Friday, September 7, 2012

Stay cool and save money on you AC usage

Summer may be just about over, but it’s not to late to measures to lower your AC usage, while maintaining your level of comfort.

Here are some ideas on how to save energy and cut your utility bills with air conditioning.
  1. Ceiling fans can be used along with air conditioning. This allows for higher temperatures than regular comfort.
  2. Sizing of air conditioning system is very important and has to be proportional to space and people requirements. There are many instances where a window unit performs the function, and so the central AC is oversized. Replacement of an existing central system may be energy efficient in certain cases.
  3. Usage of permanent filters, preferably MERV 13 filters, enhances the indoor air quality and reduces the energy load more than an otherwise dirty filter.
  4. Usage of electronic programmable thermostats, and reduction in the heat generation from lighting through usage of compact fluorescent bulbs can reduce the air conditioning's load.
  5. Extruded polystyrene insulation, shading from trees, fewer hardscapes, green roofs, and locating condensers in a shaded area can help to reduce the demand for energy.
  6. The solar heat gain coefficient and U-value of window glazing is important for reducing cooling loads.
  7. Evaporative cooling and heat recovery are other energy efficient strategies that could be evaluated.
  8. Keeping the condensing coil clean, will ensure the unit if running at maximum efficiency.
  9. Seal house with caulk and weatherstripping in appropriate areas.
Proper attic ventilation is also key to cooling properly and less load on the AC unit.  Also, keep in mind that AC units don't last forever.  The typical unit will last between 12-15 years.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unknown Asbestos Risks Your Home Could Have

Although homeowners often do not realize it, many older houses are full of asbestos exposure risks.
Until the 1980s, manufacturers frequently used the flexible fibers to insulate or reinforce construction materials. Many homes still contain these original materials, which relied on the fibers for reinforcement or insulating properties.
Asbestos appeared in more than 5,000 different products. Some of these products came from leading manufacturers, such as General Electric and Kelly Moore Paint Co.
Asbestos ceiling tiles

Common asbestos-containing home products included:
·         Shingles
·         Tiles
·         Adhesives
·         Textured coatings   
·         Paint
·         Cement
·         Mastic
·         Insulation
The amount of asbestos contained within these products varies. Some products are made up of only 1 or 2 percent asbestos, while certain cement products contained as much as 50 percent asbestos.  However, any amount of asbestos can pose a health risk if the fibers become friable.
Contact a Home Inspector
In general, homeowners cannot visually identify asbestos within their home. They may be able to see a few loose asbestos strands in certain chipped, cracked or crumbling products, but it is much more common for the fibers to remain fully contained within the material. This actually benefits the homeowner because the asbestos is not a health hazard when it is completely contained within the product. However, it also means that homeowners will need to hire a home inspection company or an asbestos abatement professional to test their residence for asbestos.
An accredited inspection company can take samples of suspicious materials and send them to a laboratory for further testing. If the laboratory tests confirm the presence of asbestos, homeowners should not perform any renovations on the item. If they need to remodel or demolish the part of the home that contains asbestos, they should contact a licensed abatement company to come remove the product from the premesis.  This ensures total safety for all of the residents of the home.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.