November 2014 - ACS Absolute Comfort Heating & Cooling

Looking to Reduce Heating Costs This Winter? 4 Tips That Will Help

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reduce heating costsThe season of twinkling holiday lights, wooly scarves and hot mugs of cocoa will be here in no time. There are many things to look forward to every winter, but you probably don’t think the increase in your energy costs is one of them. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to help curb the extra expenses caused by winter energy usage. Learn more about how to reduce heating costs and make your home more energy efficient for the season.

Reduce Thermostat Settings

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), you can save between 5 to 15 percent by turning the temperature back 10 to 15 degrees for eight-hour periods of time everyday. Installing a

Make Sure Attic Insulation Is Sufficient for Whole-House Comfort Year-Round

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home insulationThe attic in your home contributes more to its energy efficiency than any other place under the roof, making adequate attic insulation a must-have for keeping heating and cooling costs under control. The roof has around-the-clock exposure to the weather, and heat is constantly entering or leaving from the roof’s surface. Bringing the insulation up to recommended levels slows this thermal transfer, translating to lower HVAC bills.

Benefits of Attic Insulation

Because heat constantly seeks cooler temperatures, improving the attic’s ability to resist temperature change lowers energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that half or more of the average household’s annual energy costs go toward keeping the home comfortably warm or cool. More insulation reduces those costs.

Another benefit is a quieter indoor environment. Sound waves won’t penetrate through the ceilings as easily, and if you live in a noisy neighborhood, increasing the insulation will block some of the sound transmission.

Insulation Choices

Most homes in the Houston area have fiberglass batt or loose cellulose inside the attic. Both work effectively to slow heat transfer. The DOE estimates that 10 to 20 inches of these types of attic insulation provide an adequate buffer for heat transfer. However, since summers are so hot in the Houston area, it’s better to go with a higher R-value for fiberglass products than the DOE recommends.

Recent studies have shown that fiberglass products lose some of their insulating capabilities as the attic temperature rises. The Building Science Corporation studied the ability of fiberglass batts to resist heat transfer as temperatures rose. They found that fiberglass batt with an R-13 rating lost R-value as temperatures climbed. The R-value fell to 11 when attic temperatures rose over 140 degrees. Unless your attic has good ventilation, it can approach this temperature on a hot, sunny summer day.

If your home’s attic doesn’t have enough room for these levels of insulation, you can opt for other products that have higher R-values. All insulation products are rated by their ability to resist heat transfer, and the number following the “R” indicates how many hours it resists temperature change. Ten inches of fiberglass or cellulose insulation have R-values of 30, giving you 30 hours of protection.

Foam products have higher R-values per inch of thickness than cellulose or fiberglass whose R-values are 3 per inch. Sprayed closed cell foam has the highest R-value at 6.2 per inch. Rigid foam sheets have R-values that range from 4 to 6.5 per inch.

Doing the Job

Some homeowners opt to install the attic insulation themselves, since it’s widely available at home improvement centers. Blown-in insulation requires a special blower that most home centers rent for a small charge. However, if your attic has any of these characteristics, you may want to have a professional contractor take on the project:

  • Bare, exposed wires in the attic
  • Cramped space
  • Limited fresh air ventilation built into the attic
  • Dryer and ventilation fan vents that exit inside the attic, not through the roof
  • Moldy insulation or wood rot in the attic or roof
  • Dusty areas that indicate loose ductwork for the HVAC system

Each of these issues needs to be addressed by a professional, especially wiring, mold, ductwork leaks and poor ventilation.

Installation and Creating Barriers

If you opt to install the insulation yourself, read the product’s instructions carefully. Be sure you wear all the protective gear the manufacturer recommends because these products can irritate the skin, respiratory system and eyes.

When installing more fiberglass batts over existing batts, lay them perpendicular to the old ones to create a better barrier. Don’t compress the existing or new batts, since the R-value for this type of insulation will go down when it loses some of its loft by squeezing it into tight spots.

You may encounter recessed lighting fixtures that protrude into the attic. Check to see that they’re insulation contact (IC) rated if you want to cover them. If they’re not, create sheet metal or wire mesh barriers to keep the insulation off them. The mesh should be fine enough to prevent any loose fiberglass or cellulose attic insulation from sifting through and landing on the wires.

For assistance with evaluating your need for attic insulation and trimming your energy bills, contact ACS Absolute Comfort. We’ve provided exceptional HVAC services for Houston area homeowners since 2007.

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Troubleshooting Help for the Gas Furnace in Your Tomball Home

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gas furnace troubleshootingIs the gas furnace in your Tomball home acting up? Troubleshooting a gas furnace before you call for help will save you money if you can find and fix the problem yourself. Look over these tips to get started.

Gas Furnace Produces No Heat

Check the thermostat first, starting with the batteries. Dead thermostat batteries lead to more unnecessary service calls than you might expect. Make sure the thermostat is set to “heat” mode and the temperature setting is far enough above the room temperature for the furnace to come on.

Check the power supply. The switch on or near the furnace should be in the “on” position. Re-set tripped circuit breakers or replace blown fuses. If the circuit fails immediately when you turn the furnace back on, you probably have an electrical problem that will require an expert to repair.

If the furnace has a standing pilot light, make sure it’s lit. If it’s not burning, try relighting it if you’re certain you know what you’re doing and can do it safely. Call a heating technician if the pilot light won’t stay lit.

Gas Furnace Turns On and Off Too Frequently

Short cycling may be caused by something as simple as a dirty air filter, or it may indicate a more difficult problem with the thermostat controls or the blower motor. Change the air filter first, then call for expert help if the problem persists.

System Is Noisy When the Furnace Is Running

Popping noises soon after the furnace turns on or shuts off could be caused by ducts expanding and contracting. Squealing or grinding noises may indicate that fan belts need to be adjusted or motor or fan bearings need lubrication.

Gas Furnace Doesn’t Produce Enough Heat

If the furnace is running but not heating well, check for airflow obstructions such as dirty filters or blocked vents. You may need a furnace tune-up that includes cleaning and adjusting the burners.

Call ACS Absolute Comfort if you need help troubleshooting a gas furnace. Our expert technicians can get your system back up and running quickly.

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4 Advanced Features Available on a New Heat Pump

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heat pump featuresHeat pumps heat and cool homes by transferring heat using high-efficiency refrigerant. This type of technology offers exceptional heating and cooling efficiency for warmer climates, which is great for Sugar Land homeowners. If you’re shopping around for a new heat pump replacement, consider these four heat pump features to maximize comfort and minimize energy bills.

Compressor Technologies

The compressor is the component responsible for preparing and delivering high-efficiency refrigerant for heat exchange. Standard heat pump compressors operate at one speed. Newer compressor technologies include two-speed and variable-speed compressors that adjust refrigerant output to match the heating and cooling needs of the home.


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HVAC warrantyNo one wants to have to make HVAC repairs, and when those repairs are necessary, no one wants to be left with the full cost. The warranty on your home’s HVAC system provides a buffer against unexpected maintenance costs, but some homeowners find themselves voiding an HVAC warranty on equipment in their home without realizing they’ve done it.

Here’s what to look out for:

Forgetting to Register the Warranty

Most HVAC manufacturers want you to register the warranty with them so they can verify the date the equipment was installed and have your contact information. As soon as you install a new piece of equipment, check all of its associated paperwork. Put the user’s manual in a safe and accessible spot, and fill in any forms you need to.

Using Unsupported Replacement Parts

A warranty is the company’s guarantee that parts will work as designed. If you end up having to make HVAC repairs involving replacement of parts and you opt for an off-brand component, the appliance manufacturer won’t stand behind it because they have no control over the quality or fit.

Having the System Installed Improperly

Surprisingly, voiding an HVAC warranty can occur before you even run the system for the first time. Manufacturers won’t cover damages from installer error, so make sure your HVAC contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.

Neglecting Annual Maintenance

You might think that if you don’t notice any problems, nothing needs to be fixed. But annual maintenance can catch and prevent small, unnoticeable issues from becoming large, system-breaking ones. Companies will be more likely to support you if you’ve taken care of your system.

Losing Documentation

If you’ve taken care of the HVAC system, keep the records on hand. Maintenance does you good even if you can’t prove it, but not being able to prove it can sink a claim.

To learn more about how you can avoid voiding an HVAC warranty on the equipment in your Houston area home, or for other home comfort concerns, contact ACS Absolute Comfort.

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