Do-It-Yourself: Remember this ONE Little Thing Before You Clean Your HVAC Unit

Your HVAC needs maintenance in between seasons, to make sure it is working efficiently. Stuff just naturally collects! General debris, dust, grime, bacteria, mildew and mold, pet hair and other such material build up over time and cause your system to have to work harder to do its job.

But first–this is an IMPORTANT step! Don’t forget to do this one little thing before you clean your unit. See our “Do-It-Yourself: How to Clean Your HVAC Unit Safely With a Garden Hose, Part 1” and Part 2 videos for guidance on how to do the cleaning.

 

Do-It-Yourself: How to Clean Your HVAC Unit Safely With a Garden Hose, Part 2

Your HVAC needs maintenance in between seasons, to make sure it is working efficiently. Stuff just naturally collects! General debris, dust, grime, bacteria, mildew and mold, pet hair and other such material build up over time and cause your system to have to work harder to do its job.

When this happens, it takes more energy to run. Which not only means your house takes longer to get comfortable, but also leads to increased electricity bills.

Watch Part 2 as Jason from Small Solutions demonstrates how to properly and easily clean your unit!
 

Do-It-Yourself: How to Clean Your HVAC Unit Safely With a Garden Hose, Part 1

As summer is coming, your HVAC needs maintenance in order to ensure it cools your home efficiently. General debris, dust, grime, bacteria, mildew and mold, pet hair and other such material build up over time and cause your system to have to work harder to do its job. This means that it requires more energy to run, leading to increased electricity bills. It can also compromise the overall air quality of your home.

Watch Part 2 as Jason from Small Solutions demonstrates how to properly and easily clean your unit!
 

Winter HVAC Maintenance Tips | How To Get Your HVAC System Ready For Winter

Useful HVAC Maintenance Tips

Do you need to have an HVAC system maintenance check? Maybe you’ve only had your system for a few years and it seems to be running just fine. Should you put forth the effort to have a maintenance checkup?

HVAC systems are like owning vehicles: Imagine that you bought a brand new car, and you spent a lot of money on it. Would you ignore regular checkups and the service maintenance required? Probably not. If your vehicle is older and you want to keep it on the road and working efficiently longer, regular maintenance is necessary.

It’s the same with an HVAC system. If you invested in a newer heating or cooling unit, you want to make sure it’s working efficiently, and that you’re getting value for the money you paid for it. If your HVAC system is nearing the end of its 10- to 15-year average lifespan, it is essential to get your older system serviced regularly. The minimal investment to do that now will be much less than the cost of breakdowns, loss of efficiency or unexpected repairs.

What are the benefits of regular maintenance?

1 Lower energy bills
2 Fewer repair bills
3 Avoid costly surprises
4 Equipment lasts longer
5 Better air quality for your home

For a winter maintenance check, here are the areas a HVAC technician will review:

Thermostat settings: The right thermostat settings help maintain a comfortable temperature while also saving energy.
Electrical connections: If electrical connections are defective, they may damage HVAC equipment or make it hazardous to operate. Motors should have the correct voltage and current.
Condensate drain: Should the condensate drain be plugged, it may lead to water damage, musty air due to mold 1, and increased humidity in the house.
System controls: The controls work properly if the system starts, operates, and turns off normally. Malfunctioning system controls can become a safety issue.
Heating elements or heat exchanger: If these get damaged, they could lead to problems with carbon monoxide.
Moving parts: If moving parts are not properly lubricated, they can cause friction in the motors (which in turn results in greater energy use).
Flue system: To make sure it is securely attached to the furnace.
Clean air filter: A clean air filter is crucial for an efficient airflow indoors. Air filters should be cleaned or switched out regularly.
Humidifier: For a humidifier to operate effectively, it must be clean and free from mold as well as debris.
Belts and pulleys: Replace frayed belts and pulleys.

While you want to ensure you have an HVAC technician look over your system each spring and fall, there are some things you can do yourself to help keep your HVAC equipment operating efficiently throughout the year.

Here’s what you can do, as a homeowner, for your HVAC maintenance:

1 Make sure to clear debris around your outside units, with at least 2 feet of clearance around any AC uni or heat pump. That means removing leaves, twigs, dirt and pollen from around or on top of the unit. And when you’re cutting grass in the summer, make sure the lawnmower doesn’t throw the clippings onto the unit.

2. Check your refrigerant lines monthly. Refrigerant lines that come from your HVAC unit into your home are what ensure you have the heating or the cooling you need. If those lines get worn, develop leaks or become detached, you won’t get the comfortable temperatures you and your family want. Even in the winter, check these lines at least once a month.

3. Eliminate clogs by, once a year, mix bleach with one cup of water, and pour it down the air conditioner condenser drain to clean out any buildup.

4. In summer, turn off water supplied to your furnace’s humidifier. There is no reason to keep a humidifier running in summer. When the weather starts to cool in late summer or early fall, and you’re thinking about turning on the heat, install a new filter and set your humidistat to around 40 percent humidity. Then, turn on the water supply.

5. Don’t shut too many registers

You never want to shut more than about 20 percent of your home’s registers. If you do, you will put an unnecessary burden on your system by forcing it to work harder to give you the level of heat or cooling you want.

 

Our company, Small Solutions LLC, offers HVAC installations, maintenance and repairs in the Northern Virginia area. Are you in our area? Give us a call to get your HVAC system running in tip top shape today!

 

 

How To Save Energy and Money on Your Utility Bill This Winter

[mk_page_section][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1575926703699{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]With a few simple changes in around your house, you can save money on  your utility bills. With some larger adjustments, you can drastically improve the energy efficiency of your home.

As a home owner, landlord, or renter, your utility bill can be one of your highest monthly expenses. For many homeowners, the monthly utility bill is the second-largest expense after the mortgage. Reducing your energy usage isn’t just a good investment for the environment—it’s also a great way to keep your budget in check.

In 2016, the average electric bill in the United States was $119 per month—over $1,400 per year.

Use these tips to reduce your electricity bills:

  • Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent.
  • Cleaning or changing your HVAC filter every 30 days can help you cut electricity costs.A few helpful filter-changing tips include:Panel Filters – Replace every 30 days
    Pleated Filters – Replace every 3 to 4 months
    Media Filter – Replace every 6 months
    Permanent Filters – Clean once a month
  • Adjust your water heater temperature; can you set it so that it does not get so hot?
  • Wash and dry your clothes efficiently; can you do less loads each week?
  • Use energy-efficient lighting; try LED bulbs.
  • Use power strips.
  • Turn off your ceiling fans and lights when not in use.
  • Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air inside.
  • Adjust your thermostat; turn it back when you’re not at home and keep it comfortable but cool when you are.
  • Practice efficiency with your kitchen appliances.
  • Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption.
  • Did you know that 75 percent of your energy use is caused by electronics that are turned off? For example, your toaster could be sucking up 876 watts while on, but zero when off and unplugged! Your TV, computer, Internet router, and kitchen appliances are making your electric bill higher. Use a power strip and turn them off or unplug them when not in use.
  • Keep refrigerator coils clean. Your refrigerator can suck up a lot of energy. A fridge can use anywhere between 201 kWh to 500 kWh per year, depending on the type of fridge you have.
  • Use cold water for laundry. Your washer’s energy consumption can be 90 percent less if you use cold water instead of hot.
  • Use your microwave more.Microwaves can actually be very useful for cutting your electric bill in half. For one, microwaves use less electricity. For example, a microwave uses around 1,200 watts. An oven uses around 2,400 watts.If you cook something for 30 minutes in a microwave at 10 cents per kWh per day, your monthly cost is $1.83. If you use an oven, you will pay double.

 

Not all the above tips will significantly reduce your electric bill on their own, but by implementing several or most of these energy saving tips together, you can eliminate a large amount of your electricity costs.

Start with the easy ones and work your way up to the big projects.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://smallsolutionsllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/save-on-utlities.jpg” image_size=”full”][/vc_column][/mk_page_section]

Advanced Features to Look for in a Heat Pump

A number of relatively new innovations are improving the performance of heat pumps.

Unlike standard compressors that can only operate at full capacity, two-speed compressors allow heat pumps to operate close to the heating or cooling capacity that is needed at any particular moment. This saves large amounts of electrical energy and reduces compressor wear. Two-speed heat pumps also work well with zone control systems. Zone control systems, often found in larger homes, use automatic dampers to allow the heat pump to keep different rooms at different temperatures.

Some models of heat pumps are equipped with variable-speed or dual-speed motors on their indoor fans (blowers), outdoor fans, or both. The variable-speed controls for these fans attempt to keep the air moving at a comfortable velocity, minimizing cool drafts and maximizing electrical savings. It also minimizes the noise from the blower running at full speed.

Many high-efficiency heat pumps are equipped with a desuperheater, which recovers waste heat from the heat pump’s cooling mode and uses it to heat water. A desuperheater-equipped heat pump can heat water 2 to 3 times more efficiently than an ordinary electric water heater.

Another advance in heat pump technology is the scroll compressor, which consists of two spiral-shaped scrolls. One remains stationary, while the other orbits around it, compressing the refrigerant by forcing it into increasingly smaller areas. Compared to the typical piston compressors, scroll compressors have a longer operating life and are quieter. According to some reports, heat pumps with scroll compressors provide 10°–15°F (5.6°–8.3°C) warmer air when in the heating mode, compared to existing heat pumps with piston compressors.

Although most heat pumps use electric resistance heaters as a backup for cold weather, heat pumps can also be equipped with burners to supplement the heat pump. Back-up burners help solve the problem of the heat pump delivering relatively cool air during cold weather and reduces its use of electricity. Since there are few heat pump manufacturers that incorporate both types of heat supply in one box, these configurations are often two smaller, side-by-side, standard systems sharing the same duct-work. The combustion fuel half of the system could be propane, natural gas, oil, or even coal and wood.

In comparison with a combustion fuel-fired furnace or standard heat pump alone, this type of system is also economical. Actual energy savings depend on the relative costs of the combustion fuel relative to electricity.

How to Operate and Maintain Your Heat Pump

Proper operation of your heat pump will save energy. Do not set back the heat pump’s thermostat if it causes the backup heating to come on; backup heating systems are usually more expensive to operate. Continuous indoor fan operation can degrade heat pump performance unless a high-efficiency, variable-speed fan motor is used. Operate the system on the “auto” fan setting on the thermostat.

Like all heating and cooling systems, proper maintenance is key to efficient operation. The difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained heat pump and a severely neglected one ranges from 10%–25%.

Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer’s instructions. Dirty filters, coils, and fans reduce airflow through the system. Reduced airflow decreases system performance and can damage your system’s compressor. Clean outdoor coils whenever they appear dirty; occasionally, turn off power to the fan and clean it; remove vegetation and clutter from around the outdoor unit. Clean the supply and return registers within your home, and straighten their fins if bent.

Small Solutions, LLC Heating and Air Conditioning Services offers annual maintenance of your heat pump to ensure its optimal efficiency. Our qualified technicians can do the following:

  • Inspect ducts, filters, blower, and indoor coil for dirt and other obstructions
  • Diagnose and seal duct leakage
  • Verify adequate airflow by measurement
  • Verify correct refrigerant charge by measurement
  • Check for refrigerant leaks
  • Inspect electric terminals, and if necessary, clean and tighten connections, and apply nonconductive coating to eliminate corrosion or metallic oxidation
  • Lubricate motors, and inspect belts for tightness and wear
  • Verify correct electric control, making sure that heating is locked out when the thermostat calls for cooling and vice versa
  • Verify correct thermostat operation.