mortgage on a house. When the line of credit option is chosen a bank allows a homeowner access to a predetermined amount of money, much like a credit card. Line of credit, for example, tends to have a monthly interest rate.
It is important to do some extensive research before committing to any type of loan. Paying attention to interest rates is crucial, because just like any loan, this money is borrowed and will need to be paid back.
An HVAC upgrade from standard to high efficiency heating and cooling systems can save home and business owners hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars annually in operating cost. In addition, improvements in energy efficiency reduce greenhouse gases and directly affect the environment in a positive way.
When considering upgrades to a commercial or residential heating and cooling system, it is advisable to overhaul all the system components at the same time. In many cases, furnaces, air conditioning units and ducts work interdependently and draw from each other’s strengths or weaknesses. To optimize the heating and cooling load of a building, it pays to ensure that all components are equally up to date.
Consumers should plan on the work crew being present in the home or business for two or more days, depending on the complexity of the project. Contractors will need access to heating and cooling units, as well as air ducts, inside and outside the building.
The cost of acquiring and installing an energy efficient heating and cooling system depends on several factors. Aside from purchasing new ducts, an air conditioner or chiller, furnace or boiler, consumers must consider labor cost. The hourly rate charged by different contractors varies widely, and consumers are encouraged to gather several bids prior to committing to a candidate. If asbestos removal is necessary, the cost of the project can further increase.
Many states offer access to government programs and tax incentives that can help reduce the initial cost of an HVAC upgrade. Subsequent years of saving on energy cost will further help pay for the project. To get an idea how much to expect in savings, consumers can access a useful calculating tool at the HVACOPCOST website.
There is no better time to consider an energy retrofit than now.
For years, the United States has maintained its status as the worldwide forerunner in energy consumption. And just recently, Forbes reported that the country has assumed a new leadership role in also surpassing China as the most energy wasteful country in the world.
Businesses big and small, as well as individual homeowners, can become a part of the solution to the problem by conducting an energy retrofit at their residence or commercial facility. Not only would utility saving measures benefit the environment, they could also positively affect the wallets of home and business owners in the long run.
Many states offer incentive programs sponsored by federal government grants to help finance whole-building overhauls or conversions to solar power. Special loans may also be available, along with rebate offers. In addition, the average homeowner can expect a $350 reduction in utility bills annually by optimizing residential sustainability.
The retrofitting process usually begins with a thorough inspection of the client’s building. The auditor will examine existing electrical systems, plumbing provisions, lighting fixtures and windows. He or she will pay special attention to heating and cooling systems, as well as ducts and insulation, which are traditionally the main sources of energy consumption and loss.
The auditor will present his findings to the client in the form of a detailed report, followed by in-depth discussion about possible solutions to any problems that may exist. From there, contractors are ready to begin repairs and refurbishments approved by the client.
In addition to creating a more environmentally friendly business or home, while also reducing utility cost, a deep retrofit can have immediate health benefits by improving comfort and air quality in the residence or office.
Simply put, the term building operations performance refers to a structure’s energy consumption and efficiency. Several methods exist to measure a facility’s consumption of energy, the most comprehensive and reliable of which is a commercial energy audit because it takes into consideration all aspects that may influence a building’s energy efficiency. In addition, a professional evaluation concludes in the identification of possible solutions designed to increase a facility’s sustainability.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), facilities are singlehandedly responsible for the consumption of more than 60 percent of the nation’s energy use. Consequently, the agency advocates the improvement of building operations performance in commercial facilities, arguing that the cumulative effort of going green in business can have an enormously positive impact on the environment.
What’s in it for the business owner? Studies show that the most energy efficient facilities use up to 40 percent less energy than their more wasteful counterparts, which translates into relative utility cost savings of as much as 40 percent. Just as a homeowner may install energy efficient windows and light bulbs to reduce residential electricity cost, so a commercial facility can benefit from overhauling electrical systems and updating HVAC composites. Federal, state and municipal financial incentives further encourage business owners to optimize their facility’s energy efficiency and convert to renewable energy sources. Rebate programs, tax breaks and financial assistance are also available to help business owner implement environmentally friendly solutions. The U.S. Department of Energy operates a website called DSIRE that features a database of state incentives.
Facilities that achieve a ranking in the top 25 percent of the government’s Energy Performance Rating System (EPR) are awarded with the Energy Star designation.
Business owners who wish to conduct a commercial energy audit need a good fair amount of patience, time, and eventually, list of reputable contractors. True? Not necessarily.
Energy efficiency does not have to come at the cost of business disruption. Companies like Soluxe Energy Solutions are proficient in handling the project from start to finish, beginning with the initial building analysis and ending with complete client satisfaction – all with minimal interruption to business operations.
It is true that the process of a commercial energy audit involves an in-depth evaluation of the building in question. The examiner – trained to identify efficiency problems and analyze solutions – will ask many questions. He will measure, take photos and evaluate the client’s utility usage. He will speak with interested parties as well as building occupants, maintenance personnel and vendors. He will most likely ask for documents such as copies of utility bills and building plans. He may even need a guide to conduct a walk-through (and later a thorough inspection) of the premises. But once he has gathered the information he needs to help the client’s business become more efficient, he is on his own.
From there, it may take the examiner some time to put his assessments into writing, conduct research, draw conclusions, and generate a thorough report for the client. A personal presentation by the examiner will help the client and interested parties understand suggested solutions and recommended measures.
Companies like Soluxe specialize in delivering a full-package deal. Client-approved solutions to be implemented will be coordinated and carried out by Soluxe-approved contractors. From the initial audit to project completion, Soluxe handles all aspects of helping the client become energy efficient.