HVAC

How To Improve Your Bathrooms Ventilation

Posted on

Poor bathroom ventilation can make matters of personal care awfully unpleasant. While newer, local building codes have learned to account for this issue, many older homes are equipped with bathrooms that do not offer enough ventilation to make the acts of showering or going about ones daily bathroom-related affairs as comfortable as they ought to be.

If your current bathroom doesnt seem to offer you the right amount of ventilation, you can take certain steps to increase air flow and improve your bathroom environment. Blair Harris is the director of Sales and Marketing at A&R Mechanical Services, a Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning company that has been serving Amarillo, Texas since 1992, and she thinks that anyone with poor bathroom ventilation ought to try the following in order to combat the problem:

Using an Exhaust Fan
When it comes to improving bathroom ventilation, the use of a fan is truly key. If your bathroom comes equipped with a built-in exhaust fan, dont wait until after youve emerged from the shower to turn it on. Instead, make a habit of running your bathroom fan while you shower so that it can combat all of that added moisture in the air and help keep the atmosphere as cool as possible. If you dont have an exhaust fan in your bathroom, bring in a local plumbing and HVAC company to see if installing one is an option.

Installing a Bathroom Window
You may add a window on one of your bathrooms exterior walls. Not only can a window improve your bathrooms appearance, it can also help tremendously on the ventilation front. If youre not keen on the idea of having a permanent draft in your bathroom, keep in mind that just because you choose to install a bathroom window doesnt mean that youll always have to leave it wide open. By cracking the window for even a few minutes, you can introduce a stream of fresh air into your bathroom and make it more comfortable in the process.

Cleaning Your Vents
If your bathroom air doesnt seem to be circulating well, clogged or dirty air vents could be to blame. To remedy this, try giving your vents a thorough cleaning. If youre not sure how to tackle the task yourself, hire a local air duct cleaning company to do the job for you. You might be surprised at what a difference a single vent cleaning makes.

Adding More Vents
If running your exhaust fan doesnt seem to be doing the job and your bathroom is not a good candidate for a window, another option for improving ventilation is to hire an HVAC company to install custom ductwork. By adding more vents, you can turn an otherwise stuffy bathroom environment into an airy and pleasant one.

Leaving the Bathroom Door Open
Its natural to want privacy while you shower, but if you live alone or have a bathroom thats only accessible via your bedroom, you can leave the door open a crack to improve ventilation and prevent the buildup of moisture and steam. If your living situation isnt conducive to this solution, make a habit of opening the bathroom door once you get a chance to throw on some clothes after showering. This process will at least allow some of that hot air to dissipate, making your post-shower bathroom atmosphere just a bit less stifling.

Opening that Shower Door
If your shower happens to come equipped with a glass door, opening it once youre done bathing can also improve bathroom ventilation. This will help the steam travel through the air more quickly, and in some cases, it might also help reduce the chances of a mold or mildew buildup.

Your bathroom is one of those places that you just cant avoid, so you should do what it takes to make it as comfortable as possible. If the air flow in your bathroom isnt what youd like it to be, contact an experienced plumbing and HVAC company to learn about your options for improving the situation.

Tips On Tenant Improvement Allowances

Posted on

Tenant improvement allowances, funds provided by the landlord to improve office space, are becoming increasingly prevalent during landlord-tenant negotiations, and all companies should consider their role in creating an ideal office space. However, companies seeking to lease at least 5,000 square feet of Class A & B office space with a lease term of at least five years can exercise much greater leverage on the landlord and will typically find it easier to achieve many of the suggestions below. If in doubt, you should consult with a real estate broker to determine the feasibility of any specific item.

1. In todays economic environment, many landlords are providing and funding 100 percent of the building standard installations required by tenants.

2. Tenants should try to negotiate above-standard items, such as millwork, extra HVAC, large glass walls, plush carpeting or special lighting, to get them included in the tenant improvement allowance provided by the landlord.

3. When landlords refuse to fund all or a portion of above-standard items, tenants can try to amortize their cost into the rent over the term of the lease instead of paying out of pocket.

4. Funding above-standard work can also be achieved via negotiating tactics, for example, offering to decrease the quantity of free rent and increase the tenant improvement allowance instead.

5. We recommend tenants hire an architect to represent their interests and suggest a layout and design of the space to ensure tenant improvement allowances are put to the best possible use.

6. Tenants can avoid the need for a large tenant improvement allowance by touring many suites and finding one with a suitable existing configuration. However, we advise tenants to avoid compromising the amount of their tenant improvement allowance just to decrease the rental rate.

7. Landlords are providing generous tenant improvement allowances for new tenants, and tenants can use this as leverage even if they are only renewing, especially if they have occupied the space for the past five-to-ten years.

8. If landlords offer a specific dollar amount for a tenant improvement allowance, we advise tenants to negotiate an open-bid format, based on an expert review by their own architect, project manager or construction firm.

9. Many companies are using tenant improvement allowances to create more light in the workplace by adding glass in offices and conference rooms. From narrow, vertical side-windows to full walls of glass, natural light illuminates interior areas and provides sight-lines for workers to improve communications and productivity.

10. We always recommend tenants hire an architect to brainstorm about the best uses for tenant improvement allowances. Many companies are decreasing hard-walled offices in favor of flexible workstations and huddle rooms, small two-to-four person conference areas, to accommodate departments changing needs.

Saving Money With Energy Efficiency

Posted on

A home should be an environment that is comfortable in both the hot, summer months and the frigid, cold temperatures of winter. However, heating and cooling your home so that it is comfortable during these extreme temperature periods can get to be quite expensive. If you aren’t careful, you can rack up a huge energy bill during the winter or summer months without even realizing it. Heating and cooling a home requires so much energy, so sometimes consumers can become devastated at the amount they pay at the end of the month.

However, there are ways to save money on heating and cooling your home. These ways often have a less harmful impact on the environment and a less harmful impact on your pocketbook. While these methods may require an initial investment to make them operational, the money you save over time in heating and cooling your home will be worth the initial investment.

Insulate Your Home

The first and easiest way to make heating and cooling your home more energy efficient is to ensure that air is not escaping from your home or seeping in from the outdoor environment. Poor insulation is often the number one culprit in homes that use energy inefficiently.

You can improve the insulation in your home by installing energy efficient windows that are double paned, or you can have the cracks and gaps sealed around the windows with insulating material. You can also add insulation to your attic and prevent warm air from seeping out through your roof. These small home improvement fixes can help you save a lot of money on your energy bill at the end of each month.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Another great way to make your home more energy efficient is to install a geothermal heating and cooling system in your home. Geothermal systems rely on the heat that is generated from the ground in order to make your home more comfortable.

The earth is a wealth of energy, but many consumers don’t know how to tap into the energy that is right below their feet. A geothermal heating and cooling system taps into the heat sources and uses them to power an HVAC system. This type of system is expensive initially, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the course of a lifetime.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Solar power is another great way to save money on your energy bills each month. The energy from the sun is completely free and is abundant almost all year round. If you live in an area of the world that does not have a lot of rainfall, solar heating and cooling systems may be perfect for your area.

A solar heating and cooling system uses huge solar panels to absorb the energy from the sun and convert that energy into a usable energy that can help to power an HVAC system. With the energy from the sun powering the heating and cooling system in your home, you won’t have to shell out so much money each month to an energy company.

Smart Buildings – More Than Just Energy Efficiency

Posted on

The smartest people in the commercial real estate industry agree–if we really got energy efficiency in buildings right using smart building technologies, corporations could save so much money that there would be little need for solar panels or windmills. While most experts are still strong supporters of these alternative energy sources, they agree that extreme energy efficiency measures could have very dramatic positive results.

On the other hand, there are an increasing number of people who are growing disenchanted with the energy efficiency movement. It is not that they are against the idea, it just seems like it is an “all or nothing” proposition, and one of the major aspects of smart building technologies is the impact they can have on OPERATIONS and TENANT SAFETY/SATISFACTION as well as energy efficiency–which solar panels and windmills don’t offer.
In our world of buildings, a world that impacts us every time we enter an office, mall, school or sporting venue, and an environment that requires a great degree of operational support, why totally ignore the operational benefits, financial and human productivity possibilities, and tenant safety/satisfaction potential of intelligent, connected, high performance smart buildings?

This new generation of smart buildings, in which an IT infrastructure is laid on top of a building and every electro-mechanical device is IP enabled and connected with the ability to send data and be controlled, can provide energy savings and a WHOLE LOT MORE. The concept of centralized portfolio control with dramatically reengineered workflow, combined with advanced data analytics and visualization, could have an equal (if not greater) impact on the operational and tenant satisfaction bottom line of a building when comparing energy efficiency and savings.

Building owners care a lot about the costs of running a building. If these state of the art concepts and technologies can significantly reduce operating costs, why not exploit that fact? These details should be included in the overall strategy when cost-justifying the retrofitting of existing buildings. It makes sense to look at every aspect of these intelligent and smart buildings. Go through the front door with energy efficiency but, by no means stop there; operational efficiency and tenant satisfaction will round out the complete justification for making smart building investments.

One small, yet interesting example of this approach would be the management of fire extinguishers. Despite more technology in an iPhone than we had on the first space launch, we continue each month to walk every square foot of our buildings in search of a fire extinguisher with a small paper card attached and a hole to punch. With some pretty basic smart building technology, we can connect those fire extinguishers to a network and monitor them in real time, with almost no future financial investment. This also has a good sustainability aspect, as we are not using natural resources to transport humans in their search for cards to punch.

Another area relevant to smart building technology with a very fast payback is digital signage. Despite the fact that the hardware and technology costs have become very competitive, we continue to rely on analog solutions to communicate information in our lobbies. If you look at the cost and process, with multiple people and methods of getting a tenant’s name up on a lobby sign, it is a very inefficient way to communicate tenant information. In addition to a simple tenant directory, digital signage can also offer advertising (potential revenues), and fire life safety information in the event of an emergency.

Many different areas of a building’s operations would benefit greatly from automation: HVAC, lighting, security/access, energy, fire/life/safety, lifts, water management, landscaping/irrigation, audio visual, digital signage, parking, voice/data and more.

If we truly want to take our buildings to the next level of sophistication and take advantage of all available technologies, then start thinking of the three categories that make a smart building–energy efficiency and conservation, operational efficiency, tenant safety and satisfaction. If we include all of these categories in our financial justification models, it becomes a much easier decision to retrofit and move our buildings into the 21st century.

Dealing With Hot Spots In Your Home

Posted on

When the weather heats up, hot spots in your home are a lot more noticeable. If youre one of the unlucky people trying to sleep in a room where your HVAC system has seemingly chosen to neglect, hot spots can go from uncomfortable to unbearable overnight. What most people dont realize is that this can be fixed either by you, the homeowner, or with a quick ac repair call to your local air conditioning company. You dont have to suffer through sleeping in sauna-like temperatures. There are things that both you and your air conditioning company can do to fix this.

How much are your windows contributing to the heat in your room? Old, inefficient windows let heat right in (or cold air right out). If your windows arent sealed properly or dressed with sun blocking curtains and blinds, youll notice a dramatic temperature difference between your room and rooms that are mindful of their windows.

Are your air ducts properly sized and sealed? Air ducts are responsible for transporting cool, conditioned air to each room in the house. If there is a major tear or leak in your air ducts, one or more rooms may lose their cold air to the attic. A few easy signs that you have an air duct leak are:

Inexplicably high energy bills

Dust on the tops and in the grooves of your doors

Hot (and cold) spots in your home

A cold attic in summer and hot attic in the winter

Little or no insulation around your air ducts

DIY air duct repairs are easily botched. For example, most people dont realize that, despite the name, you should never use duct tape to seal your air ducts. (Use a metal or mastic tape.) If you can easily access your attic, take a peak around. If there are noticeable tears or broken seals, you can try to patch them yourself or leave it to the pros. If youre tackling the project yourself, dont forget to insulate your air ducts well. Good insulation not only blocks thermal transfer, it can stop vapor transfer and even quiet the noise from vibrating ducts.

For a full air duct evaluation and professional repairs, call your local air conditioning company. The technicians there can ensure that your homes air ducts are sized, sealed and insulated correctly. Dont forget to check out the energy rebates offered to those who choose to repair, maintain and replace their inefficient air ducts! When your air ducts are performing properly, youll save money, energy and enjoy living more comfortably.

Gas Furnace Type and Functions

Posted on

Gas Furnace Functions

The process performed by a regular conventional gas furnace is quite simple in theory. The gas furnace is located in a large box and in order to control the temperature in your home or office the furnace takes in cold air, cleans this cold air by running it through an air filter, heats up the cold air by the use of a gas burner and a steel heat exchanger, then distributes the warm air through the ductwork in your home or office by using a blower. So as you can see the theory behind the heating and cooling cycle performed by a gas furnace is quite simple.

Gas Furnace Process

Once the gas furnace has completed the heating process and the warm air is inside your home, the air will begin to go through a natural cooling process. This cooling process makes it necessary to remove the cool air from you home and replace it warm air. This continual air heating and cooling exchange is performed by using return ducts which suck the cool air back to the gas furnace through return air grills and ductwork so it can run through the heating process again. Located on the return air grills and ductwork there is a device called a humidifier. This helps to control the humidity of the air inside your home so that the heated air is not too dry. This is an important process as the air can become very dry as is continues to go through the heating and cooling process performed by the gas furnace.

Gas Furnace Main Types

A conventional gas furnace is defined as anywhere up to 89% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) whereas anything above 90% is defined as a high efficiency condensing furnace. These high efficiency condensing furnaces are a little more complex than a conventional furnace. It uses slightly different technology to perform the heating and cooling function. The main differences lie in the method used to extract heat from the combustion process and the method used to exhaust the combustion gases. To put it simply, there is not a greater overall efficiency difference in the combustion process in a high efficiency condensing furnace compared to a conventional gas furnace. The difference in efficiency lies in the heat extraction process after combustion has occurred. Both the conventional gas furnace and the high efficiency condensing furnace use gas burners with electronic ignition systems.

The gas furnace heating system can sound a little complicated at first but its actually quite a simple theory. The engineering and design of a HVAC heating system is much more complicated to understand and implement. However, if you put in the effort to understand how a gas furnace works then performing simple maintenance and troubleshooting can be done yourself without hiring the services of a HVAC contractor.

This article has outlined a simplified version of the heating process performed by a gas furnace, and also what happens to the air once the cooling process begins. There are a number of other articles and videos on this Vancouver heating and cooling HVAC website that may also help further your knowledge on other HVAC aspects in addition to the function and process performed by a gas furnace.

How To Lower Your Air Conditioning Costs

Posted on

Whether you live in the deep south or the northeast, you probably have to blast your air conditioning system all summer long to keep cool in your indoor space. Having a properly running AC is essential to staying cool and comfortable throughout the hottest months of summertime. Even if you have a top of the line, brand new efficient system, you energy costs can still be high. However, there are several simple steps that you can take right now to lower the cost of cooling your house.

In order to keep your energy costs down, efficiency is a key component of the process. The more inefficient your HVAC system is, the more money you are going to spend on your monthly bills. One of best ways to maintain an efficient air conditioning system is to regularly replace the filters. Dirty filters will decrease the airflow necessary to cool your home, causing your system to be far less efficient than necessary. Filters are inexpensive, and they should be checked monthly and changed at least once every few months.

Replacing your thermostats with programmable options is a great way to cut down your energy costs while keeping your home perfectly comfortable. While manual thermostats allow you to control the exact temperature in your space, automatic ones give you total control over your system. You can save by programming the thermostat to turn off the air conditioning when you won’t be home, and you can set it to turn back on an hour before you arrive.

If you have the opportunity to get a new system installed, look into energy efficient air conditioning systems. There are a variety of models on the market systems that are designed to use much less energy than other options. If you are outfitting your home with a new system, or you already have an inefficient system installed in your home, consider using a window unit. If your system seems to cool some rooms efficiently while leaving other parts of your house stuffy and hot, a window air conditioning unit can help to cool single rooms at a time. This way, you can conserve energy by not needlessly cooling rooms you are not occupying.