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With the start of a new year it's a great time to begin planning on how to save energy throughout your home. Here are a few tips and suggestions to save energy dollars year round.

Heating & Cooling

If you're planning on replacing your older air conditioner or furnace, consider purchasing a high efficiency model with an ENERGYSTAR™ rating. ENERGY STAR™ is a government-backed program designed to help consumers save money and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The ENERGYSTAR™ label will tell you how much energy you can expect the model to use annually.
  • Insulate ceilings to R-38 levels if your attic has less than R-19      
  • Caulk around windows, doors and anywhere air is leaking in or out
  • Apply weather striping around windows and doors
  • Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap
  • Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, and the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, if your comfortable. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees and for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees
  • Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly, following manufacturer's instructions
  • Replace old windows with new high performance multi-pane windows  
  • Install shades, awnings or sunscreens on windows facing south and/or west to block summer light. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms
  • Close the damper when the fireplace is not being used. Try not to use the fireplace and central heating system at the same time

Water Heating

  • Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal." if you have a dishwasher. Otherwise, set it at 120 degrees or "low."
  • Use a water heater blanket
  • Install energy-saver showerheads
  • Wash your laundry using a cold water detergent
  • Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases the gas or electric bill for heating the water
  • Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally

Extend the Life and Performance Of Your Water Heater With Regular Maintenance

Tank-Style Water Heater Maintenance

A conventional tank-style water heater will typically last for 8-10 years. However, without routine maintenance sediment and rust can accumulate, shortening the life of the water heater while also wasting energy. To keep your water heater in good condition for the long run, Maitz Home Services recommends following these water heater maintenance steps at least once a year.
  • Drain out the water heater tank to remove sediment. This is particularly important if you have hard water in your home. Attach a hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank. Before opening the drain valve  ensure the opposite end of the hose is outside or near a floor drain. Be careful, as the water may be very hot. If you're not sure how to flush your water heater, call Maitz Home Services. An experienced plumber can advise you on the best way to drain your water heater tank.
  • Check for water leaks, pinholes rusting around the exterior of the water heater.
  • For natural gas water heaters, inspect the flue to ensure exhaust fumes are venting outside by striking a match next to the flue housing. The smoke should drift out through the exhaust flue.
  • Test the relief valve by putting a bucket beneath the drain pipe and opening the valve. Water should flow freely when the valve is opened.
  • Ensure that the thermostat is set to between 120 and 125 degrees. It should not be set above 125 degrees. We recommend keeping your water heater below 115 degrees  if you have have young children.
  • Keeping a pan underneath the water heater will make it easier to detect any leaks.
  • If you have a gas water heater, check the pilot light to make sure it is burning blue and steady.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Tankless water heaters are becoming a popular choice for homeowners looking for a more efficient alternative to traditional water heaters. Because water is only heated when it's needed, it uses much less energy. And with no storage tank, it never runs out of hot water as long as the unit it the proper size for the home's hot water needs.

Like traditional water heaters, tankless water heaters require regular maintenance to ensure that they last as long as possible. Spending some time on maintenance yourself, or calling Maitz Home Services for routine maintenance, will ensure that you are taking advantage of all the cost saving benefits available from your tankless water heater. In addition, most manufacturers require this maintenance as a condition of the unit's warranty.

1. Inspect and Clean the Screen Filter

Following the manufacturer's recommended schedule and procedures, inspect and clean the filter located on the water inlet side the tankless water heater. We recommend having a qualified plumber do this job. If you're a do-it-yourselfer, it's important to learn the proper procedure before attempting this maintenance. Do not use chemicals to clean your tankless water heater, since they will enter your drinking water. Vinegar is a safe, effective cleaner.

2. Flush the System

To prevent the a harmful buildup of lime and scale, flush your tankless water heater periodically according to the manufacturer's recommendations. As noted above, please be sure to flush it with vinegar and not chemicals that could contaminate your water supply.
Electrical ProblemsAre you experiencing light switches or electrical outlets that don't work reliably? There can be a variety of causes for electrical problems around the home. The affected circuit controlled by a switch or outlet may not be completed because of another component. A switch may control an outlet which is unoccupied by a lamp or any other electrical device. Also, an outlet may be connected to a switch which is in the off position. Another cause may be related to a defective breaker, or a breaker which was tripped or turned off, but never switched back on.

Arching is another common reason that switches and outlets fail. If the arcing was caused by aluminum wiring, a hazardous condition may exist. If your home or building was constructed before 1972, or during the late sixties, it could have aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring was used legally during those years, but outlawed for installation in new homes, commercial buildings, remodels and renovations after it was discovered it could lead to electrical fires.

Although aluminum wiring itself is generally no more hazardous than copper, its splices and connections with other metals present a real hazard because they can become corroded and cause arcing. Because arcing in these connections can lead to fire within surrounding materials, aluminum wiring has been discontinued.

However, many homes still contain aluminum wiring, and research conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) revealed that buildings with aluminum wiring pose a fire risk which is 55 times greater than the risks with similar structures wired with copper. So, if you discover an electrical outlet or switch which doesn’t appear to be working correctly, it’s possible this outlet or switch has been damaged by a connection with aluminum wiring. If you have safety questions about this type of problem, or any electrical concerns regarding your residence or commercial building, please contact us immediately. Our licensed electricians are trained and to perform professional electrical safety inspections, and can repair any type of electrical problem.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

Choosing The Right Furnace For Your Home

When you’re looking for a new furnace for your home, you may find that it can be difficult to choose the right model.  There are three different types of furnace : gas, oil, and electric.  Depending on your particular home heating needs, you may find that one type is more suitable for your household than another type.  Learning about each furnace style can help you to decide which model to purchase.

Types of Furnaces

Home HeatingEach furnace type operates on a different energy source and there are advantages and disadvantages to each model.  Oil furnaces can last for up to 30 years with proper maintenance, which makes them a great choice if you are planning on staying in your home for a long period of time.  Oil furnaces also tend to be safer, since the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is quite low.

Gas furnaces have become very reliable, since they run on a natural gas, they cannot be interrupted by typical electrical shortages.  However, gas furnaces have the potential threat of a gas leak that can be harmful to a home's inhabitants. Compared to electric furnaces, gas furnaces are less expensive to operate on average, but only last for 12 to 15 years.

Electric furnaces are longer lasting, running up to 30 years.  Since these furnaces run on electrical power, a power outage will shut them off and the cost of operating them will increase your power bill.  One of the benefits of electric furnaces, however, is that they pose no safety risk since they do not rely on fuel.

When It's Time To Replace Your Old Furnace

How do you know when it’s time to replace your current furnace?  Typically, if  it is at least 15 years old, it’s a good idea to consider replacing it with a newer model.  This is because new models are manufactured with improved energy efficiency, which can save you money on your home’s heating bill.  Another reason to update your furnace is, even if you have a newer furnace model, you may need a new system if your current unit is not adequately heating your home.

Energy Star Furnaces

One of the most important considerations when choosing a home furnace is energy efficiency.  If you select an Energy Star-approved model, you’ll save on your energy use and your utility bill.  It is also important that you select a certified installation technician who will make sure that you select a furnace that can meet your home’s daily needs.  If you select a furnace that is too small for your home, you may experience areas with not enough heat, or need to run the unit more often to reach an acceptable level of comfort.

Choose An Experienced Technician

By discussing your unique needs with an experienced professional, you can be sure that you're getting the best type of furnace for your home’s needs, and that it will be installed properly and safely.

So, are you ready to install or replace a furnace? Our experienced Home Comfort Specialists can help. They’ll study your home, listen to your concerns, explain all of your options in easy to understand language and assist you with finding the quality heating system that best meets your family’s needs.
At first glance it my not seem like there's much to think about when it comes to choosing a toilet. Pick a color that matches your decor and your done, right? Not quite. That's only one of the many choices to make when it comes to choosing a toilet. Size, height and how well it functions should also be part of your decision.
Toilets

Finding a Toilet That Fits

There are many toilets on the market, but a rough-in distance, measured from the finished wall to the center of the sewer drain for the toilet, will narrow the options. The standard rough-in is 12 inches, and the widest number of toilets are available in this size. If a bathroom remodel makes use of an existing rough-in that is a different size, 14 or 10 inches for example, the options are more limited.

Most folks find elongated toilet seats to be more comfortable, but in a smaller bathroom, a round bowl will save some space, as well as a few dollars in most cases.

Taller toilets are also becoming more popular, which makes a bathroom accessible to all users regardless of mobility, because they make sitting down and standing up easier.

What Style of Toilet?

Choosing a ToiletThere are a few toilet designs available. A two-piece toilet, which has the tank bolted to the top of the bowl, is usually a little more affordable. A one-piece toilet, with an single tank and bowl, can cost more, but are easier to clean because they have no seams. Wall-mounted toilets add design flair to a bathroom, and cleaning under them is a breeze. However, these high-end fixtures can be more expensive to install because they require a secure wall to mount the toilet and store the tank, and repair and maintenance could mean opening up the wall.

Flushing Systems

While having a perfect fitting and great looking toilet is important, it won't matter if it doesn't flush right everytime.

Prior to 1994, toilets used around 3.5 gallons of water per flush. Then Congress, in an effort to conserve resources, reduced the amount of water new toilets could flush to 1.6 gallons per flush. Unfortunately, the first generation of low-flow toilets couldn't get the job done, and that's a stigma these commodes are still trying to shake more than a decade later. Manufacturers have since introduced low-flow toilets that work very well, using either a gravity or power-assisted flush.

Dual-flush technology features a split plunger-style flush mechanism on top of the tank. Pushing one button releases .08 gallons of water and pushing both doubles the flow to 1.6 gallons. Over the life of the toilet, a four-person family can save thousands of dollars.

Sunday, 19 March 2017 17:55

5 Tips To Save Energy Year Round

Most homeowners would like to see their home’s energy consumption decrease in order to boost energy savings. The experts at Maitz Home Services are happy to help by offering our top 5 ways to drive energy savings higher, no matter the season.
Energy savings

These 5 tips can help you save money throughout the year:

1. Use your programmable thermostat to set an energy-saving schedule, and be sure to implement at least one eight-hour period a day when you dramatically adjust temperatures for maximum savings. Most homeowners schedule these periods when the home is unoccupied or when they’re sleeping.

2. Upgrade the insulation throughout your home. This action will create a better barrier to prevent heat gain during the summer, and prevent heat loss in the winter

3. Seal the air leaks around your home’s exterior. When you close leaks, you’ll keep more conditioned air inside and reduce energy consumption.

4. Change your system’s filter regularly to ensure proper airflow through the A/C. When airflow is constricted, your system will consume more energy.

5. Replace old, inefficient HVAC equipment, like your A/C or water heater, with high-efficiency systems that will dramatically boost your monthly energy savings, and maximize your investment over the life of the equipment.

By implementing some simple strategies to boost energy savings, homeowners can reduce their energy consumption while making their homes more comfortable. For expert advice, contact the HVAC professionals at Maitz Home Services today.

Air ConditioningYour home's central air conditioner is a power-hungry and complex machine that can fail at any time without warning. However, there are a few simple ways you can identify air conditioner problems that could tip you off to a potential problems before the unit fails completely.

Some of the early warning signs of potential air conditioner problems are:

Excessive Noise

One of the most common complaints we hear is that the air conditioner is making a wailing noise. Left unchecked, the minor annoyance can quickly grow deafening when the unit is operating at full capacity. Loud noises such as these are generally caused by a fan belt becoming dislodged over time. Your technician will check the bearings in the motor, as they may require lubrication or replacement.

Frozen AC Coils

Another issue that often arises is frozen coils. Frozen coils and ice can impede the operation of the unit, creating blockage in the circulation of Freon and air. Heat pumps often contain heating elements to reduce this problem, but sometimes the unit doesn’t cycle quickly enough. Recalibrating the unit can eliminate this problem.

Precipitation

An air conditioner that is leaking water inside your home can cause significant water damage as well as mold and mildew. If your AC unit no longer drains away condensation effectively, it could be the result of a rusted out condensation pan or blockage in the drain itself. Check the pan and drain lines for signs of leaks.

Clogged Ventilation Grills

One of the most common causes of air conditioner failure is blocked grills. Annual maintenance to clean the unit's fins, fan, motor and other parts of dirt and debris will allow the unit to operate at peak efficiency during the hottest weather.

Other AC Problems

If the air conditioner simply isn’t cooling, more advanced diagnostic tools may need to be applied. Is the fan or compressor running without the other? Does the unit work only part of the time? Does it over cool or not cool enough? Questions such as these can help you give your technician a head start in quickly zeroing in on the source of the problem, so be sure to take a second to observe operation before you turn of power to the unit and call for service.

Generally most problems can be identified from the details above. If, for instance, the unit shuts off before the room is a comfortable temperature, it may not be cycling enough air through the thermostat to take a measurement. This could be due to poor calibration or a blocked sensor.

A Freon leak can render the machine weak or ineffective, especially if recharging the gas supply doesn’t solve the problem. The thermostat could be broken as well, which usually means it has to be replaced.

Finally, the A/C unit may be short-circuited to the ground, causing circuit breakers to fail every time the machine turns on. Be sure to provide a description of the problem to your technician to help him solve your problem as quickly as possible.
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