The first winter storm is poised to hit the Triad; is your home ready?
Hereâ€™s a checklist of things to do before the storm hits:
- Clear your gutters; they canâ€™t direct water away from your house if theyâ€™re clogged with leaves and debris.
- Trim your trees. The Triad is especially prone to ice storms, which can cause ice to accumulate on branches. Ice-laden branches can then break off and fall on your home, car, or power lines.
- Cover your outdoor HVAC unit. Although we generally recommend leaving the unit uncovered for the winter, a blizzard is one of the few reasons that we recommend temporarily covering it. After the storm, remove the cover and clear the area of snow and ice.
- Make sure your sump pump is working by pouring a five-gallon bucket of water into the well. If it seems to be lagging, make sure itâ€™s clear of debris. For other problems, call Johns Heating, Plumbing, and Air Conditioning as soon as possible.
- Familiarize yourself with your electrical panel and power main.
- Make sure your furnace and heating system is working at full power by scheduling a check-up with Johns.
- Charge your phone.
- Secure all outdoor furniture, bicycles, etc.
- Create an emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, first aid supplies, candles, matches, food, and fresh water.
How old is your thermostat? If itâ€™s more than 10 years old, itâ€™s probably time for an upgrade. A basic rule of thumb is that the older the thermostat is, the less efficient it is. Some older houses still have analog slide or dial thermostats: a style of thermostat that hasnâ€™t been installed for decades. Without a digital readout, these thermostats canâ€™t even heat their space to an exact temperature; each degree that a thermostat is off its ideal temperature can cost an extra 3% in energy usage.
A digital readout can improve the accuracy of a thermostat, but to realize real savings, you really need a programmable thermostat: one that you can program to raise and lower air temperatures. With programmable thermostats, people can automatically reduce heating and air conditioning usage as appropriate; when theyâ€™re at work during the day, for instance, or at night when theyâ€™re sleeping. Programmable thermostats allow you to program not only each time of day, but also different days, since weekend schedules tend to differ from weekday schedules. Users can easily override the thermostat program and raise or lower the temperature as needed, but the automatic reductions can reduce your heating and power bill by five to 15 percent a year.
For maximum heating and air conditioning efficiency, itâ€™s worth considering investing in a â€œsmartâ€ or â€œlearningâ€ thermostat. Smart thermostats are so called because they learn from their householdâ€™s heating and air conditioning usage and adjust their programs accordingly to provide optimal temperatures at maximum efficiency. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), smart thermostats can reduce energy use for home heating and cooling by an average of about 8â€“15%. Some utility companies offer rebates for households that use smart thermostats, especially those that reduce energy usage during peak demand times. For more information on how your thermostat can work for you, ask the experts at Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning today.
Winter has finally reached the Triad; are you ready? Hopefully, youâ€™ve already had Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning do our seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system. But now the question arises: should you cover your air conditioning unit for the winter?
This is a question that has been hotly debated for years, and thereâ€™s not exactly a simple answer. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of covering your air conditioner, and to decide on the best choice for you.
Reasons to Cover Your Air Conditioner
- It keeps falling snow and ice out of the unit.
- It keeps leaves and debris from clogging the unit.
- It keeps water off the coils, where it can freeze and damage them.
Reasons Not to Cover Your Air Conditioner
- Even with a cover, moisture from condensation can get into your air conditioning unit, causing damage. This is why seasonal maintenance is so important.
- The moisture from condensation can breed mold and mildew, which can also damage your system and degrade air quality.
- Covering your air conditioning unit can create a lovely haven for mice and other animals to make a winter nest.
Whatâ€™s the Bottom Line?
In the Triad, we donâ€™t often experience extended harsh winters. However, blizzards and hailstorms are the two weather events that warrant covering your air conditioning unit. If such a storm is in the forecast, cover your unit before the storm starts, and remove it afterwards. In the case of a blizzard (extremely rare in the southeast), take a few minutes to brush the snow from around the base of the unit.