Radiant Floor Heating: Now What?

In-floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating, is a method of heating your home that provides heat through the floors, wall panels, and ceilings of your home. Not only is radiant floor heating more energy-efficient than many other forms of indoor climate control, but it can also be an excellent alternative to other types of forced air heating for those with allergies. If you have radiant floor heating in your home, do you know how to maintain the system and preserve its longevity? If you’re considering a home with radiant floor heating, here are some tips for maintaining your system. When radiant floor systems are well-maintained, they rarely experience breakdowns, and are a fairly hassle-free heating system.

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Pump Maintenance

Radiant floor heating relies on your pump being in good condition, and problems with pumps should be fairly infrequent if maintained properly. However, one sign that the pump may need an HVAC technician’s inspection is if it begins to make noise, as pumps generally operate silently. Keep in mind that equipment more than a few years old may operate at a louder noise level than new pumps. Get acquainted with what your pump sounds like when it’s healthy, so that you can quickly detect changes.

Afterglow offers a yearly maintenance package to keep pumps functioning in peak condition, and if you stay on top of maintenance, you shouldn’t encounter any problems with your radiant floor pump. However, if you do encounter a problem, our technicians at Afterglow are experienced, and can provide service in any emergency.

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Leaks

Radiant floor heating is meant to be a closed system, meaning that leaks should be rare. The best way to prevent leaks is to have an HVAC technician inspect your radiant floor system and make sure it’s functioning at optimal pressure. Low pressure can indicate a leak somewhere in the pipe system, which may not be disastrous at first, but will mean that the system isn’t functioning as efficiently as possible over time. Radiant floor heating can operate 25-40% more efficiently than other heating systems, but these efficiencies won’t be realized if a leak exists somewhere in the system.

We’re always here for you at Afterglow, whether you need routine maintenance or whether you’re facing an HVAC emergency! We offer a four-hour emergency response time, and our certified HVAC technicians are always happy to provide service for all your heating and cooling needs.

Cut Costs by Shrinking Your Carbon Footprint

As most of us know, your “carbon footprint” is a way of measuring how much your daily activities and consumption of energy affect the environment. Since your carbon footprint is calculated in part according to how much energy you use,  when you start to consider the health of the environment by shrinking your carbon footprint, you also end up saving money! Here are our top tips.

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  1. Use a carbon footprint calculator to pinpoint where you can improve:
    Find out which areas of your life (whether it’s gas mileage, electricity use, or your food consumption) are contributing to your carbon footprint. Awareness of your energy usage is the first step to shrinking your carbon footprint, as we often forget that many of our daily activities have an impact on both environment and our own expenses.EcoBee
  2. Control your temperature and energy usage with a programmable thermostat:
    During cold weather, use a programmable thermostat to lower your home’s set temperature at night and during times of the day that you won’t be home. Lowering your set temperature by as little as 2 degrees can add up to huge savings.air filters
  3. Change your HVAC filter regularly:
    Did you know that regularly changing your HVAC air filter can reduce your energy usage by 5-10%? When you don’t change your HVAC’s air filter on a regular basis, the system has to work harder because airflow is restricted. Eliminate wasted energy by getting the filter changed once a month.o
  4. Find a reliable HVAC technician:
    Asking your technician to perform regular maintenance on your HVAC unit, before there’s a problem, can save you tons of money in wasted energy. A technician can inspect and seal your heating and cooling ducts, which can increase your HVAC’s efficiency by up to 20%, and technicians can also perform any necessary maintenance or upgrades that your unit might need.

At Afterglow, our technicians are here to help you get the most of your HVAC unit. We want to keep your HVAC equipment running optimally, so we can all work together to decrease our carbon footprints and keep our costs down. 

How Do KW Weather Conditions Affect Your HVAC?

Afterglow relies on weather projections from local news outlets, the University of Waterloo Weather Station, and Environment Canada to help us predict when more people might need help. Weather projections help us anticipate when severe conditions or excessive precipitation might cause flooding, power outages, or any other conditions that might overwork your HVAC unit, so we can have as many technicians on standby as possible to help you. So what weather patterns has Kitchener-Waterloo seen in the last year?

Kitchener Flooding (Photo credits: Dan Lauckner)

Excessive Precipitation and Flooding

In August 2016, Kitchener-Waterloo was hit with almost 50mm of rain in only a couple of hours, which caused flooding throughout the city. Anytime excessive precipitation accumulates quickly, it’s important to check on your HVAC unit. If your unit is exposed to water, this could damage the electrical components. Be safe, rather than sorry, and make sure you schedule an HVAC checkup with one of our technicians if there’s any chance your equipment has been exposed to flooding. And if flooding happens, no problem—at Afterglow we’re always ready to help with any emergency!

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Fluctuating Temperatures: Program Your Thermostat!

Although the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a harsh winter this year, January and February have seen fairly mild temperatures, with some fluctuations into colder territory in January. The best way to take control of drastic changes in temperature is to invest in a programmable thermostat, which allows you to program your thermostat based on your desired usage. Even decreasing the set temperature at night by a couple of degrees can help keep your HVAC unit from getting overworked. Even more importantly, you’ll save money when you let the thermostat do the work for you.

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Warmer Winter: Schedule Your Tune-Up!

When the winter temperatures are mild, it’s easy to take your HVAC unit for granted. 2016 was one of the warmest years in decades, and even if you’re not relying on your furnace as much this winter, it’s important to schedule regular tune-ups with a skilled HVAC technician. Regardless of how warm or cold it is outside, your HVAC filters still need to be changed on a monthly basis to maintain high air quality.

No matter what the weather is like outside, Afterglow wants to help keep you comfortable. Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced technicians, and find out how we can help!

Common Causes for HVAC Breakdown

During cold Canadian winter nights, your HVAC system becomes the number one asset in your home. However, if not working properly, it can become one of the most expensive liabilities. Without fail, every year we get phone calls from people that are both frustrated and scared when their furnace stops working. We want to help! Take three minutes to check out main causes for a HVAC breakdown and how you can prevent it:

1. Lack of proper maintenance

One of the reasons for breakdowns is the lack of proper maintenance of the HVAC unit. Failing to get your furnace or boiler checked at least once a year will slowly run down the system, which results in lower efficiency and could lead to an expensive breakdown. Alongside maintenance, remember to replace filters every one to two months to ensure that your unit is working properly.

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2. Items around your furnace

The area around your furnace or boiler should be cleared of any debris. Storing salt bags or chemicals nearby can adversely affect your HVAC unit. Debris close to the unit that obstructs the flow of air to and from the HVAC system can also contribute to a breakdown.

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3. Improper sizing

Getting an HVAC system that best fits your household needs is very important. Installing a system that is too small for your household will decrease the unit’s lifespan, as it will be overworked. Oversizing results in excessive burner cycles. Our trained technicians at Afterglow will ensure that you get a unit installed in your home that will best fit your household needs.

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4. Improper installation

Improper installation of an HVAC unit can reduce its efficiency by up to 30%. When it comes to repairs, maintenance check-ups, or replacing and installing a new furnace or air conditioner, our Afterglow technicians have the expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently. We guarantee it!

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Afterglow offers emergency service when you need it and guarantees a four-hour response time to ensure your comfort and safety.  We’ll send one of our trained technicians to your home to take a look at the problem. We’ll provide an honest assessment of the issues with your system and what needs to be done to have it working again.

Stay Warm!

“Green” Gifts That Save Money

It’s that time of year again! Do you have someone on your list who’s interested in saving money on their heating and energy bill in 2017? We came up with a list of three products that will help make any home more energy efficient so you can give the gift of savings! Perfect for anyone interested in making their home more energy efficient or environmentally sustainable, here are our top three picks.

Programmable Thermostats

If you’re not familiar with the Ecobee or Nest thermostat systems, it’s time to get on board! These two companies are changing the programmable thermostat with settings that are customizable from your phone, build schedules to remember your heating and cooling patterns, and eventually automatically reduce your heating and cooling usage when you’re away from the house.

If you’re going to be away longer than you planned, you can change your thermostat to an “away” setting, keeping your home a few degrees cooler while saving more than a few dollars.

With a sleek design, and an easy to use interface, these thermostats are sure to be a hit under the tree.

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Smart Power Strips

Did you know that phantom power could be wreaking havoc on your energy bill without you even knowing it? Phantom power is when an appliance or electronic is turned off but it is still using power when plugged into the outlet. According to the Ministry of Energy a common product, like your desktop computer, still uses lots of energy even when turned off.

Smart power strips are the best way to help combat phantom power which can increase your hydro bill up to 20%!

By investing in a smart power strip, it can detect when an electronic is in standby mode and fully power down, helping to reduce your phantom power and your monthly electricity bill.

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Solar Christmas Lights

Nothing gets us in the festive spirit like a beautifully decorated home! But all of those lights come at a cost – especially when the kids want them kept on day and night!

Solar string lights turn off in the daylight while they recharge and only turn on once it’s dark. No more going outside to plug in the lights or reminding yourself to set a timer! Not only is it efficient for your lifestyle, it’s efficient for your energy bill!

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Do you have any other “green gifts” that you’ll be giving away this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Holidays from Afterglow!

Top Five Cool Night Tips

Fall is finally here! As our nights start to cool down and your furnace begins to kick in, we’ve put together a list of our top five tips that can help you and your family stay warm and save money on your heating bill.

Set your ceiling fan clockwise.

If you have a ceiling fan, in the cooler months it should be set on a low setting running in a clockwise direction. Since warm air rises, this gentle draft will push the warm air resting near the ceiling back down towards the floor. This can help the room feel warmer, allowing you to lower your thermostat temperature and help keep your heating bill a bit lower. 

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Let the sun heat your home.

On a sunny day, if your home has large windows that directly face the sun, keep the curtains open to let the sun heat your home! Just be sure to close the curtains at night so that warm air doesn’t escape.

Replace thin curtains.

Speaking of curtains, something that many of us don’t consider is that thinner curtains can let the heat escape much easier out of your windows. By replacing them with thicker, heavier curtains in the winter months and keeping curtains and blinds closed atnight, it can prevent the amount of heat lost through windows.

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Seal windows and cracks.

When the heat “escapes”, it can go out small cracks or gaps that you might not even realize are there! By thoroughly checking all windows and doors and adding caulking and/or weatherstripping, it can help conserve the warm air inside.

Keep your ducts clean.

Schedule ductwork maintenance before turning on your furnace to ensure proper circulation and efficient air flow. If the ducts are clogged with debris and dust, your unit will work harder to try and heat your home which can potentially result in a higher energy bill.

Additionally, dirt and dust restrict the airflow and circulation – letting allergens and dust accumulate, pushing them back into your home.

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HVAC FAQs

What size HVAC system do I need for my home?

That varies with the size of your home and living situation. There is no rule of thumb for an HVAC system so it is best to have a trained professional assess your home to provide an accurate review and recommendation.

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How can I increase the efficiency and lifetime of my HVAC system?

Each system is different, but the best way to get the most out of your HVAC unit is to change your air filters. Regularly changing your air filters allows your unit to work more efficiently to provide you with clean, filtered air.

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How often should I replace my air filter?

Changing the air filter on your HVAC unit differs case by case. You should check the air filter monthly to ensure there is no substantial build-up. Changing the air filter can help improve the efficiency of your HVAC system between 5% and 15% while also ensuring your unit is operating at peak performance.

Some factors that can affect how often you should change your air filter are:

  • How many people are in your home – more people equals more dust and dirt in the air \
  • If you have pets – it helps to reduce dander
  • If you are in a high construction area (such as a new subdivision) or an area with lots of pollen (trees and plants)

What is the ideal temperature to keep my thermostat set at?

Ideally, you want to set your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer. Doing this reduces the difference between the temperature outside and the temperature inside, thus minimizing the need for your HVAC unit to work harder at heating/cooling your home. This not only increases the efficiency of your unit but also helps save money on your bill.

If you’re away for a weekend or longer, you should not shut your system off completely but rather make use of the hold/vacation feature, if there is one. Otherwise, set your thermostat to a few degrees higher than normal (in the summer) or lower (in the winter).

If you were to turn your unit off completely, it could result in higher humidity levels inside the home, which has the potential to lead to mould growth due to decreased circulation.

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Is there anything I can do at home if I think my unit is malfunctioning?

Your HVAC system is complicated, and it is best to have a certified professional identify the issue; however, there are a few basic steps you can try which may correct the problem.

  • Make sure your circuit breakers are in the ON position
  • Open the supply and return vents and make sure they’re unobstructed
  • Check the settings on your thermostat

If after completing these steps your system is still having issues, do not hesitate to call an Afterglow professional.

Maintaining Your Home’s Air Quality

Maintaining Your Home’s Air Quality

Allergy season is STILL HERE. Thankfully, we’re here to help you keep maintain your home’s air quality with these 4 easy steps!

Hit the Floor

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Keeping your floor clean is the number one way to reduce allergens in your home. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are essential for avoiding inhaling irritants that may be tracked into your home. Try a weekly cleaning routine and an outdoor mat to stop that dust dead in it’s tracks! (Get it, shoe tracks)

Ain’t the Heat – It’s the Humidity

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Your hair and your lungs will thank you for maintaining the humidity inside your home.  Did you know allergens and bacteria love moisture? Keeping your home at a 30% – 50% humidity will help reduce the presence of these irritants. Use your air conditioner in the summer to reduce airborne pollen and a dehumidifier when it’s too chilly for AC.

If You Must Smoke, Take Your Butt Outside

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“Since 1964, approximately 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.” (http://www.cdc.gov) We don’t really need to explain this one, don’t smoke inside.

Do you have gas?

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Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in the ground. Unlike the gas you might have, it can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. Possible entry points are anywhere your home touches the soul and there is an opening (foundation cracks, floor drains, dirt floors, etc.). When you are exposed to high levels of radon, it increases your chances of lung cancer. Try purchasing your very own test-it-yourself radon kit or find a professional in your area!

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If you think your air quality is still not up to par, call Afterglow for a service checkup!

What to Expect During Your AC Appointment

What to Expect During Your AC Appointment

As if a broken air conditioner isn’t enough, how do you make sure you don’t get sub-par service as well? Don’t leave your air conditioning repairs to chance. Check out these crucial steps an expert tech will take to ensure your AC is up and running again before you can break a sweat.

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Check Thermostat

Before beginning any work on your air conditioner, the tech should check to make sure it is not simply a thermostat error. Your problem could be as simple as a faulty thermostat or a loose wire.

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Circuit Breaker Box
If there is nothing wrong with the thermostat, the tech will then move onto your circuit breaker box. If the breaker is switched to off or malfunctioning, your air conditioner issues could be a wiring issue.

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Up-Close with the Air Conditioner
The next step is the air conditioning unit itself. The tech will begin a trial and error process, testing wires, circuits, connections, etc. in order to identify where the specific problem lies. During the AC system diagnosis, they will most likely check the air filter to make sure it’s not blocked or needs to be replaced. They may check the AC refrigerant levels, make sure the air condenser fan is spinning properly, confirm that the size of your AC system is appropriate for the size of your home, and examine the wiring, electronics and safety controls.

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Identify Issue
This process could take 5 minutes or an hour depending on how long it takes the tech to identify the problem.

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Present Options
Once the issue is identified, the tech will provide you with your options. They will present the issue, the possible options for repair and then costs associated with the option you choose.

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Future Prevention
In an effort to help the customer, the tech should then advise the client on how to prevent this issue in the future, saving you time and money

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Explain How To Fix
Once you’ve made your choice, the tech will then come back to your home (assuming they do not have the part you need in their truck) and explain to you in detail what they will be changing and how this will fix your problem

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If you want expert service, make sure you call an expert. Afterglow specializes in repair and maintenance, call us today! 519-747-7732

Summer in the Cities

Summer in the Cities

There is so much to do if you are sticking around the KW area for the summer. Nearly every weekend there is a great festival or event to attend. My family and I love bumping into people from our community, listening to great music or chomping down on some fantastic food.

We have lots planned this summer, and I wanted to share a couple of my favourite events.

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Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival!

Uptown Jazz Festival

The Sun Life Financial UpTown Waterloo Jazz Festival is an annual three day FREE music festival held in Waterloo, showcasing all genres of jazz. This is the 24th season, and is always jam packed with great entertainment and people.  Last year more than 35,000 enthusiastic festival goers come out to the event at the corner of Regina and William. Check out the artist 2016 lineup!
Start Date: Friday, 15 July 2016
End Date: Sunday, 17 July 2016
Time: 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM

Kitchener Blues Festival 2016

Blues Festival

The Kitchener Blues Festival always follows the weekend of the “Civic Holiday” in Canada, starting on Thursday with a Kick Off Concert, then all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This premeir blues festival attracts tourists from all over the world and delights our local community. It’s FREE admission from Friday to Sunday! However, some concert events are ticketed, for more details please click here!

Start Date: Thursday, 04 August 2016
End Date: Sunday, 07 August 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Berlin Tower ARTSPACE

Showcasing community arts and culture, the Berlin Tower ARTSPACE is home to a variety of exhibits annually, including work in progress by the artist-in-residence.  It is located on the ground floor of Kitchener City Hall and is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Start Date: Sunday, 3 July 2016
End Date: Sunday, 31 July 2016
Time: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Sunday Night Concerts

Every Sunday, right through to September 4 check out Sunday Night Concerts at Gore Park – 68 Arthur St. S., Woolwich ON. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic and enjoy some tunes outdoors FOR FREE! Check out concert dates here!

Start Date: Sunday, 3 July 2016
End Date: Sunday, 4 September 2016
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

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Don’t see your event here? There’s more!

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