Smart Home

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Energy Saving Tips for Pet Owners

 

If you own your own home, then you’re free to have any type of animal companion you like, including furry, four-legged friends like dogs and cats. But even when you’re ready to go to work, and the kids go off to school, your pets stay at home. Have you ever considered what that could mean for your energy bills? Having comfortable pets may be important to you, but there are things you need to keep in mind about how your home runs while you’re away. Look at these tips on how to save energy and have a pet-efficient home.

Use a Fountain Bowl, Not a Running Faucet

While it’s true that both dogs and cats generally prefer to drink running water, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a lower water bill in order to have comfortable pets. You can rack up some dramatically high bills if you just can’t stand the thought of your pet not drinking running water and use the faucet to address this need.

Instead, you should try a fountain bowl. These setups use electricity and circulate water in a bowl to simulate the running water effect. Much easier on your utility bills than leaving the tap on all day!

Make Animal Doors Efficient

You may have a doggy door, or something similar for your cat so that they can exit and re-enter your home without assistance. But these are essentially holes in your home and can be a huge source of heat leakage.

Look into making your animal door as energy efficient as possible. Check the integrity, improve the seal, and, if it’s an older, more basic door, upgrade it to a modern, energy-efficient model. That can have a significant impact on your heating or cooling bills.

Turn Off All Devices

Both cats and dogs are pretty self-sufficient. You don’t need to worry about keeping lights, televisions, or even fans on as ways to keep them company or comfortable. A pet-efficient home doesn’t need to cater to every amusement of a pet, especially since one of the greatest joys for a pet is simply sleeping!

So don’t worry about keeping fans on throughout the summer, and when it comes to lights and televisions, pets don’t really need these on to avoid loneliness or boredom either.

Mind Your Temperature Settings

Keep in mind that when it comes to temperatures, your pets can actually withstand fluctuations. You can afford to keep the thermostat in the home set to 25°C or even higher in the summer, and your pets will be fine. Further, the rich fur coats of most dogs and cats mean they stand up to colder temperatures as well, so keeping a thermostat at or just under 20°C when you’re not at home in the winter can save you on energy bills while also having comfortable pets.

Try out these pet efficient home tips and notice a difference on your next energy bill!

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Why Are Some Rooms Hot & Others Cold?

Did you spend this past winter continuously turning up the heat? Winter in Canada is guaranteed to do one thing: force you to start turning up the heat so you can stay comfortable in your home. Now that the temperatures are finally starting to warm, will you be playing to the air conditioner too? You may find that your home experiences uneven temperatures from room to room and wonder, “Why is one room colder than another?”

There are a few possible causes for some rooms feeling colder than others. We’re going to look at the more common reasons for this difference and how you can achieve an acceptable temperature in every room.

Make Sure You Have Good & Even Insulation

Issues with insulation are a lot more prevalent in much older homes, especially if they’re still largely original, without any major renovations. For example, an older home maybe didn’t get the benefit of modern insulation like fibreglass, polystyrene, or cellulose. Uninsulated homes have a tougher time retaining heat and will more easily admit cold (or hot) air, which makes reaching an acceptable temperature in every room difficult.

The solution here, of course, is to get insulation! That might seem costly for your whole house, but in the end, you’ll experience a significant and immediately noticeable increase in warmth during the winter (and cooler temperatures in the heat of summer) on top of lower heating bills.

Differing Temperatures Are the Result of Heat Escape

Similar to an insulation problem, sometimes one room is colder than another because heat is leaking outdoors before it reaches those rooms. You will experience this type of heat loss with structural flaws in window frames, in the foundation, around entryways, and in other vulnerable areas. Older, wooden window frames will erode from exposure to heat and moisture, and they eventually create drafty areas that allow heat to leak out rapidly.

The best way to combat this leakage is to find the holes and seal them up. In some cases, you may need to either seal window frames or even think about getting new ones, complete with energy-efficient glass as well.

Faulty Ductwork

Sometimes the issue isn’t with your heat getting out, so much as the appropriate amount of heat (or cool air) not getting where it’s supposed to in the first place. If a home has old, leaky ducts, roughly 30% of heated air from a furnace isn’t even getting to the vents and into the rooms.

Have an expert come in and evaluate your ducts for efficiency and leaks. If any holes are found, it’s relatively simple to seal them up.

Improper Furnace or Air Conditioner Size

Sometimes, the problem is found right at the source of heating or cooling production. You may have a unit that just isn’t suitable for the size of your home. When a furnace or air conditioning unit is initially installed, professionals will go over the total area of the house and recommend a model that can accommodate your load. If the house is remodelled, especially with an extension or even a whole new floor, you need to reevaluate your furnace so that it aligns with your heating demands.

 

You’ll need to consider a new furnace or other measures such as adding a second thermostat or even zoning control with “smart vents” to get around an issue like this.

 

For a FREE assessment of your home’s HOT and COLD spots, please give us a call.

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Reduce Home Heat Loss

As the temperatures start warm, you probably aren’t worried about heat loss in your home but, do you remember the long winter that is finally ending? Do you remember the heating bills? Timmins is famous for its winters, which is why it’s no surprise that efficient home heating can be a major concern. But how do you make sure that you’re only paying what you should, not extra from heat loss? Finding out the causes of heat loss in your home is the best way to start stopping heat loss and save money in the long term. Plus, when spring arrives, these issues can be easily fixed.

Heat is Escaping from Your Chimney

Older homes may still have old-fashioned, wood burning fireplaces built in, with chimneys to expel the smoke. While fireplaces and chimneys make for a great winter experience, they are also a major source of heat loss.

You can reduce heating costs by sealing up a chimney if you no longer use your fireplace. However, if you do still enjoy building a fire from time to time, a “chimney balloon” acts as a seal to keep the heat in when not in use. Just deflate it when you’re ready to light things up again.

Pay Attention to Your Windows

Draw your curtains or blinds to reduce heat loss in the winter

A window is essentially a hole in your home with a transparent cover so you can see through it. It can admit light, which also carries heat, but can even radiate that same heat out. A window is always a “point of vulnerability” in a home for heat loss and gain. In the winter, you should use heat gain to your advantage while mitigating heat loss. Any windows with a southern exposure should have curtains or drapes open up to allow sunlight to stream in, for “free heating” during the day.

At night, however, you should use those same curtains or blinds to seal in the heat and slow down heat loss. If you really committed to reducing heating costs, invest in new, energy-efficient windows with innovations like an insulating layer of argon gas between the panes.

Your Insulation Might Need an Upgrade

One of the most common reasons for heat loss is poor insulation in a home. If your roof and walls are not properly insulated, cold air is constantly seeping in. Modern insulation like cellulose, fibreglass, and polystyrene make a huge difference in retaining heat inside your home. If reducing heating costs is one of your goals, evaluate your insulation situation, and upgrade to modern materials and techniques.

Your Floors Are Also Vulnerabilities

Yes, you can even experience heat loss through your floor! Wooden floorboards, for example, having gaps and seams through which cold air can leak in. You can insulate your floor with large area rugs to block those leaks.

 You might even consider in-floor heating as an alternative. Floor heating systems not only mean you’ll have a toasty warm floor in the winter, but it’s a less invasive way to heat, avoiding the stuffy air of turning up the furnace. It’s a unique, foot-friendly way to reduce heating costs and get rid of those socks and slippers while at home during the winter.

 

Stopping heat loss in your home starts with noticing the causes and can end with some of these practical solutions!

 

Contact Us for a Free Heat Loss Assessment, we’re sure it’ll reduce your heating bills next winter.

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Cheap Tricks to Reduce Your Energy Bill This Winter

If you’re like most homeowners, you’d love to be able to reduce your energy bills in the winter without having to spend a lot of money. As the temperatures drop and that furnace kicks into high gear for several months, your energy bills can become uncomfortable. Having an energy-efficient home will give you peace of mind and help your bank account, and there are a handful of cheap tricks you can try to help make this a reality.

Lower the Thermostat

Over-programming your smart thermostat can end up wasting money unnecessarily. If you want to save money on your energy bills, try decreasing the temperature by three degrees during the days when no one is home and at night while everyone is asleep. With modern thermostats, you can schedule it to come on shortly before you get home or wake up, making the settings convenient and the bills affordable.  

Use Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls contribute to an energy-efficient home because they dry your clothes more efficiently and allow you to reduce the time you use the dryer. Clothes dryers use a lot of energy, but this inexpensive hack can help you reduce the output.

Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Dryer balls help you save energy when drying, but you can also save during the wash cycle by only using cold water to wash your clothes. Naturally, your water heater will need to kick into gear if you wash clothes in hot water, so keeping it cold will save energy.


Hang Your Clothes to Dry

Not a lot of people consider hanging their clothes out to dry in the winter, but it is possible most of the time. Heat, humidity and time are major factors when it comes to drying clothes, and even though there isn’t a ton of heat in the winter, humidity levels are usually lower, and you can leave them out all day. Make sure not to crowd the line with clothes, and if it is cold and humid out or really windy, try an indoor drying rack for the same energy-saving effect.

Unplug Small Appliances That Aren’t Being Used

Small appliances like vacuums, computers, cameras, entertainment systems, and kitchen appliances that aren’t being used still consume energy if they are plugged in. This concept is often called phantom or vampire electricity, and it is adding to your electricity bill for no reason. Take a few moments to unplug small appliances that you aren’t using and save money.

Keep an Eye on Your Furnace Filter

A dirty furnace filter will make the entire system work harder and will reduce the air quality in your home. If you want to have an efficient furnace and improve air quality at the same time, take the time to clean or replace your furnace filter each month. Purchase a pack of three or more and have them handy so there is never an excuse.


Annual Furnace Maintenance

Every energy-efficient home has a furnace that is effective and gets the job done when it’s needed. Make sure you call a heating contractor in Timmins to have your furnace serviced at least once per year, preferably before the winter, and you will be able to reduce your energy bills while keeping your family safe and comfortable.  

 

If you’d like to learn more about saving on your energy bills and want to get ready for winter, get in touch with us at RHMH Heating & Air Conditioning today for a full furnace servicing.

 

 

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How a New HVAC System Can Both Save You Money & Increase The Value of Your Home

Most homeowners thinking about home improvement will go for the most visible, big-ticket items. Renovating kitchens and bathrooms, for example, is a pretty noticeable way to show that a home has had some major improvements.

But there are many other critical ways in which a home improvement project can involve a significant investment that will certainly pay out in the long term. Waterproofing a basement, insulating a home, or even putting in new, modern electrical wiring are all less “sexy” ways to upgrade your space. But one area that can yield a high impact is improving your HVAC system by installing a modern unit. How does this help? We’ll explain.

You Will Lower Your Bills

The first and most obvious way that getting a new HVAC system can save you money is by lowering just how much you pay every month in your heating and cooling bills. Gas burning furnaces and centralized air conditioning are built to run for decades when properly installed and maintained. This regular service can mean that some older homes may still have heating and cooling systems that date back to the 1980s or even the 1950s!

But while this equipment may operate reliably, it works far less efficiently than modern hardware. The contemporary gas-burning furnace, for example, can achieve over 90% efficiency. This figure means that nearly all of the heat it creates is dispersed throughout the home and not lost to the exterior or in other ways. A furnace from the 1950s, on the other hand, is lucky to achieve 65% efficiency, even with excellent care. That means 35% of your bill is heat that was lost, but you’re paying for anyway.

You May Get Rebates That Lower the Cost

It’s always a matter of watching for particular government or even company offers, but rebates can make a big difference! Paying attention to special offers means getting money back after a proper evaluation and installation, assuming you qualify.

Through this process, you will be saving even more money as your investment in new equipment gets paid back thanks to programs that offer rebates for people upgrading to new, energy efficient systems. Everybody wins when you take advantage of this discount.

You’ll find more information on rebates here.

You Increase Home’s Appeal and Value

Finally, if you decide to put a new HVAC system in your home, the unit can increase your home’s property value as well as make it a more enticing buy! People looking for new homes are always trying to cut down on the amount of extra work they need to perform in a house.

If you have a new HVAC system, this means potential buyers now know they don’t have to worry about the HVAC system in the home for years. They also know they will enjoy the same lower energy bills that you are currently experiencing! This update adds a lot of value and peace of mind for people on the market for a new home.

Upgrade your HVAC system for not only the environmental impact but also for increased comfort in your home and the benefits to your bank account! That’s what we call a “win, Win, WIN!”

For a free HVAC quote and home energy audit please contact RHMH Heating and Air Conditioning.

 

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Cheap Tricks to Keep Your House Cool in The Summer

Summer is here, and even in Timmins, it’s been a hot one, with heat waves and higher than average temperatures. That can get expensive if you’re trying to find ways to cool your home, but we’ve got some tips that can help you to keep those energy bills down!

Use Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans, you should make sure that they’re running counter-clockwise or “forward.” This movement has the effect of circulating air downwards, which creates a breeze that encourages the wind chill effect that can be so uncomfortable during the winter but is a great relief during these hot times of the year.

Use Coverings for Your Windows

If you have curtains, shades, blinds, or other means of covering your windows, use them during the daytime! Sunlight is not just light, it is also heat, so any sunlight that shines through your windows is heating up your home. By keeping your windows covered during the hottest parts of the day, you’ll experience a noticeable drop in your energy bills.

Close Your Doors

Both heat and cold circulate, so if you want to keep the room you’re in cool, don’t let that cold air escape to other rooms or outside. Conversely, if other rooms are hot, don’t let that heat flow back into your cooler rooms. By closing doors to unused rooms, you can better maintain the temperature you want in the areas that you frequently use.

Program Your Thermostat

If you have a modern, digital thermostat, you have the ability to program it. Try setting the thermostat to higher temperatures during the times of day when no one is home, such as when school is still in session, and you or your children are working. Then, anywhere from 10-20 minutes before people return home, have the thermostat turn on the air conditioning. By not doing anything to counteract natural, higher temperatures when no one is around, you are limiting your use of the air conditioning unit, and therefore reducing the amount on your bills.

Use Lighter, Smarter Bed Sheets

In the same way that you change clothing for the summer season from winter, you should be doing the same thing with bed materials and linens. Get rid of the thick, heavy comforters designed to keep you warm, and use lighter sheets and fibres that enable heat to pass through quickly and allow you and your skin to “breathe.”

Keep Your Body Cool

Stay hydrated when it gets hot at home, and this will help to keep you cool. Also, make sure to wear appropriate clothing. Stick to lighter, looser fitting clothing that doesn’t act as an insulator, helping your body build up and retain heat. Modern, “smart fibres” maintain tensile strength and durability without being thick and heavy. If they allow for breathability as well, this is a great way to radiate heat and remain more cool and comfortable.

After following these simple tips, you will have kept both the heat under control in your home and your bills lower at the end of the summer months!

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Smart Home Products that can Make Your Home Safer, More Comfortable and Energy Efficient

When you were a kid, you probably pictured a future with flying cars, colonies on the moon, and more. You probably didn’t consider the modern idea of “smart homes,” but today, some of the most sophisticated technology can be found right at home; making our lives easier while making our homes safer, more comfortable, and energy efficient.

Here are a few of the top smart home products worth investing in:

Smart Thermostats

One of the most effective ways to save money on your heating bill is with a smart thermostat. These units are special because they are programmable and often come with learning software that enables them to recognize patterns and automatically adjust to your needs. This automation also comes with Wifi, which allows you control the unit from your smartphone. Many smart thermostats also alert homeowners to maintenance issues such as notifying you when it’s time to change the air filter.

Homeowners can see about 30 percent in energy savings with one of these units. Many of them cost between $150-$300 and can be installed by the homeowner. However, for best results, we recommend getting them installed by a professional.

Lights

Aside from switching to LED lights, homeowners can also take things a step further with smart lights and switches. These systems connect to your Wifi and allow you to control the lights with your smartphone. This means you can turn on the lights when you are not home, which could be helpful if you are coming home to an empty house or want to deter burglars from entering overnight when you are away.

Smart lights and switches range in price. Smart bulbs are generally around $15-$20 while a switch can run anywhere from $30-$60. These lights are also energy-efficient and will help save you money on your energy bill.

Blinds

Smart blinds are one of the most futuristic features a smart home can have. Custom blinds are fitted to your windows and can be programmed to open with your alarm, helping you get out of bed in the morning.

The blinds can also be integrated with Google Home software, which means they are easy to control. Smart blinds can help keep your home comfortable in the summer and winter. The blinds are custom-made to your window, and a quote from a professional is needed before installation.

Security and Safety

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are two things that homeowners have been using for years. But today’s smart smoke alarms and smart CO detectors can connect directly to your smartphone, alerting you to dangers even when you are not at home. Many of the modern carbon monoxide detectors also give readings on the levels of CO, so you can assess situations and avoid false alarms.

Additionally, homeowners can find use in flood detectors, freezing detectors, and more that will protect your home from leaks, frozen pipes, and other emergencies that may arise.

Garage Door Openers and Locks

Smart locks and smart garage door openers make it that much easier for you to enter your home. No more will you need to fumble with keys or keep a clunky garage door opener in the car. These new smart systems recognize when your smartphone is near and unlock or open at your request. Not only does this mean more security, but it also means less hassle. For example, imagine coming home with an armful of groceries, and enjoying a door that simply opens and welcomes you home without any fuss.

Whether you’re looking for ways to save money or make your life easier, smart home technology can help. It’s the way of the future! Learn more by contacting RHMH Heating and Air Conditioning today.

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Is Upgrading to a Smart Thermostat Worth the Money?

With any consumer decision, you should always do your research before spending a large amount of money. One home investment that many experts recommend is installing a smart thermostat in your home. But what are these devices? How do they work, and are they even worth the hassle and money? Continue reading to learn everything about smart thermostats before you make the decision to upgrade:

What is a Smart Thermostat?

Everyone knows that the thermostat is the part of your heating system that controls the temperature of your home. Older thermostats use a mercury switch that triggers itself once the temperature in the home reached a certain level. Today’s smart thermostats are much more sophisticated.

A smart thermostat is essentially a unit that allows for extensive automation. This means the thermostat is programmable, in some cases, it can learn your habits, and it can also “communicate” with you by alerting homeowners to specific maintenance issues and more.

What do They Cost?

The cost of a smart thermostat is completely dependent on the model you choose, but most of them range in price from $150-$300. Some of the factors that contribute to the price include whether or not it’s a learning thermostat, if there is remote access, and more. However, one thing you should consider is that the upfront cost of the smart thermostat will most likely quickly pay for itself when it comes to energy efficiency and savings on your heating bill.

What is the Best Model to Choose?

The answer to this question depends entirely on your unique needs. Higher end smart thermostats will offer more features and include sophisticated automation, learning, and mobile access while more basic models will simply allow for extensive programming. Some of the best smart thermostats in a wide range of prices come from companies such as Nest, Honeywell, Ecobee3, and SensiSmart.

Can I Install it Myself?

As with most home projects, installing a smart thermostat on your own is completely doable. However, it’s not always advisable. Installing a new thermostat involves connecting it to the HVAC system. With this, come questions of compatibility, wiring, and more. Getting a professional to install your new smart thermostat is the best idea because then you know it is installed correctly and the work will probably be covered by a warranty. Many smart thermostats also connect your home’s Wifi, so it’s a good idea to work with an expert to select and unlock the full potential of the new thermostat.

What are the Potential Savings?

This is where upgrading to a smart thermostat gets interesting. Everyone wants to save, and the bottom line is that a smart thermostat can save you a lot of money. Almost all models, even the low-end smart thermostats, will come with upwards of 30 percent energy savings. This translates to more money in your pocket and less money wasted on inefficient heating.

To learn more about smart thermostats, contact the experts at RHMH Heating and Air Conditioning today.

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Simple Ways to Make Your Home More Comfortable and Energy Efficient this Winter.

Every homeowner aims to keep their houses clean, comfortable, efficient, and safe. These traits will ensure a happy family, a safe family, and reduced energy bills. During the winter months, when things start to get cold, it gets harder to keep the home energy-efficient and comfortable.

Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you stay warm, safe, and efficient all winter long:

Mind Your Doors and Windows

Part of your fall home checklist should include closing the doors and windows and making sure they are all adequately sealed. An excellent way to check if your doors and windows are properly shut is to go around the home and use your hands to feel for a draft. If you feel cold air blowing on your hand, you may be dealing with a door or window that is not properly closed or sealed. If this happens, you may need to invest in some extra weather stripping.

Use the Sun

Have you ever seen your pet dog or cat lounge luxuriously in a sunbeam in your home? The sun is a great tool for homeowners to use during the winter. During the day, open your curtains and get as much sunlight in as possible. Your windows will act almost like a greenhouse effect, trapping warmth in the home, supporting your heating system. In the evening, make sure the curtains and blinds are closed. This will help keep the home warmer overnight.

Check the Registers

If your home uses a forced air heating system, it’s vital that you make sure the registers are clear of any debris or anything else that could block them. Make sure there is no furniture on the registers and that the air is flowing freely. If you discover that the registers are blowing weakly, you may have a blocked duct that needs cleaning. Invest in regular duct cleaning and keep your air filters clean to ensure that the registers are blowing at full-strength.

Layer

Even though your home should be warm and comfortable in the winter, if you are able to comfortably wear shorts and a t-shirt in the house, you are probably keeping your home too warm. This will result in a higher energy bill. So, even though, your instinct may tell you to crank the heat, it might make more sense to simply put on a sweater and some nice wool socks to stay warm at home. Slippers are also recommended for homes with hardwood or laminate flooring since your feet might get colder with this style of floor.

Insulate the Attic

Is your attic completely insulated? One area that is often forgotten when it comes to attic insulation is the attic door. This is a medium-sized area that could let out a lot of warmth and have a big effect on the comfort and efficiency of your home. Insulate the attic door to make sure you are completely covered.

Make Upgrades

Are you living with an old thermostat? Older heating systems are less efficient, and ultimately cost more to operate. Upgrading to a new smart thermostat could help you save money and stay more comfortable. These units are completely programmable. You can set them to come on at a specific time, which is helpful if you decide to go on vacation or if you only want the thermostat to kick in once the kids are home from school. Many smart thermostats will also notify you when the air filter needs changing or if there is anything else that could be impacting the efficiency of your heating unit.

For more information on keeping your home safe, comfortable, and efficient contact the experts at RHMH Heating and Air Conditioning today.