2021 Is All About Dogs

For many, many years, dogs have been our loyal companions. Many, many families have decided to adopt a new 4 legged friend since we have more time at home, and perhaps we are filling a social void. We see it in our neighbourhood; there are 4 or 5 new puppies on our block. And the local dog parks are full of new puppy owners. For those of us yearning for more social interactions, dogs provide an ice-breaker for conversation and a great way to meet neighbours. 

Big or small, dogs can bring many positives to a household: Giving kids something to do! Giving parents something to do! Motivating the family to get outside and get more exercise. Teaching empathy.

On the other hand, from a Heating and Cooling perspective, dogs and pets can put a bit more stress on equipment. Shedding fur and the added dust particles can clog up filters prematurely

Are Pets A Source Of Pollution?

Technically, yes. Importantly, fur, dander and pet odours can contribute to health issues and really should be treated as we treat any source of pollution. We use a four-prong strategy to deal with indoor air issues

1.) Remove/eliminate the source of pollution -> that is not happening with a new puppy!

2.) Isolate or seal the pollutant -> no, we are not locking up the dog in a room

3.) Ventilate -> we can add ventilation to a house to help

4.) Filter -> yes, consider replacing your filter more often or upgrading to a HEPA unit

HVAC Tips When You Have Pets

If you have pets or planning to adopt a new puppy or dog, here are some tips to keeping your home’s HVAC system running smoothly: 

  1. Ensure that filters are checked. 
    We recommend checking your filter every 30 days, depending on the dog that you have. Pet owners should be changing their filters at roughly 30 to 60 days. Be sure to vacuum regularly to keep up with the fur and dander and consider upgrading to a HEPA filter for the smallest particles of hair or dander.

2. Inspect air ducts 
Dogs can release dander at home, ensure that the house and ducts are clean. A professional duct cleaning is recommended every 3-5 years to keep dander from being recirculated through the home when the HVAC system is turned on.

3. Keep a groomed dog 
Make sure to brush and trim all fur as it promotes a healthy coat for dogs. A well-groomed dog means that less fur will end up in the filter and the ducts. Keeping a groomed dog also keeps its fur from matting or creating painful knots. 

4. Keep from the outdoor unit. 
Creating an enclosure will keep dogs from clawing or damaging the unit. Puppies and dogs are curious by nature. If they got into the wires and started chewing wire, it could result in a severe injury to your pup. And don’t let them pee on it!

5. Call Afterglow
Participating in a tune-up twice a year will help keep bills low and allergies afar. Give us a call, and one of our technicians will happily come out and perform a comprehensive cleaning and tune-up.

 

Understanding the importance of your dog’s shedding and dander will help to ensure your HVAC unit’s filter is in good shape. Making small changes in your home will help your family breathe easier and keep your HVAC system running longer and smoother. This means more energy to play with the new four-legged friend. 

Planning for Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Comfort

Life in COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to re-think our living spaces and make them cozier, healthier and more comfortable. Let us guide you into the TOP 4 THINGS you should consider when upgrading your home. Enhance not only your comfort zone but your health with affordable options.

1. Air Conditioning

Summer is just around the corner, don’t forget about the air conditioner in your home!

With sooo many people working from home these days, it’s important to get your air conditioning right. Number One piece of advice: get it serviced so you know it is working right. Neglected and un-maintained ACs will break down when you least expect, likely on the hottest day! 

If a new Air Conditioner is what you need, look into newer models as they are more efficient, use variable technology and are environmentally safer. Right-size the AC, because oversized units don’t remove the humidity and leave your house feeling like a cave. Undersized units can leave you wanting more cool… 

 

2.  Ventilation

Breathe, breathe in the air… Clean air! Where is the best place to breathe in air? Out in a forest where the oxygen and the carbon dioxide are in the right proportions. In your house? Not unless you’re cleaning and ventilating the air. Test your home, you will be surprised by the number of particles and high level of carbon dioxide you will find. You can’t bring the wilderness into your house, but we can bring in fresh air. 

Ventilation systems for your home will do the job of bringing fresh air in, and pushing stale air out. 

We install two types of ventilation systems: HRV, heat recovery; or ERV, energy recovery. Both do a great job of ventilating and controlling carbon dioxide, moisture, smoke, cooking odours and indoor pollutants. Bad indoor air quality is not good for you.

Protect your home and loved ones by taking the extra precaution to ensure there is proper ventilation and air cleaning.

3.     Ductless Air Conditioning Technology 

There are many benefits of having a ductless air conditioning system in your home. They are very versatile cooling and heating units that can be put almost anywhere. Yes, ductless air conditioners can heat as well as cool because they are heat pumps. Big bonus is that they are among the most efficient appliances out there, as much as 2X the efficiency of a standard central system. What else? They heat, cool, dehumidify, filter and otherwise fan the air around them. Check out Afterglow’s lineup of Mitsubishi ultra-quiet ductless air conditioners.

 

4.     Heated Floors

Did someone ask about comfort? How about the absolute best way to heat homes in our Canadian winters: heated floors! The cool thing (pardon the pun) is that this technology is available without spending a fortune. We can get small spaces heating off your water heater.

The benefits of having heated floors in your home keeps the heat consistent throughout your living space, no blowing air, no radiators taking up space. 

For your next home improvement or renovation, consider upgrading to heated floors.

 

Inquire about installing these systems in your home at Afterglow by calling us down below.

519-747-7732

5 Ways to Avoid Heating Up Your Cooling Bill This Summer

5 Ways to Avoid Heating Up Your Cooling Bill This Summer

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! 

 

  1. 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. 

 

  1. 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. 

 

  1. 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! 

 

  1. 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. 

 

  1. 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.

How to Stay Cool During the Heatwave

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.

DIY Do Nots – Why You Need Your HVAC Technician

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.

5 Things to Do to Get Fresh Air in KW This Summer

After being cooped up in the house from all the rain this spring, it’s time to transition from cool days spent indoors to the promise of better weather and sunny skies with great outdoor activities. Afterglow has you covered with five things to do in KW to get fresh air this season:

Image courtesy of: http://www.thehydrocut.ca

1) Hydrocut Trails

 

 

The Hydrocut Trails with over 30km of combined 26 trails, KW’s Hydrocut Trails is one of the top mountain bike riding locations in Ontario. The trails are free to use and have a variation of novice, intermediate, and expert trails — fun for everyone, even the kids! Owned and operated by the Waterloo Cycling Club, there are different rides each week ranging from ladies rides, to novice rides, to skills rides. The trails are a great way to take in the summer air while trying your hand at something new.

 

Image courtesy of: Twitter @ParkMoviesKW

2) Movies in the Park at Waterloo Park

 

 

Every Summer, Princess Cinemas teams up with The Beat Goes on to present free movies in the park in July and August. Attendees are encouraged to bring a donation for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. What better way to get fresh air than by watching a movie in the great outdoors and contributing to a good cause? Stay tuned to the @ParkMoviesKW Twitter account for screening dates.

 

Image courtesy of: The Cord

3) Picnic in Victoria Park

 

 

If you’re looking for a free and fun way to spend some quality time with your friends and family, then fill your cooler up with snacks and beverages, grab a big blanket, and head on over to Victoria Park for a delicious afternoon in Kitchener’s oldest and most beautiful park. Once you’re done eating, you can head on over to the man-made lake and watch the geese swim or enjoy the live music playing at the historic Boathouse.

 

Image courtesy of: Explore Waterloo Region

 

4) St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market

 

 

Every Thursday and Saturday, take a stroll around the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market where you can purchase local produce, delectable meats and cheeses, baked goods and more. Even if you don’t want to cash out, you can always enjoy the atmosphere. The vendors and the aromas of all the delicious foods alone will make you want to stay all day.

 

Image courtesy of Herrle’s

 

5) Strawberry Picking at Herrle’s

10 acres of fresh strawberries ready for picking, all in the open air! Come to Herrle’s in mid-June when strawberry picking season is at its peak. The best times for berry picking are early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Visit Herrle’s website for more information on the best practices for strawberry picking and for updates on season opening dates.

Contact Afterglow to ensure the air quality in your home is as fresh as it is outside! 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.

Common mistakes when transitioning from Winter to Spring

It’s easy to get excited about the warmer weather but forgetting to properly transition your home from winter to spring can quickly disrupt your fun in the sun. Before you completely push the winter months out of your mind, it is important to know the common mistakes made when transitioning from season to season. Luckily, Afterglow knows the top three most common mistakes you should avoid to ensure you and your home are completely ready for a beautiful spring season.

Mistake #1 – Assume everything is fine

One of the most common mistakes when transitioning from season to season is assuming everything is in good shape simply because you checked it at the end of the last season. In reality, the opposite is true, especially between winter and spring. To get your house ready for the wet spring weather, you’ll first need to assess the extent of the damage caused by the ice and snow. A quick, basic inspection includes checking the gutters and roof for any damage, verifying that all the pipes made it through the cold without breaking, and ensuring that windows and doors are still properly sealed to prevent your heating/cooling bills from increasing.

Mistake #2 – Assume that snow is the only thing collecting in the gutters

If you cleaned your gutters before winter began there shouldn’t be a lot to clean out now, but it’s still important to check on them. At the base of the gutters clean up any twigs, leaves or other debris that may have gathered over the winter so it will be able to flow correctly. If there’s any remaining ice you can add some ice melt tablets or de-icing salt to get it running and make sure that they are flowing properly to prevent flooding. If gutters are clogged, water will overflow onto or into the house and also will be trapped in the gutter after rain. This moisture will cause rot in wood fascia and soffit boards (the wood near where gutters are attached).

Mistake #3 – Forgetting to check vents and filters

Your new motto is: if it has a screen, it should be cleaned!

All winter, any exterior ventilation has been closed off by snow, ice or your run-of-the-mill yard debris. Cleaning these areas will help them start the drying out process by allowing the spring airflow to come through. Vents can usually be found under the eaves and around the base of the home. Mend or replace broken screens and remove any debris that may block it. Another important vent to check is the dryer vent which should be cleaned or replaced every six months or it could overheat and start a fire. Finally, clean (or replace) the filters for your A/C unit so you don’t run into any hiccups in the middle of a heat wave this year!

Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! 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.

Preparing Your Home For Spring

Spring has sprung, Waterloo Region! The sun is shining, the snow is melting and it’s time to not only transition your wardrobe, but your home as well! With warmer weather on the horizon, it is important to follow Afterglow’s steps for a quick check-up to make sure you can enjoy the sun without any looming potential-headaches.

 

Go for a walk (around your house)

During the winter months, the exterior of your home will be exposed to more potential damage than the inside so this is where your check-up should start! Walk around your home and examine caulking around the outside of windows and doors. You should also open those windows and doors and examine the weather stripping. Replace old or cracking caulk and worn weather stripping where necessary to prevent drafts and increased HVAC bills.

Clear the gutters

While you’re walking around your home, you should also take a second lap to check your gutters! Loose or leaky gutters can lead to improper drainage, which can result in water seeping into your basement or crawl space. Finally, make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

Double check the AC unit

Nothing is worse than when the first heat wave hits and you realize your AC unit has been damaged during the winter. Before the heat is here to stay, contact your local qualified heating and cooling contractor to clean and service your outside unit of the air conditioning system. When the AC unit has clean coils it will operate more efficiently.

Out with the old, in with the new!

With so much more sunlight filling your home, it’s easier to see just how much dust has settled throughout the winter. One thing that may not visibly need cleaning and is easily overlooked is the indoor air quality. Springtime means the return of airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores, which can cause a lot of unpleasant allergy-related symptoms. Open up your windows to let the stale air out and the fresh air in! Afterglow can also provide maintenance on your air ventilation systems to ensure you and your family is breathing in only the freshest air.

Contact Afterglow for your Spring-prep needs! 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.

Preparing Your Home for March Break

With March break right around the corner, it’s easy to get excited about spending quality time relaxing with your family — and forget about protecting your home. Afterglow has five tips for prepping your home before you pack up and go so you can enjoy your well-deserved vacation worry-free.

Unplug before you unwind

The majority of your appliances don’t need to run while you’re out of town. Microwaves, lamps, floor fans, internet modems, gaming consoles, and computers can all take a power-nap in your absence. But just turning them off isn’t enough — unplug to cut off power drain to save money on your electric bill.

Attending to your devices isn’t just about protecting your finances. If a power surge occurs while you’re away, it could fry your appliances and electronics or even cause a malfunction. Sometimes a surge will cause a garage door to open on its own, which can make your empty house an easy target for curious animals or thieves.

 

Turn off your water supply

You may also want to consider turning off the water supply. Once the water supply has been turned off, pipes should be drained of any remaining water by turning on all of your faucets until they run dry. Make sure to also flush all toilets to clear water from the tanks and bowls. For peace of mind, you can also put nontoxic plumbing antifreeze in the tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing and cracking the porcelain or piping.

If your home uses a boiler system for heating, you’ll want to first consult a professional to ensure it’s safe to cut off the water. If your home has a fire sprinkler system, keep the water supply on.

 

Adjust the thermostat, stat!

When you leave your home during the winter months, it isn’t efficient to keep it toasty warm inside. Home advisor recommends turning the thermostat down to about 14 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit) when you are away. Lowering the temperature will not only cut back on unnecessary energy costs but also maintain a comfortable environment for your plants, pets, electronics, and plumbing systems.

 

Call in a favour

Give a trusted friend, neighbor or relative access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems and be available in case for emergencies. You should also leave them with your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

If you want to take extra precautions, notify the police department that your home will be vacant, and provide emergency numbers.

 

Routine maintenance

Keeping up with regular maintenance in your home can help with a smooth transition for a week away. Periodically do an interior walkthrough of your home to check any weather stripping for leaks and drafts near windows and doorways. It’s also very important to ensure there are fire and smoke detectors on every floor and all have fresh batteries.

Last but certainly not least, double check that all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors!

Whether you are spending your time skiing down mountains or flying south to escape the cold, Afterglow can make sure your home’s HVAC is safe, secure and ready for your return.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Inside and Outside Your Home

A survey conducted by Environics Research found that 78% of Canadians are looking for ways to boost energy efficiency in their homes. As the temperatures plummet in winter, home heating costs can rise. Here are a few ways to stay nice and cozy with your home, energy bill and environmental footprint:

Winterizing your home on the outside

It may seem counterintuitive that what’s going outside of your home affects what happens with your energy efficiency inside your home, but little things on the outside can make a big difference to managing indoor comfort and energy costs.

Check the frames around exterior windows and doors (including your garage door). If you see cracks or gaps, seal them up with acrylic, latex or rubber caulking (avoid fast drying varieties for outside) or weather stripping (standard or tape format).

If you have storm windows, change the screens. And if you have siding on your home, check to see if it’s in good condition with no cracks or gaps. Any small leaks will cause you to lose heat from your home. These little leaks will make your furnace work harder and drive up your winter heating bill.

One more place to check — your gutters or eavestrough as we like to call it in Canada. Leaves, dirt and debris from shingles can clog gutters. In winter this can lead to ice jams that have the potential to damage your roof. Not only is this an expensive repair, a gap in your roof can also be a heat leak.

Home energy savings tips for inside

Inside your home, check the windows and doors for gaps, using caulking or weatherstripping to fill any spaces you find. If you have a drafty window, install blinds or heavy curtains. Conversely, take advantage of direct sunlight to get an energy and mood boost from Mother Nature.

Ideal indoor temperatures for Canadian homes in the winter

Another way to save money on home heating during the winter is to set your thermostat to the ideal temperature. If you’re home during the day, the ideal temperature is 20 to 22°C. When you’re away or asleep, the ideal range is 17 to 19°F.

If you can hack it, put on a sweater and turn down the heat another degree or two during the day. Every degree you can lower the heat during the day or night will help you lower your home heating costs.

A digital or smart thermostat also lets you set daytime and nighttime programs to control the temperature in your home.   

More ways to boost the energy efficiency of your furnace

Before winter’s freezing temperatures arrive to stay, schedule a winter check-up for your furnace. This will ensure that your furnace won’t fail during when the mercury drops and that your furnace is working at peak performance. Changing your filter on a regular basis also helps maintain the efficiency of your furnace.

If you’re planning to replace your furnace, newer furnaces are more energy efficient. Furnace efficiency is measured by something called Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace. Furnaces with an AFUE rating of 95% or higher are considered Energy Star certified.

Advanced features, like variable speed and multi-stage blower motors also boost energy efficiency.

Warm up to saving energy

While winter’s already begun, there’s still time to have your furnace serviced or find out more about replacing an older furnace. Contact Afterglow for your winterizing needs! 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.  

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