How Improved Air Circulation Can Reduce Your Energy Costs

The older your AC system, the more it costs to run it – just a simple fact of life in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

But that doesn’t mean you should be content with those ever-climbing utility bills. In fact, go ahead and get mad at them if it helps. Even better, resolve to do something about them. Come to think of it, maybe you already are, but are convinced you could still be saving even more money without sacrificing that much-needed cool air.

Well, here’s one such idea on how to lower your cooling costs, one we think you’ll warm up to in a hurry (pardon the expression!)

Open Your Interior Doors, Save Money

The SEER rating of your AC system is only one factor that determines energy efficiency. The system also has to be installed correctly. Gaps or leaks in your air ducts have to be closed or sealed. Your filter needs to be cleaned or replaced about every two weeks. And more.

Ongoing energy-efficient operation also depends on proper internal airflow, and one way to achieve that is to keep inside doors open to rooms that don’t have an AC register or vent.

You see, closing those doors does not prevent the air inside them from escaping. That air, by definition, is warmer than the air in the rest of the house, so your AC system goes into over-drive to cool it off. That leads to added wear and tear, the increased likelihood of repairs, and higher (not lower) energy costs. At the same time, the air escaping those closed-off rooms is often replaced by from air from your water heater and other areas  where contaminants like mold, mildew, and carbon monoxide might exist.

If you’re doing everything you can to keep your house cool and your energy costs down, but it’s not producing the desired end result, contact Optimum Air to schedule a system cleaning and inspection. Regular preventative maintenance is the best way we know of to keep your AC system in peak operating condition while potentially adding years to its lifespan.

Does My Home Need More Attic Ventilation?

Roofing experts claim the majority of U.S. homes do not have proper attic (or roof) ventilation. That can lead to severe roof damage plus big spikes in your energy bills.

Without proper ventilation, attic temperatures can climb to 140 degrees and higher during the summer months. What does it feel like? Just like the inside of your car when it’s been sitting in the sun with all the windows up on a hot, humid day. And yet, the excessive heat in your attic isn’t just about being uncomfortable. It can scorch roof shingles and material, leading to premature replacement. Poor ventilation also can contribute to condensation, mold and mildew in the attic.

In the winter, allowing cool air into the attic through intake vents will help prevent ice dam formation, according to Energy Star. Ice dams are made up of snow that melts and freezes again on a home’s gutters. The main cause of ice damming is an overly warm attic.

Then there’s the impact of attic insulation on ventilation and your energy costs. The fact is, poor ventilation can ruin your insulation. When that happens, it can no longer effectively help keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and that’s precisely what sends energy costs spiraling upward.

So, for the sake of your home and family, perhaps it’s time for a quick trip to your attic to see just how hot it is. If it’s scorching hot in the summer or nice and cozy in the winter, it’s too hot. And that means it’s time to contact a roofing contractor to improve your ventilation, insulation, or both.

To help keep your heating and cooling systems in top working order, Optimum Air is the only call you need to make. Contact us for whatever the service or installation need might be.

Clean Floors Lead to Cleaner Indoor Air

For many home owners in the DFW area, indoor air quality is a daily concern as they seek to copy with symptoms from allergies, asthma, and other upper respiratory ailments.

Still, there’s plenty you can do to help your own cause, and that includes keeping your floors as clean as possible.  Here are a few helpful tips on how to achieve that goal:

  • Chemicals and allergens can get trapped and remain in household dust literally for decades. Regular vacuuming can help, especially when your machine is equipped with a HEPA filter, you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. For even better results, outfit yourself with a vacuum cleaner that also includes strong suction and rotating brushes. In high traffic areas, vacuum the same spot several times. Don’t forget walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture, where dust also accumulates.
  • Mopping picks up the dust left behind by your vacuum cleaner. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water on your floors in your efforts to rid your home of allergens and other pollutants. Microfiber mops (and dust cloths) typically capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require cleaning solutions to perform at maximum effectiveness.
  • Keep it out. Put a large floor mat inside and right in front of every door leading into your home. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants that inevitably work their way indoors. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat rather than tracking them further into your home. It’s also a good idea to take your shoes off upon entering – and don’t be shy about asking guests to do the same.

Here at Optimum Air, we’re seasoned warriors in the battle to stop allergens and pollutants from making your home life miserable. In fact, we offer several whole-house solutions to clean the air you breathe and keep it clean year-round. Call today for more information or to schedule a free in-home consultation.

What You Need to Know About Automatic Zoning

If this is not your first Optimum Air blog, you may recall us talking about signs that your air conditioning system might need some professional attention – one of those being hot and cold spots throughout your house.

Well, that same phenomenon can be caused by having only one thermostat, especially if yours is a multi-leveled house. Take, for example, your summertime experience when it’s nice and cool on the ground floor where the thermostat is located, but hotter than blazes upstairs. That can make it awfully difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Sound familiar? Then there’s a very good chance you don’t need a second or replacement AC system to fix the problem. In fact, the solution could be as simple as installing electronic dampers in your ductwork along with one new thermostat for each zone added. Then, to cure your sleepless night blues, you can raise the thermostat downstairs once you go to bed while lowering the thermostat upstairs for the cool, comfortable sleeping conditions you desire.

For even greater flexibility and energy savings, we can install new programmable thermostats with their own Wi-Fi apps. That would enable you to change settings wherever you might be – provided you have a Wi-Fi connection – to make your home perfectly comfortable upon your arrival, no matter what time of year it might be.

To learn more about automatic zoning and how that can benefit you, contact Optimum Air today.

How to Remove Allergens from Your Home

Even if you see your house as small, it really isn’t – at least not when it comes to ridding your home of allergens. Allergens can gather and multiply just about anywhere and, room by room, there are different ways to keep the problem under control.

Since taking on your entire house is just too much for a single blog, today we’re going to focus on your living room and bedrooms.  We think you’ll find this information highly useful, especially if you suffer from allergies.

In Your Bedrooms

  • Flooring. If possible, rid your home of wall-to-wall carpeting and replace it with wood, vinyl, laminate, or other types of flowing that’s easy to clean. Area rugs are okay, too, but once again, they need be kept clean. If replacing carpeting is not an option, then clean it at least once a week with a vacuum cleaner that has either a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. You should consider shampooing the carpet, too. 
  • Bed and Bedding. Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets once a week in hot water; remove, wash or cover your comforters, too. For even better results, replace wool or feather pillows or bedding with those made from synthetics.    
  • Shut Windows. Close windows and rely on air conditioning during pollen season. While you’re at it, remove mold and condensation from window frames by keeping them clean. and sills. Use double-paned windows if you live in a cold climate. 
  • Eliminate Clutter. Remove items that collect dust, such as knickknacks, tabletop ornaments, clothing, books and magazines. Additionally, consider storing children’s toys, games, and stuffed animals in plastic bins. 

In Your Living Room 

  • Furniture. Upholstered furniture is a haven from dust, pollen, and other airborne allergens looking for a home to reside in an on. You would do well to replace at least some of it with leather. 
  • Curtains and Blinds. Washable curtains made of cotton or synthetic fibers are best for controlling the spread and growth of your household allergy population. 
  • Fireplaces. Avoid use of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke and gases can worsen respiratory allergies. Most natural gas fireplaces won’t cause this problem.

If you or other family members suffer from allergy-induced problems, we hope it’s not so severe that you’re resorting to extreme measures to protect your health. But if you need some assistance in that department, contact Optimum Air today to request a free quote on a whole-house air filtration system, one that can remove more than 99% of airborne pollutants as they attempt to pass through the system’s filter. We have multiple air quality solutions, including the right one for your family’s needs and budget.

What to Ask About a Home’s HVAC Systems

If you’re looking to buy someone else’s home (vs. building your own), there’s a lot to consider. That, of course, includes the home’s heating and cooling systems. And unless you bring in your own HVAC contractor to inspect them, you’re going to have to take the word of the seller and the person selected for the official home inspection required by the lender.

At Optimum Air, we believe most people will give you straight answers to your questions, just as they hope and expect others would do for them.  So go ahead and ask these questions so you know what to inspect once you move in:

 

  • How old is each system?
  • When was the last time each was professionally serviced?
  • Do you have records and receipts of system repairs?
  • How much does it cost you to heat and cool your home, and have you been noticing an uptick in costs lately?
  • Is your house unusually dusty?
  • Is your home exceptionally dry in the winter, or overly humid during the summer months?
  • How old is your attic insulation and what kind of condition is it in?
  • Have you ever had your air ducts cleaned and, if so, do you recall the last time that service was performed?

Sure, there are other questions you could ask, but there’s a lot more to a purchasing decision than the condition of the heating and cooling systems, and you certainly don’t want to get lost in the details.

What you do want to know, however, is what to expect indoor-comfort-wise after you move in and what you can expect to pay in utility costs. You’re also looking for information about indoor air quality, and whether you might do well to install a whole-house air filter or humidity control system for your family’s added comfort and greater energy savings.

If you want an opinion you can take to the bank on the condition of a home’s heating and cooling systems, contact us and we’ll be happy to inspect them for you. Optimum Air: your local heating and cooling friends in the business.

Is Your AC System Making You Sick?

Every AC season, people from all over the country rush to their primary care physician or nearest walk-in medical clinic complaining that their AC system is making them sick.  Even if they’re right, they’re wrong.

Say what? By itself, your AC system literally does nothing more than remove hot air from your home, thus providing the cooling relief we all crave.  But unless it’s well taken care of, your system can and will attract all kinds of pollutants that do make you sick. These include bacteria, dust, dirt, pesticides, mold, mildew, and a host of other common indoor air pollutants.

Your AC system is simply the delivery vehicle, not the bad guy some of us make it out to be.

If routine AC maintenance alone still has you sneezing and coughing up a storm, it might be time to add a whole-house air filtration system into the mix. The right one can remove more than 99% of all airborne pollutants during heating and cooling system operation.

Here’s another suggestion.  If your air ducts haven’t been cleaned within the past four years, it’s time. Your ducts harbor all sorts of air pollutants that blow into your living spaces every time your AC or forced air heating system fan turns on.

How can we help? If it’s been a year or longer since your AC system was last professionally cleaned and inspected, it’s time to contact Optimum Air for service. Not only will you breathe better day and night, but your system will run better, last longer, and consume less energy. We look forward to your call!

How to Protect Your Pets from Ticks and Lyme Disease

Texans are no strangers to Lyme disease as the Texas Lyme Disease Association receives up to 900 requests for treatment. But your pets are at risk, too, and not just from local wildlife, but from pets imported into the area.

Here are several ways to help keep your pet safe.

  1. Keep your pet clean & healthy. Ticks are more likely to attach themselves to pets with low immune systems or dirty fur.
  2. Discuss vaccinating your pet with your veterinarian.
  3. Have your pet wear a tick collar, especially if you live in or near a wooded area and your pets are allowed to roam free.
  4. Limit the amount of time your pet spends outdoors. The more time spent outdoors, the greater the exposure to tick bites and Lyme disease.
  5. Once your pet comes back indoors, inspect them for ticks right away to help prevent the tick from attaching itself. If you should find a tick, remove it with tweezers, and clean the wound thoroughly.
  6. Bathe your pet with a medicated shampoo to help prevent tick bites. Ticks are deterred by these shampoos.
  7. Treat all cats and dogs in your house to a monthly flea and tick preventive medicine.  Once you start, however, it’s important not to miss a single application as consistency is the key to success.  al pest control or your veterinarian before using pesticides.
  8. Create a hostile environment for ticks around your home by keeping your lawn mowed, trees and shrubs pruned, and leaves picked up promptly.

How can you tell if your dog or cat has contracted Lyme disease?  Here are some of the more common symptoms:

  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever, lack of appetite, and depression
  • Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen

When in doubt or for more information on preventing tick and Lyme disease problems for your pets, consult with your veterinarian.

Average Life Expectancy of an Air Conditioning System

If you can barely remember purchasing your current central AC system, you know it’s getting up there in years. Or perhaps you purchased your home with the system already installed, and you just don’t recall how old it was at the time.

Since central AC systems don’t last forever, it’s always a good idea to find out exactly when your system was manufactured. Just jot down the serial number and look it up on the manufacturer’s website or call the company that installed it for you.

What makes that so important?  Because, on average, central air conditioning systems last between 12 and 15 years. Depending on how well and frequently yours has been maintained, and how often it’s used, it could last even longer.  But “lasting” and functioning up to par aren’t the same thing.  That’s because, even with annual maintenance, your system gradually loses energy efficiency over time.  Typically, for example, a system runs at no better than 60% of its original energy efficiency by the time it’s 8 years old.

As energy efficiency declines, energy costs go up.  You can see that for yourself on your home electricity bills.

Short of complete system failure, therefore, the average life expectancy of your AC system is up to you. Because even though it might still be running, is it really worth keeping if you could save $200 or more per month on your electricity bill with a replacement system?

If you’re system is getting up there in years and you want sound and dependable advice on whether to keep or replace it, contact Optimum Air today.  We have no agenda, just a sincere desire to help our customers enjoy the very best in indoor comfort at the lowest possible net cost.  Today and always, we can do the same for you.

Is Spring the Best Time for an AC Tune-up?

If you subscribe to the belief that there’s a season and reason for everything, then here’s another perfect example:  while there’s almost no bad time for air conditioning preventative maintenance, spring is the best time.  By far!

What makes that so?  Several good and practical reasons:

  • Heating and cooling companies have their busy and slow seasons, just like most other types of businesses. One of our slow times happens to be during the transition from winter to spring. Not a lot of calls for new furnaces, no much need for central air just yet, so we have some time on our hands.  Compare that to when the thermostat hits 90 and above every day when we’re busy as can be. What does that mean to you?  It means it will be much easier to schedule preventative maintenance during the early spring months and get the prompt attention we know you expect.
  • If you wait until it heats up before requesting service, and you’re home while we perform it, then you’re going to be without conditioned air a little while. Not a huge factor, but why put yourself out at all when no such disruption of service is likely in early spring.
  • The two key elements of AC preventative maintenance are system cleaning and inspection. When we clean or replace your filter and, if need be, remove any build-up of mold and mildew, we’re also cleaning your indoor air. Otherwise, once you start using your AC system, the mold, mildew, and pollutants clinging to your filter will be blown through your air ducts and into your lungs, and who needs that!
  • Preventative maintenance is, by definition, partly about preventing repair issues from turning into repair problems. But since mechanical systems don’t last forever, sooner or later your AC system will require repair work. If that time is now, isn’t it better to get it out of the way before you start depending on cool conditioned air, day and night?
  • Preventative maintenance also helps reduce your electricity costs. So, the earlier you get it done, the more you save.

Remember: if you want your system to last as long as possible and run at maximum efficiency for as long as you own it, annual preventative maintenance is a must. So, get a head start on summer and contact Optimum Air now to schedule service.