Energy Saving Tips
At Ranck, we know how expensive heating and cooling your home can be. In many cases, they account for up to 70% of your utility bills! While heating and cooling can be expensive, there are many things you can do to reduce energy bills that don’t require the service of a contractor.
Below are our top home energy saving tips:
Modify the temperature per season based on your family’s needs. If you are not home as much in the summer, you can set your thermostat for a higher degree, thus, causing your air conditioner to not run as frequently. The same applies to your furnace, heat pump or boiler in the winter. Changing the temperature by only 1 or 2 degrees can make a dramatic change to reduce energy bills.
Invest in a programmable thermostat so your temperatures fluctuate automatically. You can set your thermostat to be higher or lower for your home during the day, depending on the season, so you aren’t heating or cooling an empty home.
As your incandescent light bulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent ones. These bulbs last longer and save energy. If you MUST use an incandescent bulb, use a lower wattage one.
Decrease the temperature on your water heater from the standard 140 degrees to 120 degrees. This will not only save you money on your monthly utility bills but could also prolong the life of the water heater since it is not working as hard.
Check to make sure the weather stripping on exterior doors is in good shape and actually seals. Also check your windows to make sure they seal properly. Keeping your windows locked also helps to insure that they are closed and sealed.
Make sure you change the filter in your furnace or heat pump. Doing so prevents the machine from having to work harder to circulate air. This prolongs the life of your equipment, and improves your indoor air quality. Lack of regular filter changes and maintenance is the Number 1 cause of system breakdowns and costly repair bills.
Have your Air Conditioning and Heating system tuned-up for the season, so that you are running at peak efficiency. Operating at peak efficiency will lower energy bills because the system doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.
Flip the fan switch on your thermostat into the “fan on” mode when cooling the house. This process will ensure that air is always being stirred to prevent hot and cold pockets from forming.
Set air vents on the second floor to receive approximately 75 percent of the conditioned air. This will help even out the temperatures from the first to the second floor of the home.
Keep the shades and curtains drawn to reduce the radiant heat of the sun.
Install awnings or plant trees that will shade southern facing windows. This keeps the hottest rays of the sun from shining directly into the house during the summer.
Install an attic fan to help ventilate some of the hot air out of the attic in the summer. Attics can reach temperatures of 140 – 150 degrees and this build of warm air can make the upstairs of a home warmer than it needs to be. This makes the air conditioner work harder to do its job. It costs you more to cool your home and the life of the system can be decreased.
Run a dehumidifier in the basement if the basement is humid. A damp basement can add moisture to the whole house in the summer. A dehumidifier in the basement will help to reduce the humidity levels in the home, making it more comfortable throughout the hot summer months.
Clear or cut back shrubs and bushes from the outdoor unit. The sides of the unit require at least 12-18 inches of clearance for proper performance. In addition, keep fallen leaves, grass clippings, foliage and other dirt and debris away from your outdoor unit. And keep the a/c coils clean, following manufacturers’ instructions.
All of these home energy saving tips will help lower energy bills, while keeping your family comfortable all year long. If you’d like to learn more ways to save energy, please contact us for a Free Home Energy Assessment.
Reduce Your Heating Bill This Winter
Winter can get expensive quickly. Keeping your family warm and cozy often comes with a high price tag. Did you know that on average heating your home accounts for 45% of your energy bills?
Becoming energy efficient doesn’t have to be costly. That’s why we’re here to help with a few tricks of the trade that drive energy costs down and work to save you money without sacrificing warmth.
Cold glass on your windows can quickly turn warm air cold, not to mention invisible cracks that may be helping your heat escape. One easy way to reduce heat loss is by applying shrink wrap/window film to your windows. Plus, you can keep the film up all year long as it also helps to keep your home cool in the summertime. It’s easy to apply and remove.
Ceiling fans are great at keeping us cool in the summer, but did you know they could also keep us warm in the winter? Most ceiling fans include a switch to rotate blades in reverse during the winter, which pushes warm air down to the floor. Set the fan to turn counter-clockwise in the winter and clockwise in the summer. Don’t forget to turn your fan off when you leave the room, as it will use up energy when you are not there to reap the benefits.
Visit your local home improvement store for easy to install door sweeps. Cool air is likely seeping through your entryways and this quick fix can truly make a difference. Before you purchase, check with your utility company to see if they offer them for free to help their customers save energy.
Shut those curtains! If you don’t like the idea of shrink wrapping your windows, this simple fix can also help to keep warm air away from your windows. Just remember to close your blinds/curtains at night and try keeping them open when the sun is able to stream in for additional warmth.
When you’re sitting still you often feel much colder than when you’re busy. Try doing some simple things around the house to manufacture your own heat for free! Give your home a good cleaning, cook a warm meal or take a hot shower. These are simple ways to get moving and warm up without touching that thermostat.
Adjust Thermostat at Night
With flannel sheets and comforters, we don’t need a lot of additional heat besides our own body temperature at night. Consider turning the thermostat down a few degrees before you dose off. By turning your thermostat down 10 degrees or so for eight hours at a time you can save 10 percent each year on your heating costs according to the US Department of Energy. Can’t be bothered to manually adjust your thermostat? Ask us about a programmable thermostat.
Get a Check-up
Another great way to make sure you’re getting your heating bill down as low as it can go is to schedule a check-up for your heating unit. A company like Ranck can provide the insight you need to determine if your system is running efficiently. Don’t forget to also check your heating system filters, since a dirty filter often leads to high heating costs.
Winter is not the time to let your feet go bare. Just putting on a pair of socks can instantly start to warm you up. Using things like blankets and sweaters instead of relying on your heating system can help drive costs down in no time.
Getting your heating bill down to a manageable cost is probably easier than you initially thought. With these simple steps, you’ll be able to enjoy a warm winter with money to spare.
Have a question about home heating – Just Call Ranck.
Benefits of a Water Conditioning System
Every home depends on a constant supply of water. Whether it’s to shower, wash our clothes, clean our dishes or quench our thirst. We use water like a tool, but rarely do we stop to think that there may be ways to make that tool more efficient.
Roughly 85 percent of homes in the U.S. depend on a hard water supply, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Water is very good at holding things, either by dissolving them or suspending them. While water is in the ground it picks up minerals like calcium and magnesium, which make our water hard.
Hard water can make our water supply a less effective tool in the home, causing damage as well as other household nuisances. By investing in a water softener you can eliminate many of the issues caused by hard water.
How Does A Water Softener Work?
A water softener is an appliance that attaches to your home’s water supply system. A water softener replaces those hard minerals with something else, in most cases sodium, which reduces the amount of hard water flowing through your pipes.
Salt-Free vs. Salt-Based Water Softeners
If adding sodium into your water supply is a risk health-wise for your loved ones, there is another option. Salt-free systems are often called “water conditioners.” They do not require salt or hard chemicals to run. Instead, they alter the chemical structure of water minerals through the descaling process. The main concern with salt-free systems is that they are not as effective in places where water sits, like in your water heater, whereas salt-based systems are.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about water softeners as well as your options, let’s review the many benefits of installing a water softener.
Less Soap Scum
Cleaning isn’t easy when forced to use hard water. Soaps and detergents lose their effectiveness by combining with the minerals in your water to form coagulated soap curd that gets left behind after washing. This is what leaves behind white spots, streaks, and residue on your dishes, tubs, showers, and faucets. It also dulls your hair and clothing by leaving behind icky residue.
By installing a water softener you’ll actually be able to use less soap as it increases in effectiveness. Your hair, skin, and clothes will feel softer and look brighter. Your dishes, sinks, and tubs will be shiny and clean.
Longer Living Appliances & Plumbing
The calcium and magnesium in hard water can build up over time inside of your appliances and your plumbing system. This buildup works to decrease efficiency, as well as shorten the lifespan of both your plumbing and appliances like your washing machine, water heater and even your coffee machine.
Installing a new appliance may not seem like the way to save energy, but a water softener will reduce the energy spend throughout your home. Soft water heats faster than hard water, increasing the efficiency of your water heater, which in turn uses less energy. It also increases the lifespan of your appliances, which conserves raw materials and the energy used in manufacturing. Over time water softeners have become even more efficient and are able to use up to 75% less salt than original models. This makes water softeners a great option not just for your wallet but for the environment too.
Bonus: Better Tasting Food & Water
Not only can a water softener save you money, time, and energy, it can also make your meals taste even better. By removing the hard minerals from your water, you’ll allow the natural flavor of food to come out, making your meal even better.
Contact your local plumber here at Ranck to start improving your home’s water supply today!
How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing
When the temperature drops the pipes in our homes become vulnerable to freezing, which ultimately prevents water flow throughout the home. That alone is a concern, but the larger issue happens when a frozen pipe bursts. Keep in mind, a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing serious damage to your home.
Many people mistakenly believe frozen pipes only occur in climates with extremely cold temperatures. While regions like that do have an increased risk, frozen pipes can happen here in Central Pennsylvania. Here’s why.
Pipes freeze due to a combination of factors:
- A quick drop in temperature
- An extended period of extreme cold temperatures
- Poor insulation around your pipes
- The thermostat may be set too low
You can’t prevent the temperature from dropping, but there are steps you can take now to reduce the likelihood of an in-home disaster this winter.
- Disconnect outside garden hoses.
- Beware of wind. Sustained wind can be the biggest problem as it penetrates through the insulation and exposes cracks.
- Inspect areas near your pipes and caulk any holes or cracks. This will keep cold air from entering your home.
- Check the insulation around the pipes in areas of your home that tend to get colder than others. This includes your attic, basement, crawl spaces and even your garage. If the insulation is lacking, add to it.
- Open the doors under the kitchen sink and vanities to allow room temperature heat to warm the pipes. This is especially helpful at night when the water is not being used.
- Wrap easily accessible pipes with approved heat tape, carefully following the provided safety warnings.
- Allow your faucet to drip, just slightly. This trick helps to alleviate pressure should pipes freeze, and help prevent an actual pipe burst.
Tips if you travel:
If you’re among the many snowbirds who head south for the winter, you need to take special precautions to ensure your home is safe while you’re away.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain your pipes by opening faucets and flushing toilets.
- Buy a sensor online that will call you if the temperature in a room goes below 45 – 50 degrees. Some alarm companies also have this type of warning system.
- Keep your heat at 68 degrees to provide enough heat to keep the pipes in your home warm, which helps to prevent any water left in your pipes from freezing.
- Have a neighbor check your home at least twice a week. A house can freeze up in a couple of days when the temperature stays in the teens.
If your pipes do freeze, make sure your faucets remain open as you apply heat to the frozen area using a safe device such as a heating pad or hair dryer. If this does not remedy the situation or if you can’t find the frozen area, just call Ranck.
Benefits of a Whole-House Humidifier
With cooler winter weather comes dry air. As the temperatures start to dive you may consider purchasing a humidifier to help keep your family healthy and comfortable throughout the winter season. A whole-house humidifier helps put moisture back into the air of your home. Read on to learn why a whole-house humidifier may be just what your family needs.
What is Home Humidification?
Home humidification is the process of artificially regulating and adding moisture to the air in your home. Home humidity can provide many benefits to your home, health, and comfort. An optimal humidity level for your home is between 30 to 50 percent.
What are the Effects of Dry Air?
Low humidity can lead to many upper respiratory problems, such as colds, flu, viruses, and increased allergy & asthma symptoms. It can also cause sore throats, itchy eyes, dry skin, bloody noses, chapped lips, painful static shock and even an increase in snoring.
Dry air can also lead to damage in your home. It can cause wooden musical instruments, antique furniture, molding and hardwood floors to crack. It can even damage your electronics with static electric charges.
Last but not least, it can lead to high-energy bills. Dry air tends to feel colder so you set your thermostat higher to reach the same comfort level as humidified air. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), for every degree you lower your thermostat you could save an additional four percent on your heating bill.
What is a Whole-House Humidifier?
A whole-house humidifier delivers the right amount of moisture throughout your home, working to reduce the effects of dry air. Installed directly to your home heating system, a whole-house unit integrates with the blower system on your HVAC system and draws water from your water supply. You can easily have a humidifier installed when replacing your heating and cooling system or have a humidifier fitted to your current unit. Depending on the humidifier model and size of your home, you can expect to use 1.5 to 12 gallons of water per day while your system is operating.
Why Select a Whole-House Humidifier Over a Portable Humidifier?
Too much humidity in a home can be as much of an issue as too little. Many portable humidifiers do not include regulators to stop the humidification process, which can lead to mold, mildew, and dust mites. With a whole-house unit, relative humidity will be consistently monitored making sure the correct amount of moisture is applied to your home.
Compared with portable units, whole-house humidifiers require very little maintenance. They do not require refills as they draw directly from your home water supply. Portable humidifiers need to be filled almost daily. Many portable units have removable tanks, but some units require you to bring water to them.
Whole-house humidifiers require attention only one to two times per year. This includes a cleaning after the heating season to rid the unit of any mineral deposits from your local water supply. Portable units require frequent cleanings. They need to be emptied and filled with fresh (preferably distilled or demineralized) water and the filter needs to be changed often. If not cleaned thoroughly, portable units can become playgrounds for bacteria, mold, and germs.
Whole-house humidifiers are also virtually soundless, creating a peaceful home humidification process. Whereas, portable humidifiers tend to be quite noisy, often as loud as a window air conditioning unit.
You may be thinking, where’s the catch? Well, there is none! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that a whole-house humidifier is relatively inexpensive. In addition, they only cost pennies to operate each year. A portable unit may have relatively low initial costs but once you factor in maintenance and the size of your home you are looking at costs well above the price of a whole-house humidifier.
Have a question about whole-house humidification – Just Call Ranck