Vacation-Proofing Your Home While You Are Away

Vacation-Proofing Your Home While You Are Away

The warm weather hits and one of the first things we start planning is our summer vacation. Before you pack your last bag and drive to the airport, be sure the thermostat is prepared to take care of your home while you are away. Here are some tips for making sure your energy bill isn’t as high as your sand castle.

Adventure

Change your thermostat temperature. We don’t recommend turning your thermostat off completely, because you could potentially damage structural components in your home should it be too hot and humid.  However, if you don’t have any pets in the house, we recommend leaving your thermostat at 90 degrees. This could result in a 32% savings on your electric bill. If you do have pets, contact your vet about safe temperatures for your animals.

Unplug everything. Lights and appliances from small to big, can be know as “energy vampires.” Simply turning something off does not save it from using electricity. Unplugging all of your appliances, except of course fridges and freezers, will not only save you on your energy bill, but save you potentially lost property by eliminating the chance of a fire hazard in your home while you are away.

Appliances

Close your curtains. Keep the hot summer sun out and you can conserve a resting temperature in your home more easily. The sun pouring in your windows can heat up the air in your house and raise your home temperature a lot during the day. Give your AC an easy job this vacation and remember to close your blinds.

Use tech to your advantage. We mentioned the EcoBee3 in a previous blog, and it has one vital feature we find extremely useful for homeowners temporarily going away – it can sense when you are in your home and when you are away and temperature control with respect to that. If you don’t have the time to fiddle for the ideal temperature, invest in an EcoBee3 today and Afterglow technicians will be more than happy to help you install it.

EcoBee

Turn off your water main. A small water leak can cause lots of trouble. Consider turning off the main water valve to stop the water pressure from pushing on fixtures and toilets.

Don’t forget the water heater. It’s easy to get concerned with just the air temperature in your house. Don’t forget – no one will be having hot showers in your home while you’re away. Switch the circuit breaker on your water heater off, or turn your gas water heater on vacation or unplug it. When you come back, remember to turn your water to hot and let it run before switching these heaters back on to avoid damage to the units.

Regular Inspections. Most insurance companies require someone to come and look inside your house if you are away for a period of time. And document the visit!

The last thing you should be thinking about on vacation is what’s going on at home. Follow these simple steps so that you can easily leave your worries behind and enjoy your well-deserved break.

Cheers

Contact Afterglow today to have your AC checked before you go away!

Top 5 Reasons Why Your AC Broke Down

Top 5 Reasons Why Your AC Broke Down

Summer came with a vengeance this year and as a result, we’re getting a lot of emergency calls for broken air conditioning units. No one likes an emergency, so here are some tips and tricks as to why your AC might break down this summer and what you can do to prevent it.
Hot Cat

Maintenance

Regular maintenance to your air conditioner is a must. Similar to going to the doctor, an AC check up can catch things early before they become a problem. Having an Afterglow technician visit your home can prevent time and money from being wasted from something small escalating. Think it’s just your AC that needs maintenance? Your furnace may need to be looked at too.

Dirty Filter

Your air conditioner’s air filter does more than just clean the air; it keeps your AC running efficiently and effectively. A dirty filter can clog the airflow of your HVAC system, causing significant strain on the internal components. In addition, this strain will use more energy, increasing your costs by a noticeable amount. The good news is, you can change your filter by yourself! Check out how.

Broken Thermostat

Sometimes your AC problems are as simple as a broken thermostat. The thermostat senses the temperature of the home and adjusts your HVAC system accordingly. If this feature is broken or even hindered, your air conditioner won’t regulate the temperature of the home, causing one to think their HVAC unit is the problem. Try out EcoBee3 as an alternative to the traditional thermostat.
Thermometer

Old Dirty Coil

Allergy season is here! But if you’re sneezing INSIDE your home, there may be another problem. Your air conditioner consists of an outside unit and an inside coil. The inside coil tends to be wet because it pulls the humidity from your home, and then dust and dirt sticks to it. This dust and dirt and get circulated throughout your home. This is not only detrimental to your health but also takes a toll on your wallet as the HVAC system requires more energy to produce the cool temperatures your home is set to. Allergens may circulate other ways as well: check out how to remove the three most common allergens in your home.

Over Usage

The summer heat came on quick, but that doesn’t mean that air conditioning is the only way to cool your home. Installing ceiling fans and using them during Spring or overnight on cool summer nights will save you money short term (on your hydro bills) and long term (on HVAC repair costs). Check out other times ceiling fans save money.
Phone Call

Call AfterGlow for all your maintenance and repair needs. We’re #1 at quick emergency responses! 519-747-7732

EcoBee3 to help you stay cool this summer

The heat is on! We have some cool tips for you as the temperature rises, and for the “techies” out there, a great way to start saving money and make your home a smart home! Our feature product of the month is the EcoBee3 Smart Wifi Thermostat. The EcoBee promises “all over home comfort”. Ordinary thermostats read the temperature in one room (usually the hallway) which can make your favourite rooms uncomfortable. That’s why EcoBee3 was created. It works with remote sensors to deliver the right temperature in the rooms that matter most.

With a one-year warranty, Afterglow can install EcoBee in your home for $395 +HST and walk you through your new Smart Thermostat.

“We have installed many EcoBee3’s across Waterloo Region and Guelph. Our customers love the way it keeps their homes at a livable temperature and saves them money on their heating bills.” Stephen McDonald Afterglow GM.

dream-house-149899_960_720EcoBee is compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems in North America and virtually all commercial heating and cooling equipment.

EcoBee is a one-time investment that gives you remote access, online reports and mobile app capability. Security is a top priority for EcoBee using similar security technology as banks, government agencies and e-commerce sites.

Don’t wait! Get access and start saving money. Call us to install EcoBee3 today!

Why not Nest

Nest is another smart wifi thermostat and arguably EcoBee3’s largest competitor. Nest has apps, allows you to change the temperature via the apps, set schedules and choose temperature preferences. What Nest doesn’t have is remote sensors to let your thermostat know you’re “home”. Using Echo, the voice activation technology associated with EcoBee, you can set your home to a specific temperature, turn the temperature up or down or simply as EcoBee to make your home cooler or warmer.

Air Con Maintenance for a Comfortable, Cool Summer

The sweltering summer heat has settled into Waterloo Region after a seemingly endless, chilly Spring.  Covers are coming off air conditioners and they’re being fired up for the first time this year.

Can you depend on your air conditioner this summer? With high temperatures and humidity levels, a breakdown could be disastrous. And, no, it’s not your imagination that it always happens when you need it most. Times of heavy use result in air conditioner failures. You can reduce your need for the AC by keeping windows shut and certain doors closed within your house, and closing the drapes on windows. This reduces the strain of heavy use on the AC.  

Air conditioners can fail for many reasons. Old age will certainly contribute to AC failure. Sometimes, faulty installation is to blame. It’s essential that an air conditioner be installed on firm, dry, level ground. Old contactors or small refrigerant leaks could eventually spell the end. How about rodents?!?  It happens! They tend to burrow into units, attracted by insulation and ideal nesting spots. Those gnawing teeth can wreak havoc on the electronic components in your air conditioner. We’ve also seen raccoons, rats, squirrels, snakes, bugs and spiders.

Afterglow - dead rat pic

Of all these causes, the number one reason your air conditioner will fail is inadequate maintenance. As dirty filters and condenser coils deteriorate, the end result is inevitable: your cool air will stop flowing.

Here are 10 diagnostic checks every air conditioner needs.

With a simple maintenance schedule, you can guarantee the longest possible lifespan of your air conditioner and prevent breakdown before it happens. When the Afterglow team checks an AC we look at several component: from the indoor thermostat to outdoor compressor. We check temperatures in several different areas.

  1. Clean the outside air conditioning unit: fins and electrical cabinet
  2. Check furnace filter to make sure the airflow is good
  3. Check and clean (if possible) the indoor coil
  4. Check condensate
  5. Check thermostat
  6. Check electrical connections
  7. Test electrical components
  8. Check fan blower speed setting
  9. Check and seal wall connections, don’t want any critters or bugs getting into the house.
  10. Test refrigerant levels

If any of these checks indicate a concern, further action will optimize the condition of your unit.

There’s no question – a little maintenance is worth guaranteeing your comfortable indoor escape from the sweltering humidity that fouls moods and robs us of sleep. Contact Afterglow and arrange to have your air conditioner checked today!

Does your AC have “Dirty Sock Syndrome”?

Summer is right around the corner and temperatures are definitely warming up in Waterloo Region! That means it’s time for air conditioning (AC) season! Before the sweltering heat comes and you’re running your unit constantly, don’t forget to call Afterglow to complete your annual AC maintenance — especially if you turn your system on and it emits a foul smell.

The Afterglow team has had quite a few clients share their stinky stories, so we’ve put together some information to help explain those awful AC’s smells and how to combat them.

What causes AC’s to smell?

Mold and mildew on the indoor AC coil 

stinky ACIn most situations, bad AC smells are caused by mold and mildew growing on a dirty indoor coil — gross, right? The smell is caused by the moisture/humidity being removed from the house with the indoor coil — that’s what an AC does! This moisture mixes with the dust and dirt on the coil to create the smell and then that smell is circulated throughout your home. The dirt and dust have had plenty of time to accumulate and settle in your system over the winter, which is why the smell is so pungent when you first turn on your AC.

Dirty air filter

Stinky AC smells can also be caused by a dirty air filter. Your system’s filter works hard to pull odor-causing contaminants out of your home’s air, and if you haven’t been changing your air filter regularly, these captured smells could be recirculating back into your home when the AC is turned on. Nobody wants that!

Air filters are a vital part of your home’s air quality, which means that they require regular tender loving care. Keep in mind that if you avoid replacing your AC’s filters, it can not only lead to unwanted smells but unwanted mechanical issues and repair costs too! Learn more here.

How do you combat a smelly AC unit?

Annual AC maintenance

An AC requires regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its lifetime. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in AC performance — bad smells will be the least of your worries.

Contact Afterglow and book your summer 2016 AC maintenance appointment.

Change your air filter

It’s time for a new routine! If you haven’t been changing your air filter, it’s time to step up. Regular filter changes will remove fungi and contaminants from your system so they cannot be recirculated back into the home. The frequency that you should change your air filter depends on the type of filter you have, as well as other factors like if you have pets in the home.

If you find that your AC is emitting a foul smell, give us a call for our maintenance team to identify and amend the odour-causing problem.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

Start Spring with a Ceiling Fan and Save Money

Who else has been enjoying the gorgeous spring weather this week? Waterloo Region residents can finally go outside, enjoy fun outdoor activities and soak up some vitamin D! Aside from this, spring opens up many opportunities for reducing your home energy bill.

The drastic improvement in weather means you’ll be using the furnace less and might even consider turning on the air conditioning soon. Yipee! But before you blast your cooling system, you may want to consider opting for ceiling fans first.

Why? Let us explain.

Are Ceiling Fans Effective?

Did you know that ceiling fans are considered one of the most effective forms of indoor circulation? That’s because they can effectively circulate the air in a room to create a nice, cool draft. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. In temperate climates, similar to Waterloo Region’s spring season, ceiling fans may allow you to avoid using your AC altogether.

Just remember to turn fans off when you’re not in the room — the cooling effect created by the breeze only works for people, not the room itself. It’s a good idea to use fans in the bathroom to dissipate heat and humidity as well.

How Can I Use Ceiling Fans To Save Money?

Ceiling Fans Save MoneyFact: Ceiling fans use far less energy per hour than AC units. That means ceiling fans may be able to make you more comfortable on their own, helping you avoid turning on the AC and save money on your energy bills!

For example, running your AC unit for three hours a day for a year uses 3,832.500 kWh, while a ceiling fan only uses 19.71-109.5 kWh. With the average price of energy at 12.1 cents/kWh, that means using your fans instead of your AC could save you more than $400 per year (or close to 41 cents per hour) (HVAC.com).

Consider how a combination of ceiling fans and AC can save you more than just turning on the AC alone. If you feel cooler when you have your ceiling fans on, you can keep the AC turned up to a higher temperature, meaning it will run less often. The less your AC unit runs, the less money it will cost you! Put simply, ceiling fans save money.

When buying ceiling fans, look for the ENERGY STAR label. Fans that earn the label move air 20% more efficiently, on average, than standard models.

Take advantage of spring! Let the nice weather do its work to lower your home energy use.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

So, What Does a New Air Conditioner Actually Cost?

An air conditioner can improve your health and quality of life!

In Waterloo Region, air conditioners (ACs) aren’t a luxury anymore — they are a necessity during the sweltering summer months. In today’s market, new units are more powerful, energy efficient and quieter than ever before. But at what cost?

air conditioner gif

A new AC system’s cost depends on the size of the system, who you hire to install it, and your unit’s overall efficiency. Let’s break this down.

Why Size Matters – Smaller is Sometimes Better!

The first step in getting a new AC is determining what size you need. Sizing an AC requires a consultation with an HVAC professional, such as Afterglow. We will look at multiple factors that will affect your unit’s measurements:

  • Total size of your home’s living space,
  • The amount of sunshine in your home,
  • Existing ventilation and ductwork, and more.  

Why do we have to do this? AC units are measured in tons, which refers to the amount of heat they can remove from a home in an hour. ACs that are sized correctly, are able to remove the humidity in the home before reaching the desired cooling point. Over-sized ACs never get a chance to have a long run cycle to remove the humidity.

Larger homes often run into problems because the AC is oversized for a light load, and that is where two-stage ACs come in.

Two-Stage Air Conditioners

Two-Stage ACs are popular in the Southern United States where living with AC is a must, and controlling humidity is essential. This technology has found its way to Ontario now that AC is commonplace. If your home requires three tons of cooling or more, consider a two-stage AC or multiple ACs!

SEER Rating

The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is also a critical factor. This ratio is a measure of an AC unit’s total cooling output during a season, divided by its total electric energy input. The higher the resulting number, the better! All units sold are over 13 SEER, and some can even perform at up to 27 SEER. If your old AC was 8 SEER, by going to 16 SEER you will cut your energy consumption in half!

Thermostats and Ducting

When purchasing an AC, also consider upgrading the thermostat. Or it may be time to address some duct-work issues or duct sealing.

Hiring a Contractor

For homes that have never had an AC, an installation requires new breakers in the electrical panel, wires run through your home’s foundation, and new duct work linking to your existing HVAC system. To ensure these crucial tasks are done correctly, ask an AC professional for a quote on your system — and if you’re happy with them, book them!

For a basic model, expect to pay $2,000, a mid-range unit will cost around $3,000, and top-of-the-line AC systems can be over $5,000.

Government Rebates

There are government rebates that cover some cooling systems, such as the Ontario Heating and Cooling Incentive, but they change periodically — it’s good to revisit these websites every few months.

Keep in mind that to qualify for these incentives, your AC needs to be purchased from and installed by a participating contractor. Afterglow is part of the saveONenergy program for residential customers, so ask us about what rebates are available for AC’s in the KW Region!

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

2 of 16123...Last »