Chilling Forecast for Winter – Again!

According to the Farmer’s Almanac “Winter is coming, and it’s going to be as bitterly cold and snowy as last year’s.” That chilling forecast is in the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, which goes on sale this week. Published since 1818, the Farmers’ Almanac proudly says their accuracy is about 80% correct. They base their forecasts on things like sunspots, tidal action, and planetary positions.

chilling forecastIf their chilling forecast is right — are you prepared? I remember those 30 below zero days and how many people were without heat. It was very hard on some families and all the HVAC companies were covered up trying to get to everyone quickly.

Are you sure that your heating system get you through another hard winter? If not, now is the time to get it repaired or replaced.

We have many great options to consider to improve your home heating system :

  • Zoning: add another thermostat & a 2nd zone to make sure that a cold area like a lower floor bedroom receives enough heat supply through the ducts to stay warm
  • Mini-Split: if there is no ductwork to an area, you can quickly add heat to that location without adding duct work; this is an easy and efficient upgrade.
  • Heat Pumps: current heat pumps provide about 3 times the efficiency of other types of heating because they don’t burn any fuel.  Since they simply transfer heat from one location to another, they are environmentally friendly and very quiet.
  • Hi-Efficiency Furnaces and Hybrids: Our newest Bryant furnaces are over 98% efficient, contain variable speed motors and are extremely dependable.
  • Radiant Heating: Heat your floors with electricity or hot water and feel the warmth come up through your whole body.  What a great feeling for cold bathrooms or other areas.
  • Tankless Water Heater:  If your tank water heater is getting old, replace it before it fails with a new tankless system.  Never worry about running out of water and save money on your utility bill.

TA Kaiser has been a family-owned and operated business since 1987.  Our goals are to make you feel as comfortable as possible in your home or business so you can focus on what is important to you, and to be the trusted source for all your heating and cooling needs.   Don’t wait until the cold weather hits - contact us today and let us discuss options with you.   You’ll be glad you did!

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

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WiFi-enabled Thermostats

Programmable thermostats have been used for many years because of their convenience and energy savings, but recently WiFi-enabled thermostats have arrived on the market to make programmables even better.   We recommend the Honeywell Prestige, a wireless color touch-screen thermostat with 7-day programming capabilities and the ability to manage your heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity control devices from just about anywhere.  prestige WiFi-enabled thermostat

The Prestige enables you to monitor and control your heating/cooling system from any internet-connected device, such as your smart phone or tablet – just download the app.  You can also view outdoor temperature & humidity with the optional Wireless Outdoor Sensor, and control the humidification, de-humidification or ventilation in your home easily.

 

There a many features to this stylish Wi-Fi thermostat.  The features we like most include:

  • Intelligent Operation —the Prestige “learns” how long it takes your system to reach the temperature you want.  It will then turn on the heating or cooling system earlier to make sure the home is fully heated or cooled to the desired temperature at the time you want.
  • Smart Schedule – programs in seconds for any lifestyle or use the patented interview-based setup by just answering a few questions.
  • Dealer Information is on the screen for easy contact when you need service.
  • Keypad lockout prevents unauthorized or accidental changes by family members.
  • Equipment status—provides the status of all equipment controlled by the thermostat.
  • Vacation/Holiday Scheduling—allows you to program a setback temperature to save energy while you are away.
  • Preference settings allow you to customize the thermostat to what suits you.

Finally, for your security and peace of mind, this thermostat can perform diagnostics on your system and inform you via an email alert if the system is not performing as expected. It will also provide instructions to contact the dealer when that is appropriate.

If you’d like to have more information, contact us and we’ll provide it for you.  You can also click on this link to see the Prestige Brochure.

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

 

 

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Replacing Thermostat Batteries

A weak or dead battery in a thermostat can lead to heating or cooling system failure, so replacing thermostat batteries is a quick and cheap way to prevent a breakdown or avoid a service call.   Since most digital thermostats have batteries in them, you should know how to replace them.  You don’t want to pay for a service call just to find out we only changed your batteries, and we prefer to avoid that also.

You can easily see if the battery is weak when the display is no longer bright and easy to read.  If the screen characters are faded, or if there is a blinking signal on the screen, it is time to replace the batteries.

thermostat batteriesThermostat covers come in a variety of types.  To remove the cover, look closely around the top, bottom or sides for some kind of tab or finger hold.  Some covers lift off from the bottom, some snap off and then snap back on, some require the main body to be pulled straight out from the wall, and still others have even different configurations.

 

 

thermostat batteries swing outThere are also models that have a door to the battery compartment similar to the swing out doors on smoke detectors.  If you can’t figure out how to remove it, try doing an internet search with the name of the manufacturer such as “Honeywell thermostat batteries” and you will probably find a video that shows you how to remove it.

thermostat batteries replacementTo get the cover off you may need to use some force, but don’t use so much that you break the plastic cover.  After the cover is off, remove and replace the batteries with new ones of the same size and then put the cover back on.   Your display should once again be bright, it should not be blinking, and it should be controlling your system properly.  Move the temperature either higher or lower than the current temperature and see if your system comes on.  If so — you did it right!

If you have any issues or are unable to complete this project, give us a call.  We’ll be glad to perform a service call and fix it for you.

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Indoor Air Quality – Is Your Home Healthy?

Is Your Home Healthy and Comfortable?

IAQ in your homeIndoor air pollution can be a serious health risk. Studies by the Environment Protection Agency have shown that the air inside buildings can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside, and sometimes much more.  And since the average American spends so much time indoors, we have to take inside air quality seriously, especially for seniors, those with breathing problems,  and small children.

You probably care mostly about your heating and cooling keeping the temperature right, and may not think much about the quality of the air circulating through the house.  Whole house systems control temperature, but they also impact the air quality in terms of filtration and humidity levels of what we breathe into our lungs.  Both of those affect  our health.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor pollution sources can  release gases or microscopic particles into the air.  Such things as carpets, paint, insulation, spray cans, insecticide, cleaners, soaps, cosmetics and other common substances can cause indoor air quality problems in the home.  One key problem is a low level of ventilation; not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute the pollution sources, and also not carrying  out enough of them.   This can be worsened on warm days or during periods of high humidity levels.  HVAC systems must have an adequate free flow of outside air to work properly.  Newer homes are better sealed against leaks, and may have higher pollutant levels than older, drafty or leaky homes.

According to EPA officials, major pollutants also include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood and tobacco products.  They can produce carbon monoxide and other invisible and potentially deadly gases.  Dust, mold and allergens can also easily and invisibly build up and spread throughout your home on air currents.  Even outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides and fertilizer can get in your home.

The effects of poor indoor air quality can be immediate or delayed.  Typical clues to air quality problems include headaches, dizziness, fatigue and irritation of eyes, nose and throat.  Some exposure such as carbon monoxide poisoning can kill in minutes, but longer-term effects might include respiratory and heart diseases, as well as cancer.

There are options and solutions available:

• Reduce the Sources: Eliminate harmful sources such as smoking, and wood or coal burning stoves; keep cleaning products outside; remove asbestos and insulation products.

• Ventilate the house: Open windows and use screen doors occasionally; run bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans; operate window or attic fans when weather permits.

• Use air cleaners and filters:  Use add-ons or modifications to your heating and air conditioning system to filter out contaminants and improve air quality.  Ensure you do regular filter changes according to your system’s recommended schedule.  You can also buy higher level filtration systems to remove more contaminants from the air.

If you aren’t sure that your indoor air quality is healthy, give us a call and let us take a look.  We can check it for you and recommend options that will improve it.   At Kaiser, we want your family to stay healthy, too!

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Surge Protection for Air Conditioners

Air Conditioner Surge Protection

This has been a much cooler Summer than the past few, with a lot more rain and cooler weather.  But we’ve also had many storms with lightning and booming thunder.  Are you aware that your heating and air conditioning system contains sophisticated electronic circuits similar to your computer, TV and other appliances?

Well, it does, and those circuits can be damaged by power surges that can stop your air conditioner just when you need it most.  Replacement for those fried circuits may be expensive, too, and will take up your valuable time to schedule and be available during the repair.   Since many homeowner insurance plans have a $1,000 deductible, you may have to lay out that first $1,000 to get the system working again.  OR — for a  few hundred dollars now, you can avoid paying the $1,000 deductible and avoid all the stress associated with it.

521 surge protector for air conditionerYou can prevent the headaches and the expense of surge-damaged equipment by simply adding an HVAC surge protector on your equipment.  We recommend the 5-2-1 Surge Protector to keep your air conditioning system safe because it is specially designed to interrupt power surges before they reach your equipment.   The average home or business sees 300 potentially damaging surges every year.   In fact, because of our aging power grid and higher customer demand, we are seeing lower quality electrical service and more rolling brown-outs, which can lead to even more damage.

We carry these protectors on all our TA Kaiser Heating & Air service trucks, and can easily install one for you while we are servicing or tuning up your system.   Or, if we aren’t already coming to your house we can make make a special trip just to put one in.   All you have to do is just give us a call to request a convenient time and we’ll be there!

 Be Wiser — call Kaiser!

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Why You Need a Maintenance Plan

Every HVAC system requires some routine maintenance, and if it isn’t done routinely then it will be done as an emergency repair, usually on a very hot or very cold day.  If you’ve ever wondered why you need a maintenance plan, it is to avoid that emergency repair.  Also, routine maintenance is required by manufacturers in order to keep warranties valid – just like the requirement to change your oil in a car.

maintenance planThe best way to keep your maintenance costs low is to schedule periodic checks to make sure your system is running efficiently, and that minor repairs are done before they become major repairs.  Although little maintenance is needed for most heating and cooling systems, they do get dirty, they lose efficiency over time, and their components can wear out or break.

Maintenance plans (also called service agreements) are designed to ensure that  HVAC systems continue to operate at their peak performance.   Our plan is a contract with you that guarantees we will check and maintain your HVAC equipment at the appropriate intervals so that you don’t have to worry about expensive, inconvenient, emergency calls. We will perform preventive maintenance and cleaning on the equipment because a clean HVAC unit has fewer repair calls than one that is not maintained.  Our techs have the training, the tools and the parts needed for all makes and models of HVAC systems.  You will see the results of our work in the equipment lasting as long as possible, and in your system operating as efficiently as possible.  We can’t promise that paying utility bills will become more fun for you, but we can promise that the energy consumed by your system will be used to produce comfort for your family instead of being wasted.

The best reason for why you need a maintenance plan is to let us take care of your system for you — eliminating any worries you have about how to maintain it and when to do it.   We’ll schedule the visits when it is convenient for you, and our professional technicians will perform the checks and adjustments quickly.

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

 

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Heat Pump Efficiency

Why Buy an Energy Efficient Heat Pump?

If you use electricity or natural gas to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system.   Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in mild and moderate climates, providing two to three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity.   Additionally, the maintenance costs are lower with heat pumps as is the noise level during operation.

When you think about cooling a hot building, most people don’t think of heat pumps. In fact, the words “air conditioner” is probably your first thought, but heat pumps do both heating and cooling.heatpumps

heat pump is simply a device that uses a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another – either adding heat or removing it from a particular space.  Heat pumps can get heat out of the air or the ground and put it inside a building, or they can take it out of a building and put it back in the air or the ground.  This is similar to the way an air conditioner works, but the results are achieved more efficiently with a heat pump.

Since the pump can work to add heat or remove it, there is no need to install a separate heating and cooling system.   Heat pumps are also very efficient because they just transfer existing heat instead of burning some type of fuel to create heat.  This makes them a little more green than a gas-burning furnace.   Also, if you’ve ever enjoyed a hot tub or a heated swimming pool, then you probably have enjoyed a heat pump.

There are three types of heat pumps available for homes: (1) air-to-air, (2) water source, and (3) ground source (geo-thermal), and all of them work best in moderate climates like the United States.   Using a heat pump instead of a furnace and an air conditioner might help you save a little money on your energy bills because a heat pump is only moving the existing heat between two places instead of creating heat.

If you would like to know more about getting a new heat pump system, give us a call.  We’ll be glad to look at your specific situation and provide the best options for you.

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

 

 

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No Cooling – First 3 Checks

no coolingNo cooling on a hot day can be a big problem.  Sometimes an air conditioner keeps running but doesn’t cool the house, or it just stops working and you need action fast.

Here are the first 3 steps to take before you call us.  Hopefully it will be a quick fix and you can get it working again in a few minutes.  But if not, you’ll be able to give our technician more information to help solve the problem sooner.   (We also have a video version of this available at this link: http://www.takaiser.com/help)

Step 1: Check the thermostat

  • Does the thermostat have power? Can you see and read the lighted dial?  If not, check the power panel for a tripped breaker to a wired thermostat, or install new batteries if you have a battery powered thermostat.
  • If you see that your thermostat does have power, check the settings.  It must be switched to ON, set to COOL and the TEMP setting must be lower than the current air temp in the house.  Set it down to 60 for a quick test.

Step 2: Check the air flow

If the air filter is plugged with dirt, or if registers or vents are blocked, cold air can’t flow into your rooms in enough volume to bring down the temperature.  Check both items.

  • Open your air filter door to ensure the filter is not clogged and stopping air flow; replace it if needed.
  • Ensure all your registers and vents are open and unobstructed.  There should not be furniture or plants blocking the flow of air.

Step 3: Check the power

The problem may not be with the air conditioning system itself, but with the power supply. There are two places to check:

  • On your furnace – ensure the power switch is still on.  If not, turn it on.
  • In your power panel – ensure the circuit breaker (or fuse) was not tripped.  If so, reset it or replace the fuse.
  • If the power won’t stay on or it it continues to switch off by itself, you need professional help.

You can always give us a call.  We’ll send a certified HVAC technician to diagnose your system and provide quality service to get your air conditioning running again quickly.

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High Efficiency A/C Saves Money

When the air conditioning (A/C) chills the house on a hot day, we love it, unless we are reading the utility bill or writing the check to pay for it!  Older A/C systems used a lot of energy, but new high efficiency A/C saves money.   If you have a system that isn’t rated for high efficiency A/C, this would be a good time to consider replacing it with a new system.  It may pay for itself in just a few years from the reduction in electricity you use.

bryant high efficiency ACThe rating system for A/C efficiency is called the SEER rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.   The number comes from the ratio of the amount of cooling produced (in BTUs – British Thermal Units) divided by the amount of electricity (in Watts) used.  When the SEER ration is higher, that means the air conditioner’s efficiency is also higher.

Most older A/C systems have a SEER rating of 10 or less, but modern technology has elevated newer systems up to as high 20.   New residential air conditioning systems manufactured must have at least a 13 SEER rating (not applicable to window units), and they will usually contain a yellow and black Energy Guide sticker on the outside so you can see and compare the manufacturers expectations for each air conditioner system.

Your savings will depend on the SEER rating of your current system and the SEER rating of your new system.    The tables below will give you some idea of the percentage of savings between units of a particular SEER rating.    For example, looking at the first one below, “Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency: 6 SEER” — if your current air conditioning system has a SEER rating of 6 and you replace it with a SEER 14 system, you can expect a 56% reduction in the energy cost to run the system.

To find out the SEER rating on your current system, you could look in your owners manual  or on the manufacturer’s web site.  Then use that SEER number to find the appropriate table below and see the percentage of  savings you could gain.

Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency:  6 SEER

New Air Conditioner Efficiency Expected Reduction in Electricity
SEER 13 49%
SEER 14 56%
SEER 15 63%
SEER 16 70%

Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency: 7 SEER

New Air Conditioner Efficiency Expected Reduction in Electricity
SEER 13 42%
SEER 14 49%
SEER 15 56%
SEER 16 63%

Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency: 8 SEER

New Air Conditioner Efficiency Expected Reduction in Electricity
SEER 13 35%
SEER 14 42%
SEER 15 49%
SEER 16 56%

Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency: 9 SEER

New Air Conditioner Efficiency Expected Reduction in Electricity
SEER 13 28%
SEER 14 35%
SEER 15 42%
SEER 16 49%

Existing Air Conditioner Efficiency: 10 SEER

New Air Conditioner Efficiency Expected Reduction in Electricity
SEER 13 21%
SEER 14 28%
SEER 15 35%
SEER 16 42%

You don’t necessarily need to get the A/C system with the highest SEER.  You need to get a system that is highly efficient, is correctly sized for your home, and is properly installed.  That is where TA Kaiser can help.

Give us a call today and get started on saving money before it really gets hot!   We’ll do an assessment of your home and your specific conditions, and then we’ll provide a few options for you.  All you have to do is decide which option you like best, and we’ll do the rest.  You can sit back and relax, knowing that we’ll do it right and you’ll be saving money soon!

Be Wiser — Call Kaiser!

 

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Summer Air Conditioning Tips

Want to know how to get the most from your air conditioning system this summer? Here are six summer air conditioning tips for you that will save money and increase efficiency.

  • ACCompressor093DJFsMake sure your outdoor condensing unit is clean and free of mulch, weeds, trees and bushes.  If air can’t flow around it, clear away whatever is obstructing it.   It is OK to use a hose to wash off the grilles if they are dirty.
  • Use house fans frequently and save the A/C, because sometimes a fan is all you need to keep comfortable.  Make sure ceiling fans are rotating in the correct direction.   Consider adding a whole house fan or an attic fan if heat buildup is a problem for your home.
  • Ensure that all vents and grilles are clear and the air is flowing out from the outlets and into the return ducts.  Move aside any drapes or furniture that can block the air or reduce the air flow.
  • If you put the fan near a window to pull in outside air, make sure it is on the shady side of the house to draw in cool air, not warm air from the sunny side.
  • Use your clothes dryer only in the evening or early morning when outside air is cool.  The appliance blows air out of the house, which causes the system to draw in more outside air.   If the new air is warmer than the inside air, it has to be cooled making your air conditioner work harder and costing you more money.
  • Turn off your humidifier for the summer. You don’t want more humidity in your home because it just makes your air conditioner have to run longer.Make sure you set it to the “summer” or “off” setting before you start your air conditioner.

The most beneficial thing you can do is keep your A/C system maintained with clean filters and regular checkups.  Please consider signing up for our annual maintenance plan.

We are offering a $59 tune up special right now!

Give us a call today — we’ll be right out!

 

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