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?
Fact: 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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
With over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet, it’s safe to say that YouTube is a digital media powerhouse. That’s why it’s not surprising that most businesses have video content included into their marketing strategies — like us!
Did you know that Afterglow has a YouTube channel? For over three years we have been sharing fun workplace and HVAC tip videos on afterglowkw. Recently, the Afterglow staff had fun re-watching these videos and seeing which ones our audience watched the most.
Rather than have you search our channel, we’ve decided to share our top videos here. These were all determined by your views — enjoy!
CO2 Pipe Freezing
Viessmann Cast Iron Boiler Fail
Afterglow – Eastview Apartment Heating System
We also have a soft spot for the first video we ever published. On February 21, 2013, our General Manager, Stephen McDonald, explained what a 15 point furnace inspection looks like. Watch it and learn how your furnace works, plus how you can keep it safe while saving money!
Forgot to get a 15 point furnace inspection? Schedule an appointment by giving us a call (519-747-7732) or sending us anemail our Office Administrator, Brigitte Toutant. With winter’s recent return, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.
Approximately 50 million North Americans suffer from indoor allergies.
Let’s face it, indoor allergens are the worst! They cause runny noses, sneezing, itchy eyes and make it difficult to breathe. Here at Afterglow, we want your home’s air to be as clean as possible, and for homeowners, that means understanding what indoor allergens you’re dealing with.
Here are the three main allergens Waterloo Region families will experience this spring and how to fight them:
1. Dust mites
Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on things like dust and hair. Gross, right? They thrive in warmer environments like rugs, upholstery, and bedding and are the most common trigger for indoor allergy sufferers — making them a major annoyance.
How to get rid of them: It’s impossible to completely remove dust mites from your home, but there are a few things you can do to reduce them in your home:
Wash blankets and bedding at least once a week in hot water.
When dusting, use a wet or damp cloth.
Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture once a week.
Purchase a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home — this will keep dust mites from multiplying.
Mold is an indoor allergen that thrives in damp, humid areas like bathrooms and basements. Mold releases dangerous spores that can cause breathing issues and, in cases of poisonous molds, brain damage or death.
How to get rid of it: Combatting mold growth is a matter of reducing dampness in your home. If mold’s an indoor allergen you’re having issues with, here are a few ways to remove/reduce it:
Fix leaky pipes and check your HVAC system for standing water.
Use a mix of bleach and water to clean mold from surfaces.
Use a dehumidifier in particularly humid or damp areas, like your basement.
Consider HEPA air cleaner to reduce spores.
3. Pet Dander
Pet dander is the flakes of dead skin produced when a pet with fur sheds. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your pet’s fur that causes allergies to worsen, but an allergen in the dander.
How to get rid of it: Like dust mites, pet dander cannot completely be removed from your home. Here’s some ways to reduce indoor allergens caused by pets:
Minimize pet contact on rugs, upholstered furniture, and bedding.
Vacuum once a week.
If your pet has to be on the furniture, use slip covers, towels, or blankets to trap pet dander and hair.
Brush your pet daily and bathe them regularly.
HEPA air cleaner will remove pet dander.
Did you know regular springtime HVAC maintenance can reduce indoor allergens in your home? Call Afterglow today (519-747-7732) and schedule an appointment!
Did you know that the average Canadian spends about 90% of their time indoors and that the EPA estimates indoor air can be 2-5 times dirtier than outdoor air? Don’t you want your home to be as clean and healthy as possible? Installing an air purifier can help you achieve this!
How do indoor air purifiers work?
Air purifiers pull the dirty air in your home through a series of filters that remove airborne particles like dust and bacteria. They then circulate the purified air back into the rooms in your home. This process repeats itself several times an hour, keeping your living space clean, healthy and comfortable.
If you don’t think an air purifier is a right choice for your home here are five reasons to reconsider:
1. Ensures your family is breathing clean air
The first benefit of an air purifier is that it improves the overall cleanliness of your indoor air by removing contaminants. With estimations of indoor air being 2-5 times dirtier than outdoor air (and sometimes up to 100% dirtier), a good air purifier ensures your breathing cleaner and healthier air.
2. Less pet mess
You may love your pet, but your furry friend releases pet dander, fur, and other airborne allergens into the air in your home—not to mention the smells! Whether you are allergic to pet dander or simply tired of dealing with tons of hair and persistent pet odors, an air purifier can help.
3. Removes 99% of airborne bacteria
Fact: air purifiers remove up to 99% of airborne bacteria! Small airborne particles like pollen and mold spores float in the air, and can cause you and your family to get sick. By cycling the air in the room, an air purifier helps remove these airborne pollutants. This keeps everyone healthy!
4. Removes odours
By trapping airborne particles air purifiers also help control household odors. That means they can help make your home smell fresher faster after cooking foods or smoking tobacco—before they end up in your upholstery!
5. Limits seasonal allergies
Are any of your family members seasonal allergy sufferers? It’s extremely important for them to have an environment where they can be safe from the many types of pollens and molds that may trigger symptoms. An air purifier can deliver this safe and clean environment.
At Afterglow, we offer top-quality air purifiers. If you’re interested in purchasing an air purifier or learning more about their benefits, give us a call! 519-747-7732.
Diving a little deeper into ventilation; the “V” in HVAC.
What Do You Mean When Mean When We Say Ventilation?
Ventilation means replacing old air in a home with new air from outside to improve the indoor air quality. Out with the dust, smoke, odours, moisture and even bacteria. In with the new fresh air.
Why Is Home Ventilation Important?
Proper home ventilation also keeps your family healthy and home comfortable. Whether it’s from a forced air system, natural ventilation, or other mechanical means, home ventilation systems rid your home of airborne particles, like allergens, that can cause health issues.
Additionally, ventilation systems control the humidity and moisture levels in your home, saving you from uncomfortably humid rooms and structural damage caused by excess moisture.
Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are the biggest sources of moisture and odours in your home. If you’re experiencing excess moisture in your home, one solution is installing exhaust fans. Take it to the next level and capture the energy you’d be losing by simply exhausting this air out with a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV).
How Can You Improve Your Home’s Ventilation?
If you are experiencing poor ventilation, there are a few things you can do to help circulate the air and remove pollutants from your home:
1. Purchase a high-efficiency furnace filter for your HVAC unit. High-efficiency furnace filters trap more particles than normal furnace filters, keeping the air you breathe healthier — look for MERV 8 rating and above.
Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that higher MERV ratings are not always a good thing. Furnaces are built to operate with certain airflows, so using a different air filter than what it was built for can cause problems. To find out what kind of MERV you currently have (and if yours can handle a higher rating), check the side of your filter, the packaging it came in or contact us.
2. Call an HVAC professional. If nothing else is working to increase the ventilation in your home, you may have problems with your primary ventilation system or your home’s natural ventilation. If you decide you do need an HVAC professional, contact Afterglow: 519-747-7732.
Over the last few weeks, mother nature has blasted Waterloo Region with extreme temperatures and snow, even causing home pipes to freeze! Yikes! Due to the cold weather been asked a lot, “What temperature should I set my thermostat to in the winter?”
Homeowners ask us this every year, especially when temperatures start dropping. Unfortunately, answering this is not as simple as citing a specific temperature, as financial and energy usage concerns differ from one house to another.
However, we do have general recommendations for winter thermostat settings—set the thermostat to 16°C at night or when you are away. When you are home, most are comfortable at around 20 to 21°C.
Instead of focusing on a perfect number, you’ll benefit from establishing an energy-efficient winter heating strategy that’ll keep your home warm and energy bills reasonable. Here are some tips!
Every home has its temperature preference, but setting the thermostat to that temperature and never changing is NOT helpful to your energy bills.
Set your thermostats at that desired high temperature.
Once your family acclimates to the colder weather, lower the temperature in the home by half a degree each week for three or four weeks.
This can reduce your home’s energy bill by 1% and you’ll probably never notice the temperature difference.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats simplify the chore of creating optimal temperature settings. When you install it, you can program your thermostats to deliver specific temperatures at set times of the day. The specified temperatures can then be changed and adjusted by using the accompanying smart-phone app. This allows homeowners to reset their home’s temperature from anywhere.
Fun fact: these preferences can be programmed for weeks or months in advance!
Optimal use of a smart thermostat enables homeowners to save as much as 15% on their heating bills, making this technology worth the initial investment.
Have questions about programmable thermostats? We have answers! Give Afterglow a call and we will help you: 519-747-7732.
Five fun Valentine’s Day activities to enjoy in Waterloo Region.
Valentine’s Day is this Sunday and there is no shortage of great local activities for you and your partner to take part in! From scrumptious brunches to DIY crafts, Waterloo Region has it all.
Here are our top five Valentine’s Day activities:
Proof Your Love
February is the month of love and to celebrate local restaurant Proof has created a chef-inspired Valentine’s menu. With Valentine’s Day and Family Day happening on the same weekend, Proof is jam-packing the weekend with something for everyone: music, a special Valentine’s menu and Family Day brunch with new feature items.
Around Valentine’s Day you may often hear people say they have the ‘love bug’. But, did you know that there are actual insects called love bugs? Join the THEMUSEUM this Sunday to create your own adorable love bug to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a fun event for the whole family! Get all the detailshere.
Valentine’s Date Night at The Lanes
Ridin’ solo this Valentine’s Day? From 7PM-9PM Kingpin Bowlounge will be hosting the ultimate speed dating night with a strike-ing twist event! Take advantage of this fun event and meet some new people from the Waterloo Region. This is a 19+ event.
Family Weekend & Fireworks at Chicopee
Celebrate Valentine’s Day and Family Day this weekend at Chicopee! Bring your whole family and experience a fun weekend on the slopes! From fireworks to deals, lightsaber battles to reptile shows, there’s something for everyone.
Valentine’s Partner Yoga
A creative way to connect with your sweetie and have double the fun in your yoga practice. Queen Street Yoga will lead you and your partner through light-hearted poses redesigned for two, and help each other experience deeper stretch and strength. The last few years they’ve been sold out, please sign-up in advance to avoid disappointment.
If your equipment is acting up, please give us a call! We’re always here to help: 519-747-7732. Happy Valentine’s!