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Tips for Maximum Efficiency and Comfort in your home

Whether your comfort system is old or new, in a new or old home, in an apartment or a single-family home, there are many little things you can do to optimize its efficiency and minimize your utility bills. They’re definitely worth the small amount of time and expense they take, because in the long run, they’ll save you money.
Are you getting the most for your comfort dollar? Or are you paying to heat and cool the neighborhood?
Outside
Whatever the season, you want to keep your comfortable air inside the house. That means caulking and weather stripping doors and windows, around chimneys and flues, and anywhere else inside air can escape. Be sure to check for cracked or broken shingles, crumbling grout, and worn or torn vapor barriers, too.

Inspect the exterior of your home once or twice a year. A good way to remember is to do it when you have your regular, professional HVAC check-up because heating and cooling will be on your mind anyway.

If you’re building a new home or replacing windows, invest in vinyl- or wood-clad insulated (thermopane) windows and storm windows and doors. Then keep them closed whenever the heat or air conditioning is on!

Keep vegetation and debris well away from the outdoor unit of your system. They can block air flow, which forces the system to work harder to produce the same level of comfort. You’ll spend more now … and in a few years, when the equipment fails prematurely and you have to replace it.

However, use vegetation to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. For example, plant a row of trees on the side of your home the wind usually comes from. They’ll act as wind […]

Comfort By Design

Written by Jim Herritage, CEM

Before you replace your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, there are some things you should know. The first is that a quality installation begins with a professional design.

Most of us don’t think about “design” when we think of heating and cooling, but it’s just as important as a solid architectural design. A professional HVAC contractor won’t simply replace what you have now with new equipment. It’s possible that your existing system wasn’t sized properly to begin with!

To make sure your new HVAC system meets your needs for comfort and energy efficiency, a quality contractor performs a series of calculations that take into account the overall climate where you live; how your home is sited (for example, if it faces south or north); the amount and quality of insulation in walls, basement or crawl space, and attic; how many windows the home has and how efficient they are; other sources of ambient heat, such as kitchen appliances and lights; even landscaping near the house.

These are called “load calculations.” The formulas, which are included in ACCA’s Manual J®, were developed by HVAC experts at ACCA and are the industry standard, often incorporated into local building codes.

Turn to the pros
Why should you care about load calculations? It’s simple: an under-sized system can reduce the comfort of your home, use more energy, and not last as long as a properly sized system. An over-sized system will cost more than you need to spend and may contribute to moisture-related problems down the line.

Any contractor who tells you a load calculation isn’t important is not a professional. The professional understands that your year-round comfort is the ultimate goal. In the summer, your air conditioning […]

The NATE Patch

Look for the NATE Patch
Consumers demand technician excellence, and NATE-certified technicians deliver.

What is NATE?
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence, and it’s the only nationwide certification program accepted by the entire heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) industry – contractors, manufacturers, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and technicians themselves.

Are all HVACR technicians certified by NATE?
NATE is a voluntary certification program designed to ensure that qualifying technicians have a core set of competencies and can be trusted by the consumers who hire them. NATE is the culmination of several years’ worth of work by ACCA and other industry organizations to establish one single, nationwide certification.

Over the past few years, NATE has grown considerably. More than 20,000 technicians have been NATE-certified and the list continues to grow. With a strong endorsement from the leading manufacturers of HVACR equipment, NATE certification is the standard by which all technicians should be judged.
Don’t you want third-party reassurance that the technician in your home is a capable, qualified individual?
Nearly 90 percent of consumers do. Ask your contractor if he or she employs NATE-certified technicians, and request that only NATE-certified technicians service your system. Some contractors choose to show off their NATE-certified status in ACCA’s online Contractor Locator, and others do not. Be sure to ask.

Is the NATE certification really meaningful?
Yes! The NATE certification is rigorous and voluntary. There are other third-party certification programs out there, but they have suspiciously high “pass” rates. NATE has the lowest pass rate and is the only nationwide certification program endorsed by the HVACR industry across all levels. Technicians, contractors, manufacturers, utilities, educators, wholesalers, and leading industry trade associations support NATE, and industry organizations such as ACCA have helped develop the tests […]

The Air You Breathe

What’s in your air and what can you do about it

Unfortunately, in today’s world, pollution is everywhere. And with the type of cleaning products, manmade goods, and activities undertaken within homes and buildings, indoor environments can become very uncomfortable. Even “fresh,” outdoor air has as many as 30 million dust or pollutant particles per cubic foot.

There are, however, measures you can take to lessen the effects of these particles in your home. Since the home is essentially an enclosed system, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) contractors are able to tackle pollution head-on by moving the air through a high-efficiency air cleaner.

What does an air cleaner do?
At its most basic level, an air cleaner filters out the particles that cause irritation, such as pollen, spores, dust, and other contaminates. In order for any air cleaner to work correctly, the particles need to pass through it. Hence, if the particles are not in the air stream (for example, they’re dust on furniture), an air cleaner won’t remove them.

However, a good air cleaner will:

Remove allergy-causing particles that pass through it.
Perform well consistently.
Be economical to maintain.
Handle a large volume of air efficiently.

How can an air cleaner help with allergies?
A good air cleaner reduces or removes the irritants that cause allergic symptoms. You may choose a portable air cleaner for smaller spaces or a whole-house air cleaner that works in conjunction with your forced-air system to provide cleaner air throughout your home.

What kinds of residential air cleaners are out there?
There are basically two: furnace-mounted, whole-house units and portable single-room units. Both types of cleaners have different models with varying methods of cleaning the air and capacities for doing so. Your dwelling may help determine the right unit […]

The Truth About Mold

There’s Good Mold and There’s Bad Mold

Molds are the “bleu” in bleu cheese and Roquefort. Molds improve our wine. They produce penicillin and antibiotics and are used widely in the food and beverage industry. Without mold and mold’s decaying mechanism, the natural environment would be overwhelmed with large amounts of dead organic matter.

Despite many harmless and beneficial molds, some molds can be toxic and pose health threats to humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that all molds can cause health problems under the right conditions. The word “toxic” refers to mold that produces hazardous compounds, or mycotoxins.

Often included in the list of toxic molds is Stachybotrys Chartarum, a greenish-black mold, which can grow on high-cellulose, low-nitrogen materials such as fiberboard, drywall, paper, dust, and lint – all of which are found in homes – when these materials become wet.

There is evidence that mold exposure can cause the following symptoms:

Allergic reactions, including irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat.
Flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and diarrhea.
Worsening of asthma.

How to Minimize Mold Growth
Mold is a natural byproduct of the fungi family that thrives when organic substances and water combine under certain circumstances. Mold reproduces via spores that can remain dormant, yet viable, for years. They “come alive” again in the presence of moisture.

HVACR mechanical systems are not generators of mold; their metallic surfaces do not provide the organic matter mold needs to grow. However, systems that are not well maintained could support mold growth. It’s important that your system:

Is designed and installed correctly.
Is properly and regularly maintained.
Controls the moisture in your building.
Uses good filtration methods to keep your air clean.

Preventing Mold

Consider augmenting your air conditioner with a dehumidifier. These systems pull the moisture from the […]

How Preventive Maintenance Will Save You Money

Preventive Maintenance = $avings!
Take care of your HVAC system, and it will take care of you.

Preventive maintenance agreements (PMAs) are agreements between you and your Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) quality contractor for scheduled inspections and maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

PMAs are generally scheduled for the spring and fall to maintain peak efficiency, help keep utility bills lower, extend the life of your HVAC system, and avert failures. Sometimes PMAs are referred to as “planned maintenance agreements,” “start and checks,” or “preventive service agreements.” Most agreements offered by ACCA contractors cover an inspection of the entire HVAC system and routine maintenance (such as replacing or cleaning filters).

Energy Consumption
The HVAC system is most likely the single biggest use of energy in your home. In commercial applications where refrigeration is applied (combined with the HVAC systems), huge amounts of energy are used in the building. In fact, over a third of the energy used in the United States is used to heat and cool buildings.

According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), up to 50% more energy can be saved with proper installation, sizing, and maintenance of commercial central air conditioning and heat pumps. Although the CEE study did not measure residential systems, a compelling case can be made that proper maintenance can save homeowners up to 50% as well.

Out of Sight, NOT Out of Mind
The cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is often the reason for neglected maintenance on your HVAC system. HVAC systems are usually installed where they aren’t seen, such as in a section of the basement, a closet, on rooftops, or in mechanical rooms, making them easy to ignore. The systems are simply taken for […]

The average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside

According to the EPA, the air inside the average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Pollen, dust mites, dirt, and mold spores in your home’s air can cause minor health problems like eye and nose irritation, dizziness, and headaches. Indoor air pollution can also cause more serious problems like respiratory illness, as well as aggravate allergies and asthma. There are three ways you can improve the air quality in your home:

Source Control
You can eliminate many pollutants like dust and pet dander by careful household cleaning. Making sure your heating and air conditioning systems are well-maintained also helps remove pollutants before they reach your home, and cleaning air duct systems may be helpful in keeping your systems maintained.

Improved Ventilation
You can decrease the concentration of indoor pollutants by increasing the quantity of air circulating. Open windows and doors, and use window or attic fans. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans move indoor pollutants out of the room, and increase the outdoor ventilation rate at the same time.

Air Cleaners
Well-maintained and efficient air cleaners can significantly lower the amount of pollutants in the air. Their usefulness varies considerably, depending on the type of cleaner (table-top models will probably be less effective than a whole-house system), and on the strength of the indoor pollution source.

Contact me to find out which methods are best for your home.

Replacing Filters

Replace your heating and cooling air filters regularly when they’re in use. Operating your system with old, dirty filters means energy is wasted and your system may even be damaged. While you’re at it, check and clean the filters in your home’s air cleaners and humidifiers.

Maintenance Scheduling

Schedule a maintenance service call before the heating season starts. If there are any problems with your system, it’s better to find out before it’s freezing outside! Do the same for your cooling system before the sweltering season begins.

Their workmen are courteous, diligent and took care to clean up

We have had GRC Mechanical System at our house for both replacement of older systems and maintenance of our existing systems.  Their work is the best quality.  The installation of new systems was done quickly and professionally.  Their workmen are courteous, diligent and took care to clean up each day before they went home.

We highly recommend GRC for both maintenance and upgrades of residential heating/air conditioning system.

Howard S., Washington Township