Top 10 Opportunities to Save in the New Year!

  1. Adjust Your Thermostat: Take advantage of programmable thermostats. Especially if you have a furnace, set your thermostat to automatically turn the heat down at night and when you’re away. If you have a heat pump, use your smart thermostat to turn down the thermostat in the winter when you are away and at night when you are asleep, or to turn it up a few degrees in the summer.
  2. Use Your Windows: Add curtains to windows to reduce heat loss by 10%, according to Energy.gov. During the winter, open your drapes or blinds on the south side of your home to bring the heat of the sun into your home keeping it warm. In the summer, keep your blinds and windows closed to block the heat. If you have blinds, close them completely to reduce heat gain by 45%. If you have drapes, switch them out for medium colors with white-plastic backings to reduce heat gains by 33%. Let shrubbery and plants grow over the windows or add awnings to provide shade, which can reduce heat gain by 77% on west-facing windows.
  3. Keep HVAC Registers Clear: Your HVAC system uses energy to take air in, heat or cool it, and then push it through your home. Don’t make it work harder to get your home to the set temperature by placing obstacles over the heat registers. If you have furniture blocking the registers, rearrange the room to improve air circulation.
  4. Block and Damper your Fireplace: If you’re not using your fireplace, make sure to close the flu, preventing heated or cooled air from escaping through the chimney. Besides using the damper, you can install glass doors around the fireplace, or invest in a chimney balloon.
  5. Only Heat/Cool the Rooms You’re Using: If you have a storage or guest room that isn’t being used, block and shut off the registers for those rooms using less energy to keep unnecessary areas warm/cool, leaving the main areas of your home comfortable.
  6. Use Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans can be an excellent way to reduce your heating and cooling costs year-round. In the winter, you can use your ceiling fans to cut costs by changing the ceiling fan’s rotation to clockwise and set it to low, circulating warm air that’s risen to the ceiling back down to the living area without creating a draft. In the summer, make sure your ceiling fans are going counterclockwise and pushing cooler air down. Using your ceiling fans in the summer can make it feel 6 degrees cooler in your home, letting you increase your thermostat 6 degrees higher, saving on energy costs. But remember to turn them off when you leave a room to avoid wasting energy.
  7. Lock Windows and Doors: When you lock your windows and doors, they are usually pulled tighter against the weather stripping of their frames. This can help seal the windows and doors from leaks and won’t let the cool or warm air out.
  8. Replace Your Filters: A dirty filter makes your HVAC system work harder and reduces efficiency, increasing your energy use. Change your HVAC filter at least every three months, if not every month in the hottest and coldest seasons. According to the US Department of Energy, changing your filter can lower your energy consumption by 5-15%.
  9. Find and Seal Leaks: In the winter, as much as 38% of your home’s heat can be lost through leaks in ductwork, and around doors and windows. Sealing leaks can help minimize wasting money on heating and cooling your home. By sealing the ductwork in your home, caulking around windows, replacing the weather stripping around the outside or bottom of your doors, and insulating around outlets and pipes, you can help reduce the amount of leaks in your home, thereby saving you on heating and cooling costs year-round!
  10. Maintain Your HVAC System: Energy Star recommends regular maintenance and getting tune-ups on your HVAC system to ensure your HVAC system runs efficiently. This can not only increase efficiency and save you money on your HVAC bills but it can help prevent more costly problems in before they cause major damage to your system. Learn more about getting a system tune-up here.

Winter Energy Savings Tips

Heat Pump Maintenance:

  • Dirty filters cause the system to work harder, leading to higher energy costs. Check air filters monthly and clean or replace when dirty.
  • Ensure there is at least 18 inches on all sides of your outdoor unit clear of snow, ice, shrubs, and debris.
  • Keep the coils on your outdoor unit clean. Apex Heating and Air can clean the coils with an approved cleaner to ensure your unit is running at top condition.
  • Call Apex Heating and Air to schedule an inspection of your heat pump before the cold weather sets in.

More Energy Savings Tips:

  • Invest in a programmable smart thermostat and set it to turn the heat down when you are out of town or away from home. This easy home upgrade can cut energy costs by up to 12% and will continue to reduce AC costs in the upcoming spring and summer.
  • Install weather stripping around doors and windows to help keep the cold out.
  • If you have a traditional fireplace, be sure the flue is closed when not in use to avoid heat from escaping. Similarly, avoid leaving bathroom fans, range hoods, and exhaust fans running for long periods as they will suck heat from your home.
  • Take advantage of the world’s best natural heat source — the sun! Open curtains of windows facing the sun during the heat of the day, then close curtains to hold the heat in.
  • Reverse your fan’s blades to a clockwise rotation to help push the warm air down to where you are.

Apex Heating and Air – Don’t break the bank with your home AC bill this summer

Have your summer cooling costs been creeping up despite keeping a consistent temperature on your thermostat? Sometimes the fixes are simpler than an AC unit in need of maintenance. Try these ideas first and then call Apex Heating and Air to handle the rest.

A huge factor in a warm house and an overworked AC unit is the amount of sunlight seeping through your windows. Luckily this is an easy fix. Adding window treatments that can be closed during the hottest parts of the day help trap the cool air inside and keep the warm air out. This can also be done with ‘solar screens’ or mesh window screens that prevent the UV energy from entering your home. It packs a double punch by keeping your home cool and preventing floors and furniture from fading in the sun. Another option is to create more shade around your home by planting trees and shrubs. Similar to the screens and window treatments, trees and shrubs prevent sunlight from entering your home. They also create shady space outside for more comfortable outdoor living.

A programmable thermostat is another great way to save on heating and cooling. Being able to program the temperature of your home to a higher temperature when no one is home can save you tons of money. This ensures your house is only being cooled for the times that people are in it. There is no sense in cooling an empty house! Most programmable thermostats come with detailed installation instructions, but if you need help with installation, Apex Heating and Air is just a phone call or email away!

The best way to save on home heating and cooling is to have an energy audit done. This evaluates how efficient your home is in its energy use. Everything from age and efficiency of your AC unit, to air leakage from windows will be evaluated. A home audit really does ensure that you’re not ‘cooling the neighborhood’ along with your home. Apex Heating and Air can perform a home energy audit for you, as well as maintain or install new AC units to make sure your home is as efficient as possible — saving you money in the long run!

Discover issues before they become a problem by calling Apex Heating and Air Conditioning today at (919) 467-8823 to schedule a checkup, or signup for our annual maintenance contract.

(sources: US Department of Energy, Bankrate)

How to Avoid a Shocking Electric Bill

How to Avoid a Shocking Electric Bill

Imagine opening your monthly utility bill and seeing you owe over $900 dollars for one 30-day period. Though it sounds impossible, this actually happened, and it could happen to you if your air conditioning unit runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In this real-world example, the homeowner’s system was both heating and cooling the house at the same time. It seems odd, but no one in the family felt heat coming out of the vents because the heat was mixed with the cool air from the air conditioner and they “cancelled” each other out…all the while using a crazy amount of energy fighting each other.

Fortunately, this issue was resolved, but the electricity provider wouldn’t take pity on the homeowner. He coughed up the outrageous bill and learned a valuable lesson in the process: Homeowners should pay close attention to HVAC systems and be on the lookout for changes in how the unit is functioning.

A unit can run non-stop for a number of reasons, but it most likely indicates a problem with the system or some other issue in the home that needs correction. Here are a few of the common culprits:

HVAC Unit Size and “Fit”

A properly sized, energy-efficient central air conditioning system will run fairly continuously in the summer to maintain a constant, desired temperature in your home. If the unit is too small it has to work harder to cool your home. Over time, this increases the wear and tear on the unit and will shorten its life. In addition, this undersized system will never be able to cool your home to your satisfaction and breakdowns will be common. If the unit is too large it can’t effectively remove moisture from the air which results in an output of moist, clammy air. The system will also use excessive amounts of electricity leading to higher utility bills.

It’s important to note that the size of your ductwork should be proportional to the size of the air conditioning unit. If ducts are the wrong size, they may not be able to handle the airflow or distribute cool air efficiently to all parts of the home.

How Old is the Filter?

Do you know when you last changed the air filters in your home? If it’s been awhile, those filters are restricting air flow. Poor air flow cuts down on the amount of cool air the unit can produce, which in turn, forces the air conditioner to run more through the day.

A dirty filter forces the system to work harder which can lead to overheating. Without enough air flowing over the coils, the system is unable to remove humidity and cool the air to the set temperature. All the unit can do is keep running when it shouldn’t. Be sure to clean or replace filters once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer for best performance.

Parts Don’t Last Forever

Failing parts on a — like motors, capacitors, and the compressor — can result in a high electric bill. The reduction in production from a failing part will cause your system to be less efficient.

For example, if there’s a failing condenser motor on the unit’s condenser and it’s trying to cool the home, the motor won’t be able to remove heat from the home very well. The struggling motor and a thermostat that’s never satisfied will cause the motor to run longer and contribute to an outrageous electric bill. This process can continue until the motor fails and the unit breaks down.

Faulty Thermostat

If a system seems to never shut off, there could be an issue with the thermostat. Maybe the home has reached the correct temperature, but the thermostat is not registering the correct indoor conditions. In this case, the unit will continue running. You can check the thermostat by placing another thermometer near the location of the thermostat. After an hour or two, check the reading. If it’s at or near the desired temperature, there may be a problem with your thermostat.

To see if the thermostat is the problem, try setting it at least 5 degrees higher or lower than the normal setting. If it’s working properly, the unit should turn on immediately. Also check that the thermostat is correctly set to “heat” or “cool.” The main circuit breaker should also be in the “on” position.

Maintenance Needed

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for air conditioning units to receive regular maintenance for proper operation. Ideally, maintenance should happen twice a year, in the spring before the warm weather hits and in the early fall after things have cooled off and it’s no longer in use. If the system isn’t clean—including ducts, coils, and the air filter—it will likely encounter airflow problems and inefficient cycling.

Apex Heating and Air Conditioning’s technicians can check to make sure everything is clean and functioning properly. Regular maintenance of the unit will not only help ensure it’s in good working order, but it will also extend the life of the system.

Bring in the New

Air conditioners have a life span. Even if the unit’s been properly maintained, it will eventually wear out. At this point, it’s best to consider replacing the old, inefficient unit with a new and more energy efficient model.

It’s best to address issues before they become problems. When you notice a change in the quality of air in your home, or the fan running more than usual, or even a faulty reading on your thermostat, it’s best to call us at Apex Heating and Air Conditioning and let us complete a proper inspection of the air conditioning system. You’ll feel more confident knowing trained professionals have addressed and corrected the problem—and saved you from the potential shock of a $900 utility bill.

Discover issues before they become a problem by calling Apex Heating and Air Conditioning today at (919) 467-8823 to schedule a checkup, or signup for our annual maintenance contract.

(Sources: Energy Vanguard; Direct Energy; EnergyStar; Repair Clinic; and Angie’s List.)