Property managers know that one of the top operating costs you can often control: utilities. Energy costs truly do add up, so here are some of the top ways you can manage energy costs in your building. Continue reading
For many people, utility bills are typically one of their most costly expenses each month. Did you know that the average American household can rack up nearly $2,000 in energy bills annually? That’s a pretty big chunk of change!
With energy costs rising across the board–gas, oil, and electricity are a pricy (yet necessary) commodity for your home. We’re here to help you reduce your energy consumption without sacrificing the comfort of your family.
Here are a few quick, do-it-yourself projects that can save you a few bucks. Continue reading
Although we usually associate the cold and snow with the holidays, it sure doesn’t end after the holidays are over! In fact, last month, February, and March are typically the harshest winter months for the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area (1).
That’s why it’s important to gear up and weatherize your home this winter. Not sure where to get started? We’ve got you covered. Continue reading
It’s important to make smart choices when you’re looking to purchase a a new heating and cooling system for your home (or business).
You’ll see various different energy efficiency ratings when you’re browsing among units, and you shouldn’t bypass them. Because they help indicate how much the system will cost to buy and operate, they’re worth reviewing. You may want to consider higher-rated systems, as they will be more efficient in the long run (1).
Confused? We’ll Explain.
If you’re clueless about what these ratings mean, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered!
Let’s talk heat. What’s HSPF? This indicates the ‘Heating Seasonal Performance Factor’ for heat pumps, which is expressed through a ratio. HSPF simply compares the amount of heat produced to the electricity consumed. In simpler terms, it rates the unit’s efficiency over an entire season.
To put these terms into perspective, the minimum required HSPF for heat pumps manufactured after 2015 is 8, while the highest possible HSPF is 10 (1). The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.
Gas furnace? You’ll want to know about AFUE. The ratings for gas furnaces differ slightly from heat pumps. The AFUE, or ‘Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency’ ratio measures the percentage of heat generated for every dollar of fuel used. This is similar to the miles-per-gallon standard on your car—the higher your AFUE, the less you’ll dish out for heating costs (1, 4).
Efficiency Ratings: The Basics
First, what does SEER mean? This rating stands for ‘Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio’ and is the most widely used efficiency measurement among air conditioners. Similar to HSPF, it compares the amount of electrical input needed to run the A/C over an entire season to how much cooling the unit provides (1,2). To put it simply, a higher SEER rating means higher efficiency. A 16-SEER unit is typically a viable choice for those looking for higher efficiency without breaking the bank (3).
Next up: EER. EER means ‘Energy Efficiency Ratio.” Unlike SEER, which assigns ratings based upon a lower operating temperature of 82 degrees, EER measures performance based on higher temperatures, typically above 95 degrees. This rating tests the unit based on how well it can perform under maximum cooling capacity, and also considers humidity removal (2).
So, which one should you keep an eye out for when it comes to A/C shopping? Well, both! It’s important not to bypass one efficiency rating for the other. Just because a particular unit has a high SEER rating, doesn’t mean that it will have a high EER rating—and vice versa.
Since most people will need an air conditioner than performs well in both circumstances (warm days, and hot, humid days), it will be helpful to investigate both ratings (2).
We’ll Help You Make the Best Choice
If you had to try to take away one thing from this article, remember that your system’s performance is measured by a higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (your SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (your EER). Higher ratings usually translate to lower operating costs, but they also are going to be more to purchase (1).
Making the switch to a new HVAC system is an important decision—and we want to make sure that you’re making the right one! Have a question about which system might be best for you? Give us a call!
If you are ready to take action and discuss your heating and cooling needs with a Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky expert, now is the time to call. Contact the experts at Greater Comfort today to ensure that your HVAC systems are in excellent shape this winter: 859-491-4915.
As much as we’d love for summer to be year-round, fall is upon us. Back to school, back to work, back to a routine!
Instead of spending lots of time outdoors enjoying the sun, you’ll probably be indoors (working hard, of course!) for the most part. This means that you’ll want to ensure your office has excellent air quality. Feeling comfortable is important, but breathing in clean, well filtered air is also just as important.
It’s easy to switch up the temp when you feel uncomfortable. However, improving air quality is a tougher problem to tackle. That’s why we have some tips in store for you! Continue reading
Is your yard looking a little…well, boring? You might want to consider adding some shady dimension. In addition to jazzing up the look of your area, it will also keep you cool on those hot, sunny days.
However, landscaping a few shady spots outside your home can do more than just add beauty to your yard and cool you off. It’s also a sneaky way to save some money by fighting off sunlight and thus lowering your energy bill.
Here are a couple different landscaping tricks that can save you a few bucks. (Thank us later!)
1. Shade Your Outdoor AC Unit
If you place your AC unit directly out in the sun, it will heat up quickly. This constant heat will cause your system to work harder.
Luckily, some landscaping can help alleviate some heat from the sunlight. Because your unit needs sufficient room for airflow, you don’t want to suffocate your unit with bedding plants. However, it is a good idea to plant a tree or shrub nearby to add some shade (1).
2. Make the Breeze Come to You
Did you know that you can redirect outdoor airflow to cool down your home? Trees and plants can provide shade and usher in cool breezes. Shrubs planted underneath windows can bring air upward with the help of a nearby tree. Rows of trees and shrubs on each side of your home can allow cool air to enter your home as well (1, 4).
3. Add Some Greenery to Cover Your Roof and Walls
As you might guess, your roof absorbs the most solar heat because it takes in the most direct sunlight. But did you know that tall shady trees that block this sunlight can cut your energy bill by nearly 20% in the summer? That’s quite a bit!
The best way to do this is by planting tall trees on the south and west sides of your home. Deciduous trees with broad leaves and high, spreading crowns are an excellent pick if you’re looking to improve your energy bill for two reasons: they’ll shade your home in the summer, and they’ll allow sunlight to heat your home in the winter once the leaves fall. Win, win.
If you’re too impatient to wait for trees to grow, a great alternative is to opt for a pergola or trellis, draping it with fast-growing vines. Although this won’t provide as much shade for your roof, it will certainly provide ample shade for the walls of your home (and it will look nice!) (1,2).
4. Cool Off with a Splash
Okay, so this one doesn’t add any shade to your yard, but it does help cool down your area. Adding a water feature adds some fun dimension and can help lower your energy bill. If you have room for a fountain or pond, the evaporation from the water can actually help cool your yard (1).
5. Play Around with Bushes and Shrubs
In addition to adding a little style to your yard, bushes and shrubs strategically placed around your walls and windows can reduce some of the solar heat that creeps into your home. Try planting some alongside the walls of your house, switching up the heights and type each plant for lots of shade. Get creative with this! (3)
Give us a Call for Your HVAC Needs
We’re pretty well versed in the world of HVACs; that’s why there’s more where this article came from. In addition to helping you save on your energy bill through some neat landscaping tricks, we can help you save in lots of other ways.
If you have questions about your HVAC, or would like to schedule a regular maintenance visit, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Call the experts at Greater Comfort today to ensure that your home is as comfortable as possible this summer: 859-491-4915.
Although summer is ending soon, you’re probably pretty appreciative of your AC right now. It helps you relax, keep you comfortable, and cool you down.
It’s important that you’re knowledgeable about your heating and cooling system, no matter the time of year. You might think that you know all there is to know about your HVAC system, but there’s probably a few things you don’t know.
We’ll clue you in on some key info info…with a few fun facts sprinkled in, of course. Continue reading
Of course we all love our furry little friends, but sometimes they make it harder to keep our homes nice and tidy. Their hair gets all over the furniture, they track mud onto the carpet, and sometimes, they have accidents. But hey, at least they’re cute!
You probably didn’t know that your animal can not only put a strain on the cleanliness of your home, but also affect your HVAC system. We’ll fill you in on what happens to your HVAC system, and how to take proper care of it if you do have a pet. Continue reading
It wasn’t always as easy as it is today to regulate the temperature within our homes!
Although the first thermostat was invented in 1886, most people didn’t have one until much later. In the beginning of the 20th century, most homes were equipped with manual furnaces.
This meant that each morning, you had to truck down to the basement (where the furnace was typically located) and stoke coal, adjust valves, and situate dampers (1, 2).
It was no walk in the park, to say the least! Continue reading
Try these quick and easy tips to start seeing energy and cost savings in the near future.
Make Your Landscape Work For You
Look outside the home to save money on costs inside the home. Radiant heat from the sun can be working directly against your air conditioner when your shades and blinds are raised. But if you plant a 6-8 foot deciduous tree near your home, it will start shading your windows as soon as the first year.
Depending on the type of tree and the height of your home, it could start shading your roof in as little as 5-10 years. That’s a quick return on investment, and creates a nice improvement to your landscaping.
Why deciduous? A deciduous tree blocks solar heat in the summer, but since it loses its leaves, will let sunlight and heat into the house during the winter months. Compare that to evergreens, which provide continuous shade, and won’t provide you with a benefit in the cooler months (1,2).
Make The Switch To LED
Have you switched to more energy efficient lighting? Making the switch to this modern option is one of the fastest ways to lowery our energy bill. For example, just by replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures with Energy Star bulbs, you can save $75 per year.
LED bulbs save you the most money. You’ll save at least 75% by switching to this model compared to the traditional incandescent bulbs of the past that are no longer on the market. Even compared with halogen incandescents, LEDs use 25-30% less energy and last up to 25 times longer. For a small investment now, you can enjoy the cost savings on your energy bill for years to come (3).
Fix Air Leaks
For just a few dollars and an hour or two of your time, you could save 10% or more annually on your energy bill. Air leaks can waste energy and money quickly, both in summer months by letting hot air inside, and in winter months with resulting chilly drafts. Patching these leaks is one of the quickest and best money-saving tasks you can accomplish.
Your goal is to caulk, seal and weather strip any cracks or large openings that lead outside the home. When purchasing your caulk, keep in mind that you will likely need about one cartridge to complete the seal on two windows or doors. These tubes of window and door caulk range between $2 and $10.
Don’t forget to pick up a caulking gun to squeeze out the product and ensure proper application. This job will be done in just an hour or two, but you will enjoy the results immediately (1, 4).
Consider Storm Windows
Replacing old windows in your home with new, energy-efficient windows will provide the best return on investment, but will be a costly initial investment. A great alternative for a less expensive option is to use storm windows. Storm windows can still help you save a significant amount: approximately 12-33% on HVAC costs. They work by reducing the air movement into and out of existing windows (5).
Take Advantage Of The Weather
Did the weather man predict a cool night? Take advantage of “natural ventilation”. This type of ventilation relies on the chimney effect to keep a home cool. It works best if your evening forecast includes a cool night and a bit of a breeze. All you need for this quick energy saver is a good memory, the use of your windows and a cool summer night.
Turn off your cooling system and open your windows while you sleep, allowing the fresh, cool air to transfer into your house and giving your AC unit a break. Just don’t forget to shut the windows and blinds when you wake in the morning to capture the cool air inside the house (1,6).
Schedule A Professional Energy Audit
Before you write this off as another unnecessary expense, consider this: The goal of an energy audit from Greater Comfort is to provide an overview of how your home uses energy and find ways that you can reduce consumption without incurring large additional costs.
In other words, we want to help your system work more efficiently so that you can save money. We will determine if your home or building needs upgrades or other specific actions to improve efficiency. You will be given a list with specific action steps and can select those which make the most sense to you.
Call Us To Schedule Your Energy Audit Today
Call the experts at Greater Comfort today to ensure you’re getting the most savings as quickly as possible: 859-491-4915.