Do You Know How to Boost the Indoor Air Quality in Your Home?

Indoor air quality should be a concern for every household, especially those with family members who suffer from asthma or allergies, but many Florida homeowners don’t often think about it. Dust, mold, chemical residues, and other pollutants may be present in your home, and these substances can hurt your IAQ and your family’s health. Luckily, there are many things homeowners can do to improve their home’s indoor air quality.

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What’s the Proper Way to Use Your Programmable Thermostat?

Programming your thermostat properly can help you save up to 15 percent on your energy bill. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans report that they rarely or never program their thermostats because they’re not sure how to do it. Here are some tips to help you use your programmable thermostat as efficiently as possible.

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Attic Insulation: A Surprisingly Important Part of Year-Round Efficiency for Florida Homeowners

attic insulation Heat energy is always in motion, and a proper layer of attic insulation helps stop it. During winter, warmed air from the furnace escapes into the attic by conduction or radiation. In summer, an overheated attic transfers heat into living spaces below. In both seasons, operating costs increase.

Upgrading insulation in the attic is one of the most direct ways to lower your monthly utility bills, as well as improve indoor comfort in all seasons. Here are the most common insulation options:

Fiberglass Batts

Packaged in rolls pre-cut to fit into the space between the attic joists, fiberglass insulation is the least expensive and easiest way to upgrade attic insulation. Insulation’s effectiveness in resisting heat transfer is rated by its R-value. Standard fiberglass batts have an R-value of 3.2 per inch.

Fiberglass batts are most appropriate where:

  • The attic has standard 16- or 24-inch joint spacing
  • There are few obstructions like pipes and recessed ceiling lights to work around
  • Sufficient room is available to move around comfortably during installation
  • Do-it-yourselfers wish to handle the job themselves

In Florida, the Department of Energy recommends insulating to an R-value of R-30 to R-60 in the attic. This means a depth of 12 to 18 inches of fiberglass.

Cellulose Loose Fill

Composed of tiny pulverized bits of paper and cloth treated with fire-retardant. Blown into the attic by air pressure through large hoses, cellulose looks like a layer of fresh fallen snow and offers excellent coverage and a higher R-value of 3.8 per inch.

Cellulose is a good choice where:

  • The attic already has an existing layer of insulation you wish to add to
  • Attic space is cluttered with obstructions or has many odd-shaped nooks and crannies to fill
  • Headroom in the attic limits movement
  • Your budget provides for professional installation

With its favorable R-value and improved coverage, the recommended depth of cellulose insulation in the attic is 8 to 16 inches.

For more information on lowering operating costs and improving all-season comfort with an attic insulation upgrade, contact the professionals at Conditioned Air.

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5 Ways You May Be Failing at Saving Money and Energy in Your Florida Home

Is your Florida home as energy efficient as it should be? You may be surprised at just how inefficient your home really is. Fortunately, there are ways to make your home successful at saving money and energy, year-round.

HVAC systemHere are five things to look at:

  1. The age and condition of your HVAC system. In a typical U.S. home, over 50 percent of the energy used is for cooling or heating the home. If your heating and cooling system is older than 10 years or is in poor condition, you need to consider installing a new system. The latest models are significantly more efficient than even those sold a decade ago.
  2. The amount of insulation you have in your home. During the summer, insulation keeps the cold air in and the hot air out during the summer. Walls and attics without sufficient insulation let the conditioned air leak out and the outside air come in. Putting more insulation into your home will keep it comfortable and more efficient year round.
  3. The age and efficiency of your kitchen appliances. Appliances bought before 2000 are likely reaching the end of their usable life. If your appliances are reaching old age, it is time to upgrade them to Energy Star rated ones. While you may pay a bit more up front, you will save much more in energy costs over time.
  4. The type of light bulb you are using. The old style incandescent bulbs are starting to fade away. However, many households cling to this outdated technology. That sentimentality is costing those households at least double in lighting costs in a given year. Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LED versions will drop your energy bills quickly.
  5. Your attention to home maintenance. Every home requires some level of maintenance to remain efficient. That includes replacing aged caulking, broken weatherstripping, and old furnace filters. Your HVAC system needs an annual tune-up to remain efficient.

If you are looking to succeed at saving money and energy in your home, contact us here at Conditioned Air. We provide cooling and heating services throughout Southwest Florida.

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What Does It Mean If the Heat Pump Serving Your Southwest Florida Home Has Iced Over?

Heat pumps are an excellent choice for home comfort in Southwest Florida, providing plenty of cooling and generating enough heating to keep you comfortable when the temperatures drop. During heating operations, your heat pump may sometimes ice over, developing a large amount of frost or ice on the external cabinet of the outdoor unit. If your heat pump has iced over, it’s not a reason to panic; however, it means that your heat pump will need professional service to correct the problem that’s causing the icing.

frozen pipesReasons for Heat Pump Icing

Outdoor air has a dew point, which is the temperature at which water vapor in the air turns to liquid. If the air contacts a surface that is colder than the dew point, liquid water will condense on that surface. If the temperature is below freezing, the liquid water will turn to ice. When your heat pump ices over, it means that the temperature of the coils in the outdoor unit are below the dew point temperature, causing ice to form.

Heat pumps have a defrost cycle that is designed to melt away any accumulations of ice and frost on the outdoor components of the system. This works by switching the heat pump operation to cooling for a brief period. Supplemental heating units continue to heat your home while hot refrigerant circulates through the outside coils, removing any built-up ice and frost.

Problems with the defrost cycle means that the process for removing ice from outdoor components isn’t working correctly. This gives ice and frost the opportunity to accumulate. Small amounts of ice or frost can be removed by spraying the outdoor cabinet with water from a garden hose.

If the outdoor components of your heat pump become completely iced over, turn the equipment off and contact your trusted HVAC service professional for repair as soon as possible.

Conditioned Air has more than fifty years of experience providing professional air conditioning sales, service, and installation to customers all over southwest Florida. Contact us today for more information on what to do when your heat pump has iced over.

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Curb Pollution in Your Southwest Florida Home With These Pointers

Is the air inside your home more polluted than it is outside? The fact is that many American homes have an indoor air pollution problem. With multiple toxins, contagions, and allergens floating around in the air, more and more people are feeling the effects of bad indoor air pollution.

Cleaning suppliesTaking action to prevent indoor air pollution can help keep you and your family healthy.

  • Ventilate your home. Most modern homes are built tight to make them more energy efficient. This has had the downside of increasing indoor pollution levels. Adding ventilation to your bathrooms, kitchen, attic, and basement can greatly increase the air flow throughout your home. This will lower the amount of trapped pollutants inside your home.
  • Have your home’s air tested. Some pollutants, like radon, can be toxic if left undetected. Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that can seep up from certain soils. It is second only to smoking in causing lung cancer. You can get an inexpensive testing kit that will detect if your home has radon.
  • Reduce and eliminate the presence of chemicals inside your home. Use non-toxic cleaners as much as possible. When replacing carpet or furniture, choose goods that do not contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. If you need to use a chemical inside, use only the amount recommended, and have adequate ventilation.
  • Trade your old air filter for a new design. A traditional air filter made with fiberglass strands do not clean the air. Replace it with a pleated paper or electrostatic filter to clean the air better.
  • Install an electronic air cleaner. One of these cleaners can grab 30 times what a typical air filter can. It only has to be cleaned once a year and runs very efficiently.
  • Bring nature inside. Indoor plants can filter the air in your home naturally. Boston ferns, spider plants, and English ivy are particularly efficient in cleaning the air. Plus, they are an attractive addition to most homes.

If you want to talk to an expert about other ways to prevent indoor air pollution, contact us here at Conditioned Air.

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How to Make Working With an HVAC Contractor Easy and Mutually Beneficial

Eventually, no matter how high quality or well maintained your cooling and heating systems, you’ll need an HVAC service technician or contractor to repair a malfunction or upgrade or replace your equipment. When working with an HVAC contractor, you’ll have a much better chance of success if you follow a few guidelines.

contractor in homeWorking With an HVAC Contractor

First of all, you’ll want to show your HVAC contractor where your cooling or heating equipment is located, where the nearest electrical outlets are located, and what specific issues you’ve been having, along with some background on your HVAC system’s performance in the past year or two. Before the technician even arrives, you’ll want to clear an area around the A/C or heat pump unit, so he’ll have plenty of space to work.

While the contractor is in your home, extend common courtesies so the client-service relationship will be conducted as smoothly as possible. You should expect and, of course, deserve, the same courtesies from your technician or anyone you speak with at the firm.

Before the technician completes the job, ask for tips on regular maintenance that you can do yourself, pointers on trouble-shooting problems that might arise, tips on improving energy efficiency in your home, and when and how to set up regular or annual maintenance for your new or upgraded HVAC system.

To discuss service, repairs or installation on your HVAC system in the Naples, Ft. Myers, or Sarasota area, please contact us today at Conditioned Air, the comfort people since 1962. We are committed to getting the job done as efficiently and professionally as possible.

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Air Filters Do More Than Boost IAQ — They Protect Essential HVAC Equipment

The indoor air quality in your home is likely to be worse than what you breathe outside. That is the downside of having a tight, energy efficient home that traps air inside. The air filters you use play a big role in how good your indoor air quality is. They also protect your HVAC equipment from damage.

air filterGetting to the Truth of Filters

The traditional air filter most households use is made from a mesh of fiberglass strands held in a cardboard frame. This kind of filter was never meant to clean the air that passes through it. Its only job was to capture large particles that could potentially damage the HVAC system.

If you are looking for a filter that can clean the finer particulates from your indoor air, you need to do away from the fiberglass filters. You can find more expensive filters that do a better job of filtering the air. These filters are more sophisticated, containing a pleated paper material that is much finer than the mesh of fiberglass strands found in a traditional filter.

Electrostatic filters are even more efficient than the pleated paper models. As air passes over small metal or plastic strips in the filter, an electromagnetic charge builds up. This charge draws extremely fine particulates like a magnet. It can capture particles five times smaller than what a traditional furnace filter can. The good news is that, while an electrostatic filter is more expensive than a traditional model, you can clean and reuse these filters multiple times.

Going Beyond the Air Filter

If you really want to improve the indoor air quality of your home, you need to install an electronic air cleaner. You can get a model that installs into the duct work of your home. This will capture up to 30 times the amount of pollutants that a typical filter can. Plus, you only need to clean it once a year.

If you want to talk more about air filters and indoor air quality problems, contact us here at Conditioned Air.

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What’s Involved in Maintaining a Ductless Mini Split?

You have a new ductless mini split in your home. To keep the system working at its most efficient level, you need to learn how to perform routine ductless mini split maintenance. This will keep the system working efficiently and prolong its working life.

ductless mini splitDuctless Mini Split Maintenance Tasks

  • Check and change the air filter. Every system requires this, even more traditional HVAC systems. The system needs to breathe, and a clogged air filter prevents the free flow of air, making the system work harder. The air filter is located in the indoor unit of the mini split. Once a month, check the filter and clean or replace it as necessary. Always use the appropriate filter as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Clean the outside unit. To work efficiently, the unit needs to have clear airflow. Turn the unit off and gently wash the coil with the garden hose. Don’t use a forceful rush of water, as this can damage the fins on the unit. While you’re cleaning the fins, make sure there are no weeds growing around the unit. Also, remove any debris that may have accumulated around its edge.
  • Look for leaks. When you’re changing the air filter and cleaning the outside unit, look for refrigerant leaks. The refrigerant will be dirty and oily. If you find a leak, call in an HVAC professional immediately.
  • Have a professional check and inspect the unit at least once a year. The service tech has the equipment to make sure the system is working efficiently. He can often find minor problems before they become major ones. The added bonus of an annual check is that it will prolong the life of your brand new system.

If you need more information on ductless mini split maintenance, talk to the professionals at Conditioned Air. We proudly serve our neighbors in Southwest Florida.

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Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency: Do You Know the Difference?

Energy Conservation and Energy EfficiencyWith today’s ever-increasing energy costs, trying to keep energy bills under control may not always seem like a simple task. If you have an effective strategy that utilizes energy conservation practices and energy efficiency upgrades, you can rest assured you’re doing the best you can to keep more of your money in your pocketbook. Read More »

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