Matthew Tyner

5 Energy Efficiency Terms Every Homeowner Should Learn

Know Your HVAC To maintain your HVAC system properly and lower your home’s utility bills in Mobile, Alabama, you should learn and know the most common energy efficiency terms. That way, you can communicate with your HVAC service technician easily and choose an efficient HVAC system for your home.

MERV

The MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, is an efficiency rating for your HVAC system’s air filters. A filter with a higher score will improve your indoor air quality by catching more pollutants like dust, pollen, dirt, and mold. However, it will also use more energy. Ask an experienced service technician which MERV rating is best for keeping your home’s air clean while conserving energy. Air filters with MERV ratings from 1 to 4 are usually the least expensive. They can remove particles like pollen and dust mites that can damage your HVAC system’s efficiency. Filters with ratings from 5 to 8 can also remove dust and mold spores. A MERV rating from 9 to 12 can catch pet dander and auto emissions. If you have allergies or other respiratory problems, use an air filter with a rating from 13 to 16 that can even catch bacteria and viruses.

SEER

The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is your air conditioner or heat pump’s cooling capacity during an average summer divided by the amount of electricity it uses. The cooling energy is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and the power is measured in watts per hour. HVAC systems that have a higher SEER rating are more efficient. They’re also more expensive. But the investment is worth it because you can save money on your utility bills.

BTUs

One BTU is the amount of energy you need to raise or lower 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at sea level. The measurement is usually written as the number of BTUs per hour that your HVAC system uses to heat or cool your home’s air. If your unit uses too many BTUs, you’ll waste energy. Your system will also make more noise. If your heater or AC doesn’t use enough BTUs, making your home comfortable might be difficult. Your system won’t be as efficient as a correctly sized unit, and the extra stress could shorten its life. An experienced professional should perform a Manual J calculation to determine the right number of BTUs for your heater or AC. Many service technicians use software programs to consider factors, including the number of rooms in your home, the number of occupants and your home’s insulation.

HSPF

The HSPF, or Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor, is the heating output of your heat pump during the fall and winter (measured in BTUs) divided by the electricity in watts-per-hour that it uses during that same time. Heat pumps transfer heat like air conditioners, but they can cycle in both directions to heat or cool your home. That way, you won’t have to install or maintain a separate furnace. Heat pumps are more expensive than air conditioners, but they’re also more efficient. Many are quieter than other systems, as well.

AFUE

The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE, measures your heater’s efficiency. It’s the percentage of heat delivered to your home from each unit of fuel. If your furnace is more than 20 years old, replacing it with a new system with a high AFUE can help you save energy and prevent inconvenient expensive breakdowns. Electric heaters are usually most efficient, but natural gas or propane is less costly in some areas. You can also save energy by using solar panels or adding more insulation. Air Specialty is a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer with more than 20 years of heating and cooling experience. We can help you install, maintain and repair a variety of HVAC equipment. Call us anytime at 251-545-3337 for excellent service.

3 Allergens In Your Home Right Now

Allergens In Your Home Most Americans, including residents in Semmes, Alabama, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. While this statistic is disheartening to some, the crux of the issue lies in your home’s poor indoor air quality. With air pollutants up to five times more concentrated in your home, mold, pet dander and other allergens can cause severe symptoms.

Mold

Mold is one of the most dangerous allergens in your home. A type of fungi, mold grows any place in your home that has excessive moisture, such as the kitchen, bathroom and basement. If left untreated, mold can cause a plethora of health issues, including coughing, headaches, skin irritation and even death. The best way to limit mold growth is by controlling humidity, ideally with a whole-home dehumidifier.

Pet Dander

Your love for your furry friend is undeniable. But as much as you care for your pet, it can still pose an indoor air quality problem. Composed of dead skin cells and hair, pet dander is one of the most common causes of allergy flare-ups. Proper grooming and vacuuming can limit the effects of this allergen. You should also consider investing in an air purifier, which traps pet dander and prevents it from entering the home through your ductwork.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are another problematic allergen in your home. This broad term encompasses many different gases and substances. Examples include paint, aerosol sprays, pesticides, household cleaners, glue and more. The best way to avoid these substances in your home is to switch to all-natural products. If that’s not an option, ventilation is key to eliminate the risk of allergy issues. When you perceive a problem with your indoor air quality, don’t hesitate to fix the problem. Call Air Specialty today at 251-545-3337 to schedule an appointment.

How to Program Your Thermostat Properly

Programming Your Thermostat When the seasons change, it’s not always easy to keep your Satsuma, Alabama, home comfortable. Program your thermostat properly to maintain a stable temperature and manage the shifts in climate outside.

Pick the Right Thermostat

If you have a thermostat on the wall that you don’t know how to use, you’re much less likely to program it. There are several options, including seven-day programming, 5-1-1 programming or weekly programming. The seven-day programming option works well for homeowners with changing schedules, as it offers more flexibility. You can program a different schedule for each day of the week. The 5-1-1 programming schedule uses the same settings for weekdays and different settings for Saturday and Sunday. If your schedule stays consistent, the weekly programming makes it easier to keep the same settings every day of the week.

Change Settings for the Seasons

To maintain comfort while trimming your bills, change your thermostat settings to correspond with the seasons. During the late spring and summer months, keep your AC set around 78 degrees when you’re home. As the winter comes around, drop the thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re at home. Set it 10 to 15 degrees lower when you’re away or asleep. Making these simple changes to your thermostat will help keep your utility costs under control without having to make manual adjustments.

Let the Thermostat Do Its Job

If you’re constantly adjusting the temperature, it defeats the purpose of a programmable thermostat. When you set it, try to leave it alone as much as possible. Manually overriding the temperature causes the system to kick on more often, which can waste more energy. If you don’t like the way your home feels at a specific setting, you can always adjust your programmed settings. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, or if you aren’t using it to maximize your home’s cooling and heating system, give Air Specialty a call at 251-545-3337. Our NATE-certified service technicians are happy to discuss your options for improving comfort while managing HVAC costs.  
Why Seal Your Home Before Colder Weather Hits

Why Seal Your Home Before Colder Weather Hits

After a hot summer in Mobile, Alabama, you’re eager to break out the sweaters, boots,and hot cocoa. Colder weather, as long as it doesn’t dip into the extremes, is a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of summer. But without preparation, it can also be a drain on your energy efficiency. The change in season is the perfect time to reinstate your goal to be more energy efficient. You can start by preparing your home for the upcoming cold weather. Sealing your home will prevent energy waste and high utility costs by keeping air where it belongs. Here’s why you should seal your home.

What Are You Sealing?

When we discuss sealing a home, we generally refer to sealing a “thermal envelope.” Thermal envelopes refer to everything that separates the thermostat-controlled air inside your home from the fluctuating temperatures outside. Thermal envelopes consist of doors, windows, insulation and anything else that keeps air where it belongs.

Why Seal Your Home?

Two words: air leaks. It’s one thing to catch energy efficiency issues by listening for strange sounds coming from your HVAC system or feeling too cold despite your thermostat setting. But air leaks are invisible energy sappers, and you may not notice them until you receive a higher-than-usual utility bill. Air leaks don’t just involve your controlled air leaving the home; they also involve outdoor air entering the home. Some homeowners rely on air leaks to ventilate the home and keep air moving. While ventilation is crucial to indoor air quality, relying on air leaks is not an effective way to ventilate. When outdoor air enters your home, it’s not just bringing in a breeze; it’s drawing in cooler temperatures, hazardous particles and even unwanted moisture. Such leaks can contribute to poor indoor air quality and can also reduce the structure’s durability. By sealing air leaks, you prepare your home for a season of improved energy efficiency. When air leaks allow cool air into the home, your heating system experiences increased strain as it attempts to compensate for the invasion of outdoor air. This forces your system to work harder, hiking up utility costs and potentially reducing your system’s lifespan. Sealing leaks also improves indoor air quality and ensures that you enjoy all the comfort your HVAC system supplies.

How Do You Seal Your Home?

Sealing your home takes some planning, supplies and free time. First, you’ll need to hunt down which areas of your thermal envelope need the most attention. Aside from feeling around your home for drafts, look for dirt and dust around windows and doors where leaks may have also pushed in some particles. Inside your home, look for cracks and gaps around baseboards, outlets and the like. Outside, look for areas where two types of building materials meet, such as exterior corners and around faucets. On the professional side, home energy audits can also catch air leaks. Around windows with cracks in the caulking, simply apply a fresh layer of caulk. You may need to replace poorly installed or old windows with more efficient windows if caulk doesn’t fix the air leak. Place weatherstripping along door frames where doors don’t fit snugly. Spend extra time looking for potential leaks in your attic and garage. Unfinished areas of the home often allow unwanted air into the finished living space. Look for gaps around plumbing pipes and outlet boxes. Use caulk or expanding foam to seal those leaks. Attic entry hatches also often need a layer of weatherstripping to keep the area sealed. Finally, it may be worth your while to roll blanket insulation into your attic floor if there isn’t insulation there already. While you’ll surely enjoy being outside in the cooler weather for a time, your home will quickly become an escape from the cold of winter. For reliable comfort and efficiency, take time to seal your home before the cold fronts hit. To further prepare for an energy-efficient heating season, call Air Specialty at 251-545-3337.
Why Consider a Whole-Home Ventilator

Why Consider a Whole-Home Ventilator

You’re grateful that the summer heat has finally departed Mobile, Alabama, but that doesn’t mean you’re opening your doors and welcoming in the winter. When the weather cools, you and your family tend to spend more time inside. This only increases your chances of experiencing the adverse effects of indoor air pollution. Prevent stale air and improve indoor air quality in the fall and winter by installing a whole-home ventilator.

What’s a Whole-Home Ventilator?

Leave water on its own and it’ll become stagnant. Air works in a similar way. While you won’t get poisoned from breathing stale air as you would with stagnant water, it still reduces indoor air quality and comfort. Therefore, you need to keep the air in your home moving. Simply operating the HVAC system isn’t enough. A whole-home ventilation system works with your HVAC system to circulate air throughout your living space. There are a variety of different whole-home ventilators. They all function similarly by drawing in outdoor air and exhausting indoor air, filtering it for better air quality.

Why Install a Whole-Home Ventilator?

Without proper airflow throughout your home, chemicals from cleaners and carbon dioxide molecules sit in your air. Whole-home ventilators remove those unwanted particles by bringing in fresh air. But why install an entire system when you can simply open a window and let in fresh air? While opening windows every once in a while is a good idea, keeping them open constantly can reduce heating efficiency. It can even let in harmful particles from the outdoors. If you want to avoid allergy symptoms and asthmatic reactions in your home without compromising energy efficiency, you need a whole-home ventilator. To see the ventilator’s benefits for yourself, call Air Specialty today at 251-545-3337.  
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