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Archive for the ‘Energy-Savings Tips’ Category

Top 5 Questions about Duct Cleaning

This time of year is the perfect time to address your duct cleaning. It’s something that many people put off, but it can have serious implications on your family’s health. Here, we break down the top five questions we hear from our customers when we stop in for a duct cleaning.

1) What Does a Duct Cleaning Entail?

A duct cleaning involves searching for leaks and then cleaning the ducts. Most professionals have specific tools they use to discover leaks in your system or any other problems associated with your A/C unit or ductwork. Alongside a duct cleaning, we often find other problems with ductwork, and many homeowners would not even know about them until they received a professional inspection.

For a list of what we provide in order to solve these problems and for more information on our services that address ducts, visit our duct cleaning page. We even offer dryer vent cleaning, which is a great way to get rid of a potential fire hazard.

2) When Should I Get My Ducts Cleaned?

The most common answer to this question is: as soon as you notice a problem. That is, if you see mold anywhere near vents, if you notice that some rooms are getting A/C but not others, or if you are feeling less air power and still paying a higher energy bill, then there is probably a good chance that you need to have your ducts inspected.

However, if you don’t have these problems but want to be proactive, the best time to check your ducts is in the spring. Remember, your attic will not be astronomically hot yet in the spring, so reaching your ducts without drowning in the heat will be much easier. Also, as we all know, spring leads into the beginning of summer, and especially here in Florida, summer is when the A/C gets used more than ever, so you will definitely want to make sure your A/C is working at peak capacity.

3) What Good Does Cleaning My Air Ducts Do?

The biggest advantage to cleaning air ducts is cleaner air. Making sure your vents are clean means that the air blowing through them is also clean, and clean air will keep you healthy and less in danger of various respiratory problems. A nice byproduct of clean air ducts is that when they are in good working order, then your A/C does not have to work as hard to keep your house cool.

When your air conditioning is not working so hard, it is burning less energy, and this status is advantageous to both your energy bill and the environment. Additionally, taking the time to clean the air ducts allows the opportunity to check for possible water damage and thereby prevent it or keep it from worsening.

4) How Can I Get My Ducts Cleaned?

Consulting professionals is the easiest and best way to get your air ducts cleaned. By placing the responsibility on professionals, you are ensured the best quality work and the peace of mind that your A/C is performing optimally. Of course, as an added bonus, working with professionals also spares you the hassle of crawling into the attic yourself to inspect every inch of the air ducts before taking them apart and cleaning them out. However, if you still would rather clean them yourself, you might want to see what Bob Vila has to say about this idea first.

5) Which Professionals Should I Work With?

Hopefully, this review of air ducts has deepened your understanding of your air conditioning system unit and encouraged you to make replacing the filters and cleaning the condenser coils (as mentioned in part one) a regular activity in your home. Finally, if you are from the Gainesville area, don’t forget to contact Gator Air and Energy for more information and to set up an appointment for air duct cleaning.

Top 5 Questions About Heat Pumps

As the weather cools down and homeowners are turning on their heaters for the first time in months, they begin to have questions about their systems. To help minimize the stress of researching all things heat-pump related, we are answering 5 commonly asked questions.

If you are using your heat-pump for the first time in a while, but aren’t sure about the safety and functionality, give us a call! Our team of heating and ventilation experts will inspect your system for any possible problems. We also ensure that your system is running efficiently so you can save money and energy during the winter months.

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1) Are heat pumps more efficient than furnaces?

primary heat pump outdoors in Gainesville, FL

Yes, especially in Florida! Heat pumps are highly efficient and effective in temperatures as low as 25 degrees. If homeowners use a furnace in the 40-60 degree range, it will provide significantly more heat and power than is needed, which will result in higher energy consumption.

2) What does “EM heat” on my thermostat mean?

If you do not know what the “EM heat” button on your thermostat means, you are not alone. EM heat stands for emergency heat and should be used sparingly. Pressing the EM heat button will turn on a red indicator light, turn off the primary outdoor heat pump, and exclusively use the secondary indoor heating source.

Homeowners in colder regions typically have to use the EM heat function because snow can pile around the outdoor heat pump and prevent warm air from generating. You should only use this setting when a heat pump is malfunctioning, is damaged, or fails to provide any heat. Because the primary heat pump is turned off, EM heat is significantly less efficient and will increase your heating bill.

3) Why does my heat pump smell like it’s burning?

If it smells like something is burning when you turn on your heat pump for the first time in the winter, do not panic. There are several reasons that can explain the smell. Luckily, most of the reasons are easy to fix!

Dust on the Electric Heater Coil

Homeowners typically do not use their heater during the summer months, resulting in months of dust. When a heat pump is turned on for the first time after prolonged inactivity, the electric heat coil will burn off the dust. The burning smell should dissipate within the next few hours, but if it persists, call a local HVAC professional to inspect your system.

Clogged filter

When was the last time you changed your air filter? Clogged air filters can force your heat pump motor to work harder than usual, resulting in a burning smell. Replace your air filter and see whether the problem resolves itself. If it doesn’t, there may be two more reasons why your heat pump is emitting a burnt smell.

Closed AC vents

When you turn on your heat pump for the first time, make sure that the AC vents are open. Proper airflow allows the hot air to disseminate throughout the home, instead of being trapped within the vents. Closed AC vents can lead to serious problems for your HVAC system, so make sure to open your vents before you turn on your heat pump.

Electrical issue

Electrical issues are uncommon but can also be a source of the burnt smell. You can tell whether you are dealing with an electrical problem if you can detect a hint of sulfur or rotten eggs. This can occur when a heat pump short circuits, has worn electrical connections, has loose screws, or even defective breakers. If this occurs, immediately turn off your heat pump and call an HVAC technician.

4) Why is my heat pump blowing cold air?

Before you call an HVAC technician to inspect your system, ask whether your heat pump is truly blowing cold air or whether you are simply perceiving it. New heat pump owners usually ask this question because they are used to heat furnaces, which blast 130-140 degree air into the home. On the other hand, heat pumps only put out 92-degree air that is cooler than your body temperature, which rests at 97-99 degrees. Because of the discrepancy, it may feel like your heat pump is blowing cold air, when in fact, it is heating the home.

While perception is a common issue, in some cases your heat pump may actually be blowing in cold air. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • A malfunctioning heat pump that is running in AC mode
  • Poor efficiency due to infrequent cleaning and servicing
  • Snow is pressing against the outdoor heat pump
  • This is when you would use the EM heat button
  • Bad compressors
  • Bad valves

If this is the case, call an HVAC professional to fix your heat pump and help you stay warm all winter.

5) When should I service my heat pump?

Don’t wait until something’s broken to service your heat pump. Schedule routine maintenance on your heat pump to increase its longevity and prevent expensive repairs. At least once a year, you should:

  • Inspect ducts, filters, and indoor coils for dirt
  • Diagnose and seal duct leakage
  • Inspect heat pump belts for wear
  • Make sure your thermostats are working
  • Verify proper airflow

The more you care for your heat pump, the more likely your heater will work when you need it!

Schedule Heat Pump Maintenance Today!

If you can’t remember when you last serviced your heat pump, it’s probably time to call an HVAC professional. Gator Air & Energy can guarantee that your unit is safe, clean, and efficient for the winter months. Call us at (352) 275-4827 or reach out for a quote for heat pump services in Alachua, Melrose, High Springs, Newberry, and Lake City!

The Importance of Duct Sealing

According to the Department of Energy, one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency is to examine your ductwork. Did you know that duct systems typically lose up to 40% of its heating or cooling energy? Unlike plumbing leaks, duct leaks are very common and often go unnoticed because homeowners cannot see the issue.

The Benefits of Duct Sealing

air duct blaster test

The longer duct leaks go untreated, the worse the consequences are on your health, comfort, and wallet. There are four main benefits of duct sealing, all of which contribute to the enjoyment of your home.

Improved Air Quality

Regularly replacing air filters are one of the most common ways to improve indoor air quality. However, air filters are unable to prevent duct leaks from promoting mold growth and spreading unwanted contaminants like dust, pests, and more. This can aggravate allergies and can even cause respiratory issues. This is particularly important for children, who spend “as much as 90% of their time indoors” and are more vulnerable to developing asthma. By sealing your ducts, you can further improve your indoor air quality and eliminate respiratory risk factors.

More Comfort

Houses offer relief from unbearable weather, especially during hot summers and cold winters. Leaky ducts can disrupt your sanctuary by pulling outside air into the duct system and affecting the indoor temperature. One of the biggest issues in Florida is that the inefficient ducts pull in humid air and overwhelm the dehumidification capacity. As a result, your home may feel more humid and your clothes, belongings, and furniture are susceptible to mildew, mold, and moisture rot as a result. Duct sealing prevents humidity from entering your home, making it more comfortable for you and your family.

Increased Safety

Gas appliances such as water heaters and clothes dryers produce combustion gases, like carbon monoxide. These harmful gases travel through the ventilation system and are released outside, where the threat is neutralized. Duct leaks can create a backdraft that pulls these gases back into the home, making the air more dangerous to breathe. Duct sealing can minimize this risk by ensuring the gas leaves the home instead of lingering inside.

Lowered Utility Bills

Air conditioning accounts for 50-70% of your electricity bill, which makes it important to own an energy efficient system. Leaky ducts can significantly impact utility bills because they require more energy to cool or heat the home. Homeowners can save up to 20-40% by sealing their ducts, resulting in a more efficient system.

What is a Duct Blaster® Test?

A Duct Blaster® test is the most common method for testing duct tightness. The tighter the duct, the less leaks there are. It is a relatively quick process and helps determine whether homeowners need to seal their ducts.

Duct Blaster Air® Test Process:

duct blaster test for leaky air ducts

  1. Cover all the grills and registers to isolate any leakage
  2. Turn air handler fan off
  3. Attach the Duct Blaster® near the furnace or return-air grill
  4. Turn on the Duct Blaster® to pressurize the duct system
  5. Monitor the pressure and airflow gauge to determine efficiency losses

While the Duct Blaster® test is highly effective for determining the precise leakage of your duct, it cannot identify where the leaks are coming from – but theatrical fog machines can! Smoke billows out of any leaks, illustrating exactly where duct sealing is needed.

Schedule a Duct Blaster® Test and Duct Sealing Service Today!

Protect your family, home, and wallet by scheduling a quick test to identify any duct leaks. If any are found, we can seal them to maximize your system’s energy efficiency. At Gator Air & Energy, we are committed to understanding the ductwork of every system we service to properly care for your home. Our HVAC experts are happy to help and just a call away.

Do I Need an HVAC Surge Protector?

An HVAC surge protector isn’t just a gimmick; it is a much-needed safeguard for your HVAC system. Household electronics like laptops, desktop computers, TVs, and even cordless phones can easily be fried by a large power surge, such as a lightning strike. It is likely that you already use at least one household surge protector to save your most important electronics. But what are you doing to protect one of your most expensive electronics: your HVAC unit?

What is an HVAC surge protector?

An HVAC surge protector is installed within your HVAC unit or near it to act as a buffer between the machine that keeps your home comfortable and any unpredictable power surges. Even small surges can cause irreversible damage.

Understanding Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are mainly used for electronics with printed circuit boards, as these can easily be damaged by sudden spikes in voltage. HVAC surge protectors were not common in the past decade because “old HVAC systems had minimal electronic parts and were majorly mechanical in nature.” However, the more modern systems today have a plethora of electronic components that need to be protected.

Understanding Power Surges

Just as there are many causes of power surges, there are also varying degrees of power surges. “Power surge” commonly refers to a sudden, drastic increase in voltage because of lightning strike or outage. But as you just read, even smaller power surges that are less noticeable can still cause damage. Every time the lights in your home flicker or you experience a “brown-out,” that is a minor power surge which causes wear and tear on your unit, damaging it over time.

Why is an HVAC surge protector important?

When most people think power surges, they think lightning and thunderstorms. However, there are many factors that can cause or contribute to a power surge. Power outages, faulty wirings, bad electrical components, downed power lines or lightning can all lead to an unfortunate end for your favorite appliance or electronic, including your HVAC unit.

It prolongs the life of your HVAC unit.

Whatever the cause, a large power surge can cause your unit to stop working immediately. Smaller surges that don’t knock your unit out of commission are still doing damage. These hidden damages might lead to premature failure of your entire system.

Newer models are especially susceptible to power surges, both major and minor because the parts of the unit that are affected (i.e. printed circuit boards) are extremely expensive to repair. So much so that it is more cost-effective to simply replace your unit as a whole.

Not sure if your HVAC unit already has a surge protector installed? Give us a call and we can help!

It saves you money.

Did you know that power disturbances cost homeowners a whopping $79 billion each year? No one looks forward to replacing their HVAC unit. Buying an HVAC surge protector might not be an expense you’ve budgeted for but it could end up saving you the cost of a whole new unit.

Right now, Gator Air & Energy is offering a storm special of $80 off HVAC surge protector installations for a limited time. There are still three more months of hurricane season to get through, and even heavy thunderstorms put your unit at risk! We recommend having your unit protected as soon as possible.

Get an HVAC Surge Protector Today

There has never been a more crucial time to protect your home and your AC unit. To make sure your family stays comfortable in the event of a power surge or lightning strike, give us a call about your HVAC surge protector options. Our experienced team is always happy to help!

Practical Energy-Saving Tips You Can Use Today – Part I

Summer is here, which means as the temperature rises, so do your energy bills. Here in Gainesville, we’re not strangers to the high electricity bills that seem to creep up on us during the hot summer months. Many homeowners are left feeling helpless about how to lower their energy bills, but as Gainesville’s air-conditioning energy experts, we have a few tips that can help!

Our owner, Chuck Larsen, is a state-certified energy rater through RESNET, which means he has been certified to look for ways to improve energy efficiency in your home. There are many things you can do to save energy in your home, but in this post, we want to focus on the practical things homeowners can do today to help save energy (and money!).

Bubble Wrap Your Single-Glazed Windows

Believe it or not, bubble wrap is an effective insulation for single-glazed windows! If your home has single-pane windows with poor insulation, adding a layer of bubble wrap can insulate them. The air bubbles within the bubble wrap mimic the effect of adding another pane of glass to a window, but is much cheaper! You’ll sacrifice the view, but your energy bills will thank you!

Add Some Greenery

Plants always add a nice feeling to the interior rooms in your home, but did you know they can also cool your home and even dispell humidity? Plants release water vapor through their leaves, which creates a cooling effect through a process called “transpiration”. Not only that, but there are a host of plants that can actually help remove some moisture from the air. Popular plants that can help with humidity are air plants, succulents, and ferns.

There is a lot of research to back up the benefits of live plants in your home, but we think the effect they have on your electric bill will be your favorite!

Cook “Cool” Meals

A surprising way to lower your summer energy bills is to cook “cool” meals. These are meals that don’t require the oven to cool, and take very little time on the stove. Heating the oven heats the house, which causes the air conditioner to work harder than it needs to. Sandwiches, salads, and wraps make great options in the summer. Choosing cooler meals will not only will you save money on your energy bills, but your family will enjoy the unique flavors of summer recipes.

Another way to cook while saving energy in the summer is to use an Instant Pot or microwave. Pressure cooking saves up to 70% more energy compared to boiling, steaming, oven cooking, or slow cooking. A microwave is the most energy-efficient appliance in the kitchen, so use it often in the summer to avoid high energy bills. You can also take advantage of the summer weather and cook outdoors to keep the heat outside!

Replace Dirty Air Filters

We all know the importance of air filters for indoor air quality, but did you know that replacing your filter also helps your unit run more efficiently? The simple act of replacing your air conditioning filter can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 -15%! If you ask us, it’s the easiest thing any homeowner can do to help reduce their energy bills.

Indoor Generation Florida Indoor Air Quality Gator Air & Energy

How efficiently do you think this homeowner’s unit was running?

Stay Tuned for Part II for More Tips from Gainesville’s Energy-Saving Experts!

In our next post, we will give a few more tips to help save you money and energy this summer. As Gainesville’s energy-saving experts, we can help you determine if your home needs more help. With every air conditioning repair or installation, we perform a whole-house inspection to help you determine where you could be wasting money. If you’re in Gainesville, FL or the surrounding area, give us a call to help you save even more on your energy bill!

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