Tag Archives: home improvement

Are You Thinking About Buying a Smart Thermostat?

Why You Should Buy a Smart Thermostat

Thermostats are an irreplaceable part of any HVAC system. These handy control mechanisms take the guesswork out of your heating and cooling systems, allowing you to customize their activity based on your personal comfort preferences.

The ABCs of smart thermometers

But if you think thermostats are still simple devices with a low range of capabilities, we have a surprise for you. Smart thermostats have changed the HVAC industry forever—these universally programmable and interactive devices let users streamline and personalize the performance of their HVAC equipment right down to the minute.

Smart thermostats furnish precise and convenient digital control over physical heating and cooling equipment, saving time and money in the process. All across the land, homeowners are singing their praises, and if you don’t know anything about smart thermostats, you truly don’t know what you’ve been missing.

The A-B-Cs of Smart Thermostats

So what is it, exactly, that makes a smart thermostat so smart?

That’s a great question, and the list of differences between smart and conventional thermostats is more extensive than you might think.

Here’s what you’ll get with a good-quality smart thermostat:

  • User-friendly digital features. If you know how to operate your smart phone, you’ll have no problem understanding and managing your smart thermostat. In fact, a smart thermostat is less complex and easier to use.
  • Full Wi-Fi capability. Yes, that’s right. State-of-the-art smart thermostats are remotely accessible over the Internet—meaning you can program them from your mobile devices or laptop even when you’re not at home. All you have to do is download the proper smart thermostat app, and you’ll be ready to roll.
  • Connectivity with all home comfort appliances. Furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilators … you name it, and if it helps regulate your home’s interior environment, a smart thermostat can control it. Install a smart thermostat, and it will operate as the “brain” of your entire indoor climate management system.
  • Long-term programming capabilities. With a smart thermostat, you can program your home’s temperature and relative humidity settings for tomorrow, for next week, or for every day next month. Or if you’re going on vacation, you can program your system to switch on shortly before you return, so you’ll return to a home that’s as cool or as toasty as you desire.
  • Detailed information about energy-use patterns. You can receive as many digital updates as you like, detailing your energy consumption by the hour, day, week, or month. This will allow you to track your energy-use patterns and make adjustments that can save you money without compromising on performance. Your device will even offer customized tips to help you improve your home’s energy efficiency.
  • Automatic adaptability. Believe it or not, your smart thermostat will eventually learn to adapt to your habits and make automatic adjustments in your heating and cooling settings, based on time of day, who’s home, etc. Over time, your new thermostat may come to know more about your climate preferences than you do—which is why they call them smart

In addition to their outstanding performance features, smart thermostats are easy to install and sleekly designed to blend naturally into their surroundings. They can be integrated with all makes and models of furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps and will begin saving you money on energy consumption right from the get-go.

How much money, you ask? If you learn to use all the features of your smart thermostat, you may be able to reduce your fuel and electricity consumption by as much as 20-30 percent.

While smart thermostats are more expensive than older analog models, with these types of savings, they should pay for themselves in one or two years, tops.

Smart Thermostats for Smarter Living

Only you can decide if a smart thermostat is the right choice for you and your family.

Just know that if you do take the plunge, your control over the operation of your HVAC system will grow exponentially. On-demand fingertip programmability gives you complete autonomy over indoor temperatures in your home seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, from wherever you are in the world.

From a cost-benefit standpoint,  a smart thermostat is one of the smarter investments you could ever hope to make.

Is Your Ceiling Fan a Friend or a Foe?

Recently, there has been some fast and loose talk about ceiling fans being ineffective for cooling. Are these claims true or false? As with so many issues, the answer is “both.” Read on to learn how to make the most of your ceiling fans.Are ceiling fans effective in cooling down a room?

The reason some energy experts disapprove of ceiling fans has more to do with how people use ceiling fans than with the fans themselves. Unlike air conditioners, which contain cooling agents called refrigerants, fans don’t actually cool the air. In fact, the motor that runs the fan actually warms the air around it! However, the air movement that the fan creates gives the feeling of cooler air. It’s the same principle as the wind-chill factor that meteorologists use when determining outdoor temperature; a cold wind will make the air feel colder, even though the wind doesn’t register on the thermometer.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) states that for users of both air conditioning and ceiling fans, the wind chill factor of ceiling fans allows users to raise their air conditioning temperature four degrees without sacrificing any real-feel comfort. During milder weather, ceiling fans can actually replace air conditioning, drastically reducing energy usage.

So why would energy experts complain about ceiling fans? Note the Department of Energy’s recommendation that users can reduce or even eliminate their air conditioning usage by using ceiling fans. Many users only take the second piece of that advice; that is, they keep the ceiling fans on, but they don’t bother raising their AC temperature or turning their AC off when it’s not necessary. This results in a greater energy expenditure than if the ceiling fans weren’t turned on at all.

Furthermore, most people leave ceiling fans on, even when they’re not in the room. As the DOE says, fans cool people, not rooms, so it doesn’t do any good to leave them on if you’re not in the room. To get the most out of your ceiling fans, follow these simple steps:

  • Raise your AC temperature a few degrees if you’re using a ceiling fan.
  • In temperate weather, use a ceiling fan instead of air conditioning.
  • Turn off your ceiling fan when you leave a room.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Thermostat?

How old is your thermostat? If it’s more than 10 years old, it’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 hasn’t been installed for decades. Without a digital readout, these thermostats can’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.Is It Time to Upgrade Your Thermostat?

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 they’re at work during the day, for instance, or at night when they’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, it’s worth considering investing in a “smart” or “learning” thermostat. Smart thermostats are so called because they learn from their household’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 8–15%. 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.

Add Heater Vent Lights in Bathrooms for Comfort

A simple thing such as installing a heater vent light provides you with several different advantages. Check to see if you have a HVL (heater vent light) installed in your bathroom. It consists of three items, as the name indicates. A switch for each item is usually located inside your bathroom door at the same place your light switch is located. What is the purpose of a heater vent light and what are the advantages of installing one?

A heater vent light consists of three different items—each with a different purpose.

  • Light: This provides a light that will assist you as you enter your bathroom. The switch to the light is usually the top switch on your HVL switch.
  • Heater: This helps to heat up the bathroom. It is usually the second switch on your HVL switch.
  • Vent: This is a fan motor that helps to exhaust your bathroom. It is usually the bottom switch on your HVL switch.

Advantages of a heater vent light:

  • The heater will enable you to heat up your bathroom before you use it. You can heat up the bathroom only and do not have to heat up the whole house just too make the bathroom warm enough to use.
  • The vent will help exhaust your bathroom. Many times we think the vent is to move the smell out of a bathroom, but the main purpose of this vent is to move moisture that accumulates out of the bathroom. When someone takes a shower or bath, the humidity level rises in the bathroom. If the vent is not turned on to prevent this, the humidity level in the whole house could change. The higher the humidity level, the less comfortable the air is.
  • The light is not the main focus of a HVL, but it does help when you enter your bathroom. It is the first switch you come to when you enter the room. It is easy to turn this switch on so you can see to access what you need to in your bathroom.

If you do not have a HVL installed in your bathroom, now is the time to make the investment and have one installed. In many older homes, HVL’s were not installed. In today’s homes, they are required to be installed in any part of new construction or renovation. Regardless of your situation, it will greatly benefit you to install a HVL in your home. These can be purchased at any building supply store in your area. In many cases, they can be installed using the same wiring that exists for the lights you already have installed in your bathroom. I also recommend that you install these lights in a workroom or perhaps in a room that you use for handicrafts, photography, or any other hobby that you may be involved in.