Posts

How To Keep Your Home Warm During an Outage

It’s winter in the midwest, and you know what that means: severe storms and inconvenient power outages!

When these storm systems hit us in the bitter cold, the threat of losing power—and heat to our homes—can become dire. Make sure to read these tips, so you’re not left in a dangerous situation in the coming months.

Put Safety First

While sometimes candles are the only thing you can use to provide light in your home, lighting too many puts your home at risk of catching fire. Think ahead by investing in small, portable heaters! Be sure to pay attention to whether or not the heater is battery-powered. Even if you have a home generator, it would be wise to have battery-powered or propane-powered heaters so that you don’t use more of your generator’s power than you have to.

It’s also smart to make sure that you have a CO2 detector installed, so that it can protect you from the gaseous fumes you’ll likely be emitting in your home.

Create Natural Warmth

Once you lose power, your home will start losing heat through openings like windows, doors, and crawlspaces. The speed of this heat loss will increase depending on the quality of your insulation. Prevent this from happening by making sure that your openings are sealed and that you have sufficient insulation to keep your home as warm as possible.

It’s also smart to make sure that every member of your family has a good, heavy winter coat. We’d also suggest investing in some battery-powered heating blankets, which are expensive but worth it in dire circumstances.

Invest in a Generator

You never need a generator until you NEED a generator. Protect your family by thinking ahead on this one. We give you all our best advice for picking out a generator that’s best for your home here.

Put BNG Heating & Cooling on Speed Dial

In case of an emergency, you know that our team will be prepared and ready to take on whatever problems you’re facing! Our 24/7 emergency service number is (812) 858-4000. Save it and call us when you need help!

The Homeowner’s Springtime Checklist

After a long, hard winter, we’re finally seeing the sunlight at the end of the tunnel! We know you’re ready to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, but are you sure that your house is ready to make the transition from cold temperatures to warm?  

We want to make it easy for you to be sure that you’re taking the best care of your home that you possibly can, so we made this checklist of things that you should do before we’re in full springtime.

Check the Roof

Your roof has done a lot of work for you this winter—especially if you were one of the millions of Americans who experienced severe snowstorms early this year. Make sure that it didn’t lose any shingles along the way. You should also look out for unevenness among shingles, as that can be pointing to nail-pops and potential leak opportunities.

Check Your Gutters

It won’t be long before we’re gearing up for April showers! Be sure that your gutters are unclogged, cleared of leaves and debris, and are in good working order. Pro Tip: Look for water drips, especially around gutter downspouts, on your exterior walls. These marks point to a leaky gutter.

Windows and Doors

If you took our advice before winter and made sure to seal your openings, now is a good time to check those places to be sure that your sealing stayed in tact. If not, take the opportunity to seal them now, before your home is working to keep cool air in and warm, summer air out.  

HVAC Maintenance

It’s time to clear out the leaves and debris from your HVAC unit and get it ready for a hot summer! This is also the perfect time to schedule a routine maintenance check from your expert service provider. They will be able to spot signs of trouble after a long winter, and make repairs before hot spring and summer weather sets in.

If you have a maintenance plan with BNG Heating and Cooling, you’re already on our list of homes to check in on before spring. If not, you can schedule a consultation by calling one of our locations or by going online to schedule your consultation today.

Is Your Home Too Humid?

Are you making sure that your home maintains appropriate levels of moisture? This crucial detail is often overlooked by homeowners, so we’ve boiled it down to some simple steps for you.

1: Understand what your home SHOULD feel like.

If you’ve never paid attention to home humidity before, you may not have a clue as to what different humidity levels feel like. The basic rule is that, in the summer, your home’s air should have about 50% humidity, and in the winter your home humidity should be around 40%.

2: Learn how to measure home humidity.

All you need is a hygrometer! These can be found online or at your local home improvement store and are an important addition to any homeowner’s repertoire. What you’re looking for is relative humidity, which indicates how moist the air around you feels.

3: Identify the areas of your home causing high humidity.  

While every home is different, depending on size, age, and climate, there are some factors that commonly contribute to high moisture in most houses. It seems like a no-brainer, but you need to have vent fans in the kitchen and bathroom, where steam can build up and sometimes get trapped.

4: Act fast to fix the problem areas!

If you don’t, you’re allowing mold, mildew, and other moisture-loving offenders to make their way into your home. Some people are severely allergic to mold and mildew, and it can be especially threatening to people who suffer with asthma. And, as if the health risks aren’t severe enough, you could also be risking the integrity of your home by allowing moisture to deteriorate your insulation, rot lumber, and soil furniture and appliances.

5: Prevent humidity levels from becoming uneven in the future.

Do this by following the advice we gave in 1 – 4, and go an extra step further by investing in your health with a home de-humidifier. There is absolutely no better way to regulate your home’s humidity than to install one of these. It takes the guesswork out of managing humidity and can save you thousands in repairs that would have to be made if moisture got out of control.

Want expert advice specific to YOUR home? BNG can install a de-humidifier on your home’s furnace along with a humidistat to continually measure the humidity and regulate the output of the humidifier automatically. Give us a call or go online to schedule your consultation—we have the tools you need to make your home as comfortable as possible!

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.

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.

Bring on the FALL

With cooling temperatures, fall is a great time to tackle some home maintenance tasks that you may have been putting off. Getting these done now will help you get ahead of holiday crunch-time and bad winter weather; once you’ve checked these off your list, you’ll be able to enjoy your fall weekends guilt-free!

Prepare your home for Winter Outdoors…

As much as fall is about getting some holiday decorations and events underway, it’s also the time to inspect the interior and exterior of your home. Outside, look for any cracks in the foundation, or openings around windows, doors, and where pipes and wires enter your home. Caulking is an inexpensive fix, but can save you a lot of money from air leaking in or out of your home. This is also the time to clear away any dead tree branches or shrubbery before a winter storm comes to knock them into your home. Since plants go into winter hibernation, fall is a great time to prune without damaging any of your favorite foliage.

hand for the Indoors…

This is the time to get your holiday decorations up and get a head start on your event planning. Decor items like pumpkins and gourds and fall flowers work all season long, so you won’t have to switch out any decorations between Halloween and Thanksgiving. If decor inspiration is what you seek, MidWest Living  has some easy projects to get you started.

Prepare for Winter Emergencies

While we hope you never have to face any winter emergencies, you should always be prepared. October is National Fire Prevention month, so use that as a yearly reminder to ensure all of your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke dampers are fully-functional. Smoke dampers are placed into your HVAC system and in the event of a fire, close off ducts to prevent smoke from spreading throughout the house. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher on hand, and check your home for radon gas, which can come from the soil and rock beneath your home and potentially cause cancer. With windows and doors shut all winter, this could build up in your home. Learn more about radon from Houzz.

While you’re checking your safety devices, take the time to schedule your furnace’s routine maintenance before the weather gets too cold. It’ll save your time before our technicians get too busy, but it’ll also save you from facing a cold-weather HVAC emergency. We always suggest having your furnace and HVAC systems’ inspected regularly to keep cost low and ensure your system is operating at max efficiency as much as possible.

We have maintenance plans as low as $15/mo. that can keep your home or business HVAC system operating smoothly. Finally, you should check your winter preparedness kits in your home and car in case of a storm. If you don’t have kits, here are some good ideas for what should be in your car and your home.

Make the most of fall and winter but make sure your AC unit and furnace are up to the tasks by giving us a call at 812-858-4000! BNG serves the heating and cooling needs of Evansville, Boonville, Newburgh, and Richland in Indiana.

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.