Installing high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment will save you money and reduce your home’s greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone had an energy-efficient furnace, the country as a whole would save about $171 million per year, and we would see a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 177,000 cars off of the road.
While impressive, those numbers are for brand-new heating and cooling systems. In order to keep them working as efficiently as possible, your furnace and air conditioner need to be maintained properly.
To keep the equipment running efficiently, have a professional perform maintenance on the systems in the spring and fall before each peak season begins. It is best to take a two-prong approach to HVAC maintenance: a bi-annual tune up by a professional, and smaller, ongoing tasks you can do yourself throughout the year.
Depending on the type of HVAC system you have, a typical professional maintenance call will involve tightening electrical connections, checking the condition of all hoses and belts, lubricating all moving parts and making sure the controls work properly. The technician will also measure the pressure in the system and check for leaks where appropriate, including leaks in the venting system.
For cooling components, the technician will clean the evaporator and condenser coils. He or she will also check the fan mechanisms and make sure the refrigerant level in the system is correct.
For heating systems, technicians check fuel connections, change the required filters and inspect the combustion and heat exchangers. They also check for possible leaks, and if you have a boiler, make sure the low-water cutoff and pressure relief valves are working properly.
Here are a few maintenance tasks you can perform yourself between professional visits:
Change the filters on forced-air systems about every three months for a system that includes both heating and cooling. If the systems are separate, change the filters every three months during the heating or cooling season. The type of filter to use and directions for changing it can be found in the manual that came with the system. If you don’t have one, ask an HVAC contractor for advice, or visit the manufacturer’s website to see if manuals are available.
Check around the house to make sure that heating and cooling vents, baseboard heaters and radiators are not blocked by furniture. Blocked vents mean the system has to work harder to provide you with the comfort you want, placing unnecessary strain on the system. It is also a good idea to vacuum the face of the vents to remove dust and other debris.
Central air conditioning systems have an outdoor component that houses the compressor and condenser. This part of the system dumps the hot air from your house to the outside as part of the cooling cycle. Keep leaves and other debris off of the top of the unit, and clear a 2- to 3-foot space around the unit to help it work properly.
Even if you’ve recently installed a new unit, begin a maintenance program right away. Regular maintenance is the key to keeping heating and cooling equipment operating efficiently. Help save the earth (and save yourself some money) by making sure all of your systems are properly maintained.
That was the question posed by Ms. Tanya Conley’s fourth grade science class at Hebrew Academy of Tidewater. These smart students recognize that anything that doesn’t dissolve in water could possibly clog home plumbing lines and sewer pipes, resulting in a costly mess.
Students placed samples of toilet paper, baby wipes, and flushable wipes in water bottles and shook the bottles for one minute throughout a two week period to test for “dispersibility”— or how much the paper and wipes would break apart and dissolve.
The results – all toilet paper samples completely disintegrated, some flushable wipes broke down but did not disintegrate, and the baby wipes remained intact.
The recommendation from these fourth graders – never flush wipes!
Water is a powerful resource that we simply cannot live without. Take a minute to think about all the ways you use water in a day. It is essential to grow the foods we eat. It is necessary to manufacture the clothes we wear. It helps us accomplish everyday tasks such as brushing our teeth, taking showers, and washing dirty dishes. In Hampton Roads, with a simple turn of a tap, we have access to clean, reliable, and safe drinking water. This resource should be protected and used wisely.
Here are ten easy, start-them-right-now tips to use water wisely at home! Just by making a few changes, you can have a big impact!
Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month!
If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.
Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
I love a good joke but a running toilet is no laughing matter. Water dripping, phantom flushing, and the continuous trickle of a leaky toilet could be wasting you up to 200 gallons of water or more every day!
It’s “Fix a Leak Week” and EPA WaterSense is reminding us to check household fixtures for leaks.
Here are a few quick tips to identify and catch those running toilets:
To find out if you have a toilet leak, place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak! Make sure to flush immediately after this test to avoid staining the tank.
If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often a faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
If you do need to replace the entire toilet, consider a WaterSense labeled model. If the average family replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, they could save 13,000 gallons per year!