Energy Efficiency Category


4 Home Energy Myths Debunked

Like other fables, home energy myths tend to be accepted and passed along without ever being subjected to scientific proof. Relying on untested methods for energy savings often results in the opposite: increased energy use and higher operating costs. Science doesn’t yet know everything about how to make a home as energy efficient as possible. However, we can be certain about a number of things that don’t work. Here are four home energy myths that don’t stand up to a closer look:

home energy mythsMyth: Upgrading attic insulation only causes more heat loss through the walls and floor.
Fact: Heat energy inside a house isn’t like air pressure. Fixing heat loss in one spot doesn’t increase heat loss elsewhere. Heat passes through solid surfaces by conduction and radiation. Wherever it’s installed, proper insulation inhibits heat loss and doesn’t cause it to increase elsewhere.

Myth: Closing supply vents in some rooms saves energy.
Fact: Your furnace or air conditioner doesn’t “know” if vents are open or not. It just keeps on generating the same amount of heating or cooling and the same amount of energy is consumed whether or not all vents are open. Closing supply vents may actually cause the system to run longer “on” cycles and use more energy.

Myth: When you turn off an electronic device, it stops consuming electricity.
Fact: Many devices such as battery chargers, printers and home entertainment equipment actually go into “standby” mode when turned off and continue to use some electricity, although at a reduced amount. Plugging these devices into a switched outlet strip then turning off the strip is the only way to completely stop electrical consumption.

Myth: Replacing standard windows with high-efficiency windows pays for itself in energy savings.
Fact: Not for a very, very long time. The high cost of window replacement rarely pays for itself in a reasonable time frame. For a low investment and fast payback, caulking and weatherstripping to seal air leaks and upgrading attic insulation are a better bet.

Want to bust more home energy myths? Contact the experts at Apollo Home.

 


Does Attic Ventilation Matter in the Winter?

During summer, proper attic ventilation seems like a no-brainer. On a hot day, an under-ventilated attic can turn into a broiling oven that radiates heat down through the ceiling into living spaces below, raising cooling costs and diminishing comfort. It may not be as self-evident, but attic ventilation is also important in winter, although for less obvious reasons.

attic ventilationIce Dam Prevention

Ice dams form when the upper portion of the roof is warmer than the rest of the roof, causing snow near the peak to melt faster. This runoff re-freezes as it reaches the lower, frigid zone of the roof, forming a barrier that prevents water from draining into the gutters. Pooling water on the roof quickly penetrates the shingles and roof sheathing, dripping into the attic and eventually leaking through your ceiling. Serious water damage is the result.

Uneven roof warming is caused by accumulation of heat in the attic. Because warm air naturally rises, heat conducted from the living spaces up through the ceiling into the attic accumulates at the underside of the upper roof, warming only that section and causing uneven snow melt. The remedy is a uniformly cold attic. Make sure attic vents up at the roof peak and down near the soffits are fully open and unobstructed to permit optimum attic ventilation and exhaust accumulating heat.

Condensation Reduction

In addition to warm air, water vapor from the living spaces may migrate up into the attic through small cracks and gaps in the ceiling and around recessed light fixtures. Humidity accumulates in an under-ventilated attic. When temperatures plunge on a cold night, water vapor in humid air naturally condenses. Attic insulation becomes soaked by condensation, degrading its insulating properties and spawning mold growth. Wet wooden structural members in the attic may warp and rot. Maintaining adequate flow of passive attic ventilation into soffit vents and out the vents at the peak of the roof maintains constant circulation of air to exhaust water vapor and prevent condensation.

In greater Cincinnati, ask the professionals at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more options to ensure optimum attic ventilation.


5 Energy-Saving Myths Debunked

Relying on an energy-saving myth may cost you money and comfort this winter. All too often, home energy conservation decisions are based on outdated, debunked folklore that was once accepted as common knowledge. New technology proves that some longstanding beliefs about energy conservation are actually closer to fables than actual scientific fact. See if you recognize a familiar energy-saving myth from the list of five below.

  • energy-saving mythsKeep the furnace thermostat at normal comfort setting all the time, even while the home is unoccupied. People used to believe more energy was wasted warming up a cold house than by leaving the furnace at a normal setting 24/7. Turns out, it’s not true. Bumping the thermostat down 8 to 10 degrees while the home’s unoccupied for several hours saves more money than keeping the setting at its usual temperature.
  • A wood-burning fireplace saves money and heats efficiently. Are you gathering and chopping your own firewood? If not, purchasing commercial firewood is a costly way to buy BTUs of heat. Also, most heat produced by a fireplace goes straight up the chimney.
  • The higher you set the thermostat, the faster the home warms up. Actually, the furnace generates consistent heat whether the thermostat is set at the typical temperature—or cranked all the way up. Be patient. Higher thermostat settings lead to energy waste and a too-hot house.
  • To better distribute heat, close heating vents in unused rooms. A forced-air furnace and duct system is designed to convey a balanced amount of heated airflow into and out of every room. Closing heating vents in some rooms throws the system out of balance and may make heating throughout the house inconsistent. It also tends to increase air leakage from ductwork.
  • High-efficiency windows reduce heat loss and save money. That much is true, however, the savings may take many years to compensate for the cost of the windows. For more immediate payoff, inexpensive caulking and weatherstripping is a more cost-efficient and effective method of weatherizing doors and windows.

Relying on an energy-saving myth to stay comfortable this winter? Call the professionals Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


LED vs. CFL: Which Bulb is Better?

For homeowners aiming to control energy costs, reducing household lighting expenses is a worthwhile target. Lighting accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of total home energy consumption and the average household spends between $100 and $200 a year to pay for it. Today, incandescent bulbs are limited to halogen fixtures, but you have two better options to control energy costs of lighting your home. The best news is, making the change can be as simple as unscrewing a light bulb.

control energy costsCompact Fluorescent

Known as CFLs, these bulbs are basically mini versions of the long fluorescent tubes regularly seen in stores and in other commercial applications. However, today’s CFLs are available in a range of softer color temperatures so you don’t have to deal with the harsh light associated with fluorescent tubes. A CFL bulb that produces the same amount of illumination as a 60-watt incandescent bulb consumes about 13 watts of electricity. The expected lifespan is 8,000 hours.

Pros Of CFLs

  • Energy consumption is lower than incandescent bulbs.
  • Lower upfront cost than LED lamps.
  • Generates bright light that diffuses evenly in a room.

Cons Of CFLs

  • Requires a few minutes to warm up to full brightness.
  • Unless specifically labeled, most CFLs are incompatible with dimmer switches.
  • Less effective in very cold temperatures.

LEDs

Light-emitting diodes are technically termed “lamps” instead of bulbs. An LED lamp incorporates a diode array that generates light when energized by electricity. The stand-out advantage of LEDs is extremely long life. Most consumer-grade models claim life spans of 25,000+ hours—three times the CFL lifespan. A 10-watt LED bulb produces as much light as a 13-watt CFL.

Pros Of LED Lamps

  • Lowest energy consumption of all options.
  • Longest expected life and reliability.
  • Instant on—zero warm-up to reach full brightness.
  • Many are dimmer-compatible.
  • Not sensitive to cold temperatures.

Cons Of LEDs

  • Present retail cost is two to three times CFL price, though prices are dropping.
  • Light is more directional than CFLs and doesn’t spread as efficiently.

Looking for more ways to control energy costs? In greater Cincinnati, contact the efficiency pros at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


Cool a Home & Save Money with These Ceiling Fan Tips

If cooling costs are straining your budget, have ceiling fans installed in your home. Not only will you see savings, you will experience greater comfort no matter how hot things get outside. Follow these ceiling fan tips for the most success.

ceiling fan

A ceiling fan circulating air in a room
Source: istockphoto

How Ceiling Fans Save Money

Using ceiling fans improves air conditioning efficiency in your home by allowing you to turn up the thermostat, thus reducing the workload on your A/C. You feel cooler when fans are on because the breeze helps sweat evaporate, removing heat from your skin surface.

Ceiling fans use less electricity than an air conditioner, which saves energy. Just remember that ceiling fans only cool you when you are present in the room. Turn them off when you leave to avoid wasting energy.

Ceiling Fan Blades

Blades should be set to spin either clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on the fan model, to provide the wind chill effect in hot weather. During our ceiling fan installation in Cincinnati homes, our technicians can show you how to set blade direction and how to reverse it when cold weather arrives. In winter, reversing the blade direction and keeping the fan on the lowest setting pushes heated air downward, keeping you warmer.

Ceiling fans create a breeze throughout the room because of the slight angle of the blades, which stir the air by pushing it. Make sure you choose fans with blades that are at a 14-degree angle or more.

Fan Size

Fan size also makes a difference and large living areas call for either a large-sized fan, about 54 inches, or two smaller ones to create a sufficient breeze. If you purchase an undersized fan, what can happen is you’ll need to run it on the highest speed most of the time to notice any benefit, which uses more energy than necessary.

Expert installation ensures that the ceiling fan is securely mounted, safely wired, the blades are balanced and that the fan runs at optimal efficiency. For professional ceiling fan installation in Cincinnati, contact us at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


The Role Programmable Thermostats Play in a Smart Home

As said by author Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” And no where is this more true than in the home, where smart home technology is allowing homeowners to better control costs and reduce stress like no other time in history.

smart thermostat

a smart thermostat on the wall
Source: istockphotos

Many homeowners today are making upgrades in an effort to make their houses “smart.” A smart home utilizes advanced technology that’s meant to make life more convenient, secure and comfortable though remote accessibility (i.e. you can command the lights to turn on inside before you get home). Smart technology is typically energy efficient, as well, by giving homeowners more subtle control of a home’s environment.

One of the best examples of this can be seen in programmable thermostats which give greater control of a homes temperature to every member of the household, no matter if you’re inside or outside the home.

If your home still has the standard thermostat that was installed when it was built, then you’re probably missing out on a fair amount of energy savings every month. Learn more about programmable thermostat installation in the Cincinnati area, and why it should be high on your home improvement priority list.

What is a Programmable Thermostat?

Traditional thermostats are basic temperature controlling devices; to adjust the climate inside your home with one, you must manually change the settings. If energy conservation is a goal of yours, then it’s easy to see how waste can occur with such rudimentary models.

A programmable thermostat eliminates the need to remember to change the temperature throughout the day, since they can be scheduled to turn on and off at the times you want them to. Smart thermostats are the most advanced type. For example, they can automatically adjust the settings according to your family’s lifestyle habits, and they can be controlled away from home using a computer or a smart phone.

Programmable Thermostat Benefits

The following are just a few of the perks that come with programmable thermostats:

  • Your monthly utility bills can drop significantly by preventing energy waste.
  • Smart programmable thermostats continuously monitor your local weather and will adjust the temperature automatically as needed.
  • If there’s a sudden change in your schedule, a smart thermostat allows you to remotely change the temperature inside a home from a computer or smart phone.
  • Many programmable thermostats feature a touch-screen, user-friendly interface.
  • Smart thermostats allow you to see your energy use in real time, and you can also look up your past usage history.

For more information on programmable thermostat installation in the Greater Cincinnati area, please feel free to contact us anytime at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


Heat Rises: Keep Your Top Floor Cool this Summer

As summer heats up, you might notice a temperature variance between the lower and upper floors of your home. Instead of resigning yourself to this, you can take simple steps to make the whole home more comfortable.

Child with tablet

Child with tablet lying on floor.
Source: istockphotos

Here are tips on keeping all floors cool in the summer and saving energy:

Block Heat Gain from Windows

Windows are a significant source of solar heat gain. Window treatments reduce this by over half, keeping your home cooler. On the interior, use window blinds, solar curtains, insulated cellular shades or a combination of these to keep the heat out. On the outside, install awnings, sunscreens, window film or shutters.

Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans create a breeze, and this makes you feel cooler because air flowing over your skin evaporates sweat. With ceiling fans running, you can resist lowering the thermostat setting and spare an air conditioner from running so much. You will feel cooler and save energy at the same time.

Make sure to choose the right size of fan for each room and have it professionally installed. Our technicians can perform your ceiling fan installation in the greater Cincinnati area.

Turn off Heat-Producing Electronics and Lights

Television sets and computers may not seem to produce much heat, but every bit counts, especially in enclosed areas. Keep them turned off and unplugged unless you are using them.

Light bulbs also produce heat. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are some of the worst offenders, so keep these turned off as much as possible and, as soon as you can, buy compact fluorescent bulbs.

Insulate and Vent the Attic

When the attic temperature rises, this heat radiates into the home through the ceiling and walls. You will feel the effects of this the most in the upper levels of your home.  Have your attic checked to make sure the insulation and ventilation are adequate. If attic heat continues to be a problem, consider having an attic fan installed to vent the heat outdoors.

For help keeping all floors cool in the summer, please contact us at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


How to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

Modern homes are much more airtight than they used to be. This is a result of the increased attention given to energy efficiency in home-building. Ideally, a tighter home envelope should be accompanied by effective ventilation that exchanges inside and outside air several times a day. Unfortunately, many homes lack proper ventilation, and they may even harbor many sources of indoor pollution.

air quality

A HVA filter that is clogged with dust rendering it inefficient and ineffective. A clogged furnace and or air conditioner filter is damaging to the HVA system and increases the cost of operation.
Source: istockphotos

If your home’s air feels stuffy, carries unpleasant odors, or allergic reactions seem to increase when family and guests spend significant time indoors, you should consider taking more aggressive steps to improve indoor air quality. These can include improved ventilation, better pollution source control, effective HVAC air filtration, and mechanical air-cleaning or purification. Listed below are a few more ways to improve indoor air quality.

Upgrade Ventilation

Make sure areas of the house with high humidity, such as bathrooms and the kitchen, have exhaust fans that remove dirty air from the house (rather than rerouting it back inside). Consider mechanical ventilation, such as Energy or Heat Recovery Ventilators (ERV/HRVs).

Source Control

When possible, reduce the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within the home. Close windows during allergy season, and use house plants to naturally filter indoor air. Make sure all combustion appliances are properly vented to the outside.

Effective HVAC Filtration

Choose furnace and A/C filters that are rated to remove the greatest variety of particulates from indoor air, including pollen, mold spores, dust mites, clothing and carpet fibers, pet dander, etc. However, take care not to use filters that are so good at filtration that they impeded airflow.

Air Cleaning or Purification

A variety of products that purport to clean indoor air are available on the market, though some work much better than others, and those that produce ozone may actually worsen indoor air quality. Some air-cleaning systems attach directly to central HVAC equipment, while others are stand-alone systems. The best of these air cleaners use a variety of strategies to clean indoor air, including high-efficiency (HEPA) filtration, ionizing purification and ultraviolet light radiation.

For more advice on improving indoor air quality in your Cincinnati area home, please contact us at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


Make Sure Your Home is Prepped to Save Energy this Summer

With another hot, humid season on the way, now’s the perfect time to make some energy efficiency preparations around the home to increase comfort and reduce energy consumption. These summer energy saving tips can help you get started.?

cool home

Source: Freedigitalphotos

Book an energy audit – A professional energy audit can provide an in-depth look at your home’s efficiency to help you determine where to make strategic improvements. You may learn that you need to augment attic insulation, or seal the home’s envelope to stop conditioned air losses.?

Get the ductwork sealed – Having a pro seal the joins and insulate ducting in unconditioned areas like the attic or basement can help prevent the loss of up to 30 percent of the A/C’s output.?

Have a programmable thermostat installed – Choose one that matches your HVAC equipment and weekly schedule, and program it around your daily routine. By setting 10- to 15-degree temperature setbacks for eight hours or more a day, you can save energy without any loss of comfort.?

Reduce heat gain through the windows – Add energy efficient curtains, shades or blinds and close them during the day to limit heat gain and reduce the air conditioner’s cooling load.?

Turn on your ceiling fans – Make sure the blades are set to spin counter-clockwise and you’ll feel a cooling wind chill effect. This boost in comfort can let you program in thermostat temperature setting increases of about four degrees to save on energy consumption.?

Don’t add to the cooling system’s workload – Cook in the microwave or outdoors on the grill instead of using the oven. Hang dry laundry to take advantage of free solar heat instead of using the clothes dryer, and let clean dishes air dry instead of hitting the “heated dry” cycle on the dishwasher.?

Help your A/C work efficiently – Schedule professional air conditioner maintenance before the weather heats up to ensure your cooling system is operating efficiently. To maintain maximum efficiency throughout the summer, check the air filter monthly and replace it as needed.

To learn more summer energy saving tips, contact the Cincinnati home comfort experts at Apollo Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


How Does Ceiling Fan Direction Impact Your Indoor Comfort?

Many homeowners use ceiling fans as an alternative to running the air conditioner at certain times of year. What you may not realize is that simply switching ceiling fan direction can have a positive impact on indoor comfort all year long.
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