Categories Air Conditoners, HVAC maintenance, hvac service plan, quality hvac

What Temp Should You Keep Your Thermostat To Save On Your Energy Bill This Summer? Here’s Your Strategy To Save Energy Without Discomfort.

Exxel Mechanical

When July hits, it’s hot. If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast, June might have been mild with some cool nights-–but July’s stifling heat can make it tough to turn off the AC at all. So, what’s a person to do if they want to save energy and money, but it’s hot as all get out? There are a few things you can do, whether it’s planning a HVAC temp strategy, thinking about HVAC maintenance, or adding a few non-HVAC cooling tricks. 

Read on to find out how you can manage the heat while saving some energy:

Adjusting the temperature: home & away

During the hottest months, you can save energy by having a game plan for when you’re home and when you’re away. It might take some experimentation to find the temperature you can handle, but with ceiling fans and closed blinds, you might find that you can keep the HVAC temp higher without reducing your comfort level. Once you know how warm you can keep it while you’re around, figuring out temps for short-term and long-term periods away from your house is the next step. 

If you’re going to be away for the entire day, that’s not long enough to turn the entire system off (in terms of saving energy) because of the strain and costs it takes to get the temperature back to comfortable levels for the evening and morning. If you’ll be gone all day, set the thermostat (or better yet, program a programmable thermostat!) to 78-80 degrees. 

Depending on how hot it’s going to be when you’re away for an extended period, you can consider turning off your AC unit completely or turning it up to just under the “high” forecasted for days away. While turning off your AC unit completely will save energy, experts suggest that it’s better for homes in extremely hot and humid areas to keep the AC on. Some reasons for this are the strain on your AC to suck all the humidity back out of the air when you return and because some homes can be damaged by intense humidity.

Generally, one to two days away should mean your system is on and the HVAC temp is set high. If it’s a week or two, you might opt to turn off the unit completely. 

DIY HVAC maintenance 

There are also a few routine maintenance activities you can do yourself to prevent having to resort to costly HVAC repairs (or find yourself in “replace HVAC” territory). These also save on energy and costs. These include: 

  • Clean your vents 
  • Clean or replace your air filters
  • Make sure the AC unit outside is clean and in a shady spot (but not obstructed at all!)
  • Check on your insulation, specifically in your attic and around ductwork

By maintaining your HVAC system and all its parts on your own, you increase its ability to heat and cool your home while saving energy. For maintenance you can’t do on your own– professional ductwork cleaning or other internal cleaning– make sure a professional is brought in at least once a year or every two years! 

Tricks to keep the heat out 

There are many things you can do besides adjusting your HVAC temp to help take the pressure off your HVAC system. These include: 

  • Window treatments 

Putting up blackout curtains–thick curtains or blinds that keep the sunlight out–can keep the heat out, too. White curtains specifically work best to deflect the sun, preventing direct sunlight from coming through your windows and heating up your house. 

  • Fans (going counterclockwise)

Ceiling fans can work wonders, keeping you comfortable while the HVAC temp is set to up to four degrees hotter than normal! While fans don’t cool the room or lower the temperature, the air movement does contribute to you feeling cooler. But to make sure it’s pushing the air downward, set your ceiling fan blades to move counterclockwise. 

  • Smart cooking practices

If you have a grill or other means of cooking outside, this is one way to keep the incredible heat from appliances from heating up your house and combatting your HVAC system in the cooling process. If you can’t cook outside, using your cooking appliances in the evening after the sun goes down when things are a bit cooler is a good compromise. Being smart about how these major heat-producing appliances make your HVAC system work harder can help you save energy.

These are just three tips that can help lessen the strain on your HVAC system and are some of the best ways to save energy.

HVAC repair or replace HVAC 

We always suggest that you get your HVAC checked before peak seasons to ensure you’re not setting yourself up to pay extra in energy bills. If it’s been a while since you’ve had any HVAC repairs, you might notice that you’re doing everything right: keeping HVAC temp set high, closing the blinds, and grilling outside as often as possible, but what if your summertime costs are staying the same or even increasing? 

In this case, you might need a HVAC repair to make sure your HVAC system is working properly. 

If your HVAC system has needed multiple repairs and also is toward the end of its lifespan of 15 to 20 years, your Google search might be looking less like “HVAC repair” and more like “replace HVAC.” But it’s not all bad news. If you must replace your HVAC system, you’ll find that newer systems are far more efficient. And replacing a HVAC system also gives you an opportunity to replace your thermostat with a smart thermostat, which can help with costs through the ability to schedule your house’s HVAC temps to suit your lifestyle.

Call us 

If “HVAC repair MD” or “HVAC systems MD” or “replace HVAC MD” have been your recent internet searches, you’ve come to the right place. At Exxel Mechanical Services, our priority is safety and comfort for you and your family, delivered through our expertise and attention to detail. We serve multiple areas of Central MD as Owings Mills, Frederick, and Westminster HVAC specialists. 

Whether it’s an issue that’s causing high energy bills, or you just need a tune-up, call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you. 

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac efficiency, HVAC maintenance, hvac service and repair

How Old Is Your HVAC? These Signs Of Age May Shock You.

Exxel Mechanical

If we could suggest only two times of year to check on the quality of your HVAC unit, it would be the months leading up to summer and winter.

Why? Summer and winter are when we face the hottest and coldest temperatures of the year,  the times of year in which we want to know without a doubt that our heating and cooling system is working properly.

The first step is determining the age of your HVAC unit.

How to determine your HVAC unit’s age

Time to say, “Out with the old and in with the new,” perhaps.

Most HVAC units maintain their quality for 10 to 15 years, so if you’re wondering about the manufacturing date of your unit, you can peek at the branded nameplate on the side of the unit. If you don’t see it, you can also try Googling the serial number or calling the manufacturer directly.

While knowing the exact age of your unit may be beneficial, the number of years it will last depends on how often you personally service it; how well you support its function by doing things like regularly changing the air filters and cleaning leaves out of the fan after a storm; and how often you have it serviced by a technician.

If you’re curious whether you should service or replace your HVAC unit, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1) Has your utility bill increased in recent months? If so, this could mean that your air filters need to be replaced or that you have loose air vents. On the other hand, you may be facing some electrical issues, making your unit less effective. The older your unit, the more effort it must put toward achieving the same results.

2) Have you found yourself calling a technician more times than normal this year? A good rule of thumb when it comes to servicing your HVAC unit is to get it checked right before it’s extremely hot (summer) or frigidly cold (winter). If you’ve already had multiple technician visits in the last year or so, it might be time to replace.

3) Are there any funny smells or noises coming from your unit? If your unit sounds like creaking floors in an old house, or if you smell weird, moldy, or burning odors, your HVAC unit is likely to blame.

If you answered “no” to all three questions, then you have a quality HVAC unit on your hands! If not, then we suggest having your unit serviced. The sooner you can get it serviced, the more cost efficient the process will be in the long run.

At any point, if you find yourself with concerns or questions about your unit, don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Exxel Mechanical Services. While we service a great many HVAC systems in Maryland, our knowledge extends well beyond our state!

How to use a SEER rating to find the age of your HVAC unit

You may know how old your unit is based on the manufacturing date, but just how old are we talking in terms of quality? The best way to find out is by calculating the SEER rating, otherwise known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. More specifically, it is the ratio of cooling output throughout the cooling season.

Generally, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your unit should perform. A higher SEER rating is typically about a 16,  whereas a lower rating is 13, which indicates a less expensive and less efficient unit. This rating is the federal minimum to be sold. Some manufacturers will list this number along with the manufacturing date.

Keep in mind that the more up-to-date and efficient your unit is, the less costly it will be to run. Whether AC or other types of equipment, the longer you run any kind of machine, the more energy and/or power it takes to operate at its optimal level. However, when comparing an old unit to a new unit, the new unit will produce more energy for less money because it is more efficient.

How to make your HVAC unit last longer

Just as you could say a 50-year-old man has the athletic tendencies of a 35-year-old man, you can say a 15-year-old unit acts the same as a 12-year-old unit. You can apply age to the unit.

There are several factors that can shorten or lengthen your unit’s lifespan, such as how often you run the unit, the temperature at which you run it, and even the number of times you turn it on and off in a day. 

When it comes to recommending how to exceed the typical lifespan of your HVAC unit safely and efficiently, we like to explain that there are ways to prevent large or continuous repairs, as well as ways to support the overall function of your system. 

Let’s start with preventive maintenance.

The two best things you can do to ensure an efficiently run unit this season are to call a technician to check for damage, errors, or other issues, and to replace your air filter(s) at least every 1-3 months. Doing both can prevent future high-cost repairs.

Keep your eyes open for certain changes in and around your house:

  • Accumulation of dust could simply mean you need to change the filter, but if humidity is present, it’s best to call your technician. 
  • A room that won’t properly cool or heat is usually a red flag for poor insulation, a damaged thermostat reading, or a clogged filter. 
  • Poor efficiency after an intense storm could indicate a leaf and debris pile up in the unit, preventing the fan from working correctly. 

If, while you keep your eyes peeled for changes,  you find yourself in need of a group of dependable, HVAC experts to respond to any repair, service, maintenance, or installation issues, look no further than our HVAC team in Westminster, MD. We’d be happy to help.

Stay cool, everyone!

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac efficiency, HVAC replacement, hvac system, hvac westminster md, quality hvac, Uncategorized

Time To Change Your HVAC?

5 Signs Telling You It’s Time

It’s old 

If you’ve clicked on this article, you might be experiencing an issue with the way your HVAC system performs. The first question your HVAC technician will ask during your service call is: How old is your HVAC system?

HVAC systems tend to have a lifespan of between 10-20 years. Systems that have been serviced regularly run longest and most efficiently. However, bear in mind that as a system ages, reduced efficiency and repairs become factors in your decisions moving forward. If your system is older than 10 years and you’re facing many medium-to-large repairs, HVAC replacement might be a better option.

It’s Inefficient 

You might notice your HVAC system’s inefficiency in the running costs, but you can also tell if your HVAC is not working properly by the following:

  • The amount of time the system is running or the fan is blowing 
  • If your system seems to struggle to keep the temperature consistent 
  • Evidence of  increased dust piles
  • A noticeable higher than comfortable humidity level 

While these issues might point to a specific HVAC issue, they can also impact the overall efficiency of your unit’s operation. Depending on the age or severity of the issue, you may find it’s time to replace your HVAC.

Cost to Run: Repairs & Monthly Bills 

Costly repairs or high monthly bills are two big reasons to consider HVAC replacement. Here’s a general rule for making the decision to repair vs. replace:  Replace your HVAC system if the repair costs are more than half of a new system. 

Monthly bills should also stay consistent year to year (while accounting for things like fuel cost increases and inflation). For example, if this summer you notice a substantial increase in your bills compared to last summer, this may indicate that something is going on with your HVAC system. 

To stop habitual repairs and costly monthly bills, replacement might be the way to go.

It’s the Wrong Size 

If your system can’t keep the whole house at a consistent temperature, can’t keep different rooms at the set temperature, or achieves a temperature so quickly that it shuts down mid-cycle, it might be the wrong size unit for your home. 

That’s right! HVAC systems are not one-size-fits-all and having the wrong size unit can lead to inefficient operations. To remedy this situation, you may want to consult an HVAC professional about getting your HVAC system replaced so that it’s the right size for your home. 

There are Odd Noises & Smells in Your House

Grinding, hissing, or clunking noises are not good sounds to hear while enjoying time in your home, especially if they are coming from your HVAC system. Loose or broken parts within  your unit can be to blame, especially with older HVAC systems. 

Burning, sour, or foul smells–also not good to be experiencing in your house–may be coming from your HVAC system if something is wrong. Mold, melting pieces, a fire, or a dead animal in the vents could all be the culprit. 

If you have an older HVAC system or it’s going to take a major repair to fix the sounds or smells coming from your HVAC system, a new HVAC system might be in order. 

Call Us

No matter what issue you’re experiencing, we can figure out the best course of action. At Exxel Mechanical Service, our team is ready to serve you. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories hvac efficiency, HVAC maintenance, hvac maryland, hvac system, hvac westminster md, Indoor Air Quality, quality hvac, Uncategorized

Is your HVAC to blame for your sniffles?

HVAC Allergies

If you’re prone to allergies, you might have mixed reactions about the coming of spring. The warm weather and pretty flowers are nice, but if you’re sneezing and coughing and not feeling well because of your allergies, they can be tough to enjoy. Going inside your home should be an escape from outside air contaminants, providing relief, right? 

A properly working HVAC system can help to rid the indoor air of the contaminants, providing that escape allergy-sufferers seek. By filtering and circulating the air, HVAC system rids dust from the home by catching it and keeps it from piling up by moving the air around. So, as long as the HVAC is properly working, you can rule out your HVAC system as the cause of your allergies. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re sneezing every time the air turns on, you may want to consider that your HVAC system isn’t working properly.

If your allergies are worse when you’re inside than when you’re outside during the spring (or anytime, for that matter), then consider what kind of indoor air pollutants are gathering in your house and how you can help your HVAC system do its job. 

Types of indoor air contaminants 

The most common types of indoor contaminants are dust mites, pet dander, combustion from cooking, and mold. Dust mites are distant relatives of ticks and spiders– tiny bugs whose waste and carcasses are found pretty much in every American home. That’s right– they don’t bite and generally leave us alone, but for the unlucky few affected by dust, it’s usually dead dust mites and their waste that are affecting those who are allergic . 

Pet dander is another allergen that is pretty disgusting to think about. Those who are bothered by allergies including pet dander are not typically allergic to their actual pet, but rather dried saliva, urine, and skin flakes that their pets spread about the house with scratching and shaking.

Combustion of any kind of material leads to emissions into the air. This includes smoking cigarettes and wood-burning fireplaces, but most commonly comes from cooking with oil or using gas stoves.

Another common allergen or pollutant in the house is mold, which grows in humid or damp areas or where water collects. Mold releases spores into the air which in turn grows more mold, causing allergy symptoms when these spores settle into dust piles. 

Pollen can also find its way indoors and collect in dust piles and circulating in the indoor air. Without a quality HVAC system or one that filters the air, the typical symptoms from pollen-induced allergies can result.

Less common household air pollutants 

Although less common, carbon monoxide, radon, disease-carrying animals and their waste, and bacterial infections and viruses can result in airborne contaminants with serious side effects. Normally you would determine the presence of one of these pollutants quite quickly, but it is possible for low levels of contaminants like these to contribute to allergy-like symptoms and other more serious symptoms. 

Sick or allergies?

It can be difficult to tell what’s going on when you have allergy symptoms, because of the multiple symptoms you may experience. If you’re really experiencing an allergic reaction to allergens in the air inside your home, you’ll typically have cold symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, or an itchy throat. But it’s also possible to have headaches, a low-grade fever, or skin reactions like eczema. 

While you shouldn’t take our word for it— we’re HVAC doctors, not people doctors— it’s definitely worth following up if you have any of these persisting symptoms. If it is a reaction to some type of indoor air contaminant, your symptoms could worsen to the point of having trouble breathing or developing into something more serious than allergies. 

How to combat indoor air contamination 

  • Cleaning your HVAC system 

Inspecting and cleaning your HVAC system is a good first step to make sure it’s not part of the problem. 

Cleaning or replacing your air filters and cleaning the vents are the primary steps to making sure your HVAC system can do its job. Clogged air filters will strain the overall system. Dust in and around the vents only creates more clogging and blows around dusty air. 

You also might consider having your HVAC system professionally cleaned or at the very least inspected during a tune up. During a springtime tune up, an HVAC professional can check the parts you might not be able to access, cleaning inside the unit itself or the ductwork. 

  • Cleaning carpets and other fabrics

Vacuuming carpets and even couches and mattresses, washing any washable fabrics like stuffed animals and blankets, and keeping the home as dust-free as possible are the best ways to help your HVAC system to do its job.

  • Ventilation & air purifiers

The EPA recommends regular “natural ventilation” through open doors and windows. While you might think that keeping the pollen and other outdoor air pollutants out is the best option, fresh air is helpful for flushing out any pollutants that might have gathered indoors. 

Another great option for especially sensitive or allergy-prone people is an air purifier with a good filter. Air purifiers help HVAC systems do their job by removing allergens. The air circulated by the system is then more likely to be free of allergy-causing contaminants.

Replacing your HVAC system 

If your HVAC system is old and not effectively circulating or filtering the air in your home, if the ductwork is leaky or poorly constructed, or if an old thermostat is hindering your HVAC’s performance, it may be time to consider repairing or replacing your HVAC or affected units. Without good humidity control and air flow, allergens listed in this article can collect and air quality can suffer. 

Call us
Having a quality HVAC system that is working at peak capacity is one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality. At Exxel Mechanical Services, our priority is safety and comfort for you and your family, delivered through our expertise and attention to detail. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you.

Categories Heating & Cooling Systems, hvac system

These are the most common home allergens – and how to use your HVAC system to reduce them

People with allergies might consider springtime the worst season, but the truth is allergens can be present indoors any time of year. In fact, depending on the type of allergens floating around your home, you might be experiencing more allergy symptoms during the winter or summer months when the HVAC is blowing air around. 

More than half of the homes in America have detectable levels of allergens including dust mites, dogs, cats, cockroaches, mice, and mold (source). With all the time spent inside, often with doors and windows closed tightly to keep the house energy efficient, allergens can run rampant. These allergens can cause the dreaded itching and sneezing (or even trigger more severe symptoms!) that we associate most commonly with pollen or other outdoor allergens. 

What are the most common allergens found in the home?

Dust mites 

Dust mites are one of the most common allergens in all American homes. They don’t bite but breathing them in causes serious irritation–especially if you are susceptible to respiratory issues like asthma. Dust mites, their waste, and the particles that remain from dead dust mites can all contribute to allergy symptoms.

Pet dander

Pet dander is another leading cause of allergies– which is not to say people are allergic to their pets. Rather, the dried saliva, urine, and skin flakes from the animal that gets into the dust around the house when they scratch or shake is what causes most allergic reactions. Furry pets are the most likely to present the allergens, although it is their dander, not their hair, which causes the allergic reactions.

Mold

The most common household mold is Alternaria, but many forms of mold can grow indoors when there is humidity, dampness, or water collecting anywhere (source). Mold releases spores into the air which can be inhaled or settle on wet areas and grow more mold. Like other allergens, mold can settle among house dust also causing allergy symptoms. Mold is common and not likely to cause serious symptoms, but people with allergies or who are immunocompromised, can have serious symptoms or reactions to indoor mold. There are also some forms of mold, such as black mold, which is toxic and can have serious effects on those exposed to it. 

Pollen

Pollen can easily get inside the house during the months when it’s covering everything outside. It can ride inside on pets’ fur and paws, or shoes and jackets left on once coming inside. Pollen grains from trees, grass, and weeds are small particles that get into the eyes, nose, and lungs and cause typical allergy symptoms. 

Fireplace, cooking, and cigarette smoke

Different emissions from burning wood, food, or tobacco products can lead to coughing and other allergy symptoms. When using a wood burning fireplace, using a gas range, cooking food in oil and butter, or smoking cigarettes, these emissions have an impact on the air quality inside the house. 

Best ways to get rid of allergens in your home

The sources of many of these allergens most often come from the fabric in wall-to-wall carpets, furniture, stuffed animals, or bed linens. Often, allergens are trapped on or in these materials and are released when they’re used. Pets and damp areas are major culprits for home allergens. 

Aside from using your HVAC system to rid your home of allergens, which we will discuss next, it’s important to engage in regular cleaning of rugs, furniture, and bedding. Washing all items that can be machine-washed in the washing machine with hot water and vacuuming surfaces with HEPA filter vacuums will greatly reduce allergen levels in your home. 

For allergens like emissions, a good ventilation system or cracking a window can have a huge effect on getting rid of those reactions. Cleaning surfaces is important too, as chemicals can get stuck on hard surfaces and fabrics long after the smoke has cleared.

How to use your HVAC to get rid of allergens 

The best ways HVAC systems fight allergens is by continuously moving air through its filters and ducts throughout the house to prevent the buildup of dust, and by removing humidity from the air so that allergens like mold will not grow. 

It might seem like, “Wow, that’s it?” It’s true that removing allergens from the air and preventing them from growing in the house, in addition to thoroughly cleaning fabric surfaces, is the easiest and most important way to get rid of the common allergens found inside. Making sure you clean or replace your HVAC filters regularly and ensuring humidity levels are where they should be are ways to keep your HVAC doing its job of cleaning the air for you.

If you want your HVAC system to do more, you can consider upgrading your filters or your HVAC system or adding an air purifier that works in tandem with your HVAC system. Depending on how new or high quality your HVAC system and its filter are, the more it will be able to do in the way of cleaning and purifying the air. High quality filters rated MERV 11 or higher, with proper cleaning and replacement, remove allergens like pollen from the air. You might also consider adding additional air purifiers that work alongside your HVAC system so that the HVAC system is spreading extra-treated air with allergens removed throughout your home.

Common reactions or symptoms from exposure to household allergens & treatments 

You might not have considered the fact that your cold or cold symptoms could be coming from poor indoor air quality. Allergy symptoms include: 

  • Stuffy nose 
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing 
  • Dripping, clear, thin mucus
  • Itchy nose and eyes 
  • Wheezing and chest tightness 

If you appear to have a nagging cold or symptoms listed, you might consider if it’s actually allergens in your home triggering these issues. Simple things you might try are cleaning the filter on your HVAC system and doing a major cleaning of all major dust-trapping fabrics like couches and rugs. 

Call us
Keeping your HVAC system running smoothly is the best way to clear the allergens from inside your home. At Exxel Mechanical Service, our team is ready to serve you. Call or email us today at (443) 821-1040 or bob@exxelmechanical.com. It would be our pleasure to see how we can help you

1 2 3 5