Heating and air

Six Ways to Stay Warm without Central Heating

Whether you’re looking for ways to save a few bucks or to be kinder to the environment, these are some fun tips to fight the cold.

Here are a few extremely DIY ways to save on your heating costs this winter.

1. COVER THE WINDOWS:

Feel your windows, if they're cold, that means they're making your whole house cold. The smart, cost-effective solution is to insulate your doors and windows for extreme weather conditions. Proper insulation cuts your electric bill and makes your house more energy-efficient. If you don’t have time or short on money then nail heavy blankets over the windows. One important tip: make sure the windows are shut all the way before you cover them.

2. HOT WATER BOTTLE:

They're not just for sick cartoon characters any more! Water has a high heat capacity, which means it takes a lot to change its temperature. A bottle of warm water will hold its heat for a while even in a cold house, acting as a very cheap mini-furnace. The rubber bottles made for this purpose may be better insulated and more comfortable to hug, but any bottle will do in a pinch. A quick and dirty DIY cover made out of an old sweater improves warmth storage and snuggliness.

3. HOT BEVERAGES:

This one is hardly a secret, but cup after cup of tea, cocoa, and/or coffee are an integral part of any winter survival plan. It seems important to mention here that, despite what you may have heard, liquor doesn't actually make you warmer. However, for those so inclined, the right drink can make you feel warmer. A cup of just about any kind of non-fruity tea with a shot of whiskey combines the best of both worlds.

4. FORTS:

Living-room forts should be familiar to anyone who has ever been or met a child, but here's how they work: gather as many pillows and blankets as you can from around the house and pile them into an inhabitable structure. They're not only a fun way to make a mess of the house, forts can keep you warm for free. As long as you're willing to confine yourself to one room that you leave for food and cocoa, a fort is a great way to make a final stand against the cold since it concentrates all the available insulation in a smaller space. Fort building is also a fun group activity to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as seasonal depression.

5. LAYERS:

Anyone who puts on one sweater and then wants to turn on the heat just isn't trying hard enough. If one doesn't work, try two, three, seven sweaters or pairs of socks. This is basically the same operating principle as step four: concentrate available warming materials. If you're cold under a blanket or two, add more. If you've nailed all your extra blankets to the walls in accordance with tip one or constructed them into a fort as in tip four, put a few clean towels in between layers. Sure, you may not be able to put your arms at your sides wearing all your flannel and sweaters at the same time, but you won't be cold.

6. COMPANY:

The most efficient, least costly, and most fun way to stay warm in the face of winter's chill is to hang out with friends and family. Besides distracting you from the cold, people produce their own heat. Crowd everyone into a small room or a fort in accordance with step four and feel the literal and figurative warmth. A concentrated crowd can turn an icebox into a party sauna, and everyone can bring their own sweaters and blankets, increasing the collection of warmth beyond your physical into your social network. All the hot water bottles in the world don't hold a candle to sharing the cold with others.

6 Must-Know Heating and Cooling Tips for Pet Owners

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If you have pets in your home, you probably consider them part of your family and know that it’s important to keep them comfortable. After all, they live in your home, too, and there’s a good chance they spend more time there than you.

But, as much as we love our furry friends, most pet owners also know the frustration of hair and dander spreading throughout the house, creating unpleasant odors, decreasing your home’s air quality, and even putting a strain on your heating and air conditioning system. That’s why you’ll want to take a few precautions to prevent any damage to your system. Here are some heating and cooling tips for pet owners:

BATHE AND GROOM YOUR PETS

Regularly bathing and grooming your pets has several benefits for you and your home. Making a habit of cleaning and grooming works as a great preventative measure, as it’s the first step to improving your home’s air quality before contaminants become a problem.

By periodically spending a few minutes brushing your pet and disposing of the extra hair, you’ll notice a world of difference around your home. It will also mean you’ll have to sweep less frequently, and it even has benefits for your pets, keeping them lighter and more comfortable.

UPGRADE TO A HEPA OR HIGH-EFFICIENCY FILTER

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is denser than regular air filters and removes significantly more pollutants and particles from the air in your home. This includes pet hair and pet dander, as well as other dust and debris. Top HEPA filters will remove 99.97 percent of particles down to 0.3 microns (1/25,000 of an inch) in diameter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Many residential heating and air conditioning systems may not be compatible with HEPA filters, as the filters are too dense for the system’s fans. This could have an adverse effect on your system. However, high efficiency (non-HEPA) filters with a MERV rating of 13 or higher are almost as effective as HEPA filters at removing particles from the air in your home.

CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER EVERY MONTH

An air filter’s efficiency rating means very little if you don’t routinely change your filter. The frequency at which you should change your air filter depends on your lifestyle, but pet owners should change the air filter every one or two months. If you don’t change your filter routinely, it becomes clogged with dust, hair, and dander, allowing very little air through.

Failing to change your air filter regularly, especially if you’re a pet owner, could lead to lingering odors throughout your ducts and your home. It could also decrease the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, and even potentially cause major damage if it becomes too clogged.

KEEP TEMPERATURES COMFORTABLE FOR YOUR PETS

Our pets can’t communicate their preference for the temperature, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider their comfort when setting the thermostat. While it’s not uncommon, and actually encouraged, to set your AC a few degrees higher when you’re not at home, keep in mind that the temperature plays a big role for your pets’ health and comfort.

If you’re a pet owner, the Alliance to Save Energy suggests keeping the thermostat around 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, while the house is empty (of humans). If your pet needs special accommodations due to their health, breed or lifestyle, you should speak with your veterinarian about where to set your thermostat while you’re away.

SCHEDULE REGULAR DUCT CLEANINGS AND INSPECTIONS

Even with the use of high-efficiency air filters, a lot of pet hair and dander can accumulate in a home’s ductwork over time. That’s why it’s recommended that pet owners schedule regular duct inspections and have their home’s ducts cleaned as needed.

Ducts should be checked by a professional for the buildup of contaminants such as pet hair and dander, pollen, mold spores, dust and other debris. Ducts should also be inspected for holes, tears, and leaks, especially at seams or other vulnerable areas.

TURN OFF YOUR FANS WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME

Ceiling fans may be great for you on a hot day, but they don’t benefit your pet. Because most dogs and cats are covered in fur, they don’t feel the effects of the ceiling fan the same way we do. By constantly running your ceiling fan when you’re not home, you’re wasting energy. You could also be circulating pet hair and dander throughout the air in your home

If you have pets and it has been a while since you’ve had a tune-up on your heating and air conditioning system, you should consider scheduling maintenance as soon as possible. McCoy's Heating & Air Conditioning Preventative Maintenance Plans offer a twice-yearly 28-point inspections, discounts on parts and other great perks to ensure you – and your pets – are always comfortable.

5 HVAC Tips for Homes with Pets

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Cats and dogs are beloved by many, and numerous people in the United States share their homes with pets. If you live with a furry or feathered friend, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure that your home’s HVAC system is running smoothly and that your home’s air quality is not compromised.

Control Pet Dander

Pet dander is made up of tiny, oftentimes microscopic, flakes of skin and is found on animals with fur or feathers. Most people who suffer from allergies to cats and dogs are not allergic to the pet’s hair, but instead the pet’s dander. Dander is produced by most pets and can seriously affect your home’s air quality. This can occur as the dander accumulates and is distributed throughout your home by way of your HVAC system.

The most important step in reducing pet dander in the home is prevention. Regular grooming of your pets is essential to their health and well-being, but it can also make a huge difference in the amount of dander they produce. Clean, well hydrated and moisturized skin will create less dander. Bathe your cat or dog regularly using a gentle, moisturizing soap (as recommended by your veterinarian) and brush your pet’s fur regularly. Adding these simple steps to your pet care routine can go a long way in preventing dander.

Change Your Filter

It’s good practice to change your HVAC system’s air filter regularly to ensure better air quality within your home. If you share your space with pets, change it twice as often as recommended.

Upgrade Your Filter

Even better than simply changing your air filter more frequently is to invest in your home’s air quality by upgrading to a HEPA filter. The benefits of switching to a HEPA filter are numerous. HEPA filters are made of densely packed layers of fibers which can capture ultrafine dust and dirt particles. This type of filter is ranked very high for its effectiveness and can remove approximately 99% of particles from your home’s air.

Clean Your Ducts

Having your home’s ducts cleaned can go a long way in dealing with pet dander. Dander, along with other dirt particles, can get trapped within your ductwork, which is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Since your home’s air passes through this ductwork, the trapped dirt, bacteria and mold will get discharged throughout your home each time your HVAC system is turned on. Having your ducts cleaned can eliminate this recirculating dirt and dander.

Seal Your Ducts

If your air ducts have cracks or leaks, this will allow pet dander an easy entryway inside the ductwork, which can majorly affect the quality of the air that passes through your home. After you have your ductwork cleaned, consider also having the ducts sealed to prevent further dirt from accumulating in your home’s ductwork.

We at McCoy's can help with all of your indoor air quality needs. Check out our offered services, and give us a call today to learn more about how we can help improve your home’s air quality!

Take Control of Your Comfort

How would your home fare in a Goldilocks test? Would it be something like, “This room is too cold, this room is too hot, but this room is just right?” Some of this “unevenness” can be caused by air leaks through ducts or in crawl spaces, attics and garages and can be addressed with proper sealing and insulation. But some homes would also benefit from zone control in their heating and cooling systems. Obviously, different spaces have different needs. For example, heat rises, which makes the second floor warmer than the first. Cool air heads downward, which makes the basement cooler than the main level. You can also add in which way the sun shines, which way the wind blows and where the windows are located.

It all adds up to multiple heating and cooling needs within one home. Zone control is most effective when large areas of the home are often unused or are on a different schedule than other parts of the home. Zoned control systems could be a good option if your home:

  • Has more than one level
  • Uses basements and attics as part of the living space
  • Has a design that includes a lot of glass, vaulted ceilings or lofts

If uneven heating and cooling is a problem in your home, give us a call. We’ll show you how you can better manage your heating and cooling needs, be more comfortable and save energy. Just give us a call.