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Save Energy, Reduce Utility Bills: 6 Tips for Southeast Michigan Renters

Lightbulb on a Dark Background

Unfortunately, when you rent a home in Southeast Michigan, you are limited to what you can do to save energy and reduce energy bills.  Installing geothermal heat pumps, extra insulation, and highly efficient appliances are all great, but usually not an option for renters.  The good news is that homeowners aren’t the only ones who can enjoy reduced energy costs!

As a renter, there are plenty of things you can do to save energy and lower your energy bills.  Here are some energy-saving strategies you can implement today:

  1. Use the mornings to enjoy the fresh outdoor air and cool your home down.  Raise the windows early in the morning, when temperatures are at their coolest.  This will help lower the temperature inside, meaning the air conditioner won’t have to work so hard to keep your home comfortable for the rest of the day.
  2. Adjust the thermostat.  Many people aren’t aware that adjusting the thermostat higher by just one degree in the summer months can save a substantial amount of money, without compromising comfort.  In fact, you can save 3-5% by doing this one simple thing!  If you do not have a programmable thermostat, set yours to 78 degrees while you’re away in summer, 58 degrees in winter months.
  3. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs.  Since they were introduced, CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs have improved substantially.  While more expensive initially, you will enjoy reduced energy usage – and CFL bulbs have a far longer life.  Choose those with the Energy Star seal for durability and longer lifespan.
  4. Consider a low flow showerhead.  Heating water consumes a substantial amount of energy, which means using hot water zaps power.  By switching from a traditional showerhead to a low flow model, you can slash the cost of hot water usage by a whopping 40%!  Again, pay attention to EPA labeling.  Certain brands such as WaterSense use a maximum of two gallons of water per minute but still offer the water pressure you enjoy.  Many offer multiple settings as well.
  5. Unplug it.  Even when turned off, many appliances and electronics still consume energy.  Televisions, DVRs, and battery chargers are the worst offenders, however when an LED or light is displayed, or a device works via remote control, it continues to draw power.  Unplug those appliances and electronics you don’t use often.  For those devices, you frequently use, consider a power strip so that all can be turned off simultaneously.
  6. Control when and where air circulates inside the home.  Why cool or heat a room that’s empty?  Use ceiling fans in rooms only when they are occupied to circulate cool or warm air (most offer a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades, depending on the season).  Also, be sure that vents are clear and not blocked by furniture, clothes, or other items.  Close cabinet and closet doors, and consider closing off those rooms you don’t use as well.

Even renters can save on energy costs by implementing a few of these tips!  Enjoy a comfortable home and energy savings this summer.

It’s a Good Idea to Buy Indoor & Outdoor Units that Match – Here’s Why

House in Dexter, Michigan

As professional heating & air contractors who cater to SE Michigan home and business owners in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and surrounding areas, we know it is tempting to just replace a failed component when it goes out on your central air conditioner.  However, this may not be the smartest idea.  The main components of your system are the indoor unit (evaporator coil), and the outdoor unit (condenser/compressor).  Why not simply replace the failed part and save money?  There are several reasons which we will explain below.

Increased reliability.  When just one unit is upgraded, both together do not work as efficiently – in essence, they’re incompatible.  This means your equipment will undergo additional strain, putting the older component at greater risk of going out because of the added workload.  Essentially, your central air system could fail you at any time, even during the hottest days of the year.  A system that is entirely new will give you 10 to 15 years of service you can rely on.

Maximum energy efficiency.  Higher SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) models help you save on energy consumption and utility costs.  However, these ratios are based on complete (compatible) systems.  To enjoy the greatest energy savings, it’s important to install compatible indoor and outdoor units.

Reduced lifetime costs.  Over the lifetime of your system, you will spend less by having indoor and outdoor units that are compatible.  By replacing both components, you will spend far less money on repairs, maintenance, and costs to cool your home.  Update only the indoor or outdoor component, and you’ll face more expense down the road when the other unit stops functioning!

Advances in design.  Today’s air conditioners are far more advanced than those of 10 or 15 years ago.  If you only replace one component instead of both, you lose out on technologies such as thermal expansion valves, variable-speed air handling, improved coil designs, and more.  Ultimately, by replacing only one component, you will have less control over comfort and humidity.

Possible void of warranty on the new component.  While manufacturers typically provide a new equipment warranty, this may not be the case when the components of your cooling system are mismatched.  By having matching components installed, you will have peace of mind knowing the entire system is under the manufacturer‘s warranty.

At Haley Mechanical, we highly recommend you buy indoor and outdoor units that match when one or the other component fails.  It’s the smart thing to do regarding comfort, energy and money savings, and warranty on equipment!  Have questions?  Give our southeast Michigan HVAC experts a call today.

7 Plumbing Ideas for Conserving Water in Your Home

Traditional Michigan Bathroom

As trusted service providers to homeowners in Ann Arbor, Canton, Plymouth and surrounding areas of air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems, we understand that having a “green” home not only contributes to a safe environment for future generations, it also helps you save money. Did you know there are many things you can do throughout your home to save on water usage, thus saving on how much you spend on water each month?

Here are seven plumbing features you will not want to be without:

Aerators. Want to reduce the amount of water you use in the kitchen or bathroom, without sacrificing water pressure? Aerators allow the water and air in a faucet to mix. This means that you can still enjoy an invigorating shower without using gallons of water. Look for them at your local plumbing or home improvement store.

High-efficiency washing machine. Washing machines use a ton of water; in fact, regular washing machines may use 25 to 30 gallons per load! A high-efficiency washing machine not only cuts water usage by up to 35%, but it will also reduce energy use by about 20%. Good reasons to consider a high-efficiency model.

Faucets. Think of all the water that runs right down the drain while you are brushing your teeth or washing your hands. WaterSense faucets reduce the volume of water by as much as 30% or more. However, you will not experience a noticeable drop in pressure.

Toilets – essential, but the biggest source of water waste in your home. Did you know that toilets manufactured before 1992 typically use about 3 1/2 to 5 gallons of water per flush? This is huge! To use less water, consider replacing your old toilet with a dual-flush or high-efficiency model.

high-efficiency dishwasher can save you as much as 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime. That is right – dishwashers installed before 1994 will use 10 gallons or more each time you run it.

Consider a tankless water heater. Your water heater accounts for as much as 25% of your home’s total energy usage. By replacing your conventional water heater with a tankless model, you can slash up to 30% off your energy bill each month.

Low-flow showerhead. Regular showerheads or those that are older can use water at a rate of 5.5 gallons per minute! A low-flow showerhead reduces the usage to 2.5 gallons per minute or less, meaning you can cut back on water usage for showering purposes by as much as 60%. Imagine the savings if you have a large family!

Considering that a showerhead can run at a rate of more than 5 gallons per minute and that older toilets can require 5 gallons for every flush, it is easy to see how you could use hundreds of gallons each day – and it is costing you while using valuable natural resources. Keep the above tips in mind, and enjoy a “green” home that costs you less!

At Haley Mechanical, we want to help you make your entire home more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Southeast Michigan homeowners feel free to contact us for more tips on saving energy – and money.

Make Your Michigan Home More Energy Efficient in 4 Easy Steps

Efficient Windows in a Beautiful Home

Most Michigan homeowners know the big issues that cause their homes to be less energy efficient than they should be – too little insulation, for example. However, you may be losing conditioned air in ways you aren’t aware of. Perhaps one room feels colder than the rest of your home, or you’ve noticed that your energy bill is higher than usual.

At Haley Mechanical, we want to educate homeowners on what to look for and what can be done to make your home more energy efficient before the extreme cold temperatures arrive.

Whatever your situation, you can perform your own “energy efficiency survey.” Here’s how:

  • Perform an energy audit before winter strikes. You may logically think it’s easier to determine where those drafts are coming from when winter or summer is in full blast; however, energy costs will soar if you wait until the season is upon you before checking for problems. Check the ductwork or other issues now and take the steps necessary to improve energy efficiency.
  • Perform the window test. How much heat really is “flying” right out of your windows? Take a close look at your windows, checking the condition of panes and window frames. If your home is older, thin windows may be to blame. Consider replacing them with EnergyStar rated windows, and be sure to caulk or use weather stripping in gaps or cracks.
  • Update your heating/cooling equipment. Sure, it’s costly to replace your HVAC system or heater/air conditioner – but how much is it costing you to continue using outdated or worn out equipment? According to the Department of Energy, homes waste about 25% to 40% of their energy due to the fact that homeowners fail to have routine maintenance performed, or to replace an underperforming heating/cooling system.
  • Calculate your energy usage online. Taking your previous energy bills, you can calculate your potential energy savings using an online calculator like the one at AC Doctor. If you don’t have past energy bills, consider having a professional energy consultant provide you with data such as SEER ratings and electricity rates to perform the calculation on how much you could save by having high-efficiency furnace installed

At Haley Mechanical, we want to help you save on energy costs this winter. Call us for more ideas on how you can save on your energy bills this season, or for expert HVAC maintenance and installation. We’ve been proudly serving customers in Ann Arbor, Dexter, Canton, Plymouth and other areas in SE Michigan since 1998!

Believe These Energy Efficiency Myths? Top 5 Busted

Letters Spelling out MYTHS

More and more people are trying to reduce their carbon footprints, improving the environment for future generations. As trusted southeast Michigan heating, cooling, and plumbing professionals, we know that many homeowners have heard and read little pieces of “advice” here and there that they believe to be fact. Some of these energy efficiencies “tips” are energy efficiency myths, and will end up costing you more in energy costs!

Energy Efficiency Myths

Most of the energy efficiency myths we will talk about below relate to leaving appliances, lights, and electronics on, rather than turning them off when not in use. You may be surprised to learn that what you have been doing is all wrong!

Energy is saved by using screensavers on your computer

Myth! While it doesn’t cost you more if you do use one, a screen saver does nothing to save energy. A screen uses the same amount of energy whether it is left on a website or spreadsheet, or with the screensaver on. If you need to leave your computer for a few minutes, just turn it off – that’s the only real way you will save energy.

Leaving the lights on saves more energy than turning them on and off.

Again, this is a myth! While this piece of advice applied mostly to fluorescent tube lighting, even with the energy-saving light bulbs available today it is more energy efficient to turn the lights off when you leave a room. Get into the habit, and it will save you a bundle. Industrial or commercial businesses may want to consider lighting that works through motion detection to eliminate the need for turning lights on and off.

Cooling a room costs less when you leave the ceiling fan on

This is a big myth – ceiling fans only cool the people who are in a room by circulating the air around, the actual room temperature doesn’t change at all. If a room is not occupied and you leave the ceiling fan on, it is a total – and costly – waste of energy. Air conditioning is the only “true” way to lower the temperature in a room. However, you don’t want to run your air conditioning unless you need it either, because it uses energy!

It costs more in energy to heat a cold building or space

Think it’s better to leave a boiler on overnight, so that the building doesn’t get as cold, and thus takes less time to heat up? False! The fact is a boiler works equally as hard whether maintaining a temperature or warming up to the desired temperature, so when you don’t need it, flip the switch to off.

You waste energy and “wear out” light bulbs and computers by repeatedly switching on and off

Not true! While older computers were more susceptible to damage caused by everyday wear and tear, today’s modern computers are tougher and more durable. If you are forgetful, utilize the ‘sleep’ and ‘hibernate’ power saving modes to avoid wasting energy. Turning lights on and off has no impact on their lifespan, as they are designed for this type of use. The takeaway? Turn lights and computers off when you’re not using them.

Maybe some of these myths got started by people who are simply just too lazy to turn things off, or perhaps at some point they were believed to be true. Regardless, there is no advantage energy-wise to leaving electronics, lights, boilers, or ceiling fans on when not in use!

Have questions about saving energy? At Haley Mechanical, our goal is to help Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other homeowners in the southeast Michigan area save money on energy. Call us today for all of your heating, cooling, and electrical needs!

Ann Arbor Homeowners Can Lower Energy Costs With These Simple Tips

Piggy Bank - Save on utilities!

Today, many southeast Michigan homeowners are looking for ways to reduce energy costs and consumption, primarily due to increasing fuel prices and increased environmental awareness.  The fact is, accomplishing these goals is fairly easy with just a few small changes and a little effort.

At Haley Mechanical, we’re happy to provide you with a few tips to help you save on both energy costs and usage:

Consider a programmable thermostat.  This “smart” thermostat makes it possible to keep your home comfortable while saving on energy use.  Depending on your family’s schedule, you can pre-program temperature settings for night time, while you are away during the daytime hours, or even while on vacation.

Don’t skip seasonal maintenance.  HVAC equipment that is running smoothly is more efficient, thereby less costly to run.  You may not be aware that cooling and heating your home accounts for about 50% of the energy you use each month!  Consider scheduling preventive maintenance services in spring and fall, just prior to hot summer months and the cold winter season.

Change the filter regularly.  We know – you’ve heard it time and time again, but do you do it?  Filters collect dust, dirt, and other debris, making your HVAC system work harder to keep your home comfortable, which means increased cost.  Not only that, a clogged filter can lead to a buildup of dust and dirt within the components of your heating/cooling system, resulting in damage or unnecessary wear and tear.  Change it regularly, especially during summer and winter months.

Check the ducts for leaks, and seal any cracks or holes.  Because the ductwork is something you don’t see often, it’s easy to forget about it.  Check your ducts for leaks, which often occurs in areas where cracks or breaks exist.  Tape any visible leaks using a metal-backed or duct mastic tape instead of duct tape, which doesn’t hold up well.  Also consider additional insulation on ducts located in a garage, attic, or other unconditioned space.

Replace older or inefficient HVAC equipment with Energy Star qualified equipment.  A heating/cooling system that’s older than 10 years may not be efficient.  If your current system isn’t operating efficiently or is getting on up there in age, consider replacing it with an Energy Star qualified system.  These products are proven to help lower energy costs, and consume less energy.

Most important of all, choose your southeast Michigan HVAC contractor wisely!  It is critical that your air conditioning and heating equipment is properly sized for your home and installed correctly.  Improper installation of your HVAC system could cost you more in terms of energy usage – up to 30% more.

Learn more about how you can lower energy costs and consumption in your home this summer.  Call Haley Mechanical today, and let our experts help you enjoy a comfortable home that costs less in terms of heating/cooling costs!