It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  We agree with this favorite Christmas song lyric.  Though we also agree that with all the visitors and extra lights and up-and-down thermostat, the most wonderful time can also mean a less wonderful January power bills.  But with a little attention to common sense and heat management details, the January bill can be less Scrooge-like.  Keep these miserly tips in mind this season:

Mind the Temperature

When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.

When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours.  A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.

If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.

Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace

Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like leaving a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.

Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.

 

Share more Hot Water with Holiday Guests

Reduce the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.  And you’ll leave more water for extra visitors during the holidays!

Use fans to circulate air.

Set your fan on low to circulate air upward toward the ceiling. This will force the warmer air that rises and gets trapped at the ceiling downward, leaving your house feeling warmer.

 

 

Keep vents and radiators clear.

Ensure your vents are not blocked by rugs or furniture, or that you don’t have any large objects in front of your radiator. This allows the air to circulate freely and you to get the full benefit of the warm air and put less strain on your furnace. This is also safer!

Clean vents, radiators, etc.

Not only is dust an allergen, it is a wonderful insulator. Clean the built-up dust from your radiators and baseboard heat vents often. This allows the air to flow freely into your rooms and promotes equal heat radiation. It is healthier too!

Pay attention to your windows.

Approximately 10-25% of your house’s heat loss can be attributed to windows. To reduce this, open curtains and shades on south facing windows during daylight hours to allow the sun’s heat to enter your house and warm it. Keep curtains and blinds closed at night and when the sun is not shining on them to insulate your house and keep the heat inside. Another tip – place blankets over uncovered windows and drapes, especially at night when the windows are not being used and the temperature is at its coldest.

Shut the doors.

If the room is not used, why heat it? Shut the doors and close the vent when you are not in the room. When you are in the room, shutting the door can increase the room’s temperature by keeping in your body heat and the heat produced by lights or other electronics such as a computer.

Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs

Use light-emitting diode — or “LED” — holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.

Most Important: Safety and Security

While saving on your monthly energy bill is important, safety and security are the top priority.  Be sure to give your home that lived-in look while you’re away by using programmable timers that allow you to manage which lights to turn on, when and for how long while you’re away from home.

Enjoy your holidays! As always, call Kay Heating and Air Conditioning for any needs that arise during this busy season. 336-274-6323 or contact us at www.kayheating.com.

Air Vent

During the summer, you want your air conditioner operating at full capacity to keep you and your family cool. Yet, there is such a thing as too much cold air. If you start feeling frigid in the middle of July, you may have a problem on your hands. Perhaps a spare room is hogging all the cold air, and you think you can save money by redirecting the airflow. Either way, closing your vents is not the right solution.

The Rationale Behind Closing Your Air Vents

Let’s say most of your house is perfectly cool, but one pesky office or bedroom is so chilly you can’t stand to be in there without a jacket. Or maybe you’re cooling a room that doesn’t get frequent traffic and you feel like you’re wasting energy. Common sense dictates that you should close the air vent in that room and redirect the cool air elsewhere.

Sadly, that approach – while logical – just doesn’t work. To understand why, you need to know more about how your HVAC system operates.

How an HVAC System Works

Every HVAC system has the following basic parts:

Blower – Blows cool or warm air throughout your home by maintaining a certain air pressure difference.
Return duct – Returns air from your house to the HVAC system. You cannot close the vents for these ducts.
Supply duct – Delivers cool or warm air to your home. You can typically open or close each vent using a lever on the front of the grille.
Coil – Cools your home’s air using refrigerant.
Heat exchanger – Warms your home’s air.
Compressor – Circulates refrigerant throughout the system from the outdoor unit.

Unless you change the setting on your thermostat or turn the air off altogether, the blower is always trying to maintain a certain pressure difference, and the coil or heat exchanger is always trying to cool or heat the air that passes through. In other words, closing one vent does not spare your HVAC system – it only makes it more difficult for the system to maintain the proper pressure.

Why You Shouldn’t Close Your Vents

Closing an air vent makes it harder for your HVAC system to function properly because it increases air pressure within the system. How your system reacts depends on the type of blower your unit has:

Permanent split capacitor (PSC) – Slows down as it starts to malfunction, resulting in less airflow.
Electronically commutated motor (ECM) – Tries to maintain the right air pressure by working harder.

Overworking either of these blowers is a bad idea. With an ECM blower, your energy usage will increase and your monthly bill is sure to skyrocket, whereas straining a PSC blower may damage your system permanently.

Decreasing the airflow within the system is particularly destructive because the coil or heat exchanger won’t be able to absorb or give off as much heat. If you live in a humid area, your coil can get so cold it freezes over, causing the refrigerant to back up and damage your compressor. While this is costly, it’s better than a broken heat exchanger, which can crack and release carbon monoxide throughout your house. This is an emergency that needs immediate repair.

Other Downsides of Closing Air Vents

Some HVAC units may be able to withstand the extra air pressure if you only close one or two vents, but this still isn’t a good idea. You may end up with:

Leaky ducts – When you increase pressure, air is more likely to escape from any cracks and crevices in the ductwork. These leaks reduce the overall efficiency of your system.
Undesirable heating and cooling in other rooms – Closing vents changes the way your blower operates and either increases or decreases airflow. That means air will be delivered differently to the supply vents that remain open. Rooms may end up too chilly or hot as a result.
Mold growth – This is more common in the winter, but when you block off an entire room from your HVAC system, condensation can form, and along with it, mold.

Find Your Ideal Temperature With Kay Heating & Air Conditioning in Greensboro, NC

If one of your rooms is too cold, closing a vent won’t help – it will just put your unit under stress. You’re much better off addressing the root of the problem with the help of a certified HVAC technician.

At Kay Heating & Air Conditioning, our team of technicians can find a solution that works for you, such as:

• Setting up room-by-room zoning
• Installing a mini-split system
• Upgrading to a more efficient unit
• Replacing faulty parts
• Fixing leaks in ductwork
• And much more!

Call us at (336) 274-6323 to schedule your appointment today.

Shade Trees

As the temperatures start to rise, you may be looking forward to the extra sun but dreading the spike in your electricity bill. WalletHub® calculated that North Carolinians had the eleventh highest average electricity bills in 2017 – $144 per month – compared to residents in all other states and Washington D.C.1 Over the course of a year, that can really add up!

While you don’t have control over utility prices, you can reduce your energy consumption and lower your bills in an unlikely way.

The Effect of Planting Shade Trees

As it turns out, there isn’t much trees can’t do. Besides increasing your home’s value by 7 to 19 percent and providing beauty and privacy, trees can also potentially slash your energy bills for years to come.2 According to the U.S. Department of Energy, optimizing your landscaping could save you anywhere from 15 to 50 percent on your A/C bill due to significantly lower temperatures provided by shade trees. If an entire neighborhood is covered in shade trees, the temperature can drop by 6 degrees Fahrenheit!3

Why Shade Trees Work

We already know intuitively that trees lower the temperature; it’s why we prefer to stand under a tree on a sweltering summer day than directly in the path of the sun’s brutal rays. There are two main reasons for this cooling effect.

Shading – Tree leaves can block sunlight from hitting your home and streaming in through your windows.

Evapotranspiration – This is a combination of evaporation and transpiration, two major parts of the water cycle. Evaporation is the transformation of liquid water into water vapor after heating. Transpiration is the process by which water moves from the ground up through a tree’s roots and is released through the leaves’ stoma to become vapor.

What Types of Trees to Plant

In general, it’s a good idea to choose trees that are compatible with the climate of your state and the microclimate of your town. North Carolina is in a temperate region of the United States, so you will want to plant shade trees that are native to the area and can survive in the region’s climate and with the annual rainfall.

You will also need to decide between planting deciduous or evergreen trees. The main difference is that deciduous trees will lose their leaves in fall and be barren in winter, whereas evergreen trees remain lush and full year-round. While this doesn’t make much of a difference during spring and summer, an evergreen tree will also block sunlight during the fall and winter, which you may not want. For instance, you may want to offset winter heating costs by allowing sunlight to hit your home. When it comes to the deciduous versus evergreen debate, there is no right or wrong answer. Choose the tree that will give you your desired shade for every season.

Here is a list of popular shade trees you may want to consider. Those native to North Carolina are marked with an asterisk:

• *American Hornbeam
• Chinese Elm
• Crepe Myrtle
• *Flowering Dogwood
• Ginkgo
• Japanese Zelkova
• Littleleaf Linden
• *Red Maple
• *Sugar Maple
• *White Oak

To check what trees may be appropriate for your home, reference the native plant list provided by NC State University or one of the plant lists provided by the Natural Learning Initiative at the NC State College of Design.

Where to Plant Your Trees

Keep sun and shade angle in mind – Even if you plant your tree right next to your home, it might not provide shade at the time of day you want, if at all. In general, plant trees with lower crowns on the west side of the house to block afternoon and sunset rays. Tall deciduous trees with high crowns are better suited for the southern side of the house, unless you have solar panels or rely on winter sun to heat your home. When in doubt, ask a landscaping professional.

Watch out for roots – Make sure you know how large the root system of your tree will be once it’s fully matured. Overgrown roots can destroy a home’s foundation or your driveway. You may also accidentally plant trees too close to each other, stifling their ability to grow.

Give your house some room to breathe – While you want shade, you also don’t want to damage your home. How far you plant your tree from the house will depend on the species and your homeowners insurance policy.

Maximize curb appeal – There is an art to landscaping. If you space trees out haphazardly, they may reduce the curb appeal of your home or cause damage. Consult with a tree service company if you don’t have much landscaping experience.

Save Money on Your Bills With Kay Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.

While shade trees are a great way to boost your home’s energy efficiency, it’s more important that your HVAC system is running smoothly. If your air filter is dirty or the system’s parts are worn down, your A/C has to work twice as hard to pump cool air into your home, driving up your energy bill every month and potentially causing costly damage to the unit!

At Kay Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., our CFC-certified technicians can take care of any HVAC tune-up or repair. We’ve been serving North Carolina since 1972, so we know HVAC systems inside and out. If you’re in the Triad area, give us a call at 336-274-6323 to schedule your service today!

1https://wallethub.com/edu/energy-costs-by-state/4833/
2https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/increase-your-homes-value-with-mature-trees
3https://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-landscaping