Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Winter care for your air conditioners

Air conditioning units are a blessing in hot summer months. They work like faithful slaves throughout the season, helping to keep your interiors cool and comfortable. Remember the days when you longed to reach the cool, fresh interior of your home? And how often some of you have prayed and hoped that your air conditioner should not decide to go awry in summer.

A necessity, not luxury

Air conditioning has become a necessity for all households. They are no more the luxury of once upon a time that only the elite could afford. They keep your room free from dust and dirt that would otherwise enter your rooms if the windows are kept open. This in turn saves you the hassle of periodic cleaning and cob webbing. 

Not only do air conditioners cool your home, they also make you feel welcome after a hot day at work. 

They bring a smile on your lips and help you unwind at the end of a busy day. Can you imagine your life without that little unit that always works silently, is most undemanding and probably your best friend during the hot summer months?

Handle with care

Like all appliances, air conditioners, though they are undemanding, need care. Make sure all filters are clean, drain pipes free of clogs and periodic checkups take place to prevent any major repairs, which have a habit of sneaking in when you least expects them. Not to mention the hole they will leave in your pocket. 

Usually, in winter, we don’t give much thought to our air conditioners. We just take for granted that just like a piece of furniture, air conditioners will also stay put where they are and nothing needs to be done. Well, air conditioners too need a little attention and care in winter. 

Here are a few pointers that will guide you towards maintaining your air conditioner in winter. 

While most people do not bother much, some make sure that their air conditioners are either dismantled and packed way for the winter, or use protective covers to prevent cold and keep debris at bay. It is recommended that air conditioners be covered during the winter months.

Covering air conditioners during the winter not only keeps the cold air from seeping into the rooms, but also discourages wildlife from making your air conditioner their winter home. 

For central air conditioning units, you could consider using plain mesh covers. This will keep the debris as well as small animals at bay. 

Removing the unit from the wall and storing the air conditioner for the winter is probably the most energy efficient option. 

If, for some reason, you are not too keen on removing the air conditioner, you can simply cover the unit. But before you do so, inspect all seals around that are around the frame before placing a cover. This will not only increase energy efficiency, but will also prevent heat leaks. 

You will need to ensure that covers can be placed on both the inner and the outer portions of the unit to prevent drafts and heat leaks.

For those of you who want to dismantle the unit for the winter, you can do so, but with some help from a friend or a neighbor. Once the unit is removed, check for all the wire and plug holders. Then place the unit in a towel of sheet you don’t mind using. This will prevent you from messing up your floor if there is water still inside the unit. 

Now you friend, the air conditioner can be left in its temporary home, the attic or the garage, to enjoy the well –earned sabbatical.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

California goes green with new norms for energy efficiency

California is known for energy efficiency. Ever since the early 1970s, the state has been progressively taking steps in this direction. Having pioneered a number of energy efficiency norms, California is far from calling quits. From the time the state first revised standards to introduce energy efficiency, it has been coming up with new and innovative ways to reduce electricity and augment renewable energy sources. The state has brought out new standards for lighting, television and plug loads. These standards ensure energy saving, be it in household, commercial complexes or office buildings. Looks like the state never sleeps!

Programs, subsidies and norms

Even today, energy efficiency is the number one priority in California. California is known to be in the forefront for creating and upgrading its energy norms and utility-sector customer energy efficiency programs. Research says that California’s programs and energy efficiency policies have significantly impacted the per capita use of electricity. And the energy use has been constant in the past three decades. The efforts of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to channelize a share of public benefits funding to publicly-owned utilities (POUs) and investor -owned utilities (IOUs) have been a great boost in the implementation of energy efficient norms. The state also collects a Public Goods Charge (PGC) on the utility bills of the consumer. This norm is to help in funding the various energy efficiency programs in the state.

The green state goes greener

California has now come up with some latest regulations for energy efficiency. These new norms are designed to make buildings and homes more energy efficient.
  • Solar-ready roofs: From 2014, it will be mandatory for all new constructions to have solar-ready roofs, whether the occupants or home owners want it or not.
  • Hot water pipe installation: All new homes must have hot water pipe installation, a norm whose design requirements start as early and laying the foundation.
  • Professional HVAC installation: The proper installation of heating, ventilation and cooling systems will be certified by an inspector.
  • Sensor lighting systems: All new homes need to have sensor lighting systems to save electricity.
  • Windows: Windows and fans are a must as they help to maintain and control temperature.
Mixed feelings

The new norms have become a matter of concern for home builders as well as buyers. The latest standards will make the construction costlier, which would not suit everyone’s pocket. Builders are concerned about these increased construction cost as homeowners may not even want a solar roof, but will have to pay for one. The officials feel that these norms are necessary as the state has an obligation to fulfill in terms of energy efficiency. They argue that it is better to make it a norm now for all construction projects now rather than installing it later. Some buildings trying to retrofit the energy efficiency systems later and this could cause a lot of hassle and inconvenience. It is expected that the new norms will boost the state’s growing solar industry. Mandatory solar panels mean more demand for solar panels, and more demand means increased production. 

On the other hand, the American Roofing Manufacturing Association does not seem to see eye to eye with the officials. It claims that these new norms are far from practical and are based on "flawed data and poor science." Whether these standards are anybody’s favorite or not, these will stay, driving concerns in the minds of constructors and builders. While these new norms will increase the cost of construction, officials argue that it will prove to be very beneficial in the long run.