Indoor Air Quality: Fighting Winter Allergies

Indoor Air Quality: Fighting Winter Allergies

Fall and Winter Allergies and how to Maintain Indoor Air Quality

Most people associate seasonal allergies with Springtime pollen from trees and grasses, but many experience worse allergy symptoms in the Fall. When leaves and the temperature drops at the same time, Fall allergies trigger symptoms similar to Spring allergy symptoms:

    • – A runny nose and head congestion
    • – Itchy or watery eyes
    • – Wheezing or difficulty breathing
    • – Sneezing and coughing

We also associate cooler weather with an increase in common colds; you might have mistaken your allergy symptoms for the onset of a pesky cold. A couple of key differences between allergy and cold symptoms may help you distinguish between the two.

    • – A fever is quite common with a cold or flu but is not a symptom of allergies.
    • – If your symptoms persist longer than 10 days, it is a strong indication of allergy symptoms instead of a cold. Cold symptoms generally persist for 7 to 10 days.

With Fall allergies and reduced Indoor Air Quality, you may also experience:

    • – Severe congestion and a sore throat, as allergens irritate the linings of your nasal cavities and the back of your throat.
    • – Headache, also caused by the inflammation of nasal passages.
    • – Difficulty sleeping, as the inflamed sinuses swell and make breathing difficult. The lack of sleep may leave you exhausted, with less energy.

Indoor Air Quality: Fall Allergy Triggers

If you suspect Fall allergies instead of a cold, it is helpful to understand Fall triggers. As you might suspect, pollen from regional wildflowers that bloom in the Fall are a chief source of allergens. Some of the most common culprits include:

    • – Ragweed/Golden Rod
    • – Tumbleweed
    • – Sagebrush
    • – Lamb’s quarter
    • – Pigweed

Some wildflowers may bloom until temperatures drop to freezing or shorter days causes the plants to become dormant for the winter.

Another common allergen prevalent during the Fall is mold spores. Mold is a fungus essential to our ecosystem, since it breaks down organic matter, such as leaves, and reintroduces their chemicals into the environment, and can reduce Indoor Air Quality. Mold reproduces by releasing microscopic spores into the air, and spores can persist all Winter. Consider a pile of wet leaves along the tree line:

    • – While the leaves are wet and the weather is warm, mold reproduces and creates spores.
    • – Blustery, winding days will release the spores into the air.
    • – Raking the leave will also release spores.
    • – Every warm day will encourage mold growth and reproduction on wet surfaces.

Mold spores may be present throughout the Fall and Winter in South Texas.

The Keys to Maximizing Fall Indoor Air Quality—Clean, Clean, Clean

Pollen and mold spores will enter your home every time you open the door; they will also hitch a ride on anything you bring into the house, including your clothes, shoes, and skin.

Clean Your Home Regularly. During the heating season, we seal our homes up like a drum, trapping allergens inside with us. If you suffer from seasonal allergies:

    • – Vacuum carpets more frequently, dust surfaces, and mop floors.
    • – Bath pets frequently, weekly if possible to wash away dander and allergens trapped in their fur.
    • – Wash your clothes often, taking note of coats, gloves, and hats you might wear outside.

 Clean your HVAC system:

    • – Your furnace air filter is an essential barrier to recirculating airborne particles throughout the house. The filter should be changed at least every three months.
    • – Schedule annual preventative maintenance and cleaning of your furnace and air conditioner. An All Cool technician can remove dust from the interior portions of your HVAC system.

Need help with improving your Indoor Air Quality?

Let us know how we can help with improving your Indoor Air Quality, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

 

Indoor Air Quality: Fighting Winter Allergies

 

Heater Efficiency: Warming Your Home Naturally

Heater Efficiency

Increase Heater Efficiency By Tapping Natural Resources

As winter approaches days grow shorter and the temperatures will be cooler for a few months: it happens every year like clockwork. However, we have seen the cost of fuels increase at an unexpected clip this year; energy costs for heating are projected to be higher than this time last year. Before an increase in heating causes you to break out into a sweat and your blood pressure rise, let’s look at some Heater Efficiency tips you can implement to make your home more comfortable with little to no cost.

Since it has been a few years since your last Physical Science class, let me remind you of this principle about the physics of energy. Heat always moves towards cold. Scientists will state it differently, but for practical purposes the statement is true. When you remember this principle, consider all of the adjustments you can make to keep your home warmer and to increase your heater efficiency this winter.

Heater Efficiency: Learn How to Keep Your Heat

Since you have already paid to heat your home, it is in your best interest to keep that warmth from moving to the cold outdoors.

  • Fireplaces lend an atmosphere of warmth and beauty, especially during winter holidays. A fireplace might also come in handy when an ice storm takes out electricity for an extended period. However, unmodified fireplaces are energy hogs and if used day-in and day-out, result in a less comfortable home and high energy costs.

    A roaring fire pushes more than 20,000 cubic feet of hot air and gases through the chimney every hour. That air must be replaced, and your home will draw outside (cold) air through every opening available to replace the lost air. The result is cold, drafty rooms away from the fireplace.

  • If you make your fireplace a normal source of heat, make energy-efficient modifications to keep your home comfortable. Make sure to keep the fireplace flue closed when it is not in use. If open, it is a channel for warm inside air to move to the cold outdoors, the equivalent to leaving a 48” square window open.
  • Insulation and weather-stripping is the MOST efficient measure to prevent the movement of warm air to the cold outside. You have heard the old adage “warm air rises.” It is true. Do a quick check of your attic insulation with a ruler or tape measure.

    Expect 10 to 12” of insulation evenly spread across the surface. If insulation is deficient, adding insulation will improve comfort and efficiency. Make sure that the attic opening is properly sealed.

  • Improved building materials and techniques result in energy-efficient wall construction, but age and settling can create gaps for air to move freely. Here are some things to inspect:
    • Windows and doors can allow air to freely move. Caulk and weather-stripping are quite effective. When you feel a cold draft coming in, know that an equal volume of warm air is leaving the building envelope.
    • Put your hand near electrical outlets. If you feel a draft, faceplate insulation is available to reduce the amount of air movement.

Practical Steps to Increase Heater Efficiency

  • Solar gain is free! Glass is a poor insulator and allows heat to travel from the warm side to the cold side reducing your heater efficiency. Solar gain is radiant energy coming from the sun, even on cold winter days.
    • Open the curtains during sunny days on the south side of the house. While the sun appears to move from east to west, it will always shine on the south side during the winter months. Plenty of heat will radiate through the windows, moving inside, even when it is cold. It makes the space cheery and bright. Be sure to protect sensitive materials from UV light.
    • Once the sun sets, close curtains and drapes to prevent the warm indoor air from traveling outdoors.
  • Take note of appliances and activities that warm your home. Appliances that clean typically also generate heat. Adjusting your schedule slightly can contribute warmth at the right time.
  • Use the clothes washer, dryer, and dishwasher during cold, evening hours and take advantage of the residual heat from these processes. If you prefer not to hear the noise, set a timer to begin cycles as the family is getting ready for bed.
  • Remember that baking and cooking will contribute substantial heat during the winter months. Plan accordingly, but NEVER use unvented gas appliances as a heat source.
  • Consider skipping the bathroom exhaust vent during showers to keep warm, moist air indoors instead of sending it outside. Indoor air tends to be drier during the winter months, so that might be a bonus.
  • Learn to use ceiling fans appropriately for the season to improve heater efficiency. Look for the switch on each ceiling fan that changes the direction of the blades. Which way should it turn? Simply remember—cool down/warm up. Warm air moves up and is trapped near the ceiling. A slow setting with the blades moving in a clockwise motion will pull cold air up and push warm air down.

Need help with improving your heater efficiency?

Let us know how we can help with your furnace and heater efficiency, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Heater Efficiency

 

 

 

Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

Everything You Need to Know About Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

In March 2020, the whole world became more aware of how respiratory illnesses spread when Covid-19 began to attack our world and disrupt our lives. Scientists and medical professionals encountered a new, highly contagious illness and we all have been learning best practices “on the fly.”

The current understanding is that the virus transmits via aerosol droplets; we were reminded to cough or sneeze into our elbow or a tissue, wash our hands frequently, and stay home when we are ill. Later we were introduced to face masks, social distancing, and the term “indoor air quality” (IAQ).

Significant instruction centers around public spaces; we are encouraged to wear face masks inside, continue to be socially distant, and limit indoor gatherings. Current research has not uncovered the perfect, fail-safe solution to prevent viral transmission and ensure public safety.

Instead, we are encouraged to use many different methods together to improve Residential Indoor Air Quality. The personal safety measures are inexact since we all follow them imprecisely.

Owners of public indoor spaces take extra precautions to keep guests and employees as safe as possible. These measures give us more confidence in returning to activities such as working, worshipping, and shopping and are not based on choices made by occupants.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offers guidelines for improving all IAQ; remarkable improvements in ventilation, air filtration, and air cleaning devices are creating safer indoor spaces.

  • By increasing the exchange of outdoor air, we can dilute the “dirty” indoor air.
  • High-quality air filters can remove 99.7% of all airborne particles.
  • Air purifiers can neutralize and remove viruses and other pollutants.

Applying these same principles, ASHRAE has provided guidelines for residential Residential Indoor Air Quality in regards to Covid-19.

Here are Residential Indoor Air Quality recommendations1 for keeping your home safe: 

  • Operate your HVAC system within normal comfort levels.
    • Temperatures should range between 68-780F and relative humidity should stay between 40-50%.
    • If you turn the system off, make sure to open windows for plenty of ventilation.
    • The lack of ventilation or the circulation of air leads to poor Residential Indoor Air Quality.
  • Improve Residential Indoor Air Quality by adding fresh, outdoor air as often as possible.
  • Increase air movement. Ceiling fans increase energy efficiency; moving air feels cooler and allows you to raise the air conditioner settings by as much as 100F. It also increases air circulation, preventing the air from being stagnant.
  • Improve the quality of your air filter. Before Covid-19, most homeowners did not put much forethought into air filtration. Air filters were cheap and needed to be changed routinely every three months.
    • Back in 1987, ASHRAE completed research and set standards for the manufacturing of air filters.
    • Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is the rating standard to help consumers determine quality. The higher the MERV number, from 1 to 20, the smaller the open. Smaller openings trap more of the airborne particles and remove them from circulation.
    • MERV 13 and higher are recommended for removing particles the size of viruses.
    • A denser air filter will reduce airflow, so check with your HVAC manual for air filter tolerances. Call your HVAC professional if you need further help balancing the need for cleaner air and sufficient airflow.
  • Consider air purifiers. If your HVAC system cannot handle a MERV 13 air filter, explore air cleaners or purifiers to improve IAQ.
    • Ultra-violet lights can be installed inside the ductwork. Ultra-violet light will neutralize (kill) microbes, mold spores, and pollen, including viruses. The inert (dead) cells will be trapped by the air filter.
    • Air purifiers have multi-level filtration and remove particulates, including viruses. Both whole-house and portable, room-sized air purifiers are available.
  • Use exhaust fans as needed. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans provide valuable ventilation when needed and contribute to air circulation.
  • Keep your HVAC system running smoothly with regular maintenance. Not only does preventative maintenance keep your system in operation as long as possible, cleaning the interior components removes deposits of potentially harmful particles, including viruses and prevents them from recirculating throughout your home.

Need help with improving your Residential Indoor Air Quality?

Let us know how we can help with your Residential Indoor Air Quality, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

3 Seasonal Care for Your HVAC System Tips

3 Seasonal Care for Your HVAC System Tips

Seasonal Care for Your HVAC System

Routine appointments are so important but so easy to neglect. Over the years, we have developed better ways to remind ourselves about routine things; refrigerators have indicator lights to remind you to change filters and new cars have oil change messages.

Labor Day has been designated as an indicator to change smoke alarm batteries; All Cool AC would like to suggest the transition from summer cooling to Fall heat be a reminder to care for your HVAC system. It is routine and can be easily forgotten, so put a reminder on your phone app to schedule a visit.

Your HVAC has been providing fresh air at just the right temperature faithfully for years. If you want it to continue providing that service, give it some regular TLC.

  • Honestly, when was the last time you cleaned the vents? Air circulates every time the system cycles, but when the blower stops, so does the air. Airborne particles, such as dust and pollen, get deposited inside the ductwork. Over the years, the accumulation can be significant, and you don’t need to breathe that in.

    It may be the reason you see more dust on surfaces. Since your arms are not long enough and you don’t have the proper equipment to clean them properly, this is a job for a professional. A thorough cleaning will remove the dust, dander, and pollen, greatly improving indoor air quality.

  • While you are in the cleaning mood, we can’t forget to replace your HVAC filters. Your AC filter prevents dust particles from entering the air of your home. A dirty HVAC filter will reduce the efficiency of your air conditioning and reduce the indoor air quality.

    A dirty AC filter can be dangerous to those family members with allergies or compromised immune systems. Regular replacement of your HVAC air filter will reduce your energy consumption and improve indoor air quality.

  • A seasonal maintenance visit can be very beneficial in several ways. First, you know your system is prepared for the heating season ahead. Second, you might have to avoid a cascade of problems. The furnace tends to fail when it is under stress—you guessed it, right as the temperature drops at nightfall.

    There is nothing quite like waking up in the cold. Instead of a seasonal maintenance visit, you are asking for an emergency visit. They tend to be very inconvenient for you and more expensive in the long run.

So, use the change from the cooling season to the heating season as a reminder to schedule a preventative maintenance visit.

Need Help Seasonal Care for Your HVAC System?

Let us know how we can help with your HVAC System Seasonal Care and HVAC maintenance, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

3 Seasonal Care for Your HVAC System Tips

Tips to Have a Mold Free HVAC System in Your Home

How to Have a Mold-Free HVAC System

How to Have a Mold Free HVAC System

If the problem of mold keeps reoccurring, please consult with a mold remediation professional.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) are designed to heat and cool, freshen, clean, and dehumidify the air in your home for your protection and comfort. When the system ceases to provide one or more of these functions it can lead to a mold infestation.

A serious mold infestation is hard to eradicate and can be very harmful to your family; do not wait—call a professional.

Since it is so serious, let’s consider some ways to make sure mold does not become a problem inside your home. Let’s start with your HVAC system.

Humidity Regulation is the Key to a Mold Free HVAC System

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determines the ideal humidity for indoor air is between 30 and 50% humidity; expect between 30-40% in the winter and between 40 and 50% in the summer months.

Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, organic matter (it’s not picky), and a dark place, with little to no sunlight. Keeping the humidity low throughout the house restricts the places mold can grow. The indoor air should not feel “sticky,” even on summer days with high humidity outdoors. Use bathroom exhaust fans when showering. If it does feel “sticky,” call your HVAC professional.

Preventative Maintenance Promotes a Mold Free HVAC System

The second thing mold needs are organic material. Mold can bloom on wall paint, chalk, or wooden doors, but it can also feast on collected dust and dander. Matter of fact, the mold pollen will most likely travel together with dust, just waiting for moisture to activate it.

Make sure that you change air filters regularly, every three months at a minimum. Have an HVAC professional service your unit regularly, annually is recommended. Make sure your ductwork is cleaned as needed.

A preventative maintenance inspection can remove dust and repair components that contribute to water leaks. Prevention is much more effective—and safer than remediation.

Mold Removal

Even with these measures, it is not uncommon to find small quantities of mold. So how can you safely remove it?

  • If the affected area is larger than 9 square feet, the problem is large enough to call a mold remediation professional. Smaller areas can be cleaned with proper preparation and technique.
  • Mold spores can be harmful to your respiratory system; be very aware of the danger. Take the precaution of wearing a mask and gloves before cleaning or scrapping mold away.

Find the right cleaning supplies to keep a Mold Free HVAC System

Mold elimination products are readily available. They generally consist of harsh chemicals, so make sure you wear a mask and have good ventilation for the fumes.

If you are looking for an environmentally friendly cleaning solution, start with soap and water; sometimes that is all that is needed. Another easy remedy is baking soda and water; it kills even black mold and acts as a bleaching agent. Since you are near the mold, always wear a mask.

If you have asthma, allergies, or other breathing issues, it is best for you to stay away and let someone else take care of the problem.

Throw Out Food Items

As mold grows on food, it is reproducing well beyond what you see. Some molds produce a toxin, known as mycotoxins, which will make you very ill. If you see mold on a food item, consider it lost and dispose of it; it is not worth the risk.

Interested in a Mold Free HVAC System? 

Let us know how we can help with your indoor air quality concerns and creating a Mold Free HVAC System, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

How to Have a Mold-Free HVAC System

Indoor Air Quality Tips for Immunocompromised People

Indoor Air Quality Tips for Immunocompromised People

Safer Indoor Air for Immunocompromised Families

When this viral pandemic began in 2020, cleaning methods and indoor air quality became hot topics. Hand washing methods, buying runs on cleaning supplies, and questions about wearing masks inside your home were real issues. While things seem to be slowly changing, everyone is more cautious and stays alert to the latest updates.

But many families were dealing with airborne threats from common situations before 2020. When a family member faces severe allergies, suppressed immune systems, or medical treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, making your home a safe environment was a daily challenge.

If you need to keep your home as sterile as possible, here are some helpful tips to consider.

Change Your Cleaning Supplies

Harsh chemicals are not the only solution to keeping a home clean and safe, and they often contribute to poor indoor air quality. Common household items, including vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, can be safe alternative cleansers, without adding harmful aerosols to the indoor air. You might also find it quite satisfying, natural air fresheners, soaps, and lotions will make your home a safer environment.

Is your vacuum cleaner enough?

Vacuum cleaners become necessary tools in homes with health concerns; removing dust, pollen, and dander from soft surfaces is essential. However, vacuum cleaners can contribute to poor air quality if the vacuum filter is not fine enough to trap small particles rather than recirculating them. Do some research and find the right vacuum cleaner, but make sure it has a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. A HEPA filter will collect the vast majority of airborne particles before they settle on surfaces again.

Watch out for Mold!

Mold and mildew are common fungi in every part of the world. Airborne microscopic spores, similar to plant seeds, are carried on the wind and they will make their way into your home. A few spores are not a problem. Cleaning surfaces and vacuuming regularly will take care of most spores.

However, spores are looking for wet, warm surfaces and your home has a few of these. If ignored, mold and mildew can rapidly reproduce and this is a problem. A lot of mold or mildew spores will cause breathing issues in humans and pets, whether healthy or compromised.

  • Fix any leaking plumbing fixture immediately.
  • Use bathroom fans to remove excess humidity.
  • Check under sinks and around toilets for puddles or condensation
  • Attics, basements, crawl spaces, and garages should also be inspected
  • Attack mold growth quickly, before it can spread.

Maintain your HVAC system well promotes better indoor air quality

Your HVAC system is working hard to keep your indoor air clean, dry, and safe. Work with the system to maximize the benefits.

Use a quality air filter—HEPA filters are available for HVAC systems as well.

Make sure to change the filters as often as needed—at least every three months.

Schedule a regular preventative maintenance visit with your heating/cooling professional, to ensure the system is clean and functioning properly.

Clean your ductwork as often as needed. They become a reservoir for all kinds of particles when neglected.

Consider an air purifier

If all of your efforts to keep ahead of cleaning seem fruitless, research additional filtration, UV lights, ionic filters, and external air purifiers. Very good HEPA filters are remarkable, but if your situation requires more, pursue your options until you find what works for your family’s needs.

AllCool has the professional experience to answer questions, make suggestions and point you to the right product(s).

Do You Have an Immunocompromised Family Member Who Needs Proper Indoor Air Quality?

Let us know how we can help with your indoor air quality concerns, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Indoor Air Quality Tips for Immunocompromised People

Is a Ductless Mini-Split HVAC System Right for Me?

Ductless Mini-Split HVAC System

Is a ductless mini-split HVAC system right for your home?

Ductless mini-split HVAC systems are rather new; the technology reached the U.S. only about 35 years ago. Word is it is proving to be a very efficient heating and cooling system in some applications. You have a new project and you are wondering whether it might a good option for your space.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when determining whether a Ductless Mini-Split HVAC System meets your needs.

The Size of Your Space

The first consideration is size: spaces that are larger than 1,000 square feet will be too much for this technology to handle. The space is too much and the rooms are too spread out to heat and cool efficiently.

Adequate insulation

If your project is the right size, the next consideration is adequate insulation. If the spaces is poorly insulated, the mini-split system will struggle to meet the comfort demands. This forces the system to run continuously, losing the energy efficiency of the system.

Matter of fact, overuse will increase energy usage and shorten the life cycle of the system, due to excess wear and tear.

Are you adding space?

If your project is an addition to existing space, a ductless Mini-Split HVAC System makes an excellent add-on choice to supplement an existing central HVAC system.

Instead of an expensive modification to run vents for supply and return air, the ductless system can heat and cool the new space with less work and for less money. The two systems will synchronize well and give you good results.

Problem spaces

Perhaps your project is to “fix” problems spaces, such as the room that is farthest from the central air conditioning and remains a little too warm for comfort.

Sometimes spaces on the west or south side of the house get more sun and it is hard to keep that space comfortable. A ductless mini-split system can direct heating and cooling to the needed space at only the times it is needed.

Is a ductless mini-split HVAC system right for your home?

Let us know how we can help with your indoor air quality concerns, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Ductless Mini-Split HVAC System

Improving Indoor Air Quality with Ultra Violet Light

UV Light Use in Improving Indoor Air Quality

Ultra Violet/UV Light Use in Improving Indoor Air Quality

For decades, hospitals, laboratories, food processing plants, and water treatment facilities have used ultraviolet light (UV light) to disinfect biological contaminates. UV light is very effective in removing bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew spores from the air and on surfaces. With technological advances, UV light is now available for residential applications and can significantly improve the indoor air quality in your home.

How does it Work?

Ultraviolet light is a narrow band in the electromagnetic spectrum with a high energy wavelength. UV light penetrates cell walls and alters the DNA structures in cells, making it impossible for cells to reproduce.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet light, so sunlight actually disinfects our atmosphere and outside surfaces to make our world a safer place. We create indoor spaces to live and work. We seal these spaces to keep us warm and safe, but enclosed spaces trap harmful biological contaminates.

Your HVAC filtration system actively removes harmful particles from the air you breathe. Adding UV light to your HVAC system can disinfect indoor spaces; the air filter can then trap these particles and remove them before they can cause damage.

Where is UV Light Installed?

The blower motor pushes conditioned air into your home and pulls air into the ductwork. The air filter traps 99% of particles before they reach the heating and cooling components of the system. After the air is filtered, it enters the evaporator coil; the coil contains many surfaces and during the cooling season these surfaces are covered with moisture. A dark, moist surface is the ideal area for mold, bacteria, and viruses to grow.

This is the ideal location to install UV lights in the HVAC system. Three UV lights are installed strategically to shine on every surface and shine continuously. The UV light prevents the growth of biological contamination before it can re-enter your home with the conditioned air.

Installation of ultraviolet lights will only take a few hours. The lights are completely concealed—have you ever seen your evaporator coil? Since they are concealed, they cannot harm people or pets. Expect to change the bulbs every 2 or 3 years or include them on the HVAC preventative maintenance visit.

Have questions about bettering the indoor air quality in your home?

Let us know how we can help with your indoor air quality concerns, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

UV Light Use in Improving Indoor Air Quality

6 Summertime AC Efficiency Tips

AC Efficiency

Keeping Cool with AC Efficiency Tips Without Losing Comfort

Whew! It is summertime and it is hot and muggy in Houston. Living in South Texas you can always count on the cooling season lasting longer than the heating season. It doesn’t take long for the AC to push the electric bill up and up. High bills entice people to seek cost-saving measures.

So many cost-saving measures are also expensive. Everyone agrees that new, energy-efficient appliances or solar panels will pay for themselves over time, they also require a hefty capital investment upfront. For many that will not happen this year. Here are six AC Effieincy solutions that can help you save significant dollars without spending a lot of dollars.

#1 AC Efficiency Tip: Avoid solar heat

Know the layout of your house in reference to the summer midday sun. The sun will move on the south side of your home, so make sure window coverings are blocking the harsh midday sunlight. Your windows may already be Low-E rated to reflect some of the sunlight. Blackout drapes help more than sheers. Blinds or shutters will also work. Keep the summer heat outside where it belongs.

#2 AC Efficiency Tip: Reduce appliance heat

Wait to run the washer, dryer, or dishwasher until the cool of the evening. The midday heat is also peak energy use hours, so run them during off-peak hours. They also produce heat, so running them during evening hours puts less load on the AC.

Summertime also lets you be creative with cooking meals—use that creativity to save energy as well. Cooking outdoors, use a crockpot or air fryer instead of the oven. Be creative and make it fun.

#3 AC Efficiency Tip: Move the air

Moving air inside your house makes the air seem cooler; it is the wind chill factor you hear about during Winter weather forecasts. It makes enough difference that the U. S. Energy Department says running a ceiling fan can allow you to raise the thermostat 40 without feeling a difference in comfort. S. Energy Department

Ceiling fan blades should run counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. Running a ceiling fan cost about 2 cents/hour, significantly lower than running the AC for an hour. Ceiling fans are not the only option: wall or floor fans, tabletop or window fans work as well. Remember to use the bathroom exhaust fans while bathing or showering to remove heat and humidity.

#4 AC Efficiency Tip: Program the thermostat

If your thermostat is still a round dial on the wall, it is time to replace it with either a programmable or a smart thermostat. Both versions allow you to schedule changes in heating/cooling throughout the day and throughout the week. Smart thermostats also have a phone app that allows you to make changes on the fly.

How much can you save? The U. S. Energy Department says setting the thermostat back 70—100 for 8 hours/day can save around 10% on heating or cooling. Consider reducing HVAC use during sleeping hours or during the day, while the house is vacant. Schedule a transition 30 minutes before the family awakes in the morning or arrives home from school or work.

The key to cost savings is to find times when you can reduce HVAC use for 6 to 8 consecutive hours. Do some research, since there are several manufacturers; find a new thermostat with the features that fit your family’s needs.

#5 AC Efficiency Tip: Find air leaks

If your home seems drafty, is unusually humid, or has hot/cold spaces, look for gaps around doors, windows, and utility openings where outside air is moving inside.

    1. Do a visual inspection, looking for obvious cracks and holes.
    2. Use an incense or smoke stick. Light the stick, bring it in the proximity of windows and doors, watching for drafts in the smoke movement. You can also use very thin tissue paper to detect drafts.
    3. An energy audit with a certified technician. An audit employs inspection equipment, such as thermographic scans or infrared photography to locate thermal breaks causing energy loss. It will also use a blower door test that increases the indoor air pressure to locate gaps in walls and ceilings.
    4. Air leaks in common around windows and doors, around electrical outlets and switches, in the attic, basement, or garage. Caulk or seal gaps that you find with weather stripping.

#6 AC Efficiency Tip: HVAC TLC

If you take care of your HVAC system, it will take care of you. Schedule an air filter change on your calendar; change the air filter every 3 months minimum, more if needed. Remove leaves, debris, and trash from around your outdoor compressor unit. Use a garden hose (not a power washer) to thoroughly clean the compressor.

Wind and rain deposit sediment between the fins, which reduces cooling efficiency. Make sure the return air and supply vents are uncovered to provide good airflow. Call your HVAC professional and schedule an annual PM visit to ensure your system is clean and in good repair.

Need Help With AC Efficiency?

If your home’s air conditioning needs its AC efficiency rebooted, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

AC Efficiency

How Your HVAC System Alleviate Allergies in Your Home

HVAC System Alleviate Allergies-1

Alleviating Allergies at Home with a High Performing HVAC System

Seasonal allergies, the reaction of our bodies to (mostly) airborne irritants, are unique to each individual sufferer. For instance, Spring tree pollen, mown grass, or mold spores do not seem to faze me; but there is a particular yellow weed that blooms in the Fall that gets me every time. Oh yeah, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and body aches.

No matter what time of year your allergies come, your home can be an oasis from the irritants that aggravate seasonal allergies. Your home has several systems to help; a little knowledge will help you use them best for your unique allergies. We will also suggest improvements that can enhance existing systems if you need further help.

Use Ventilation to Your Advantage

Most homes are sealed to a significant degree, so most irritants come through doors and windows and not through gaps in the housing envelop. Once pollen comes in through the door, they are trapped inside until removed. A good seal house can contain 3 to 5 times more contaminants than outdoor air. One solution to eliminate irritants is opening doors and windows strategically.

If Oak pollen is your Kryptonite, make sure to keep doors and windows closed as much as possible for the two weeks are so that Oak pollen is active. If you have “Hay Fever” each time the lawn is mowed, keep those irritants outdoors while mowing.

Once the particular pollen or spore has passed, exchange the indoor air with outdoor air to remove trapped contaminants. Opening a couple of windows or doors for 15 to 30 minutes is enough time to completely exchange the indoor air with outdoor air.

Balance this need with the need to keep indoor air cool or warm as the season changes.

Clean Your Home Thoroughly

While this might be stating the obvious, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming weekly, more often if necessary, is a crucial step to remove contaminants from your home. Use products that trap dust with static electricity. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if possible.

Understand Air Filters

Year-round your HVAC system’s air filter is the most efficient tool to remove dust, pollen, mold, mildew, and pet dander from your indoor air. The more you know about how the air filter works the better you can prepare to improve indoor air quality.

Your HVAC system moves all of the air inside of your house several times per day as long as the blower is running. It pulls air through air returns, strategically placed throughout your home, filters the air, heats or cools/dehumidifies it, and sends it back through supply ducts. Filtration takes particles out of the air prior to conditioning the air, keeping sensitive electrical equipment clean.

Traditional air filters are made of composite materials (paper/fiber mix) thin enough for good airflow. Filters are rated on a MERV scale, from 1 to 16—the higher the MERV rating the better. High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are a step up, considered between 17 and 20 on the scale. Use the best filter available for the cleanest air.

Make sure to change your air filter as often as needed. Change the filter at least every three months—consider changing the filter every month during your allergy season.

Maintain Proper Humidity

Your HVAC system not only cleans the air but also removes humidity to keep your home’s humidity at an ideal 30 to 50% humidity.

Air conditioners remove moisture from the air to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, common allergens.

Winter air is already drier and heated, warm, dry air can irritate sinuses. If your home or climate is very dry, consider a humidifier for the heating season. While humidifiers are useful to keep your nose and throat from drying out, overuse can lead to mold or mildew: monitor humidity to keep it between 30 to 50%. Make sure to keep the water and parts clean to prevent growth at the source.

Enhancement Options

Natural ventilation and air filtration by the HVAC system provide the first and best defense from indoor allergens, removing as much as 99% of airborne particles. But your home and family are unique and might need additional help. Here are a couple of options you might consider.

Ultraviolet lights. UV is the part of sunlight that damages your skin in a sunburn. Matter of fact, UV kills microorganisms, including pollen and mold spores, yeast, bacteria, and viruses. Typically, UV lights are installed inside return air ducts; the neutralized cells are easier to trap in the air filter.

Air purifiers. Room air purifiers are mobile devices with a multiple-stage filtration system. Often air purifier filters use activated charcoal, which pulls gases/odors from the air. They are small, quiet, and affordable. Whole-home purifiers are also available. They connect to the central HVAC system for seamless operation.

Do houseplants help?

The answer to the question is yes, but . . . not enough. You do not depend on a few houseplants to produce all of the oxygen needed in the home and the same plants cannot absorb all of the carbon dioxide produced in your home. To achieve such dependence, entire rooms would need to be filled with houseplants in a careful balance.

The same is true concerning the absorption of volatile organic compounds, harmful gaseous chemicals found in every home. Houseplants absorb 1% of the number of contaminants that the HVAC system handles. Consider houseplants to be great decorations and accessories, but they will not replace your HVAC system.

In summary, you have tools in your home to help eliminate most seasonal allergens. Contact All Cool to determine which options might best enhance your home’s system.

Interested in Learning How Your HVAC System Can Reduce Allergens in Your Home

If you are interested in learning How Your HVAC System Alleviates Allergies in Your Home, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

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