Earth Day Energy Conservation Tips for Kids

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It’s never too early to form good habits, and energy conservation is a great place to begin. Earth Day is on April 22, and it’s the perfect occasion to get your kids thinking about what energy is and the ways in which they use it. These Earth Day energy conservation tips for kids will teach them to live in a way that puts less stress on the environment, and might even lower your energy bills!

Energy Conservation Activities

  • Have your kids go on a scavenger hunt for incandescent bulbs around your house. Replace any they find with CFLs or LEDs, which use 25%-80% less energy than incandescents.
  • Remind children to unplug fully charged devices and to turn them off when not in use.
  • Turn off the faucet while kids brush their teeth, and encourage older children to take showers instead of baths.
  • Make sure your kids close the fridge every time they grab a snack. Refrigerators are one of the best heat exchanger examples around the house, so it’s a great opportunity to teach older kids how fridges work.
  • Encourage your child to turn the lights off whenever he or she leaves the room. Install smart switches so little ones can tell Google or Alexa or Siri to turn off the lights. Even toddlers who can’t reach light switches can get in on the action – just hook lights up to ‘The Clapper’!
  • Rather than running the dishwasher’s dry cycle, ask your child to dry the dishes. It saves energy and teaches them the importance of helping out around the house.
  • Open up your curtains and blinds on winter mornings. In the summer, make sure they’re closed. Your kids can be in charge of opening and closing the blinds when they wake up and before they go to sleep.

Finding ways of conserving energy for kids makes them feel empowered and reminds them that they are members of a global community. Kids learn by example, so make energy conservation a priority. If you’re buying new appliances, look for Energy Star certification. Ask your child to join you on a DIY home energy audit, or enlist a Newcomb and Company tech to help you find ways to increase energy efficiency in your home. You’ll lower your bills and teach your child about energy at the same time.

Want to find other ways to celebrate Earth Day in North Carolina? North Carolina state parks are hosting events throughout the state – find one near you!

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An HVAC Maintenance Agreement Saves Money

Buying an HVAC system is a big decision. If you’re in the market for one, you’ve got a lot on your mind and you don’t want to make a mistake. What’s the right size for your needs? What’s your budget? With all that jargon out there, you might feel like you need an HVAC glossary to understand it all.

After your system has been purchased and installed, it’s time to think about upkeep. You’re asking yourself, “Is AC maintenance worth it?“. It can be tough to convince yourself to pay ahead of time for an HVAC maintenance agreement. Maybe you should just wait until a problem arises, and then see if you can fix the issue with a little DIY repair. While it’s tempting to take a wait and see approach, an HVAC maintenance agreement can save you lots of money in the long run. Here’s why.

Fewer Emergency Repairs

If you have an annual maintenance agreement with Newcomb and Company, our service technicians will visit your home twice a year. This gives us an opportunity to stop problems before they get out of hand. HVAC equipment doesn’t break out of the blue. Most problems start out small, but are impossible for the homeowner to detect. Over time, it gets worse until the system is damaged and needs expensive repairs. Inspections can reveal small faults like wear and tear to a belt or leaking refrigerant. Fixing the problem early on keeps your HVAC system from grinding to an expensive and uncomfortable halt. Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Improved Efficiency

Imagine you have a hole in your ductwork or your refrigerant is leaking. Your system is working overtime to keep your home at the right temperature, and your energy bill is headed through the roof. Regular preventive maintenance keeps your HVAC running like a Swiss clock, saving you money on your bills. Plus, an efficient, well-maintaned HVAC system is likely to last much longer.

Valid Manufacturer’s Warranty

Think you don’t need an HVAC maintenance agreement because you’ve got the manufacturer’s warranty? It’s true that a manufacturer’s warranty is an asset. Parts — or, in a worst-case scenario, replacement of the whole system — can be incredibly expensive. An equipment warranty helps cover the cost of repairs or replacement for a certain period of time. But there’s a catch. Warranty terms usually require proof that your system has been properly maintained. An HVAC maintenance agreement keeps you covered under your manufacturer’s warranty.

Discounts!

HVAC maintenance agreements include regular service calls and basic system maintenance during those visits. But you receive discounts on others services as well. A Newcomb and Company agreement gives you the added bonus of discounts on a range of services, including diagnostic charges, after-hours calls, and basic maintenance necessities.

As you’re pondering your HVAC  purchase, rely on Newcomb and Company for expert advice. We’ve been providing homeowners and businesses with expert service since 1954. Our customers benefit from that wealth of experience and knowledge. Contact us today, so we can discuss the best ways to save you money as you embark on this next home adventure.

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What to Look for in an HVAC Company in Raleigh

HVAC systems are overworked and under-appreciated. Your HVAC works night and day to keep you and your family comfortable. From dampers to valves, they have dozens of parts. Some can only be accessed using specialized tools.  So when your Raleigh air conditioner breaks down, you need an expert. What should you look for in an HVAC company in Raleigh?

What Is NATE Certification?

NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. Their certifications are the industry standard for HVAC technicians. NATE certification involves a series of tests. Technicians can specialize to achieve NATE certification in areas like air conditioning, HVAC efficiency, and commercial refrigeration. There are four levels of certification.

Ready-To-Work Certificate

If your technician has a ready-to-work certificate from NATE, this does not mean that he or she has earned NATE certification. It simply certifies that the tech knows the basics. A ready-to-work certificate is fine if you need a simple HVAC cleaning, but if you have bigger problems, you’ll want someone who has more experience.

HVAC Support Certificate

The HVAC Support Certificate is also not NATE certification. A technician who has work in the HVAC industry for six to twelve months is eligible to test for this certificate. He or she has a deeper understanding of HVAC systems and components, but may not be experienced enough for complex jobs.

NATE Certification

The standards for NATE certification are rigorous. A technician must have at least two years of hands-on experience in the industry. In addition to passing a core test, technicians must pass a specialty exam. Specialties include:

  • Air conditioning installation or service
  • Gas heating installation or service
  • Air distribution installation or service
  • Air to air heat pump installation or service
  • Commercial refrigeration service
  • Light commercial refrigeration service
  • Hydronics gas or oil service
  • Oil heating service

If you have a complicated job, don’t settle for a technician with the basic ready-to-work certification. Ask your HVAC company if they have any technicians with more advanced certificates. If you have a particular type of job, find a technician who is certified in that specialty, so you know he or she is an expert.

Senior Level Efficiency Certification

The highest level of NATE certification is the Senior Level Efficiency Analyst. The Senior Level Efficiency Analyst is well versed in every aspect of HVAC.  A technician must have at least five years of experience in HVAC in order to take the tough test for certification. Also, the tech must be certified in at least two sector specialties. When you hire this kind of technician, you know you’re working with the best.

When you have service performed right the first time, you ensure that you save money on repairs and energy bills and that your system is in safe, optimal working condition. If you live in or around Raleigh or Wilmington and want to receive the very best in HVAC service, contact us today!

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Is Zone Heating and Cooling Right for Me?

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In North Carolina, constant temperature changes are the norm. In Blowing Rock in 1978, the temperature changed by 63° in a 24-hour period! It’s not uncommon to start the morning in a winter coat and switch to shorts by the afternoon. While the weather changes certainly keep things exciting (and our wardrobes fresh), it can wreak havoc on energy bills and seriously confuse our HVAC systems.

Imagine if every time you turned on the water in one room, water came out of every faucet in your home.You would be wasting a lot of water (and money), and it would be impossible to maintain the temperature you wanted at the faucet you were using. This is how a typical HVAC system works. When you change the temperature on the thermostat, air comes out of all of the open vents in your home. Want to change that? You have to go room to room, adjusting the dampers and vents.

A zone heating and cooling system gives you more control over the temperature in different parts of your home.  Multiple thermostats are connected to a central control panel in your home. When you change the temperature, your system automatically adjusts the dampers based on your settings for each zone. The result: more control over your environment and lower energy costs.

Zone heating and cooling systems make sense in almost every instance. It can even solve some of the most common problems we see in homes – like that never-ending argument over the best thermostat temperature settings. Here are two other issues that zone heating and cooling can help resolve.

Uneven Temperatures in Multi-Story Homes

Multi-story homes can get very uncomfortable when controlled by a single thermostat. Imagine it’s the middle of December. It’s hot upstairs, but freezing downstairs. You turn down the thermostat to cool off your bedroom, but you dread getting out of bed in the morning. You’re going to need to really bundle up before you make that trek downstairs for a cup of coffee!

Uneven temperature is extremely common, especially in a multi-story home. Zoned systems allow you to control the temperature settings on each floor of your house independently. Plus, a programmable thermostat lets you set a schedule up, so you’ll never wake up cold again.

Room-By-Room Control

Some like it hot and some like it cold. Everyone has his or her own idea of comfort. Some zone heating and cooling systems let you set different temperatures for individual rooms. No more arguments over who touched the thermostat!

Do you have a guest room, formal living room, or some other area that you don’t use very often? If you’re heating and cooling those rooms, you’re wasting energy and money. A room-by-room zone HVAC system could be just the ticket.

Zone heating and cooling saves money and energy, and makes your home more comfortable for everyone. You don’t need to purchase an entirely new HVAC system to implement this cost-saver. Your system can be retrofitted for zone heating and cooling, or you can add a second HVAC system to create a separate zone. Want to learn more? Contact Newcomb and Company! We’re serving all your HVAC needs in Raleigh, Wilmington, and the surrounding areas.

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What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need For My Home?

If this Poindexter classic has been your personal theme song of late, you may be wondering what size air conditioner you need for your room or home. EnergyStar.gov offers a convenient guide to determining what size AC unit you need.

Footprint Is Everything

Ideal air conditioner capacity is directly related to the square footage of the area you need cooled. Measure the area of your room and use this table to determine what size air conditioner you need :

Area To Be Cooled (square feet)

Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)

100 up to 1505,000
150 up to 2506,000
250 up to 3007,000
300 up to 3508,000
350 up to 4009,000
400 up to 45010,000
450 up to 55012,000
550 up to 70014,000
700 up to 1,00018,000
1,000 up to 1,20021,000
1,200 up to 1,40023,000
1,400 up to 1,50024,000
1,500 up to 2,00030,000
2,000 up to 2,50034,000

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

If you’re sweating, don’t assume that you need to buy a bigger air conditioner. An air conditioning unit that’s too big for your room sucks water from your air, leaving you with low humidity.

See if your air conditioner is working properly. If your AC is broken or breaking, it’s not going to be as effective. Watch for warning signs that the air conditioner is getting ready to break. When it’s time to buy an air conditioner, use the table above to learn what size air conditioner you need.

Your Situation May Vary

The dynamics of your room can effect what size air conditioner you need. In a very sunny room with lots of windows? Increase the capacity of your air conditioner by about 10%. If the room is shady, your air conditioner can be slightly smaller.

The kitchen needs a lot of cooling power, so buy an AC unit that’s at least 4,000 BTUs over what size AC unit the table suggests.

Remember, more people means more body heat. Add about 600 BTUs per person if you have more than two people in your room or home.

We’re here to help

At Newcomb and Company, comfort is our business. It’s better to buy once – and choose what size air conditioner unit is right for your room – than to change it later on. If you’re looking for professional guidance on cooling down a house, a room, or an entire building, please get in touch.

Need help? Call now.


What to Do if Your Water Pipes Freeze

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If your water pipes freeze, water won’t come out of your tap. Frozen pipes are a serious inconvenience. When toilets won’t refill and showerheads barely drip, you put tasks on hold as you scramble to fix the problem.

If your pipes freeze, how can you thaw them and reclaim control of your domestic plumbing? Here’s what you need to do.

Did Your Pipes Freeze?

First, check the weather. Water freezes at 32° Fahrenheit. If the temperature outside has been warmer than that, your pipes have not frozen.

If the temperatures have dipped below 32° and no water is coming out of your faucet, you may have frozen pipes. Look for leaks and make sure you have your water turned on. If you don’t see anything out of the ordinary, you might have a frozen pipe.

Find the Frozen Section

If your pipe is exposed to the elements, it could be in danger of freezing. Follow the pipes to locate sections that might be especially affected by weather changes. (While you’re at it, check your condensate line, too!) When pipes freeze, they may develop a coating of frost. In some cases, the pipe can bulge as the ice begins to expand.

Frozen pipes may be located inside an exterior wall. If your pipes freeze inside your wall, call a plumber right away. A burst pipe inside a wall could cause thousands of dollars in water damage.

Thaw the Pipe

There are several ways to thaw a frozen water pipe. From hair dryers to heat lamps, anything you do to heat the frozen area will help. Be sure to safely position any heat sources you use to thaw your pipes. Too much heat can cause plastic or PVC pipes to melt. You can thaw a frozen pipe by:

  • Using a hair dryer
  • Putting a space heater or heat lamp a few feet away from the pipe
  • Wrapping a heating pad or hand warmers around the frozen area
  • Placing a water bottle filled with hot (but not boiling) water next to the frozen pipe

Pipes should not be overheated. You can use heat tape for some types of pipes, but not others. Check the packaging before applying heat tape to ensure it is safe for your pipe.

If Your Pipes Freeze and Crack…

First, shut off the water. If you didn’t notice or get to the frozen pipe before it burst, turn off the water to your house. Put a bucket under the pipe to catch any drips, and call an experienced plumber right away! Tell the technician that you have a burst pipe, so he or she knows it is an emergency.

Be Proactive

Take steps before the weather gets too cold. Then, you might not have to deal with frozen pipes at all. Many cold weather problems can be avoided if you take preventive action beforehand. Go to work before the temperature drops below 32°. Insulate any exposed pipes with foam wrap. In the evenings, let your faucets drip a bit. Flowing water is less likely to freeze.

If harsh winter weather has foiled your best efforts and your pipes have frozen, cracked, or burst, call Newcomb and Company. A certified technician will take care of it as soon as possible, so your life isn’t disrupted.

Need help? Call now.


Check On Your HVAC During Winter

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While it’s important to prepare your furnace for seasonal changes ahead of time, you have to check on your HVAC during winter as well. The elements let loose with snow, wind, and rain, and you want to ensure that everything is still working properly. Give your HVAC system a midwinter checkup!

 

If You Have a Furnace…

Give it some room

Your furnace needs fresh air to work efficiently. Make sure it’s not cluttered by holiday boxes or other obstructions. Then, check the outside. Your exhaust flue should be clear. Branches or animal nests can restrict your airflow, so take a quick peek to make sure you don’t have any blockages.

Close the doors

Keep carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts from circulating through your home by tightly securing furnace doors. You should also install carbon monoxide and radon detectors to alert you in case of a leak.

Change the filter

Did you know that your furnace has an air filter? In addition to replacing the air filters in your HVAC system, you should replace your furnace air filter. Filters should be changed every three of four months, so if you can’t remember the last time you replaced it, you’re probably due. You can find the furnace filter inside the furnace itself, or inside the return air vent. Furnace filters are a seasonal item, so keep an eye out for bargains during the summer months and stock up!

If You Have a Heat Pump…

Clear out debris

Check the area around your exterior HVAC unit. Soggy leaves, big branches, and little twigs can all get stuck in the coils and prevent your HVAC from working properly during winter. Snow and ice can also be a problem. Make sure the area around your unit is open. Prune any trees or shrubs back so there is at least 18″ of space around your HVAC.

Change the filter

Your HVAC filters should be changed at least every month. Learn more about how to find and replace your HVAC filters, so you can buy the filter that is best for your system.

Turn down the heat

Heat pumps work especially well down South, where the temperatures are moderate. But colder days may cause your heat pump to go into auxiliary mode. In this mode, your heat pump stops working so efficiently and instead uses electric resistance heating to warm your home. This type of heating can get very expensive very quickly. If you notice that your thermostat reads “AUX Heat,” lower the temperature so your heat pump can keep up.

No Matter What…

Whether you use a boiler, a heat pump, a furnace, or some other type of heating source, there are a few things everyone can do to make sure that they can properly run their HVAC during winter.

Scope out air vents

Make sure your air vents are clean (and open!) Rearrange your furniture so it doesn’t prevent air from circulating through the vents.  The heater can’t do its job if the flow of air is restricted.

Schedule annual maintenance

The best way to ensure you’ll have a problem-free winter (and year) is to schedule an annual maintenance check. During a maintenance check, your technician can inspect your HVAC system and spot problems before they get worse.  There are some parts of your system you just can’t see without the proper knowledge and tools. An annual maintenance checkup for your HVAC system is worth the money. Call Newcomb and Company and schedule your maintenance appointment today!

Need help? Call now.