AC Troubles in Summer’s Heat

Southern states is no stranger to sweltering heat and skyrocketing summer temperatures. A reliable air conditioner is a sweet comfort in the midst of summer’s heat, but if your air conditioner begins to falter, don’t panic. Our team has compiled some quick tips to help you check up on your system and decide if professional help is needed. Don’t sweat it – our team has you covered!

AC Troubleshooting

  • Thermostat: be sure your thermostat is set to “cool” mode and is reading the proper temperature.
  • Drainage: check your system’s drain to be sure it is not clogged or otherwise full of water.
  • Refrigerant: can possibly dwindle low or leak, preventing your unit from keeping you cool. Call our trained technicians to recharge your system.
  • Sensor problems: the thermostat’s sensor can be misled by TVs, lamps, and other heat radiating appliances in close proximity.
  • Dirty filter: prevents your unit from circulating air, decreasing efficiency and cool air supplied to your home.

If you suspect any of these issues with your air conditioning system, or you are unsure how to remedy the problem, utilize our trained technicians to expertly service your unit. We are happy to help with your AC and heating questions – call extreme at one of our locations for a free quote!

Servicing Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide, often referred to by its chemical name CO, has been dubbed the ‘silent killer.’ It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, making it nearly impossible to detect without using gas sensing technology. Nearly 500 people in the U.S. die each year from CO poisoning and another 10,000 require medical treatment. Fortunately, installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors is simple and inexpensive.

CO detectors are available in several types. Biomimetic detectors use biotechnology to detect and alert to high levels of CO. Just as blood darkens when it is exposed to CO, biomimetic sensors use metal salts and other compounds that darken proportionately to the level of CO it is exposed to. This can be observed directly or with photodiodes that trigger an alarm if the level of CO is unsafely high. These sensors have approximately a 6 year lifespan and are preferred in hospitals, hotels, and apartments.

Electrochemical detectors are a type of fuel cell that use the presence of CO to produce an electric current that triggers an alarm. If enough CO is present to trigger a strong enough current, unsafe levels of CO have been detected and an alarm is sounded. These are the preferred sensors in the USA and have approximately a 5 year life span. What adds to their appeal is that they are highly affordable, usually costing $15-$45! 

Carbon monoxide detectors are an affordable appliance that can be the difference between a mere fright and tragedy. It is recommended to test your CO detector at the start of every season. For professional carbon monoxide detector maintenance and service, call extreme at one of our locations.

Saving With Your Thermostat

While thermostats are only a small part of a heating and cooling system, they can provide great savings if utilized correctly. Monitoring your thermostat can be key in helping you reduce your monthly utility bill by approximately 20%.

Thermostats, especially programmable thermostats, allow you to take control of your heating and cooling to keep you comfortable when you need it most. Do you work a varied schedule, or regularly on weekdays? Will you be gone for a few hours to run some errands? No problem – with a programmable thermostat, you can adjust your heating and cooling schedule to save energy when your house is empty. In the age of technology, you can even control it with an app when you are away from home!

You can also save on utilities by dialing the temperature up a few degrees in the summer (around 78) and down a few degrees in the winter (around 68). These small adjustments can help you save bundles without sacrificing your comfort. 

Call extreme at one of our locations to discuss your energy saving options. As Southern states’s HVAC experts, our experience makes us the top choice for staying comfortable in our fussy Southern climate. Start with a free quote to get your HVAC project under way!

Using Space Heaters

Do you have space heaters in your home? These quick heating fixes offer lots of advantages, but as with anything, they come with downsides as well. Here we offer a few tips on space heater use to help you stay warm this fall and winter.

The bottom line is that space heaters are not as efficient as whole home heating systems. If you were to stop using your whole home heating system and use only space heaters, your home would not be as warm and you would still be using quite a bit of electricity. However, when space heaters are used to spot heat certain areas that your whole home system can never seem to get, this is where space heaters can save you money: instead of cranking up the heating in your whole house to heat one spot, that spot can be heated with a space heater.

Space heaters also come with an increased burn hazard. When in use, all objects (including people and pets) should be kept at least 3 feet away from the face of the heater. The fire danger from space heaters is very real, so use these appliances carefully.

Are space heaters cost-efficient?

Using space heaters in your home can help with heating efficiency by supplementing your whole home heating system. Using a space heater that is up to modern energy standards and only draws an appropriate amount of wattage can indeed help save money on your electric bills. For help with heating efficiency and saving money this fall and winter, call extreme at one of our locations.

Your Furnace and the 92% Rule

The U.S. Department of Energy has recently pushed for an increase in furnace efficiency by proposing a uniform 92% level of efficiency in non-weatherized gas furnaces. To help furnace owners understand how their systems may be affected, we dive into the details of what an energy efficiency increase could mean.

Heating is the largest utility expense for Americans, so it is clear why the DOE is aiming improve efficiency and reduce emissions in this important area. Previously, the energy efficiency standard for furnaces ranged from 80% to 90% in different regions of the country. Now, the DOE is proposing a uniform increase to 92% efficiency for non-weatherized gas furnaces in hopes of reducing wasted fuel and harmful emissions.

How Does This Affect My System?

If enacted, the efficiency increase would not require furnace owners to involuntarily replace their existing furnaces. The increase rather means that new systems must meet these requirements. While a 92% increase in efficiency will indeed be beneficial for the environment, the costs of the increase may outweigh the benefits. The energy savings from new systems may never pay for the cost of the system itself. Additionally, many Americans may struggle to afford these new systems, pushing them to continue using poorly maintained or unsafe systems.

What are your thoughts on increasing efficiency standards for furnaces? Final word on the proposed increase should come in December 2015. If you need heating or cooling service in the meantime, call extreme at one of our locations.

Transitioning to Fall Heating

While we have enjoyed summer’s sunshine and fun, the season will soon come to a close and fall will be upon us. This means frosty nights and cool mornings, and having your heater in good condition is key to enjoying these peaceful perks of fall. Here we have detailed a few basic tips to help you seamlessly transition into heating your home this fall and staying warm all winter long.

Heater Maintenance Tips

  1. Check the filter in your heating system. A clogged or dirty filter impairs air flow and reduces the efficiency of your heater.
  2. Clear air vents of boxes, furniture, and other barriers. This will help your heater do its job without working overtime to compensate for restricted access to your home.
  3. Test your carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide gas can build up from burning fuel in appliances and vehicles. About 170 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, especially since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and invisible.
  4. Have your heater professionally inspected. Many heating maintenance applications are critical to the success of your system, but should only be serviced by a licensed technician.

The professionals at Extreme Residential are here to keep your systems running and your home comfortable year round. call extreme at one of our locations to prepare your heater for this upcoming fall!

Are you a fan of fans?

If you aren’t a fan of using fans, you should be—that is, if you like being comfortable in the summer while saving money at the same time. Just about any type of fan you can think of will help your air conditioner work more efficiently. That includes ceiling fans, box fans, oscillating desk fans and especially the fan in your central air system.

You may be thinking that fans use electricity, so how could that save money? The reason is that they use a lot less than your air conditioner’s cooling unit. Since the unit will run less when the cool air inside is constantly circulated, the net effect is a lower energy bill. Moving air also makes you feel cooler, which means you may be able to get away with setting the thermostat a little higher.

Another tip: If you are running your system’s fan and still not feeling good airflow, this could be pointing to a problem with your air filtration. When your filters are dirty, they can actually restrict airflow, which will make your fan work harder without getting you much cooler. Check the filter and, if necessary, clean it or replace it. You’ll be feeling the cool breeze in no time.

Start reducing your biggest energy expense right now

In warm southern climates, central air conditioning is one of your home’s biggest expenses. Not only are air conditioning units big-ticket items to install, but they also take the biggest bite out of your energy budget—as much as 43 percent! The equipment you choose and the way you use it can either cost or save you a bundle over the years.

Your air conditioner works a lot more efficiently when you are paying attention to the heat coming into your home in the first place. You can help it out by thinking about ways to reduce and deflect this heat. For example:

  • Make sure that your windows are tight with no leaks, and always keep them shut in hot weather. Wherever possible, create some internal shading with closable curtains or drapes. This quick solution will provide at least some relief from the scorching daytime sun, especially if you have older windows.
  • Shade really does make a difference! Longer term, adding trees to shade your windows will prevent some direct heat from entering your home, making it easier for your system to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Remember that a lot of you appliances (oven, dishwasher, laundry machines, etc.) give off heat! As much as possible, avoid running them during the heat of the day, when they will only make your air conditioner work harder.

There are, of course, a lot of other solutions that can help: insulation, dehumidification and programmable thermostats are just a few. Extreme Residential can help you learn about what suits your home the best. But you can have a more efficient air conditioner starting today by thinking about ways to reduce its workload.

Two surprising thermostat tips that will save you money in the hot summer

Thermostat tips to help save you money

If you live in the south, as many as 2 out of every 5 dollars you spend on energy will be to keep your house cool in the long, hot summer season. Anything you can do to reduce such a big chunk of your energy use will end up saving money, especially if you do it consistently. Here are a couple of tips that may surprise you:

  1. Keep your thermostat set higher
    OK, there’s nothing surprising about the idea that a higher setting means lower costs. But what might be surprising is just how much difference it makes. Did you know that for each degree you set your thermostat below 78, your system is using about 4% more energy? That means setting it at 72 ends up using 20-25% more energy than setting it at 78. Over time, that can be a lot of cash.
  1. Keep your system’s fan on
    What may be more surprising is that keeping your fan setting to “on” instead of “auto” will actually make your system run more efficiently, even though it will be running constantly. That’s because the fan takes less energy to use than the cooling unit, so the increased circulation of the existing cool air uses less overall energy. It also tends to make it feel a little cooler, which means you may be able to get by with a temperature that’s a degree or two higher while still feeling just as cool and comfortable.

Even if it’s a very simple one, your thermostat is a critical way you can control your cooling costs—one that you can take advantage of right away.

HVAC Humidifying: Increase Comfort, Decrease Utility Bills

We often associate humidifiers as being used when someone is ill, but did you know using whole-home humidifiers as part of your HVAC system can also help you better control your indoor comfort and assist in lowering your utility bills? Controlling the humidity in your home adds another dimension of customization to your home comfort so you can tailor your air to your precise needs. Here we walk through the advantages of humidifying equipment in your home HVAC system to help lower your utility bills and increase your comfort.

If you have spent time near the Gulf or in a humid region of the country, you know firsthand how moisture in the air can make warm temperatures feel hotter and cool temperatures feel colder. This is the same concept utilized in home humidifying systems: by adding an element of humidity in your home, you are able to make your heater feel warmer or your AC feel cooler without adjusting the temperature. This allows you to save money by not setting your thermostat to extreme temperatures to make your home feel warm or cool.

Our team of licensed HVAC technicians is on call to help you make the most out of your home comfort system without breaking the bank. call extreme at one of our locations