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Category: Energy Efficiency

09 Feb 2017
Dirty AirDuct Vent

Ductwork Failure: Some Reasons Why Yours May Need Attention

Most homeowners are aware that heating and cooling the home is the most expensive portion of the utility bill, but not all are aware of the amount of control they have over that usage. To help make sure you’re getting the most for your money when it comes to energy consumption, it’s a good idea to take a look at your home’s ductwork.

When Should Your Ductwork Be Inspected?

If it’s been over a year, you’re behind schedule. Annual maintenance is critical to efficient circulation. A professional can perform inspections that you can’t do visually. They can find and fix any leaks in the ductwork and measure the airflow to make sure there are no obstructions. They’ll also check for dirt to ensure that the air circulating is clean for your health and your system.

Is Your Energy Use Increasing?

Most utility companies reflect a comparison between current and prior year for both energy use and energy cost. A cost increase may just be the product of rate increases. But an increase in energy use may indicate leaky ductwork. You’ll want to make sure those leaks are fixed so the conditioned air is delivered to the correct areas inside your home.

Are the Intake and Return Vents Clean and Unobstructed?

Dirty air filters are common issues, but so are problems with the registers in each of the rooms. If they’re closed or dirty, the system won’t work properly and some parts of the home won’t receive the conditioned air they need. Make sure registers are clear of debris and not blocked by furniture.

For more information about your home’s ductwork or if you have any other HVAC needs, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Fred’s Heating and Air. We’ve been making people more comfortable in the Omaha and Council Bluffs areas of Nebraska and Iowa for 25 years.

09 Feb 2017
Trane Ductless Unit

Ductless Mini Splits Can Do a Better Job in Winter If You Follow These Tips

Ductless mini splits are an effective, economical way to provide zoned heating or cooling to rooms in your Omaha home that lack traditional ductwork. Here are some great tips on how to get the most out of yours this winter.

  • Start at the beginning – To achieve maximum savings, comfort, and heating efficiency from your ductless mini splits, first improve your home’s thermal envelope. Your doors, foundation, outer walls, roof and windows are all that stand between the outdoors and the indoors, and their efficiency level determines the amount of heat transfer between the two areas. Seal any air leaks with caulking or weatherstripping, check the roof for any loose or missing shin
  • gles and consider adding more insulation to your attic to a minimum level of R-38.
  • Size matters – As temperatures drop outdoors, so does the amount of heat your mini split can put out. Size the unit according to the average low temperature, which in Omaha is between 10 and 15 degrees.
  • Go undercover – Provide shelter from the elements for the outdoor compressor unit, protecting it on all sides without restricting airflow.
  • Location, location, location – The indoor component should be mounted about 18 inches from the floor with an unobstructed path to the living area. This increases efficiency and comfort by drawing in cooled air for heating and directing the warm air down low where it can mix in with the cooler air. It also provides indirect airflow and increased comfort while ensuring easy access to clean filters or perform maintenance.
  • Don’t forget the pipes – To prevent the transfer of noise between the indoor and outdoor components, it’s recommended to use at least 15 feet of pipe between them.
  • Do your math – Balance is needed between the efficiency of the unit and reduced operating temperatures. In warmer climates, more emphasis can be placed on efficiency, allowing you to install a unit with a higher heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF).

For more information on efficient heating with ductless mini splits, contact us at Fred’s Heating and Air. We have over 25 years of experience and are proud to serve homeowners in Omaha and the surrounding areas.

09 Feb 2017
Home Energy Savings

Develop a Long-Term Home Energy Savings Strategy for Your Omaha Home

The Midwest is a land of climate extremes, with sweltering summer heat and frigid winter cold. This means that, with the extra demands placed on your heating and cooling systems, an energy savings strategy can make a big difference in your energy expenditures throughout the year.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats automate your energy use, allowing you to cut back on heating and cooling when you’re not at home or to lower the temperature when you’re bundled up in bed.
  • Replace your air filters. Check your air filter every month and replace it at least every three months. Heaters and air conditioners have to work harder to push air through a dirty filter and that lowers their efficiency and drives up their energy use.
  • Stay up-to-date on scheduled maintenance. Give your heating and cooling systems a checkup once every year. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and it will cost you less in the long run, too.
  • Seal your ducts. If conditioned air is escaping from leaky ductwork before it gets to the inhabited areas of your house, you may find yourself pushing your heating and cooling systems harder to make up for it. Sealing those ducts can boost energy efficiency by as much as 20 percent, making this an easy win for your energy savings strategy.
  • Pay attention to the small stuff. Your heating and cooling appliances do the lion’s share of the work in keeping your home comfortable, but don’t neglect other things as part of your energy savings strategy, including letting in the warm sun in the winter or opening a window in the summer.

For help creating an energy savings strategy for your home, contact the experts at Fred’s Heating and Air. We’ve proudly served the Omaha and Council Bluffs areas since 1987.

09 Feb 2017
Insulation Benefits

Find Out How Insulation Benefits Your Home in All Seasons

Despite the commonly held belief that home insulation is chiefly a protection against the cold temperatures of winter, a well-insulated home provides ample benefits throughout the year.

Upgrading a home’s insulation is an investment that decreases your current energy bills and will continue to pay dividends for years to come. The major insulation benefits are threefold: all-year comfort, all-year savings and all-year noise control.

Improved comfort

Home insulation is comparable to a thermos — by creating a seal, it keeps cold things colder and hot things hotter for extended periods. In the summer, insulation stops warm air from seeping in, and in the winter, it prevents warm air from escaping. Homeowners who have well-insulated houses are able to keep a constant indoor temperature throughout the year, providing indoor comfort no matter the season.

Increased savings

Because 50 to 70 percent of the energy used in homes is consumed through heating and cooling, energy bills skyrocket in extreme temperatures when air is most likely to escape or transfer. One of the biggest insulation benefits is its ability to act as a barrier against thermal transfer, thereby allowing homeowners to run HVAC systems less frequently but more effectively in both hot and cold temperatures. HVAC systems that are used less intensively last longer and require fewer repairs overall, leading to improved lifetime savings for the thrifty homeowner.

Enhanced sound control

Insulation benefits include its absorption and deflection of sounds that might otherwise penetrate your walls. This includes noises coming from inside your home, muffling sounds between rooms and floor levels. Especially helpful for soundproofing against interior and exterior noises are blown-in cellulose and fiberglass insulation types. Quieter homes are an asset all year long.

Insulation benefits everyone in the family, providing a quieter and more comfortable indoor environment, while also providing all-year savings for the homeowner. For more information about improving the insulation in your home, contact Fred’s Heating and Air. We’ve been providing quality HVAC services for the greater Omaha and Council Bluffs areas for over 25 years.

09 Feb 2017

Duct Sealing: Keep the Conditioned Air Flowing Year-Round

As an Omaha or Council Bluffs homeowner, you work hard to maintain and improve the quality of your home.

A part of such maintenance includes taking energy-saving precautions like buying the right air filters and installing efficient insulation. To keep the air you pay to cool or heat flowing efficiently, another important process to consider is duct sealing.

Your ductwork system is what delivers conditioned air throughout your home. Its segments are typically made of sheet metal or fiberglass, which is susceptible to cracks, leaks and disconnection. To ensure that your conditioned air is being properly delivered to your rooms, here are a few tips on effective duct sealing techniques.

  • Locate the leak – Check exposed ductwork for possible joint separation, holes, gaps or cracks that have formed where the tubing bends or is creased. If your HVAC system is operating, run your hand along the metal to feel for leaking air.
  • Seal the leaks – Once found, it’s necessary to stop the leaks. Despite its name, duct tape is not a sufficient duct sealing adhesive. However, you can properly seal gaps and holes with butyl tape, foil tape, mastic or other heat-resistant tapes.
  • Add insulation – Because ducts are generally built from thin metal sheets, wrapping insulation around the tubing can significantly help in preventing both conditioned air escaping and excess heat gain or loss.

The Benefits of Sealing

Duct sealing can help considerably in reducing overall household energy loss. In addition, it will reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide buildup, improve whole-house comfort and decrease pollutants that aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms.

While sealing exposed ductwork is possible for the handy homeowner, it’s advisable to hire a qualified professional to perform a whole-system repair if the cracked or disconnected ductwork is beneath the flooring, between levels or sealed within household walls.

For more information about duct sealing and other HVAC services and products, contact Fred’s Heating and Air. For over 25 years, our professionals have provided expert heating and air conditioning services to the Omaha and Council Bluffs areas.

09 Feb 2017
Tax Credits

Home Energy Tax Credits Will Ease the Pain of an Ailing A/C

Are you afraid your ailing air conditioner won’t make it through the summer? Home energy tax credits could help ease the pain of replacing your unit, even saving you money in the long term. But how?

Federal tax credits

Home energy tax credits were introduced to help save homeowners money when taking action to lower energy consumption. You can do this by investing in products and upgrades with the Energy Star label to make your home more environmentally friendly and reduce your energy bills.

HVAC upgrades

Here are some ways you could benefit from upgrading various HVAC systems that meet the tax credit qualifications:

  • Advanced main air circulating fan: You could get $50 credit when purchasing a new fan which can help move air through your furnace and ducts more efficiently.
  • Air source heat pump: Heat pumps move air between the outdoors and indoors depending on the home’s cooling or heating needs. These systems are particularly good if you live in a moderate climate. Tax credits of up to $300 are available when homeowners purchase an air source heat pump.
  • Central air conditioning systems: If you need an energy-efficient central air system, you can also receive a $300 tax credit. When you purchase qualifying equipment, be sure that your HVAC technician provides you with a Manufacturer Certification Statement which states that your new system qualifies for the credit.

Tax credits are also available for qualifying windows and doors, biomass stoves, water heaters, insulation, solar panels and wind turbines.

Energy Star

It’s important to note that not all Energy Star-labeled products will qualify for home energy tax credits, so it’s wise to ask for professional help from a HVAC technician to ensure you select the best system for your home that meets the tax credit qualifications.

For more information or advice on home energy tax credits in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area, contact the experts at Fred’s Heating and Air today.

09 Feb 2017
A Customed PM Program Pays for Itself

Make Sure Your Omaha Home’s A/C Efficiency Is Up to Snuff

Your home uses up to 50 percent of its energy on your heating and cooling systems. Making sure your home A/C efficiency is at its best by effectively maintaining your HVAC equipment can not only show savings on your monthly energy bills, but it can also greatly improve home comfort.

How to improve home A/C efficiency

  • Regularly change your air filter – Air filters must be checked on a monthly basis and changed or cleaned at least every three months. Dirty filters will slow down your system’s airflow, straining your system and reducing your home A/C efficiency. This leads to costly repairs and at worst, drastically reduces your system’s life.
  • Annual HVAC tune-up – It’s very important to schedule annual service for your HVAC equipment to ensure that your system is running optimally. Annual maintenance should be carried out by a trusted and qualified HVAC technician.
  • Seal your ducts – Leaky ducts can seep conditioned air and waste energy, but sealing and insulating can help avoid this and improve your home A/C efficiency by up to 20 percent. Check your ducts and seal them using sealant, or metal-backed tape, then wrap them in insulation.
  • Install a programmable thermostat – Programmable thermostats are a proven way of saving money on your energy bills. These devices are ideal if you’re away from home at set times during the day, allowing you to reduce energy usage for maximum savings.

Looking at new equipment? Choose Energy Star

If you decide that installing new HVAC equipment is the best option for you, be sure to choose a unit that proudly displays the Energy Star label. This government program focuses on energy efficiency in your home. But remember, any new equipment should be installed by a professional to ensure optimal operation since poorly installed units can use more energy.

For more information or advice on your home A/C efficiency in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area, contact the experts at Fred’s Heating and Air today.

09 Feb 2017
Nothing Stops a Trane

Advanced A/C Technology That Can Impact Your Omaha Home

The most important advanced A/C technology is high efficiency.

You can tell if an air conditioner is efficient based on its seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. The minimum allowed today is 13 SEER, but the most efficient options achieve incredible SEER ratings in the mid 20s. Look for at least 15 SEER for an ideal balance of up-front cost and affordable energy bills in your Omaha home.

Advanced air conditioning features must work together in order to achieve a high SEER. Examples of these include:

  • Thermal expansion valve: This valve widens and shrinks based on demand. When it’s especially hot outside, the valve opens wide to let as much refrigerant through as possible. When the weather is mild, the valve closes partway to conserve energy while still keeping your home comfortable.
  • Variable-speed air handler: The fan blows cooled air through the ductwork and into the living space. A variable-speed model allows the system to operate at the correct speed for cooling demand. It can switch between high, low and off instead of blasting air on high and shutting completely off the moment it reaches the target temperature. That way, more consistent temperatures keep every room comfortable.
  • Fan-only switch: With this advanced A/C technology, you can enjoy air circulation without running the compressor, thus saving energy and helping your home stay comfortable on cool Omaha summer evenings.
  • Filter check light: Know the right time to check the filter? You’ll never forget with this advanced A/C technology, which illuminates a light after a certain number of hours to remind you it’s time to check the filter. Change it if it’s dirty and reset the light.
  • Automatic-delay fan switch: When the fan and compressor turn off simultaneously, all the cooled air trapped in the ductwork goes to waste. This advanced A/C technology ensures that cooled air enters the living space before the fan turns off.
  • Quiet operation: It doesn’t contribute to energy efficiency, but quiet operation is important for enjoying your time outside while the compressor hums quietly in the background.

For more information about advanced A/C technology and how your home could benefit, please contact Fred’s Heating and Air in Omaha today.

09 Feb 2017
Insulation Benefits

How Attic Insulation Makes an Impact on Your Summer Cooling Bills

Many people realize that heat rises, and therefore, attic insulation is very important for keeping heat in during the winter. However, due to the hot temperatures that can develop in the attic, its insulation is also important for keeping the heat out during the summer.

Your home’s roof absorbs a lot of heat from the sun’s radiation during the daytime. The absorbed heat spreads through the structure and radiates into the attic air, heating it up. Because it’s in a confined space, the air in your attic becomes substantially hotter than the exterior air. Normal building materials readily absorb and transmit heat, so it’s important that you have sufficient insulation in your attic to help prevent the ceiling of rooms on the top level of your home from becoming hot and further radiating heat into your home.

Insulation is also needed around any ductwork that passes through the attic. It’s best if ducts are run through the insulated portion of your home, but if that’s not possible, quality insulation and sealing can help limit the losses.

Insulation isn’t as effective at blocking air movement as it is at blocking heat transfer, so you’ll need to take additional steps to keep airflow between your home and attic to a minimum. There are frequently gaps in your home’s construction around pipes, wiring, access hatches and other areas, so you’ll want to make sure those are well-sealed.

In contrast to the air sealing that should be done between your living area and attic, ventilation should be encouraged to expel the hotter attic air outdoors while simultaneously bringing in the cooler exterior air. For this task, you can make the sun’s radiation work in your favor by using it to run a solar-powered attic fan.

For more information about attic insulation or other ways you can help reduce your energy costs this summer, contact the experienced professionals at Fred’s Heating and Air. We’ve been providing for the heating and cooling needs of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area for over 25 years.

09 Feb 2017
Clean Pure Air

Think You Can’t Control Energy Costs? Think Again

You may believe there isn’t much you can do to control energy costs if you want to keep your family comfortable through the cold winters and hot summers. While it’s true that you can’t control the price of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, you have a lot of control over the amount of energy you use every month. In this area, you can reduce the size of your monthly energy bills.

Here are a few suggestions for ways to control energy costs. Some of them are free and only require paying attention to the way your family uses energy. Some of them require substantial capital investments. Start at the top and work your way as far down the list as your preferences and budget allow. This is by no means a complete list, so be creative and come up with some energy-saving ideas of your own, as well.

  • Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer at night or when the house is unoccupied for more than a few hours. You can do this manually if you have a good memory, or invest in a programmable thermostat to do it automatically.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. This will save on energy costs and make your household safer for your kids, too.
  • Turn off lights when a room’s unoccupied. You can install motion-sensing switches if your family members can’t get in the habit of hitting the switch on the way out of each room.
  • Replace the most-used incandescent bulbs in your house with CFLs or LEDs. Modern bulbs use far less energy and last many times longer than incandescents, so they give you a great return on investment despite their higher up-front cost.
  • Replace your heating and air conditioning systems with new, high-efficiency units. These, too, will pay for themselves in reduced energy costs.

Contact us at Fred’s Heating and Air for more energy-saving tips and for help installing more energy-efficient systems. We help homeowners and businesses control energy costs throughout the Omaha area.