woman in floral shirt with blonde hair touching thermostat


How to Maximize the Benefits of Your Thermostat

Everyone knows that your central heating and air conditioning system consumes as much as 50% of your monthly energy, but did you know that you can actually save money each month on your utility bill when you install an energy efficient programmable thermostat to control your heating and air conditioning system?  Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck with your energy efficient programmable thermostat according to Consumer Reports:

How Thermostats Work

Thermostats use sensors to monitor your home’s temperature and regulate heating and cooling equipment in accordance with the temperatures you specify. Older thermostats require manual adjustment of the temperature, but programmable thermostats have microprocessors that allow you to program your home temperatures to better fit your lifestyle. Now your thermostat can keep your house at the perfect comfort level while you’re home, and automatically dial up or down the temperatures to conserve energy when you’re sleeping or away. Program it once to set the desired times and temperatures, and you’ll save on your energy bills all season long.

When running your air conditioning system, set the thermostat to 78°. Keeping your house at 78° instead of 72° can save you 39% on your cooling costs. When you will not be home for at least 6 hours set the system to switch to a higher temperature to save even more. Of course, if you have pets, you must preserve a stable, comfortable temperature for their wellbeing, so don’t go hog-wild. Never turn your air conditioning off completely, even if you are leaving for several days.  When the system is turned off it can lead to mold, moisture, and humidity problems.

When it’s cold outside, and your furnace is doing the heavy lifting, set your thermostat to around 68° degrees, or lower if you can stand it. Each degree below 70° saves you roughly 3% on your annual heating bill. For those periods when you’re absent, set it to switch to 60° or so, and then revert to its normal setting when you come home. Again, don’t get carried away, as turning it off entirely may cause your pipes to burst if temperatures drop far enough.

NOTE: When you return after an absence, you might be tempted to crank the heat up in an attempt to heat the house quickly, but that can erase any savings you’ve accrued so far.

Swiss Army Thermostat

The feature list of modern thermostats is a long one, with scads of fancy doodads to do everything but tuck you in at night. Here are some of the most notable bells and whistles:

  1. Seven-day programming, permitting a different schedule for each day of the week, or any combination of days you want.
  2. A vacation override, which lets you temporarily alter the programmed settings.
  3. A keyboard lock, which prevents unauthorized changes to your settings, to the consternation of uppity teenagers and presumptuous babysitters everywhere.
  4. A low-battery indicator that warns you when the battery used to store the programmed schedule weakens.
  5. An automatic season changeover that switches between heating and cooling at the onset of different seasons.

Relax & Enjoy

Of course, another big plus of a programmable thermostat is that you have one less thing to think about around the house. When properly set to mirror your schedule, it’ll seem like your home is responding to your presence, and providing you with heat and warmth without you having to lift a finger. Now if you could only automate it to do the dishes…

To order your energy efficient wireless programmable thermostat with above features call Advance Mechanical now 252-355-9191

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Author:  Robert Bundy

Carbon Monoxide Detectors save Lives

What’s colorless, odorless, and one of the most toxic substances you come into contact with every day? Carbon monoxide (CO). This poisonous gas can be found at your workplace, in your garage, and even in your home. Each year, more than 500 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and thousands are hospitalized.

If you use fuel-burning appliances in your home or have an enclosed attached garage, you are required to have a CO detector on each floor of your home. These vital safety devices prevent poisoning by alerting you to high levels of carbon monoxide in the air before you, your family, or your pets become ill.

The Facts on CO Poisoning

Exposure to carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. This becomes a serious problem when you inhale the gas either in high concentrations or slowly over long periods of time. If you are a healthy person, inhaling small amounts might cause you to experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Prolonged exposure can be far more serious, and can cause loss of consciousness and death. Children, the elderly, and those who are immune-compromised are at most risk from exposure.

Your home may contain a wide variety of fuel-burning appliances: furnaces, room or space heaters, fireplaces, hot water heaters, and stoves, and grills. Automobiles left running in attached garages, barbecues operated inside the house, improperly vented grills or kerosene heaters, and chimneys or vents that are dirty or plugged may also create unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.

Warning Signs of a CO Problem

There are some things you can look out for that might indicate a carbon monoxide problem:

  • Streaks of soot around the service door of fuel-burning appliances
  • Absence of a draft in your chimney
  • Excessive rusting on flue pipes or appliance jackets
  • Moisture collecting on windows and walls
  • Small amounts of water leaking from bases of chimneys, vents, or flue pipes
  • Damaged or discolored bricks at the top of the chimney
  • Rust on exterior portions of vent pipes  

If you find any of these signs, it’s a good idea to call a qualified technician to identify and repair the problem.

How to Protect Yourself

The best defenses against carbon monoxide poisoning are proper installation, use, and maintenance of household cooking and heating equipment, and safe use of vehicles and other gas-powered equipment. Over time, components of fuel-burning appliances can become damaged or deteriorated. You might want to consider having a qualified technician inspect your appliances yearly to ensure their safety.

For maximum protection, consider going a step further and install carbon monoxide detectors inside your home to provide warning of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulation. Household carbon monoxide detectors measure how much carbon monoxide has accumulated in the air, and are designed to sound an alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of carbon monoxide are reached.

Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can be either battery-operated or hard-wired. A battery-operated detector or a plug-in detector with battery backup helps ensure that the unit works even in the case of a power outage.

Installing a CO Detector

Where you install your carbon monoxide detector is important. If you have a 2 story home you should have one detector on each floor.  A CO detector is required if you have either gas appliances, gas heating or an enclosed attached garage.  When possible try to install the carbon monoxide detectors near the areas or appliances that could emit carbon monoxide.  You are most susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide in the evenings when the house is closed and you are asleep. Therefore, installing one near each bedroom is recommended. You also might want to place detectors on each level of your home, especially near rooms where combustion devices, such as clothes dryers or furnaces, are located. Avoid placing your detector directly on top of or directly across from fuel-burning appliances, since these appliances do emit some carbon monoxide when initially turned on, and can set off a false-alarm.

Carbon monoxide weighs about the same as air, and, unlike smoke that rises, it mixes with air to distribute evenly throughout the house. Therefore, you can install carbon monoxide alarms in nearly any location, unlike smoke detectors, which should be installed high on the walls or ceiling. Carbon monoxide detectors installed near an ordinary electrical outlet or high on the wall are equally effective.

There are also combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors available which save space. Choose the model that best suits your household’s needs. To work properly, detectors should be clear of furniture, draperies, or other obstructions to normal air flow.

Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for additional information regarding proper use and maintenance. Local codes also may specify requirements for carbon monoxide detectors and their placement.

Test your carbon monoxide detectors at least once a month, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

What to Do if Your CO Alarm Sounds

If your alarm sounds, immediately open windows and doors for ventilation. Remember, the carbon monoxide detector is designed to alarm when there are elevated levels of carbon monoxide in your home, and even if you don’t feel any immediate health effects, you may be at risk for exposure. Never ignore the alarm.

If anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning—headache, dizziness or other flu-like symptoms—immediately evacuate the house and call the fire department. If no one is experiencing these symptoms, continue to air out your house, turn off fuel-burning appliances, and call a qualified technician to inspect your heating system and appliances as soon as possible.

Because of the ventilation, the carbon monoxide buildup may dissipate by the time help arrives and your problem may appear to be temporarily solved. Do not operate any fuel-burning appliances until you have clearly identified the source and solved the problem.

CO Safety Tips

Having a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home is the most effective way to keep a watch on the levels of carbon monoxide in your home. However, there are some other safety precautions you can also take:

  • Never idle your car in an enclosed garage
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors
  • Never sleep in a room heated by a gas or kerosene space heater without proper ventilation
  • Do not use any gasoline-powered engines such as mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines, or generators in enclosed spaces
  • Keep fuel-burning appliances well-maintained and have them inspected yearly by a qualified technician

A detector can provide added protection against carbon monoxide, but is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that produce it. Be sure to take adequate measures to prevent you and your family from falling victim to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Summer Maintenance Checklist

Whether your typical summer weather is hot, mild, dry, stormy, or humid, follow these steps to make sure both you and your home survive the heat.

Inside the Home

You might spend a lot of time indoors to keep cool this summer. Make sure everything is in working order.

  • Inspect ceiling fans and make sure blades are in balance and clear of dust
  • Repair stuck or sticking windows
  • Apply spray lubricant or silicone to window tracks
  • Service the air conditioner or evaporative cooler
  • Change the air conditioner filter
  • Have chimneys cleaned
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, replace the batteries
  • Spray for insects in gaps around ducts and outlets
  • Close the chimney damper
  • Make sure houseplants have an adequate supply of water
  • Have your hot water heater checked
  • Lubricate locks, hinges, and latches
  • Test your alarm system
  • Have your dehumidifier checked

In the Garage

During the summer, your garage may be the hottest place in the house. Prepare it for the temperature change.

  • Properly ventilate the garage