Get smart about home energy efficiency

February 8, 2013

Did you know as much as half the energy consumed in your home goes to heating and cooling? If you haven’t replaced your HVAC system with a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR® qualified model, you’re probably spending significantly more on home utility bills—up to 20% more if your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, and up to 15% more if your furnace is more than 15 years old. Here are a few more steps you can take to increase energy efficiency and savings in your home: Close the envelope Insulating and sealing the exterior of your home, often referred to as the “envelope,” can help keep air from leaking into the home from the outside, or vice versa, helping you to save up to $200 per year on home heating and cooling costs. Seal the ducts Duct sealing can save up to $120 per year in coastal areas, and as much as $190 if you’re inland. Install a programmable thermostat An ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat can save you up to $100 per year in coastal areas and over $150 inland. Lennox’ icomfort Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat lets you set your home’s temperature to save energy from anywhere in...

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5 ways to fight cabin fever this winter

February 6, 2013

Feeling a little cooped up inside your home? You might have cabin fever! Lucky for you, we’ve got a few methods to fight off the winter doldrums in the event you find yourself hopelessly home bound: Get outside. It’s that simple: Take a walk, build a snowman, go for a run or sit on the porch. Exposure to sunlight (as little as 15 minutes a day) will boost your levels of Vitamin D and protect against seasonal mood changes. Boost your mood with food. Cabin fever can lead to winter doldrums. Keep your spirits high by eating foods that contain high levels of the amino acid Tryptophan, which our bodies convert to serotonin—a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Examples include: spinach bananas tofu cottage cheese turkey sunflower seeds Cheer up your environment. Add bright colors throughout your home in the form of curtains, pillows, throws and soft furnishings—or even a brightly colored, soft sheet for your bed. Use a scent diffuser to make your home smell of lavender, peppermint or jasmine—essential oils considered to be uplifting. Try growing an indoor plant; it can also help to relieve tension, anxiety and depression while getting rid of stale...

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7 Tips to Prevent the Flu

January 2, 2013

Aaaaaaaaaa-Choooooooo! The dreaded flu season is upon us. Fortunately, the old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’re gathered a few tips to help you protect your family from the flu this winter: Wash your hands, surfaces and even cleaning supplies. Often. Just 15-20 seconds of hand washing with soap and warm water—or alcohol-based rub—can help protect you from germs. Since human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, kitchen and bath fixtures should also be scrubbed down regularly. Sterilize cellulose sponges in the dishwasher. Down your vitamin C. Good sources include citrus fruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, nuts and kiwi. Supplements can also help shorten the duration of the virus following its onset. Drink plenty of fluids. Proper hydration is essential to a strong immune system and overall health. Water and herbal or flavored teas are the best choice. Avoid alcohol, which may decrease your resistance to viruses. Practice good health daily. Exercise, manage stress, eat healthy food and get plenty of rest. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough. But be sure to use a tissue; touching your eyes, nose and mouth can help germs...

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Prepare your HVAC for winter with preventive maintenance

October 18, 2012

While the changing season provides a great opportunity for homeowners to save on HVAC costs by opening windows and temporarily powering down units, it will soon be time to turn on the heat. Will your system be ready to handle this year’s chill? Regular preventive maintenance, performed twice a year, can help your system keep up with seasonal temperature swings. Plus, it can increase HVAC performance and help you avoid costly emergency repairs—because no one wants to be left without heat in the middle of a snowstorm. While most newer heating systems require little maintenance, a quick tune-up can greatly extend the life of your HVAC equipment, ensuring it always runs at peak efficiency. As always, major furnace maintenance should be handled by a licensed HVAC technician. But there are some steps you can take on your own that can result in a more comfortable winter: Power Down Turn off all power to the unit before performing any maintenance; wait for the blower to stop. Replace Filters Replace air filters at least once every three months. Dirty filters can cause your system to work harder, resulting in lower efficiency. Run a Sound Check Turn your unit on, and check for...

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Give your space the home field advantage

September 24, 2012

The big game’s coming up fast, and you’ve invited a house full. Now it’s time to make sure guests are comfortable, your space is inviting and there’s plenty of food on deck so everyone—including you—can relax and have a good time. We’ve gathered a few pointers to help you jazz up your entertaining space while ensuring every guest is comfortable. Square away the details Make sure your television can be seen from all angles, without any glare from windows. Before sending out invites, check to ensure the game you’re watching is on a channel your television provider airs. If you’re planning on serving pizza during a big game, call ahead and ask how far in advance you will need to order so guests don’t wind up waiting on food when they’re hungry. Finally, stock your freezer with plenty of bags of ice, keep enough cups and plates on hand for food and beverages and buy all food ingredients a few days ahead to avoid last-minute trips to the store. Simplify your party plan Your guests are coming for the party, not because they want to see how clean you keep your home. Choose a signature drink to avoid overbuying beverages,...

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Back to School: Ten ways to give your kids a healthy start

September 7, 2012

It’s that time of the year when long, leisurely summer days give way to the often too busy and chaotic routine of returning to the regular school schedule. Instead of fun in the sun and staying up late, it’s time to shop for school supplies, go to bed early and get ready to buckle down for long nights of homework. Talk about stressful! Here’s how to make sure your kids will get the most out of the new school year, with tips to give them a healthy start and improve opportunities for success both in and out of the classroom. 1) Encourage them to exercise Whether it’s in the morning, after school or even a late night routine, have your kids aim for 20 minutes a day of aerobic exercise at 60% of their estimated maximum heart rate. Studies show exercise can improve mental function by up to 10%. They also indicate improved performance on tests following aerobic exercise, due to its ability to increase attentiveness. 2) Take them for an annual checkup Routine exams and screenings help track your child’s development and identify any potential problems. Vision and hearing tests are essential: Check with your school to find out...

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Combating Dry Indoor Air

August 1, 2012

When winter’s chill strikes, cold air starts to seep into your home through cracks and crevices—while warm air flows out. Your first instinct may be to crank up the heat, but warmer temperatures rob indoor air of moisture, blanketing the inside of your home with a desert-like oasis of dry, stuffy air. With humidity levels at an all-time low, the overly dry air pulls moisture from everything it surrounds, causing a variety of issues affecting health, comfort and home. They include: Aggravated allergies or respiratory illnesses Scratchy, sore throat or excessive cough Dry, irritated nasal passages Dry, itchy skin Chapped lips Static shocks Cracked, peeling wallpaper Warped or cracked wood Damage to household furnishings The good news is, these problems can be resolved by keeping humidity levels in balance. Adding humidity to heated, dry air with an efficient, whole-home humidifier—like the Lennox Healthy Climate® Steam Humidifier—helps to restore the proper balance of moisture inside your home and eliminate problems associated with dry air. The Steam Humidifier heats water to produce steam, which is dispersed evenly throughout your home to make the air more comfortable. Plus, because humidified air feels warmer than dry air at the same temperature, you can lower...

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Is it time for a new home comfort system?

July 24, 2012

Replacing your home’s HVAC system may seem like a daunting task, but it’s easy if you know what features to look for. We’ve compiled the ultimate “things to consider” checklist to help you take the plunge: Some of your rooms are too hot or cold Duct problems, inadequate air sealing or insulation could be the cause. No matter how efficient your heating and cooling system is, if your home is not properly sealed and insulated against air leakage, you will not be as comfortable and your system will have to work harder. Your home has humidity problems and/or excessive dust Poorly operating or improperly sized equipment could be to blame. Leaky ductwork can also cause these problems, so having it sealed may be a solution. Monthly maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment’s filters may also help. Your cooling system is noisy Your duct system could be improperly sized or there may be a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up In addition to the rise in energy costs, the age and condition of your heating and cooling equipment may have caused it to become less...

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When to invest in a new HVAC system

July 20, 2012

Is it time to replace your home heating and cooling system? Read our comfort Q&A below to see if it’s time to take the leap: How old is your system? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests replacing your air conditioner or heat pump if it’s more than 12 years old, and your furnace or boiler if it’s more than 15 years old. New units—especially ENERGY STAR® qualified models—have much higher efficiency levels to help lower your utility bills, and are more reliable than older systems. Systems more than 10 years old use a lot more fuel than newer models. Review the SEER (efficiency) rating of your existing system and compare to newer models. The higher the SEER, the higher the savings you can expect. Lennox offers models rated up to 21 SEER.  How high are your repair bills? Frequent repairs costing hundreds of dollars mean your service costs can soon exceed the cost of a new system.  Is your home uncomfortable? If the rooms in your home are too hot or too cold, your current system may be too large or too small, or the system may have been poorly installed. Talk to a contractor about performing a load calculation...

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Spring Clean Your Air

July 9, 2012

According to the EPA, the air inside your home may be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. So when you’re doing the annual clean-sweep, don’t forget to add it to your list. Spring clean your air Spring sprucing can have your home looking great in no time. But what about the mess you can’t see? Invisible particles, like bacteria, chemicals, pet dander, and viruses—along with dust, mold and mildew—can pollute your indoor air, affecting your home, health and comfort. And since most people spend 90% of their time indoors, keeping the air clean is just as important as cleaning the surfaces you can see. Here’s a spring sprucing checklist that will help keep things tidy while helping to improve indoor air quality (IAQ): (cut down pollutants and combat poor indoor air quality). Ban the use of chemicals in your home Scented fragrances—like laundry detergents, floor cleaners and air fresheners —may smell fresh, but chances are, they’re polluting your indoor air. These products can emit dozens of different chemicals into the air, causing respiratory irritation. To combat synthetic fragrances, purchase naturally scented or fragrant-free products, use mild cleaners without artificial ingredients and discontinue use of aerosol sprays....

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