Tips for Finding an HVAC Professional

HVAC ContractorAs we get closer to summer, you may need to find a contractor to help ensure your HVAC system is running in tip-top shape.  A home’s HVAC system encompasses the furnace, condenser, fan, air conditioner, ductwork and more.  It’s the most extensive (and oftentimes most expensive) combination of equipment in your home and accounts for almost 45% of your home energy usage, so it makes sense to find the right HVAC contractor for you.

Improper HVAC installation and maintenance not only interferes with your comfort, but it can also result in excess electricity usage, which also makes your AC system work harder and shorten its life.  We suggest following these tips when selecting an HVAC professional:

  • Hire a licensed contractor.  Although this may seem obvious, always make sure you’re hiring someone who’s licensed.  In general, licensed HVAC contractors will have at least 4 years of experience under their belt, have taken a trade exam, will have a bond and are regulated by the state you’re in.
  • Always call references.  Ask your HVAC contractor to provide a list of customer references and call them.  You’ll want to ask about the contractor’s work and if the job was completed on time and within the agreed upon budget.
  • Ask for a written, itemized estimated.  If you’re comparing bids from several contractors, make sure you have everything listed out and compare things such as energy costs and warranties.
  • Look for rebates and other special offers.  As one of the largest and most important purchases you’ll make as a homeowner, it’s a good idea to look for special rebates, incentives and offers on qualified cooling and heating equipment.  Start by contacting your electric company to get an idea of what deals are available.  After all, every penny counts!
  • Check to see if you’ll need a permit.  Building permits may be required for HVAC installations and modifications, and they’re typically issued by a local authority.  This is especially true if you’re looking to get a new HVAC system installed, adding ducting or removing an entire system from your home.
  • Be prepared for an inspection after the job is done.  Your newly installed cooling and heating system may need to be inspected by a building inspector to ensure it complies with all necessary codes.  This is a good thing because it serves as a quality assurance check on the work your contractor has done.

 

 

Energy Usage and the Luma Comfort Evaporative Cooler

Energy efficiency is all the rage these days, and with good reason! Not only can being energy-conscious save you money, but it also helps save the planet by reducing fossil fuel usage. But have you ever really thought about how much energy is used by normal household items every day? You’d be surprised!

The Luma Comfort EC110S Portable Evaporative CoolerFor instance, since you’re reading this on your computer, did you know the average PC draws about 120 watts while awake? That’s the same as a flat screen TV. And those are some of the lowest appliance wattages. Your refrigerator is around 725 watts, while your basic toaster will run from 800-1,400 watts. The washing machine is only 400-500 watts, however the dryer adds another 2,00 – 5,000! Even some of the smaller and more basic appliances use a lot of energy. Like the coffeemaker you used this morning… that’s 900-1,200 watts. A hair dryer? That’s another 1,200-1,800 watts.

Home comfort products are also incredibly inefficient when it comes to energy usage. A basic space heater is 1,500 watts, while a portable or window air conditioner can use from 1,000 to 1,500 watts.

Keeping all of that in mind, how does 45 or 110 watts sound? Believe it or not, that’s how much power is pulled by Luma Comfort’s line of residential air coolers.

The EC45S Tower Evaporative Cooler only pulls 45 watts of electricity, making it the equivalent to a standard household light bulb. Even the more powerful EC110S only pulls 110 watts – on high – which is on par with an electric blanket. These two units are designed to cool 100-250 square feet, and use a fraction of the energy needed by a similar size air conditioner.

Even the most powerful evaporative cooler developed by Luma Comfort only pulls less than 1/5 the amount of energy of the standard coffee maker. And what do those 220 watts get you? About 650 square feet of cooling, along with 80% less energy than an AC.

At this point, it should be pretty easy to see the value in using an evaporative cooler or swamp cooler in your home or office. Provided you have the proper climate for it (i.e., low humidity, high temperature), one of these units could save you an incredible amount of energy. Best of all, that will end up saving you an incredible amount of money as well.

*All data courtesy of Us Department of Energy

Be Safe When Enjoying Your Appliances

According to a recent investigation from Consumer Reports, home appliances cause early 150,000 fires a year! While some were due to defective units or manufacturing issues, the vast majority were a direct result of human error. The good news, and the most important tidbit within this report, is that the majority of these fires are in fact preventable. There are a number of simple things you can do to ensure your safety when purchasing and installing your next home appliance.

  • Read the instruction manual! How many times have you purchased a new appliance or toy, taken it out of the box and almost immediately discard the included manual? We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, so you’re certainly not alone. However, proper set up and installation of your new appliance is paramount to ensuring there are no safety issues. And if you’re ever unsure about installing something — hire a professional! It’s a small price to pay to ensure your long-term safety.
  • Register with the manufacturer. Another thing that gets discarded almost immediately is the registration card that often comes with a new appliance. While typically overlooked, these cards do serve a purpose. Registering your new appliance allows the manufacturers like us to communicate with you — which is especially important if there are problems or issues that come up. Here’s another inside tip: we usually provide those that register with special coupons and other bonuses as well, just for registering.
  • Turn off your appliances when no one is home. Major appliances, like dishwashers, washers, and dryers should only be run when someone is at home. Before leaving your home, make sure that all of your appliances are turned off to ensure no issues occur when no one is around.

While the above tips sound fairly simple, they can make quite a difference. After all, major appliances are supposed to make our lives better! By following these, and any other guidelines provided by the manufacturer, you can ensure that you’re getting all of the benefits from your home appliances without any of the hassle.

“Smart” Appliances at CES 2012

January has been a busy month for us at Luma Comfort, and unfortunately our
team wasn’t able to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas this
year. But that didn’t stop us from constantly refreshing our favorite tech blogs
for hour-by-hour updates on this year’s hottest products.

LG Thinq Technology

Source: LG

For the uninitiated, CES is the industry’s annual showcase where companies hawk their hottest new electronics. Whether it’s the flattest flat screen or the smartest smart phone, chances are you’ll probably find it at CES. In terms of product offerings, although appliances don’t have as huge of a presence as consumer electronics at CES, big name appliance companies still take the opportunity to show off drool-worthy home gadgets. And this year was certainly no exception.

One of the companies that had everyone talking in 2012 was LG. Last week at CES, the electronics giant unveiled a new line of appliances with their
proprietary Thinq technology. This line of “smart” washers, dryers, microwaves, refrigerators and ovens have built-in wifi capabilities that allow users to do what they never could with their regular home appliances.

With a Thinq appliance, you’ll be able to remotely operate your appliance
from your iPhone or Android, program your appliance to run only on off-peak
hours or even have a customer service representative troubleshoot a product from
across the country.

LG wasn’t the only company to showcase a smart appliance this year. Whirlpool
debuted a $1,500 washing machine that will be connected to your home network and
a device like an iPad. You’ll get alerts on your device when your laundry is
done and you’ll be able to do cool things such as schedule a repair appointment
from your wireless device.  Whirlpool estimates this smart washer to be available in
2013.

Whether or not these high tech functions are more gimmicky than useful is
really up to the consumer to decide, but here at Luma Comfort, the one product we were really wowed by was LG’s new “Blast Chiller” compartment found in one of their new high-end refrigerators, which also debuted at this year’s CES.

This handy slot actually chills down a can of soda or a beer in less than
five minutes (we can already imagine the possibilities). To be fair, stand alone instant beverage chillers utilizing this technology have been available on the market for years now, but we’re glad to see that this invaluable feature is now something you can find in your kitchen’s most essential appliance. Now if only we had an extra $3,000 to spend on a new, fancy LG refrigerator….