The Right Air Conditioner

Three Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Composting Toilets

Posted by on 6-06-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Composting Toilets

If your region is affected by a drought, you may need to cut back on water usage around your home. Since even high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons of water for every flush — which works out to an estimated 2,336 gallons per person per year — replacing your toilet with a composting toilet is an easy way to save water. These toilets collect your waste and break it down, just like the compost heap in your backyard breaks down your food waste. However, myths about these environmentally friendly toilets may make you feel reluctant to install one in your home. Here are three myths you shouldn’t believe about composting toilets. Composting toilets are high-maintenance Traditional toilets are easy to use. You simply do your business and press the handle; a stream of water then washes your waste away, and you never have to see it again. The day-to-day usage of a composting toilet is very similar, though your waste will fall into a holding tank below the toilet instead of being washed away by water. About twice a week, you’ll need to stir the developing compost, but this is as simple as turning a handle on the side of your unit. Two to three times a week, you’ll need to flush a scoop of compost filler (like sawdust or peat moss) down the toilet, but this is not very difficult. When your waste has finished composting, it needs to be scooped out of the unit. At the most, this will happen four times a year, but you may need to do it less frequently, depending on how much waste your family produces. Since this happens so infrequently, it shouldn’t be a major concern. Composting toilets smell terrible Since your composting toilet will be full of decomposing human waste, you may assume that it will stink up your house. The truth is that the toilet will only smell if it’s being used improperly, so as long as you follow the care instructions for your toilet, you have nothing to worry about. For example, your toilet may smell if you accidentally unplug the fan that vents away bad smells. As long as this fan is operating properly, it will pull odors out of your bathroom and vent them above your roof. Your composting toilet can also smell if you’re not putting enough compost filler into it. Compost fillers like sawdust are not only an essential part of the composting process; they also cover up the waste while it breaks down and hold in the smell. Adding a few large scoops of filler to your smelly toilet should sort out the odor in no time. Composting toilets are unhygienic Everyone knows that human waste is full of dangerous bacteria, so you may assume that composting this waste inside your house is unhygienic. Fortunately, this isn’t true. The bacteria will be safely stored inside the holding chamber, so you won’t have any contact with them. These bacteria are actually very important because they start the composting process. The bacteria break down your waste, and as the compost fillers you’ve added to your toilet raise the temperature of the compost material, the dangerous bacteria will be killed. Heat-loving microorganisms will take their place and continue the composting process, and eventually, you’ll be left with...

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Why You Should Consider Replacing Your Leaky Freon AC Unit

Posted by on 5-05-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why You Should Consider Replacing Your Leaky Freon AC Unit

If you have an old air conditioning unit that has formed a refrigerant leak, then it may be in your best interest to start thinking about having the entire system replaced. This is especially true if the unit uses a refrigerant called R-22. When you look around at new units, you should consider one that uses R-410A instead. Keep reading to understand why R-22 refrigerant is bad and why R-410A is a better choice. Why Is R-22 Refrigerant Bad? If your air conditioner is quite old, then it likely contains a refrigerant called R-22. The common or brand name for this material is Freon. Freon is a highly stable and efficient refrigerant that helps to absorb and transfer heat out of the surrounding air. The stability of the material helps to ensure the good cooling ability of the air conditioner over many years of use. However, Freon is also considered a highly volatile compound. This means it easily evaporates into the air if it leaks out of sealed air conditioning coils.  Freon contains chlorofluorocarbons that break down the ozone layer. Since the material can easily evaporate into the air, the use of the material can be extremely dangerous for the environment. If your air conditioner leaks the refrigerant, then you will be contributing to ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer helps to absorb UV sun radiation. Without it, UV radiation increases. This can contribute to skin cancer and the formation of more serious sunburns. Since Freon is a known environmentally unfriendly material, the refrigerant is being completely phased-out of use. By the year 2030, the refrigerant will no longer be available for use in any product. Production is limited now, and new AC systems do not use the material. This means that you should opt for a new air conditioner now due to environmental and phase-out concerns.  Why Is R-410A A Better Choice? There are a wide variety of refrigerants that are now used in cooling systems, and R-410A is one of them. This refrigerant contains fluorine instead of environmentally unfriendly chlorine gas. If the fluorine does leak from the system, it will evaporate like Freon, but it will not cause an environmental concern. The refrigerant is also less toxic that R-22. This means that the gas is less likely to cause a poisoning issue if it is breathed in. However, the material still can be dangerous, even though it is safer than R-22. You still should be examined by your physician if you feel that you have inhaled refrigerant during a leak incident. R-410A also has the advantage of being more efficient. Systems that use this material will produce more pressure. In fact, the refrigerant will need to be placed under about 60% more pressure than R-22 to work properly. The increase in pressure helps the refrigerant pull heat from the air faster and better than a low-pressure system. Also, the air conditioner will require less of the refrigerant. This means fewer chemicals need to be used. Also, copper pipes will be smaller, and the rest of the system will be smaller too. This translates into fewer resources needed to create the air conditioner. Another advantage of investing in an R-410A system is the fact that the refrigerant is non-flammable. This means that the unit is safer for residential use in case a spark or flame comes...

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New Homeowners: How Do You Know If Your Outdoor AC Unit’s Dual Capacitor Has Problems?

Posted by on 5-05-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New Homeowners: How Do You Know If Your Outdoor AC Unit’s Dual Capacitor Has Problems?

If you’re a new homeowner and your air conditioning system trips the circuit breaker, stops working or makes strange humming sounds, you may not know where to look for the problem. One of the things you can do is check the outdoor condenser unit’s dual capacitor for problems. The dual capacitor, or start/run capacitor, is a small electrical device needed by most air conditioners to help fan motors and compressor motors start up and remain running without any power fluctuations. Sometimes, capacitors experience problems that interfere with one or all of its functions. Here are more things to know about a start/run capacitor and how you can see if the part has issues to replace or repair. What Happens When the Capacitor Has Problems? A bad capacitor may not have enough voltages or power to help the compressor turn on properly when you turn on your cooling system. The lack of power may cause the compressor to operate poorly, or the part may make a humming or buzzing sound as it tries to start up. If the compressor continues to struggle to come on, it may trip the circuit breaker. The fan may also show signs of struggling by spinning very slowly or not at all. If the compressor does manage to come on when the fan’s off, it can overheat. The fan is designed to keep the outdoor condenser unit cool, including the compressor. If the compressor fails, you may need to replace it or the unit itself. To avoid the expensive problems above, check the capacitor to see it’s damaged. How Do You Check and Troubleshoot the Capacitor? Before you do anything to the outdoor unit, cut the AC system’s power off at the circuit breaker and at the power box located outside the house. The power box usually sits right near the unit. Simply pull the fuses out of the box and set them on a dry surface. Now, locate the capacitor. The capacitor looks similar to a silver soda or beer can and sits securely behind the corner paneling of your unit. Use a screwdriver to remove the paneling to reveal the capacitor but don’t touch it or its wires yet. You want to discharge the capacitor of any electrical currents it may still have running through it with an insulated screwdriver to avoid harming you or anyone in the vicinity.  On the very top of the dual capacitor sits three distinct terminals with colorful wiring attached to them. The wires connect the terminals to a relay device that leads to the fan and compressor. Holding the screwdriver by its insulated handle only, touch or lay the metal end of the tool across all three terminals to discharge the capacitor. Use a non-contact tester to ensure that the capacitor is discharged. The tester should produce a light or make noise if picks up any electrical currents. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with the process, stop and contact an air conditioning specialist to check the capacitor for you. If you wish to proceed, use the end of the screwdriver to check the electrical connectors to see if they came loose from the terminals, which may cause problems with the unit. Use insulated pliers to reposition the connectors on their terminals. You can see if this solves your...

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Your Options For Air Conditioning In A Ductless Home

Posted by on 5-05-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Your Options For Air Conditioning In A Ductless Home

Older homes may have plenty of character and class, but they often lack one thing that’s commonplace in newer homes — provisions for HVAC ductwork. That rules out the latest in central A/C equipment unless you want to spend thousands of dollars building out walls and lowering ceilings to accommodate new ducts. The following offers several cooling options for your home without the need for standard ductwork. Window Air Conditioners: The Most Affordable Option Window-mounted air conditioners offer the quickest and easiest way to bring cooling comfort to your home. They’re designed to be relatively simple to install — most units simply slide into an open window with minimal mounting hardware needed. They’re also the most affordable air conditioning option available, with average prices ranging from $100 to $300 for models that cool up to 400 square feet of space to $300 to $800 for larger units, according to CostHelper. Some models are designed to be permanently mounted while others can be removed when they’re not needed for long periods. Despite their advantages, window-mounted A/C units also have their drawbacks. For starters, they’re not as quiet as other air conditioning options since the compressor and blower motor share the same space. Although window-mounted A/C units don’t suffer from duct losses like central A/C systems, they have the potential to consume more electricity on average than their ducted counterparts. Since they’re easily removable, in most cases, window-mounted A/C units are also a tempting point of entry for potential burglars. Their somewhat-portable nature makes them an equally tempting target for thieves in search of copper and other valuable metals. Mini-Duct Air Conditioners: An Alternative to Central A/C Large ducts may be a no-go for your home, but a mini-duct A/C system offers a compelling alternative that doesn’t completely knock the idea of ducts out of the box. Instead of using standard-sized ducts, mini-duct units use small-diameter flexible tubing to deliver cool air where it’s needed. A high-velocity air handler installed in the attic or basement helps push air through the tubing, allowing cool air to circulate throughout each room where the tubing ends. Inline silencers within the tubing also help reduce noise from the air handler. The smaller, more flexible tubing makes it much easier to run mini-ductwork discretely through existing walls, flooring and ceilings — a feat impossible for larger conventional ducts. However, cost is a major factor that often puts mini-duct A/C systems at a disadvantage when compared with other options. According to Old House Online, mini-duct systems cost anywhere from 25 to 40 percent more than conventional HVAC systems. Mini-Split Systems: No Ducts Required Ductless mini-split systems completely do away with the need for ductwork while providing the same level of efficiency and performance as conventional central A/C units. Like a central A/C unit, a ductless mini-split system uses an outdoor condenser and compressor. Instead of a centrally located air handler, a mini-split unit uses several wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted air handlers for distributing cool air throughout areas of your home. Ductless mini-split systems are useful for creating a zoned A/C environment, allowing you to divide your home into individual zones for finer HVAC control and improved comfort and efficiency. Cooling losses are also kept to a minimum since the air handler is located inside the room. It’s also...

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5 Ways To Reduce Your Air Conditioning Use

Posted by on 5-05-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Ways To Reduce Your Air Conditioning Use

Running your air conditioner all day long may bring you relief on the hottest days of the summer, but it can be harmful in more ways than one. For starters, running your air conditioner nonstop adds additional wear and tear to the compressor, blower fan and other components, resulting in a shorter lifespan for your A/C unit. Nonstop operation can also take a toll on your utility bill due to the increased energy consumption. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can moderate your air conditioner usage without sacrificing your cooling comfort. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, installing one can be the simplest and most effective upgrade for your A/C system. Unlike an ordinary thermostat, a programmable thermostat allows you to pre-program your desired temperatures for certain times of the day. For instance, you can have your A/C system automatically cut back on cooling throughout the night and early morning and increase cooling throughout the mid-day and afternoon. Programmable thermostats are surprisingly affordable, with average prices for a basic unit ranging from $25 to $80, according to CostHelper. Advanced models that offer 7-day programming capabilities and other unique features can cost $80 to $250 or more. Use Your Ceiling Fans to Circulate Air Running your ceiling fans can also help reduce your air conditioning usage. This works by taking advantage of the wind chill effect: a phenomenon that doesn’t reduce actual air temperatures, but instead makes the room feel cooler than it actually is. As your ceiling fan runs, the wind chill effect can lower perceived temperatures by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without any reduction in cooling comfort. In some cases, you may be able to avoid using your A/C system altogether. Just remember to have your ceiling fans set to run counterclockwise for the summer months. Doing so creates a downdraft that pushes cool air down to the floor. If they run in a clockwise direction, they’ll pull cool air towards the ceiling while pushing warm air down to the floor. That’s ideal for wintertime operation, but it’ll make you feel uncomfortable during the summer. Increase Your Home’s Insulation Your home’s insulation isn’t there just to keep it warm during the winter. During the summer, insulation can actually block radiant heat from making its way inside your home. Having sufficient insulation also prevents cool air from escaping from your home, reducing the amount of air conditioning your home needs while lowering overall energy consumption. A home energy audit can be useful for determining your home’s energy consumption profile, including the amount of insulation it currently has and how much it actually needs to be energy efficient. Keep Your Windows Shaded The radiant heat from sunlight that passes through your unprotected windows can actually increase indoor temperatures, causing you to run your A/C system constantly just to beat the heat. A sufficient amount of shading on windows on south and west-facing windows can help reduce your need for air conditioning. Light-blocking curtains and reflective blinds are just a couple of good ways to shade your windows. High-quality window tint films and high-efficiency windows with low-emissivity (low-E) coatings are also effective at blocking heat, as well as UV radiation. Use Cooler Exterior Finishes Light-colored materials are better suited for reflecting heat away from your...

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5 Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Replacing Older Heat Pumps

Posted by on 5-05-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Replacing Older Heat Pumps

Heat pumps first arrived on the residential market in the 1960s and 1970s, but today’s models are drastically more efficient and less expensive than the first few models that were installed by early adopters. If you’re currently living with an older heat pump and starting to wonder if it’s ready for retirement, you’ll need to time the replacement properly to get the most return out of your investment. Educate yourself to avoid these five common money-wasting mistakes. Replacing Too Early While some heat pumps are already showing their age after 10 years of use, most modern models can run for 15 to 20 years now with routine maintenance and some basic repairs along the way. If you stick strictly to the decade replacement plan, you could end up wasting up to another 10 years of reliable use out of the same equipment. Unless your current heat pump is acting up and interrupting service regularly, you should try to use the same model for at least 15 years to make the most of your initial expenses for equipment and installation. Waiting For Complete Failure On the other hand, there’s no benefit to waiting until your current heat pump won’t start at all to call for replacement. Even a heat pump that’s barely 10 years old should be replaced if you’re experiencing major problems like Constant breakdowns and multiple repair calls a year, which come with fees that quickly add up Rising energy bills as the unit’s efficiency drops with age Issues due to design flaws in the particular model you’re using, such as undersized heat exchangers. Taking the opportunity to make a heat pump replacement investment when your current unit first starts showing its age also allows you to save energy due to technological advancements. Newer heat pumps come with higher efficiency ratings, requiring less electricity to keep your home just as cool or warm. Changing Equipment It’s not uncommon for homeowners to assume their heat pump issues are caused by the entire design of the equipment rather than age or flaws in a specific model made a decade or two ago. Switching from a heat pump to a traditional pair of furnace and air conditioner units costs more because the installers have to completely restructure the ducts and blowers to work with the new equipment. It’s easier and less expensive to simply get a newer and higher quality heat pump instead of making a change over to different types of climate control equipment. Choosing Ground Source Models The idea of letting the earth itself handle the bulk of your heating and cooling sounds like it could save you money, and ground source heat pumps certainly do cost less to run than air source models when it comes to electricity costs. However, you’ll spend $30,000 to $50,000 to install a system for the usual home, including all the drilling and digging to install hundreds of feet of underground pipe. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to save enough money per year to pay back that kind of investment over the rest of your lifespan. Forgetting To Upgrade the System Don’t forget that you need to replace more than just the heat pump itself when dealing with an aged HVAC system. If your pump is old enough to benefit from replacement, it’s...

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4 Electrical Upgrades Ideal for Home Yoga Areas

Posted by on 4-04-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Electrical Upgrades Ideal for Home Yoga Areas

Performing yoga in the home is a relaxing way to stretch, mediate, and learn new moves. If you do yoga on a daily basis and have a specific area in your home, then there are multiple ways you can improve that area to optimize the whole experience. By working with electricians and general contractors, there are four upgrades you can implement into a home yoga area. These upgrades will make it more comfortable and relaxing to perform yoga everyday. Everyone’s routine is different, but these upgrades can help with all types of yoga exercises. Light Dimmer Switches Performing yoga is all about creating a comfortable mood as you perform the exercises. Creating a special mood with lighting can make a huge difference on your comfort level while performing. Instead of doing exercises in bright lights or the complete dark, you can have full control with the installation of a light dimmer switch. An electrician can install a dimmer switch that controls the exact brightness within the area. Along with the dimmer switch, an electrician can install special types of lights to help you have custom options. For example, instead of worrying about hanging light fixtures that may get in the way, you can have recessed lighting installed. This type of lighting is flush with the ceiling and does not protrude. Recessed lighting can be combined with a dimmer switch to provide the best flexibility with lighting options. Radiant Heat Flooring During many months of the year, you may be dealing with cold mornings and cool nights that make it uncomfortable to stretch or exercise on the floor. Instead of getting goosebumps before each yoga session, you can warm instantly with the installation of radiant heat flooring. This type of flooring uses heated panels to provide a heating element throughout the whole floor. Electric floor systems can be installed and then covered with a slab of concrete. From there, you can add floor paneling or carpets that still radiate the heat. This will help eliminate the cold temperatures from the floor and allow you to perform yoga fully barefoot without worrying about cold feet or other body parts hitting the cold ground. During the winter, this heating option can be used all throughout the day when it is extremely cold outside. Wired-in Wall Speakers Another big part of yoga is enjoying relaxing music or instructional audio. Instead of worrying about finding outlets or charging wireless speakers, you can have constant sound options with the installation of wired-in wall speakers. An electrician can wire speakers to a permanent power source and provide input cords for connections to CD players, MP3 players, or sound systems. The wall speakers can create a surround sound environment that provides you with the relaxing exercise music from every direction where you’re performing yoga from. The use of multiple speakers can also help drown out other noises from the home or distractions like traffic from the street. USB Ports As you learn new yoga poses, you may rely on phones or a tablet to stream videos and access content. An electrician has the ability to install USB ports in either floor or wall outlets. This allows you to easily plug in your device and have a power source for completing yoga exercises. With a floor outlet, you...

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2 Medical Conditions That Can Get Worse Without Air Conditioning

Posted by on 4-04-16 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2 Medical Conditions That Can Get Worse Without Air Conditioning

There are many diseases and medical conditions that can cause heat intolerance. Sometimes, heat not only causes a flare-up of symptoms, but it can also cause the condition to progress faster. For people with conditions like this, it is crucial that they have an air conditioning repair service on their direct-dial phone list. Due to the health risks involved, there is assistance available for people who need help paying for air conditioning installation or repair. Here are two medical conditions that need air conditioning.    Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome This is a disease that causes your blood to pool in your lower extremities when you get up from lying down or when you are exposed to a trigger. When you have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), your heart rate will increase as your heart adjusts to try to bring the blood back up out of your lower extremities. This combination can cause you to get dizzy, gray or black out, have chest pain, and possibly lose consciousness. One trigger that can bring on a POTS attack is heat. In fact, many people who have been diagnosed with POTS dread the warmer months due to how horrible the heat makes them feel. The reason for the heat intolerance is because heat causes the blood vessels to dilate, which makes it easier for the blood to pool in the lower extremities. Since this puts strain on the heart, it is crucial that people with POTS avoid being in heat, especially for prolonged periods of time. If you need financial assistance to keep your home temperature regulated with air conditioning in the summer, contact your local county’s agency on aging. They may have enough financial assistance available to help. If not, they may be able to direct you to a local air conditioning repair service that is willing to work with people who have medical conditions that require them to be in air conditioning. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have your physician give you a letter stating that you need air conditioning due to health reasons as documentation is often a requirement for these types of county agencies before they can approve and process payment to the air conditioning contractors. Multiple Sclerosis Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that is progressive. However Many people have heard of multiple sclerosis and how devastating it can be one the body., most people don’t realize that heat can make multiple sclerosis flare up and make the progression of the disease much faster than if the body wasn’t exposed to heat and subjected to heat intolerance. Each time a relapse occurs, it’s more difficult for your body to return to normal or baseline. People who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis should avoid being in heat as much as possible, especially since there is no cure to treatment for the irreversible damage a flare-up causes to the nerves. Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis include reduced coordination and loss of muscle control, pain, numbness, and fatigue. The best thing to do when a flare-up starts is to get into air conditioning ASAP. It’s important to recognize that these symptoms can also be related to or caused by other conditions that can be quite serious, including Ehlers Danlos syndrome and Chiari 1 malformation. However, neither of these...

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Living With Asthma: Why Attention To The Home Heating And Cooling System Matters

Posted by on 7-07-15 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Living With Asthma: Why Attention To The Home Heating And Cooling System Matters

If you have asthma, then you know the signs that an attack is about to take place.  Taking in air becomes difficult, owing to the swelling of the bronchial tissue and the production of mucus, which blocks the airways.  All sorts of airborne contaminants can bring on an attack, including common things like pet dander.  In order to make sure your home is a haven from attacks, it pays to spend some time on the maintenance and upkeep of your home heating and cooling system.  Here are some points to keep in mind as you do just that. System Filters Many people find they can manage with the use of a basic flat filter.  For those who do not suffer from allergies or asthma, these are typically fine for filtering out basic contaminants.  You, however, need something that will capture more in the way of dust mites, pet dander, and other things that could trigger an attack.   Your best bet is to focus on filters that are considered medium to high efficiency filtration devices.  The Air Resources Board of the California Environmental Protection Agency identifies a range of filter types that have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value which is better for people who live with all kinds of bronchial conditions.  Typically, you would want to focus on filters with a MERV rating of somewhere between 5 and 12 in order to enjoy the most benefits in a residential setting.   While there are more powerful filters, they are designed more for use with commercial and industrial systems.  Attempting to use one of those filters at home would place significant strain on the residential system and shorten the life of the unit significantly. The Duct System You may be surprised at what can end up lurking in the duct system that delivers forced air to each room of the home.  Those ducts can be the place that roaches, mice, and other types of pests go to die.  When the weather is particularly humid outside, the odds for mold to develop due to the higher moisture content are high.  It will not take long for the environment within those ducts to become toxic for anyone with asthma. Remember that as the system forces air through the ducts, tiny particles will break off all those contaminants.  Along with the air, they are forced into each room where you and anyone else living in the home can inhale them.  While people without asthma will notice little to no difference, those contaminants can mean a great deal of distress for you. Your best bet is to arrange for an HVAC professional to flush and clean those ducts at least annually.  Along with getting rid of any contaminants in the ducts, the team will also be on the lookout for any contributing factors, such as a faulty air return.  If necessary, some type of heating and air conditioning repair can accompany the cleaning.  When the job is done, you will find that it is easier to breathe comfortably no matter which room you happen to be occupying at the moment. Remember You Are Not Alone According to a 2013 release from the American Lung Association, there are nearly 26 million Americans who suffer with asthma.  Of that number, 7 million are children.  With numbers...

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