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Monday, 09 June 2014 22:14

3 Thermostat Tips For The Summer Season

Written by Maxwell Plumb

The thermostat is the brains of your home's heating and air conditioning system. In order for the thermostat to provide the best balance of comfort and efficiency, it must be programmed for each climate and adjusted to a home's comfort needs.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your thermostat during the cooling season.

1. Program Your Thermostat. It's not uncommon to find homeowner's using their programmable thermostat as a simple on-off switch for their heating and cooling system, never realizing the potential for energy savings and increased comfort that the device is capable of providing.

Programmable thermostats work by shutting off systems when your home is empty, so you are not wasting money heating and cooling an empty home. They do this by running according to a schedule that you program based on the hours that you are home.

By scheduling the thermostat to heat and cool around your schedule you will see immediate savings on your energy bill

2. Optimize temperature Settings. To program a thermostat for the best mix of comfort and energy efficiency, we recommend setting your thermostat as follows:

In the summer -

  • Set the thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home
  • Set it at 85 degrees when you’re away
  • Set it at 82 degrees when you’re asleep 

In the winter -

  • Set the thermostat at 68 degrees when you are home
  • Set it at 60 degrees when you are away
  • Set it at 60 degrees when you are sleeping

In the spring and fall these temperatures can be adjusted based on the greater degree of temperature changes from day to night.

3. Consider Humidity Levels

Humidity plays a large role in home comfort. While it may be only 80 degrees outside, it can feel like 95 when the humidity levels are high.

Some thermostats offer humidity control, enabling more energy-efficient cooling and heating. Systems that operate at variable speeds can also help control humidity levels by drawing air across the coil slowly to remove more moisture when starting up.

During our hot New York summers the air quality often gets worse as the temperature rises. As the sun’s rays heat the outdoor air, excess chemical compounds mix with the air’s naturally occurring nitrogen oxide, resulting in a toxic soup of harmful ground-level gases. The risk is greatest to those who suffer from respiratory ailments. Add this pollution a high concentration of allergens like pollen and mold already present in the air and you'll be ready to take refuge indoors.

While the indoors may be the better place to breath easier during the hot weather, some of the same airborne particles and gases can become trapped inside - in some cases they can be in even higher concentrations than outside.

Whole House Air Cleaners

A whole-house air cleaner can provide homeowners with much needed relief from the many potentially harmful airborne particles inside the home, dramatically improving the quality of indoor air. Working in conjunction with the home's HVAC system a whole house air filter can provide hospital-grade air purification.  A removable media filter eliminates more than 95% of allergy-aggravating particles from indoor air. While an electronic purifier reduces ground-level ozone, an unhealthy gas.
Air Conditioning Refrigerants -Phasing Out Freon

Without refrigerants, air conditioning as we know it would not be possible. These liquid cooling agents circulate inside the air conditioner's coils to cool and dehumidify the air in our homes.

Up until very recently the most common refrigerant found in home air conditioners was R-22, or Freon. However, Freon is also a very potent contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer in the earth's atmosphere, so its use is being phased out.

Alternatives To Freon

As manufacturers phase out R-22 refrigerants, newer environmentally friendly alternative are being developed. R-410A is an EPA-rcognized, ozone-friendly refrigerant. Many of the industry's highest efficiency cooling systems are now designed to use R-410A refrigerant, benefiting the environment as well as your budget.

Freon Use In Air Conditioners Today

Although air conditioner manufacturers are required to phase out the use of R-22 systems, use of R-22 refrigerant is still allowed in older systems manufactured prior to 2010. If you have an older air conditioner that uses Freon, it's important to ensure that the unit is well maintained and not leaking into the atmosphere.

As the availability of Freon for air conditioners become lower in the coming years it makes sense to plan on upgrading to an R-410A system now. When your old air conditioner is removed Maxwell will properly recycle the components to ensure the Freon does not damage to the environment.

How does a tankless water heater work?

A tankless water heater works on demand so it isn’t using any gas until the  hot water is turned on from the point of use.  The unit starts working at very low pressure to ensure the unit turns on quickly and then will continue to provide hot water heater for as long as you need it to use the shower or faucet, etc. Premium tankless water heaters, also called hybrid water heaters, have a buffer tank installed with a pump,  this eliminates the “cold water sandwich” that is common with tankless water heaters.

What are the advantages of using a tankless water heater?

The first benefit is endless hot water,  you can literally turn the hot water on at 8am and then shut it off at 9pm and it will still be the same temperature.  They also are more efficient than a typical heater usually this means you save on your gas bill.  Next, all parts of the unit are replaceable unlike a tank type water heater,  which means a much longer life expectancy and better warranties.  Because it doesn't have a large tank of water, it will not flood the basement and takes up no floor space.

Can a tankless water heater be installed in the same place as the old water heater?

Yes,  they can be installed almost anywhere because the manufacturing process is completing at the job site it allows greater flexibility for installation location.

How much does it cost to have a tankless water heater installed?

This depends on various things throughout the installation process and what exactly you looking for. That is why Maxwell Plumb always sends a licensed technician to the home first, to examine and discuss the options available. We provide you with a guaranteed price in writing before any work begins.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy in the typical New York area building, 40 percent of energy consumed is for heating and cooling. To help you lower these costs as much as possible, Maxwell Plumb have put together a few tips to lower the amount your spend to keep your building cool while still being comfortable.

1. Locate and Seal Air Leaks - Locate air leaks around windows, doors and electrical outlets by burning a match stick while running the HVAC fan. Weather-stripping is an easy and low cost fix that can cut up to 15 percent or more off cooling costs.

2. Switch to CFL or LED Lights - Conventional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat. You will keep rooms cooler with energy-efficient light bulbs while saving electricity over the long term.

3. Use Curtains and Blinds - Keep south- and west-facing curtains and blinds closed on hot days and opened during cool evenings.

4. Unplug Electronics - TVs, appliances, and computers that are turned off can still suck power out of outlets. Unplug electronics that are not in use. Use smart strips to make this easier.

5. Use Programmable Thermostats - Program the thermostat to turn air conditioning off when the household is away to help save up to 10 percent on your cooling costs. Make sure that the thermostat is located on an inside wall, away from drafts.

6. Insulate Attic Access Points - Insulated covers are available for attic doors, hatches and pull-down stairs. Adequate insulation can cut heating and cooling cuts by 10 percent or more.

7. Ventilate Attics - Ventilation fans help prevent the sun’s heat from building up in the attic.

9. Check the Air Ducts - Sealing and insulating the building's duct distribution system enhances the cooling system’s efficiency.

10. Schedule Maintenance - Arrange for regular maintenance to keep your air-conditioning system operating at peak efficiency.
If your building has rooms that are hotter or colder than other rooms, system zoning is an effective way to create a more comfortable environment and increase overall cooling and heating efficiently.

What is System Zoning?

System zoning is pretty straight forward. Multiple thermostats are connected to a central control panel, which operates dampers within the duct work of the building's forced-air system. Each thermostat constantly measures the temperature of its specific zone, then opens or closes the damper within the ventilation system according to the thermostat's temperature setting.

System zoning can also help  save money on your energy bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, system zoning can save up to 30 percent on a typical heating and cooling bill.

If you're considering installing a retrofitted zone-control system in your building, call Maxwell Plumb. Our NVAC Specialists can evaluate you current system and your unique needs to recommend the perfect zoning system for your building.
The ABCs of Energy Efficiency In Heating and Cooling

For most building managers energy efficiency and lower utility bills are at the top of the list when deciding on a new furnace or air conditioner.

When researching heating and cooling systems you're likely to run across a lot of industry alphabet soup. While these acronyms can be bit confusing at first, they're meant to provide a simple scale to compare which systems that offer the highest efficiency and lowest energy costs.

Here are two of the most common measurements of energy efficiency.

SEER Ratings

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measure of efficiency for air conditioners. A high SEER number means more energy efficiency, and lower cost to operate. All new air conditioners have a 13.0 SEER rating or better. The most efficient systems can achieve SEER ratings over 20.

AFUE Ratings

For gas furnaces, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is a common measure of energy use and efficiency. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel used by your furnace is used to actually heat your home and how much is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency. For example, a 90% furnace creates heat, 90% of which is used directly by the home with 10% lost, generally as a result of venting. Some newer gas furnaces have an AFUE rating that exceeds 98%.
Air balancing is the testing and adjusting HVAC systems to deliver the right amount of air to each area of a building. To determine the performance of your air conditioning and heating system air balancing hoods are used to measure the amount of air at each air register. Manometers then measure system pressure. Hygrometers can be used to measure system temperature and humidity. The results of the tests are used to determine how well your HVAC system is working.

By understanding which sections of a building have positive and negative airflow, steps can be taken to ensure that the air delivery system is properly configured to ensure that the heating and cooling system is able to operate as efficiently as possible to ensure that the air is properly balanced throughout the building.
Water will expand when heated, and the excess pressure inside the water heater tank needs to be released. In the past, expanding water inside the tank would simply drain back into the water supply where it came from. Today, water mains are designed to prevent the backward release of pressure, known as backflow, by using a check valve. The check valve prevents dirty water from inside the house returning to the water supply where it would contaminate the supply of fresh water.

What is a water heater expansion tank?

A water heater expansion tank is simply another small tank that is attached to the water supply pipe of the water heater. The expansion tank is designed to handle the thermal expansion of water as it heats up in the water heater, preventing excessive water pressure. If water pressure gets to high it can damage valves in plumbing fixtures, joints in supply pipes and the water heater itself. Expanding water from the water heater flows into the expansion tank, relieving water pressure in the system.

What if my water heater doesn't have an expansion tank?

Most homes that have a check valve on the water main do not have an expansion tank, since it wasn't required until recently. This may or may not cause excessive pressure buildup, depending on the specific design of the plumbing in the house.

If you are noticing that washers in plumbing fixtures are deteriorating rapidly, or water is dripping from the relief valve on the water heater, it may be wise to add an expansion tank. It can be low cost insurance against more costly damage to your home's plumbing system.
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 20:56

The Benefits of Smart Thermostats

Written by Maxwell Plumb

The Benefits of Smart Thermostats

Mobile technology has connected virtually every aspect of our lives and put a world of information at our fingertips. As our homes are becoming more and more connected, the thermostat is also become more hi-tech and capable. But how do the new smart thermostats work, and are they a good investment that will save you money?

Traditional thermostats adjust the indoor air temperature by working as a simple control input for a home's heating and cooling system. You simply set the temperature and the device keeps your home within that range near the thermostat's physical location.

With the arrival of programmable thermostats homeowners could tailor the temperature of their home by programming the thermostat to turn on and off based on the day and time when the house would be occupied. This meant the heating or cooling system could be off when you were away from home.

Today's "smart" thermostats take the programmable thermostats to the next level by learning a household's routine and allowing hoeowners to monitor and change the temperature remotely using mobile applications. They can also provide real time feedback on energy consumption, weather forecasts and even adapt the temperature based on conditions like humidity levels.

The Nest Thermostat

One of the first smart thermostats to market was The Nest thermostat. It combines sleek design with a bright full color display to provide homeowners with useful information, combined with convenient remote apps designed to help cut energy consumption. The Nest is a learning thermostat that senses if a home is occupied, whether the air is suddenly getting humid, and other factors that allow it to custom tailor the indoor environment.

Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat

Honeywell's Smart Thermostat offers convenience and style, letting you monitor your home's temperature and the weather. It features:
  • Simple set-up that adjusts temperatures to fit your daily life. Onscreen Help" button answers questions as you go
  • Know about extreme indoor temperatures. Stay up-to-date on local weather conditions.
  • Smart Response gives you the right temperature at the right time
  • Choose a color scheme that blends with your home's decor or adds contrast
  • Free app with no monthly fee
  • Simple set-up with one touch weather and smart alerts
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  • Maxwell Plumb Does Your Home Need a Dehumidifier? Written by Maxwell Plumb

    During a typical New York summer the air can be hot and muggy outside, which can mean excess moisture inside. Excessive indoor humidity is not just uncomfortable, it can lead to unhealthy mold, musty odors and condensation that can damage wood surfaces and paint.

    In today's tight, well insulated homes, excess moisture can make your air conditioner work harder to keep the air cool and dry. To help keep the air dryer, a dehumidifier can be an effective solution.

    How does a dehumidifier work?
    As warm, humid air is blown across a cold coil by a fan, moisture condenses into liquid, which can be removed through a drain pipe. The dry air then passes over a warm coil and is added back into the room. Dehumidifiers are controlled by an instrument called a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off depending on the amount of moisture detected in the air. The level of moisture is controlled by a dehumidistat, which turns the unit on and off. A dehumidifier's capacity is measured in pints of water removed every 24 hours.

    Carrier Whole Home Dehumidifers
    A whole house dehumidifier is designed to work in conjunction with your home's heating and air conditioning system by monitoring and controlling the level of humidity. It operates quietly and is easily maintained by cleaning a filter.

    Have questions about controlling excess humidity in your home? Call Maxwell Plumb, we're here to help.





    Written on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 06:52 in Maxwell Plumb Blog
    Tags: indoor air quality dehumidifier humidity Be the first to comment! Read 4920 times Read more...
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