Tag Archive for: Heating

How Energy-Efficient Units Save Big Money

We know what you’re thinking—this is just a sales pitch for an HVAC company to sell you a new thermostat.

The truth is that we’re always reminding our customers to update their thermostats because we see, time after time, how the upgrade significantly impacts our customers’ monthly energy bills.

Here’s how:

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

With energy-efficient HVAC systems, you will find that cooling load capacities vary with the size of the house the unit is cooling.

It seems like this would be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to know just how many homes are fitted with HVAC units that have to work extra hard to cool a home too large or that work too hard for the smaller-sized home it serves.

Simply put, energy-efficient systems don’t waste any energy by working to cool or heat a home that doesn’t fit its capacity.

Newer, Smarter Technology

It goes without saying that these new units have been made with the most innovative materials and technology yet, but you may not know that they’ve also been made to work even more successfully with programmable and smart thermostats.

You’ve heard of programmable thermostats and smart thermostats by now, right?

If not, you should check out this blog and this blog to learn of the many ways that these tools work to ensure that your unit is as intuitive and efficient as possible.

If you currently have an old-school system, consider using this web tool to calculate the potential energy AND utility bill savings you could achieve by switching to an energy-efficient system.

Even better, you can get us to calculate your potential energy savings by conducting a home assessment.

Call us to schedule your consultation today!

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!

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!

Winterizing your HVAC system

Winterizing your HVAC system

When we think of winter, we often look forward to gleaming banks of snow and hot cocoa by the fire. But, with freezing temperatures comes a huge strain on your heating systems. Complicated machines need maintenance to make sure they work when you need them to. Even though we’ve already seen snow on the ground, it’s not too late to plan ahead and get your furnace tested!

Keep the outside air out and the inside air in

We talk about this a lot, but one of the most important elements of energy savings is to ensure there are no air leaks in your home. During the cold season, warm air will escape out of any cracks and can make your heating system work harder and cost you more to heat your home. Use caulk to seal cracks and openings between stationary house components, like a door frame or weatherstripping to seal components that move like an operable window.

Replace your filter

During the winter, one of the most important and simple ways to keep your HVAC system in top shape is by maintaining the filters. Filters that are properly chosen and cleaned/replaced can have a huge impact on your energy costs, the quality of air in your home, and the efficiency of your system.

Filters should be replaced or cleaned, depending on your type of filter, about every three months. By keeping your filters maintained, you will not only have your home more primed for winter, but if you or a family member suffer from allergies, it’s even more important in the winter to make sure the allergens are filtered out of your home, as you spend more time stuck indoors.

Do a little clean up

When your furnace is dormant, it’s easy to let clutter gather up around it, however it is so important to remove all flammable objects from around your furnace and water heater. This tip seems obvious, but can be very dangerous for your home. Look for paper products, boxes, aerosols, and other dry or chemical items, especially if your furnace or water heater are kept in a small room.

Show some TLC to your furnace

The humble furnace is often forgotten for most of the year, until the chill in the air becomes intense enough that you reluctantly switch on the heat. Autumn is the ideal time for a maintenance check, allowing sediment build-up to be cleaned out, reducing the risk of becoming a fire-hazard, as well as for all the nuts, bolts and wiring to be inspected!

At BNG, we believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! And even though winter has already arrived, it is not too late for preventative maintenance to your heating systems. 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.

Carbon Monoxide Poisioning Prevention and Safety

The awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) causes and hazards is slowly growing, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate 430 people in the U.S. die each year from accidental poisoning. The worst part is that this tragedy is totally preventable, as long as you know what to look out for. In this post, we’re going to cover exactly what CO is, the symptoms of CO2 poisoning to look out for, and what you can do to prevent it from happening in your home.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. It’s created in small quantities in the natural world, but most commonly, it’s created when there isn’t enough oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2), like when fuel isn’t completely burned. Incomplete fuel burning usually happens when operating a stove or appliances that rely on internal combustion, like a generator, a car’s engine, or a furnace, in an enclosed area.

While the hazards of heat sources, like potential fire and burns are well-known, the hazards of CO are less well-known. People who are unaware of CO’s dangers may use appliances that produce fumes in an enclosed space, which can cause poisoning. These people are not necessarily negligent with their use of application, and many are related to usages necessitated by natural disaster. According to the CDC, outages due to weather cause an increase in generator use, which when used incorrectly, can lead to poisoning. After Hurricane Katrina, an estimated 47 deaths occurred due to improper generator use.

What does CO poisoning look like?

Indoor pollution is a huge cause of CO poisoning, and if you suspect someone has been poisoned, there are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • headache
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

These symptoms can be especially dangerous if someone is sleeping or intoxicated, because they can appear to be related to those two conditions, rather than CO. If the development of these symptoms is sudden and seemingly unrelated to something else, seek fresh air and help immediately.

How can I prevent CO poisoning?

First, if you suspect someone has been poisoned, call 911 and the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1 (800) 222-1222.

One of the first steps to preventing CO poisoning is to be aware of this condition, and know what to look for should you suspect it’s occurrence. Luckily, prevention of CO buildup is easy and completely within your control. CO detectors function like your smoke detectors, and will alert you to the presence of toxic levels of CO in your home. Make sure to regularly test your CO detectors. If you’re installing them, place one near each sleeping area, and at least one on each level of your home. Connect them all, so if one detector goes off, they will all go off, and each member of your family will be alerted to the presence of CO.

Although CO detectors are widely available at many retail stores, BNG recommends the Kidde CO detector, which detects CO and warns you at a much lower CO level than discount store models. It also has a digital read-out so you can see what the level is and what the highest recorded level has been, even if it is within “Safe” limits. This robust unit uses AC power and has a ten-year life on the backup battery and a 10 year warranty. At just $99 (or less than $10 per year) it provides great peace-of-mind that you won’t be unaware if dangerous CO is present in your home.

If your CO detectors go off, get outdoors or to an area where you can access fresh air, like a door or window. Once you’re sure each member of your family is present, call for help. Stay near the fresh air area.

If you must use a generator, heater, grill, lantern, or fireplace, use it only in a well-ventilated area. Never use a grill or generator indoors.

During snowy weather, make sure your dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents are clear of snow, which can trap smoke and fumes.

Get your furnace checked annually by a technician trained to spot areas of leakage or combustion chamber corrosion! Many people forget the fact that their furnace creates heat through a combustion chamber. Over time, the chamber can corrode, and the exhaust flue, which moves CO outside of the home, can leak or have holes. A trained HVAC technician, like those at BNG, can spot these potential hazards and make repairs to prevent the spread of CO into your home. The best solution here is prevention, so schedule your furnace maintenance annually, and ideally, before we get into heavy-use furnace season.

For more information on CO safety, you can visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. For annual furnace inspection and maintenance, you can call BNG at 812.858.4000 to schedule an appointment.

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.

Cold Weather Safety

Brrrr! Cold and wind in Boonville, Newburgh, Rockport, and Evansville this winter will cause all of us to feel the pinch in our wallets as it will cost more to keep our homes and businesses warm. Certainly all the energy-saving tips you have learned over the years are still valid: turn your thermostat down when you are away from home, insulate your walls and attic, seal up all the cracks in your windows and doors, change out your older inefficient furnace for a new more energy-efficient one, and of course, wear warm clothes and blankets!

But while you are trying to stay warm, don’t neglect safety! Make sure that your heating system has been professionally cleaned and tuned-up so that it is running at its best. Regular maintenance by a professional heating & air conditioning technician can prevent breakdowns at inconvenient times–like weekends, the middle of the night, and on the coldest and windiest days of the winter! You sure don’t want to be without heat when those cold winds are blowing! Maintenance of your heating system is money well-spent, because your technician can spot issues that can affect your family’s safety, too, such as the potential for Carbon Monoxide production from a poorly-maintained or defective furnace.

Make sure Kidde CO detectoryou have a working Carbon Monoxide detector on every level of your home, especially in sleeping areas. The ones sold in the big box stores give you some very basic protection, but the higher quality models, such as the Kidde model sold by BNG Heating & Cooling, gives you a digital readout of the Carbon Monoxide level in your home, and detects it at a much lower concentration than the basic models. This means your family is better protected from this dangerous,  odorless gas.

BNG also provides and installs smoke detectors that fit INSIDE the ductwork of your heating system, detecting smoke at very low levels and shutting down your HVAC system to keep the deadly smoke from spreading throughout your home. Ask your technician about it!

Do A Preseason Tune-Up To Prepare Your Heating System For The Onslaught Of Winter

If you are such a busy person, then you will be surprised when winter approaches yet you have not confirmed whether your heating system is in proper condition. The best time to verify whether your heating system is working properly is during autumn well before the cold drafts kick in. This article gives you a check list to refer to for your preseason check.

Before the winter sets in and you switch on your system. The inspection and tune-up of your heating system needs to be done thoroughly. There are specific things that have to be done whether you are using a heat pump, natural gas, or oil.

You need to check for leaking pipes. It is easier with a heat pump because the signs of leaking will be clearly visible in form of oil stains. It is more difficult when it comes to a gas heating unit. You will have to find a way to notice any bubbles from the pipe. One way to do this is by using a soap solution or a gas leak detection fluid. For an electrical system, you need to verify the integrity of the wires to make sure they are not frayed or corroded in any way. This is one reason why it is advisable to use a technician to perform a routine heating maintenance procedure because he or she comes with all the tools needed for the job.

One of the best components of any home during winter is the ventilation system. The ventilation of your heating unit needs to be working properly to prevent buildup of poisonous carbon monoxide in the home. You need to make sure that the vent pipes are intact and not broken in any place. It is also a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detection tool to help you notice any leakage in the system throughout the winter.

The next component that needs your inspection is the air filter. You need to be sure that you are starting the winter with a fully functional and clean filter. If you have not changed it in the past 3 months, then it is advisable that you buy a new one. While checking out the filter, make sure that you take this opportunity to remove any debris, dust, and dirt from the whole unit. This will make the preseason system check easier and faster.

It is a good idea to have a professional to check your heating system before winter sets in. This way, when you switch on and test the unit the technician will be able to tell you the condition of the unit. If it is not in good shape, the necessary steps will be taken to rectify the problem. If you want to guarantee your warmth throughout the cold season without any worries, then have your heating system checked before winter.