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.

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 Look at When Buying a House

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.

Electrical Panel

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.

GFCI Outlets

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

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!

3 Types of Fall Weather That Can Damage Your Air Conditioner

As the calendar begins to transition from the months of summer to fall, weather follows suit. Gone, for the most part, are the hot, clear days. We are left to face colder temperatures and spurts of rain and wind. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from the scorching heat, but what if it’s more than we bargained for? Fall may bring severe changes in weather that can cause damage to our properties and/or HVAC units.

Extreme Heat

While summer is behind us, we do still see some occasional warm and humid days. During these moments of heat, homeowners are tempted to drastically lower their air conditioner temperatures to escape the less-than-optimal outdoor weather. Doing so can often cause your unit to work harder than it needs to. To avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your air conditioner, raise your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit to keep you cool.

Severe Flooding

Our clients often ask us, “should we cover our air-conditioner to protect it from rain?” The answer is no, not really. Air-conditioners are designed and constructed with weather in mind. They are made to withstand rain, hail, and even snow.

Covering them can often cause more damage than having no protection at all. Tarp coverings (especially ones made out of plastic) can cut off air circulation to the unit, causing moisture to form on the underside of the casing. This moisture can rot and rust the metal exterior, wiring components, and even rubber within the air-conditioner. Over time, this will render your unit inoperable. If you wish to cover it, opt for commercially available covers with proper ventilation.

The only time you should really worry about water damaging your AC is during periods of severe flooding. If water levels reach or exceed 15 inches in depth, you should consult a technician before restarting your air conditioner.

Thunderous Power Surges

Thunderstorms can damage your unit in two ways. First, the high winds often associated with storms can send objects like leaves and branches flying into your air conditioner’s condenser fan grille. This blockage can prevent it from running properly. Second, if lightning strikes your air conditioner, power surges often incur.

To complicate matters, the severity of those surges is not often seen right away. You may not know your unit has been struck! But over the course of a few months, homeowners begin to notice that their air conditioner is not working as well as it was before.

The most common cause of air conditioner damage after a lightning strike is damage to the capacitor. If not taken care of immediately, this can lead to a compressor failure, which is a much more expensive repair. To limit the impact of a lightning strike, invest in some high-quality outlet surge suppressors!

Do you have more questions about how changes in weather can affect your HVAC units? Contact us! Our knowledgeable and friendly service technicians at Afterglow Ltd. would be happy to help!

Top 5 Reasons for Air Conditioner Failures

Last month, you fulfilled your curiosity about how air conditioner parts function together to cool the air in your home. That knowledge is all good and dandy, but there are more questions to be answered. Do you know the reasons why an air conditioner would fail and what to do in the event that it does? Below is a breakdown of the top 5 reasons for an air conditioner’s failure.

Faulty Circuit Breaker, Fuse or Electrical Wiring

If your air conditioner fails, first check your fuse and circuit breaker to make sure that there aren’t any electrical issues present. Turn off your air conditioner, allowing 15 minutes of cool down time before replacing the fuse or resetting the breaker. If that doesn’t do the trick, your AC could have been improperly wired or you could have tripped a high-pressure limit switch. In those cases, call a trained technician to inspect the problem.

Refrigerant Leak

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A refrigerant can leak for several reasons: natural wear and tear, formic acid buildup, or formaldehyde exposure. Over time, acid can build up, burning a hole through the copper tubing or coils of the air conditioning unit, resulting in a leak and a change in pressure. If an air conditioner does not reach an adequate pressure level, this can cause it to fail.

TIP: If you see a refrigerant leak, call a trusted HVAC technician immediately! Refrigerants are harmful substances to the environment.

Frozen Coils

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Air conditioners need a passageway for warm air to travel in order to reach the cold coils that cool the air. If there is a blockage within this passageway, your coils can freeze from a lack of warm air passing over the coils. To prevent this issue, change your AC filter regularly and don’t skip your HVAC maintenance inspections! If you see frost, call us!

Age & Wear and Tear

Is your air conditioner 5 years or older and constantly toggling on and off? This could be a sign that there is damage to one or more parts within your unit, such as the fan blades, compressor, or electrical parts. Regular inspections can catch these issues before they become too large to fix.

Faulty Thermostat

If your thermostat is not properly calibrated, it can cause your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to. Thermostats exist to control the amount of air being circulated within your home. If the thermostat is faulty, it can send your air conditioner into overdrive.

Don’t let the humidity in your home get you down! Talented HVAC technicians are just one call away. Reach out to us and we will get that cool air flowing in no time!