HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Unfortunately, Ventilation is suffering from “middle child syndrome.” The truth is that ventilation is just as important as its siblings.
Modern homes tend to be too airtight. This has positive and negative outcomes. People are concerned about rising energy costs, so it’s important to live in a space that is properly sealed. Air leaks can feel like you’re throwing money out the window. Tighter homes are considered more efficient homes, and from one point of view, they are.
However, from an air quality and ventilation standpoint, one has to consider that if air can’t get out, nothing can. Contaminants and other air pollutants have no way to escape and are therefore recirculated throughout your home and into your lungs. Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality go hand in hand. There is a much higher risk for unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution today than ever before.
Ventilation systems ensure protection from common consequences of poor indoor air quality. Symptoms may include dizziness, headaches, allergies and even asthma. Recirculated indoor air must be exchanged with filtered outdoor air in order to maintain a healthy environment for your lungs.
The Importance of Ventilation
One important job of ventilation is to regulate moisture. Adequate airflow means that your walls and windows will not collect moisture and condensation. Moisture leads to mold, mildew and other contaminants. Long-term exposure to mold is extremely dangerous.
Proper ventilation also prevents air pollutants from having adverse health affects on your home’s inhabitants. Homeowners, especially if you own a more modern or “tight” house with an HVAC unit, must be vigilant to protect against allergens, as they can cause respiratory damage, especially in someone who already has asthma or an autoimmune disease.
How do I now if I have a ventilation problem in my home?
• Moisture buildup on windows and walls
• Signs of excess infiltration, meaning drafts
• Smelly or stuffy air
• Lingering home odors
• Respiratory symptoms
Ventilation systems are especially important in Bathrooms and Kitchen when moisture can create breeding grounds for microorganisms. If any of your ventilation fans are broken, we recommend getting them fixed as soon as possible.
Home Ventilation Benefits
• Reduces Condensation and Moisture Buildup — Moisture is always a top concern if a home is not properly ventilated. Moisture buildup and condensation are often the first visible signs of a major ventilation problem.
• Lowers concentrations of radon gas and carbon monoxide — Both poisonous gases are colorless and odorless and can build up without adequate ventilation. Healthy levels can be maintained when ventilation systems are working properly. Carbon monoxide is one of the main reasons why you want to ensure proper ventilation for your heating system. Learn more about the importance of furnace vent pipes.
• Improves indoor air quality — The quality of your indoor air is dependent on proper ventilation. Alongside proper ventilation, be sure to maintain the health of your HVAC unit by changing the air filter every 30-60 days and scheduling annual spring tune-ups. Learn how to fight back against poor indoor air quality. Automate your home check-ups with our Total Care Club.
• Decreases airborne toxins such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) — From paint to pesticide, VOCs are emitted as gases from certain products. Without ventilation they are stored inside instead of dispelled out of the home. Health effects range from headaches and loss of coordination to fatigue and even cancer. This is why it’s important that you inspect your household cleaning products to ensure they aren’t emitting VOCs and other harmful contaminants into your indoor air. Air fresheners, which contain phthalates, and candles, which contain hydrocarbons, might smell nice, but they are likely adding poison to your environment.
• Helps protect you from allergens, such as pollen, dusts and other irritants — Damp environments are breeding grounds for mold, dust mites, and other pollutants that can initiate or worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions.
• Improves respiratory health and reduces risk of aggravated asthma — Proper ventilation reduces the threat of allergens. Recirculated indoor air is replaced with filtered outdoor air allowing for a fresh environment. For family members already susceptible to lung issues, ventilation has a huge impact on quality of life.
•Ventilation systems allow you to ventilate properly without energy loss — Your home must have a balance of insulation and ventilation. If energy loss is a concern for you, proper ventilation should be too. In fact, ventilation solutions such as Attic Fans can help you save money on HVAC costs by venting hot and stuffy air from your attic.
Types of Ventilation Systems
• Natural Ventilation
• Direct Ventilation
• Exhaust-Only Ventilation
• Supply-Only Ventilation
• Whole-House Ventilation and Humidification
Professional Indoor Air Quality Services for New Jersey:
• HEPA Filters
• UV Germicidal Lights
• Lennox PureAir Air Purification system
• Media Filters
• Whole-Home Dehumidifiers
• Whole-Home Humidifiers
• Bypass Humidifiers
Speak with the professionals at Gold Medal about the right ventilation solutions for your home. We offer a wide range of Indoor Air Quality Solutions and Ventilation System Services. Along with Spring Cleaning, schedule your Ventilation evaluation with an Indoor Air Quality professional.
If you are confused about programmable thermostat operation, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of programmable and “smart” thermostat owners don’t know how to properly set or operate their thermostats.
Well, if that’s the case, they might as well just use an analog thermostat. Programmable thermostats are only as effective as the way you use them.
Programmable Thermostat Options
In addition to “smart” thermostats that learn your schedule and adjust themselves from there, there are 3 main models to choose from:
7-day models – 7-day thermostats provide the most control for setting your thermostat schedule. You can set a different schedule for every day of the week, usually up to 5 different temperature settings throughout the day. These models are best for homes that tend to have varying schedules throughout the week.
5+2-day models – These models set the same temperature schedule for the weekdays (5 days) and another schedule for the weekends (2 days).
5+1+1-day models – 5+1+1 models are the same as 5+2-day models, except now you have the option to have a different schedule for Saturdays and Sundays.
If you want to know how to properly set your thermostat, use the table below, courtesy of ENERGY STAR [PDF].
Consult the thermostat owner’s manual for instructions on how to program your thermostat. If you have any questions about setting the thermostat, don’t hesitate to contact Gold Medal Service.
Tips for Maximizing Thermostat Savings
Install your thermostat away from anything that could give it a false reading, such as sunlight, light bulbs, doorways, air leaks, appliances, fireplaces, skylights, windows, and other areas that receive sunlight or drafts. Inaccurate thermostat readings cause your HVAC system to run even if its not needed. If you can’t prevent heat sources from affecting the thermostat reading, contact a qualified HVAC technician to find a better location.
Keep your thermostat at an energy-saving temperature most of the time. We recommend setting the thermostat to no higher than 68 degrees during the winter and no lower than 78 degrees during the summer.
Setting your temperature back 10-15 degrees for 8 hours or more can save you around 5% to 15% on your heating and cooling bill. That may not seem like a lot, but as the days progress, it adds up! According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, it’s “a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”
If you feel hot, remove some layers and turn on a floor and/or ceiling fan. If you feel cold, add some layers and cook yourself a hot meal and drink.
Try to keep your energy-saving settings on for as long as you can. This is when your programmable thermostat helps keep the temperature steady for long periods of time while allowing you to raise the temperature at the exact time when you need it (coming home, going to bed, etc.)
When leaving your home on vacation or other reasons, use the “hold” function to keep a constant energy-saving temperature. We recommend setting the thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees in the winter and no higher than 90 degrees in the summer.
Try not to manually override your programmable thermostat settings. Each time you do so, you’ll be using more energy than necessary and may even mess up to the thermostat schedule. If you are unsure of how your thermostat works, find your owner’s manual or look it up online.
Similarly, don’t “oversteer” the thermostat. If you want faster heating and/or cooling, cranking the thermostat all the way up or all the way down won’t help. Your HVAC system operates at one speed no matter what temperature the thermostat is set to. Oversteering won’t heat or cool your home any faster, and you might forget to set it back to its normal setting. Simply set the thermostat to the desired temperature and let it be.
If you are sick of having some rooms and parts of the home hotter or colder than you want it, then you may want consider a HVAC zoning system. This allows you to have a separate thermostat for different parts of the home, creating what are known as heating and cooling “zones.” Ductless mini-split systems allow you to maximize comfort, convenience, and energy savings throughout the home. They are especially useful in additions and renovations, which don’t include ductwork. Since they don’t utilize ducts, you won’t have to worry about duct cleanings, sealings, or related inefficiencies.
Check your thermostat batteries and change them every year. A good time to check and change your batteries is during Daylight Saving Time in the spring and fall.
If you have a heat pump, ask your HVAC technician about a special thermostat. Heat pumps work best when they are installed with a properly designed thermostat.
If you have a manual thermostat, be sure to adjust the temperatures daily, before you leave the house and when you come back home. You can potentially save as much money and energy as people who own programmable thermostat. You just have to deal with the inconvenience of setting the thermostat manually. Try adjusting the thermostat 5-9 degrees when going to sleep or leaving the home (down in the winter and up in the summer).
To schedule your next home service visit, contact the professionals at Gold Medal Service.
Don’t forget to schedule your air conditioning maintenance appointment and professional cleaning. This annual service visit is crucial for maintaining your manufacturer’s warranty, extending the unit’s lifespan, and preventing a breakdown in the dog days of summer.
You don’t need solar panels on your roof in order to harness solar energy. Passive solar home design or passive heating and cooling refers to strategic uses of sun, shade, and trees in order to produce a desired temperature and comfort level in any space.
Earth Day is on April 22. In the spirit of this year’s theme, environmental and climate literacy, Gold Medal Service offers you this guide to passive heating and cooling. These solutions are earth and energy friendly. There are ways to go green and save green!
Be smart with the sun — Passive Heating
Passive solar heating works with your current HVAC unit to create the perfect temperature for any given space in your home or building. With the introduction of these strategies, passive solar heating is capable of reducing your home or building’s dependence [PDF] on the furnace and other mechanical heating systems by 5-25%.
Windows — Keep your windows clean to allow more light in. Through windows and apertures, solar light comes into a space. With correct placement, a home can bring in a lot of heat on its own.
Other terms important to passive heating include: massing, orientation, and thermal mass. A building’s dimensions, its orientation and its material have a lot to do with your ability to heat with direct solar energy in any particular structure.
Cool off naturally — Passive Cooling
Utilizing these passive cooling strategies will help reduce your dependence on mechanical cooling, a costly comfort, especially in large homes or commercial buildings.
Natural Ventilation — Ventilation is an important aspect of any space for health reasons as well as comfort reasons. Without proper ventilation, a building is more likely to have poor indoor air quality. Basic natural ventilation, also called passive ventilation, is the use of outside air movements to cool and ventilate a home or building. Wind ventilation, the stack effect, and night purge ventilation are examples of natural ventilation strategies.
Wind Ventilation – This strategy is all about fresh air! Using the force of the wind to push air in and out of a space through the windows. Functional windows that open and even rooftop vents will allow for fresh air to funnel in and out of a space. It is often an intentional design and cost-effective. You can find extensive information on this strategy here.
Stack Effect – This strategy relies on air pressure to pull air through a building. Hot air rises due to lower air pressure than cold air. Purposeful ventilation can draw hot air out based on where windows and other natural ventilation openings are positioned. For diagrams of this strategy visit here.
Night Purge Ventilation – This strategy involves keeping windows closed during the day and open at night in order for the warm collected air to push out. To explore this strategy visit here.
Air-cooling – Two techniques are associated with this strategy: evaporative cooling and geothermal cooling.
Shades – Your shading strategy may include some of the following: overhangs, louvers, or vertical fins. In general, planned shading techniques can reduce the amount of solar heat let into your home or building. This means your air conditioner can take a breather while you find a naturally cool indoor space to relax.
Solar Landscaping – Landscaping methods can also be used to produce shade that benefits the temperature of the interior spaces it surrounds. Passive solar landscaping for the purpose of energy efficiency and conservation is all about orientation and design. Work with professionals to determine the best placement, height, and solar orientation for the trees and bushes that will be saving you energy dollars.
Redirect – There are also solar window treatments that reflect the sun away from the home. Other methods of redirecting solar heat are light shelves and baffles.
Benefits of Passive Heating & Cooling
Better indoor air quality
Less dependence on mechanical heating and cooling systems
Lower energy costs
If you are looking to build your own home or want to apply energy conscious strategies to your current residence, consider passive heating and cooling.
Renewable and desirable, these passive heating and cooling strategies are a smart way to bring regulated comfort into any space. They are not a replacement for a properly functioning HVAC unit, but they are conscious methods of energy conservation.
Happy Earth Day!
Read these articles for more information on saving money and reducing your environmental impact this spring and summer:
By far, the most common circuit breaker problem is breakers that trip too frequently. If your breakers are tripping too often, there are a few reasons why this may be the case.
Common Circuit Breaker Problems
If you have a wiring problem within the inner workings of your electrical system, this could cause your breaker to turn off when it shouldn’t.
Problems with your electrical wiring can also cause electricity to continue to run through the circuit even If it is switched off. Electric shock and fire hazards are common effects of faulty wiring. If you have not had an electrical safety inspection in recent memory, you owe it to you home and family to get this done immediately.
Your licensed electrician will be able to tell you if you have safe or unsafe wiring and what to do about it.
Some signs of miswiring include devices and outlets not working properly or not turning on at all. You may also notice shocks near light switches and receptacles.
Additionally, if there is a weird smell or discoloration near your electrical outlets, turn off power to the circuit at the breaker box and do not turn the circuit back on until a qualified electrician had a chance to take a look. Sometimes burning plastic and electrical components emit a sulfuric, rotten egg-like smell.
If, however, the rotten egg smell doesn’t seem to be coming from an outlet or switch, you may have a gas leak! Natural gas manufacturers are required to add a chemical called mercaptan to the gas in order to alert consumers to its presence in the case of a gas leak. Learn about furnace warning signs.
Here are some common signs of miswiring in your home:
Too many extension cords – extension cords should never be used as a permanent solution. Only use extension cords for short periods of time. If you need more outlets, call your electrician. Learn more extension cords safety tips from Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
Dimming and flickering lights
Usually if you notice dimming and flickering lights, there’s a problem with your circuit, not the fixture itself. For instance, if you turn on a high-usage appliance such as a space heater or HVAC system, you may notice the lights dim or flicker. If you frequently notice dimming and flickering lights, ask an electrician about moving lights to different circuit or installing dedicated circuits for large appliances.
If you notice a strange smell, such as burning plastic, rotten eggs, or sulfur, you may be smelling a fire hazard. Turn off the power to the circuit from your circuit breaker and call a qualified electrician as soon as possible.
Shocks and sparks
Unless it’s a static shock, shocks and sparking should never be ignored. If you notice melting breakers, sparking outlets, or shocks when you turn on your lights, call an electrician ASAP. Your professional electrician will be able to test the electrical systems to determine if the circuits are working safely and properly.
Hot outlets and switch plates
Even if electrical fixtures warm up when in use, it’s not a good sign If you notice outlets or switches that are hot to the touch. If you notice any outlets or switches that are hot, turn off power to that circuit at the breaker box and then call your electrician right away.
If you do schedule a rewiring of your home, or any electrical service for that matter, it’s extremely important to have a qualified electrician do the job, NOT a “handyman.”
2. Electrical Load
The most common reason for a tripped breaker or broken fuse is an overloaded circuit. If you are requesting more power from your electrical circuit than it can handle, your electrical panel has a safety mechanism in place to prevent overheating.
If the panel detects a voltage going through your circuit(s) that is greater than their allowance, an automatic shut-off mechanism will cut off the power flow.
This is why your largest energy consumers, such as HVAC systems and other large appliances, tend to use dedicated circuits. Usually, one circuit breaker can handle around 15-20 AMPs, which is less than what some appliances require. That why high-usage appliances may need a 20-30 AMP dedicated circuit.
3. How to Reset a Tripped Breaker
As we mentioned before, the most common circuit breaker problem is a tripped circuit breaker. In order to protect your home and electrical system, your circuit breaker (if it’s working properly) will automatically shut off power to any circuit that is drawing too much power for it to handle.
Follow these steps for resetting your circuit breaker:
Unplug or turn off any devices that are being used in the circuit you wish to restore.
Locate your main breaker panel and open up the cover.
Find the tripped breaker, which will be in a different position from the rest of the breakers. The breaker in question will either be flipped all the off or somewhere in the middle of off and on.
To restore power, switch the breaker to the off position (opposite direction of all the breakers that are on) and then then switch it back on.
If this does not restore power to the circuit, try flipping the switch off and on again. If there still is no power, then you may have a more serious electrical issue. Contact a qualified electrician to diagnose the problem.
We usually think of pranks and other practical jokes when April Fools’ Day comes around, but the real dangers to watch out for are damaging myths and falsehoods that cost you money, safety, and comfort.
To help dispel the many misconceptions about plumbing, water, and money, we’re sharing the most common plumbing myths and facts.
Plumbing Myths — Don’t Be a Plumbing Fool!
MYTH: Low-flow toilets aren’t effective.
FACT: Newer technology and design allows low-flow toilets to meet or exceed plumbing and flushing performance standards.
While it’s true that earlier versions of “low-flow” toilets and faucets didn’t always work very well, modern water-efficient products have improved tenfold. Many low-flow products have earned the WaterSense label by meeting the EPA’s stringent efficiency and performance requirements. These products save water while maintaining public health and safety and performance standards.
You can save thousands of gallons every year by just installing one WaterSense-qualified toilet, which uses less than 1.5 gallons per flush. Learn how much water you can save by installing WaterSense products with EPA’s Water Savings Calculator.
MYTH: Repairs shouldn’t cost more than the materials.
FACT: Sometimes, the costs of labor and repair will be more than the materials themselves. This depends on the project, but keep in mind the value of a good plumber to:
Correctly diagnose the plumbing problem and root cause
Recommend the best solution for your home
Decide which methods and materials give you the most bang for the buck
Install the parts properly the first time
Provide a warranty and labor and materials
Avoid general handymen for serious plumbing. When you call a professional plumber, you get highly skilled technicians who arrive on-time in fully stocked vehicles. Contact Gold Medal for fully qualified and insured to perform first-class customer service.
MYTH: The lowest plumbing quote saves you money.
FACT: Our natural instincts are to go with the lowest quote we can find. Unfortunately, this can lead to higher costs overall. You want to choose the contractor who will give you the lowest cost overall. While upfront costs are something to pay careful attention to, you also want to consider that these materials should be made to last a long time.
Often, the lower the upfront cost, the less guarantees and warranties are available. You want to compare the overall offer, including:
The quality of the parts
Any included warranties (labor and/or materials)
Guarantees and promises to “go the extra mile”
Many plumbers and handymen will quote a low price to get the business, but will provide a poor, Band-Aid fix. If you skimp out on the initial repair, you could be facing larger maintenance costs and more frequent repairs down the road. Additionally, halfway into the job, the price might suddenly change significantly. You want to hire someone who sticks by their upfront pricing and satisfaction guarantees. If a plumber does offer any guarantees, make sure you get it in writing.
Your home is an important investment. When possible, you want to focus on quality and durability over upfront costs.
Check credentials, reputation, money-back guarantees, and be suspicious of super-low prices.
Keep track of your local plumbing contractor for offers and deals throughout the year.
We also recommend scheduling a professional plumbing inspection very year to make sure everything is running safely and smoothly.
MYTH: Water-efficient products are too expensive and hard to find.
FACT: Affordable and efficient water products are not hard to find. In addition to the large selection at retail stores, your plumber will be able to inform you of additional models and styles, from low-cost to luxury.
Look for the WaterSense label and speak with your plumber about installing efficient plumbing products at your price point. You’ll quickly make back any higher upfront costs with the savings on your water bill.
MYTH: Water efficiency and water conservation are the same thing.
FACT: Efficiency and conservation are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two separate things. Water efficiency is all about how to use less water to do the same job or task. For instance, low-flow toilets and energy-efficient appliances use technology and design to use less water while maintaining or even improving performance. Water efficiency means doing more with less.
Water conservation is usually behavior and habit-based, trying to reduce water loss, waste, or use. Water conservation includes things such as turning off the water while you brush your teeth and using native and drought-resistant plants for your landscaping. Both water efficiency and water conservation are important for curbing our water use.
MYTH: Bottled water is healthier and safer than tap water.
FACT: It depends, but the fact is that bottled water is held to lower standards than tap water. While bottled water is regulated by the FDA, tap water is monitored by the stricter EPA. The EPA has stricter standards for some microorganisms and chemicals, such as E. Coli and Legionella.
In fact, a lot of bottled water is simply taken from municipal taps. If you want to improve the taste and quality of your drinking water, we highly recommend looking into home filtration, purification, softening options. Speak with one of our professionals for more information on whole-house or under-sink water filtration and water softening systems. We offer free water filtration system installation evaluations.
Save hundreds of dollars a year by switching to tap water. Just remember to schedule professional plumbing maintenance every year to prevent any water quality problems.
MYTH: Lead in the water is the city or utility’s fault.
FACT: Most often, the source of lead in drinking water comes from the plumbing system inside your home. If you think you may have lead in your pipes, either call your local plumber or get a lead testing kit from your local home improvement store and send in your sample to a certified laboratory.
Learn more about lead in your drinking water here.
Don’t be foolish! Contact Gold Medal Service for your free water filtration system installation evaluation.
Our experienced technicians will assess your water supply and provide you with water filtration solutions that match your home’s need.
If you run into any other questionable plumbing advice, don’t hesitate to contact the plumbing mythbusters at Gold Medal. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have!