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Maintaining Control of Energy Costs – It’s All About the Numbers

Person Working on Bills

As a southeast Michigan homeowner, if you are in the market for a new HVAC system no doubt you are concerned about energy efficiency. It is no surprise, considering heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly 50% of your home’s annual energy usage! Ultimately, spending more initially on a quality heating and air-conditioning system will save you money each month on energy bills.

Now comes the most important question – just how do you determine which systems are the most energy efficient? By understanding the lingo and the numbers, it will be simple for you to compare the various equipment available today so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you are getting the most efficient “bang for your buck.”

Cooling Equipment and SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio

Sounds like Greek, but when you are trying to find the most energy-efficient cooling equipment (whether an air conditioner or heat pump that works to cool your home in summer months), the SEER rating is much like the MPG with your car. Ultimately, it all boils down to how much you get out of your cooling system when compared to how much you put into it.

SEER is a measure of the amount of electricity required to cool your home over the summer season vs. the volume of cool air your air conditioner can produce over that same period. Measured in British thermal units, SEER measures the amount of energy necessary to achieve your desired cooling level in watt-hours vs. the system’s total cooling output.

Government Mandated SEER Ratings

The minimum SEER rating for all air conditioners/heat pumps has been mandated by the government since January 2015; this rating depends on geographic location within the U.S. For Northern regions, a SEER rating of at least 13 is required for air conditioners, and 14 for heat pumps. Those who live in the Southern or Southwest regions must have an air conditioner or heat pump with a minimum 14 SEER rating.

The Higher the SEER Rating, the Higher Efficiency of Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump

A SEER rating of 16 or higher is recommended for SE Michigan homeowners who desire high-efficiency cooling, which not only provides the ultimate in comfort but will result in significant energy savings over the summer months when compared to older equipment. For instance, the Lennox XC16 air conditioner can save you hundreds in energy costs when compared to cooling systems that are just four or five years old!

The Lennox XC25 variable-capacity air conditioner provides the highest SEER rating on the market and is ultimately the most efficient air conditioner on the market today. Because of its ability to adjust the compressor up or down in tiny increments similar to a dimmer switch, the XC25 uses only the minimal amount of electricity required to maintain the desired temperature you set. Ultimately, homeowners enjoy the least possible amount of wasted energy and a cool, comfortable home.

Heat Pumps, Furnaces, & Other Heating Equipment

The majority of homeowners in the U.S. depend on two popular methods for heating their homes in winter months: electric heat pumps, and gas or oil furnaces. Electric heat pumps work primarily in reverse from your air conditioner to warm your spaces in winter months, moving heat inside your living spaces rather than to the outdoors. If you rely on gas heat, the process involves a flame that heats the heat exchanger along with a hot metal chamber that warms the air as it passes through before being circulated throughout the rooms of your home.

Heat Pumps

HSPF, or Heating Season Performance Factor, is used to measure electric heat from a heat pump. Similar to SEER, HSPF compares heating to the amount of electricity used, whereas SEER compares cooling to the amount of power used.

To put it in simpler terms, HSPF compares the amount of energy required to generate the heat your heat pump creates over the fall and winter seasons. Again, this measurement is similar to the miles per gallon you get in your vehicle. With a heat pump, homeowners will enjoy significant savings over older equipment by choosing equipment with an HSPF of 8 or higher. Today, the Lennox XP25 is the most energy-conscious heat pump available.

Furnaces

Whether oil or gas, the efficiency of these types of furnaces are determined by AFUE or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This is essentially a measure of the amount of usable heat generated when heating oil or natural gas is burned in the furnace. High-efficiency furnaces use less gas or oil to produce the same amount of usable heat, so the higher the AFUE, the lower the cost without sacrificing heat or comfort. The minimum AFUE value for a furnace to be considered highly efficient is 90, which means 90% of the fuel burned is converted to usable heat. Currently, the Lennox SLP98V is the quietest, most energy efficient furnace available.

We invite homeowners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other areas in southeast Michigan to visit the Lennox Energy Savings Calculator to find out how much you can save by using Lennox cooling and heating equipment. As an Authorized Lennox Dealer, you can rely on Haley Mechanical for only the best in products, installation, and service!

Time for a Fall Furnace Tune-up – What to Expect

Fall Leaves in Dexter, Michigan

The crisp, cool temperatures are here, and now that it’s fall it will only get colder!  Before temperatures plummet to bone-chilling levels, it’s important to schedule your fall furnace tune-up with your HVAC contractor to ensure everything functions properly so your home will stay warm and toasty this winter.

It’s important that your furnace provides not only warmth but safe heating for your family.  Having your furnace maintained on a regular basis will also extend the life of your equipment, and keep it operating at top efficiency!

Whether you live in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, or any nearby southeast Michigan communities, you may be curious as to what you should expect when your HVAC technician arrives to perform your furnace tune-up.

First, your technician will perform an overall inspection to detect any potential signs of trouble.  He will test to ensure all components are operating properly; any parts that are not functioning properly will be repaired or replaced.  When the technician leaves your home, you will be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing your furnace is clean and ready to operate.

While performing your furnace tune-up, your technician will:

  • Check airflow and fan control, making any necessary adjustments
  • Clean, adjust, and test burners
  • Clean fan and blower motor, making any necessary adjustments
  • Lubricate motors, fans, and other moving parts
  • Inspect the heat exchanger for corrosion, rust, or other signs of damage
  • Inspect electrical power systems
  • Check to ensure ignition system is working properly, making repairs when needed
  • Tighten belts, electrical connections, or other components which may have become loose
  • Test and calibrate the thermostat
  • Check to ensure connections at furnace and utility sources are tight
  • Inspect fuel lines
  • Test to ensure carbon monoxide is venting properly via the flue and ventilation system

As you can see, a furnace tune-up involves a thorough inspection of all of the components of your furnace. Of course, there are a few tasks you can take care of yourself, including cleaning the unit occasionally and changing the air filter on a regular basis.

Have questions regarding a furnace tune-up or need a furnace repair technician?  At Haley Mechanical, we are the go-to experts in home comfort, keeping southeast Michigan homes comfortable and safe for 15 years.  Give us a call today!

Enjoy Consistent Comfort in Ann Arbor, Even While Seasons Change

Fall Leaves in Dexter, Michigan

Fall is here, and winter is rapidly approaching – which means super cold temperatures for folks in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and other areas of southeast Michigan. The holidays are coming up, which means family gatherings, celebrations, and enjoying the season. You want your home to be cozy and comfortable and the seasons transform gradually from fall to winter, so how can you be ready? By having your system checked by the trusted Lennox® dealers at Haley Mechanical.

A system check ensures your comfort is not interrupted

By having your system checked out by a professional, you can rest assured each component is functioning at its best. Your system will not only keep you warm and comfortable but run more efficiently – saving you money.

Sunset During Fall Season

What can you expect from your Lennox® dealer during a system check?

  • Check filtration system (collection of cells or filters). When a filter gets clogged with dust, dander, pet hair, or other debris, the air handler or furnace is forced to work harder to circulate the air around.
  • This results in a reduced lifespan for your system and wasted electricity.
  • Check refrigerant level. When an air conditioner or heat pump contains too much or too little refrigerant, it can potentially result in damage to the compressor and inhibit the efficiency of your system.
  • Clean the indoor and outdoor coils. A dirty indoor coil can inhibit your system’s performance, and make it harder to transfer heat; likewise, an outdoor coil that’s dirty can’t transfer heat efficiently, which makes the system work harder meaning more energy is used to keep you comfortable. More energy means higher energy costs.
  • Clean the fan blades and blower motor. When the fan and blower of your furnace or air handler are clean, your system will not only run more efficiently, it will be quieter as well.
  • Check how your system is performing. HVAC experts compare ambient air temperatures with how effective a system heats and/or cools a home in determining how well a system works; this also helps your Lennox r dealer know whether any potential problems may be developing.

Fall is the perfect time for a system check – and a smart investment

Fall temperatures are relatively mild, which means it is the perfect time to have your system checked – before temperatures drop to brutal levels. If repairs are in order, you will not suffer during the process of repairs. Waiting until winter arrives is not recommended, as contractors are busier dealing with breakdowns and emergency situations. Having your system checked is a smart investment, as the relatively low cost can help reduce energy costs throughout the winter season, which translates to savings when it comes time to pay the energy bill.

A check of your heating system is an investment in the life of your system as it will last longer due to fewer future repairs. To extend the life of your equipment, stay comfortable and enjoy energy savings then it is important to address any small problems before they become bigger, more expensive problems. A system check can potentially help you avoid having to replace your equipment because of a breakdown that occurs right in the middle of winter.

Preserve your system by contacting your dealer today

Scheduling a system check is as simple as giving us a call or sending an email on our contact page! Even if your heating system is not a Lennox® brand, our technicians have the expertise and skill to perform a system check on the equipment you do have, ensuring your family stays warm and comfortable regardless of how temperamental the weather may be. Give Haley Mechanical a call today!

Tips to Keep Your Cooling System Running this Summer

Hands Holding Popsicles in the Summer Heat

Tips for Southeast Michigan Homeowners to Keep Your Cooling System Running this Summer

Even in Ann Arbor and other areas of Southeast Michigan, summer temperatures can be anything but comfortable – that has been proven by the temperatures we have experienced recently! How can you make sure your air conditioner will run efficiently, and keep your family cool while keeping costs as low as possible? We have a few tips.

First, be sure to change the filter. We have said this repeatedly, but it is super important. Changing or cleaning the filter (depending on what type you have) every one or two months is critical to prevent the build-up of dirt, dust, allergens, and other contaminants that can not only shorten the lifespan of your cooling system and make it less efficient, but contribute to allergies, asthma, and other conditions. Enjoy healthier air AND improved comfort.

Have your A/C inspected every year. It is easy to forget about your HVAC system when everything seems to be running fine and dandy, but having your cooling/heating checked on at least an annual basis is critical to keep it running efficiently. When your SE Michigan HVAC technician can detect any small issues early on, it can prevent bigger, more costly issues down the road. You will also enjoy peace of mind knowing that no matter how high temperatures rise, your family will enjoy a comfortable home without the worry of a breakdown or malfunction.

Weatherize your home. Whether sealing leaks around windows or doors with weather stripping or caulk, adding extra insulation, or utilizing fans and closing windows/doors, do everything possible to keep the cooled air inside! The “conditioned” air you pay for will remain inside, while the hot summer air stays out.

Consider a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat makes it possible for you to program it for those times your family is sleeping or away from home, and forget about turning the temperature up or down. Set the schedule your family typically adheres to and put it out of your mind. Why cool an empty home when your family is away at work or school – or when you are away on vacation for a week or two? A programmable thermostat can save you a bundle on energy costs, but keep in mind it should be installed away from heat sources such as lamps or direct sunlight.

At Haley Mechanical, our goal is to help you enjoy a cool, comfortable home regardless of how high temperatures rise without spending a small fortune on energy costs. Keep these tips in mind, and contact our Southeast Michigan HVAC technicians should you need service, repair, or a new system installed.

The Pros and Cons of Popular Water Heater Styles in Ann Arbor

Bathroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan

When you are familiar with the advantages and drawbacks of the various types of water heaters available to Ann Arbor homeowners, choosing is easier. What are the most popular styles on the market, and their pros and cons? It is a good idea to consider energy efficiency, size, and other factors along with whether there may be available rebates on a model that will be suitable for your Southeast Michigan home.

Most Popular Water Heater Styles in Ann Arbor

Traditional stand-up water heaters. This type has been around for decades and is popular among homeowners because of its affordability. Anyone who has this kind of water heater knows it is a large tank that requires substantial space. The tanks store about 30 to 50 gallons of water that is pre-heated, so you have hot water for showering, laundry, dishes, etc. The lifespan of a traditional water heater is about 10 to 15 years.

What are the cons? Constant heating of the tank increases energy costs. Considering the tank holds 30 to 50 gallons, it is inconvenient to run out of hot water when the members of your family shower or you run the washing machine or dishwasher simultaneously leaving everyone to wait for the water to heat up again.

Learn more about traditional water heaters.

Hybrid & heat pump water heaters. Equipped with multiple settings, the newest in water heaters are popular with homeowners due to the considerable energy savings; in fact, you can save as much as 60% on your monthly water bill. Additionally, you may be eligible for rebates or tax incentives by installing this eco-friendly water heater.

What are the cons? To operate correctly, hybrid water heaters must be located in an area that maintains a temperature of 40 to 90 degrees consistently due to the fact they extract hot air from their surroundings. Most Ann Arbor homeowners know that while temperatures in summer months can soar to uncomfortable levels, winter temperatures can get downright frigid. A hybrid or heat pump water heater may not be ideal given the extreme temperature fluctuations in our area.

While hybrid water heaters do offer attractive tax incentives and energy savings, in most cases homeowners choose tankless and traditional models in Southeast Michigan. This energy efficiency calculator can help you decide which model would save you most following installation.

Get in touch with one of our comfort advisors to learn more hybrid water heater options.

Tankless water heaters require far less space and deliver hot water “on demand” so you never worry about running out of hot water. Tankless heaters heat the water when you need it, so you enjoy not only an unlimited supply but lower monthly utility costs as well. This type of water heater can last for 20 or more years depending on the model you choose.

The cons? The only drawback to a tankless heater is the purchase price and cost to install. Because of the installation time required or the necessity to retrofit, upfront costs are higher. If you live in SE Michigan and are considering a tankless water heater, discuss it with an experienced plumbing contractor before purchasing to ensure this type of water heater is compatible with your home’s electrical and plumbing systems.

Learn more about the advantages of a tankless water heater.

Regardless of whether you choose a traditional, tankless, or hybrid water heater, we advise homeowners to discuss the options with one of our expert Ann Arbor plumbing contractors to make certain the model you are considering is compatible with your electrical and plumbing systems.

Turning Off the Lights – All Light Bulbs are Not Created Equal

Picture of a Lightbulb

Most people assume that in order to save on energy costs, you should turn off the light whenever you leave a room, regardless of what type of light it is.  Of course, there are those that drive you crazy, always leaving every light in the house on!  It all boils down to the type of bulb you are using, whether incandescent, halogen, CFL, or LED. Who knew you would need a lesson as to when to turn off your lights?

Here’s a quick tutorial.

Incandescent Lights

The least efficient type of lighting, incandescent lights should be turned off when not in use.  Surprisingly, only about 10% of the energy used to result in light; the other 90% results as heat.  During summer months, turning incandescent lights off will help keep those rooms cooler.

Halogen Lights

Halogen lighting uses basically the same technology as incandescent lighting, although they are more efficient.  CFL and LED lighting are still far more energy efficient lighting options, so turn off halogen lights when not in use.

CFL Lighting

CFL lighting is highly efficient, and because their operating life depends in part on how many times they are turned off and on, it may not be necessary to turn the light off every time you leave the room.  How do you know when to turn a CFL light off?

If you will not return to the room for longer than 15 minutes, turn the light off.

If you will return to the room in 15 minutes or less, leave the light on.

Switching a CFL bulb on and off less often is more important in extending the life of the bulb than turning the light off every time you leave the room, or basically using it less.

Many people are under the assumption that it takes a substantial amount of energy to get a CFL bulb started, therefore it’s best not to turn the light off for short periods of time.  The amount of energy it takes to start a CFL light varies between models and manufacturers. Bulbs that are ENERGY STAR rated hold up to frequent switching on and off, because they are required to hold up to rapid cycling for intervals of five minutes.

Regardless, the relatively higher “inrush” current lasts for 1/120th of one second or half a cycle.  Ultimately, with CFL bulbs the real issue is the value, whether in terms of energy saved by turning the light off or the cost of replacing the light bulb because it burns out quicker when turned on and off frequently.  With fluorescent lighting, more energy is saved when the light is turned off for as few as five seconds than is used when turning a fluorescent light back on.

Factors That Determine the Value of Energy Saved By Turning CFL Lights Off

Rates charged by electric utilities are often different depending on whether the customer is industrial, residential, or commercial.  Depending on the rate schedule, the price can affect the value of energy saved.

During “peak” periods when the consumption of power is highest, it costs utility companies more to generate electricity, which usually results in higher rates to the consumer.  Some utilities also charge different rates depending on what time of the day it is.

Average kWh (kilowatt-hour) consumed, base charges, and/or taxes per billing period and other miscellaneous charges may be added to your bill by your utility company if these charges are not factored into the rate.

Commercial and industrial customers may be charged more per kWh during peak periods by some utility companies.

Customers who consume a certain amount of power may be charged a base rate by some utilities; this base rate may increase as blocks of consumption increase.

LED Lighting

An LED or light emitting diode’s operating life is not affected by switching it on and off.  With fluorescent lamps, the more frequently they are turned on or off, the shorter the lifespan; this is not the case with LED lighting, which gives LED’s numerous advantages in terms of operating.  LED’s, unlike fluorescent lighting, come on almost instantly at full brightness without delay.  This type of lighting is also effective for use with daylight or occupancy sensors that rely on on-off operation, considering switching them on and off has no impact on their operating life.  LED lights also have no glass enclosures or filaments, so vibration doesn’t usually affect them.

How to Calculate Energy Savings

In order to determine the energy you save by switching a light bulb off, you must first know how much energy the bulb uses when in use or “on.”  Every type of bulb has a watt rating printed on it, such as 40 watts, 60 watts, etc.  If a bulb is rated 40 watts and is turned on for one hour, 0.04 kWh is consumed.  The same is true if the bulb is turned off for one hour – 0.04 kWh is saved.  It is important to keep in mind that fluorescent fixtures may have more than one bulb and that in some cases, one light switch controls several fixtures such as a lamp, lighting in a ceiling fan, etc. – an “array.”  To determine total energy savings, you will need to add the savings for each fixture.

Next, look over your electric bill to determine how much you pay for electricity per kWh, both in general and during peak periods.  Notice what your electric provider charges per kWh, and multiply that rate by the amount of electricity you determined you saved to learn the value of your savings.  Using the 40-watt example above, let’s say your utility charges 10 cents per kWh.  The energy saving value for a 40-watt bulb left off for one hour would then be $0.004, or 0.4 cents.  The higher the watt rating of the bulb the higher the value of the savings.  Savings also increases the more bulbs controlled by one switch, and with a higher rate per kWh.

Ultimately, the type and model of bulb and ballast used will determine how long a light or set of lights should be turned off to be the most cost-effective before the savings is more than the cost of bulb replacement due to a shorter operating life.  Of course, the cost of replacing a bulb or ballast can vary, depending on the type of bulb and any labor costs to replace it.

Generally speaking, a highly energy efficient light bulb can be left on for a longer period of time before it becomes more cost-effective to switch it off. Manufacturers should also be able to supply you with information regarding the duty cycle of their products.

Once you know when it is more cost effective to turn your lights off, you may want to consider timers, sensors, and other lighting controls that will turn your lights on and off automatically.

How to Perform Maintenance on Your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Picture of a Smoke Detector

Temperatures get cold in Michigan, and with winter just around the corner, there’s no better time to assess the safety of your home – including your carbon monoxide detectors. Homeowners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other areas of southeast Michigan will be firing up the furnaces soon if you have not already. It is essential to check that your smoke alarms and CO detectors are working properly so that you can have peace of mind knowing your family and home are protected.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Maintenance

Because CO has no odor and is invisible, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur before you know it. Here are a few suggestions to ensure your CO detectors are in good working order:

  • Use a dry dusting cloth to wipe the housing of your detectors
  • Replace the battery a minimum of twice each year
  • If your unit doesn’t seem to be functioning properly, replace it
  • A CO detector’s life expectancy is typically five years, so replace accordingly

Smoke Detector Maintenance

A smoke detector is essential in protecting your family and alerting you to danger, particularly while sleeping or in areas of your home not in close proximity to a fire’s origin. Your smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death, so consider the following:

  • Back-up batteries in a hardwired alarm should be replaced one time per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. If you have 9-volt powered smoke detectors, replace the batteries once per year as well.
  • Press the test button to ensure your smoke alarms are functioning properly. This should be done once per month according to the USFA.
  • If any smoke detector in your home doesn’t function properly, replace it immediately.
  • Vacuum or gently wipe the housing with a dry dusting cloth to keep it clean.
  • Most smoke alarms last about ten years but check your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends in regards to your brand and model. Call the manufacturing company if you do not have your manual, or if your alarms are getting old, simply replace them anyway.

Need more information about CO detectors, smoke alarms, and keeping your home and family safe? At Haley Mechanical, we’re ready to answer all of your questions! We invite southeast Michigan homeowners to contact us today for all of your home comfort and safety needs.

Home Maintenance Tips for Home and Condo Owners, and Renters

Beautiful Condo with Wood Flooring

The official start of spring is just a couple of weeks away, a time when southeast Michigan home or condo owners and even renters should be taking stock of what needs to be done around your place. Sure, adding more ‘chores’ to your list probably isn’t the most fun thing you can think of, but taking care of routine maintenance can save you money this spring season, and help avoid unexpected problems just as the weather starts to turn nice.

Most of the suggestions below are things you can handle yourself, some may require the assistance of a professional.

Whether you own a home, condo, or rent an apartment in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Ypsilanti, or other southeast Michigan communities:

Turn on the A/C to ensure it’s operating properly before temperatures really heat up. Waiting too long will leave you on the ‘waiting’ list, as most HVAC technicians are super-busy when the summer season arrives.

When you turn the clock back, check fire/carbon monoxide detectors. It’s hard to remember to test your detectors, so write it on your calendar to test these devices when the time changes. Replace battery (or unit for those that are hard-wired) as needed.

Check for leaks. Water can cause extensive damage to your home, so check everything with a hose or connection. This includes the toilets, refrigerator, faucets, hot water heater, under sinks/vanities, behind the washing machine, ice makers, etc. Check hoses behind the washer for signs of damage such as cracks or dryness. Closely inspect the caulking around sinks and tubs to see if it’s time to replace.

Check fire extinguishers. Whether you own a home or condo or rent an apartment, a fire extinguisher is a must – and a lifesaver. Make sure yours is within easy access and in good repair. Check the pressure gauge to ensure it is within normal range if one exists. Some require refilling on occasion; check the tag on your extinguisher for a date.

Vacuum refrigerator coils. Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum coils, which become dirty and built up with dust, grease, and other debris. This one simple task can help you save a surprising amount of money on energy costs each year!

Change your furnace filters regularly. This is one you’ve heard over and over again. Make sure you do it!

Now, special tips for homeowners:

If you have a sump pump, test it by pouring a pail of water in it. If operating properly, the pump will come on immediately.

Inspect your gutters. Remove leaves, dirt, and other debris, and check for loose spots. Repair if needed.

Take a close look around your foundation to make sure water is flowing away, and not toward your home. Water puddling near the foundation may be an indication that you need to direct water away.

Have tree limbs hanging over your roof or near electric lines trimmed. Not only will your home be safer and the chance of a power outage reduced, the trees will be healthier.

Could roots be causing your toilet or tub to drain slowly? Possibly. Roots can invade sewer and septic lines. You have two options; have a professional snake the line to free it of roots, or use a chemical herbicide to kill the roots. If you have several large trees near your home, have the sewer/septic lines inspected on a yearly basis. It’s also important to remember that regardless of what a product claims, the only thing you should flush down the toilet is toilet paper.

Check window screens for holes, tears, or other damage and replace as necessary.

Rake leaves and clean up debris around the foundation of your home as well as around your lawn and garden.

Most of these are fairly easy tasks you can take care of yourself. By putting these chores on your spring to-do list, you can potentially avoid repair costs and prevent damage to your home.

Although our specialties are air conditioning, heating, plumbing, and electrical, the staff at Haley Mechanical likes to provide southeast Michigan homeowners with tips for keeping your home in tip-top shape! Give us a call today for all of your home comfort needs.

Could Your Attic be a Source of Energy & Money Waste?

Attic in an Ann Arbor, Michigan Home

Most southeast Michigan homeowners do not realize the impact their attic makes as far as heat gain in summer months and heat loss during the cold winter months. This results in wasted energy, not to mention money. Thankfully there are solutions to prevent energy loss and the resulting costs, which we will reveal below.

Air Leaks

Air leaks are common in the attic and may occur around exhaust fans, flues, plumbing pipes, recessed lights, and other areas. When it comes to air infiltration and energy loss, insulation is a good idea – but it is not enough. To ensure air leaks are eliminated, seal the leaks first using expandable foam, flashing, or materials designed for use with fixtures that become hot such as fire-safe caulk for flues. You can then address the problem of poor insulation.

Inadequate Insulation

R-value is an insulation term you should be familiar with and is a rating that indicates the insulation’s efficiency for resisting heat transfer per inch. For homeowners in Ann Arbor or other areas of southeast Michigan, the minimum value recommended is R-49 to R-60. Essentially, the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation is at resisting heat flow.

You may have poor insulation which could be attributed to one or more of the following factors:

Inconsistent Thickness

Uneven areas of insulation are not uncommon, and can be caused by architectural features or poor installation. Insulation should be installed at a correct and uniform depth for it to be its most effective.

Low R-Value

In efforts to cuts costs, sometimes homeowners or even the contractors who originally built the home may have skimped on the amount of insulation installed in the attic.

Damage

Insulation can become damaged over time due to a leaky roof and the resulting water damage, high humidity, even rodents who find insulation the perfect home and may build nests in it, trample around on it, and cause it to become displaced.

It is not difficult to remedy the situation if your attic is costing you in terms of energy loss and money. However, it is much easier if you hire a professional contractor to perform the work. Should you choose the DIY approach, be sure to wear the proper gear and step cautiously around in the attic.

Need more energy savings tips? Contact the professionals at Haley Mechanical today!

Ann Arbor Residents Can Save Energy (and Money) This Winter Season

Child Watching it Snow Out Window

Between putting up holiday lights and gas/electric usage soaring due to heater usage in Michigan’s frigid winter season, utility bills are often unusually high. The DOE (Department of Energy) claims that each year, families spend more than $1,900 on electricity and other utilities. Much of this cost can be attributed to energy waste during winter months!

Whether you live in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Plymouth, Howell, or another area in southeast Michigan, there are things you can do to save on energy use, and therefore utility costs:

Heating/Thermostats

  • You can enjoy a comfortable, warm home without wasting energy
  • While heat is on, keep windows and doors closed
  • Replace the filters in your furnace often
  • Consider having a programmable thermostat installed
  • Lower the thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on your hot water heater

Lighting

Save energy while improving the lighting in your home

  • LED lights use 90% less energy than standard Christmas lights, so consider them for your holiday decorating.
  • Turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used. If you’re still using traditional light bulbs, replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs; CFL bulbs last about six to twelve times longer.

General Energy Saving Tips

  • Conserve energy throughout your home
  • Water leaks in the kitchen, laundry room, or bath should be repaired as soon as detected
  • Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans only when necessary
  • If it’s time to replace appliances, choose those that are Energy Star rated; those with the Energy Star logo conserve energy

Make it easier to turn off appliances/devices such as cell phone chargers, televisions, and portable heaters when not in use by using power strips
Low-income families can get assistance with energy bills in the winter months by contacting LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. To learn if you qualify, visit the Office of Community Services website.

Haley Mechanical wants to help you save on energy costs this winter season. We invite all SE Michigan homeowners to contact us today with all of your home comfort questions!