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Three Tips for a More Efficient Air Conditioning System

Myrtle Beach often sees long, hot, and humid summers, making the importance of a fully functional air conditioning system something that can never be overstated. As such, it is only natural that you want your air conditioner running efficiently at all times, even as we head into the cooler days of Autumn when you still need an efficient air conditioning system. With that in mind, here are three simple tips that will help your air conditioning system run as efficiently as the day you first bought it:

Consider Adding Insulation in the Attic

Adding insulation in your attic can help you have a more efficient air conditioning system.

If you have any ducts running through your attic, you may want to consider having the space insulated. This makes sure that the heat absorbed by the attic does not affect the temperature of the air inside the ducts. Ask a respected air conditioning company, such as Brown & Reaves Services, Inc., to learn which kind of insulation works best for your home.

Keep Heat-Generating Items Away from the Thermostat

Your thermostat isn’t just there for setting the temperature of your air conditioning unit; it’s also there to check if the air is being cooled to the temperature you’ve set. Knowing this, you should keep heat-generating items, such as lamps, stoves, and TVs, away from your thermostats. These items can easily fool the thermostat into thinking your cooling system isn’t working hard enough.

Look Out for Air Leaks

Leaks in your ducts can lead to airflow loss of up to 30 percent. The best way to check for air leaks is to light a stick of incense near the duct connections and watch the movement of the smoke. If the smoke blows around, you’ve got an air leak. In such cases, professional repair services are the best course of action.

These three simple tips are sure to help you maintain a more efficient air conditioning system. Not only does this help prolong your system’s service life, but it also helps you keep your energy bill down.

Learn more tips, tricks and techniques for a more efficient air conditioning system by checking out our other energy saving articles and by giving Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. a call today at 843-497-9867.  Contact us via our convenient form and tell us what your AC or heating system needs are. We’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

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Attic Insulation Saves Money

Adding attic insulation to your home can lower your heating and cooling costs by as much as $600 per year.

We are often asked about the best ways to save energy, and we tell everyone that by boosting the amount of attic insulation from R-11 to R-49, you can save about $600 per year in energy costs.

Depending on the type of materials you use, figure on paying an insulation contractor about $1,500 to add attic insulation to an 800-square-foot attic, which pays back your investment in about three years. You’ll spend about half that to do the job yourself.

Do You Really Need More Attic Insulation?

A quick, easy way to check if you need attic insulation is to look across your attic floor. If the existing insulation comes up just to the tops of the joists, then you probably need to add insulation. If you can’t see the joists and the insulation is well above the tops of the joists, you’re probably okay and you won’t really recoup the cost of adding more.

Methods of Adding Attic Insulation

Roll-on or blanket type of attic insulation is just one way to add more insulationRoll-on or Blanket-Type Insulation comes as rolls of fiberglass batts, either 15 or 23 inches wide. It’s designed to fit between the width of typical framing. If your attic already has some insulation in the attic floor, roll out the batts at right angles to insulate over the framing.

If you’re doing the attic insulation job yourself, blanket-type material is the easiest to work with. Be careful not to compress it or it won’t be as effective.

Blown-in Insulation requires a special machine that shoots a stream of loose-fill cellulose over the existing attic floor framing. This is typically a job for an insulation contractor. The advantage is that loose-fill insulation does a great job of filling in small crevices and other hard-to-reach areas that are difficult, at best, with roll insulation.

Sprayed Foam Polyurethane is a good choice if you plan to turn your attic into a finished room. In that case, you’ll want to insulate the roof and not the floor. Sprayed foam polyurethane molds to rafters, blocks water vapor, and has a high R-rating per inch. Expect to pay about double the per-square-foot cost of roll-on and loose-fill insulation.

How Much Attic Insulation Do You Need?

To determine how much attic insulation you need, look up the recommended amount for your area and subtract the value of whatever amount you already have in your attic. You can figure it out by using the Home Energy Saver online energy audit tool here.

These are just a few ideas for saving money and energy by adding more attic insulation to your home. Check our other articles on Home Energy Efficiency and Savings here.

Be sure to Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for even more daily tips for saving money around your home.

Insulation Upgrade: What Is a Good Investment?

Is an insulation upgrade a wise investment? We often talk about the importance of energy upgrades for your home. But if you’re thinking about an upgrade this winter, such as adding more insulation to your attic, you may be wondering exactly how to calculate whether that’s a wise financial investment.

Insulation Upgrade - What is a Good Investment?There are a variety of formulas available for making this calculation, such as the one from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

It’s not a terribly difficult formula to use, and we’ve modified it here to make it a little more understandable.

You’ll need to do a little research to track down some basic information to fill in the blanks, all of which you can get off the Internet or with a couple of phone calls. Then it’s just a couple of minutes with a tablet and a calculator.

Incidentally, this formula also works for upgrades to wall insulation.

Insulation Formula and Definitions

The DOE’s formula is as follows: (Ci x R1 x R2 x E) ÷ (Ce x [R2 – R1] x HDD x 24)

OK now, don’t let your eyes glaze over, or have terrifying flashbacks to high school algebra class. Here’s what all those variables stand for:

  • Ci: This is the cost of the insulation you’re considering, in dollars per square foot. If you’re doing the work yourself, it’s the cost of the materials, supplies and any rental equipment you need. If you’re having the work done, it’s the estimated cost from the contractor.
  • R1: This is the R-value of the insulation you currently have in the attic.
  • R2: This is the R-value you want to upgrade to.
  • E: Efficiency rating of your heating system. How well your heating system heats your home plays a major role in how much you’re going to save with an insulation upgrade; the less efficient your heating system is, the more energy dollars the additional insulation will save you each year. You may know the specific energy efficiency rating of your particular heating system, or you may be able to get it from your utility company or HVAC contractor. If not, the DOE offers the following general suggestions: oil and propane furnaces, 0.6 to 0.88; natural gas furnaces, 0.7 to 0.95; electric, 1.0; heat pump 2.1 to 2.5.
  • Ce: This is what you’re paying for the energy you use, converted to dollars per British thermal unit (Btu). To arrive at this number, you’ll need to divide the actual price you pay for the fuel you use (electricity, gas, etc.) by the Btu content of that fuel. You can find the price you’re paying on your utility bill or by calling your utility company.

The Btu content of various fuels is as follows:

No. 2 fuel oil = 140,000 Btu/gallon

Electricity = 3,413 Btu/kilowatt-hour

Natural gas = 103,000 Btu/cubic feet or 100,000 Btu/therm

  • HDD: This stands for heating degree days, which is a standard method for determining how cold a specific geographic location is, and how much demand there will be for heating. It’s determined by the statistical average of the number of degrees that a day’s temperature falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered the temperature at which a building needs to be heated. The higher the number of heating degree days in an area, the more demand there is for heat, so the greater the savings will be from an insulation upgrade. You can get your area’s HDD number from your utility company or off the Internet.
  • 24: Hours in a day, used in this formula to convert HDD from days to hours.

Let’s say you have a 1,500-square-foot home with R-11 insulation in the attic. You have electric heat, and you’re currently paying 9 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity. You’re thinking of upgrading to R-38, and a contractor has given you an estimate of $1,200 to do the work. A quick check on the Web has shown you that your area has approximately 7,500 heating degree days.

Here’s how all that would plug into the formula:

  • Ci: 0.80. (Cost of insulation is 80 cents per square foot, based on a $1,200 estimate divided by 1,500 square feet).
  • R1: 11. (Existing attic insulation is R-11).
  • R2: 38. (Proposed upgrade is R-38).
  • E: 1.0. (Electric heat has an efficiency rating of 1.0).
  • Ce: 0.000026. (Electricity in your area costs $0.09 per kilowatt-hour, divided by 3,413 Btu/kwh).
  • HDD: 7500 (The number of heating degree days in your geographical location).

Now, take the formula in plug in the numbers, then do the math:

  • (Ci x R1 x R2 x E) ÷ (Ce x [R2 – R1] x HDD x 24)
  • (.80 x 11 x 38 x 1) ÷ (0.000026 x [38 – 11] x 7500 x 24)
  • 334.4 ÷ (0.000026 x 27 x 7500 x 24)
  • 334.4 ÷ 126.36 = 2.64 years

So, based on this formula and all the variables, you can expect the insulation upgrade to pay for itself in a little over 2 1/2 years.

Brown and Reaves Services, Inc., Serving the entire Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area. Call us today: 843-497-9867. Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Inspecting a Home’s Attic

attic insulation helps lower energy billsInadequate insulation means that 10 to 50 percent of energy is lost through walls, ceilings and floors. Proper insulation helps lower energy bills by resisting heat loss. Where the interior of walls and ceilings is easily accessible, adding additional insulation can be a relatively inexpensive way to get a big return on energy savings.

The first place to look for missing insulation is in the attic. Attics, in general, are fairly accessible, but in many homes, even newer homes, insulation is often times inadequate. As part of a general home inspection, the inspector will examine the type of insulation present and its approximate thickness or “R-value.”

The inspector will also examine (if the attic is accessible) the attic interior, including: roofing, framing, sheathing, insulation, ventilation and chimneys. Any visible signs of moisture intrusion will be noted. The attic is a key element in the home’s ventilation system. Moist air from inside the home must be properly vented to the outside in order to protect roofing materials and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

The inspector will also look for areas of safety concerns to ensure proper rating and installation of canned or recessed lighting in order to prevent overheating and possible fires.

In most cases, home inspectors will allow you to accompany him or her during an inspection. We, in fact, encourage this practice.

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