What are the signs you need heating repair in southern Georgia?

Winters in Georgia are relatively mild compared to those in states to the north. Having said that, a properly working furnace or heat pump is still needed in the winter to keep your home warm and cozy inside. If you want to avoid a furnace breakdown, you should know the signs you need heating repair.

The big three signs you need heating repair

Signs of furnace repair in southern GeorgiaFrom strange noises and smells to performance issues, this blog will go through the top signs that your furnace is on the verge of a breakdown, or already having problems.

The best way to prevent the need for repairs in the first place? Schedule a seasonal tune-up with the pros here at Ray & Son. If you do need 24/7 emergency service, contact the Ray & Son team.

1. Odd noises coming from the furnace

Strange noises are one of the most prominent (and loud) signs you need heating repair. You should never ignore any odd noises coming from your heat pump or furnace. Here are three prominent sounds, and what they could signal:

  • Banging: A problem with the ignition in a furnace will lead to the ever so slight buildup of gas, which can then “explode”, causing a popping or banging sound within the furnace. Over time, this can damage the system.
  • Rattling: This could indicate a part of the system that is loose and rattling while colliding with other parts or the metal of the system.
  • Humming: This could be a sign of a problem with your fan or capacitor. This will be much louder than the normal sounds the system makes while operating.

If you hear a banging, squeaking, rattling, or any other odd noises from the furnace, you should immediately call the professional heating repair technicians at Ray & Son.

2. Rising energy bills

Are your energy costs on the rise over the past few months? If you’ve experienced sticker shock upon opening your heating bill, it might be time to get your system inspected by an expert.

A malfunctioning furnace or heat pump is often times an inefficient one, and some systems will continue to run, but use far more energy than expected while doing so.

3. Furnace performance issues

No matter what you do or what you set the thermostat at, your home still feels like an icebox. Yet, your furnace is still technically running. This probably indicates a fault of some kind with the system.

One common problem is that your thermostat and furnace / heat pump aren’t communicating correctly, or your thermostat is taking incorrect temperature readings. If your thermostat mistakenly thinks it’s 85 in your home, it won’t signal to turn on the furnace. Our team can address this concern and confirm that your thermostat is pulling the right data.

Other performance issues can be the result of issues with the ignition, heat exchanger, or more.

Call Ray & Son for a heating inspection this winter

Always get your furnace checked by a professional technician. This is important to ensure that the furnace is properly repaired. Handing the repair job to an inexperienced technician may initially look like you are saving money, but it will end up costing you a lot in the long run due to inadequate repairs.

To get in touch with professional, NATE-certified heating repair technicians here in southern Georgia, contact our team at Ray & Son Heating and Air Conditioning. We’d love to help you with your heating needs this winter.

What You Should Know About the R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout

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For those homeowners in areas like Valdosta, Georgia, where winters are more on the mild side, heat pumps are a perfect option. Your heat pump moves energy from one area to another as needed, depending on the season. It is able to accomplish this using a refrigerant, which absorbs and releases heat to heat or cool your home. However, due to environmental concerns, refrigerants are being phased out, and this could affect you.

Refrigerants that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) contribute to ozone depletion. As a result, there is a worldwide agreement to stop the use of these substances. R-22 refrigerant or HCFC-22 has been commonly used as a refrigerant for several decades. As a result, most air conditioning systems use the R-22 refrigerant. Organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working to eliminate the use of these types of refrigerants. This will have many implications for the purchase and repair of heat pumps, air conditioners, and other systems that use refrigerants.

Refrigerants and the Environment

In researching refrigerants you will soon run into a number of terms such as Freon, Puron, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, R-numbers and the like. But what do they all mean? For starters, R-22 refrigerant and Freon are essentially the same thing. Freon includes CFCs, and is the brand name for these products that are primarily used as refrigerants. The name “Freon” is well-known because it has been used for a variety of refrigerants dating back to the early days of air conditioning. “R-22” simply means “Refrigerant 22.” All refrigerants are assigned an R-number to differentiate them from each other.

An HCFC is a chemical that is composed of hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. It is the chlorine in that formula that most concerns the EPA because chlorine destroys ozone molecules. The ozone layer helps to protect all of us from harmful UV rays. Because of this, R-22 is being replaced by R-410A, which goes by the brand name Puron. Puron is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which does not contain the damaging chlorine.

The Phaseout Process

The EPA is gradually phasing out HCFCs such as R-22 refrigerant, a process which will continue until 2020. The process began with the signing of the Montreal Protocol over 20 years ago, but really started to have an impact in 2010. That year, the EPA blocked air conditioning manufacturers from producing any more AC systems that run on R-22 refrigerant. It then started setting annual limits on how much new R-22 could be manufactured or imported. Supplies of new R-22 refrigerant have already been cut to half of 2010 levels, and will continue to be cut until they reach zero in 2020. As a result of the phaseout, Georgia homeowners with R-22 air conditioners are faced with decisions regarding AC service, repairs, and replacements.

Higher Refrigerant Prices

As would be expected (or even intended) when supplies are continually being reduced, the price of R-22 refrigerant has increased dramatically. That expensive trend is expected to continue, with supply shortages possible.

Your heat pump or air conditioner won’t require any additional refrigerant when everything is working perfectly. However, as R-22 systems age they become more prone to leaks or breaks. Higher refrigerant prices directly increase the cost of heat pump service and repairs, which impacts the decision of whether it is better to repair or replace an old system.

High refrigerant prices also increase the value of regular AC maintenance. Because of the high monetary and environmental costs of R-22 refrigerant leaks, you want to catch such leaks quickly and prevent them if possible. Only a technician licensed to handle refrigerants should recharge your system and handle refrigerant leaks.

Replacement Refrigerants

The high cost of R-22 naturally leads many homeowners to look for a cheaper replacement refrigerant. There are some refrigerants promoted as replacements, including R-407C, R-422 and R-438A. The problem with any replacement is that air conditioners are designed to work with a specific refrigerant. The pressures and materials used in an R-22 air conditioner will not work as well (and may not work at all) if you substitute a different refrigerant.

That is why older units are not simply filled with the new R-410A Puron. R-410A requires much higher pressures than R-22, and will not work in older system unless they are retrofitted with new parts.

Replacement Air Conditioners

At some point, all R-22 air conditioners will need to be replaced, due either to their increasing age or the R-22 refrigerant restrictions. The good news is that new R-410A units tend to be more cost-effective than the units they replace. They use less electricity, are less likely to break down than older systems, and use a less expensive refrigerant.

If you have questions about the R-22 phaseout and how it impacts air conditioning in your home or business, please contact the experts at Ray and Son at (229) 686-5531. Our AC experts will be happy to help.

5 Do-It-Yourself Tasks to Improve Efficiency and Comfort

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An energy-efficient home doesn’t just reduce your carbon footprint. It also saves you money because your house uses less power to function properly. To improve efficiency and comfort, and to save money in your Tifton, Georgia, home, try these do-it-yourself tasks that can help you to save energy.

Check for Leaks Around Doors and Windows

Your furnace works hard to keep your interior spaces cool and comfortable, but your doors and windows might hamper your furnace’s efficiency if they aren’t properly sealed and protected. Adding weatherstripping offers a simple solution if you find gaps between doors and windows and their frames, but other DIY solutions help, too.

For instance, consider installing better window treatments. Standard blinds and curtains can help to provide a barrier from cold air entering your home through any gaps or leaks. When windows are properly sealed, you can open curtains and blinds to allow the sunlight to help to naturally warm your home.

Hanging energy-efficient exterior doors can also help. Doors made from fiberglass instead of wood offer several benefits, including increased energy efficiency. They are insulated against heat gain and loss, which means lower utility bills. Plus, they don’t dent or warp, and because they are stronger than wood models, they are more secure against intrusion.

Install Gaskets Over Outlets

Sometimes the smallest gaps and cracks in your home can be just as damaging in terms of reducing energy efficiency. Your electrical outlets, for instance, can contribute to heat loss and gain. To protect them against the free flow of air, install rubber gaskets inside the outlet covers.

Follow the instructions on the gaskets carefully and make sure they fit snugly against the wall. You can also find gaskets for your switch or breaker boxes, which might deter air flow in those areas.

Use Fans

At this time of the year in our area, the weather can be a bit unpredictable. While we generally see cooler temperatures, there can be those occasional warm or even hot days. On those warmer days, you can use fans to help with cooling. If you do need the air conditioner, you will be able to put it on a higher setting to save energy.

On those more comfortable days, you might not need the air conditioner or the furnace, and can simply open windows and doors to let cool air in, and to help with ventilation. On those days that are a little cooler, you can lower your thermostat and allow fans to help circulate the warmer air.

Use of Appliances and Electronics

Appliances and electronics can consume a lot of energy. To be more energy efficient and to save on your energy bill, it is important to analyze the way you use certain appliances in our home.

It is important to turn off and unplug appliances that are not being used. Even if machines are turned off, they will continue to use standby power if not unplugged. It is also a good idea to invest in appliances that have the Energy Star label. These appliances are designed to be more efficient, and to increase comfort and savings.

Program Your Thermostat

A programmable thermostat gives you complete control over the temperature in your home and helps you to reduce energy consumption. A programmable thermostat is a smart investment and can make a significant difference in comfort and savings when used properly.

You will be able to program the thermostat’s settings to always maximize indoor comfort. Program your thermostat based on whether you are at home or away, sleeping or awake, for maximum benefits. For example, there is no need to have the heat running on high if no one is home. You can set the thermostat at lower temperatures, and then set it to increase in time for your return home. Many thermostats today, allow you to make adjustments remotely as well.

Creating an energy-efficient home takes a little effort, but you will enjoy lower power bills and your decreased carbon footprint. If you need help assessing your HVAC system’s efficiency and finding more ways to increase savings and comfort, contact Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning at (229) 686-5531.

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Making Sure Your Indoor Air is Safe for Everyone

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You probably don’t think much about the air around you until it starts making you sick. You may have concerns about outdoor air pollution in southern Georgia, but it can be much worse indoors. From simple everyday pollutants like dust that you can see, to those invisible, odorless substances like carbon monoxide and radon, there are several contaminants that can sneak into your home and harm the air quality (IAQ). It is very important that you monitor your indoor air quality to ensure that it is safe even for those with no respiratory problems.

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas released during combustion in fireplaces and from appliances such as propane gas stoves. Your kitchen, living room, basement, and garage generally contain equipment that can emit this dangerous gas. As it gets cold, furnaces, generators, and stoves used for heating are typical culprits. When using combustion appliances, be sure to follow instructions carefully, and always ventilate the area well to avoid CO buildup. Carbon monoxide leaks cause headaches, confusion, nausea, and unconsciousness. Since the gas cannot be detected by your own senses, you should install CO detector nears bedrooms and ensure they are properly installed according to local codes. CO detectors are available as smoke detector combos and stand-alone devices as well.

Test for Radon

Radon is another colorless, odorless gas, and is emitted from decaying uranium found in soil, particularly where the soil is high in phosphate. Radon is found everywhere, and we have all likely come into contact with it in low, harmless quantities. The problem occurs when radon is concentrated in closed spaces, for example, by seeping into a home’s foundation through cracks and collecting in a basement. Radon has been linked to lung cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so it is very important that your IAQ tests include checks for this substance as well. Kits for detecting radon can be purchased from your local home improvement store. If your home test reveals signs of radon, it’s time to contact a professional.

Manage Indoor Humidity

Indoor humidity should be reduced to 30-60% to prevent mold growth. High humidity levels create the ideal environment for dust mites and mold. To keep hydrated and in order to survive, dust mites absorb moisture in the air through their bodies. So the higher the humidity, the better their chances for survival and reproduction.

Mold flourishes in high humidity as it takes root on surfaces that absorb the excess moisture in the air. As mold grows it releases spores. The spores become airborne, further degrading your air quality, and causing allergic responses. Combined with moisture, mold decays wood and ruins other structural components.

Relative humidity below 30 percent dries mucous membranes and puts some people at risk of a respiratory infection. It is important therefore to control humidity levels in your home.

Controlling humidity can be a complicated matter. You will need to be able to locate the moisture source. Sometimes both the mold and moisture origin are located in hard-to-access areas, making detection and control difficult. Your humidity problem could also result from an under-performing air conditioner not removing excess humidity from the air. You may need to add a dehumidifier to your home’s comfort system, especially if someone in your home has respiratory problems. If you have reason to be concerned about moisture levels in your home, you can purchase an inexpensive hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. There are also models that can be integrated with your thermostat.

Check Your HVAC Filters

One of the simplest methods for monitoring and maintaining your indoor air quality is to keep a vigilant eye on your HVAC’s air filters. Start out by using high-efficiency filters and change or clean them on schedule per the manufacturer’s recommendations. If your home is susceptible to poor IAQ problems, such as high dust accumulations, you will see signs of it on your filter. Change your dirty filter right away. You will begin to reduce your IAQ challenges while improving your HVAC system’s efficiency.

There are always DIY actions you can take to resolve some IAQ problems, such as regularly cleaning your home and reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals. The most effective option however, is to trust the experienced and thorough services of a professional.

Contact Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning for effective solutions to your air quality questions and challenges. Our experienced technicians are skilled in providing a variety of HVAC services for your home comfort needs. Call us today at (229) 686-5531 for more information or to schedule an appointment for indoor air quality services and testing.

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Increase Home Comfort – Reduce Humidity Inside Your Home

If you’re wondering why it’s so hard to reduce humidity inside your Valdosta home, consider the conditions outside. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent for optimum health, comfort and HVAC performance.

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5 Ductwork Design Factors That Play a Role in Energy Efficiency

Ray and Son Air ConditioningThere’s more to energy savings than just having an efficient heating and air conditioning system. Good ductwork design plays a fundamental role in a home’s overall energy efficiency. By having a properly designed duct system from the onset, your HVAC system can effectively provide a comfortable indoor environment without wasting energy or creating unnecessary stress on the system itself.

Proper ductwork design is judged based on the following criteria. Any ductwork worth its weight should abide by these five design factors:

Duct Material

In decades past, some contractors took to time- and “money-saving shortcuts to quickly finish duct systems. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see wooden wall voids or enclosed ceiling joists used to push air through the home. Unfortunately, these shortcuts often came at the expense of energy efficiency and HVAC system longevity.

Quality ductwork design depends on using the proper materials for building ducts. Metal, fiberglass and other permanent materials should be the only ones used for ductwork throughout the home. Most importantly, all ductwork should be designed in accordance with the Manual J, D and S guidelines set by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Ducts Routed Conditioned Zones

When it comes to energy losses, routing ducts through unconditioned zones can be a killer. When uninsulated ducts are exposed to unconditioned spaces like attics and crawl spaces, the temperature extremes can easily rob your HVAC system of its efficiency and capacity to provide adequate comfort.

Ideally, it’s up to your contractor to route ductwork so that it avoids unconditioned spaces. When that’s not possible, the next best step is to wrap ducts in insulation rated at R-8 for unconditioned attics and R-6 for other uninsulated areas.

Supply and Return Vent Paths

An ideal ventilation setup involves placing dedicated return ducts in each room featuring a supply duct, but that’s not always possible to do. For this reason, most homes have a return duct situated in a central, common area such as a living room or hallway.

When it comes to airflow, the path of least resistance is usually the best path to your home’s return duct. Obstructions such as furniture can slow down or even block air from getting where it needs to go. To increase energy efficiency and ensure reliable HVAC operation, you should remove or rearrange potential obstacles so they won’t block airflow to the return ducts.

For obstacles that can’t be moved out of the way, such as doors and walls, you may have to incorporate pass-through grilles within doors or install ceiling-mounted jumper ducts that allow air to pass from one room to the next.

Pressure Balancing

The conditioned air that enters your living spaces through the supply ducts does so under positive pressure, whereas the return air is drawn out of those spaces through negative pressure. Both must be balanced in order to maintain neutral air pressure throughout your home. Your HVAC system operates best when balance is achieved.

Manual dampers can help keep your home’s pressure balance in check through occasional adjustments as needed. These dampers should also have mechanical holds to prevent the damper from moving out of position over time.

Ductwork Sealing and Testing

Leaks and gaps in ductwork are responsible for most energy efficiency losses throughout the typical home. Not only does conditioned air escape, but dust and debris can also get sucked into the ducts through these small tears and crevices.

It’s important to check and double-check all of the duct segments as they’re being put together. Not only should duct segments be securely connected via sheet metal screws, but the joints should also be sealed with metal foil tape, mastic sealant or a combination of the two. In addition, your contractor should also leak test the newly joined ductwork to ensure there aren’t any major air losses.

Learn more about ductwork design solutions from the pros at Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning, or give us a call at (229) 686-5531.

Reduce the Likelihood of Dirty Ductwork in Your Home by Working to Prevent It

Effectively preventing dirty ductwork begins by understanding the nature of the problem.  The average duct system in a typical home conveys around 1,400 cubic feet of air per minute whenever the heating or cooling system is running. The system typically circulates the entire air volume of the house through the ductwork multiple times every day. Airborne particulates afloat in household air—from the contaminants you can actually see like inorganic dust and dirt down to invisible microorganisms like mold spores and bacteria—settle inside ductwork and accumulate there. Over the years, the amount of ductwork contamination may become substantial.

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Want to Improve Heating Efficiency? Move Duct Sealing to the Top of Your To-Do List

duct sealingTo achieve today’s acceptable level of energy efficiency in your home, duct sealing has to be a priority. A blanket assumption can be made about most residential ductwork: It leaks. This is partly because cost-cutting was the main priority when home ducts were fabricated and installed in the past and partly because the concealed location of ductwork inside walls, the attic or crawl space means ducts typically don’t receive much attention or routine maintenance. The result? A minimum average of 20 percent of conditioned air produced by your HVAC system never gets to the living spaces it’s supposed to heat or cool.

In some older homes the situation is more extreme than average with duct leakage as high as 75 percent of conditioned air, along with an equivalent amount of wasted money in high utility costs. For installed ductwork in existing homes, the goal in most localities is to reduce duct leakage to below 15 percent of total duct airflow.

Paying More for Less Comfort

Homes with leaky ductwork suffer from inconsistent heating and cooling in living spaces. Frequently, rooms located farthest from the system air handler/blower don’t receive their share of conditioned air because it escapes through duct leakage long before it arrives at those rooms. These are usually rooms that are chronically stubborn to heat and cool without any other obvious explanation. Adjusting the thermostat to compensate for heat loss or cooling loss to these underserved rooms not only raises operating costs, but it also makes other areas of the home overly hot or cool.

The Balance of Efficiency

Duct leaks disturb the neutral air balance vital not only for maximum efficiency and comfort, but for healthy air quality, too. Leaks in the supply ducts result in a depressurized house that pulls cold or hot outdoor air in through structural gaps and cracks to equalize the pressure. This unconditioned incoming air competes with the furnace or air conditioner, raising energy costs. It also may originate from areas like the crawl space or attic and introduce contaminants into the breathing air of living spaces.

When leakage occurs in return ducts, the house may be overpressurized. This pushes expensive conditioned air of the house through small openings and also forces humid indoor air into spaces such as wall voids, the attic and elsewhere. The continuous flow of water vapor into these spaces can spawn the growth of mold, forming a hidden reservoir of toxic contamination that can continuously infect the household.

Inspect and Test

Because much of the span of ductwork is inaccessible to the average homeowner, a full inspection by a qualified HVAC professional is required prior to any duct sealing to accurately determine the extent of leakage as well as pinpoint the location of leaks. A proper inspection includes a pressure testing procedure that forces a fixed amount of air into the ductwork, then utilizes computer technology to calculate the exact amount of leakage expressed as a percentage of total airflow. In addition, artificial smoke may be injected into the pressurized ducts to reveal the location of hidden leaks or those too small to be visually evident.

Duct Sealing

The duct sealing process begins with cutting out any segments that may be rusted or corroded beyond repair and splicing in replacement segments.  In addition, these sealing measures are standard:

  • Any segments that have become totally disconnected are reconnected and mechanically fastened.
  • Joints between duct segments are sealed with mastic and/or foil backed tape. All joints will then be mechanically fastened with sheet metal screws.
  • Collapsed sections of flexible ductwork are restored.
  • Uninsulated segments of ductwork that pass through unconditioned zones like the attic or crawl space will be insulated to a level of R-5.
  • In spans where the number of pinhole leaks are too numerous to repair individually, the HVAC contractor may suggest injecting an aerosol sealant into the ducts to coat interior surfaces and resolve leakage.

For more advice on duct sealing and a professional inspection and pressure test for your Nashville home, contact the HVAC professionals at Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning.

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Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips That Will Make a Difference

fall and winter energy-saving tipsIn addition to finally seeing a relief from the unending heat of the summer, there’s another reason to look forward to the upcoming seasons — energy savings. If you follow the fall and winter energy-saving tips that we’ve outlined below, you’ll help the environment while lowering your monthly energy bills.

  • Plan for scheduled maintenance — To keep your heating equipment in good working order, you should call a professional technician for a tune-up. In addition to improving its energy efficiency, a tune-up will prolong the life of your system.
  • Know when to replace your furnace — Many homeowners continue to use old furnaces that are far past their prime because they don’t want to deal with the cost of a replacement. What they don’t realize is that an old system that isn’t operating properly is wasting money every day it’s in use. While it’s true that the purchase of a brand new furnace will set you back a bit, newer models backed by Energy Star are more efficient than ever before. Which means you’ll save energy and money for years to come.
  • Switch to CFLs — If your home is still full of incandescent light bulbs, you’re wasting a lot of energy for no reason. These traditional bulbs have been replaced by more energy-efficient types such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), which use considerably less energy to do the same job.
  • Unplug your energy vampires — If you’re not familiar with the term, energy vampires refer to devices that continue to use a small amount of energy despite being turned off. These include cell phone chargers, printers, DVD players, and many others. To stop this from happening, what you want to do is either unplug them or group them together with surge protectors and switch off each unit when its components are not in use.
  • Purchase a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat — Although there are several fall and winter energy-saving tips that you can follow, an especially important one to consider is the installation of a more advanced thermostat. Both programmable and Wi-Fi models give you the ability to set the times in which your heating equipment is in operation, but if you decide to go Wi-Fi, you’ll get the added feature of being able to make changes remotely, either through an Internet or Wi-Fi connection.
  • Lower your water usage — If you pay attention to your water usage, you’ll not only save money on that front, but you’ll also lower your heating bill. For example, we all love long, soothing showers, but this can easily use a lot of hot water, which needs to be replaced. To solve this problem, you should cut your showers short. Another technique is to limit washing clothes and dishes to times when you can provide a full load. And don’t forget to switch to low-flow shower heads and toilets, whenever possible.
  • Mind your fireplace — The techniques that you employ to save energy and money via your fireplace depends on whether or not you plan for it to be in operation during the fall and/or winter. If you plan to use your fireplace, then you should clean its chimney to allow for more air flow, thereby improving your home’s energy efficiency. If you don’t plan on using it, then it’s a good idea to plug and seal the fireplace flue.
  • Pay more attention to your water heater — The first thing you should do with your water heater is make sure that its temperature setting is on medium. The high setting will waste energy and often cause the water to scald you. The medium setting (120 degrees) is ideal. Plus, you should wrap a blanket around the water heater in order to insulate it.
  • Consider alternative heating and energy — There are many fall and winter energy-saving tips available, but few of them will help save the environment while lowering your energy costs. Many households have already discovered the fascinating world of geothermal heating, which can save you loads of money. The best way to prove your solidarity with those who want to save the environment, however, is to install solar panels. These panels will allow you to save quite a bit of money, and you may even be able to sell some of the energy to your local power company.

For more expert advice on fall and winter energy-saving tips or any other issues related to home comfort, please contact the friendly professionals at Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve been serving the needs of South Georgia and North Florida since 1965.

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How Sealing and Insulation Can Positively Improve the Comfort of Your Georgia Home

sealing and insulationSealing and insulation are like two peas in a pod when it comes to home efficiency. They stick together through thick and thin, from hot summer months to cold, dry winter months, and all the days in between. Read on to find out why sealing and insulating your Georgia home is one of the smartest and most practical ways to enjoy maximum comfort and lower energy bills all year long.

Why Are Sealing and Insulation Necessary?

It costs a lot of money to keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. High energy bills are largely due to air leaks and poor insulation in the home shell, which allow the movement of heat energy between the comfortable conditioned spaces and spaces outside the conditioned areas and the home.

The problem for leaky homes is the natural propensity for heat energy to move from a warmer place to a cooler place. A good example of this is the air conditioning system. An A/C doesn’t cool air the same way a furnace adds heat energy to the air. An air conditioner uses extremely cold refrigerant to actually absorb and remove heat energy from household air, which makes the air cooler. This means, no matter what, a leaky home may expect comfort and energy bill issues as follows:

  • Cooling months – During hot summer days, the heat energy of warmer outside air naturally seeks to move through air leaks into your nice cool home.
  • Heating months – In the winter, heat energy from your warm home seeks any means possible to move to the colder air outside the living spaces, whether it’s the cold attic, garage or frigid air outside the home.

Greater Comfort and More

Heat energy movement, otherwise known as heat gain and heat loss, through the home shell manifests in drafts, uneven temperatures and rapid temperature swings characterized by frequent A/C, heat pump and furnace cycles. Sealing and insulation plugs the holes and offers a heat conduction barrier, which effectively reduces home discomforts. Air sealing also helps make it easier to manage humidity swings between the humid cooling months and the dry heating months.

Buttoning up your home also delivers these benefits:

  • Energy savings – According to the Energy Star program, the typical home may save about 20 percent in energy bills with proper sealing and insulation in place.
  • Better indoor air quality – Air infiltration between the living spaces and the attic, crawl spaces, basement and/or garage may introduce contaminants and harmful gases into the home, in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from building structure, auto emissions, vermin waste and more. Air sealing effectively stops or greatly limits cross contamination.
  • Better heating/cooling performance – Buttoning up your home reduces the heating and cooling load the A/C, heat pump and/or furnace must meet. A lighter workload reduces wear and repair bills. If your comfort systems quick-cycle frequently, this too will be reduced, allowing them to reach peak performance.

Sealing Basics

Air sealing materials include caulk, weatherstripping, expanding foam spray and switch-plate gaskets. Following matches air leaks to the recommended sealing materials:

  • Windows and doors – Leaks around windows and doors are very common and most often require weatherstripping. Weatherstripping materials and types vary greatly to their uses and application. For instance, rubber or foam weatherstripping is appropriate around door frames. Plastic V-strip tension weatherstripping is appropriate for double-hung windows.
  • Attic access door – Foam weatherstripping is typically most appropriate and important around the attic door. Test the attic door with a smoke pencil from time to time to make sure it stays sealed.
  • Switch plates – Air infiltration even occurs through wall switch plates. Unscrew switch plates and install gaskets.
  • Attached garage – Unfinished shared walls and ceiling of attached garages should be insulated with fiberglass rolls, sealed with caulk and joint compound, and painted.

How Does Your Insulation Stack Up?

Take a look at the insulation in your attic. It should be well above the joists. Adding fiberglass rolls or loose fill could be a weekend project, though there are safety factors to consider. Attics are typically harsh spaces in the home as far as heat, humidity and cold. You also have to watch your step, and be careful not fall through the ceiling. After a few hours in an extremely hot or cold attic, the chance of mishaps due to fatigue increases. It’s wise to consult a trusted HVAC professional.

If you would like more information about sealing and insulation, please contact Ray & Son Heating & Air Conditioning.

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