At this point in August, you’re likely feeling the heat — both when it comes to weather and your air conditioning bill! In the midst of elevated temperatures, the only thing on your mind is relief. Turning up the air conditioning is an obvious way to cope, but this results in higher costs for keeping cool.
Keep your bill from rising with these simple and helpful tips on fighting these common culprits. This way, there are no surprises ahead with your bill!
- Reduce the sunlight
This is an obvious one, but worth bringing up as a cost-savings measure. Summer rays are some of the hottest of the year, increasing the temperatures inside your home to rival outside.
Instead of cranking up the air conditioning — especially when you aren’t home — try and keep the sun out in the first place. Draw the blinds and close the curtains to block sunlight in the crucial afternoon hours. Having a lower temperature to start with keeps your system from having to work too hard or too long to make it nice and cool.
- Maintain your windows
Beyond keeping the curtains closed, check your windows for any leaks. Poorly sealed windows will let cool air escape and affects the air quality within your home. Plus, it makes your air conditioning system work harder as it has to constantly cool warm air instead of maintaining a cooler temperature.
You can deal with this by ensuring you have energy efficient windows installed with weather stripping to eliminate any leaks. There is a cost for window replacement or maintenance, but you’ll definitely save in the long run as your cooling bills drop.
- Replace your air filters
We care about your HVAC system here at Afterglow, and you should too! This system keeps your air circulating properly, helping to keep things cool. If your air filters are dirty, they work harder to move air throughout your home.
Thankfully, replacing your filters is an easy way to keep things flowing the way they should. It reduces the amount of energy your HVAC system uses so your air will be cleaner and your family will be healthier. And it’s something you can do yourself!
- Update your thermostat
Advances in technology means that today’s smart home thermostats can offer even more convenience, especially when it comes to your cooling bill. Programmable thermostats adjust the temperature automatically when you’re away from home. A learning thermostat will adapt to your preferences over time, taking the thinking out of keeping your home cool.
- Get your system serviced
Having your system operating at peak efficiency is essential for keeping your cooling costs down. Bringing in the experts from Afterglow to clean coils, check connections and ensure that your system’s coolant is at its proper levels. This also helps eliminate any surprises during hot long weekends!
Rely on Afterglow for honest and professional service. When it comes to keeping your home comfortable, you need someone you can trust. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.
With summer upon us, the heat seems like it is here to stay! Of course, a heatwave may drive the temperatures up to the point of discomfort — making us all a little irritable and tired. Thankfully, we have some tips on how to manage the high temps for some relief.
1) Stay hydrated
This should go without saying, but everyone needs a little reminder now and then. Drink water — especially in the summer! If you’re spending the day outdoors, whether it be at work or on the beach, the number one priority is to avoid heat stroke. Drinking lots of water throughout the day will help keep your body temperature low. Tip: If you’re going to be outside all day, put your water bottle in the freezer and let it melt throughout the day for an ice cold beverage.
2) Keep your window dressings closed during the day
Here’s an easy to save on your energy bill… keeping your windows and blinds closed! During the day, the sun can increase the temperatures inside your home. Keeping blinds and curtains drawn to block out the sun is simple and effective way to keep the heat out of your home. If you want to maintain some light throughout your home, then only cover up the the south facing parts of your home where the sun is hitting the hardest. This helps your air conditioning unit work more efficiently too.
3) Don’t turn on the oven
It may seem difficult because we know baking, roasting or broiling is simple, but turning your oven on in the dead of summer is one of the quickest ways to heat up your home. Plus, that heat hangs around in the air and can make it difficult to drop the temperature even after the meal is made. Try preparing meals on the stovetop or the barbecue instead, or focus on cold meals that require little in the way of cooking.
4) Regularly replace your filters
Keep an eye on the filters in your air conditioner. Maintaining your filters can keep energy costs low, and prevent dust and mold from circulating around your home. Most importantly, your filters are what keep your air conditioner or central air system running efficiently. In the summer, if the filters on your air conditioner are dirty or haven’t been checked in a while, the chances are your A/C unit is not doing its job. In general, you should check your filters once and month and replace them every two to three months.
5) Get maintenance done on your HVAC systems yearly
Simply put, the best way to ensure your air conditioner is going to work efficiently this summer is by getting regular maintenance check-ups. As noted before, you should replace your filters every few months. You should also be sure to call your HVAC technician for the things you can’t do yourself! Regular maintenance will help prevent allergens, bacteria and molds from spreading throughout your home. These check-ups will also prevent any potential breakdowns of your A/C unit, because no one wants to go through this heatwave without any A/C at all!
Contact Afterglow to ensure your home isn’t overheating this summer. You can count on us for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable and a low-pressure sales team to answer all your questions. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.
There’s a YouTube tutorial for virtually anything these days. But watching a “How-To” video on HVAC repairs doesn’t make you an expert. Although it would be nice to keep your costs down by doing the work yourself, no matter how many videos you watch — you still won’t be as good as a trained professional!
Here are three reasons why you should never conduct HVAC installations and repairs by yourself:
1) Special equipment is a must
You can’t fix everything with a hammer and nails — or a bit of duct tape! There are specific tools required to accurately identify and fix HVAC repair problems. One wrong tool can completely destroy your unit — HVAC technicians are trained extensively to use these tools and technologies.
2) No license? That’s a problem
As previously stated, HVAC technicians are highly trained. HVAC repairs are complex, and often require precise calculations to reflect the size of your home’s HVAC unit. If these calculations do not add up, there could be significant damage caused to both your unit and potentially your home.
3) You can potentially endanger yourself and your family
As grim as it sounds, an amateur job poses the risk of severe injury or death. It should go without saying that working with flammables, refrigerants, high electrical voltage and toxic fumes is not for your average Joe or Jane. A standard WHMIS training session won’t cut it. An insufficient fix can still cause a fire or release of carbon monoxide into your home.
So, what can you do by yourself?
While you should leave the big jobs up to the professionals, you can still do some regular check ups yourself. For example, you should be checking and cleaning your filters regularly to ensure the air quality in your home is high. Failure to clean your filters will result in your unit overworking itself, which will lead to larger repair problems.
Secondly, you should be checking the batteries for your carbon monoxide detector frequently to make sure your home is safe from poisonous gas.
Stay safe and hire a professional for your home’s HVAC maintenance. Contact Afterglow for honest, professional service to keep your home comfortable. For service emergencies, call 519-747-7732 for a guaranteed response time of four hours or less.
Lights, gatherings, celebrations — the holidays bring a lot of joy and a lot of preparation and planning. Here are a few simple home safety tips you can use so that you can spend more time in the moment and avoid crisis mode altogether.
1. Keep it Light
Regardless of how you celebrate if you’ve got indoor or outdoor holiday lights, one of the main holiday safety tips to follow is to make sure that all the wiring is in good condition. Watch for frayed cords or broken connections. Replacing a broken string of lights is much more cost effective than the alternative of replacing your home and contents.
When purchasing lights or any electrical products for your home, look for the following symbols. Below is a list of the symbols used in Ontario, courtesy of the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).
2. Maintain an Air of Comfort
With the furnace running and the windows closed, conversations aren’t the only things that can get a little dry. This is why maintaining indoor air quality and proper humidity levels are so important during the holidays and throughout the winter heating season.
Ideal home humidity levels in winter are 30-40% at 19-23°C. Air that’s too dry can irritate nasal passages and worsen dry skin. In addition to physical discomfort, overly dry indoor air can also dry out woodwork and hardwood floors, cause your fresh tree to get parched more easily and damage sensitive musical instruments and electronics.
Note: If you see condensation on your windows, this is a sign that your humidity is too high and need to be lowered. As a benchmark, humidity levels shouldn’t be any higher than 45%.
3. Avoid Shocking Situations
During the holidays, the only electricity in the air should be the anticipation of time spent with family and friends. Keep everyone safe in your home by:
- Replacing missing or broken plate covers.
- Using safety covers to protect younger children from exposed outlets.
- Keeping all loose cords out of reach when younger children (especially the orally fixated ones) are about.
- Teaching older children how to use plugs and outlets correctly.
- Using surge protectors for indoor lights and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) for outdoor lights or if electronics are anywhere near water (think kitchen and bathroom) and don’t overload outlets (no more than three strings of lights at a time)
4. Prevent Slip-ups
Treat icy porches, steps, and walkways with de-icer. If you want to avoid the heavy use of salt and chemicals, there are many eco-friendly options now on the market. In a pinch, you can also use cat litter or sandbox sand.
Inside your home wipe up any spills or inadvertently placed wet footprints. Be mindful of hard surfaces like tile and hardwood floors that can be more slippery when wet. (Yes, the Bon Jovi reference is deliberate.)
5. Stay On-Point
Poinsettias add a festive pop of red or white. However, they also have a bit of a bad reputation in terms of holiday safety. The truth is while they can cause a child or pet to be sick from sampling these savories, a 50-pound child or pet would have to eat more than 500 leaves to reach toxic levels. In other words, there’s no need to skip the poinsettias — just keep an eye on them when children or pets are in the mix.
Bonus Tip: Don’t let pets drink from the Christmas tree water. Tree preservatives contain compounds and chemicals that can cause an upset tummy.
Stay safe and cozy this holiday season. There’s still time to schedule routine service check of your furnace to ensure you’re not feeling any unwanted chills. Of course, emergency service is also available for any holiday surprises. Want to learn more about home humidity levels? We can help you with that too. All you have to do is contact Afterglow.
As winter approaches, it’s important to not only prepare yourself for the cold weather but your home as well. If your home is not properly winterized, it will leak both warm air and money. Here are some helpful tips to avoid winter complications!
Run Fans In Reverse
Many ceiling fans come with a switch allowing the blades to reverse their direction. By switching the blades from counterclockwise to clockwise, the breeze becomes warmer which helps heat your home! This small but effective tip is often overlooked yet it can make a difference in your home (and bills) over the winter months.
Air leakage is very common in homes and cool drafts can increase the cost of heating your home. According to Union Gas, 30-40% of heat loss is due to air leakage. Here are some effective ways to protect your home from air leakage:
- Add draft snakes along the bottom of drafty doors to eliminate breezes that sweep under doorways.
- Install plastic window seals to stop drafts. These kits can be found anywhere, including the dollar store and require little to no labour.
- Caulk gaps to effectively seal off air leakage for a more permanent solution.
- Install storm windows and doors to stop the cold winter winds. Government incentives are often available if you choose to install storm windows and doors.
Change Furnace Filters
It’s important to remember to change your furnace filter every 2-3 months (depending on your model) in order to ensure your furnace runs effectively and efficiently.
Permanent filters are also a great, environmentally friendly option that will save you the trouble of having to remember to change your filters as often. Remember that you can always call on Afterglow for help getting your furnace ready for the wintry days ahead.
Trim Back Your Trees
The arrival of changing temperatures and winter storms can often mean trees get a heavy coating of ice which can cause breakage. It’s crucial to trim back the branches near your driveway, roof or windows to avoid the risk of damage or injury.
Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters can cause water to pool and freeze creating ice dams, jamming the flow of water. This can cause damage not only to your gutters, but also cause leaks inside your home. When your gutters are clogged, the melted snow from the roof pools up, eventually seeping into the house. To prevent this issue, make sure all leaves and other debris are cleared from the gutter before winter.
You can prepare your home for winter by ensuring each of these areas receives attention before it develops into a larger problem. But if you are worried about whether your HVAC is prepped for winter, contact us to check that your major systems are ready.
Buying a house can be stressful. With so many things to consider, it’s hard to know what to prioritize. Aesthetics are important, but don’t let the look of your prospective home overshadow the more vital structural elements. Faulty or outdated electrical components can quickly turn your new home into a headache as you try and bring it up to code and make it safe.
Do you know what to look for when prospecting? Here is a handy list of the top 5 HVAC-related things to look for when buying a home.
The electrical panel is one of the most integral parts of the home. It’s important to thoroughly check the electrical panel before buying a home to avoid paying thousands of dollars in unexpected costs.
Many older homes have undersized electrical panels, meaning that the number of amps is too low to accommodate modern demands. The electrical current should be between 100-200 amps in order to heat the home properly and for a home to be considered safe.
Make sure to inspect inside the electrical panel as well before taking the leap into home ownership. It’s a key safety feature when it comes to the electrical current running through your home, so you want to be sure it’s up to the job. Newer homes generally have a circuit breaker installed, but some older homes may still use a fuse box. A circuit breaker is the preferred option as circuits can be reset if they trip because too much current passes through them. But if a fuse blows in a furnace’s fuse box, the fuse will have to be replaced each time and could leave you without heat at an inopportune time. An outdated or faulty fuse box will need to be replaced before it begins to cause you problems.
Proximity to Hospitals
When it comes to the electricity that is supplied to a house, location is everything. Living in close proximity to a hospital is not just beneficial during a health emergency, it is also helpful in the event of an electrical scare as well. When power outages occur, emergency services such as hospitals are the first to get their power back, followed by surrounding areas. For those of you who desperately rely on power, living close to a hospital can help ensure that you are next in line to get your power restored and your HVAC systems back online.
Ground fault circuit interrupter outlets (GFCI) protect people against electrical shocks produced from an electrical system. These are used where water and high concentrations of electricity are present (primarily kitchens, bathrooms and occasionally outdoors). It is important to ensure these outlets are used in these areas of your home to ensure you and your family are safe. If GFCIs are not properly installed, it may be a good indication that there are other electrical or HVAC violations within the home.
Number of Outlets and Extension Cord Use
Placement of electrical outlets is something to consider when looking to buy a home. Outlets are one of the most overlooked features in a home, yet one of the most important. You may be sketching out your dream floor plan only to realize outlets aren’t properly placed to execute your vision. Skip the headache — remember to look at the location and number of outlets before making an offer. Otherwise, you may end up with extension cords snaking around your home to make things work.
Under no circumstances should you connect extension cords to air conditioner units or heaters with fans! Doing so can easily cause the HVAC units to overheat, leading to a hazardous fire.
You should also take note of whether the outlets are two-pronged or three-pronged. While most homes now have the three-prong outlet needed to power up your many devices and appliances, older homes may still have two-prong outlets. These will need to be upgraded to accommodate increased power requirements.
Wiring is another large component (and potentially expensive upgrade) of any home. If it’s not up to code it is potentially dangerous. Look out for knob-and-tube wiring when prospecting a home. Usually visible within the basement, knob-and-tube wiring runs through porcelain tubes designed to keep the wires secure. You will also notice that unlike today’s plastic insulated wiring, knob-and-tube wiring is insulated with rubber.
This kind of wiring doesn’t have a ground wire, so is often indicated by two-prong outlets throughout the home. Why does grounding matter? It protects your home and everyone in it from surges of electricity, decreasing the risk of experiencing an electrical shock or fire. If the power were to surge at your home for whatever reason, a non-grounded system cannot handle this increase in voltage and may cause harm.
When looking at a potential home, it’s important to keep an eye out for any of the key issues outlined above. If you do encounter one or more of these problem points, see if you can negotiate and come up with a mutually beneficial solution.
Finding a professional inspector to accurately identify any issues present is key! If you would like to know more about electrical safety, visit Electrical Safety Authority. For all other HVAC related issues — or if you’d like to maintain the services in your new home — contact us!