A Homeowners Guide to Smart HVAC Systems

A Homeowners Guide to Smart HVAC SystemsIf your home is like most American homes, your HVAC system accounts for more than half of your monthly energy bill. And if you find yourself fiddling with the thermostat or complaining about uneven heating or cooling in your home, it’s clear that there’s room for improvement. A smart HVAC system may relieve some of your annoyances.

Smart HVAC systems don’t just do what you tell them: they also take information about the state of your house, and apply that information in order to optimize your home comfort. Some of the possible ways this could look include:

  • A smart thermostat with a motion detector which switches your home into vacation mode if no one is around for several days.
  • A home zoning system which allows you to set different areas of your home to different temperatures – for example, delivering more air conditioning to the kitchen while you’re cooking a meal, without over-chilling the rest of your home.
  • A dehumidifier which monitors your home’s humidity levels, and automatically switches off and on in order to manage them.
  • Appliances which interact with your smartphone, allowing you to check on your home’s status from anywhere, and change the temperature even when you’re on the go.

Smart systems are naturally easier to build into new buildings than to install in old ones, but that doesn’t mean that upgrading your home HVAC system has to be out of your reach. In fact, upgrading to a smart HVAC system can cut your energy bills significantly, meaning that it might pay for itself in the long term. Even if you’re not planning to keep your current home for long, a smart HVAC system will make life more convenient, as well as increasing your home’s value.

If you’re curious about having a smart HVAC system in your Middletown home, give us a call at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about smart HVAC systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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Save Energy Using Window Treatments

Save Energy Using Window TreatmentsDid you know that your window treatments actually have a role to play in how energy efficient your home is? The right window treatments can help lower your energy bills, keeping your Middletown home more comfortable all year long. If you are considering investing in new window treatments, here are some of the best options to consider.

Use Blinds to Reduce Summer Heat Gain

Letting in the summer sun may make your home feel more cheery, but the truth is that it also lets in a significant amount of heat. Close your blinds, and you can reduce heat gain by about half, depending on the type of blinds you have. If you turn the blinds so they send the sunlight to the ceiling, you can still enjoy the natural light with less heat gain.

Use Drapes to Reduce Heat Loss

In the winter, your goal is to keep your heated air inside your home. Blinds don’t help with this very much. Instead, close the drapes to keep the heat inside.

However, not all drapes are effective in this role. The material, first of all, needs to be thick. Also, the drapes need to be hung as close as possible to the window, falling to the sill or floor depending on the size of the window and style you wish to embrace. Sealing the drapery against the wall and floor can also help reduce heat loss even further.

Awnings and Overhangs Bring Shade to Your Windows

Finally, if you do not want to have to remember to close the blinds or drapes, consider installing awnings or overhangs. These produce shade over the window, which in turn will reduce the amount of heat that can enter into your home. These are most effective in south or west-facing windows.

As you work to make your home as energy efficient as possible, consider investing in some new window treatments. For other energy saving tips and tricks, and to ensure your air conditioning and heating systems are functioning as efficiently as possible, contact the team at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about window treatments and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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What Air Conditioner Ratings to Look For

What A/C Ratings to Look ForWhen you’re having to shift through the different choices for a new HVAC system, you may find yourself wishing someone would just make it all simple for you. Of course, talking to a well-informed HVAC contractor can help. Having a basic understanding of air conditioner ratings can also assist you in sorting out which system will be best for your needs.

The main ratings to look at when considering a purchase are the EER and SEER ratings.

  • EER. This stands for the Energy Efficiency Ratio. It measures how much energy is used to achieve a certain amount of cooling. Based on a 95-degree outside temperature, the EER rates how much energy the air conditioner needs to use to bring a home to 80 degrees inside. If the A/C uses less energy, it gets a higher rating.
  • SEER. This stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It’s based on the EER, but it takes “real world” conditions into account. A cooling season usually starts at a cooler temperature, gets gradually hotter, then slowly gets cooler again. To account for this, the SEER looks at energy usage when the outside temperature ranges from 65 degrees to 104 degrees. This gives a more accurate picture of energy use throughout the cooling season.

In practical terms, a higher SEER and EER mean you’ll save more money on energy costs, but you’ll also typically pay more upfront for the air conditioning system. The key is to find the balance between enough energy efficiency at a cost you’re comfortable with.

The Department of Energy has set standards for new air conditioning systems at 13 SEER for northern areas, and 14 SEER for southern and southwestern areas. This means you’ll get a certain amount of energy efficiency no matter what you choose. However, homeowners in cooler areas may find that the energy savings aren’t sufficient to cover the additional expense. If in doubt, talk to your HVAC contractor about the best SEER rating for your situation.

For more information about air conditioner ratings or any other HVAC-related questions in the Middletown area, contact C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about A/C ratings and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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How to Solve Common Condensate Drain Issues

How to Solve Common Condensate Drain IssuesDuring the normal cooling process, your central air conditioner removes moisture from the air as it travels across the evaporator coil. If everything is working properly, that liquid is expelled outdoors via the built-in condensate drain system.

Knowing what to do when the following problems develop with the drainage system can help you protect your family’s health and avoid extra maintenance and repair costs.

Dried Out Drain Trap

Usually, the drainage system on an A/C ties into a home’s sewer line and it’s equipped with a U-shaped trap to retain just enough water to prevent malodorous sewer gas backups. If you smell a unpleasant odor on startup when your A/C hasn’t been used for a while, the water has likely evaporated from the trap.

As draining water fills the trap, the odor should go away on its own. If it doesn’t, have an HVAC professional check whether the drain line has sufficient incline.

Unchecked Mold Growth

Your condensate drain system offers the ideal conditions for mold growth; warmth, moisture and a steady supply of organic particles. Mold can begin to flourish in the system’s collector pan and/or drain lines, then spread into the air ducts and circulate throughout your home. A severe mold problem can eventually clog up the evaporator coil and obstruct vital system airflow.

To keep mold from gaining a foothold, schedule yearly HVAC maintenance, and flush the drain line and clean the collector pan regularly. If the A/C is already overrun with mold, you may need to have the cooling system and ductwork cleaned and sanitized professionally.

Blockages and Floods

The collector pan located under your air handler is also the ideal environment for algae growth. From there, algae can spread into the drain line and form a clog. When condensate can’t drain away freely and overflows the pan, you can face a mess and costly water damage repairs. Keeping the pan clean and flushing the drain line periodically is the easiest way to prevent any damage.

For help solving A/C condensate drain issues in your Middletown home, contact the pros at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about condensate drains and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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Zoning System Benefits for Your Home

Zoning System Benefits for Your HomeA zoning system could be the solution to high energy bills and uneven comfort throughout your home. These systems divide homes into distinct sections and distribute the conditioned air based on each part’s need instead of the entire structure. These systems are one of the more recent upgrades for home HVAC systems to add to existing systems, incorporate into new homes, or include with new HVAC installations for existing homes.

The premise behind zoning systems lies in the fact that spaces throughout a structure don’t have equal cooling or heating requirements. These systems provide the greatest benefits in homes that have multiple stories, vaulted ceilings or large expanses of windows, family members with different temperature preferences, or homes with unused rooms.

Zoning systems use mechanical dampers in the ductwork that open and close based on each section’s temperature. Each section has its own thermostat that triggers the HVAC system to send conditioned air to that section alone. The thermostats are wired to a central control panel.

Besides improving comfort throughout a home, a zoning system will:

  • Save money. It costs less to condition one part of a home compared to the whole structure when just one space needs it. Even with CFL or LED lighting, you wouldn’t turn on all the lights inside your home when you just need it one room.

    Zoning your home does the same thing, except it costs far more to keep a home at comfortable temperatures than to keep it illuminated. Using programmable thermostats with zoning systems saves even more energy dollars.

  • Lengthen system life. Most of the time, the HVAC system runs at a slower speed when just part of the home needs conditioning. The reduced load reduces wear and tear on the equipment. Zoning is a much better alternative to closing off the registers and ducts to seldom-used rooms, which has the potential to harm an HVAC system.

A zoning system provides a number of tangible advantages to improve your home’s energy performance and comfort. To learn more, contact C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning, providing HVAC services for Middletown homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about zoning systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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Back-to-School Tips for Your Home HVAC System

Back-to-School Tips for Your Home HVAC SystemAs kids go back to school, books and backpacks replace swimsuits and sunscreen, and cooler weather is on the horizon. Now is an ideal time to take care of some HVAC maintenance tasks and make a few energy-saving changes around the home. Here are tasks for your back-to-school home checklist.

Adjust the Thermostat

With fewer people at home during the day, there is little need to spend as much energy on climate control during those hours. Save money by adjusting the thermostat accordingly.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, consider having one installed. These make life easier by letting you program temperature changes in advance. For example, you can set it to switch to a more comfortable temperature a half hour or so before everyone arrives home.

Clean Around the Outdoor Unit

The outdoor component of your HVAC system is exposed to a lot of natural debris in most seasons and especially in the fall. Yard waste and fallen leaves can cause problems if they block airflow or get inside the unit. Clean away everything that has accumulated over the summer. This will make it easier to keep the area clean once leaves start to fall.

Seal the Home

You might have done some air sealing around your home at the beginning of summer, but it’s a good idea to check for leaks again. Temperature and humidity changes, as well as the natural settling that houses experience, can create new air leaks. Making your home more airtight saves you money by preventing energy loss through the gaps and cracks.

Replace your Air Filter

Make a fresh start with a clean air filter. This will help your HVAC system run more efficiently, because it will stay cleaner and will receive better airflow. A clean filter will also improve your indoor air by eliminating some dust and other contaminants that contribute to allergies. Keeping a clean filter in your HVAC system can keep your whole family healthier.

For more tips about maintaining your HVAC system this fall, please contact us at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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Should You Be Cleaning Your Air Ducts?

Should You Be Cleaning Your Air Ducts?Air ducts can affect your home’s indoor air quality and energy efficiency positively or negatively. To create a positive impact, you’ll need to take proper care of them. Cleaning is one form of caring for your ducts. Is it really necessary to clean your ducts? Read on to learn more.

Why Clean the Ducts?

If dirt and moisture are present in your ducts, there’s potential for mold and other biological contaminants to grow. When the ducts become severely contaminated, they can distribute these contaminants throughout your home, posing health risks to you and your family. Duct cleaning eliminates dirt and contaminants, helping improve your home’s air quality.

Free airflow is crucial to the efficient functioning of your HVAC system. When HVAC components like your ducts and air filter are loaded up with dirt and debris that obstruct airflow, your system is forced to work harder thus consuming more energy. Cleaning your ducts removes that dirt and debris, resulting in energy savings.

How Often Should You Clean Ducts?

Thorough cleaning of air ducts requires special tools such as a high-powered vacuum and special rotary brushes. It’s best to hire professionals.

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends having your ducts cleaned every three to five years. If there are asthma and allergy sufferers in your home, you should have it done annually. However, these circumstances warrant cleaning your ducts as soon as possible:

  • You can see mold growth inside your ducts.
  • There are insects or small animals living inside your ducts.
  • There’s plenty of dust and debris in your ducts.
  • Particles are released into your home from the supply registers.

Poor duct cleaning can worsen your home’s air quality and damage components of your HVAC system. Make sure you hire a contractor who is certified and licensed. For more information on cleaning your air ducts, please contact us at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve been proudly serving the Middletown area since 1945.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air ducts and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

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How to Read and Understand the EnergyGuide Label

How to Read and Understand the EnergyGuide LabelThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that manufacturers of HVAC and other types of energy-consuming equipment attach an EnergyGuide label on each of their products to give buyers a way to compare different units. Once you know how to read and understand the label, you’ll find it easier to weigh your options and choose new heating or cooling equipment when the time comes to upgrade. Read More »

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The HVAC Maintenance and Replacement Timeline

The HVAC Maintenance and Replacement TimelineNo one wants to replace an HVAC system before they have to. In most cases, HVAC systems have a long lifespan, easily lasting 15 to 20 years. The best way to make sure your system experiences a long life is to follow the right HVAC maintenance timeline.

Day-to-day, your HVAC system doesn’t require much attention. However, there are important month-to-month and bi-annual maintenance jobs that should be performed. Read More »

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Signs of a Reputable HVAC Company

Signs of a Reputable HVAC CompanyYour HVAC system is vital for your comfort and keeping it working well requires expert help. There are many HVAC companies out there, but not all are equal. Here are important things to look for when choosing an HVAC company. Read More »

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