Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog: Posts Tagged ‘MetroWest’

Lancaster AC Guide: Quick Tips to Save Money on Air Conditioning

Monday, June 18th, 2012

You’ve probably heard once or twice that the cost of running your Lancaster air conditioner is more than that of any other single electrical device in your house. With careful attention to how your AC operates and when you use, there are some things you can do to slash cooling costs. Here are a few of the easiest:

  • SEER Matters – What is this magical acronym you hear so much? SEER refers to how many BTUs your Lancaster air conditioner can produce with a single watt of electricity. A low SEER device therefore uses a LOT more electricity to produce the same volume of cooling as a high SEER device. Since current devices offer SEER of 13 or higher (some are up to 20+), just about any upgrade will save you money relatively quickly if your current air conditioner has a rating of 8 or lower.
  • Program Your AC – If you have a single point analog thermostat, you’re wasting a LOT of electricity. You’re either paying to cool your house while it’s empty or you’re coming home to a roasting hot living space. Purchase a programmable unit and set the system to 85 degrees when you’re not home. With timers in most digital units, you can tell it when you’ll be home so that you walk into a cool, comfortable space without having to keep it cool all day long.
  • Use the Landscape to Your Advantage – Instead of relying solely on your air conditioner to keep the house cool in the summer, plant some trees and shrubs around the house to block the sunlight. Simply adding some shade to your property can directly reduce how much heat your home absorbs throughout the day and reduce how much your AC unit needs to work to keep you cool.
  • Ventilate Your Roof – A good third of the heat in your home is absorbed directly through the roof. To keep this heat from affecting the rest of your home, install a roof fan that ventilates the excess energy and keeps the attic at a steady temperature. Less heat up top means less cooling needed down low.

A good air conditioning system is effective no matter what the temperature does, so it’s easy to forget how big your bill will soon be. To avoid an overblown bill, keep an eye on your cooling and follow these simple tips to cut back on use. To schedule your annual maintenance visit, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Acton Plumber’s Guide: Why Buy WaterSense Labeled Fixtures?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

If you have been shopping for new plumbing fixtures in Acton lately, or even just wandered through that section of the home improvement store, you have probably noticed that some of them bear a familiar label.

“Just what is this ‘WaterSense’ company and why have I never heard of them before?” you may ask yourself. “Are they a new manufacturer?”

No, it’s not a new fixture company. WaterSense is a program in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency designed to make it easier for consumers to find, identify and choose products that use water more efficiently. You can find it on a number of faucets, shower heads and toilets. Even some newly built homes that exclusively have WaterSense fixtures installed bear the certification.

In order to wear the WaterSense label, a product has to meet strict criteria, such as using water at least 20% more efficiently than its average competitor, while also performing at least we well, and obtaining certification from an independent third party.

That’s all well and good, buy why should anyone buy a WaterSense labeled fixture? What are the benefits? In contrast to older or less efficient products, fixtures with the WaterSense label:

  • Are better for the environment
  • Reduce water consumption
  • Operate more efficiently
  • Employ more advanced technology
  • Perform as well as or better then competing products
  • Save you money on utility bills

As with the EnergyStar label that graces so many appliances and electronic devices these days, in this case what is good for the environment is also good for your wallet. The added efficiency of WaterSense products reduces water consumption, which not only conserves water for everyone, but conserves money for you.

So, for homeowners who are in the market for new plumbing fixtures and like to save the planet as well as some money, WaterSense labeled products are the way to go. For more information about ways to improve the plumbing in your Acton home, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Westford AC Tip: Air Conditioning Condensate Problems

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The beauty of air conditioning in Westford is that we don’t have to do anything to live in a cool climate even when it’s boiling outside.  Programmed to adjust automatically, modern thermostats make it even easier.

It is very inconvenient therefore (not to mention uncomfortable) when our unit is not functioning properly forcing us to pay attention.  Suddenly over-heated, our first inclination may be to call for help, but often the repair can be accomplished easily or avoided completely.

Air Conditioning 101

The process of conditioning air to a cooler temperature involves rapid evaporation and condensation of chemicals called refrigerants.  These are compounds having properties that allow them to change from liquid to gas and back at low temperatures.

When the liquid evaporates and transforms into gas it absorbs heat.  Compressed tightly together again, the matter condenses back into liquid with a residue of unwanted moist heat that must be released to the outdoors.

Over the course of handling the air to cool it, air conditioners are able to filter dust and dehumidify the air as well.  This release of moisture is why air conditioners have drains.

Condenser Coils

As the heat is removed from the gas, it forms condensation that must be drained from the system.  Tiny particles accumulate along the path, prone to shifting and resettling until they become lodged and can form a significant enough blockage to hamper the efficiency of the unit.  If the drain line becomes blocked, the unit drips or overflows the pan and works its way back into the house, causing damage and potentially mold.

This is when panic is inclined to call for the cavalry.

If you have any problems with your Westford AC, give Basnett Plumbing & Heating a call today!

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Chelmsford HVAC Tip: Basic Terminology

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Ever try to look up basic information about your Chelmsford heating and air conditioning systems? There are dozens of terms that might as well be Greek for all you know – a mishmash of words and phrases talking about energy efficiency and air flow ratios. To make your next upgrade a little easier and give you a baseline with which to work, here are a few of the most common HVAC terms you’ll hear in the industry:

  • AFUE – Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency – This is a simple measurement of how much fuel a furnace converts into actual heat in your home. So, if a furnace converts 92% of the fuel it consumes into heat, it has an AFUE rating of 92.
  • Watts – A single watt is a measurement of electricity. Commonly, your electricity use is assured in kilowatts or kilowatt hours (kWh).
  • BTU – British Thermal Unit – A BTU is a common measurement of how much energy is produced or consumed by an appliance. When referring to an air conditioner, one “ton” refers to 12,000 BTUs.
  • SEER/EER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio refers to how many BTUs can be produced with a single Watt of electricity per hour. So, an air conditioner with an SEER of 14 can produce 14 BTUs of cooling per watt consumed each hour.
  • HSPF – Heating Seasonal Performance Factor – Refers to the efficiency of the heating elements in your heat pump.
  • COP – Coefficient of Performance – A measurement of how effective your heat pump is at heating a space compared to standard electrical resistance heat. The lower the temperature gets outside, the lower the COP will be. Equipment is usually measured for COP at 47 and 17 degrees to give an idea of seasonal performance of a new heat pump.
  • Refrigerant – Refrigerant is any gas that is used to draw heat from the air in a particular environment through an air conditioner or heat pump. It has a much lower boiling point than water, allowing it to cool despite the temperature outside. Currently, most equipment uses R-22 refrigerant while the new standard will be R-410A (Puron), legally required in all cooling units by 2020.
  • CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute – Used to measure the volume of air passed through an air handler by an air conditioner or furnace.

There are a number of complicated details to keep track of when choosing a new air conditioner or furnace. If you have any questions about your HVAC system, never hesitate to call Basnett Plumbing & Heating!

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Happy President’s Day from Your Metrowest Area Plumbing and HVAC Contractors!

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Everyone at Basnett Plumbing & Heating wishes you a happy President’s Day! Today we appreciate all of the great leaders that helped shape our nation. Whether you have the day off today or not, it is a good time to think about how you can help make community a better place. From volunteering to recycling, helping improve your town can be pretty simple. Remember that upgrading your HVAC system can cut down on the amount of fuel you need to keep your home comfortable, and making your home more environmentally friendly is something that helps everyone.

Here is some great trivia about our presidents in honor of this day:

  • The only president who never married
    •  James Buchanan
  • Number of presidents who never attended college
    • Nine (Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, A. Johnson, Cleveland, and Truman)
  • Number of presidents who died in office
    •  Eight (Harrison, Taylor, Garfield, Lincoln, McKinley, F.D. Roosevelt, Kennedy)
  • Presidents Portrayed on US coins
    • Lincoln (penny)
    • F.D.  Roosevelt (dime)
    • Kennedy (half-dollar)
    • Eisenhower (dollar coin)
    • Jefferson (nickel)
    • Washington (quarter)
  • Presidents Portrayed on US Currency
    • Washington (one dollar bill)
    • Jefferson (two dollar bill)
    • Lincoln (five dollar bill)
    • Hamilton (ten dollar bill)
    • Jackson (twenty dollar bill)
    • Grant  (fifty dollar bill)
    • Franklin (one hundred dollar bill)

Have a great President’s Day!

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Plants & Indoor Air Quality: A Tip from Groton

Friday, November 18th, 2011

In our Groton elementary school, we were taught about how useful plants can be. They remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, which is great because it is the exact opposite of our respiratory process. They also clean the air in the process, like natural air pollution scrubbers, improving the quality of the air around them.

Given this, it’s not surprising that people have sought to harness the respiratory power of plants to improve air quality in their homes. One study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the 1980s even identified the best plants for improving indoor air quality.

This seems like great news for people who suffer from asthma or allergies, or who just want a natural way to purify the air in their homes. However, plants are not without their drawbacks. It is not a simple as to just bring a plant into the home. A plant is really an entire ecosystem, with many other organisms latched on for dear life. There are bacteria in the soil, for one, and there may be bugs or fungi in the soil or on the plant that you can’t even see.

Most of these are harmless, but not always. The fungus can be a problem, for example, if the spores get into the air. This can make allergies and asthma worse, not better.

That doesn’t mean you have to toss out that nice spider plant or Boston fern in the garbage, however. After all, it is probably doing a great job of filtering out some inorganic pollutants, it’s increasing the oxygen concentration of the room and it looks nice. Instead of getting rid of it, just give it a partner.

Adding an air cleaner like a fan with a filter can help purge the organic gunk that may be coming from the plant, while the plant is taking care of the other stuff. The result is cleaner, better air, which can be a relief to asthma and allergy sufferers.

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