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3 Reasons to Upgrade Your HVAC Unit

When you’re a homeowner, you depend on having a well-functioning HVAC unit. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t pay much attention to until it malfunctions, leaving your home sweltering and your wallet hurting.

While we specialize in keeping our customers’ systems running properly—through our same-day visits and stellar maintenance plans—there are times when it becomes obvious that a customer needs to consider upgrading their unit. Here are three of those biggest tell-tale signs:

Constant Mechanical Issues

Does your system seem to break down every year? You may have the best mechanics in the world, but the cost of constantly repairing your unit will eventually add up to what you would have spent on a brand new unit if you’d made the upgrade years ago.

Increased Energy Efficiency

If you can hear your rusty old unit starting up from inside the house, then you’re probably spending way too much money on your energy bills. When you invest in a new, energy-efficient HVAC unit, you’ll be amazed to see how your energy bills get lower each month! While there may be some initial sticker shock—and there my not be! See our next point—we almost always find that our customers are pleased to see how much money they save once they make an upgrade.

Affordability

Between Bryant Rebate Season and our flexible financing options, we always have a cost-lowering solution for our customers. We really believe in the Bryant products that we sell, and if it seems like the best option for your home, we may recommend that you make an upgrade. But we won’t stop there. We’ll make every effort to make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck! We’ll direct you towards the unit that should carry you through the next few decades.

If your unit is pointing you to any one of these reasons to upgrade, go ahead and give us a call. We’re ready to send one of our technicians to inspect your unit today!

Can Dirty Air Filters Cause A House Fire?

The simple answer? Yes.

It’s one of the main reasons that we constantly remind our customers to change their air filters. Dirty air filters not only negatively impact your home’s air quality, but they also inhibit your system’s ability to perform. If you’ve allowed your air filters to get severely clogged, you could be blocking air flow completely. This will result in your furnace working too hard—yes, even in the spring and summer months, your furnace works hard to keep your air cool—and can eventually cause system failure.

Even worse than system failure—which could cost you thousands in either repair or replacement costs—is an overheated motor. An overheated motor can start a domino effect of bad reactions. Does your furnace have faulty wiring? If so, the overheated motor (or a rise in voltage) could spark a fire. Are there flammable objects around your furnace? Those could also catch fire. Trust us—there are lots of opportunities for things to go terribly wrong, but that’s what our experts look out for on our regular maintenance visits.

Another way a fire could start? When your furnace is working hard to pull air through, the dirty air filter could eventually get sucked back into the system. When this happens, air flow is compromised and you’re at serious risk of a fire starting at the furnace level. And, bad news, the smoke from the fire will travel through your ventilation system quite easily.

We don’t mean to scare you. We only mean to remind you that your home is running on a sophisticated system, and that system needs to be maintained regularly. The cheapest and easiest way you can do that is to keep those air filters clean!

If you’d like a thorough inspection of your home’s unit, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re ready to send one of our technicians to your house today!

How to Be Sure Your New Home Isn’t an Energy-Suck

Buying a home is an incredibly exciting move, but it can also be really stressful for first-timers. The biggest mistake you can make is to find a home that is seemingly perfect, but that is an energy-suck—and the worst part?

Most people don’t figure that out until the first utility bill comes in.

We want you to choose a home that is as energy efficient as possible. Here are a few things you should be on the lookout for when you tour a home:

Have a home energy audit performed.

It’s actually recommended that homeowners do this occasionally, so that they have a clear picture of how their home is holding up over time.

A professional energy auditor comes in, runs some tests, and can actually pinpoint the areas of the home that are losing energy and money.

Don’t forget to check the fine details.

You may feel awkward asking to check the house’s crawl spaces, but it might be the smartest move you make while house shopping!

The seemingly small details can make a HUGE difference in the home’s ability to keep cool in the summer or warm in the winter.

Try getting a record of the previous homeowners’ past utility bills.

We know—it sounds strange. But it’s a smart question to ask and it’s the surest way to get an idea of how the home is currently operating.

You can try asking the realtor or homeowners themselves, or you can call the electric utility provider for your area and ask for the records for the address of the home you’re interested in.

Ask pointed questions about energy efficiency.

This way, your realtor will understand that energy efficiency isn’t just a good idea to you—it’s a priority! Ask about how new the roof is and what material it’s made of. Ask about the lighting throughout the house—are there currently energy-efficient bulbs?

This, of course, is an easy fix, but replacing every light bulb in the house could be a big and unexpected added expense.

Ask if the appliances are ENERGY STAR-certified, if the windows are double-paneled, and if the insulation is holding up nicely.

We wish you the best of luck in house hunting, and we can assure you that a home that has been maintained by the experts at BNG Heating & Cooling is a home that we’d recommend buying! If you’re looking to sell, give us a call so that we can make sure your home is in tip-top energy efficiency condition.

An Energy-Efficient Sunroom

It’s sunroom season! If this sunny weather has you thinking about building an addition onto your house, we’ve got some tips that you should pay attention to, if you want your sunroom to be as energy-efficient as possible.

Already have a sunroom?

Even without any major construction changes, you can take a few measures to keep the heat down, despite the heavy sunlight coming through!

Keep the Shades Drawn

If the shades are closed while nobody is enjoying the room, you will keep heat from coming in when you don’t need it. If you don’t like the aesthetic of heavy curtains blocking sunlight all day, you can opt for a light, airy curtain, so that the sunroom maintains its look while still protecting against heat.

Insulation, Insulation, Insulation.

While insulation is always important for maintaining the energy-efficiency of your home, it’s especially important for a sunroom, since it’s walls are mostly windows (which are the quickest way a room gains and loses heat). Because of this, ceiling insulation is especially important for a sunroom! It will be the largest insulated surface area in a room that desperately needs to be insulated.

Mini-Split AC Systems

Perfect for sunrooms, as well as any other room without great duct-work, these ductless AC systems keep one room—or multiple rooms!— hot or cold , as well as improve air quality. While the sun is letting heat in, your mini-split AC system will be working to keep the temperature cool inside!

Building a new sunroom?

Even better. If you build with energy-efficiency in mind, your whole house will benefit!

Heat-Rejecting Window Panels

As illustrated in the photos below, certain windows have insulation within the glass to keep heat out in the summer and cold out in the winter. While this extra measure isn’t necessary all over your home, a room made completely of windows poses a high risk of absorbing all the sun’s light and heat, then warming up like an oven—slowly spilling its heat into the rest of your house. Even if your room isn’t new construction, you can apply a film to your windows to achieve the same effect.

Would your home benefit from any of these services?  Give us a call or go online to schedule your spring consultation—we have the tools you need to make your home as efficient as possible!

Smart Tech for the Home

Not too long ago, today’s consumer expectations for smarter products sounded like science fiction. But, as technology is becoming increasingly accessible and interconnected, consumer demand is fueling the rise of intelligent products in the HVAC marketplace!

Intelligent products, including a variety of smart thermostats that are already on the market, give consumers more personal control over their home’s comfort through the use of technology that “learns” on its own or through an app on their phone. As heating and cooling systems trend towards including more electronic components in addition to the mechanical, consumers have more nuanced ways to control that perfect temperature from wherever they may be.

Many times, the purchase of the cheapest HVAC system ends up as the most expensive proposition in the long run, due to poor temperature management. Additionally, if your thermostat isn’t properly programmed, you could be throwing away hundreds of dollars annually. With increased regulations on energy efficiency, and more informed consumers, many heating and air-conditioning units can be equipped with smart controls and sensors to keep homes, and offices, cooler in the summer and warmer during the winter.

Sensors that can communicate with the thermostat, a smart meter and apps accessible on the web or smartphones are key to lowering those utility bills. Smart HVAC systems can net up to a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency upon installation, and even notify homeowners, building managers or HVAC service providers in real time if the efficiency drops below a certain threshold, indicating a problem. Whether a part breaks, or refrigerant leaks, the ability of sensors and software can pay off with huge savings–not to mention the comfort we desire at home or in the office in the first place.

Smart thermostats, like the popular Honeywell and Bryant Thermostats, can be controlled from your phone (so you don’t have to get out of bed just to adjust the temperature), but also learn where your heating and cooling systems are least efficient, and works to correct them. In fact, every time you make a heating or cooling change in your home, the thermostat’s software is learning, so that it can schedule and activate your preferences itself.

If your concern is rising utility bills, or you want to take advantage of the latest technology on the market, let us give your system a consult to see what upgrades are available!

The Inside Scoop On Insulation

Some of the most important parts of your home or business are those that are hard to see, hiding behind walls or under floorboards, but intrinsic to keeping your home comfortable, safe, and secure. Your insulation and weatherization are often relegated to the sidelines of home improvement, but you’re doing a disservice to your home, and your energy bills, by ignoring these key components of HVAC maintenance and care. So with Summer in our sights, properly insulating your home to keep the heat and cold air in can be on the top of your to-do list!

Not all homes are created equal, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to insulation and weatherization. Weatherization may sound intimidating, but the term simply means adding improvements to your home that save energy. This could mean sealing air leaks, improving ventilation, or adding insulation.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, properly insulating walls and roofs can provide both short and long-term energy savings. On average, they say the return on low-cost efficiency upgrades like these are valued at 2.2 times greater than your original cost! When selecting the right insulation for your home, it’s also important to pay attention to a product’s thermal performance rating, known as the R-value. Additionally, different insulations have varying methods of installation, each with their pros and cons.

BNG Blowing Sidewalls

Blanket (Batt and Roll) Insulation

Blanket insulation is the most common and widely available type of insulation, and can be purchased in the form of batts or rolls. It consists of flexible fibers, most commonly fiberglass, but can also be made from mineral wool, plastic fibers, and natural fibers. Manufacturers often attach a facing (such as kraft paper, foil-kraft paper, or vinyl) to act as a vapor and/or air barrier. Handy for fitting between standard joists and studs, this style remains very popular, however the published R-values for fiberglass insulation are only valid at around 60 degrees. If the temperature swings much colder or hotter than that, the R-value drops significantly.

Blown Cellulose Insulation

Blown cellulose insulation has notable benefits over traditional fiberglass insulation. Unlike other 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. Another great advantage, blown cellulose has the highest recycled content of any insulation, and takes less energy to create than its counterparts, making it a worthwhile investment to reduce your environmental footprint and cut cost through short and long-term savings.

Offering a high R-value and fitting into any super tight space, the blown cellulose insulation forms a crust, providing the perfect air barrier to keep your home cozy. It can also cut down on other home weatherization tasks, such as caulking, due to the spray installation method.

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. 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.

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.