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ways to reduce your environmental impact and stay warm this winter

Reduce Your Environmental Impact This Year

What about taking on a resolution this year that could benefit the greater good?

Reducing the impact that we have on the environment is easier than we think. And, if we all do our part, we can really make a difference. Here are a few ways that you can do good for the environment—at home and in the office! Continue reading

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What Do HVAC Energy Ratings Mean heres what to know

What Do HVAC Energy Ratings Mean?

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.

Sources:

  1. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-do-hvac-energy-efficiency-ratings-mean.htm
  2. https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf
  3. https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/what-is-a-good-seer-rating/
  4. https://www.lennox.com/buyers-guide/guide-to-hvac/energy-ratings
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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your HVAC

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

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Improve Your Home’s Air Quality This Summer: Everything You Want to Know

improve your air quality this summer

If you’re near exhaust gas coming from the back of a vehicle, you probably try to hold your breath until it passes, right? You can visibly see this type of air pollution, so you do your best to avoid it.

Indoors, it’s a little different. Even though it sounds like a no-brainer to make sure you’re breathing clean air, not seeing anything visibly wrong with the air around you might cause you to push the issue aside.

The quality of the air in your home is more important than you think. In fact, according to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 87% of their time indoors (1). That’s a pretty significant chunk of your life, which means it’s critical that you’re breathing in clean air while you’re indoors. Continue reading

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It’s Time to Switch to Heat—But that Shouldn’t Mean You Sacrifice Comfort

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For all of us across Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati, fall means switching to heat! Here’s what you need to know about staying comfortable during the winter.

Control Your Humidity & Temperature In Your Home

If you have a lack of moisture in the air in your home during the fall or winter, you can negatively impact your health, comfort and your home. Humidity—lack of, or too much—is one of the major factors that can affect our overall comfort in the home!

What are the signs that you are lacking humidity in your home?

If you feel you have abnormally dry skin, a scratchy throat, or you’ve noticed itchy eyes, or even a lower than normal immune function, the air in your home could be to blame! Not only does the drier air actually feel cooler, but it can actually increase our risk of contracting colds. Getting a humidifier is your solution for an effective, efficient and sustainable way to add vapor back into the air throughout your home.

On the flip side, too much moisture in the air can mean fungus, mold and dust mites will thrive in the home, which of course is bad for our health and worsens allergies and asthma.

Beyond controlling the amount of air in our home, furnaces help control the temperature throughout our home—another major factor in our day-to-day comfort. Gas furnaces will use burners to ignite fuel to give you steady heat, and conventional furnaces turn the gas flame off and on as the furnace cycles. More innovative systems can use special gas valves to incrementally adjust the flow of fuel, providing even greater control and consistent heat (and even energy savings).

Last, a programmable thermostat provides—when utilized—gives you complete control for you and your family, and some advanced models even tie-in humidity control. Ask us for more information if you ‘re looking to better control your heat and the level of moisture in your air.

Two-stage heating also gives more control. With two-stage heating, the furnace has high for cold winter days and then low for milder days. Usually the low setting meets household heating demands, meaning the furnace “starts” in the first stage, where the amount of heat required is lower.

A two-stage unit doesn’t give you that sudden blast of air, and it gives you very consistent comfort, more even heat distribution, and can regulate temperature very close to desired settings.

Control Your Air Quality

During winter, impurities in the air in our home can irritate our eyes, our nose and lungs. Part of the air quality picture is humidity control, and as described, having the right amount of moisture in the air means we can minimize the risk of pollutants and things like mold in our home.

A second component is air purification. Getting a filtration and air purification system attached to your furnace or air handler means you can remove and destroy air pollutants and contaminants. This is a critical way in order to better control the air in our home.

Not to be forgotten is the power of ventilation, which is powerful in getting fresh air into our home, and stale air out of the home. Especially when thinking about tightly sealed homes, we’re able to enhance indoor air quality because we’re able to remove those pollutants that we don’t want in the home. Consider how single-room air cleaners are focused on one room, as you would guess. These are small and are portable. Whole-home air cleaners are permanently integrated solutions that are typically tied to your HVAC.

Ready to get rid of dust, dirt, pet dander, pollen, mold, mildew, germs and the chemical vapors and odors that might be in your home?

Get greater control of the air in your home by taking advantage of the latest air cleaning technology. Give us a call today at 859-491-4915.

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Top Winter Home (And Furnace) Myths That Still Persist

fall inspection HVAC covington kentucky

Are you ready for winter? Here are some of the top misconceptions about taking care of your home leading up to, and during, the winter months.

1. Insulated Windows Aren’t That Important.

False! While replacing windows may or may not save you a large amount of money, the idea that insulated windows are not important is untrue. That’s because insulated windows mean that you’re helping to prevent heat from escaping, and you’re also creating a warmer window surface on the inside. If you can work against heat transfer, while combating condensation issues, it’s a win-win for your home.

2. What to Do With Your Heat Pump in Case of a Power Outage.

If the power goes out, typically it is recommended to switch your thermostat to the emergency heat setting. If you have an electric heat pump, special care is needed when you turn your unit on after an extended period of time where the power has been out, in part due to how the lubricant in the refrigerant must warm-up. Although it may vary based on manufacturer, typically you also want the system to run for at least an hour after the power comes back on.

3. Your Home Will Heat Up Faster If You Set the Thermostat Extra High.

Consider how your furnace works: it’s just delivering air at a same rate, not a faster rate depending on how high (or low) that temperature is set to. That means setting your thermostat extra high will not help it heat up any faster if you come home to a cold house and want to warm-up more quickly. This is similar to the myth of setting your AC down to a temperature lower than the desired house temperature to try to get the house to cool down faster—it just does not work that way.

4. You Don’t Have to Winterize Water Lines Each Year.

You already know that water freezes and expands, so you probably value the idea of switching off your air conditioner’s water shut-off valve. You also don’t want to overlook draining the AC hoses and pipes so that any water inside the equipment won’t lead to any problems. Outside hoses must be drained and stored each year.

5. You Can Skip a Year When It Comes to Your Furnace Tune-Up.

Regular maintenance has to be just that: regular. You’ve heard the comparisons to visiting the dentist or changing your oil, but the truth of the matter is you do extend the life of your system, save energy, keep your family as safe as possible, and also reduce health risks by getting your system checked in the fall and in the spring.

Recall how as much as 3 out of 4 service calls in the fall and winter months because of no heat are tied back to a lack of system maintenance. That’s just one more reason to schedule an appointment with us today.

6. You Conserve Energy (or Save Money) When You Turn Off Your Heat During the Day.

Many of us are looking to maximize efficiency and save money where we can—but you don’t conserve energy when you turn off the heat in your home during the day while you are away. Turning off the heat and then letting the temperature drop is not only something that can be hard on your system, but it’s extra risky when you live in a place that has a high risk of frozen water pipes.

Said another way, letting the temperature drop by turning off your heat completely won’t save you the money you intended to save and it can increase your risk in damage due to water pipes bursting. Instead, simply use your programmable thermostat to drop in the day when you are away (rather than shut it off entirely), but then to rise again when you are back home.

Call us today at 859-491-4915 to schedule and ask us about our preventative maintenance agreement that can save you time and money.

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