5 Ways to Use Less Energy This Summer

5 Ways to Use Less Energy This Summer

As the summer temperatures climb in Saraland, Alabama, most homeowners’ energy bills follow suit. If you make a few smart changes to your household habits, however, you can reduce your energy consumption and keep utility bills low. From using a smart thermostat to replacing HVAC filters, discover five ways to use less energy this summer.

Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

Whether you tend to spend summers at the pool, on the ball field, or at the shore, it’s tough to juggle family activities and your HVAC system. If you rely on a manual thermostat or a low-tech programmable model, upgrading to a smart thermostat lets you maximize energy savings while giving you plenty of flexibility.

After installing a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, program your family’s typical schedule into the device as a baseline. When you’re home, you’ll want to set the thermostat to 78 degrees. When everyone is out for the day or asleep for the night, you’ll want to increase the temperature by 8 to 10 degrees, which can help you save 10 percent on your energy bill.

If you decide to stay at the pool longer than expected or if thunderstorms cancel that barbecue, there’s no need to worry about returning to an uncomfortable house. Use your smartphone to delay the air conditioner or turn it on early. If you plan an impromptu beach getaway, you can even set the thermostat to vacation mode from anywhere in the world.

Schedule an Air Conditioner Tuneup

Your HVAC system is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home, so you’ll want to make sure it runs as efficiently as possible, especially during the high-demand summer months. Since air conditioners tend to slow down and become more inefficient as time passes, it’s in your best interest to schedule preventive maintenance as early in the season as possible.

When you call the Air Specialty team for a tuneup, we’ll check fluid levels, test electrical wiring, and clean the indoor and outdoor units. We’ll also change the air filter to improve airflow and alert you to any problems on the horizons to maximize efficiency and to prevent unexpected breakdowns.

Maintain Comfortable Humidity Levels

Excess moisture in the air can make anyone feel hot and uncomfortable. When you’re relaxing at home, high humidity might prompt you to turn down the thermostat a few degrees, but this will only force your air conditioner to work harder and use more energy.

Rather than adjusting the temperature, get to the source of the problem instead. Our team recommends a whole-home dehumidifier such as the Performance DEHXX, which works seamlessly with your HVAC system. This device pulls moisture from the air, which helps your air conditioner run more efficiently while keeping you comfortable.

Improve Ventilation

Stale air isn’t uncommon in newer Saraland homes, especially at the height of summer. If stuffy air tempts you to throw open the windows and let in fresh air, however, think again.

Welcoming hot outdoor air into your home can cause your energy consumption to spike as your HVAC system works harder than ever. Instead, invest in an energy-recovery ventilator, which improves indoor air quality, keeps the indoor air fresh, and increases your air conditioner’s efficiency.

Turn On the Ceiling Fans

Investing in an energy-recovery ventilator can substantially reduce your energy consumption, but if you’re in the market for a simpler solution, you still have options. For instance, ceiling fans offer surprising cooling power during the summer months.

To make the most of ceiling fans, install one in the center of each room, and switch the direction to counterclockwise during the cooling season. Turn it on to enjoy the breeze and the windchill effect. Lower your HVAC system’s thermostat as much as 4 degrees and you’ll lower your energy consumption without noticing a difference in comfort. Make sure to keep ceiling fans running only when you’re in the room and want to cool down. When you leave the room for more than a few minutes, turn them off to save energy.

This summer, don’t let your air conditioning bills climb. Call the cooling pros at Air Specialty for more energy-efficient ways to stay cool: 251-545-3337.

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How to Get Your Home Ready Before You Take a Vacation

How to Get Your Home Ready Before You Take a Vacation

Making a few changes to your Saraland, Alabama, home before you take a vacation can help you prevent inconvenient problems and expensive repairs. Getting your home ready before you leave also gives you extra peace of mind so you can relax on your trip. Prepare your home before a vacation by unplugging appliances, turning off the water, adjusting your thermostat, and making your home look occupied.

Unplugging Your Appliances

Many electronics and appliances, like TVs, lamps, coffee pots, microwaves, and computers, use a small amount of power even when they’re turned off. You can save energy when you’re on vacation by unplugging unnecessary devices or turning surge protectors off. This also protects the appliances that don’t have surge protectors from fires caused by power surges while you’re gone. If your HVAC system doesn’t have a surge protector, you should have one installed by an HVAC professional.

Remember to unplug your refrigerator for longer trips as well since refrigerators use more energy than most other appliances. Remove perishable food before you unplug the fridge. This is also a good time to clean the inside of your refrigerator. Prop the fridge and freezer doors open to prevent mold. If you’re only leaving for a few days, you can still save energy by turning up the temperatures in your freezer and fridge.

Turning Off Your Water

A leak while you’re away could flood your basement or ruin your kitchen or bathroom. Even a small drip at a faucet or pipe could encourage damaging mold growth. Before you start your vacation, turn off your water by closing the valve on your home’s main supply line. That way, your outside sprinklers can still keep plants healthy.

You should also turn off your water heater’s circuit breaker or gas valve. Otherwise, it will keep heating the water in the tank until you get back. When you get back from your vacation, run the hot water tap for a while to get rid of the water sitting in the tank before you turn the circuit breaker or the gas valve back on. This can also raise the water level of the tank to protect it from heat damage.

Adjusting Your Thermostat

Before you leave, set your thermostat to a temperature that’s close to the weather outside your home to save energy. Keeping your HVAC system on protects your plants and furniture and helps you maintain your home’s indoor air quality. If you have pets, make sure the indoor temperature isn’t too warm or cold or keep them at a boarding facility during your vacation.

A programmable thermostat can return your home to a more comfortable temperature even before you get back. You can control some models from across the country with a smartphone or computer. Some also measure your home’s humidity and your HVAC system’s airflow and then tell you about potential problems.

Making Your Home Look Occupied

To give your home a lived-in look before you leave, trim your grass and hedges and rake any leaves. Have your mail forwarded or ask a neighbor to check it, take out your trash, and keep your lawn green with automatic sprinklers.

Also, you should close your blinds or curtains for privacy and energy savings. Park your car in your garage if you have one. You can ask a neighbor to create some activity at your house by parking in the driveway occasionally or checking on pets. Leave an outdoor light on an automatic timer or motion detector and turn out all the indoor lights to save energy before you leave. If you have a swimming pool, you should use a timer for your pool pump to keep it from operating around the clock.

Air Specialty is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 20 years of experience. We can inspect your HVAC system before you start your vacation to make sure that you return to a comfortable home, and we install, maintain, and repair a variety of HVAC systems. Call us anytime at 251-545-3337 for expert help from a knowledgeable technician.

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6 Ways to Keep Your Saraland Home Allergen Free

6 Ways to Keep Your Saraland Home Allergen Free

Here in Saraland, Alabama, we have a number of allergy-inducing plants and trees that cause discomfort for many people. If you’re suffering from allergy symptoms, you may find that a lot of these issues start in your home. Constant exposure to air that is of poor quality or that contains allergens will create respiratory problems — even for those without a history of allergic reactions. It is important, therefore to heed tips that can help you to make your home allergen free.

Keep Your Air Filters Clean

The air filters in your heating and cooling system play a major role in keeping the air clean. If you always choose the cheapest option, you may find that there are a number of allergens getting through them and into the system. Invest in filters that are higher quality, and look at the allergen rating before you buy.

If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or has respiratory conditions like asthma, it’s worth it to buy the options that have high ratings. If you’re using washable filters, you may want to switch to the disposable version. If you don’t clean and dry washable filters properly, you could actually be contributing to the indoor air quality problem.

Keep Your Home Clean

Regular vacuuming and dusting will help remove dirt, dust, pet dander and hair from the home. Regular cleaning will reduce the amount of pollutants that get trapped in your HVAC system. If you use an older vacuum, consider upgrading to one that includes a HEPA filter. This type of filter can trap tiny particles as small as 0.3 microns, so it will help to capture most of the allergy-causing dirt and debris.

When you dust, use a damp or microfiber cloth that attracts dust instead of move it around or send it back into the air. If you suffer from allergies, wear a dust mask to keep yourself from inadvertently inhaling particles while you clean.

Bathe and Brush Your Pets

For many people, having pets in the home is a part of life that they aren’t willing to sacrifice. Keep your furry friends out of your bedroom as much as possible. When you allow pets in your bed, they leave behind dander and hair that can irritate your allergies. Regular bathing and brushing can also reduce dander, and it comes with the added benefit of a fresh-smelling dog or cat.

Think About Upgrades

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting in much of your home, you may want to consider upgrading the flooring. Carpet fibers trap allergens then release them as you walk across the floor. Options like hardwood, tile, laminate and stone will eliminate this issue. You may also find that upgraded flooring increases your property value, so it’s a win-win.

Drapes and other fabric window treatments also harbor dust, dirt, dander and other particles that cause allergies to flare up. Blinds and shades are a better option. But if you can’t part with your drapes or curtains, be sure to launder them regularly. You can also use a brush attachment to vacuum them weekly to get rid of dust.

Look Into an Air Purifier

An air purifier is also a great addition to your home if you’re constantly dealing with allergies. An air purifier won’t replace the other tips on this list, but it can complement your cleaning habits for improved air quality. Purifiers also work well for reducing pollen, a common allergen that affects those living in and around Saraland in the springtime.

Get the Ducts Cleaned

Keeping your home as clean as possible will help you to reduce allergens. But one area that many homeowners overlook is cleaning out the ducts. When you run your heating or air conditioning system, the air moves through the ducts multiple times. If those ducts are full of dirt, dust, pet dander and other contaminants, the air coming through the vents will be of poor quality. This won’t necessarily cause issues for everyone in your home, but it does increase allergy symptoms like coughing, sore throats, congestion and headaches.

If you’d like more information about air duct cleaning or other tips for improving air quality, contact your HVAC team at Air Specialty by calling 251-545-3337.

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How to Reduce Your Allergy Symptoms

How to Reduce Your Allergy Symptoms

Even in winter, you could have annoying allergy symptoms from pollen, mold, pest droppings or dust. These allergens can collect in your furnace and then spread through your Mobile, Alabama, home when you start using your heater this winter. You can reduce your allergy symptoms by ridding your home of allergens, controlling your home’s humidity, using an air purifier, and maintaining your HVAC system.

Stay Away From Allergens

You can remove allergens such as dust from your home by cleaning regularly. You should vacuum regularly and have your carpets and upholstered furniture steam cleaned as necessary. Frequenting dusting is a must to keep dust particles in check.

Control Your Humidity

Your furnace could make the air inside your home too dry, irritating your sinuses and making your allergy symptoms worse. Dry air can also cause static electricity that results in dry skin and even dry and crack wood floors and furnishings. You can use a humidifier to prevent these problems and improve the air quality in your home since it uses water vapor to add moisture to your indoor air. You can have a whole-home humidifier installed by a professional, or you can use a portable model in one or smaller areas.

The humidity in your home could also be too high, which can cause mold, water damage or rotting floors. If your home has too much moisture, use a dehumidifier to manage humidity levels. Many programmable thermostats can monitor your home’s humidity in addition to managing the temperature.

Use an Air Purifier

An air purifier, also called an air cleaner, with a high MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value can remove all allergens and pollutants from your indoor air, even viruses and bacteria. You can use a less expensive, portable unit in the rooms where you spend the most time or have a whole-home system installed by a professional if you are concerned about the air quality throughout your home. Many air purifiers provide reminders about replacing or cleaning the air filter when it gets dirty. This keeps your indoor air quality high and helps you to conserve energy. There are several types of air purifiers:

  • Mechanical air cleaners force air through a special filter that traps allergens.
  • Electronic filters use electrical charges to attract allergens and pollutants.
  • Hybrid filters use mechanical and electrostatic elements.

Our technicians will help you to choose the right filter for your system. They’ll also show you the right way to clean or replace it.

Maintain Your HVAC System

Taking care of your HVAC system improves your indoor air quality and saves energy. You should change the air filter in your HVAC system and air purifier at least once per month to reduce pollutants and extend your system’s life. A dirty filter can also block the airflow through your ductwork and spread contaminants through your home. When you change an air filter, wear a mask and gloves and put the old filter in a sealable plastic bag before you throw it away. That way, you can protect yourself from potential allergens.

You should also have your heating and air conditioning systems maintained by a professional annually, to prevent any problems such as leaky ductwork that could harm your indoor air quality or make your allergies worse. To make sure your ductwork is clean, remove one of your air registers and check for dust, dirt, cobwebs, mold, pests, or pet droppings. You can have a professional clean your ductwork with special tools.

Air Specialty is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 20 years of heating and cooling experience. We can help you improve your indoor air quality by choosing, installing, maintaining, and repairing a wide variety of HVAC equipment. Call us anytime at 251-545-3337 for experienced service from skilled technicians.

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4 Surprising Places Mold Might Be Lurking in Your Home

4 Surprising Places Mold Might Be Lurking in Your Home

hidden mold

Mold is one of the last things you want to find inside, but it could be growing in several places in your Mobile, Alabama, home. Discover four surprising places mold could be lurking, like your air conditioner and your laundry room, and learn how to get rid of it once and for all.

Your Kitchen

Mold spores won’t automatically grow into a visible fungus unless they find an environment where they can thrive. Mold prefers dark, wet areas, so stay on the lookout for spaces with excess indoor moisture.

Since your kitchen is packed with appliances and plumbing that produce extra moisture, mold can lurk in a number of places. When hand-washed dishes pile up in a wet jumble, your dish rack can quickly become a breeding ground for mold. Make a point of cleaning it thoroughly with soap and water every few weeks. Wipe down the surrounding counter area with a mix of white vinegar and warm water.

Although the inside of your refrigerator is cold, that doesn’t mean the fungus can’t thrive inside as well as outside this major appliance. Most refrigerators rely on drip pans to catch everything from condensation to spilled foods and beverages. Since the drip pan goes underneath the fridge, it is a dark, moist area that is ideal for mold. You can nip this problem in the bud by cleaning the drip pan once or twice a year, taking care to wash it with a solution that is one part hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts warm water.

Your Living Room and Bedrooms

You might not have any moisture-creating appliances or plumbing in the living room, family room, or bedrooms, but these parts of your home aren’t immune to mold. Instead of keeping moisture out, older windows can actually create the right opportunities that bring mold indoors. This can happen due to condensation on humid days and during heavy rains.

If wiping down condensation and pooled moisture doesn’t seem to do enough to prevent mold from growing in these areas, consider replacing outdated windows with newer double-paned windows. With their improved construction, double-paned windows are better equipped to keep moisture out and stop mold from thriving.

When your home struggles with high levels of moisture in the air, mold might not be limited to the window area alone. If overly humid air has encouraged mold to grow elsewhere in the living room, family room, or bedrooms, it’s time to improve your indoor air quality.

At Air Specialty, we recommend installing a whole-home dehumidifier to keep moisture levels under control. These devices work seamlessly with your HVAC system to maintain a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent while helping your heating and cooling system to operate efficiently. Instead of placing a portable dehumidifier in each affected room, a whole-home dehumidifier takes care of every room at once, resulting in mold-free air throughout.

Your Air Conditioner

From the evaporator coil to the drain pain, air conditioners generate a lot of excess moisture that can be attractive to mold. In many cases, our annual preventive maintenance is enough to keep potential mold threats at bay. After our air conditioning technicians empty the drain pan, inspect the evaporator coils, and clean the air conditioner, mold will no longer have an inviting place to thrive.

In some cases, however, basic maintenance doesn’t do enough to prevent mold problems. To keep your air and your family healthy, we recommend installing an ultraviolet germicidal light. These devices produce an intense UV light that is designed to kill mold and bacteria. By eliminating mold at its place of origin, these UV lights also prevent mold from becoming airborne and dispersing throughout your home, where it can cause health issues for your family.

Does your home’s indoor air quality need immediate attention? Give us a call at Air Specialty at 251-545-3337 to learn more about our straightforward HVAC solutions today.

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4 Cutting Edge HVAC Technologies

4 Cutting Edge HVAC Technologies

Modern heating and air conditioning technologies are more efficient than ever. They’re also better at keeping your Mobile, Alabama home comfortable. Many systems that are more advanced are also more expensive, but they’re a good investment because they offer energy savings. You can lower your utility bills, stay comfortable, and help the environment with cutting-edge HVAC technologies like a multi-stage system, a ductless system, a programmable thermostat, or a geothermal heat pump.

Multi-Stage HVAC Systems

Standard single-stage systems stay on at full power until the temperature in your home matches the setting on your thermostat and they shut off when the temperature goes back up or down. This causes uncomfortable temperature fluctuations. Many newer HVAC systems have multiple stages of heating and cooling and variable fan speeds. They can automatically run colder or hotter and increase or decrease airflow to conserve energy and keep you more comfortable. Most of these systems only work at full power on the hottest or coldest days.

Since multi-stage systems stay on longer, they’re also better at dehumidifying your home. Lower humidity keeps mold and many pests away. It also helps you to feel cooler in summer. You can set your thermostat to a higher temperature and save even more energy without feeling too hot.

Ductless Systems

Ductless heating and air conditioning systems, also called multi-split or mini-split systems, are similar to conventional HVAC systems. They have an outdoor compressor or condenser and one or more indoor air handling units. Instead of ductwork, a conduit that’s only about three inches wide connects these parts. This means you’ll never have to worry about leaky ductwork that wastes energy, you won’t have to clean or maintain ducts, and you’ll have more space in your closets and attic.

Ductless systems are also quieter and easier to install than conventional systems. Since dust, dirt, mold, and other contaminants can’t accumulate in your ductwork and spread through your home, you’ll have better indoor air quality as well. If your ductless HVAC system has more than one indoor unit, you can set a different temperature for each unit. This is called zoning, and you can use it to avoid heating or cooling unoccupied areas. Zoning will save more energy if your home is large or has multiple stories. Some ductless systems with zoning even have remote controls for extra convenience.

Programmable Thermostats

A programmable thermostat can raise or lower the temperature in your home when you’re at work or asleep and then gradually move to a more comfortable temperature you return home or wake up. This keeps you comfortable and saves energy. You can program different schedules for every day of the week and vacations with many models. With others, you can set one schedule for weekends and one for weekdays. Many programmable thermostats can control several zones as well. That way, you can control the temperature in your entire home without having to visit every room or zone.

Some programmable thermostats have convenient color touchscreens, and they can connect to your smartphone, computer, or tablet. Some models can even monitor your indoor air quality and humidity and let you know when you should change your air filter.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps are similar to standard heat pumps, but they use less energy. They exchange heat with the ground or a nearby body of water instead of the air, and the temperature underground and underwater stays constant all year. Instead of an outdoor unit, a geothermal system has a network of water-filled pipes underground or underwater. These systems are more expensive, but they save a lot of energy and they can increase the value of your home.

Geothermal systems can also provide hot water for your home. The indoor unit can last for 25 years, breakdowns are rare, and the pipes last for up to 100 years. Geothermal heat pumps don’t bring outside air into your home like most other systems, so your indoor air quality will be better. You also won’t have to worry about pollutants like carbon monoxide poisoning because geothermal systems don’t burn fuel.

Air Specialty can help you to install, maintain, and repair a variety of cutting edge HVAC technologies. Call us anytime at 251-545-3337 for excellent HVAC service.

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