Thursday, July 13, 2017

Energy Savings Tips


You can save energy dollars by following these simple tips. Many of them are common sense suggestions that require no tools or out of pocket expense. Over time, you will see your energy efficiency increase and your energy savings multiply.

Heating/Cooling

  • Set your thermostat at 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter.  Each degree cooler or warmer will increase your energy use by 6% to 8%.  For instance, setting your thermostat at 72°F in the summer could increase energy use by up to 40%.  The same is true if you set your thermostat for higher energy use in the winter.
  • Turn off lights & fans when you leave a room.  Fans only make you feel cooler.  They do nothing to lower the temperature.  Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb.
  • If you have central air conditioning, do not close vents in unused rooms.  This could increase pressure and cause leaks in your ducts.  This does not apply to homes or apartments with window units where closing off unused rooms will reduce cooling costs and increase comfort
  • Check air conditioning ducts.  If you feel leaks between sections, or where the ducts connect with the air handler, seal them with metal tape and a coating of mastic.
  • Clean or replace air filters.  Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20% because they make your system work harder and run longer than necessary.  They also encourage the build up of mold and mildew, making cleaning more difficult.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F or the 'normal' setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away.  Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner.  It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, an unnecessary expense.
  • Consider new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps.  They use up to 40% less electricity than older models for the same amount of running time.
  • During the summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.  Close curtains on south and west facing windows during the day, and install awnings on south and west facing windows.
  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south facing windows to reduce solar gain.
  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow.  Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house.  A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • Have your air conditioning unit serviced to cut 15% of cooling costs.
  • Clean your air conditioner's condenser / evaporator coils at the beginning of the season.  The fin coils on the outside air conditioner unit can be washed with a hose.  Clean coils lower your energy costs, extend the unit’s life and provide cleaner air for you to breathe.
  • Measure the insulation in the attic.  Many houses have 4 to 6 inches of insulation.  You need about 12 inches.  Big-box stores have blowers you can use to spray insulation if you buy from them.
  • Seal cracks, gaps, leaks with spray-in expandable foam.

Kitchen / Laundry

  • Let your dishes air dry instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.  If you don't have an automatic air dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.  About 90% of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating, and using cold water can save up to 50 cents per load.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold.  Recommended temperatures are 37°F to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section.  To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator.  Read it after 24 hours.  To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages.  Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual defrost refrigerators and freezers.  Frost build up decreases the energy efficiency of the unit.  Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Dust the refrigerator coils – this helps refrigerators run more efficiently.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are air tight.  Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator.  If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator.  Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water.  Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet.
  • Wash and dry full loads.  If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water level setting.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter weight clothes.
  • Don't over dry your clothes.  If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Use the cool down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
  • Consider air drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.

Home Electronics

  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.  Turn off your computer every night.  Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off.  This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs, DVD players, VCRs, battery charges, printers, into power strips.  Turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).  Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
  • When not using your laptop's AC adapter, be sure to unplug it from the electrical outlet, rather than from the laptop.  When plugged into the wall outlet, the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
  • Use your computer's power saving settings, including automatic monitor shut off and 'sleep' mode when not in use, to make sure energy is saved.

General

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to save 75% off lighting costs.
To learn how you could save energy and $$ on your heating and cooling bill visit Sandium.Com

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Are Your Ducts Clean?

We don’t usually recommend duct cleaning because your ducts should definitely NOT be getting dirty.  When you stop and think about it, does it not seem strange that your ducts are getting dirty?  Your ducts are the breathing passages of your home.  They should be installed in a way that they are clean and stay clean. 
Dirt in your ducts is a sign of some failure in your heating and cooling system.  Our approach to duct cleaning is to diagnose what is causing contaminants to enter your duct system. Our technicians are highly skilled at pressure testing duct systems to pinpoint the source of leaks that is causing dirt to contaminate your duct system.

To make sure your ducts are clean visit Sandium.Com

Thursday, June 22, 2017

10 Tips on Buying a New Air Conditioner

This informative guide will tell you everything you need to know to find the perfect air conditioner for your home.

Although this review is most relevant to people living in the USA, other readers may still find it useful. Portable and central air units are outside of the scope of this guide.


1. Should I buy an air conditioner?

You should consider buying one during the spring "rebate" season if your current unit is old and you are worried about its reliability. A new unit can also be a good idea if your old unit has an 8-EER or less. During the summer, units are expensive and have limited availability. However, if your old AC unit is broken then you have no choice.

Most companies have rebates in the March-June timeframe and the new, more efficient models appear in the spring. Although you can get some bargains after the season, a warm summer can leave pretty slim pickings. Don't forget that your warrantee starts on the day you buy it, so buying in the fall effectively shortens the warrantee.


2. What type of air conditioner do I need? 

Air conditioners come in four main types: window units, through the wall units, portable units and whole house/central air units. Window units come in three main flavors: double-hung windows, sliding windows and casement windows.

Window units will usually convert between types with special hardware, which is often included. Small through the wall units will often convert into window units. Large through the wall, and central air units usually require professional installation, which adds to the cost.


3. What features do I need? 

You should expect the unit to have an adjustable thermostat, at least two cooling speeds, two fan speeds and an energy efficient setting, which stops the fan when the unit is not cooling. The unit should have an adjustable vent, which allows you to aim the cool air, and an exhaust vent setting allowing fresh air to be introduced from outside. The filter should be easily accessible for removal and cleaning. You want a manufacturer's warrantee for at least 5 years, with full replacement for at least 1 year.

Some of the newer units have an electrostatic filter available either standard or as an option. This filter will remove extremely small particles from the air. This is a super feature for people with allergies.


4. What is EER? 

EER or Energy Efficiency Ratio is a measure of how efficient a particular air conditioning unit is. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit and the less it will cost each year to run. Small units currently have a top EER of about 11, while the most efficient large units have an EER of about 13. Don't be fooled by the ranges shown on the yellow tags. The top rated units are often beyond the range.


5. What cooling capacity do I need? 

Cooling capacity is measured in BTU/hour. (British Thermal Units per Hour) The higher the number, the more powerful the unit is. A small room of 150 square feet may only need a 5000 BTU/Hour unit, whereas a room of 1200 square feet may need a 19,000 BTU/Hour monster.

However, room size is not the only factor that contributes to the capacity. There are many other factors including:

· the number and size of the windows
· the direction the room faces
· the available shade
· how well the room is insulated
· how many people use the room
· what appliances (computers etc.) are in the room

The little chart the salesman uses is woefully inadequate. The easiest way to calculate the required size is to use one of the on-line guides. There are many available. Look to see what figures the guide of your choice requires, then measure your room. I liked the one in the free area of the Consumer Reports site best:

http://www.consumerreports.org/Special/Worksheets/Reports/ac99wks.html

It is important to get a unit as close to the correct capacity as possible. Too small a unit may not be able to cool the room on a hot day. Too large a unit will cost more to operate. It may also cool the room too quickly and leave excessive moisture in the air.


6. How much will it cost to run? 

The number printed on the yellow tag at the store, about 8.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, is the national average cost for electricity, which for most of us is a fantasy. Try not to laugh too hard when you read it.

The better guides will calculate the estimated annual cost for running AC units for you. You need to enter the cost of electricity in your area, so go find your last bill and last summer's bill if you can. The guide will show the annual cost at different EER levels. Print this out and take it to the store with you.


7. How much does my electricity cost? 

Guess what? Your electricity bill is probably unreadable, I know mine is. Theoretically, you should add the generation cost per kilowatt-hour to the delivery cost per kilowatt-hour to get a true cost. However, many areas charge different rates for different usage and have a surcharge for high usage during summer months. Duh!

An easy way is to divide the total payment by the kilowatt-hours used. Do it for your last bill and for last summer's bill and use the higher of the two numbers. This number is not totally accurate, but it works well. (The number should be about 5-50 cents. If it isn't you probably did the sum wrong.)

Don't forget. The national grid is old and needs work. Nuclear power plants are aging too, and will cost a fortune to replace. Oil powered generation will be effected by high oil prices. You can bet money that conventionally generated power is not going to get cheaper.


8. How do I calculate the payback?

Start with the EER of your old unit. Subtract 1 from this EER for every 5 years of its age -- more if you never clean it. Use the guide to generate the annual cost for the old unit and for the unit you want to buy. You may have to extrapolate if the figures are beyond the range of your chart. Subtract the two numbers to get the annual savings. Divide the purchase price by the annual savings to get the payback time. If the payback time is lower than the warrantee period, it's like money in the bank. If it is less than double the warrantee period, it is still probably a good buy.

You live near Washington DC which has a cooling season of about 600 hours per year and your adjusted electricity cost is about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour. Replacing a 6000 BTU/Hour 6-EER unit with a 5800 BTU/Hour 11 EER unit will save about $60 a year. If you pay $300 for the new unit then you will get your money back in 5 years.


9. Which AC should I buy?

You should buy the unit of the correct capacity and type that has the highest EER, if you can afford it. Buying a unit of lower EER that costs less is usually a false economy. However, in areas with very short cooling seasons, or extremely cheap power, a lower cost unit may be a good buy.

(Use your guide to find the annual cost to run the two units. Multiply the difference by the length of the warrantee. Add that number to the cost of the lower unit. Is it still a bargain?)

Of course, common sense still applies so follow the normal rules:

· Check the unit at on-line rating services like epinions.com.
· Use on-line price comparison services to find the going "street" price.
· Consult the manufacturer's site for the EER, BTU/Hour and list price.
· Check the manufacturer's site for rebates.


10. Where should I buy it?

AC units are heavy so it is generally better to buy locally. Make sure the store is an Authorized Dealer or some manufacturers will not honor warrantees and rebates. If you are out in the boonies, consider shopping on-line. Look for companies with free delivery, and make sure you check the store out with rating services like Bizrate.com and Gomez.com.

Always use a credit card. If there is a problem, the credit card provider will beat up the store far more effectively than you can. Use your gold or platinum card to "double" the duration of full replacement warrantee -- usually up to an extra year.

If the unit requires professional installation, see if the store can recommend someone and factor that cost into your decision. Make sure the installer is licensed and insured. Check with the Better Business Bureau.
 


For more info on choosing the right air conditioner please visit Sandium.Com
original article from epinions

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thinking About Having Your Ducts Cleaned?

We get calls all the time regarding duct cleaning. Many homeowners do it on a regular basis as a way to keep their system clean. Unfortunately we always have to disappoint them when explaining Sandium does not offer these services. 

We don't do it because we don't believe it offers any real benefits to those homeowners who run their system on a regular basis -- which is most homeowners. Because when the system is in operation, whatever airborne particles (large and small) are going to get discharged out of your vents anyway. 

The low cost air duct cleaners use a vacuum that supposedly would capture the dust, but the vacuum power is so low that its like vacuuming your carpet from 6" above (how effective is that!?). The better cleaners use a rotating brush and snaking device to get into your duct system, but then you just run the risk of shredding common ducting types like wire-flex, which leads to leakage in your duct system. Duct leakage is already a major problem, with an average of about 30% leakage in an average home's duct system! That's like filling your gas tank to the top, and then losing 1/3 of it before you even leave the station! Beyond the tearing and duct leakage problem, you are simply just stirring up dust that was otherwise settled and caked in and not airborne. 

There are situations that justify duct cleaning. For example: If your system has been invaded by critters and you want to get rid of any droppings left inside AFTER your repair the ducts. Or you see chunks of dust or dark matters coming out of your vents. Or, if you are planning to turn on a system that has been sitting idle for over a year. 

I'm not making this stuff up! Follow the link below to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website which has a white paper on this exact matter. 

I'll leave you with a quote from the EPA: "Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts." 

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

If It Looks Like This, It Is Time to Give Us A Call


If your air conditioner looks like this it is probably costing you a arm and a leg in utility bills during the summer months. It is time for a upgrade.. Visit Sandium.Com to set up an appointment to look at new air conditioners. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Duct Install and Repair Services

It is hard to believe, but for many years the industry standard method of connecting ducts was to use duct tape!  We all know how long tape lasts.  Look at some of your old documents and you will see that the tape has lost its stickiness, it is brittle and faded. The same is true with the tape on your ducts.  If your duct system has never been pressure tested, call us. Our technicians carry a piece of equipment called a “duct blaster” that is used to pressure test and identify just how leaky your duct system is.  For some older duct system, we may find that it is better to consider replacing the entire duct system with  new ducts that are clean, insulated, tightly sealed, and designed to deliver optimal airflow to your home.
Duct leakage can create serious health hazard risks by altering critical pressure balances in homes. These imbalances can literally bring deadly carbon monoxide containing flue gasses into your home.  Leaks on the return air side of your furnace duct system can also create health hazards by drawing toxic chemicals, mold, allergens, humidity, dust,  crawlspace pesticides and other contaminants into your home. Upgrading  your duct system is frequently the first step to a healthier and energy efficient home.
And speaking of duct design, our technicians and installers are actually trained to use the Air Conditioning Contractors of American Manual-D standard to design, layout, and size your duct system deliver hot or cool air EXACTLY where it is needed to be delivered.
We install, repair, insulate, seal, fix, and design duct systems that will perform for you. Depending on your project, we can engineer ducts systems  that use sheet metal, wire flex, or alumaflex for your home.

To have ducts installed or repaired in your SB Californian home visit Sandium.Com

Monday, May 22, 2017

Air Conditioning Filter: Essential Part of Heating and Air Conditioning

The air conditioning filter is one of the most important air conditioning parts in the air conditioning system. Without it, your air conditioning system would be dirty and the air you breathe would be filled with pollutants. All air conditioning parts, from the ductwork to the air conditioning refrigerant, need the air conditioning filter to be clean and replaced to ensure you're getting the very best in central air conditioning.

If an air conditioning filter is left dirty, over time, it can lead to higher energy costs and short
equipment life due to all the air conditioning parts relying on each other. One can not work without the other. Overall, your heating and cooling will not be as effective and you will need to invest in more air conditioning repair and air conditioning maintenance.
An air conditioning filter should be changed every month or every two months for home air conditioning systems and every couple of weeks for certain commercial or industrial air conditioning since it's running almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Doing this as a routine in your monthly chores and not waiting until you see dust matted on the air conditioning filter will ensure you and your family the very best health as well as a smooth running air conditioning system . Dust particles can not always be seen so even if you see a little dust on the air filter , clean it as you normally would.
Since there are a variety of air conditioning filters , how quickly one gets blocked versus another depends on the brand - most air conditioning filters are sized 1 ½ to 2 square feet for each ton of capacity for a home or commercial property.
You can judge a filter's ability to clean by using MERV ratings - Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value - which is a rating of how efficient an air conditioning filter is from 1-12. The higher the rating, the more effective it is at removing particles such as animal dander, pollen, dust, mold and other allergens, and the better the protection for your air conditioning equipment . Most air conditioning filters screen out particles measuring from 3 to 10 microns in size.
The common types of air conditioning filters are:
Conventional fiberglass disposable filters (1" and 2"): These are common in most homes and small industrial air conditioners and commercial air conditioning systems. Since they are disposable and have an adhesive coating that traps the dust, you should not clean the filters . This may damage the filter's ability to remove particles by damaging the adhesive coating and/or the underlying mesh work. They are both not as effective as other types of filters even though they are lower in cost.
Pleated fiberglass disposable filters (1" and 2"): The 1" are generally used in many residential and commercial settings and are made of materials that can vary in the effectiveness. Usually, they are more densely woven to increase the efficiency of removing dirt. These have a larger surface area to lead to increased trapping of particles as compared to conventional filters. They must be specified for your air conditioning system or this can lead to increased demand on your air conditioning components. Thereby, a mismatch can be counterproductive on the health of the air conditioning system and possibly lead to higher air conditioning maintenance and service cost. You should check with the air conditioning manufacturer as to the appropriate type of pleated filter for your system. A filter spray can also be applied after the cleaning and drying of the air conditioning air filter .
Electrostatic filters: Different in design and performance, since there are so many varieties, it is rather difficult to determine which is the most efficient. They are commonly advertised as allergy-free air conditioning filters. These filters also come in the 1" and 2" sizes. Air that moves through the filter creates a static charge that collects any dust in the filter. They may require more cleaning and more blower power.
Electronic filters : Connected to an electrical power source and usually wall mounted, electronic filters come with a pre-filter that can collect larger particles and only need to be cleaned every six months.
Carbon filters : These filters contain carbon that can control any odor problems you might have within the air conditioning system . They can also be useful in homes with pets.
Air Conditioning Filter Installation
When placing the appropriate air conditioning filter in to the system, the filter should be placed in the correct direction as indicated by the arrow located on the side or face of the filter. Air should flow in the proper direction which is in the same direction as the arrows. This allows the filter to work appropriately, as the air exits the filter in the most reinforced part of the filter.
The air conditioning filter should fit tightly. A perfect seal is necessary to prevent unfiltered air from entering and damaging your air conditioning system. Without a perfect seal and appropriate sizing, the filter is useless. Additionally, the non-conventional filters may have a higher efficiency and may not fit your system. This should be checked with an air conditioning company, contractor, or air conditioning supply company.