Archives for Thermostats

WiFi Thermostats: A “SMART” Choice for Your Home

Home thermostats have come a long way since the simple, dial-style models of our childhood. Those ancient dinosaurs were not only imprecise, but also difficult to adjust. Everything was done manually, and while adjustment was a simple turn of the dial, it was easy to forget to adjust the thermostat up or down to save energy while you were away at work or on vacation.

Programmable thermostats came on the scene over a decade ago. Revolutionizing the way we heat and cool our homes, programmable thermostats allowed us to set and forget, providing a great way to customize or heating and cooling to fit our daily lifestyle and routine. These innovative gems increased our comfort levels and our energy savings.

The latest technological development in the world of thermostats goes above and beyond simple programming capabilities. New thermostat technology connects to your home’s wireless internet service. With WiFi connectivity, you can use your smartphone or tablet to remotely check and change the temperature in your home. Many models can also integrate with SMART home hubs like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, making it easy to adjust your temperature settings with just your voice. This new SMART thermostat technology is convenient, and enhances energy savings and personal comfort.

Thermostats and SMART Technology

SMART home technology is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. According to Statista, approximately 28 percent of American households were using smart home technology in 2018. This is number is expected to increase to 54 percent by the year 2023.

SMART stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. Originally developed by IBM, SMART home technology allows consumers monitor and control connected home devices from their smartphone or other networked devices. These voice-activated systems allow users to control home lighting, security systems, music, shopping, and more.

Many new thermostat models easily  integrate into SMART home systems. These SMART thermostats allow you to easily adjust temperature settings in your home without the need to get up, walk across the house, and adjust a manual dial. Instead, you can initiate the system with a simple voice command like, “make it warmer.” The system will automatically alert your heating system and raise the temperature inside your living space.

Other Voice-Activated Options

While SMART technology is becoming more common, many homeowners have not yet integrated a smart home hub in their homes. For those households, there are several stand-alone voice-activated WiFi thermostats available. These innovative thermostats offer voice command technology with WiFi integration without the need for a central SMART home hub.

How the HVAC Industry is Using SMART Technology

SMART thermostats are just one way this new technology is revolutionizing the comfort level in our homes. Consumer demand is constantly driving the HVAC industry to create products that enhance comfort and convenience through voice control and home connectivity. However, SMART technology can also make your family safer. 

SMART technology can also allow thermostats and carbon monoxide detectors to communicate with one another. When the CO2 detector senses high carbon monoxide levels, it can communicate with the thermostat and shut down HVAC systems. SMART can also send a message to your smartphone, alerting you of the situation. This can save you and your family from a potentially hazardous situation.

Ask Your Local HVAC Professionals

SMART technology can add a whole new level of convenience, safety, and savings to the way you heat and cool your home. Therefore, if you are considering integrating your thermostat to your home’s SMART hub, or if you have questions about other voice-controlled or WiFi compatible models, contact your local HVAC professionals for more information.

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Back-to-School Savings on Heating and Cooling

back to schoolThe start of the school year brings extra expenses for most households. The cost of school supplies, new shoes, and school uniforms quickly adds up, adding strain to the family budget. It is no wonder the back-to-school season leaves many parents looking for new ways to save money.

Thankfully, there is one easy way you can save money on school-year heating and cooling costs, and it won’t even make you uncomfortable. What is this simple money-saving tip? Simply adjust the setting of your thermostat.

How to Adjust Your Thermostat to Save Money on Your Utility Bill

With the kids heading back to school, your home is probably empty for long periods during the day. If you do not adjust your thermostat, you are paying to heat and cool an empty home. However, adjusting your thermostat up or down depending on the season, will bring significant savings. In fact, this small adjustment saves the average American family up to $180 dollars per year.

When Using Your Air Conditioner

When school first starts, the outdoor temperatures are still relatively warm. Because of these high temperatures, most families are still running their air conditioner. However, there is no need to maintain an indoor temperature of 72 degrees when there is no one home to enjoy the comfort. Keeping your thermostat set at a peak comfort temperature is like flushing money down the toilet.

Instead, raise your thermostat setting a few degrees before you leave for the school drop-off line. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests increasing your setting by seven degrees. According to the Energy.gov website, “the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.”

By making this small adjustment, your AC system will run less, saving energy and money. You won’t even feel uncomfortable. Just remember to adjust your thermostat when you get home in the evening.

When You Need to Heat Your Home.

With Fall almost here, we won’t be needing our air conditioners much longer. For the majority of the school year, our homes need to be heated to maintain a comfortable temperature.

You can still save money on your heating bills with this same trick. However, when heating your home, the EPA suggests LOWERING the thermostat setting. An adjustment of 8 degrees should be enough to see significant energy savings.

Adjustable Thermostats Offer Convenience and Savings

Having to manually adjust our thermostat every day before you leave for work/school is difficult to remember. This is especially true on hectic mornings. There is already so much to remember, packing lunches,checking homework, signing permission slips.

Thankfully, there is an easier way.

With a programmable thermostat, you don’t have to remember to make daily adjustments. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust to your desired home temperature, and you can program them based on your family’s unique daily schedule. So, every morning there is one less thing to remember. Your programmable thermostat will remember for you.

A programmable thermostat will also increase the comfort level of your home. Instead of waiting to adjust the thermostat back to a comfortable setting once you get home, your programmable thermostat will make sure you home is comfortable when you arrive. By programming your thermostat to begin heating or cooling a half hour before you expect to arrive, your home will already be at your favorite temperature when you walk through the door.

Other Money-Saving Ideas

Adjusting the setting of your thermostat isn’t the only way to save money on heating and cooling bills this school year. Here are some other simple ways you can cut your utility costs while the kids are in school.

Open Your Windows

As fall temperatures become more mild, consider opening your windows, especially at night. This will help you take advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures and give your air conditioner a much needed break.

If nighttime temperatures are still too warm, or having windows open makes you or your family feel less secure, simply raise the temperature setting a few degrees. You’ll be asleep, after all, and probably won’t even feel the difference.

Close Blinds and Curtains

Covering your windows with quality blinds or curtains offers an extra layer of insulation between your home’s interior and extreme outdoor temperatures. This means your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to maintain indoor temperatures.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

If you want to save money, you need to make sure your heating and cooling system is running efficiently. Make sure you change your filters regularly. Also, be sure to schedule annual maintenance with your local HVAC professional. During an annual tune-up, a qualified technician will make sure all system components are clean and functioning properly.

If you have questions about programmable thermostats or need to schedule an appointment for regular system maintenance, be sure to contact your local HVAC professionals.

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Cooling Efficiency Guide for Homeowners

As rising summer temperatures begin to make their way across the country, it is time to consider the efficiency of your home’s cooling system. The cooling efficiency of your system is crucial to your family’s comfort this time of year. However, it also affects how much you will spend on utilities this summer.

Factors That Affect Cooling Efficiency

In order to get the most out of your cooling system and keep your summer utility bills under control, it is important to understand the factors affecting your system’s efficiency. Here are just a few things that could have long-reaching effects on cooling efficiency, comfort, and your summer cooling budget.

Setting Your Thermostat

One of the biggest factors in your cooling system’s efficiency is how you set your thermostat. Thankfully, this factor is also the easiest to control.

The closer you set your thermostat to the temperature outdoors, the less stress you put on your cooling system, and the more money you will save on your bill. This may not be practical when the temperatures peak mid-summer. To stay cool during blistering heat waves, find the highest comfortable temperature, and commit to it. Frequently changing the temperature of non-programmable thermostat can make a major impact on your cooling efficiency. If you want to customize temperature settings for different times of day or days of the week, t is best to invest in a programmable thermostat model.

During the hottest weather, experts recommend setting your home’s cooling system at 78 degrees Fahrenheit for those time periods when you and your family are at home. If the house will be empty for more than four hours, consider raising the setting so energy won’t be wasted cooling an unoccupied house.

Check the Airflow

A primary factor in cooling efficiency is airflow. If your system isn’t getting the proper airflow, it will have to work harder to keep the inside of your home comfortably cool.

Check to make sure there is proper clearance around your home’s external unit. Also, make sure the system is clear of debris and your ductwork is clean. Regular filter changes are also necessary to maintain airflow and keep your system operating at peak efficiency.

Air Leaks

Too much airflow can also affect your system’s efficiency. Make sure to seal leaky doors and windows. Winter drafts are uncomfortable, but during the summer heat, they can force your cooling system to work overtime.

Also, be sure to keep all exterior doors and windows shut once you turn on that air conditioner.

Regular Maintenance

Just like your vehicle, your cooling system needs regular maintenance. Schedule a check-up at least once a year with a local HVAC professional. A qualified technician will check for potential problems and make sure your system is up to the task of cooling your home.

The ideal time to schedule maintenance is in the spring before the heat of summer rolls in. The last thing you want is to have your system break down during the sweltering summer heat waves.

Consider an Upgrade

If your cooling bills remain high even after addressing these potential efficiency issues, it may be time to upgrade to a more modern and energy efficient system. Most cooling systems have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

If your system is nearing its 12 birthday, especially if you find it needs frequent repairs, it is a good idea to contact your local HVAC professional to discuss the benefits of upgrading your unit. He or she will help you weigh your options and make an informed decision about the cooling efficiency of your current unit, as well as what benefits a new model will provide.

When deciding whether to purchase a new system, you will need to check the Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio, or SEER rating. In general, the rating should be at least 14.5. The higher the SEER, the more energy-efficient the cooling unit is.

 

Keeping your cool when you have a cooling efficiency problem can be hard, both literally and figuratively. However, if you address the factors listed above, you should stay cool all summer

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your cooling system and its energy efficiency, be sure to contact a qualified cooling expert in your area.

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How Nighttime Temperature Affects Sleep Quality

For many of us, getting a good night’s sleep is rare. Instead of drifting off to dreamland, we instead find ourselves tossing and turning all night. Restful sleep is important for health, mood, and productivity. If we don’t get sufficient sleep. It literally affects every area of our lives.

Symptoms of Insomnia

How much sleep is enough varies from person to person. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. However, some individuals feel well rested after only six hours, while others have difficulty functioning on less than nine.

With so many individual sleep needs, determining how many hours of uninterrupted sleep you need can be confusing.

  • Common symptoms of insomnia include:
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking too early
  • Not feeling rested in the morning
  • Lack of energy during daytime hours
  • Anxiety, irritability, and depression
  • Difficulty remembering or focusing on common tasks

Causes of Insomnia

Recent advances in sleep research have helped identify many of the root causes of modern insomnia. Here is a list of some common reasons modern Americans aren’t getting enough sleep.

Caffeine. Coffee, tea, soda, and other caffeinated beverages are stimulants. Consuming large amounts of caffeine during the day, or consuming caffeinated beverages late in the day, can interrupt your sleep at night.

Nicotine. Tobacco products contain nicotine which acts as a stimulant much like caffeine.  

Alcohol. While alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, it actually inhibits deeper stages of sleep, causing frequent waking at night.

Light Pollution. Lights from televisions, night lights, and outdoor street lights can interrupt natural sleep patterns.

Screen Time. Cell phones, computers, televisions, and other electronic devices emit blue light. Recent studies have found that exposure to this blue light in the two hours before bed can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.  

Room Temperature. If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, it can disrupt your ability to fall and stay asleep. Many sleep experts agree sleep temperature can have a huge impact on sleep quality.

The Best Temperature for Sleep

Many people are surprised at how much the temperature affects sleeplessness. However, it can have a huge impact on sleep quality.

During sleep hours, our body’s internal thermostat is naturally lowered by the brain. Basically, your brain creates a slight drop in core temperature which induces sleep. If your bedroom temperature is too hot or cold, your body will struggle to achieve its perfect internal sleep temperature. This can result in night sweats, hot flashes, and poor sleep quality.

Sleep experts recommend a bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep. When your room is cool, not only is it easier to fall asleep, it is also easier to stay asleep.

Thermostat settings lower or higher than the recommended temperature results in restlessness. Extreme temperatures can also affect the quality of REM (rapid eye movement), the stage of sleep with the highest brain activity. This stage of sleep is crucial to a good night’s sleep.

Maintaining the Perfect Nighttime Temperature

To maintain the optimal sleeping temperature, set your indoor temps ahead of time using a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat. This ensures your bedroom temperature will always be perfect, even if you forget to adjust your thermostat before bedtime.

These modern thermostats allow you to set a higher temperature for daytime hours, reducing the amount of energy consumed and saving you money on your utility bill. A Wi-Fi thermostat also gives you the freedom to adjust your thermostat settings even when you aren’t at home.

If you have questions about how a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat or would like to upgrade your current model, contact your local HVAC technician for more details.

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Summer Vacation

What to do with Your A/C During Summer Vacation

It isn’t uncommon for families to head off for long vacations during the hot summer months. This means many homes will sit empty while homeowners enjoy long-awaited holidays filled with fun warm weather activities.

It might seem logical to turn off your air conditioner while you are away. It probably seems like a waste to cool an empty house. However, it is probably not the best solution to a high summer energy bill. While it may seem like turning off the A/C while your home or vacation property sits empty will save you some major cash, it might actually cost you more money in the long run.

Why You Shouldn’t Turn off your A/C When You’re on Vacation

Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking they can totally shut off their home’s A/C while they’re gone for vacation and the house sits empty. While it’s true you will save money on your energy bill if the A/C unit isn’t running, there are some other important things to consider before you flip the switch

Remember, your home will be locked up tight while you are away. All your doors and windows will be shut, so the A/C may be the home’s only source of air circulation. You might argue that people lived in the heat of summer before A/C was even invented, but they lived with the windows constantly open to let the outside air in. Also, before A/C became common, homes featured high ceilings that created a natural system of air circulation.

When the temperature outside your home reaches 90 degrees, it doesn’t take long for the inside of your home to reach triple digit temperatures, especially when the A/C isn’t running. Basically the inside of your home turns into a tropical sauna.

With the inside temperatures reaching sweltering levels and air sitting stagnant, the inside of your home becomes the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. These pesky, and often dangerous, forms of fungus can multiply rapidly on your furniture, clothes, drapes, and bedding when humidity levels are high.

The heat and moisture can also warp wood floors and cabinets, peel wallpaper, and wreak havoc on your laptops and other electronic devices.

No matter how tempting it is to save some cash on your cooling bills, it is best to leave your A/C on, even when the home is sitting empty. The best setting best for home maintenance is 85 degrees. A thermostat set on 85 will keep the air circulating and help protect your home from the potential damage of extreme heat and humidity.

Ways to Help You Save

Before you leave your home for exotic vacation destinations, there are some things you can do that will help save you money on your utility bill.

During the summer months, sunlight hits your home with higher intensity than it does during cooler seasons. The sun may actually be the main factor contributing to the rising summer heat inside of your home. Make sure to pull all blinds and curtains before you leave for vacation. This will help reduce the hot sunlight that enters your home and contributes to high energy costs.

If you know you will be away from home for an unusually long time, you might consider installing energy saving storm windows. While the investment is initially high, storm windows will help block out light and insulate the home, protecting it from extreme weather conditions. Storm windows are a wise investment, especially if your home is regularly unoccupied during warm summer months.

Save Money with a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat allows you to control your home’s thermostat with a smartphone or tablet from virtually anywhere in the world. With instant access to local weather reports, you can adjust your empty home’s thermostat settings for daily conditions. If the day is cool and dry, you might want to bump up the temperature a few degrees since humidity damage will be unlikely

It’s almost like sticking your thermostat in your pocket and taking it on vacation with you. A smart thermostat can offer peace of mind by offering portable real-time control of one of your home’s most important major appliances. Smart thermostats are especially valuable for properties that may go unoccupied for weeks at a time.

There are several considerations for purchasing and installing a smart thermostat, so check with your local HVAC professional to learn about options and installation.

Service Your HVAC Unit to Save Money

Before summer gets into full swing and the climbing temperatures start taxing your HVAC unit, it is a smart idea to call a technician for regular maintenance. A pre-season inspection will ensure your unit is in top condition for efficient summer performance. A local HVAC professional can clean the coils and fan of your unit, and check your ducts, vents, and filters.

An annual check-up will help save you money whether you intend to go on vacation or if you plan to just relax at home all summer long.

 

You deserve to enjoy your hard-earned summer R and R. Working hard to save money for your vacation shouldn’t be more difficult with the added burden of an expensive energy bill while you’re away. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to protect your home – and your wallet – from the often expensive cost of the hot summer sun. Then all you have to do is enjoy your vacation.

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Programmable Thermostats in the Lehigh Valley Area

trane programmable thermostatAnyone from the Lehigh Valley area knows that the weather can be difficult to predict at times. We have four distinct seasons including humid summers, cold winters and spring and falls that can go either way. So what can homeowners do to keep their homes comfortable and their heating and cooling bills reasonable? Use programmable thermostats— let’s take a look at some of the benefits.

Increase Home Efficiency

In climates where weather often changes quickly or without warning, programmable thermostats are a great way to keep a home energy efficient. By automatically adjusting based on the weather outside, you can avoid costly and unnecessary energy expenditure. You will also be doing your part to minimize your environmental impact and keep the planet healthy.

Save Money on Heating and Cooling Bills

A programmable thermostat will pay for itself over time by lowering your heating bill. Programmable thermostats allow you to create schedules of when you are home and away that will lower the heat or raise the AC accordingly. Additionally, they can adjust to your sleep schedule to help save you money even while you sleep. Some programmable thermostats even offer remote access so if you decide to stay out late or come home early, you can have your home ready and comfortable.

Ensure Consistently Comfortable Homes

Keeping your home at an ideal temperature is much easier with programmable thermostats. Traditionally, if you were hit with a cold snap or a heat wave you would have to manually turn up the heat or the AC and then remember to re-adjust after. And if a extreme weather showed up overnight, you would wake up freezing or soaked in sweet. Thankfully, programmable thermostats have solved this problem, and will adjust automatically to keep your home at your ideal temperature and save you the time and effort of manually adjusting your old thermostat every time the weather changed.

How to Chose the Right Programmable Thermostat

MBI and the BTU gurus are here to help you make the switch. We have a variety of Trane products that can meet any of your needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have or to schedule an appointment at: 610.821.9555

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