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Money Saving and Energy

Is Your AC Ready to Kick It? Keep Your Family Happy and Avoid an AC Breakdown

If you think it may be time to start looking for a new air conditioning system, you'll find plenty of useful information in this month's graphic article.

Click here to see the whole graphic. 


How Does Your Air Conditioner Keep You Cool?

Your air conditioner may feel like it's blowing cold air, but it's actually extracting heat.  When your air conditioner does a good job of extracting heat from the inside of your house and moving it outdoors, cool comort is simply what's left over afteward.  The refrigeration cycle is the process that gets that job done. 

Alleviate High Energy Bills With These Home Upgrades

Cold winters and hot, humid summers can result in high energy costs for homeowners in Chicagoland and the surrounding communities. However, homeowners can substantially decrease their utility costs by making simple home energy upgrades, many of which may be done without the use of a professional.

4 Things to Consider Before Tackling That Attic Insulation Project

It only takes one winter in the Chicagoland area to realize how cold it can get. At the other end of the spectrum, temperatures during a Chicago summer can get surprisingly high. Increasing the amount of insulation in your home's attic is a practical and effective way of reducing the effects of these seasonal temperature extremes. Here are four important factors to take into consideration before moving forward with an attic insulation project.

8 Tips to Help You Winterize

Protect your home from severe weather, by winterizing. Taking care of the following five tips now can ensure your comfort and the safety of the home's structure during the long, cold months.

Continue Saving Energy in Your Home This Fall and Winter With Simple Tips

Saving energy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or service in exchange for lower energy bills. In fact, saving energy through home efficiency and better system performance boosts comfort. Consider adding the following simple tips to your energy-saving strategy, and continue saving energy in the fall and winter in your Chicago area home.

Big Projects that Can Save You a Bundle on Energy Costs

As utility costs escalate, the return on investment for major energy efficiency improvements has become much more attractive. Homes that were built prior to the mid 2000s are often woefully inadequate when it comes to power and fuel economy.

Cheap Tips for Slashing Cooling Costs

The cost of electricity continues to rise, and most homeowners can't afford to waste energy. Operating an air conditioner can account for up to 60 percent of summer utility costs, so it is important to implement a comprehensive energy savings strategy.

Indoor Summertime Savings Tips: Part 2

Find out how to save inside your home as the summer sun turns up the heat.

Indoor Summertime Savings Tips: Part 1

Saving money on energy bills is possible when you employ these tips in your home.

Little Home Improvements that Can Save Cash

It doesn’t take much work to see a real improvement on energy bills. Find out how to save.

Sealing Air Leaks Isn’t Just a Wintertime Task — It Also Keeps Conditioned Air In

Leading into the Chicago area’s cold winter, we discussed sealing air leaks so that your cozy home would not suffer heat loss. The same concept holds true for expensively cooled air in the summer: block air leaks and save money on energy bills. Sealing air leaks by using weatherstripping products like spray foam, caulk and mastic sealant is a wise investment year-round.

From Attic to Crawl Space: Is Insulation Worth All the Hype?

From rooftop to basement floor, home insulation is an extremely effective yet relatively inexpensive way to improve all aspects of your home's energy efficiency. Improved energy efficiency will automatically result in lower monthly heating and cooling bills.

Protect Your Family With Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The only way to protect your family from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is by installing CO detectors in your home. This odorless, toxic gas is a hazard year-round. When breathed in CO rapidly replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream and results in suffocation. CO also harms protein in tissue cells, which further contributes to a quick death.

How Duct Sealing Can Shrink the Energy Bill for Your Chicago Home

All conditioned airflow in your Chicago area home is channeled through the duct system. So, the potential impact of ductwork on your pocketbook and comfort is quite tangible and constant. If your energy bills are getting out of hand and you just can't seem to find a comfortable thermostat setting, duct sealing can provide instant relief.

Why You Should Use Ventilation in Your Home All-Year-Round

All year round, ventilation in your home can boost comfort levels by improving indoor air quality and helping maintain proper levels of humidity.There are several effective ventilation processes you can use to remove both heat and moisture.

Use Ventilation for Cooling to Save Money on Your Energy Bill

When temperatures start to rise in late spring and early summer, a common reaction is to turn on the air conditioner or heat pump for indoor cooling. A better and more economical option could be to rely on ventilation to reduce your home's indoor temperature. Here are some techniques for using ventilation to boost cooling and save money on your energy bill.

Air Filters 101: What You Should Know for Comfort and Savings

Despite their small size, furnace filters have a big impact: Your heating and cooling system's energy efficiency, the lifespan of your system's components, and the air quality throughout your home all depend in part on the right air filter.

How Tighter Ductwork Can Help You Save Money

You might be losing up to 20 percent of your heated or cooled air to leaking ductwork every time you run your forced-air system. Needless to say, these energy leaks drive up your monthly bills and make your home less comfortable. Ductwork that is more than 10 years old has a significantly higher chance of energy-wasting leaks.

How to Properly Use Weatherstripping to Keep Your Conditioned Air Indoors

Weatherstripping seals are practical, affordable solutions to save energy and boost the performance of your home's HVAC system.

Degree Days: Understand What These Are and How They Affect Your Home Comfort

Degree Days can help homeowners and HVAC professionals anticipate energy usage and cost.

Before You Upgrade Your Home’s HVAC System, Look Into Heat Pumps

Reduce your monthly energy bills when you replace your HVAC system with an air-source heat pump that delivers 170 to 330 percent efficiency.

Zoning Systems Maximize Temperature Control and Reduce Energy Consumption

Zoning systems are designed to maximize temperature control in different rooms and sections (zones) of the home and save energy in the process. If you are plagued by high energy bills and one thermostat can't keep everyone comfortable throughout your home, a zoning system might be the ideal solution.

Pay Attention to Doors, Windows and Skylights for Greater Energy Savings

In many homes, doors, windows and skylights pose a real potential for substantial air and energy loss that can make your indoor spaces uncomfortable and drive up your monthly energy bills. Taking steps ranging from winterizing doors, windows and skylights to replacing these features altogether can dramatically improve your home comfort, increase HVAC system performance and efficiency, and reduce the amount you spend each month to keep your home warm or cool, as appropriate to the season.

All About Mold in Your Chicagoland Home

Mold spores may be found in a dormant state on practically any surface inside a Chicago area home during any season, including the winter when indoor air can feel very dry. If left unchecked, these biological contaminants can trigger and exacerbate health and respiratory issues of household members, and can cause significant damage to home structure, furnishings and possessions. Read on to learn how to best protect your home.

How Heat Loss and Gain Can Compromise Your Savings

You may have the most efficient heating and air conditioning systems on the market, but you'll still spend more money than necessary keeping your Chicago area home comfortable if you don't take steps to control heat loss and gain. Even the most energy-efficient homes lose some heat on cold days and take in heat on hot days; in fact, your home would probably have serious indoor air quality issues if it was completed sealed from the outdoor environment. But most homes have a lot of room for improvement when it comes saving money on energy bills.

Why an Efficient Furnace Deserves an Efficient Home

Having an efficient furnace doesn't necessarily guarantee low heating bills. But when combined with an energy efficient home, that furnace will live up to its promise of lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.

How Chicago Area Homeowners Can Avoid Too-Good-To-Be-True Furnace Offers

Many Chicago homeowners still use fire-based appliances as their primary heat source for their home. Whether that's a fireplace or a wood stove, the fear of carbon monoxide and smoke poisoning is very real.

Furnace Efficiency Ratings: What These Numbers Mean for Your Home Comfort

Purchasing a new heating system is a major decision for most homeowners. Whether you install it into a brand-new home or retrofit it into an older home, this new heating system requires a significant financial investment. It has to work as expected while keeping energy costs as low as possible, especially when dealing with a typical Chicago winter. Furnace efficiency ratings help homeowners determine how the new system compares to others in terms of efficiency. For this reason, understanding these ratings is important.

Save on Heating This Winter With These Simple Tips

As winter weather begins to arrive in Chicago and the surrounding area, homeowners often see their energy bills rise. Now is an ideal time to take measures to cut your home’s energy usage and heating bill. Whether you use gas heating or another type of heating system, taking the following steps can help you save on heating more than you might expect.

The 25C Energy Tax Credits - Going, Going, Almost Gone

Congress approved the 25C energy tax credits in January's fiscal cliff deal, making them retroactive to 2012 after they had expired in 2011. The credits now have a final expiration date of Dec. 31. You can deduct 10 percent of the cost of heating and cooling systems that meet the efficiency requirements of the 25C program. The cap for a heat pump or air conditioner is $300. Boilers and furnaces have a cap of $150. But the time to act is now, as the credits will soon be gone. Here's a look at the program.

Common-Sense Ways to Control Your Energy Costs--This Winter and the Rest of the Year

High energy costs don't necessarily come with the territory of owning a home, because there are ways to trim them without sacrificing comfort and convenience. These tips can help you get your utility bills under control year-round. By using energy wisely, you'll have more money for discretionary purposes.

Energy Ratings: More Than Alphabet Soup, They Guide You to Savings

A basic understanding of energy ratings for air conditioning and heating systems will go a long way toward helping you decide which equipment is right for your home. Energy Star is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which promotes voluntary reductions in energy use by providing consumers with useful information about energy efficiency. The program then awards approval ratings to qualifying equipment. Cooling and heating equipment is tested by the manufacturers to determine how they perform against specific industry standards.

A Programmable Thermostat Can Help You Save, Even When You're Away From Home

Resetting your thermostat when you no longer need the heating or cooling function is an excellent way to save money on your energy bills, yet you need to remember to do it. A programmable thermostat allows you to set up an automatic system that will adjust the temperature away from your comfort setting when you are at work or asleep at night. This takes away the pressure of trying to remember to make the change, so your energy savings become automatic. The Department of Energy indicates that the savings are substantial if you are able to change the thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees when you aren't needing the more comfortable setting.

How to Air Seal Your Home

Although seemingly insignificant, the tiny cracks, holes and gaps that develop in your home's "envelope" – its exterior walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors – can cause serious damage to your wallet, home comfort levels and health. Air leaks like these can both introduce unconditioned air into your house, and allow heated or cooled air from your home's interior to escape. Ultimately, this will reduce your home's overall energy efficiency, create uneven temperatures, and degrade indoor air quality. Because of this, it's a good idea to learn how to air seal your home effectively. By following this guide, you will discover how to detect energy-wasting air leaks, as well as how to properly seal them to promote energy savings and enhanced comfort.

Energy Eaters: Which Culprits Are Found In Your Home

The modern home is a technological marvel that serves as a high-tech hub for active adults and growing families. Over several decades, manufacturers have added amazing features to common home appliances while introducing an array of new machines that entertain, save time and improve personal productivity.

A Recipe for (Almost) No AC Breakdowns

An air conditioning breakdown fries a finely tuned summer schedule faster than you can say "pass the lemonade." It only takes two ingredients to prevent the majority of cooling system failures: an annual preventive maintenance check and some DIY AC maintenance each month. Dishing out routine maintenance helps your system run more efficiently and last longer.

Steps Toward Healthier Home Air

Your home should be a pleasant place for you and your family members, but if you're constantly feeling ill at home, you may not enjoy being there. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and sometimes, the air inside the house can be worse than the air outside.

Good Insulation Increases Comfort and Efficiency

Being comfortable in your own home is essential to your happiness. Unfortunately, too many homeowners in the greater Chicago metropolitan area find themselves living in homes that aren't quite as comfortable as they'd hoped. Even if your home is comfortable, you might be paying huge electricity bills to keep your space pleasantly cool or warm. If you have concerns about your home comfort, consider asking an HVAC professional to talk with you about your insulation options. New or improved insulation can help to boost your home's overall energy efficiency while helping you to save money.

Tips to Save Energy at Home

There are multiple reasons to look for tips to save energy at home. Reducing your energy use is good for the environment—it's basically the same as getting that energy from a clean energy source—and also saves you money on energy bills.

Split-System Air Conditioning: The Importance of Matching Indoor and Outdoor Components

Your split-system air conditioning system consists of a carefully matched and balanced set of components that work together to produce the cooling that keeps your home or business location comfortable. Sometimes referred to as central air conditioners, these systems rely on an outdoor condensing unit coupled with an indoor evaporator coil and air distribution equipment to provide cooling.

The Role of Air Sealing in Determining Energy Costs and Home Comfort

Home heating and cooling accounts for 50 percent or more of the annual energy budget of the average American home. One of the more effective ways to keep your spending under control while maintaining high levels of indoor comfort is through air sealing. A well-sealed home keeps more energy inside where it belongs and prevents heated or cooled air from escaping.

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