Posts Tagged ‘save money’

In following with our last post about saving money, we found a few more tips for you and some are even Christmas related!

Let’s face it: We all have a ton of demands during the winter months. Visiting relatives, holiday rituals, and icy cold weather to deal with.
Likewise, your electrical bill may soar during this time. As you strive to maintain an awesome Christmas lights display and start adjusting your HVAC systems, you may quickly run up your home’s energy usage.

However, you can cut down your electrical consumption here-and-there using a few easy techniques, preventing an unwelcome surprise in your power bill.

Tip 1: Use a Timer for Your Christmas Lights: I love an old-fashioned Christmas light display as much as the next person. But while these setups can be amazing in their extravagance, they can also burn a lot of power during the Christmas season. A few years ago, some folks advocated an end to this tradition in order to save energy.
However, you can enjoy Christmas lights responsibly by only using them a few hours per evening. A timer makes the entire process super easy, preventing the possibility you’ll accidentally leave your lights running overnight.

Bonus Tip: Use LED Christmas lights to save even more more money, as their bulbs are energy efficient.

Tip 2: Lower Your Climate Control Usage: If you Live in the South, you may still be running your air conditioning. Be sure to set it at a higher temperature for the holiday months. If it’s icy cold where you live, go ahead and keep your heater just a notch below the perfect temperature. Simply wear a sweater inside, and you’ll save a tremendous amount of money.

Tip 3: Wash Your Clothes with Cold Water: This tip applies to any time of the year, really. By washing all your clothes with cold water, you’ll reduce water heating costs and lower your energy use.

If you’re looking for a long-term savings plan, you can always consider a home energy audit. This way, you’ll learn about all the little things that are costing you big bucks over time. Even so, a few simple measure may be enough to keep your spirits a bit warmer during this time.

Remember, Casteel Heating and Cooling can perform an energy audit for you. Just call us at 770-565-5884

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It looks like Winter will officially be here soon and if we have one like last year, your bill could get out of hand easily. Here are some tips for saving money on your bill this season!

  • Never use open flames or candles for heating. Damage from fires is much more expensive than heating bills.
  • Try to teach children to keep doors closed and discuss other ways of conserving heat and saving energy. If yours haven’t turned out a light since they were old enough to stop playing with the light switch – good luck!
  • Check to see if you qualify for any government assistance with your heating bills if you have a low income or are a senior citizen on a fixed income.
  • Check tax breaks and homeowner’s insurance policies for savings when you add energy conserving items to your home.
  • Check with your local electric company to find out if they have times during the day when the rates are lower. Using the oven, dishwasher, washing machine and other energy demanding appliances during these times may lead to big savings. Be careful. Some plans may make you pay a premium price for using electric during peak hours and you’ll need to make sure to do wash and other chores during the off hours.
  • Talk to your utility company for other suggestions for saving money on your heating bills. Many companies will actually send someone to your house for a home energy audit and offer suggestions to help you use less energy.
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    …and save A LOT of money later!Casteel Heating and Cooling

    What am I talking about…filters! It’s pretty simple to change a filter once a month. It will cost you between $25-75 per case of 12 usually and depending on the size of the filter. That is a year’s worth of filters. Not expensive at all, is it? What is expensive? Dirty air filters!

    Dirty air filters are a source of increased operating costs and poor cooling system operation.

    Dirty air filters can:

    1. reduce air flow in the building
    2. cause dirt to accumulate on the fan blades, wasting your energy dollars
    3. cause excessive dirt build-up inside the duct system, leading to mold or allergen problems in a building and to the need for more costly duct cleaning or replacement
    4. block the cooling coil itself with dirt, reducing system effectiveness and possibly leading to costly repairs
    5. lead to frost build-up on the cooling coil and reduced or totally blocked air flow in the system
    6. eventually permit dirt to bypass the filter where it soils and blocks the blower fan itself, leading to more costly repairs.

    Some of these issues can cause upwards of $500 to repair. Sounds like a good trade to me…$25 now and save $100’s later.

    The filters on an air conditioning or hot air heating system should be changed monthly when the system is in use. Discuss with us the possible need to clean the blower fan and duct work.

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    Casteel Heating and CoolingAir conditioners come in many different sizes, whether they are window air conditioners or central air conditioners. These units should be sized to cool the area of your home you’re trying to cool with the most efficiency. So how do you do that? Well, by measuring the area of the area to be cooled, you’ll have a pretty good idea what size air conditioner is for you.

    To calculate this, simply multiply the length times the width of the room or area to be cooled. Then, as a practical number, multiply that total times 25BTU. This allows ample cooling, whether it is a rainy, moist day or a hot, sunny, humid day. Let’s say the room is 12 feet wide by 15 feet long. That means 12×15=180 square feet. Take the 180 sq. ft. times 25 BTU per square foot and you get the minimum BTU air conditioner you should buy. That means 180×25=4500 BTU cooling capacity is needed.

    You may ask if a smaller air conditioner will work or a larger one may be better? Here’s a thought about those questions. Smaller BTU units will continually run, just trying to keep up. This will increase your electric bill and it is unlikely the unit will be able to cool the area effectively.

    An air conditioner too large can be overkill. To dispute the rumor that bigger is better, an air conditioner too large will cool more quickly, but that may impede the reason for running the air conditioner in the first place. You see, along with cooling the air, the air conditioner is also extracting moisture from the air (humidity) that makes all of us feel hot and sticky. Although the air may be cooler, if the unit doesn’t run long enough, the moisture cannot be extracted from the air properly. It would be like being outside camping on a cool, clammy, foggy night. You know the feeling when your skin is moist and you get goose bumps when cool air flows over it. Besides, an air conditioner too large will cycle on and off frequently.

    Do your self a favor and measure the area of the home to be cooled, calculate your BTU needs and size the air conditioner properly. Your local appliance store or heating and cooling center can aid you in selecting the proper air conditioner size for your home. Remember, too little is never enough and too much of a good thing can be bad.

    Sealing and insulating the “envelope” or “shell” of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.

    To Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR:

    • Seal air leaks throughout the home to stop drafts,
    • Add insulation to block heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer,
    • Choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing windows.

    If your attic is accessible and you like home improvement projects, you can Do-It-Yourself with help from our DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR. The Guide offers step-by-step instructions for sealing common air leaks and adding insulation to the attic.

    You can also hire a contractor who will use special diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal the hidden air leaks in your home. A Home Energy Rater can help you find contractors that offer air sealing services in your area.

    Sealing Leaks

    Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Click on the house diagram to see common air leak locations that you should aim to seal.

    Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home’s actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.

    After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.

    Adding Insulation

    Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates.

    When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

    Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.

    To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is recommended.

    Sealing Ducts

    In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

    Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult. However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic). In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy.

    Additionally, if you are replacing your forced-air heating and cooling equipment, make sure your contractor installs the new system according to ENERGY STAR quality installation guidelines. A quality installation will include a thorough inspection of your duct system, including proper sealing and balancing of ductwork, to help ensure that your new system delivers the most comfort and efficiency.

    Learn more about improving your ducts.

    Replacing an outdated central air-conditioning unit not only will save you money on your energy bill, but it also will affect your tax bill. The government has increased a tax-credit program to encourage homeowners to invest in energy-saving products. Tax credits are a particularly valuable tax benefit, because they directly reduce your tax bill rather than merely being deducted from your income.

  • Step 1

    Review the energy-efficiency tax credit savings available. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 introduced energy-efficiency tax credits for 30 percent of the total cost to purchase an energy-efficient central air-conditioning unit. This tax credit allows 30 percent, with a maximum limit of $1,500, of an air-conditioning unit’s costs to be credited back to consumers via their federal tax returns. For example, a unit that costs $3,000 will be eligible for a $900 tax credit. Any unit exceeding $5,000 is subject to the maximum eligible credit of $1,500.

  • Step 2

    Look for specific energy-efficient models when selecting a new air-conditioning unit. The U.S. government has specific standards an energy-efficient air-conditioning unit must meet to quality for a tax credit (see Resources). Different requirements are mandated in either a split or package air-conditioning system. Split-system central air-conditioning units must have an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) greater than 13 and a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) greater than 16. Package central air-conditioning systems must have an EER greater than 12 and a SEER greater than 14.

  • Step 3

    Buy and install your new energy-efficient central air-conditioning system and save all your receipts.

  • Step 4

    Save the manufacturer’s certification statement from your energy-efficient central air-conditioning system. This certification should be included with your purchase. The Internal Revenue Service will not require the certification to be filed with the taxes, but it does recommend keeping the certificate with your tax records. The certificate proves that you have purchased the correct product to qualify for the energy-efficiency tax credit.

  • Step 5

    File for a tax credit by including the proper forms with your federal tax return

    Read more: How to Receive Tax Credit for New Central Air Conditioning |

  • Windows and doors are just as important to your HVAC as the system itself. If you don’t have sealed or proper fitting windows and doors, dollars could be flying out of them every day and forcing your HVAC to work harder and less efficiently.

    Windows in particular can allow a huge amount of heat energy to escape. Depending on the type of construction and fittings, windows can make up 27 percent of a home’s overall energy consumption. But it is not only window glazing that is important. Major heat loss also occurs especially around window frames. Here’s a simple test you can perform to see if your windows are sealed tightly:

    Tip: It’s easy to check your windows

    Close the window on a piece of paper, clamping it between the window and the frame. If the paper is easy to remove, the seal is not tight. Repeat this test in various locations. Now you can use a lighted candle to easily find the spots that are letting air through. These checks are even easier when it is windy or cold outside.

    The cold air that enters the home through gaps in windows and doors that do not seal properly must later be heated to room temperature. This costs energy, and with it, money. But help is at hand, in an easy-to-install form that does not even necessitate replacing the windows. Windows and doors can be sealed with elastic sealing strips, gaps beneath doors with sealing brushes or moldings.

    Thermo’s here to tell you that Casteel Heating and Cooling can actually save you money! Want to know how? Call 770-565-5884 or visit our website: