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Setting Your Thermostat in the Spring and Summer (The Last Blog You’ll Ever Need to Read)

Thermostats have almost become an enigma among Virginia households. Anytime someone asks, “What should I set my thermostat to save money?”, it’s met with a number of different responses, of which, only a few are really applicable to any given household.

The truth is, setting your thermostat in the warmer months doesn’t have to be so complicated. Taking into account your family’s comfort and short vs. long-term savings, you can very likely run your home’s A/C on one simple rule – Set it and forget it!

While programmable thermostats can be a lifesaver in terms of short-term savings and home comfort, putting your system through consistent temperature shifts can harm your energy efficiency and place unnecessary wear and tear on your unit. Always keep in mind that whatever you set your thermostat to, your system will eventually have to overcompensate to return your home, or a given area, back to a comfortable temperature.

Unless you are on the brink of a seasonal shift in weather, the warm weather that you allowed to buildup in your home is going to stick around until your unit kicks back on again. Once it does, it is forced to work twice as hard to attain the same comfortable temperature. So while you are saving up to 6% of your energy per each degree you increase your thermostat and your unit doesn’t have to run as much, your savings go right back into re-cooling your house.

What should I set my thermostat to in the summer?

The average person does not sweat until the temperature rises above 78 degrees. This is why most HVAC specialists and energy saving buffs recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees in the warm season. On days where the temperature does not drop below 78 during the daytime, it’s best to maintain one setting in order to prevent your system from overworking. This setting also prevents residents from experiencing harsh shifts in temperature when leaving their homes.

Pro tip: A desk, box or ceiling fan can go a long way towards helping you feel cooler without actually cooling the room further. Fans use up significantly less energy than your A/C unit, so you can stay comfortable while also keeping your home energy efficient.

Unique factors that can affect home comfort

Each household will have exceptions to the standard 78 degrees in the warmer months. If you have the budget, then discussing these factors will help promote a comfortable home for all residents.

  • Hormones (especially for those experience times of great hormone fluctuations – pregnancy & menopause)
  • Glandular disorder – While the average person perspires when the temps hit 78, those that sweat at cooler temperatures will want to avoid excessive perspiration with a more appropriate thermostat setting.
  • Sleep habits – A great night’s sleep is a must for any lifestyle. If you are  a cool sleeper, a simple fan may not be enough to keep you from waking up in a sweat. Be certain to set the thermostat to accommodate cool sleepers during spring and summer.
  • Time spent in the home – Certain programmable thermostats can be set depending on the day of the week. This is great for households on the go. You can avoid energy efficiency issues by increasing the thermostat setting while you are away, but only if the temperature drops enough by the time you return home at night to assist your unit in re-cooling your home.
  • Where time is spent (hot air rises, which makes spending time upstairs less comfortable)
  • Humidity – Humidity can make any home uncomfortable. Don’t continue to set your thermostat lower and lower to attempt to make your home comfortable if humidity is the issue. Instead, invest in a dehumidifier or and A/C unit that controls humidity in order to create a comfortable home.
  • Sunlight – Skylights and poorly shaded windows can let in heat from the sun. Be aware that those that spend time in these rooms will not be as comfortable as residents in rooms with less sunlight in the summer.

What about zoning my home in the summer?

Attempting to zone your home in the summer can get a bit dicey. Yes, zoning can save you money on your monthly bill, however, just like raising your settings or shutting off your system, you run into the issue of re-cooling a room or section of your home that is now much warmer than it would have been if you would have just maintained a consistent thermostat setting at the beginning of spring.

If at all possible, consider your schedule at the start of the warm season when attempting to zone your home. If you aren’t expecting guests until late fall, feel free to zone off your guest bedroom and bathroom.

Setting your thermostat while on summer vacation

The same mentality can go into your “away” or “vacation” mode settings. If you’re going to be gone through a temperature transition, then it’s okay to shut your system off and allow your home to naturally release the heat that gathered during summer when you get back in the fall.

If you’re gone for just a few weeks or less, only increase your settings by 4 degrees at the most. This will keep your system from using too much energy while you are away, but prevent it from having to struggle to replenish your home with the cool air you need to stay comfortable.

At Fire & Ice HVAC, we know that marrying home comfort and energy savings can be a struggle. We also understand that every home has different needs. If you feel as though you need additional guidance beyond this post, please don’t hesitate to contact our Woodbridge HVAC office at 703-496-5527 to speak with one of our licensed HVAC specialists.

Take Advantage of Bryant Factory Rebates this Fall

Have you been thinking about replacing your HVAC system? Now that fall has arrived, there is no better time to upgrade or replace your HVAC system then now. Fire and Ice HVAC, Inc. has a variety of quality heating and cooling systems available from Bryant. What’s more is that if you act now, you can take advantage of significant savings in the form of factory rebates.

Why Fall is the Best Season for HVAC Replacement

Though the weather is more moderate, and your HVAC unit may be the last thing on your mind, fall really is the ideal time to explore your options for upgrades and get a new system installed. Here are just a few reasons why fall is the best season for HVAC replacement:

  • You have more time to research your options. Many people don’t replace their HVAC system until they experience a major breakdown. Unfortunately, this can often occur during a time of the year when it is too hot or too cold to go long without a working heating and cooling system. If you replace your HVAC unit in the fall, then you have time to research and explore your options without having to make a rush decision in the moment.
  • HVAC companies can offer more convenient scheduling. Fall is a slower season for HVAC companies because they are not experiencing as many emergency calls. This means that they often have a more flexible schedule for consultations and new system installs. Not to mention, if you have your new system installed in the fall, you won’t have to worry about having to endure uncomfortable temperatures during the installation process.
  • There is the opportunity to save more in the new year. Many homeowners are looking for ways to save more money each year. By replacing your HVAC system this fall with a more energy-efficient model, your home can work toward saving more money on energy bills throughout the new year.

Bryant Factory Rebate Promotion Ends November 15

Have you been thinking about purchasing a new Bryant heating and cooling system? If so, now is the time to contact Fire and Ice to find out more about your upgrade options. Today, you can qualify for up to $1,450 in Bryant factory rebates when you purchase a qualifying Bryant home comfort system or HVAC equipment. However, this offer ends soon, so the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you find the right home comfort system for you at a significant discount.

If you want to take advantage of these Bryant Factory rebates, you’ll need to act fast! The deadline for this promotion is November 15, 2016. Contact us now to speak with an HVAC expert about what units would be the best fit for your home and comfort needs. We would also be happy to answer any other questions about fall HVAC maintenance or ways that you can improve efficiency and enhance home comfort.

Air Quality Report: Woodbridge, VA

Quality indoor air is something that you simply cannot live without. This means that the air around you is extremely important to your daily life. You may think that the air in your home is the cleanest and healthiest that you encounter on a daily basis, but studies have actually indicated that the opposite may be true. In fact, the average home suffers from air pollution that is 3 to 5 times worse than the air outside.

You often hear the term air pollution used in conjunction with another term. “Indoor air quality” is a concept that is often discussed, but rarely truly explained. What exactly is indoor air quality and why should it matter to you? It is important to understand this in order to take the proper steps in maintaining it, including utilizing the services of an air duct cleaning company.

Air Quality Report – Woodbridge, VA

When determining the air quality of your home, you will need to evaluate your air on several qualities. This includes:

  • How well the air is ventilated and how well this ventilated air is distributed throughout the home
  • Well controlled levels of airborne contaminants and particles
  • Acceptable temperature
  • Acceptable level of relative humidity

Essentially, indoor air quality refers to the comfort, cleanliness and health of the air in a particular space such as a home or office. Poor air quality can have many negative consequences, such as

  1. Eye irritation
  2. Frequent headaches
  3. Chronic cough
  4. Increased allergy symptoms
  5. Frequent respiratory infections
  6. Worsened asthma symptoms
  7. Dust buildup on the surfaces of the home
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Irritability
  10. Discomfort
  11. Difficulty sleeping

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Though a tremendous amount of focus has been placed on controlling the pollution outside of the home, indoor air quality has gained attention in recent years as experts realize that the contaminants and debris present in homes that lead to poor air quality actually make the home a less healthy space than the outdoors.

Air duct cleaning services can remove the contamination and debris from your heating and cooling unit and air duct system in order to produce cleaner, healthier air and a more efficient temperature and humidity control system. This can dramatically improve your indoor air quality, therefore easing the negative symptoms associated with high indoor air pollution. Thorough duct cleaning services ensure that the air your family is breathing contains far fewer contaminants and particles, making it healthier and more comfortable so you can enjoy your home more.

Fortunately, there are an increasing number of steps and actions one can take to mitigate the effects of bad IAQ. Foremost, limiting water intrusion into one’s home is a paramount step to prevent feeding mold. Only as recently as the 1980s have builders learned how to keep moisture out of a home. This leaves an unfortunately large number of older homes susceptible to water intrusion and mold problems. Fortunately, there a number of products now available to kill and to prevent mold. AfterShock is the first EPA registered mold-resistant coating. Designed for interior walls and surfaces, Aftershock kills any existing mold and creates a barrier keeping mold off of applied surfaces.

Mold management alone isn’t enough, however. Equally important as keeping water and mold away from living spaces is to source your air from places unlikely to be affected by poor IAQ. Many older buildings take their air from unsealed crawl spaces or basements, where mold, bacteria, and a host of other pollutants may reside. The EPA estimates that people generally spend some 90% of their time indoors; a factor that combined with poor IAQ may account for many of the 17 million Americans with asthma.

Along with respiratory problems, chemical sensitivities are being increasingly reported. Some forward-thinking builders are beginning to shy away from products containing formaldehyde-based resins, in favor of non-toxic materials. Modern homes breathe, and many people that have switched to non-toxic building materials have experienced fewer illnesses; particularly among those with chemical sensitivities.

At Fire and Ice, we have the integrity to give our local Woodbridge HVAC customers the help they need to make an informed decision to improve the Indoor Air Quality of their homes. For an HVAC system Woodbridge locals can trust to support their air quality needs, contact Fire and Ice today.

The Questions Homeowners ALWAYS Ask Our HVAC Technicians (with Answers!)

The seasons are changing once again, and it is time to consider calling your friendly HVAC technician to perform annual maintenance on your HVAC unit. While you always need to be sure to contact a qualified HVAC tech to perform even routine maintenance, there are some the questions homeowners always ask our HVAC technicians that we can answer for you ahead of time.

Common HVAC Questions Answered

Here are some of the most common HVAC questions our technicians get throughout the year:

How often should I schedule routine maintenance for my HVAC system?

At least once a year. Don’t wait until your unit is breaking down to call a qualified specialist, instead keep up a standard maintenance routine for the life of your unit. It will extend the life of the unit, keeping it more energy efficient than a unit that goes without.

How important is it that I get the right size unit for my home?

The answer here is very important. If you don’t get the right size your unit may end up being left over capacity and it will not be as energy efficient as it would be if it were the right size.

What size unit would be the best for my home?

There is not a set answer for this question. It is instead going to be determined by the size of your home, the flow of the interior design as well as the construction style. To make sure you have the right size HVAC unit, call a qualified HVAC technician.

How often should I change my air filters?

Whether you have disposable filters or reusable filters, it is important that you change them or clean them at least once a month. The allergy sufferers in your home will thank you for the routine cleaning as dust and other particles will build up in the filters. A good rule of thumb is if you check the filters and they look dirty, it is time to clean or replace them.

Why is it important that I change the filters frequently?

By keeping clean filters in your HVAC unit, you are helping your air conditioner or heater run at its peak operating performance. It assures your unit has the best air flow and improves the indoor air quality as a whole.

What maintenance can I do myself other than changing the filters?

Make sure the ground the unit remains free of debris. When landscaping, be mindful of any debris near the unit and make sure to clean it properly. If the grass and dirt are clog the outside of the system, it will affect the air flow to the unit causing it to have to work harder to heat or cool your home.

To get the most out of your heating and air conditioning unit, it is important to schedule routine maintenance, while keeping your unit clean. If you need a tune-up or other HVAC service, don’t hesitate to give us a call today. We can answer all of your HVAC questions.

Everything You Need to Know about Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is so sinister largely because it is so hard for the human senses to detect. You can’t see, smell, or taste it, and it doesn’t irritate. Only a special detector can tell you if you have dangerous levels of the gas in your home. As the number one cause of poisoning death in the U.S. it is important to know the facts about this silent killer.

Carbon Monoxide Comes From Multiple Sources

Why should you be worried about CO? This gas can get into your environment from several difference sources. Any appliance in your home that burns fuel, like a furnace or water heater, can cause a build-up of CO in your home if it isn’t functioning correctly or if there is not enough venting. Other fuel-burning devices that may produce CO include portable generators, cars, boats, and tools like lawn mowers or snow blowers.

There Are Recognizable Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

You can’t sense the gas, but being poisoned by CO does cause certain symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Sleepiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Changes in vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Flu-like symptoms

If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Get Fresh Air, Call for Help

If you think your home is contaminated or someone in your home is showing signs of CO poisoning, you need fresh air right away. Get outside if possible, or open a window to breathe in fresh air from outside. Carbon monoxide poisons by preventing oxygen from getting into your body. Fresh air contains oxygen that is life-saving. Your next step should be to call 911 for emergency medical treatment.

  • If symptoms of CO poisoning are present, every one should exit the building. (For our department we tell people to get out and leave your doors and windows shut. The reason for this is so we can get an accurate reading of the level of CO in the home.)
  • Call a qualified technician to inspect and service your equipment.

Use Carbon Monoxide Alarms To Save Lives

A simple device that detects and warns you about dangerously high levels of CO could save your life and the lives of anyone in your home. These are similar to smoke detectors and can be plugged into any outlet. Make sure you get alarms that are certified and that have batter backups in case of power loss.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use in your home.
  • Install at least one CO detector in your home, near sleeping areas.
  • Plan and practice a home evacuation plan with all members of your family in case of any emergency.
  • Replace CO detectors every 2 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Remember…Carbon Monoxide Detectors ARE NOT Smoke alarms. Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home and outside each sleeping area.

Regular Maintenance Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks

CO alarms are essential, but you should also have your furnace and other fuel-burning home appliances maintained and checked regularly. By keeping them in good working order you can prevent the buildup of CO in your home.

Carbon monoxide is the silent killer, but poisoning deaths are highly preventable. By understanding the facts about this gas and taking preventative steps, you can keep your family safe. To get more information about CO alarms and maintenance for appliances, contact Fire & Ice HVAC.

Why is it So Important to Change My Air Filter?

HVAC air filters intercept airborne particulates that can clog up your heating and cooling equipment and interfere with its smooth, efficient functioning. This particulate pollution comes from a number of sources and can damage your health if repeatedly inhaled over an extended period of time.

The Health Risks of Dirty HVAC Air Filters

Ironically, the biggest problem with HVAC air filters is they work too well. They remove so much indoor pollution so fast that they can quickly become clogged, and if you are not diligent about changing your filters they will eventually stop functioning.

Unless you check you won’t know if this has happened, but if it has the chances are you and your family members will feel the effects within a short period of time. Without the able assistance of your filters airborne contamination can rapidly build up, and excessive indoor air pollution is associated with a number of troublesome health conditions including allergies, rashes, asthma, dizziness, headaches, upper respiratory distress and chronic fatigue.

Your HVAC Air Filter Choices

Once you locate them it’s incredibly easy to change air filters. They come in square or rectangular shapes and can be inserted directly into pre-formed grooves just inside air intake grills, which can be quickly removed and put back in place again with a flat-head screwdriver.

HVAC air filters are sold at every hardware and home supply store, so they are not difficult to find. They generally range in price from a couple of bucks a piece to $30 or more for the better ones.

These are your primary options …

  1. Media air filters: Highly efficient, highly recommended but more expensive than most other types of air filter. Will do an excellent job and could be especially useful if someone in your home is sensitive to or allergic to household dust.
  2. Pleated air filters: A cheaper and less effective version of the media air filter, should do a relatively thorough job if replaced every two or three months.
  3. Electrostatic air filters: Reasonably effective and modestly priced, will not clog and in some cases can be cleaned instead of changed.
  4. Fiberglass panel filters: They’re extremely cheap, don’t catch the tiniest particles and will need to be replaced monthly. Will work okay but do not forget to change them on schedule.
  5. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters: The crème de la crème of the HVAC air filter scene. HEPA filters will capture virtually everything and are absolutely the best choice if you are worried about health problems related to indoor air contamination. While HEPA filters are relatively expensive, rest assured that even the best air filters aren’t going to tax your budget to the breaking point.

These are your basic choices, but if you have a serious odor problem in your home you might want to consider purchasing an activated carbon filter, which are specially manufactured to remove odor-causing contaminants.

Change Your Air Filters Early and Often

No matter what type of air filter you buy it will come with a recommended time frame for replacement, and you should not ignore these guidelines. Poorly functioning air filters will put you, your family and your HVAC equipment at risk, and since changing filters is a breeze you really have no excuse to let things slide.

If you’d like some advice on how to choose the correct air filter please give us a call at Fire and Ice HVAC, Inc., we would be happy to offer our expert assistance.

Continue to follow the Fire and Ice blog for all the hottest takes and coolest insights about heating, air conditioning and indoor air quality management.

 

All About Bryant Housewise Thermostats

The Bryant Housewise thermostat puts you in total control of your indoor environment. With its Wi-Fi capabilities, slick touchscreen and sophisticated features, the Housewise thermostat is leading the way in the smart thermostat revolution.

The Housewise thermostat has a slim, four-inch screen with a smart phone-like interface that is very intuitive and easy to use. The wall-mounted device has a slick and modern appearance, with a black face, rounded silver edges and brightly-colored screen.

A Thermostat That’s Always at Your Fingertips

The Bryant Housewise is accessible from anywhere through your smart phone or mobile device. Whether you’re in the next room or another country, you can monitor and control your temperature and humidity settings quickly and easily.

The ability to remotely control your thermostat helps you to maximize your energy savings without sacrificing comfort. For example, you could use the Housewise app to turn your heat on five minutes before you return from a winter vacation, so that you can save energy while you are gone without having to return to an ice-cold house. With this level of control, maximum comfort can go hand in hand with maximum energy efficiency.

Smart Thermostats Make Smart Adjustment

While the Housewise gives you unprecedented control over your energy settings, this smart thermostat can also make smart adjustments on its own. Using input including your own temperature preferences, your home’s heating and cooling trends, and extended weather forecasts, the Housewise can adjust your settings to conserve energy while maximizing the comfort of your indoor environment.

To help you increase your energy efficiency even further, the Houswise provides real-time energy monitoring, monthly energy use reports and month-to-month energy comparisons. This information can give you insight into your peak energy use periods and help you to make additional adjustments to make sure you are heating and cooling your home as efficiently as possible. Smart use of the Housewise thermostat can translate into energy savings as high as 20 percent.

Fire and Ice Can Make Your Home Housewise

The Bryant Housewise is a professionally-installed device, available from your trusted source of Bryant products. Fire and Ice HVAC, Inc. is proud to be an authorized Bryant dealer, and we can install your new thermostat quickly and professionally.

Thank you for visiting our blog! Please follow us for more insight into the world of residential and commercial heating and cooling.

Controlling Dry Air In Your Home

Excessively dry air is a common problem in American households, especially in colder regions and during colder times of the year. Unfortunately, if the air in your home consistently has a low moisture level, your health can suffer. You can also boost your heating costs and develop expensive structural problems. However, you can successfully combat these issues with the help of a device called a whole-home humidifier, which ties into your HVAC system and simultaneously increases the moisture in every room.

 

The Problem with Dry Air

The human body relies on adequate moisture to maintain good function, and if you’re repeatedly exposed to overly dry air, your health may decline noticeably. Specific issues found in chronically low-humidity environments include higher chances of catching a cold, higher chances of catching a seasonal wintertime flu virus, and a quicker onset of symptoms after flu exposure. For children with the respiratory disease asthma, regular exposure to a low-humidity environment can increase the frequency of symptom outbreaks. In addition, excessively dry air can increase the severity of those outbreaks.

A low-humidity environment is known to promote cracking in costly hardwood floors. Lack of adequate indoor moisture can also promote cracking in your walls, or in any woodwork installed in your home. An increase in static electricity is another known consequence of an excessive indoor dryness. In turn, more frequent generation of static electricity may put your valuable electronic equipment at risk for unexpected and unpredictable failure.

Finally, low-humidity conditions in your home may cause you to spend more than you planned on utility costs. This is true because in the wintertime, you feel subjectively colder when the air contains less moisture. Since the common reaction to feeling cold is to bump your thermostat up a little bit, you may unknowingly run your heater more often than intended.

 

Humidify Your Entire Home

A whole-home humidifier adds moisture directly into the air traveling from your furnace or heat pump to your ducting system. This means that, instead of purchasing multiple portable humidifiers for rooms throughout your home, you can make a single purchase and take care of all of your humidification needs. Since you don’t need to add the same amount of moisture all of the time, the typical whole-home unit comes with a monitoring system that lets you adjust humidity levels on the fly.

Since a whole-home humidifier connects directly to your HVAC system, it’s best to leave the installation process to a qualified HVAC professional. A professional can also help you pick out the right make and model of humidifier for your home and set up a maintenance schedule that will keep a newly installed humidifier in good working order for years to come. If you have any questions about installing a whole-home humidifier, you can contact the experts at Fire & Ice HVAC. You can also check back here regularly to get our latest tips on HVAC-related heating and cooling issues.

The Signs That You Need Furnace Repairs

The Signs That You Need Furnace Repairs

Furnace making noises, ever have your furnace serviced, is the air in your home dry/static? These signs are signals that your furnace is sending, telling you it needs repairs. Lets us take care of that for you with one quick and simple call. We service Woodbridge, Manassas, Stafford, and other surrounding areas.

What Is Two-stage Heating?

523136409Homeowners who are looking at indoor heating options often encounter terms like single stage heating and two-stage heating. These simply refer to the type of furnace that powers a home. While single stage heating and cooling systems are popular, a two-stage system is becoming the ideal option due to a number of reasons.

What is two-stage heating?

Two-stage heating refers to the type of HVAC system that comes with two levels of heat and cooling output. This means that they are more flexible because they can operate low for milder days and high when the temperatures drop during cold winter months.

Advantages of a two-stage heating system

The main advantage of a two-stage heating furnace is efficiency. This system usually operates at 65% of the furnace’s full capacity in most climates. When the temperatures drop to very low during the cold winter months, the second stage takes over to satisfy the additional heating requirements of the home.

A two-stage system is also quieter than other types since it does not operate at full capacity all of the time. This is because the furnace starts operation when the amount of cool or warm air required to cool or heat up  the home is lower. This type of system is also able to provide continuous heating and cooling without temperature fluctuations. These systems have efficient temperature regulation to ensure that no drastic temperature changes occur during the night. The way the system operates also lowers the moisture content in the air because of longer cooling cycles. This results to an even flow of dry air which prevents the growth of mold and mildew.

Finally, the system facilitates more efficient air filtration especially when it is running at low speed. Constant current of air passing through the air filters allow the filtration of more pollutants for cleaner indoor air.

Modern heating and cooling systems operate using multi-stage technology to save on heating and cooling costs. A more efficient operation, lower noise levels and improved air quality make two-stage heating a great option for any home.

Thinking about installing a heating/cooling system for your home? Follow us for more ideas and tips on how to keep your heating and cooling systems in tip-top shape.