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Please Don't Cover Up Your Thermostat
Posted: November 12, 2020 by Andy
If you're one of those homeowners who seeks perfection in your wall decor and feel your comfort system's thermostat is messing up your "Feng Shui," you may be tempted to cover your temperature-control unit up with something more appealing to the eye.
That's cool and all - no pun intended - but it would also be a big mistake. Even if your thermostat is an eyesore to you, it's not wise to cover it up. Here's why.
So, what's the problem?
Good question! Covering your thermostat with a painting or other decor might sound like a brilliant idea to improve your wall's appeal. Unfortunately, covering your thermostat keeps it from accurately reading the temperature of your living space. That's because the obstruction could cause the thermostat to read the area it's in to be warmer or cooler than it actually is.
Beat the heat
We caution against placing heat-generating items such as lamps and televisions near your thermostat for a reason. The heat these objects produce can cause your thermostat to misread your home's temperature. For the same reason, placing any object over your thermostat can skew its readings as well. If your thermostat is reading the ambient temperature inaccurately, it won't work the way it needs to provide the proper comfort level for your home. Covering your thermostat may also ruin its efficiency, which leads to higher energy bills - and nobody wants that. It could even fool you into thinking your system has a problem!
If you just can't stand it
Let's say you still want to hide your thermostat because it's too much of an eyesore, and you just won't have it any other way. OK. But, you should be smart about it and don't interfere with its operation. Instead of covering your thermostat up, why not disguise or conceal it? Try putting a decorative frame around your thermostat that blends in well with the rest of your decor. That way, the frame will make the thermostat look like part of the scenery and not an ugly device interrupting the design flow.
Or buy a better-looking unit
Can't stand your thermostat's looks at all? Not even when beautifying it with a frame? Here's an idea: go buy a new one! Thermostats have evolved in recent years, and there are some very attractive-looking high-tech smart models out there you can buy to replace your that old, unattractive unit. So, if you don't like the look of the one you have now, consider replacing it with something (again, no pun intended) cooler!
Tame These HVAC Scares This Halloween
Posted: October 29, 2020 by Andy
You've decorated your home and stocked up on treats for the kids in the neighborhood, but are you truly ready for Halloween? Something you might not be aware of: there are spooky problems lurking in your HVAC system can lead to a frightful expense! Here are three HVAC scares to be wary of this Halloween.
A silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is fatal when inhaled in sufficient quantities. It's the product of incomplete combustion, which occurs when an appliance, chimney flue, or furnace malfunctions.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, and severe headaches. Protect your family and pets against this deadly gas by installing carbon monoxide detectors at key points in your home. A simple way is to upgrade your existing smoke detectors to 2-in-1 combination CO and smoke-detecting units.
Blocked vents and ducts
Your HVAC system requires proper airflow to distribute clean, filtered air throughout your home. When its vents and ducts are obstructed, your system has to work harder to force the impeded airflow, impacting your heating and cooling efficiency and costing you money.
Changing your air filters regularly will keep air flowing through your HVAC system. Furniture, knick-knacks, and Halloween decor can all block your vents, so be careful where you place objects when decorating.
An overheated thermostat
Causing your thermostat to get too hot can wreak all kinds of havoc on your HVAC system. Consider this: if you've installed your thermostat in direct sunlight or near a heat-producing appliance, it'll read the room's temperature incorrectly. This will cause issues with your entire HVAC system.
Thermostats must read the room's temperature accurately in order to make the right adjustments. Keep everything hot - or even warm - away from your thermostat. Electronics, lamps, appliances, curling irons - they'll all prevent your HVAC system from working like it's intended to.
Don't lose sleep over these HVAC nightmares. Call us or conveniently schedule your next HVAC appointment online. We'll keep the HVAC breakdown boogeyman away and keep your family safe, too!
What Do All These Letters Mean?
Posted: October 15, 2020 by Andy
We use a lot of technical jargon in the heating and cooling business you might not understand. While Hey Neighbor's technicians are technical wizards who really know their stuff, folks who aren't in the industry aren't familiar with our often-perplexing verbiage. It's interesting stuff for us, for sure, but it's probably boring for you!
Instead of a tedious lecture, let's make learning fun today! We're going to explain many of the commonly-used acronyms (groups of letters) associated with our industry. We'll give you not only each term's definition, but also a fun, simple explanation for each one. We promise to try not to put you to sleep in the process.
What's that? There's a good chance you know this one already. AC is short for Air Conditioner, one of the two primary devices that control your home's temperature.
What does it mean? An air conditioner cools your home's air by passing it over refrigerated coils and then distributing the cooled air throughout your airspace via the system of ductwork. It's the thing that keeps you from sweating in Northeast Ohio's muggy summer months.
What's that? The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute is the industry association that develops standards for certifying and measuring product performance.
What does it mean? They're the heating and cooling quality control people. They help ensure your furnace and air conditioner are what they claim to be and follow the standards they're supposed to follow.
What's that? BTU is short for British Thermal Unit, a measurement of heat energy. The higher your system's BTU rating, the greater its heating capacity.
What does it mean? It measures how well your system can heat your home.
What's that? CO is the chemical acronym for Carbon Monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and toxic flammable gas produced when carbon burns with insufficient air.
What does it mean? It's invisible, poisonous, airborne stuff that can kill you. As fun as we're trying to make this, we're not joking around here. If you haven't had your furnace inspected in a while, and your heat exchanger is leaking CO gas, your family could be in danger. Be safe - have our techs out to take a look.
What's that? It stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, a measurement of airflow volume in cubic feet.
What does it mean? It measures how well your air is flowing. The higher the CFM number, the greater the air volume moved through your ductwork by the system.
What's that? It's your air conditioner's Energy Efficiency Ratio, the ratio of BTU to power input that measures its cooling capacity.
What does it mean? The higher your unit's EER rating, the more energy-efficient it is. In other words, it's a number that tells you if you're paying too much to cool down your place.
What's that? The Environmental Protection Agency is part of the federal government that enforces environmental regulations to protect our health and the environment.
What does it mean? Among other things, they made the labels that tell you how efficient that shiny, new furnace is and how much it'll cost each year to run it.
What's that? HVAC is short for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Simple, eh?
What does it mean? The term refers to all the systems used in your home to move air between areas and the temperature adjustment of your space. Your HVAC system's primary responsibilities are to keep you warm and cozy in the winter and cool and comfy in the summer.
What's that? A kilowatt and a kilowatt-hour might sound like the same thing, but they're not quite. They're related units of measurement, but the difference between kW and kWh is that kW is the electricity usage rate and kWh is the amount of electricity used.
What does it mean? The kilowatt-hour is most commonly used as the number you see on your monthly energy bill. It's the amount of energy delivered to your home by your electric company. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts of electrical power.
What's that? It's your filter's Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which describes the size of the holes in it that allow air to pass through it.
What does it mean? The higher your filter's MERV rating, the higher its efficiency. A filter with a low MERV number isn't going to do a great job of stopping allergens from getting sent back into your home's airspace. You don't want that.
What's that? The National Electrical Code. It's the set of requirements that ensure electrical installations are safe for people and property.
What does it mean? In addition to safety, the NEC provides the standards that keep electrical wiring in the USA much neater and far more reliable than in unregulated countries. Be glad we don't suffer from wiring nightmares like this!
What's that? Geek-speak, coming at you! R-22 is Refrigerant-22, the halocarbon compound CHClF2 (monochlorodifluoromethane). In the number 22, the second 2 is the number of fluorine atoms in the compound.
What does it mean? It's what was used to cool a home's air in residential air conditioners in years past. It was discontinued in 2010 due to new environmental standards set by the EPA.
What's that? As above, it's Refrigerant-410A, a chlorine-free refrigerant that meets the new environmental standards set by the EPA.
What does it mean? It's the stuff that newer air conditioners use to cool your home's air. R-410A is better for the environment than R-22, and that's a good thing.
What's that? The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio was developed by the government to measure energy efficiency for air conditioners.
What does it mean? It's that bright yellow tag you see on your outside condenser unit. The higher the SEER number, the more energy-efficient the AC unit.
What's that? The More You Know!
What does it mean? Whew! It means that was a lot of heating and cooling jargon to take in at one time. We hope you learned some valuable things today that'll help you make better-informed decisions when it's time to repair or upgrade your heating and cooling system - you know, to save you lots of money and keep your family comfortable and safe!
6 Easy, Affordable Ways To Boost Your Home's Value
Posted: October 1, 2020 by Andy
As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps dragging on and many Americans are still stuck at home, more people are tackling those long-overdue home projects. According to a recent survey, nearly 50% of us have either started a DIY project at home or are planning to start one soon. Whether you're looking to make your living area more pleasant or you're about to put your home up for sale, there are many great ways to spruce up your space.
Here are six do-it-yourself projects on the easier end of the spectrum that'll add real value to your home.
1. Use technology to make your home more efficient.
There's a variety of ways to improve your home's efficiency without spending a lot. A smart thermostat will help your HVAC system run more efficiently, and EnergyStar-certified appliances will trim your utility costs down to size.
Smart devices are taken into consideration during the home appraisal process, which means they'll help raise your home's value. It'll come as no surprise, then, that nearly half of all real estate agents say that smart appliances help a home sell more quickly, according to a recent report.
2. Tackle those basic repairs.
If you've lived in the same place for more than a few years, you tend to overlook the minor scrapes, dents, and other damage that a prospective buyer will immediately spot. It pays to open your eyes.
Inspect your residence and look for things that need repair. These might include an old or leaking roof, dripping faucets, dented or broken doors, torn screens, outdated appliances, or even a malfunctioning or broken HVAC system.
All of these can be deal-breakers for potential buyers. It's worth spending a few extra bucks and investing some effort to make sure that your home's basics are covered.
If you're budgeting to purchase big-ticket items, you can score some major savings by waiting until the right time of year. Large appliances often go on sale at the end of September. Refrigerators are an exception, as they're heavily discounted in May after the new models hit the market.
3. Refresh your outdated ceiling.
Popcorn ceilings were once a popular and cost-effective finish, but nearly everyone now agrees these textured surfaces really date a house. Aesthetics aside, stippled ceilings also tend to collect dirt, dust, and cobwebs, and might even become a health concern if your ceiling is cracking and flaking.
You should test for asbestos before taking on on a ceiling-update project yourself. Once you know your ceiling is asbestos-free, scraping off the popcorn texture yourself will cost around $1,700 on average, while giving it a fresh coat of paint may cost up to $350.
For even a small home, redoing those old popcorn ceilings could add about $2,500 to the resale value. Not updating them may even keep your home from selling at all, if a buyer doesn't want to tackle this messy project themselves.
4. Paint your home inside and out.
Painting will take some time and effort, but it'll add as much as 3% to your home's final sale price. Wallpapering or repainting your space will change up the feel of your home. Buyers are much more likely to see themselves living there, and it'll make your home stick out to them, among other properties for sale.
DIY homeowners typically spend around $3,000 on painting the exterior and about $1,500 for the interior. Before you get started, using the right colors is key to getting a surprisingly good return-on-investment. Here are some examples of current trends observed in the real estate market:
• Painting your exterior doors deep gray or charcoal can raise your sale price by a whopping $6,000 or more.
• A creamy bright yellow or flax exterior can help you outsell other homes by over $3,400.
• Sandy-brown dining rooms sell for nearly $1,700 more than plain vanilla dining rooms.
• Periwinkle bathroom walls (light blue-violet) can boost your resale value by up to $2,800.
• Warm brown living room walls - like taupe or oatmeal - help homes sell for as much as $2,800 more than expected.
• Tuxedo-style cabinets - light-colored upper cabinets and dark navy or black lower cabinets - can raise your profits by as much as $1,500.
Keep in mind that you don't need to paint every wall in your house to make an eye-catching improvement. Sometimes just painting an accent wall or redoing the ceilings makes a big difference.
5. Clean and declutter everything.
According to a recent report, cleaning and organizing your home can add as much as $4,500 to its resale value. It'll also help you maximize your space and improve your own living experience while you're still residing in the home.
This project won't cost too much if anything other than time and effort - perhaps the price of cleaning supplies and some storage bins. Thoroughly review your home, making a list of what needs cleaned and straightened up, and estimate the time involved. And don't forget about organizing your garage, attic, and basement!
Once you're ready to dive in, go through your items, and categorize them in one of three areas: keep, sell, or donate. Neatly store the things you're hanging onto, and give your entire home a good, thorough cleaning.
And don't just stick to the inside! A simple pressure-washing can get that dirty vinyl siding, clogged gutters, blackened concrete, grayed wood, and dull brick back into showcase-worthy condition.
6. Do some low-cost landscaping.
Making some easy changes to your landscaping can improve your home's curb appeal and its overall aesthetics. Experts estimate that simple tasks like keeping your lawn neatly trimmed, adding fresh mulch and colorful plants, and treating weeds can add over $1,000 to your home's value.
Depending on your home's size, you might create a space where children can play, or add a garden to grow your own food. You can also plant vegetation creatively to make your house more appealing, such as using plants to conceal your air conditioner or cover vents on your home's exterior.
You'll want to do some research beforehand and use plants that are native to your area. Watering and upkeep of landscaping can be expensive, so use plants that are more likely to thrive in your yard.
Another creative outdoor-improvement tip: if you want to cut down on your outdoor water usage, consider adding a rain barrel to nourish that newly-added foliage.
See? Increasing your home's value - and its appeal to both your family and prospective buyers - isn't so hard. It just takes a little preparation, a few small expenses, and some elbow grease. You'll be delighted once you've beautified your living space, and, if you're selling, your bank account will be larger, too!
Low Temperature = Quality Sleep
Posted: September 17, 2020 by Andy
Sleeping comfortably can be challenging, especially during Northeast Ohio's seasonal transitions. What works for one sleeper often doesn't work for someone else. There's really no magic formula that'll work for everyone when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. That said, whatever your preferred temperature is when bedtime rolls around, sleeping in a cold room offers many health benefits:
You'll sleep better
A cold room will help you fall into a deeper, less interrupted sleep, which means less tossing and turning. Consistently sleeping well can also save you money on over-the-counter sleeping aids or prescription drugs. You won't need those energy drinks or that double-shot of espresso as often, too!
You'll fall asleep faster
We're not doctors or scientists, but we do know that sleep is good for you. However, if your room feels too hot, you'll probably sweat in bed and not find comfortable rest. Likewise in a frigid room - you probably won't be able to get comfy. But, a room that's just cold enough? Now that feels good, doesn't it? In a pleasantly cool room, your body doesn't waste energy trying to adjust temperature, which means you'll fall asleep fast! So, it makes sense - the faster you fall asleep, the more sleep you get, right?
Your body will age better
Insomnia patients are often instructed to take melatonin as a sleep aid. Interestingly, experts say that sleeping in a room that's between 60-68 degrees will allow your body to release more melatonin. Also, melatonin is a known anti-aging hormone. So, it not only helps you get a good night's sleep, it helps you age more gracefully too. On the flip side, you don't need a medical degree to know that people who don't sleep well tend to age badly. Dark circles and eye bags can make a 30-year-old look much older than they actually are!
And there's other benefits too
Studies have proven that sleeping in a cold room will improve your metabolism, brain function, and will even help prevent diabetes. But again, we're not doctors or scientists, so we won't get into the details of that research.
Ways to sleep cool
Get naked. Yes, seriously - the less clothes you sleep in, the less insulation there is on your body, trapping less heat against your skin. So, if you sleep in the buff, you'll sleep cooler. Simple.
Become a fan of your, um... fan. It's designed to help cool the room, and the people in it, so use a portable or ceiling fan to circulate your room's air and create a cooling effect. You'll love your fan once it helps you fall asleep!
Get yourself a cold pillow. Have an extra pillow laying around? Leave it out from under your covers and let it get nice and cold. And when it's bedtime, grab that cold pillow and snuggle up to it to help cool your body. This will help cool your bedding and your other pillows - including the one that goes under your head - to help keep you cool.
Cuddle up with your partner. This one sounds odd, at first. You've learned that a cold room is good for you, but keeping comfortable can be difficult, especially if you share your bed with somebody whose idea of "cold" is far chillier than yours. Sharing body heat of another person in the bed can keep you feeling just right in a room that might otherwise feel too cold for you. Also, cuddling is a wonderful stress reliever, and the less stressed you are, the better you'll sleep!
Get a bigger bed. This is the opposite of cuddling. If you can't fall or stay asleep while snuggling, a bigger bed enables you to break away from cuddling and get some quality sleep. When you have a bed with more space, you can scoot away once your partner conks out and sleep without disrupting each other. And, you can use two different bed covers - perhaps a thicker one for them, and a thinner one for you.
Stick a foot out. Leaving a body part exposed while sleeping will help keep you cool. If you like to stay wrapped up snugly all night but then you overheat, try sticking one foot outside of the covers. It'll help you stay cool.
Adjust your thermostat. When it comes to comfort, the ideal thermostat setting for sleep might be a struggle. If you share a home with others, not everyone will agree on what the thermostat should be set at. If you find yourself at odds with your housemates over what the temperature should be at night, consider upgrading to a zoned heating and cooling system, which allows for different thermostats - and temperatures - in each room.
Now that you've learned about the benefits of sleeping in a cold room, make sure you can sleep at the perfect temperature all year long. We're here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - call us!
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