Tips for Your Home Category

How A Furnace Inspection Can Save You Money

furnace inspectionSaving money isn’t the only benefit of a furnace inspection, but it’s one you’ll appreciate every month when you pay your utility bills. Nationwide, the annual average cost to heat a home with a gas furnace is more than $1,200. Any effective measures you can take to reduce that substantial figure usually pay for themselves in energy savings alone. Of course, an annual furnace inspection also keeps your heating system performing up to manufacturer’s specs, reduces the incidence of repairs and ensures that all safety functions are fully operational.

Here are some ways an annual furnace inspection by a qualified HVAC service technician helps keep household heating affordable.

  • Furnace air filter is checked and replaced. A dirty filter obstructs system airflow. Low airflow is a major cause of substandard furnace efficiency and higher heating costs.
  • Burners are cleaned and checked for proper ignition and flame. Dirty or clogged burners cause incomplete combustion and waste gas.
  • The vent system is inspected all the way to the roof to ensure free flow of exhaust gases. An obstructed vent is a major safety hazard and also affects furnace energy consumption.
  • Combustion gases produced by the furnace are checked with an analyzer. This is an important diagnostic procedure to verify proper combustion and make sure the furnace is operating at optimum fuel efficiency. It’s also a critical safety measure to detect excessive amounts of dangerous carbon monoxide.
  • Blower amperage is measured. The furnace blower makes a substantial contribution to monthly electrical costs. Excessive amperage draw indicates a worn, failing motor that may be wasting electricity.
  • Heat exchanger is inspected. This is a vital safety check as the heat exchanger prevents dangerous combustion gases including carbon monoxide from entering the system airflow. Because the heat exchanger is the single most expensive component in your heating system, an annual inspection also provides important information about the expected service life of the furnace and when replacement may be necessary.

Enjoy optimum heating comfort at lowest cost this winter. Schedule a furnace inspection by the professionals at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.


How To Prevent Dust Invading Your Home

indoor dustIt probably comes as no surprise that there is dust invading your home. The amount, however, is remarkable: Studies have shown that a typical six-room American residence accumulates over 40 pounds of dust every year. Most airborne dust originates inside the house versus from outdoor sources. The diverse list includes carpet fibers, human skin flakes, spores from indoor mold growth, powder from drywall construction materials, fragments of dead insects, lint from bedding and pet hair and dander.

Some of the dust invading your home is an inevitable result of human occupation. However, it’s still feasible to reduce that 40-pound annual figure to a more manageable amount.

Don’t Spread It Around
Dust on surfaces can be removed with electrostatic microfiber cloths that retain dust. However, vacuuming carpets often stirs up large volumes of dust into the air instead of capturing it. To avoid re-distributing dust throughout the house, use a vacuum that incorporates a HEPA-grade filter and bags rated to retain dust particles as small as 5 microns.

Choose Quality Air Filters
The entire volume of air inside your home—including the dust floating in it—passes through the HVAC air filter multiple times each day. Cheap fiberglass filters don’t extract dust particles efficiently. Replace with quality pleated cotton or polyester filters with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) around 8. Change the air filter monthly during cooling season and every other month during heating season.

Maintain Your Ductwork
Leaky, deteriorating ductwork actually sucks in air from dusty parts of the structure such as the attic and crawl space, then circulates that dust into living spaces of the house. Have your ducts inspected and tested for leakage by a qualified HVAC contractor. Options for repair and sealing of ductwork help reduce dust circulation.

Rotate Bedding Weekly
Beds are a repository of shed skin flakes that contribute airborne dust every time you fluff the sheets. Wash pillowcases and sheets every week. Items that don’t require regular washing like blankets and bedspreads should be taken outside and shaken vigorously.


3 Back-To-School Energy Saving Tips

back to schoolBack-to-school energy savings can be a good opportunity to recoup some of those higher summer costs. There’s no doubt that this time of year is a more moderate energy season here in Ohio. As the daily hours of air conditioning use—a major electrical consumer in most households—began to drop, you’ll get a break in monthly utility bills. Later in the fall, as cooler weather arrives, heating expenses begin to come into the picture. But for right now, back-to-school energy savings can provide welcome relief from the summer’s higher bills. Here are some ways to take maximum advantage of the season.

Change The Filter
Don’t go into the new season with an HVAC air filter that’s clogged from long days of summer air conditioner operation. In most central systems, the air conditioner and furnace utilize the same filter. Low airflow due to an obstructed filter can cause both cooling and heating costs to climb drastically, as well as decreasing system performance. Change the filter now and check it monthly as the heating season arrives, changing it at least every other month.

Adjust Thermostat Schedule
If your thermostat is still operating on summer schedules, it may be running the system more hours per day than necessary. Usually, back-to-school means the house is less occupied during daylight hours and so doesn’t require the extended summer schedule for air conditioning. Also, as cooler outdoor weather begins to arrive, you’ll be able to bump up temperature settings a few degrees without affecting indoor comfort. For every degree you increase the thermostat setting, you can reduce A/C expenses by up to 4%.

Get Annual Preventive Maintenance
This transitional period is the time to schedule an annual system check-up by a qualified HVAC technician. The process includes a complete inspection as well as a list of manufacturer-recommended maintenance procedures that sustain optimum energy efficiency and lower operating costs during the coming months, as well as ensuring reliable operation.

Ask the experts at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing about more ways to maximize back-to-school energy savings.


Carbon Monoxide Detectors: How To Choose

carbon monoxide detectorNew home owners and those renovating an existing home in Ohio are required to install carbon monoxide detectors if the house has an attached garage or any appliance that uses natural gas such as a stove or gas furnace. Deadly carbon monoxide gas (CO) is a colorless and odorless by-product of combustion of fuels like gasoline, natural gas or even wood in a fireplace. It kills about 500 Americans annually and over 10,000 people exposed to it require emergency room treatment. Many victims of CO gas are never aware of the threat as early symptoms of exposure can be mistaken for common illnesses such as the flu.

Today’s carbon monoxide detectors are sensitive, reliable units that detect increasing levels of CO gas in the home and alert occupants with a loud audible alarm. Most units are designed to warn people before CO levels become concentrated enough to cause noticeable symptoms. Here are some criteria for adding this critical safety factor to your home.

  • Dual power source. For maximum safety, choose a plug-in detector that runs off of AC power and also incorporates a 9-volt backup battery to provide protection in the event of brief power outages.
  • Sensor type. CO detectors that utilize an electrochemical sensor are considered state of the art today. They are more reliable and accurate than the metal oxide semiconductor sensor included in older, less expensive units.
  • UL certified accuracy. Most CO detectors come with a specification that expresses the unit’s accuracy in parts-per-million of detected carbon monoxide. If the carbon monoxide detector is certified by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), the unit’s accuracy has also been tested and verified by UL.
  • End of life alert. Carbon monoxide detectors have a finite service life of 5 to 7 years. After that point, the unit is no longer reliable and must be replaced. Look for a detector that emits an audio alert when the time to replace the unit is approaching.

Don’t take chances with your family’s health and safety. Ask the professionals at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing for more advice about installing carbon monoxide detectors.


Choosing a Whole House Water Filtration System…

whole house water filtrationA whole-house water filtration system purifies all water entering your home and supplied to every fixture. This important fact distinguishes a whole-house system from individual point-of-use units that filter water at a single tap or fixture only. A whole-house water filtration system is also not the same as a water softener. Though the water softening process removes certain minerals from the household water, it doesn’t eliminate chemical impurities.

Installed by a qualified professional plumber, a whole-house system is typically located in your main water supply line just after it enters the house and before the line splits off to the water heater. This ensures that all water—cold or hot—utilized in the house is subjected to filtration. Generally, whole-house filtration should be considered to eliminate these water quality issues:

  • Sediment including sand, dirt and mineral granules resulting from hard water.
  • Chemicals including chlorine, pesticides and solvents.
  • Iron that naturally occurs in some municipal water supplies.

To properly compare and contrast whole-house filtration units, here are some characteristics to consider:

  • Flow rate. Each whole-house filter system has a maximum flow rating expressed in gallons per minute (gpm.) The total household water usage of all taps and fixtures should not exceed the flow rating of the system. For example, a filtration system rated for only 10 gpm will not supply acceptable water pressure if household demand is in the range of 15 gpm to 40 gpm that is typical for most residences.
  • Filter size. Larger filters deliver higher water flow rate and pressure. For most houses, a system with standard 4.5-inch x 20-inch filters is adequate. Households requiring more than 25 gpm flow rate may require a larger filter to accommodate higher water pressure.
  • Filter life. Sediment filter life varies according to the amount and size of sediment in the water supply. In a typical home, carbon filters that remove chemicals including chlorine should usually filter up to 150,000 gallons of water before requiring replacement.

For professional advice about selecting the right whole-house water filtration system, contact Apollo Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical.


Is Your Breaker Box Up to Code?

breaker boxThe breaker box in your home divides up the electrical current entering the house into individual circuits protected by circuit breakers. Breaker boxes are rated for a certain maximum amperage. Many boxes in older homes are rated for the electrical demand that was common at the time the house was built. However, as time has passed, everyone knows that household electrical devices have multiplied exponentially. If your breaker box hasn’t been updated, it may be out of date by one or more current code standards, as well as insufficient for today’s demand.

  • The National Electrical Code recommends that all residential breaker boxes be rated for a minimum of 100 amps. Old boxes in existing homes, however, may be designed to handle only as little as 60 amps. Upgrading to a box with a higher rating that meets the National Electrical Code recommendation—as well as accommodating today’s increased electrical demand—can be done by a qualified electrician. Upgrading the breaker box does not mean you have to rewire the entire house.
  • To protect home occupants from the risk of electrocution, the National Electrical Code stipulates that rooms where water is present—kitchen, bathrooms, spa, etc.—or appliances are in use must be served by circuits with GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection. This safety measure can be added to circuits by upgrading the box to incorporate GFCI-rated breakers.
  • The National Electrical Code also includes requirements for location of breaker boxes. In older homes, it may be situated in almost any indoor room. The NEC states that breaker boxes installed today must be in a safe location—no bathrooms—that is easily accessible. The box must have a minimum of three feet of open space clearance in front of it—no cramped closets and no large furniture obstructing the panel. If plumbing pipes are routed nearby, the box must be waterproof.

For more information on upgrading your breaker box to meet code as well as the electrical demands of the future, contact the professionals at Apollo Electrical, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Discover The Impact Ceiling Fans Can Have On Your Energy Bill

ceiling fansCeiling fans help your air conditioner do what it’s designed to do: make the house more comfortable in summer. However, they do it at less cost than an A/C. Air in motion is one of the secrets to indoor comfort. The slowly rotating blades of a ceiling fan move a large volume of air with very low electrical consumption. Compared to a typical 2.5 ton residential central air conditioner that consumes about 3,500 watts, a 48-inch ceiling fan running on “High” uses less than 75 watts. Here’s how a ceiling fan helps your A/C do its job better and saves money on monthly bills.

The sensation of moving air makes people feel cooler, even when the actual room temperature stays the same. It’s a small-scale version of the familiar wind chill effect that makes a blustery winter day feel colder than a calm day. The gentle flow of air from a ceiling fan allows you to raise the air conditioner thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing cool comfort. For every degree you can bump the A/C thermostat up in summer, you can save about 3% on cooling costs. In most cases, used in conjunction with the air conditioner the cooling effect created by a ceiling fan adequately compensates for a four-degree increase in thermostat setting. Here’s how to make sure you get the comfort and savings of a ceiling fan.

  • For summer operation, the ceiling fan’s directional switch should be set in the counter-clockwise direction. When standing directly beneath the fan, you should be able to feel a gentle downward breeze.
  • A ceiling fan only helps enhance the perception of coolness for people and pets in a room. Therefore, leaving a ceiling fan running in a room that isn’t occupied is a waste of energy and money. Turn ceiling fans off when everyone leaves the room.

For more about the comfort and economy of utilizing ceiling fans in your home this summer, contact Apollo Electrical, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Using Exterior Lighting To Increase Your Home Security

exterior lightingExterior lighting makes your home a lot less attractive target to burglars, vandals and trespassers. Most criminals are very risk-averse. There’s simply no reason to take great chances of being detected and caught when there’s almost always an easier, less risky opportunity nearby to exploit, instead. Illuminating the outdoor area surrounding your home raises that risk potential and deters crime. It also enhances home safety for you and your family and contributes to a more appealing, aesthetic appearance, too. Here are some of the basics of utilizing exterior lighting to increase home security.

  • Dual floodlights operated by motion sensors should be installed to cover all four sides of the home . Then, add additional single spotlights to illuminate any remaining dark corners or other areas of the property where someone might conceal their presence. If there’s no wiring at that particular area, use a battery operated security light with motion-sensing function.
  • To greatly reduce electricity consumption and operating costs, instead of standard incandescent bulbs choose LEDs or compact fluorescents for all security applications. The long life of these units also minimizes the chore of changing bulbs, particularly those mounted high up that require a ladder to access.
  • Low-voltage landscape lighting should be timer-operated (or connected to a photocell) to remain on from dusk until dawn.
  • If you use a timer to turn certain outdoor lights on and off, select a unit with “Random” setting to vary on/off times.
  • Important lights that are mounted within reach such as front porch lights or patio door lights should have an enclosure to prevent the bulb from being easily removed or broken.
  • Wifi-operated security lights that you can operate from your phone, tablet or computer from any location give you additional control, even when you’re away from home. Combined with web-enabled surveillance cameras, the system provides effective outdoor monitoring and security from anywhere in the world.

Ask the experts at Apollo Electrical, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more advice about enhancing home security with exterior lighting.

Choosing the Right Fixtures for Your Bathroom Upgrade

bathroom upgradeWhen planning your bathroom upgrade, new bathroom fixtures can not only give your bathroom a totally different ambiance, but they can also lower your water bills. Because there are so many options to choose from, it helps to plan ahead.

Beautiful, Functional Faucets

If you’ll be keeping your current sink cabinet, choose a faucet type that matches the hole openings in the counter. Make sure the faucet’s size suits your sink size. If you have kids or elderly family members, choose a faucet that’s easy to use, such as a single-handle or hands-free model.

Then consider style and finish. Ideally, your choice should coordinate with your other bathroom fixtures and surfaces. For a modern look, try polished nickel, matte black or the standard polished chrome. To create a vintage or rustic feel, copper, brass, and hammered nickel are good choices.

Look for faucet that’s earned the WaterSense labeled. These faucets use at least 30 percent less water than standard models, yet perform just was reliably.

Toilets with Style

If you’re planning to replace your toilet, first measure your existing toilet’s rough-in size, the distance from the wall behind the toilet to the center of the bolts on the base. You’ll need a toilet with the same rough-in size to avoid major plumbing modifications.

Decide whether you want a standard, space-saving round bowl or an elongated bowl for extra comfort. Rim height also affects comfort and ease of use. The standard is 14 to 15 inches, but 16 1/2 inches often more comfortable for the elderly and those with disabilities.

A toilets in white and other neutral might go with everything, but one in a bolder color or with an artistic motif will give your bathroom a dash of personality.

By choosing a WaterSense-labeled toilet, you’ll use 20 percent less water per flush with no reduction in performance compared to standard toilets.

Renovations aren’t the only reason for a bathroom upgrade with new fixtures. If you have a cracked toilet or a faucet with a persistent leak or water pressure problem, contact an Apollo Home plumber for guidance on your repair and replacement options.

Whole House Generators – Key Things You Need To Know

A whole house generatorwhole house generator is rapidly becoming a standard accessory in homes. Weather-related power outages have increased 100 percent since 2003. On an average day, about a half-million people across the country are affected by loss of utility power. Not only are power outages increasing, the typical duration until power is restored is also getting longer. The reason is clear: most of the U.S. power grid was constructed in the 1950s and upgrades have not kept pace with rapidly increasing demand or changes in patterns of severe weather.

Portable generators utilized for recreational activities are not designed to provide safe, reliable household power during an outage; amperage output is insufficient. Units must be deployed outdoors then manually started, and utilization present hazards from carbon monoxide exhaust and the necessity to string long extension cords in wet weather.

Installed by a professional electrician, a whole-house generator safely protects your household from electrical interruptions and the potential expense and stress of having to leave home until utility power is restored. Here are some key facts to consider:

  • Whole-house generators are permanently installed behind or next to your home, and are about the size of a typical central A/C.
  • The unit is hard-wired directly into the main electrical panel of the house and continuously monitors incoming power from the grid. When an outage is detected, the system automatically starts and shifts household circuits over to generator power in seconds. After utility power is restored, the generator automatically switches back to the grid and shuts off.
  • Whole-house generators typically run off clean natural gas fuel already supplied to your home. It’s a self-feeding energy source that flows without pumps and is very rarely affected by weather or other factors that cause power outages.
  • A whole-house generator can be sized to your expected needs. Capacity ranges from sufficient power for critical circuits only to units that totally replace utility power throughout the entire home.
  • Apps available for many whole-house units permit remote monitoring and control via smartphone.

Ask the professionals at Apollo Home Electrical, Heating, Cooling, Plumbing for more information about the benefits of a whole house generator.