Prep Your HVAC For Winter
Prep Your HVAC For Summer
Concern over disposal of CFL bulbs increasing in Chicago
Other tips for increasing efficiency in your townhome.

 

Prep Your HVAC for Winter

Your home is one of your greatest investments. Properly maintaining your home is paramount to preserving its maximum value. Properly maintaining your home will enhance its value and make it cheaper to run while you’re living in it. Also, lower operating costs also can make you home more saleable. After all, given the choice of two identical homes on the market, one with $150 per month utilities and one with $250 utilities, which as a buyer, would you choose?

One of the most common heating systems in Chicago is the central gas forced-air furnace. If you haven’t already, now is the time to undertake a few tasks to prepare your forced-air system for winter.

Taking these steps should help:

  • Save energy usage and costs.
  • Make your home more “liveable” during the winter months.
  • Cause the systems in your home to last longer, thereby saving you maintenance and replacement costs.

 

hvac1.jpg It's recommended that you replace your furnace filters every month. It has also been recommended that you use simple, inexpensive blue fiberglass filters; not the fancy (and expensive) high efficiency filters; they can actually restrict airflow in your furnace
   
hvac2.jpg It is common for furnaces to have built in Aprilaire whole-house humidifiers. They should be used whenever the furnace is in operation. Adding humidity to the air in winter adds greatly to your comfort. The humidifier will also help maintain your wood floors and furniture.

 

Symptoms of not using your humidifier can include gaps forming between planks of your hardwood floors and shrinkage of wood furniture. Once your humidifier is properly working, it’s possible to cause your ‘dehydrated’ wood floors to restore themselves.

 

hvac3.jpg Every year you should open up the Aprilaire, clean it out and if necessary replace the filter panel. We find that soaking the filter panel in a solution of CLR and water for half a day will let us get away with 2 or more seasons without having to replace the filter. Please note that if a filter panel becomes clogged with lime or scale, it will overflow into the furnace and cause expensive damage to the furnace. So – clean or replace those water panel filters.

 

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Turn on the water supply valve to the Aprilaire, move the flapper-valve on the air-supply pipe to the winter position (parallel to the pipe), and turn on the Aprilaire via the control panel which is next to your furnace thermostat.

 

hvac6.jpg Turn on the water supply valve to the Aprilaire, move the flapper-valve on the air-supply pipe to the winter position (parallel to the pipe), and turn on the Aprilaire via the control panel which is next to your furnace thermostat.

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Prep Your HVAC For Summer

Your home is one of your greatest investments. Properly maintaining your home is paramount to preserving its maximum value. Properly maintaining your home will enhance its value and make it cheaper to run while you’re living in it. Also, lower operating costs also can make you home more saleable. After all, given the choice of two identical homes on the market, one with $200 per month utilities and one with $400 utilities, which as a buyer, would you choose?

Most modern Townhomes in Chicago have one, and sometimes two separately controlled and zoned HVAC systems. Keeping them well maintained and having properly adjusted settings will save you money and hassle down the road.

Before summer gets fully underway, there are a few tasks to undertake to prepare your home for the summer cooling season. Taking these steps should help:

  • Save energy usage and costs.
  • Make your home more comfortable and  “livable” during the summer months.
  • Cause the systems in your home work less hard and to last longer, thereby saving you maintenance and replacement costs.

While there are many things that can be done, there are three important ones to be done at a minimum.

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Filters
Replace your furnace filters every month. Use simple, inexpensive blue fiberglass filters – not the fancy (and expensive) high efficiency filters; they can actually restrict airflow in your furnace.

   
hvac4.jpg Humidifiers
Each furnace has its own built in Aprilaire whole-house humidifier. These are for winter use only and should be turned off in the cooling season. Turn off the water supply to the humidifier
   
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Move the flapper-valve on the air-supply pipe to the summer position (cross-wise to the pipe).

   
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Turn off the Aprilaire via the control panel which is next to your furnace thermostat.

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Condensers
Have your roof top HVAC condenser units inspected, serviced and recharged by an HVAC professional.

 

 

Concern over disposal of CFL bulbs increasing in Chicago

 

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Your guides have noticed an increase in the number of articles about the hazards of disposing these new-fangled Compact Fluorescent Bulbs that everyone is using to slash their energy consumption.

There are special precautions to take if you break a bulb in your house.  And experts are worried about the bulbs winding up in landfills.

In an article at ChiTownDailyNews, we’re given a new warning:  disposing these CFL’s in a high rise garbage chute can contaminate an entire building with mercury – Yikes!

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that, compared with incandescent bulbs, the energy-efficient CFLs decrease the amount of mercury in the environment by curbing the demand for coal-fired power plants, which emit the toxic chemical.
However, it recommends recycling the bulbs because breakage in land-fills can lead to mercury contamination of soil and water.

The average CFL used to contain four milligrams of mercury within its glass casing. That’s less than one-one hundredth the amount found in thermometers, according to the E.P.A. Some bulbs now contain between one and two milligrams.

The city makes the popular spiral bulbs available for free at a number of sites, including aldermanic offices, and distributes them at energy efficiency fairs.
Fioretti says disposal is a pressing problem at high rises.

“People throw the things down their trash chutes, and that releases mercury into the air and pollutes the building,” he says.

The alderman also says the instructions the city provides don’t adequately direct consumers to recycling sites or provide advice for cleaning up mercury spills when bulbs break.

Instructions on tiny print on the sleeves advise consumers to “dispose of CFLs carefully.” It says that they contain a small amount of mercury, and “the Illinois EPA recommends CFLs be taken to a hazardous waste collection center” at the end of their lives.

Your guides are already in the habit of taking old electronics over to the Household Recycling Center on Goose Island (Division and North Branch) on Thursdays and Saturdays.  And Home Depot takes the CFL bulbs in for recycling now, too.

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Other tips for increasing efficiency in your townhome.

 

eff1.jpg Window and Door Caulking Caulking is only a temporary water/air barrier. The caulking around every window and door in your home needs routine replacement – on average every 3-4 years. Inspect the exterior caulking of your windows and doors and replace any cracked or missing caulk.
 

 

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Window and Door Seals
Check the seals and gaskets around your windows and doors.  Missing, cracked, torn or deteriorated seals leak air and money.  Repair or replace as needed.
 

 

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Water Heater  
Most people have their water heater turned up too high.  It takes a lot of energy and money to keep water warm all day while you are at work.  Turn it down to 125 degrees.  You won’t really notice a difference except in your gas bills.  Also, 140 degrees is too hot if you’ve got children.  140 degrees can severely burn them.

 

 

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Cover your AC Condenser Units

Keep debris and dirt from fouling up your roof top units and keep snow and ice from harming internal parts by covering your AC units for the season

 

Safety

You’ll have your home closed up and you’ll be using more combustion appliances in the coming months so make sure that your CO and smoke detector batteries are replaced. Even though they are hardwired with electric, they also have battery back ups that need periodic replacement.

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Do it at night

Electric rates are lower at night so start the cycles of high consuming appliances like laundry machines and dishwashers just before you go to bed.

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