Here's how wise landscaping can help lower energy bills

Ever thought of lowering energy bills using landscaping? If not, you're not alone. Not many homeowners seriously think about how landscaping would affect the energy bills and end up building homes that almost suck energy; get very hot in summers and very cold in winters resulting in high energy bills. So here's a treat from us; We are helping you discover ways that will affect your energy bills and will pull their graph low. You don't necessarily have to apply these ways only when you are building a new home. Some simple additions to your currently in use home will make a massive difference. Let's begins



The power of shady trees

We have always read in the stories of the old times how people would take rest under the shady trees while taking long road journeys in hot summers. But the shades of the trees are all time beneficial. Did you know that homes with trees around them remain relatively cooler in summers? Grow trees strategically such that they cover the areas that get the direct sunlight. It is best to plant those trees that shed their leaves in winters so that the home gets the sunlight that is desireful in winters and keeps the heating bills in control.   
If you have space around the home and it is being used for no good reason, it's your time to plant some deciduous trees.

Install a Pergola or Trellis 

You may be living in a rented place or maybe shifting places often or can't really wait for the trees to grow. A good alternative could be grown trees that are simply installed by digging the place. Or to consider installing structures like trellis and pergolas. With a base of wooden, these structures, if added with fastly growing vines can add a great degree of coolness to your patio, yard and walls.

How about aqua cooling?

O yes! How about aqua cooling? Ever felt roaming in gardens, a cool breeze of air, as you pass by waterfalls, swimming pools or small fountains? The same effect can be added to your front yard, patio or even at some interior location of the home. The presence of water adds coolness in the air and as it circulates, it spreads the coolness in the home.

Avoid black 

By painting your door, roof or any other major exterior part of the home, what you invite in is a lot of heat. Since black absorbs all of the light rays, it is a bad idea with regards to HAVC to use black or similar darker shades on the exterior of the home. Doing so does benefit in winter but as long as summer is concerned, consider green and white. Also, to include an added effect of cooling, consider adding plants in the indoor and some useful shrubs on the driveways and sidewalks.

Did you find this blog useful? What landscaping hacks do you use to control the energy bills? Share some with us!

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Hydronic Heating - A healthier home heating solution

Every appliance that you install in your home will affect the entire home in one way or the other. For example, installing a Central Air Conditioning system and not maintaining the ductwork results in compromised indoor air quality. But this aspect is often neglected by homeowners. When installing a home comfort heating system, many homeowners keep their focus on the heating factors not weighing how that particular heating system will affect the indoor air quality. Just like different types of fuels are available to run the appliances and it is always recommended to go for more efficient, affordable and eco-friendly fuels, there are also several options for the heating systems to choose from. The same formulae should be applied to heating systems; choosing more efficient and most eco-friendly systems. While the conventional ductwork system heating is suitable for many home types, the Hydronic System remains an effective and affordable home heating method.

Boilers

Furnace VS Boiler - What wins?


Furnace warms the air and blows it towards the ductwork in order to reach the rooms. As the homes are more tightly packed in winters, the same air is warmed again and again and every cycle makes the air decrease its quality because of passing through the ductwork and circulating all those pollutants produced either inside of the home or entered from outside.

Unlike that, Boiler boils water and the steam passes through the pipelines that are spread throughout the house. This steam is then delivered to the baseboard and is then supplied from there. Since the heat coming from the baseboards rise naturally, the process is slow and the heat is retained longer. The warmth caused is uniform.
Since every time new water is heated, Boilers offer a cleaner solution.


Impacts of Hydronic Heating


As said, hydronic heating is safe. Every time a new cycle starts, unlike the Furnace heating in which the same cycle and the same air is circulated again and again. One major benefit this offers is that it reduces the risks of air pollutants. It is a known fact that an exposure to polluted air even for a short period can result in allergies, asthma and other immune system issues. In addition to that, as Hydronic heating of Combi Boilers warm the indoor through steam, the air has moisture which combats the winter issues like insufficient humidity and static electricity.

One major issue that homeowners face is different temperature needs of homeowners. Since this problem cannot easily be combated with the Furnace system as shutting the vents off or partially closing them overburdens the ductwork, the Hydronic system does offer a solution for this as well. Individuals can control the supply of heat to their place.

A residential Boiler of good quality can last for almost 15 years. More efficient systems with proper maintenance can last even longer than that. This makes Boilers (Combi Boilers) kill three birds with one arrow. They heat water, heat the indoor while also humidify it.

All these benefits combine to make Boilers an efficient and healthier solution for home heating.

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Ductwork Leaks - Signs and Causes

As homeowners begin to sense a compromised comfort in the indoor, the first thought goes towards the HVAC system. It is true that for most of the times, the reason behind compromised indoor comfort is the HVAC units but it is not always the case. Sometimes, the units are all okay but it is the ductwork that aches. Did you know that even small leaks and cracks can devoid you of 20% conditioned air rising the use of the appliances and the energy bills? It is, therefore, important to not be careless towards this issue and fix the problem as soon as it is observed.

All homes usually have one these three duct types;
They either have a metal sheet or an insulated flexible or insulated duct board. In the modern homes, the duct most commonly installed is of the flexible sheet. This, though easy to install and flexible to accommodate is hard to take care of. Not only that it is easily damaged but is also relatively less energy efficient. Whatever the duct type is, once it gets the leaks, the situation keeps on getting worse; the leaks widen and cracks expand resulting in more loss of energy and higher energy bills.
There are some signs that can help detect ductwork leaks;


Sings of a leaking ductwork 

* If your utility bills suddenly start to escalate and the HVAC units are working fine, it's the ductwork that you should check
* If there are rooms or areas of the home that are becoming difficult to warm/cool
* Indoor getting stuffy
* Air filters frequently getting dirty
* Dents or cracks in the ductwork
* Discolouring ceiling could also be an indication of leaking ductwork
* Home getting unusually dusty

These sings can help you find out the leaks and cracks. But you should also get to know of the primary causes of duct leaks.

Causes of Ductwork leaks? 

* Ductwork needs to be renewed after its lifetime is over. If you have an old home with an old ductwork installed, chances are you'll have leaks frequently
* Many people close the vents in the unused rooms. Doing so keeps the air trapped in the ductwork resulting in cracks
* If you have rats and rodents at home and a foil or flexible ductwork, you are at a constant risk. They can leave multiple cracks and leaks in your ductwork anytime
* A professional installation always matters. So if you had chosen a wrong tech who left loopholes, the loose connections in the ductwork would cause leaks
* Some ductworks need to have insulation in order to be properly efficient. Improper insulation may cause leaks

If you are suspecting a ductwork leak, do the following;
Take a piece of paper or burning candle and move it closer to the areas that you think have leaks. If the candle flickers or the piece of paper moves rapidly, there are leaks. Seal the leaks with a duct tape. However, there would be times when you'll find it difficult to find the leaks or to fix them on your own. When that happens, never overlook the matter and call a professional to check the ductwork to find and fix the problem. 

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Getting to know Negative and Positive Air Pressure

Ever experienced sudden slamming of doors and windows? A strange whoosh and whistle sound? Light objects automatically getting an outward flow? All of this, if it happens when you’re with the rest of the members may not scare you but imagine yourself completely alone at home and the doors and windows start to bang! Huh! Scary, very scary! The only thought that this occurrence will give you would be; ‘’I need to call a ghostbuster as early as possible’’. Interestingly, for such an issue, the right person to call is an HVAC professional. This type of occurrences take place as a result of improper air pressure. It could be a negative air pressure or a positive air pressure; anything but a normal air pressure. The symptoms may include;

* Uneven temperature in different parts of home
* Sudden slamming of doors and windows
* Easy to open doors/windows requiring unnecessary energy
* Strange noises (whoosh, whistling)
* Doors, windows getting automatically open
* Differentiating positive and negative air pressure


When you have a high indoor pressure and the air rushes from inside towards outside, it is the positive air pressure. As a result of such pressure, the doors/windows open outwardly on their own. Also, as there’s a high indoor pressure, it may make the opening of windows/doors difficult from outside.

Negative air pressure, on the other hand, is a scenario in which the outdoor air pressure is higher than the indoor air pressure. In other words, there’s insufficient air pressure in the indoors. As air moves from higher pressure towards lower pressure, the indoors will suck the outer air resulting in inward opening/slamming of doors/windows and overburdening of the HVAC system as it has to counteract with higher and more pressure.

Why does pressure go out of balance?


The question is; why in the first place, does the indoor air pressure go out of control? Here are the reasons;

1. Hot air consequences:


Hot air rises, remember that first hot air balloon experiment from primary school? The phenomenon of negative air pressure often takes place in winters as the hot air accumulates the indoors. The hot air rises to the upper portions or evacuates through vents and chimneys, leaving a low air pressure behind. As a result, the air pressure imbalance takes place.

2. Effect of exhaust fans


Exhausts fans help expel the undesirable air but they may perform over efficiently and expel so much air so as to cause a negative air pressure in the indoor.

3. Duct leaks


Leaking ducts compromise air pressure. They will overly supply air to the enclosed areas while leaving the open areas with an insufficient supply of air. This will result in negative air pressure in the open areas and positive air pressure in the enclosed areas.

4. Fan speed


While you may look here and there to find the cause of improper air balance, it could be in the speed of your Air Conditioner/Furnace fan. A very high speed of the fan will push more air towards the indoors through ducts, resulting in positive air pressure.

Many homeowners live under constantly imbalanced air pressure and never bother to balance it. The fact is, an improper and unbalanced air pressure will not only give you scary instances when you are home alone, it also has the potential to affect the HVAC system by overburdening it (as explained above).

If you figure out that you are living under positive or negative air pressure, make no delay and fix the problem by calling an HVAC professional as soon as possible.

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5 simple steps to boost HVAC system efficiency

We are living in the second millennium and technology today has made our lives much easier than the lives of those that have passed before us. So many facilities are just at one click and one-touch and the automatic lifestyle is taking the lead. But it needs to be understood that no matter how automatic the technology and devices become, the influence of human involvement will always be there and it is the use and control of technology by the man himself that will make the difference. Let's take the example of the home comfort heating and cooling appliances. Almost every home in Canada has some kind of HVAC appliance and there are many homes where the systems in use are of advanced level, however, the truth is; only a handful of homeowners are actually making the right and efficient use of the efficient appliances. As a result, a majority is facing the consequences in the form of high energy bills, frequent repairs and sudden unhappy accidents. So you see how human influence matters? We shall discuss today the ways by which you can make the most of your HVAC system. We shall tell you how to increase your home's HVAC efficiency in just 5 simple steps.



Step# 1 Replacing/Cleaning Filters and its influence


So here's something that doesn't take place with an ''auto'' button. Despite having the Smartest Thermostat and the smartest appliances, you will have to do this by yourself. And mind you, Filter cleaning/replacing may seem ordinary, it can put your entire system at risk. Studies say that 9/10 HVAC system failures are caused by dust and debris. Your filter is meant to trap the dust and debris but once its power diminishes by getting dirty itself, you are supposed to give it a power pack by cleaning/replacing. Ever noticed how your system suddenly becomes more efficient and the indoor air more soothing after replacing filters? That's the power of filter cleaning.

Step# 2 Seals are a serious to-do


Homeowners think that small leaks, holes etc won't make much difference and, therefore, leave them as they are. In actual, the smaller the leak, the greater the air leak would be as the air will exit with higher velocity from there (that's what science tells us). So what happens as a result is that we keep wondering why the Furnace/Air Conditioner isn't working as efficiently as it was working the last year. Sealing leaks & holes is a serious to do. Take into account the doors and windows where there are possibilities of air leaks or where there are visible air leaks and seal them right away. You'll notice the difference in your system's efficiency soon after that.

Step# 3 Don't postpone repairs!


Here's what 7/10 homeowners do; they postpone repairs as long as their system is running by hook or by crook. Apparently, this appears to be a money saving practice, in actuality, it is a money wasting practice. When repairs are not taken seriously, not only the system ceases to operate with optimal efficiency, it also aggravates the situation even more that then leads to further damages to other parts of the system. So, First thing first. Call a pro!

Step# 4 Become smart - Install smart appliances 


There is no denying the fact that smart appliances are a wonderful way to increase efficiency and decrease energy bills. So if you can afford or can manage to make savings for purchasing smart appliances or at least a Smart Thermostat, it would be an investment worth making and worth returning in terms of ROI.

Check some latest models of Smart Thermostat HERE.

Step# 5 Revive your belief in professionalism


Professionals are professionals and no matter how efficient you are in HVAC service on your own, a professional's work will always speak for itself. So revive your belief in professionalism and call a professional for the annual checkup of your HVAC system. This will ensure the following things for sure;

- Any serious repair needs would be diagnosed in time

- With a detailed check-up, the system will revive its efficiency and will work will optimal performance

- The lifetime of the system will increase

- An increased efficiency will decrease the energy bills

You see, there are simple steps that can help you improve the HVAC efficiency of your system but did you observe what has actually been said above? That your contribution matters no matter how efficient the system is. Become concerned about your system from today.

For HVAC queries & consultations, call: 1-855-245-4328

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IAQ dropping in Winter? Try these tips

There's no denying the fact that Winter is a wonderful season but along with its wonderfulness, it also causes some other consequences that are irritating, annoying and unhealthy. We're not talking about the typical cold and cough. We are concerned today about the level of indoor quality that drops in Winters due to several reasons the most common of which are:
- Constant running of heating elements like; Furnaces, Fireplace, Space Heaters etc that produce residual gases or make the air drier

- Improper or irregular cleaning is another reason that contributes to lowering the IAQ in Winter. Due to cold weather, people get lazy and become less regular about cleaning. The dust keeps circulating in the indoor and make the IAQ unhealthy

- Insulation and ventilation go hand in hand. You should not lower the quality of air in the pursuit of keeping the indoor warm. As tight insulation is made and there's no proper ventilation system, no fresh air get in the house. And the air that continues to circulate in the indoor eventually becomes extremely unhealthy with lots of bacteria and contaminants in it.


How to maintain a healthy IAQ in Winters?
So now the question is, how to maintain a healthy indoor air in Winters? There are some tips that we want you to consider seriously:

1. First and foremost: Do not make unnecessary use of heating appliances. There are days in Winter when the temperature is bearable and thus the heating appliances can either be turned off or used in a limit. If you have a hard time keeping a check, install a Smart Thermostat and it will do the job for you. Remember that it is not only about bills. You could be the person who can afford hefty bills easily and thus doesn't care about usage but the unnecessary usage will spoil your IAQ and that’s what you don’t want no matter how rich you are

2. Get some natural heat. Let your body generate heat for you. Get up! Do your work and perform the cleaning job if you don't want to breathe unhealthy air. This will do 3 benefits at a time
You will get a warm blow by working
Your home will be clean
Your IAQ will improve

- We just talked about that balance between ventilation and insulation. If your home is tightly insulated, you'll have to go a step ahead to make sure your home gets proper ventilation.
Either install a heat recovery ventilation system or follow this:
  • Open doors and windows partially in the daytime when there's sun to let fresh air in
  • Use a portable air cleaner if installing a Whole Home Air Cleaner unit isn't economical or impossible for whatever reasons
  • Keep indoor plants to do the air cleaning for you

- Make sure you replace filters regularly else the indoor air will start to have plethora of contaminants

- Low humidity also contributes to making the IAQ bad. As the humidity is low, the bacteria, viruses and other contaminants keep floating in the air. Maintaining a desirable humidity using a quality Humidifier keeps these consequences away
- Don't bring dry cleaned clothes inside the house without first letting them in sun or open air as dry cleaning produces chemicals that can be unhealthy when directly brought in the indoors

- Don't plan wall paint, furniture replacement etc in Winter. It becomes difficult to diffuse the effects of chemicals

Following the above mentioned tips you can manage to enjoy a good IAQ even in Winters. Have any questions? Connect anytime: 1-855-245-4328

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Biological Contaminants - What they are and how to combat them?

We hear so much about different types of air pollutants but our focus remains on dust & debris. However, when the term ''Air Contaminants'' is taken, a lot more is meant than is understood. One such contaminant is the Biological Contaminants. Very few people know about these pollutants and only fewer know what to do to make the home safe from them. Let us help you understand the truth about Biological Contaminants, how harmful they can be and how to combat them.   

Biological Contaminants - What are they?

Biological Contaminants are basically living organisms that are hazardous for living beings i.e humans/animals if inhaled, swallowed or otherwise get absorbed in the body. This type of contaminants are caused by;
- Bacterias, carried by humans, animals or plants (yes, PLANTS)
- Viruses
- Mould
- Pet saliva and pet dander
- Dropped off body parts of living or dead insects and pests
- Pollens
- Dried urine of rats and mice
- Unmaintained central heating/cooling system (become home of bacterias)

And here an important question arises. What are the places in the home where biological contaminants are supposed to be present in abundance? Roughly, there are two such places;
1. Damp areas like wet bathroom floors, cooling coils, pans of humidifiers, ductwork (in case there is dampness)
2. Places where there is high accumulation of dust, like; curtains, draperies, carpets and bedding etc

Biological Contaminants

Are they harmful? Like how?

An impression comes from the name ''Biological'' that this type of contaminants can't be harmful or at least can't be so very harmful. Wrong wrong! Not only can Biological Contaminants be harmful, they can also become life-threatening depending on the severity of the situation. However, the common problems caused by this type of contaminants are;
- Watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Sneezing
- Dizziness
- Coughing
- Fever
- Digestive problems
and
- Lethargy
With a continuous exposure to the biological contaminants, the illnesses may go unusually serious as said earlier.

Ways to reduce exposure to Biological Pollutants

Instead of using high-cost appliances, medicines and other anti-allergens, there are simple practices that if followed can reduce the exposure to Biological Contaminants and thus automatically reduce the risk of consequential illnesses.

- Don't let water stand in i.e, bathrooms, around HVAC appliances, on kitchen slaps and other such places. Dampness is a perfect ground for the Biological Contaminants to originate and grow
- Make in time use of exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Exhaust contaminants before they could spread in the indoors
- In case Humidifier or other similar appliances are being used at home that needs refilling of water regularly, be very precise about following maintenance instructions. Refill water regularly as suggested by the manufacturer
- If you face basement flooding, fix it as early as possible. Better go for a reliable waterproofing solution
- Don't leave water damaged property, i.e carpets etc to dry on their own. Clean/dry/replace them as early as possible, preferably within 24 hours
- The level of Biological Contaminants can significantly be reduced just by keeping more cleanliness
- Maintain relative humidity level of 30% - 35%
- Last but not the least, if you're too lazy to keep all those careful approaches, consider installing an Air Cleaner

Things aren't as simple as they seem and aren't as demanding as they're depicted. It is only by using a careful and responsible approach towards our health and homes that we can make the indoor environment a place of healthier, cleaner and fresher breathing.

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