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Debunking Summer Air Conditioning Myths

As we find ourselves in the dog days of summer, nobody would blame a homeowner for looking for energy efficient ways to keep their home cool and comfortable. As you search the internet for tips and tricks, here are some common myths that might seem reasonable at first, but will actually lead you in the wrong direction.

Leaving Your Ceiling Fan All Day Makes A Room Cooler

Ceiling fans are great at circulating cool air, that’s true. However, when it comes to making you feel cool, you can only really feel a difference if you’re directly underneath the fan.

All things considered, it’s best to not continuously run a ceiling fan in a room that you’re not currently occupying. It uses up valuable energy that could be going to your air conditioner, allowing it to do its job and cool down your entire home.

A Bigger System Will Cool Your Home Faster

The truth is that you need to right sized air conditioner for your home. It might be tempting to adapt a “bigger is better” attitude when shopping around for your home’s ac unit. A system too large for your home can result in several issues, such as humidity and uneven cooling.

When you are ready for a new ac system, always consult trusted HVAC professionals like BNG Heating and Cooling before you make a final decision.

Leaving Elections/Appliances On All Day Doesn’t Make Your Home Warmer

While most people might suspect larger appliances such as an over or dryer of giving off noticeable amounts of heat, even the smaller ones can make a difference. It’s always a good idea to turn off electronic appliances when you don’t need them, no matter how small.

Windows Are the Biggest Culprits of Energy Loss

Sure, faulty window and door seals certainly contribute a large amount when it comes to energy loss. But the real energy killers are the ones you can’t necessarily see with an untrained eye. If you suspect your home is leaking precious air conditioning, be sure to have it checked out by a local air conditioning professional. They have the knowledge to know exactly where to look, which often includes places you would never know to check!

Let BNG Heating and Cooling Help Keep Your Home Comfortable

BNG Heating and Cooling is here for all of your heating and cooling needs. As summer’s grip tightens on our community, be sure to contact us with any questions you have about keeping your family cool and comfortable.

Rethinking Insulation: Infrared Light

As summertime approaches, you’ll begin to see these dear old friends pop into car windshields. Maybe you faithfully keep one in your own car?

At BNG, we’re encouraging you to take notice of these this summer, and be reminded of how the same concept applies to your home comfort! Here’s how they work:

When your car is parked in the summertime, the un-shaded windshield allows sunlight to filter into your car and create a greenhouse effect (this makes the temperature inside your car even higher than the temperature outside of it—the reason why we dread getting back into our parked cars in the summer!).

It seems simple: the windshield shade is there to block the rays from getting into your car! Well, it IS a little more complicated than that! The reflective surface that trademark the shades actually bounce the light back outside of the car, reducing the car’s interior temperature. This phenomenon is achieved because the light trying to come into the car is actually different than the light that gets bounced out of the car!

The light that we’re talking about is infrared light, which is really, really good at heating air. It’s composed of different wavelengths—some visible and some invisible—and the foil on your windshield shade keeps out the visible light by bouncing it back out of the car! Because of that bounce, less of that heat gets trapped inside your car.

We can apply this same concept when it comes to your home. Insulation keeps heat out of your house in a similar, but different, way. For example: If your home were not properly insulated, you could try covering it with foil or painting it white so as to bounce visible infrared heat off of it. If your home is properly insulated, the bounce-back happens on the outside of your home, ensuring that the heat of the sun is blocked from entering the air conditioned space of your home! On the inside, the dense properties of your insulation also ensures that the clean, cool air produced by your HVAC system is not released back outside of your home. Find a diagram of that process below.

diagram of a home in winter and summer

So, next time you see a car protecting its interior from the heat with an aluminum shade, take a moment to consider if your home is properly protected!

Home insulation is BNG’s bread and butter. We’d love to make sure your home is properly protected from the upcoming summer rays! Call or go online to schedule your insulation check-up today!

Insulation and Crawl-Space Weatherization

The most important parts of your home or business are the things you can’t see, like the time you spend there together and the fun memories you create. While only you can create those intangibles, we’re here to help with the other things you can’t see- the things that keep you and your family comfortable.

One way that we see often neglected is your insulation and weatherization. If you’ve only taken notice of your insulation needs during times when it’s failed, you’re doing a disservice to your comfort and are most-likely wasting valuable energy and money.

Weatherization may sound intimidating, but that term simply means adding improvements to your home that save energy. This could mean sealing air leaks, improving ventilation, or adding insulation.

Doing An Energy Audit

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these improvements provide both short and long-term energy savings. While properly insulating walls and roofs can save you money and energy over the lifetime of your house (30 years or more) taking other steps to make your HVAC systems more efficient can maximize the impact of your weatherization and insulation for 10 to 15 years. On average, the U.S. Department of Energy says the return on low-cost efficiency upgrades like these is valued at 2.2 times greater than your original cost.

The best way to determine where your home is wasting energy (and wasting valuable money) is through an energy audit. An added benefit of performing this type of preventive maintenance, especially in older homes or buildings, is that it brings attention to the often-overlooked sections of your home. This audit works as much as a safety check as much as it does an energy check.  If you don’t want to do the audit yourself, BNG is equipped to complete your audit for you and make the necessary fixes to improve your home or offices’ energy efficiency. Call us at 812-858-4000.

Heat Loss from a House

A picture is worth… in this case, lost heating dollars. This thermal image–taken by a professional energy auditor–shows warm air escaping through windows and cracks. The red shows where the most warm air is escaping. (c/o Energy.gov)

An auditor will be able to identify areas where your home is leaking the most air, and will analyze how your home’s energy systems work together, comparing that to your energy bills. An auditor will then recommend cost-effective energy enhancements, and that’s where BNG comes in. We have extensive experience in home insulation and weatherization, serving the energy needs of homeowners in the Indiana communities of Evansville, Newburgh, Boonville, and Rockport.

Blown Cellulose Insulation

Blown cellulose insulation has notable benefits over traditional fiberglass insulation. Unlike other insulation materials, blown cellulose can be applied to new homes, or retrofitted in older homes by simply creating a small hole in the top of the wall to spray the insulation into. The blown cellulose has the highest recycled content of any insulation, and takes less energy to create than any other insulation. With our focus on efficiency and eco-friendliness, using materials like cellulose that are energy efficient for your home or business and is also made from recycled material is a worthwhile investment to reduce your environmental footprint and cut cost through short and long-term energy savings. You’re helping yourself, your friends and family along with the entire planet!

All of the cellulose is treated with boric acid, which despite the intimidating name, is commonly used as an antiseptic. It also repels insects, rodents, prevents dry rot, and is fire retardant. In fact, it is the only insulation that creates a two-hour firewall, critical time to save your home during a fire.

As we mentioned earlier, blown cellulose can be applied to new homes or retroactively during an energy upgrade. That is because the insulation is blown into wall cavities. By opening up a small section of the wall near the roof, technicians can spray the insulation into the cavity if fiberglass batting isn’t in the wall cavity or can just be sprayed directly onto a new wall. If there are fiberglass batts in an attic, cellulose can be blown on top of it to create a “cap” of new insulation without removing the old batts, ensuring your home is completely sealed and protected against the cold.

Scientifically, blown cellulose is the best choice in wall cavities where you have electrical wires, plumbing, or some other types of utility features, which are present in more than half of all wall cavities in a home. This is because the blown cellulose particles can fit much closer to these utility features than is possible by cutting fiberglass batting. Air pockets left in insulation can reduce the overall efficiency of the wall, so having the best seal possible is key. Blown cellulose can even be used in places where traditional insulation is too heavy, like in sloped ceilings. The cellulose will protect, but not cause walls or roofs to sag.

Our experts can perform an air audit, monitor the performance of your HVAC system, and provide the advice you need to make improvements to your home or business that will increase your energy savings and increase overall comfort. Call us to make an appointment today.

Maximizing your HVAC unit’s efficiency while saving money

If there were a magic thermostat, keeping your house comfortable and your energy bill low would be easy. This thermostat would know to anticipate your every move, knowing when you come and go, tracking outdoor humidity levels and watching the calendar to adjust by one degree with every half rotation of the Earth. Without that, most of us just rely on common sense. When it’s hot outside, indoor should be cool. When it’s cold, making your home warmer is essential.

While the magical thermostat doesn’t exist, the key is the same: Your home should be the most comfortable for you. There is absolutely no point in having an HVAC unit if you’re going to sweat all summer or freeze all winter. For most people, this means a daytime temperature of 70 to 75 degrees, and a nighttime temperature of 65 to 72 degrees. The keys to saving money on your energy bill are directly related to these temperature ranges, but in ways you may not know. Setting your thermostat to the top of the day range will be cheaper, especially during peak AC usage hours (3PM to 7PM), but again, it’s all about comfort. Don’t sacrifice your comfort in an effort to try to save a few bucks; just a 1 degree temperature increase can save you money.

At night, feel free to lower that temperature. Your HVAC systems actually does less work at night (meaning a lower bill for you!) You can turn it down without spending more since your unit doesn’t have to fight against the sun or warmer outdoor temperatures to maintain the lower indoor temperature.

In the winter months, the ideal range is between 60 and 65 degrees. During winter months, it’s easy to throw on another layer. The main concern with your home’s or business’s indoor winter temperature is keeping your home above freezing to prevent your pipes from freezing, so if it’s possible to keeping your home between 50 and 55 degrees for 7 or 8 hours a day, you can save you 30% on your bill.

While you may have heard some of that before, one of the biggest questions we get about heating and cooling your home is about leaving your HVAC system on while you’re away from home.

You probably turn off your air conditioning while you’re on vacation in summer or turn off thefurnace when you head to the slopes in winter; as you should anytime you leave home for more than 24 hours. However, turning your systems on and off while you’re gone for shorter amounts of time, particularly during very hot or very cold weather, can actually end up costing you more money!

It may sound counterintuitive to leave your unit running during the day, but think about your home’s construction. Each home is insulated to help maintain the internal temperature, and prevent extreme outdoor temps from sneaking in. If you turn it off while you leave on a hot day, and then turn it back on, it can take your unit hours to get through the insulation. Your unit will be working to cool a higher temperature for a longer amount of time, costing you more!

If you’re looking to save money and energy, let’s revisit those temperature ranges from above.

  • In the summer, boost your AC between 5 and 8 degrees above your ideal temperature.
  • In the winter, lower your heater between 5 and 8 degrees below your idea temperature.
  • Only turn the unit off if you’ll be gone for more than 24 hours.

Hopefully this will help you make the best decisions for your comfort and AC bill until the magical self-assessing and operating HVAC unit is invented! If you have more questions about insulation, updating your HVAC system, regular maintenance or just how to better optimize your unit, call BNG. We have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, or your money back.

HVAC Preventive Maintenance: Worth a Pound of Cure

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and no where does that ring truer than when you’re getting ready to send your child back to school. You’ll make sure they have the supplies they need, make sure they’re getting a good night’s sleep, and that they have a healthy breakfast before they leave. All of the planning and preparation that goes into a new year and new morning routine for your whole family saves your schedule and your sanity as you move into the school year. The same can be said about taking care of your heating & air conditioning (HVAC) unit.

We most often notice when they’re not functioning, “Honey, why is it 90 degrees in here?!”, it can be difficult to notice when all they really need is a little love, rather than a full-blown replacement. That’s where BNG wants to help you out – to save your schedule, sanity, and your checkbook – as we move into fall.

An ounce of prevention…

Your ideal HVAC maintenance plan will depend on two things: how sophisticated your system is, and the type of environment it’ll be working in. A school will need a much larger, much more powerful system than your home, for example, because it’ll be required to function at it’s peak during specific months and daily hours and cool a much larger area. Determining your maintenance plan may sound complicated, but it’s as simple as reading your unit’s instruction manual (no, we’re not kidding!). Manufacturers have taken the time to test each part of your unit, and the manual isn’t included just so you have something to fill that weird drawer under your oven with. If you need a new copy of your unit’s manual, you can usually purchase them online from the manufacturer by selecting your model.

When you do an inspection on your unit, make sure you’re taking a look at things like the coils, blower assembly, motor and filters, and replace or clean each one as needed.

… is worth a pound of cure.

Why are we putting so much emphasis on preventive maintenance? As with most things in life, it’s all about the money.

Say the average cost of a new HVAC unit is $4,000, with a lifespan of 10 years. If you do routine maintenance on your unit, calling an expert when necessary, you’ll replace it after 10 great years for a system cost of around $10,000. You also spend a total of 3 days or so over the course of 10 years waiting for repairs. That’s a lot of money and time, but consider the alternative. You don’t take care of your $4,000 unit like you should, and it fails around year 5. You replace it, and once again don’t keep up with it – waiting for the repair man takes time and money! – so it needs to be replaced again after year 10. That’s $12,000 already, $2,000 more than if you had just paid maintenance costs in the first place, not to mention the time and comfort you’ll waste spending days in excessive heat or cold, waiting for your new units to be installed.

When should you do preventive maintenance?

For systems that both heat and cool, check in with them in the spring and fall, while the weather is still between seasons. That way you won’t be left scrambling in extreme heat or cold to fix your unit. To remember when it’s time for maintenance, just tie it to the check-ins you’re already doing – spring cleaning and back to school preparation.

If you only have a air conditioning unit, check it once a year, before you really need it. Once again, spring is a great time to take care of this.

The best way to determine if your unit should just receive standard maintenance or if it’s ready to be replaced is by doing a lifecycle analysis of your HVAC system. Your unit will be inspected to determine which plan is best suited for your current and future HVAC needs.

Of course, all that being said, a preventive maintenance plan is only as good as the people you have carrying it out. That’s where BNG comes in. We have 150 years of combined experience serving you. We want you to make your home as comfortable as possible because we know you have better things to worry about than your HVAC system, like getting your kids to school on time. Contact us at one of our four locations to get a free estimate from our expert technicians on service or repair.